DC Density Beyond The Height Act

A blog about business and economics.
May 14 2012 3:32 PM

DC Density Beyond The Height Act

I enjoy a good Height Act debate as much as the next person, but Ryan Avent points out that increasing housing supply in high-rent DC needn't involve changing that rule or achieving Manhattan-esque levels of population density:

Indeed, the scarcity of land that has so energized residents to question the mayor’s efforts is entirely a product of the District’s laws and regulations. The neighborhoods just west of Reservation 13, like much of the city’s residential land, are zoned R-4. This allows for matter-of-right development of single-family homes on lots with minimum specified widths and maximum specified heights. If Washington wanted to do so, it could substantially increase the available developable area. A zoning area that doubled the District’s population density—essentially creating an entire second city on top of the first—would be achievable without so much as questioning the city’s statutory height limit—and leaving the District at less than a third of the population density of Manhattan.
Advertisement

These are excellent points and I agree with them. Still, I'm a believer that we ought to bring skyscrapers to the city for two main reasons. One is that transit availability is very lumpy. Extra density away from those key nodes in the transportation system doesn't do a great job of compensating for a lack of density in the core of the core. The other is simply that logistically the more density you rezone for when you rezone, the fewer discrete places need to be rezoned.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

The U.S. Is So, So Far Behind Europe on Clean Energy

Even if You Don’t Like Batman, You Might Like Gotham

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

Nicolas Sarkozy, Thrice Married, Says Gay Marriage Humiliates the Family

  News & Politics
Over There
Sept. 22 2014 1:29 PM “That’s Called Jim Crow” Philip Gourevitch on America’s hypocritical interventions in Africa.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 22 2014 1:37 PM Subprime Loans Are Back! And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 22 2014 3:33 PM Killing With Kindness My in-laws want to throw me a get-well-from-cancer bash. There’s no way I can go.
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 22 2014 4:06 PM No, Women’s Soccer Does Not Have a Domestic Violence Problem Or, why it is very, very stupid to compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice.
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 3:16 PM Watch the Best Part of Beyoncé and Jay Z’s On the Run Tour
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 12:14 PM Family Court Rules That You Can Serve Someone With Legal Papers Over Facebook
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 22 2014 12:15 PM The Changing Face of Climate Change Will the leaders of the People’s Climate March now lead the movement?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.