By Mark Hallum
Meenakshi Srinivasan, the head of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, announced her resignation following recent citywide backlash over a proposed rule change within the agency to remove public input from decisions regarding approval of work on designated property, the LPC confirmed Thursday afternoon.
“I am honored to have served as chair of the Landmarks Preservation Commission for the past four years and to have had the opportunity to serve the city for the past 28 years. I am proud of what we have accomplished — promoting equity, diversity, efficiency and transparency in all aspects of LPC’s work, and working with the administration to make preservation a critical part of the city’s planning process,” Srinivasan said.
“It’s been an intense, challenging, and incredibly rewarding experience. I’ve been very fortunate to work in three agencies and chair two commissions involved with the city’s land use and built environment, and to have played a role in shaping this incredibly diverse and dynamic city. I would love to do more hands-on project-based work related to land use planning and zoning and will be transitioning to the private sector.”
Srinivasan said her last day will be June 1 and she will spend the upcoming weeks working with her staff during the transition.
She was appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2014 to oversee the city organization, which protects 36,000 architecturally, historically, and culturally important sites. Before her tenure at the LPC, Srinivasan was chair of the Board of Standards and Appeals under the Bloomberg administration.
“Meenakshi Srinivasan is a talented, dogged public servant and a leader with know-how, and she’s proved that time and again,” de Blasio said. “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.”
Srinivasan faced intense backlash over the last two months with preservation groups and activists calling for her resignation in March.
Community boards, Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer joined the effort to pressure the LPC to reverse its course on a rule change that went along with others designed to “increase transparency.”
Community Board 11 voted unanimously in favor of a resolution to oppose new rules at its April meeting, joining others such as the Municipal Art Society, Historic District Council, The City Club, the New York Landmarks Conservancy and others.
Johnson issued a letter to Srinivasan praising their efforts to bring changes to comply with other potential needs, such as barrier-free access, energy codes, and resiliency mandates, but asking the city agency to back down from the this particular rule change.
“The participation of the public adds value to our civic processes and, in the case of LPC, ensures that the commission’s determinations are based upon the best possible information,” Johnson said in the letter. “Contrary to the stated goals of the Statement of Basis and Purpose, the Proposed Rules will not increase transparency, but rather will reduce it. Under the Proposed Rules, there is no provision for any kind of public review of these delegated determinations.”
An LPC spokesperson said the resignation was not in response to any backlash and Srinivasan has been planning an exit for some time after 28 years in the public sector.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall