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Preservation Groups Fight Back Against Bill That Will ‘Gut’ Landmarks Law

The bill has already passed the City Council

The Pepsi-Cola sign on the Queens waterfront was designated a NYC landmark this year.
Photo by Will Femia

In early June the City Council passed a measure that imposes time restrictions on how long items can be calendared with the Landmarks Preservation Commission, a legislation that several preservation groups throughout the city claim will "[gut] the Landmarks Law to enable and advance rapid luxury development." Now, leaders of those groups, which include New Yorkers for a Human-Scale City, the Historic Districts Council, Landmark West, and Save the View Now have issued an open letter to the mayor airing their grievances with the legislation.

"Although framed as a reform for efficiency and responsiveness, this legislation is not a serious attempt to address the concerns that surround the landmark preservation process," an email announcing the open letter sent out by New Yorkers for a Human Scale City reads. It continues,

The bill’s arbitrary timelines will only offer another method for powerful real estate-interests to thwart the desires of communities to protect the buildings they live in and their neighborhood’s scale, history, and local architecture. By pressuring political figures and by gaming regulatory calendars, real estate interests continue to demonstrate the ability to advance their goals behind closed doors. They continue to mock city legislative processes, ruining historic properties deemed worthy of preservation by community advocates. In practice, this bill will only provide one additional method to constrain and weaken the LPC.

Intro. 775, a tweaked version of a bill introduced last summer that seeks to reform the landmarking process, was passed by the City Council’s Land Use Committee on June 7, and by the full City Council on June 8. The bill sets time limits on the public review process for landmarks (one year for individual properties, two for historic districts) and allows property owners to tweak their building once the LPC notifies them they’re up for landmarks consideration, among other changes.

The full text of the letter objecting Intro. 775, below.