D.C. Panel Calls for Ending Rent Control

Article excerpt

After spending a year studying problems that hinder D.C. businesses, a city-appointed panel yesterday recommended dropping rent control and streamlining regulatory approvals for commercial buildings.

"These things have to be implemented in the next six months," said Douglas J. Patton, the chairman of the 12-member Business Regulatory Reform Commission, which was appointed by the D.C. Council last year to undertake the study.

The commission spent nearly $30,000 in city funds to determine what changes would help the District retain businesses, win back some that have moved to the suburbs and woo new businesses. The result is a 110-page study that includes 120 recommendations for changes to encourage businesses to stay in the city.

To implement the recommendations, the D.C. Council would have to pass legislation and win the approval of the D.C. financial control board and Congress.

Proponents of the study argue that its proposals would lower the cost of doing business in the District and cut the red tape businesses complain they have to endure. Council member Harold Brazil, the at-large Democrat who heads the council's regulatory affairs committee, will hold hearings on the proposed changes to business regulations.

Mayor Marion Barry and council Chairman Linda Cropp said they are committed to implementing the changes, although Mr. Barry did not endorse the proposal to drop rent control.

"Rent control is always a problem," Mr. …