The way the law works now, anyone can ask the commission to consider a property for landmarking. If the commission takes up the case, it puts the item in question on its calendar, and can take as much time as it wants to make a decision. In the meantime, according to Mr. Berman, the property or structure cannot be demolished or altered without the commission's being notified by the Department of Buildings and given 40 days to act. Critics in the real estate industry liken that to a site being landmarked without the commission ever voting.
The bill would give the commission 180 days after an individual property is calendared to hold a hearing, and another 180 days to vote. It would have a total of two years to decide on an entire district.
Preservationist groups from across the city will argue that the bill would have a chilling effect on complicated applications that require more time to analyze, and would give anyone looking to demolish a building the tools needed to stall and circumvent the process altogether, as any proposal that is rejected wouldn't be eligible for consideration for another five years.
In more mundane scenarios, trouble forming a quorum during slow summer months or a clerical error in hearing notifications could cause weeks of delays and push an application over the deadline.