Council Approves Changes to NYC's Landmarks Law

The City Council recently released a report entitled, “Landmarks for the Future,” with several new proposals to alter the way the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) works. The city council made similar proposals last year. This year, the council once again proposed a series of recommendations for the LPC including imposing time limits on designating items.

On June 8, the full City Council voted 38-10 in favor of the bill, and the Land Use Committee had earlier voted 12-4 in favor of it, along with one abstention.

The bill includes the following:

  • Adding time limits on the public review process for potential landmark buildings and historic districts. Individual properties would have to be approved in one year, and historic districts in two.
  • Eliminating the five-year limit on properties to be reconsidered once they've been rejected for landmark status.
  • Requiring the LPC to provide additional information on the status of calendared items, surveys, designated landmarks, and historic districts.
  • When the LPC notifies a particular property owner that their property is under consideration, the owner can still go ahead and make changes to the building's exterior prior to the item being placed on the commission's calendar, which in many cases leads to a drastic alteration of the property. The council wants the protections to go in place as soon as a property is identified.
  • Creating more cultural landmarks like the Stonewall Inn, regardless of the particular property's architectural merits.
  • Reducing the responsibility undertaken by owners of landmarked properties through grants, tax credits, or selling more air rights.