Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Landmarks lawsuit

On March 5th, the Citizens Emergency Committee to Preserve Preservation filed a lawsuit against New York City's Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) in State Supreme Court.

In the suit, CECPP challenges LPC Chair Robert Tierney's absolute power over the Commission's landmarking process. Currently, Chairman Tierney makes all decisions on whether landmark requests will be brought before the full commission for consideration. CECPP believes that this practice is an "unlawful usurpation of the power of the full Commission, and is authority in excess of his jurisdiction." As stated in the arguments before the court: "If staff members or a subcommittee, or the Chair alone, can reject proposed landmarks with no input from the full commission, who will protect the public interest against political pressures, lobbying, bias or just plain ignorance?" CECPP believes that Chairman Teirney's actions violate city, state and federal law and lead to unnecessary delays in the landmarking process, while excluding the valuable input of the full roster of commissioners, whose knowledge and participation are desirable.

In addition, CECPP is challenging LPC's "standards" by which Landmark applications are judged. Many taxpaying citizens, including knowledgeable preservation experts and professionals, have submitted landmark Requests for Evaluation (RFE) to LPC requesting that specific structures or neighborhoods be considered for either individual landmark status or inclusion within/as historic districts. These applicants have received letters stating that their proposed site or structure did not meet LPC's “criteria”. However, it is not clear who created the criteria since LPC has never published them in any way that is accessible to the public. It is critical that the LPC make public and fully transparent any criteria it considers relevant to judging the merits of RFE's so that preservation professionals and members of the preservation community have full understanding of the process and practices used by LPC.

By bringing this lawsuit, CECPP hopes to bring more transparency and openness to the city's landmarking process, and to make it a fair public process free from political interference and influence, as dictated by the 1966 NYC Landmarks Law. For a full copy of CECPP's petition, go to To review a copy of CECPP's Memorandum of Law associated with this case, go to

If you have questions regarding this case, please email them to or call Mark at 646-228-6370.


Anonymous said...


Rip this secretive, elitist, discriminatory commission a new one!

And I would urge ALL of you
out there to DELUGE the LPC
with FOIL requests
and put those SOBs in a tailspin!

They've ignored us but they CAN'T ignore a federal process......the freedom of information law.

Put those LAZY staffers to work!

They will have to choose between working for YOU or complying
with all those FOILS.

Anonymous said...

Um, guys, this has been going on a long long time, long before the current chairman took over.

If the culture of the perservation community was strong and robust, niether he nor anyone else would dare challenge it.

This is rearranging chairs on the Titannic.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like that embittered
Astoria "granny"is BS-ing again!

Never does a damn thing but post!

Anonymous said...

No half measures! Throw out the law already and start new!

Even more important, reform the climate of the preservation community from elitism of the few to embrace every community.

Until that happens, any tinckering with the law is like putting a new dress on an old tramp.

Still the same scuzz underneath.