Posts tagged with "Intro 775":

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Mayor de Blasio signs controversial landmarks bill into law

Mayor de Blasio has signed Intro 775-A into law. Intro 775-A provides new decision timelines for the designation of landmarks. The law gives the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) one year to landmark or pass up calendared individual, scenic, or interior landmarks. The commission has two years to decide on historic districts. If action isn't taken on an item, the law stipulates that it must be de-calendared. When the law takes effect, any item on the LPC's calendar has to be voted on within 18 months, or it will be de-calendared. A one-year extension may be granted with permission from the property owner. Intro 775-A is a response to the 95-item backlog on the LPC's calendar. LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan explained at a September 2015 public hearing that the commission will streamline its process if the bill became law, but that they would strongly prefer to establish procedure internally. Critics of the commission pointed out that some items had languished on the calendar for years, sometimes decades. In response, the LPC is in the process of voting on older calendar items. In the days leading up to the City Council vote in early June, preservation groups, including the Historic Districts Council (HDC), Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, MAS, Landmark West!, and Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts, came out forcefully against the bill. The timeline, opponents say, could limit the designation of challenging items or items with difficult histories. The LPC prepares a dossier on each item, and some items, like historic districts, can contain hundreds of individual structures. It can take many months to negotiate a district's boundaries, and time to do quality research. The new law, critics say, puts negative pressure on these activities. “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,” the HDC said in a statement. “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.” Then there's the money question.  A landmark can be expensive to maintain: Owners who privilege cost considerations over cultural patrimony could refuse to have their item re-calendared, and the item could lose out on landmark designation. Sometimes the commission works with the owner to secure maintenance funds, but deadline pressure could eliminate this crucial assistance. Except for the paid chair, LPC commissioners are volunteers who meet weekly. The law asks commissioners to do more work in less time with no additional resources. Today, HDC released a somewhat glum statement announcing the new law and thanking members for their efforts in opposing it:
HDC wishes to thank the preservation community for its vigilance in opposing this legislation, and for reaching out to your City Council representatives. It is important to remember that it is only through the efforts of the hundreds of individuals and organizations who raised their voices that the worst part of this bill, the 5-year moratorium on designation (included in the original Intro. 775 bill in 2015), was removed when this bill resurfaced.
 
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Architects, preservationists come out in force against bill that would change historic preservation in New York City

New York City Council members Peter A. Koo and David Greenfield introduced a bill in April 2015 that would radically alter the way the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) considers sites for historic preservation. That measure, Intro 775, was debated yesterday in an epic public hearing that lasted more than six hours.  Intro 775 is a proposed City Council measure to eliminate the LPC's backlog of sites under consideration by instituting time limits on how long a site can stay up for landmark consideration. The bill would impose one-year time limits on individual sites up for landmark status and two year time limits on proposed historic districts. All items that the LPC fails to reach an agreement on would not be eligible for reconsideration for five years. If the bill is passed, the LPC would have 18 months to review their calendar and decide on the status of the 95 items. If the review is not complete in 18 months, these items would be permanently deleted from the calendar. Currently, there are 95 sites under consideration by the LPC (map). Of those sites, 85 percent have been on the LPC's calendar for more than twenty years. The LPC actively solicits public input on how to clear the backlog. Area preservationists and architects overwhelmingly oppose the measure. New York City's five AIA chapters issued a joint statement on the bill: "LPC plays an essential role in ensuring the quality and character of our physical city. The bill, as written, will compromise our City’s seminal Landmarks Law that so greatly contributes to the uniqueness of our urban realm, gives definition to communities, and increases the value of real estate." Other opponents of the bill claim that putting a time cap on the review process would discourage the nomination of controversial or complicated sites. Meenakshi Srinivasan, the LPC's chair, also opposes Intro 775, but is open to internal rules (in lieu of a city law) to expedite the review of sites. After six hours of intense discussion, the Committee on Land Use delayed the proposal until its next meeting on September 25th.