City Council Moving Forward to Hamper Landmark Designation
Write to your council member today and ask them to amend the Landmarks timeline bill, Intro 775.
Update: City Council passed the Intro. 775a on June 8, 2016
We have one more chance to end this if we can get Mayor de Blasio to veto the law. Write to Mayor de Blasio and ask that he
veto Intro 775a.
Intro 775, the Landmarks Timeline Bill, is coming to a vote at City Council as early as Tuesday, June 7th!
The bill, sponsored by Council members David Greenfield and Peter Koo, will impose deadlines on the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s ability to protect historic buildings. Although the proposed moratorium on designation has been removed, the proposal still contains provisions that would make existing problems with the landmark designation process worse.
How would Intro. 775 make the landmark designation process worse?
The bill requires that the Landmarks Preservation Commission must make decisions on potential historic districts within two (2) years or they will be automatically withdrawn from consideration. Rather than speed up the LPC’s process, this would probably discourage the consideration of large, complicated or controversial districts.
Moreover, the bill does not include protection for properties under consideration nor has Council committed to expand the staff or funding of the Commission. Intro 775 presents an unfunded mandate which would lead to the automatic denial of protection for historic properties. By not providing the agency with any additional means to safeguard properties under consideration, Intro. 775 creates new hurdles to protection.
At its only public hearing last September, over 100 community groups, individuals and elected officials opposed the proposal, expressing strong concerns that the bill would stifle community-driven preservation activity throughout the city and hamper rather than help agency decision-making. The only supporters of the bill represented business and real estate interests, and mostly spoke about the lack of transparency in the designation process.
The Historic Districts Council has analyzed the Landmarks Commission’s designation activities since 1965 and found that 40 out of 138 historic districts and extensions (approximately 30%) were considered by the Landmarks Preservation Commission for longer than 2 years before being designated. Here’s the full list of designated historic districts, both large and small, which would have been automatically disqualified under the new proposed guidelines:
Bronx: Fieldston • Morris Avenue • Mott Haven • Riverdale
Brooklyn: Bedford • Bedford-Stuyvesant/Expanded Stuyvesant Heights • Boerum Hill • Carroll Gardens • Clinton Hill • Cobble Hill • Cobble Hill Extension • Crown Heights North Phase III • Park Slope • Park Slope Extension 2 • Stuyvesant Heights
Manhattan: Carnegie Hill • Central Park West – 76th Street • Chelsea • Expanded Carnegie Hill • Gramercy Park Extension • Greenwich Village • Hamilton Heights • Henderson Place • Ladies’ Mile • Mount Morris Park • Riverside Drive-West 105th Street • Riverside Drive-West End • Riverside- West End Extension II • SoHo-Cast Iron • St. Mark’s • Tribeca East • Tribeca North • Tribeca South • Tribeca South Extension • Tudor City • Upper West Side/Central Park West • West 71st Street • West End – Collegiate Extension
Queens: Central Ridgewood • Jackson Heights
In many instances these designations required time for the Landmarks Commission to reach out to the widest possible community and perform the in-depth research necessary to properly regulate the area. In other cases, external schedules such as municipal elections and changes in city administration affected the agency’s ability to expeditiously consider designations. Landmark designation is a permanent change in legal status and there are many examples where allowing the agency extra time to complete its process (if necessary) makes sense in helping to ensure equitable and transparent decision-making.
HDC feels strongly that any bill to revise the Landmarks Law must serve to strengthen it. This current proposal must be amended at the very least to allow the LPC to publicly vote for an extension period for additional consideration for individual landmarks and historic districts and to protect the public interest, this extension provision must not be subject to owner consent. Additionally, City Council should commit to drafting legislation to help protect those properties which are currently calendared and under consideration and pledge to ensure that the agency has enough resources to practically fulfill this new mandate. Anything less must be viewed for what it will be; a new roadblock to the efforts of communities trying to save their neighborhoods.
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