Friday, April 20, 2018

Report: LPC chair to step down


Meenakshi Srinivasan, chair of the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), will end her four-year tenure on June 1, according to published reports.

As Crain's reported:

Land-use attorneys who guide clients through the landmarking process were dismayed to learn of Srinivasan's decision to leave, saying that she had been a respected arbiter of the rules with some serious policy wins.

"She is an exemplary public servant," said Mitch Korbey, chair of Herrick, Feinstein's land-use and zoning practice. "She has the courage to make the right choices and find balance between the commission's core mission of preservation and the need for occasional flexibility."

But members of the preservation community have bristled at Srinivasan's proposed changes to the commission's application rules — with some even calling for her ouster — and said that she was too lenient with developers and not focused enough on the core mission of preserving the past.

"The orientation of the landmarks commission seems to have shifted after the Bloomberg administration," said Simeon Bankoff, head of the Historic Districts Council, "becoming a little less responsive to community-driven applications and more oriented toward implementing city policy."

Most recently, the LPC unveiled several proposed rule changes aimed at streamlining the application process. However, the changes would mean limiting the opportunity for testimony and public comment on the application, a move that angered some local elected officials (Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, among them) and preservationists. (Read more background here at Curbed.)

LPC spokesperson Zodet Negrón said that the resignation "was not in response to any backlash, and she has been planning an exit for some time after 28 years in the public sector," as 6sqft noted.

Mayor de Blasio appointed her head of the LPC in 2014 after her stint as chair and commissioner of the Board of Standards and Appeals.

The mayor released this statement:

"Meenakshi Srinivasan is a talented, dogged public servant and a leader with know-how, and she’s proved that time and again. At the helm of the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, she slicing through decades of regulatory red tape and modernized the commission. We congratulate her and thank her for the important reforms she instituted, and we wish her well in her future pursuits."

In an op-ed at the Daily News in February, Eric Uhlfelder — author of “The Origins of Modern Architecture” — wrote that "the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the last line of defense for protecting historic New York, is rolling over rather than pushing back."

10 comments:

margo said...

resigning before getting exposed

Kirsten Theodos said...


BINGO Margo, except she was already exposed. And despite the claim she was "planning on leaving" then how did multiple members of the press call the LPC yesterday morning for a statement and were told "we will have one ready by this afternoon" For someone who was planning to leave "for several months" its perplexing why they would be scrambling last minute to prepare a statement. PLEASE.

For the record, in 2014 de Blasio appointed Meenakshi Srinivasan Chair of the 11-member Commission. Prior to this post, she headed the BSA for 14 years, overseeing an agency whose regulatory duty is to decide on granting developers exemptions to zoning requirements. The press reported that the real estate industry considered Srinivasan’s appointment as Chair of the LPC “friendly to developers and the mayor’s pro-development agenda.” The real estate industry’s gain has been the public’s loss.

Srinivasan’s Commission has proven to be hostile towards historic preservation, whether in failing to designate new landmarks or to protect existing ones, as documented in the annex here. The Daily News reported she has told her staff to “take off your preservation hats for a while” and admitted in the public hearing for City Council bill Intro 775 that her decisions are political, and “not about the merits.” Former staff members confirmed that the Chair forces the staff to rewrite their professional recommendations in favor of the interests of private owners and developers.

Yesterday, when she "resigned" lol, also commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Landmarks Law. #poeticjustice

Anonymous said...

Her leaving this post is good news for preservationists and those of us wanting a city with a connection to our great history and past. Of course the mayor will most likely pull a Trump and put a puppet of the big developers who could even be worst.

Kirsten Theodos said...

@anon 8:37 And that is the fear. We might wake up one morning to find BdB appointed Rob Speyer to Chair the LPC.

John M said...

Bloomberg, in fact, has never left. In spirit.

Anonymous said...

The devil you know and the devil you don't know yet!

Anonymous said...

Right on, Kirsten. I had to deal with Meenakshi years ago shortly after she was appointed to chair the BSA. Her decisions were completely arbitrary...you'd sit there blinking your eyes in disbelief at the bonkers rationale you were given. Even other Board members would get uncomfortable. Well, I said arbitrary, but what I mean is, she would decide what she was told to decide. That was her rep among zoning types.

Giovanni said...

At this point, anyone who thinks that Manhattan, and especially lower Manhattan needs more development is completely insane. Just look up and down most major Avenues and you see towers and cranes rising everywhere. The Houston Street Horridor is just one example. Sixth Avenue is a horror show. Central Park South looks ridiculous with all those needle towers popping up, and In spite of the propaganda put out by the developers, they really do you block the sun.The density level is already putting us in a crisis situation with no urban planning for transportation or sanitation. Look at the garbage cans overflowing on every corner Look at the snarled traffic everywhere . If there are subways crowd levels approaching claustrophobia levels only seeing and Tokyo subways. Where are people supposed to go? Not only our developers building up because of the exorbitant rents people are doubling and tripling up. So take away the historical sites and what do you have left? Dubai on the Hudson.

Gojira said...

"...core mission of preservation and the need for occasional flexibility" - occasional flexibility, what a joke. This is the Slinky of committees, twisting and turning and flipping over in a usually successful attempt to ignore their "core mission of preservation" so as to pave the way for yet another historic building to be ripped down so more "luxury" condos can be shoehorned in. A shameful choice from a shameful mayor, but we all know that whoever he puts in, it's just going to be more of the same, since DeBlah never mean a dcveloper's donation he didn't like.

Anonymous said...

Just checked my De Blasio crystal ball and it told me that the "Nightlife Mayor" would soon have a counterpart as head of the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

I was at a meeting recently regarding the "let's work behind closed doors by changing the commission operational rules" and there was a standing room only crowd at 9 AM. Her choices have destroyed numerous historic buildings for no reason than developer greed. De Blasio wants to leave a legacy as the mayor that double the height and population of NY. He will be remember as the Mayor that killed everything NY has represented to the world, a city of diversity, a cultural hub which has influenced music, theater and the arts around the world. Giovanni is right, Dubai on the Hudson, a shallow city filled with glass towers and not much else.