Norton Introduces Bill to Remove the National Capital Planning Commission’s Authority Over D.C. Property

Aug 31, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) reintroduced her bill to remove the National Capital Planning Commission’s (NCPC) authority over D.C. property today.

“As we continue to fight for statehood, we cannot sit on ways Congress could act now to remove unnecessary, undemocratic limitations on D.C.’s local government, Norton said. “That is why I am simultaneously moving to expand home rule, including for the most local of activities such as land-use policies. The federal government has no business in local land-use policies and decisions. Not only is the federal government’s authority over D.C property anti-democratic, it delays and increases the cost of development in the District.”

Norton’s introductory statement follows.


Statement of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

on the Introduction of the National Capital Planning Commission

District of Columbia Home Rule Act

August 31, 2021


Ms. Norton.  Madam Speaker.

Today, I introduce the National Capital Planning Commission District of Columbia Home Rule Act.  This bill would remove the authority of the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), a federal agency, to review or approve the development of District of Columbia-owned land.  This bill would also remove the requirement that the Mayor of the District get NCPC’s approval before selling D.C.-owned real estate, and would allow D.C. agencies to transfer jurisdiction over D.C.-owned land among themselves without NCPC’s approval. 

Under federal law, NCPC has approval authority for the development of D.C.-owned public buildings located in the “central area”, including the location, height, bulk, number of stories and size of such buildings.  The District is required to consult with NCPC on its buildings outside the central area, but NCPC has only advisory authority in those areas.  The central area is defined by the concurrent action of NCPC and the D.C. Council and currently consists of the Downtown and Shaw Urban Renewal Areas. 

This authority is unnecessary, as shown by the virtual absence of its use to disapprove sales or development, and violates D.C. home rule.  This latent authority of the federal government should not be able to slow or block the development of D.C.-owned land or add to the cost of development.  The District is not a federal agency and should not be treated any differently by federal law than other local jurisdictions, where local development proceeds without federal interference.

This bill is one more important step to increase home rule for the District, and I urge my colleagues to support this bill.