Friday, November 28, 2008

Tierney the Terrible

Ruling on a lawsuit filed in March against the landmarks commission’s top officials by a preservationist coalition, the judge called the agency’s inaction “arbitrary and capricious” and ordered it to start making timely decisions on every designation request. To allow such proposals “to languish is to defeat the very purpose of the L.P.C. and invite the loss of irreplaceable landmarks,” the judge, Marilyn Shafer, wrote.

An Opaque and Lengthy Road to Landmark Status

The city says it will appeal. Still, the ruling was a significant victory for preservationists and politicians across the city who have long accused the commission of lacking the responsiveness and accountability that citizens expect from a watchdog of the city’s architectural history.

A six-month examination of the commission’s operations by The New York Times reveals an overtaxed agency that has taken years to act on some proposed designations, even as soaring development pressures put historic buildings at risk. Its decision-making is often opaque, and its record-keeping on landmark-designation requests is so spotty that staff members are uncertain how many it rejects in a given year.

Defenders and detractors alike agree that, with 16 researchers, the commission does not have the manpower to accede to that demand.

Yet in 2007 Mr. Tierney declined a budget increase of $750,000 approved by the City Council; instead the commission ended up getting an increase of just $50,000 for a total Council allocation of $300,000. (The current budget is $4.7 million.)

Preservationists say the larger issue is the manner in which Requests for Evaluation are handled at the agency. Currently they are funneled through the commission’s staff and Mr. Tierney, a former counsel to Mayor Edward I. Koch, who was appointed in 2003 despite having no background in architecture, planning or historic preservation. (Mr. Tierney, whose second three-year term ends in June 2010, earns an annual city salary of $177,698; the other commissioners are unpaid.)

7 comments:

p said...

Its time to clean house at the LPC. We have lost so many irreplaceable buildings over the years while these malcontents are asleep at the switch .

C.L. said...

Robert B. Tierney, chairman of the landmarks commission, is the antithesis of preservation and a poor choice to head that agency. This court ruling proves that under his "leadership," LPC is more of an obstacle than a partner in preserving landmarks in NYC.

Miles Mullin said...

How it this a victory? Does this mean we get a scribble rejection letter in 7 days instead of 7 months?

Does this mean the preservation community will make an effort to share the resources with 90% of the city that is being ignored?

Does this mean the grassroots groups that face a hostile politically appointed community board, a hostile prodevelopment newspapers, a hostile elected leadership that spends its time satifying developer donations, face a different world?

All this is doing is moving around the deck chairs on the Titanic for most of us.

Not worth a bucket of warm spit.

ezra said...

notice the people paying attention to this are the small clique from the communities favored by designation anyway.

why don't see new faces?

how does this change things for the vast majority of the city?

Anonymous said...

We have lost so many irreplaceable buildings over the years while these malcontents are asleep at the switch .
---------

Some people treat this as if the LPC was some strange thing.

The point of the matter is it that it is an outgrowth of the mainline preservation culture of the city.

Artful Dodd-ger said...

There is little doubt the altough all taxpayers support the LPC, only a tiny minority of (mostly) white (mostly) upper class people enjoy its benefits.

They have money from the public larder.

Yet in (mostly) minority communities we see foreclosures and no programs supported from the taxpayers help them.

They have NO money from the public larder, as THEY PAY money to support the rich white folks.

I CALL UPON THE MINORITY CAUCUS TO LOOK INTO THIS AND CALL A SERIES OF HEARINGS EXAMINING THE LPC DESIGNATION POLICY THAT FAVORS RICH WHITE PEOPLE WHILE THE REST OF US ARE IGNORED.

IF THIS IS THE CASE, I CALL THEM TO MOVE TO STRIKE THIS RACIST LAW FROM THE BOOKS.

Anonymous said...

WHAT ARE THE CRITERIA THAT THE LPC
USES TO ACCEPT OR REJECT AN RFE?

That's the real issue here.
There doesn't seem to be any!

Nothing seems to be concrete as to what determines whether a site is worthy of designation.

Until then we are at the mercy of the LPC's whim!