Mayor de Blasio’s Land Use Appointments Carousel Continues

Naming Carl Weisbrod CPC Chair was only one of many major land use appointments of Mayor De Blasio. Image Credit: Mayor's Office.

Naming Carl Weisbrod CPC Chair was only one of many major land-use appointments by Mayor De Blasio. Image Credit: Mayor’s Office.

Mayor de Blasio has re-structured the City’s land use administrative hierarchy to further his affordable housing agenda. On July 22, 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio nominated Margery Perlmutter to serve as Chair of the Board of Standards and Appeals. This was the Mayor’s latest appointment  to City land-use positions, all of which will bear heavily on the Mayor’s expansive affordable housing agenda, a ten-year plan designed to preserve some 200,000 units of affordable housing.

Ms. Perlmutter, a land use attorney and Bryan Cave partner has served on the New York City Landmarks Commission.  She brings an unusual background to the BSA which oversees zoning variance and special permit applications. For two decades prior to practicing law, Ms. Perlmutter practiced as an architect, specializing in affordable housing design. She replaces outgoing BSA Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan, who in May was appointed the new Chair of the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Meenakshi Srinivasan, an architect and city planner, as BSA Chair was credited with transforming BSA’s review process into one that is more transparent and fair. Ms. Srinivasan replaces outgoing Landmarks Chair Robert B. Tierney, who had held the post under Mayor Michael Bloomberg since 2002. Mr. Tierney had previously served as counsel and assistant counsel to Mayor Edward I. Koch and Governor Hugh L. Carey, respectively.

Joining Ms. Srinivasan on the Landmarks Commission are Adi Shamir Baron and John Gustafsson, also nominated by Mayor de Blasio on July 22. Mr. Shamir Baron previously served as executive director of the not-for-profit Van Alen Institute, which is dedicated to promotion of public architecture. Mr. Gustafsson is a retired attorney and Chairman of the Board for the Historic House Trust of New York City, a public-private partnership dedicated to the long-term care of historic architecture within the City’s public parks. The nominations followed the withdrawal of Mayor de Blasio’s first Landmarks nominee, Kramer Levin partner Marcie Kesner, whose practice presented the potential for future conflicts of interest.

On June 27, 2014, Rick Chandler was Mayor de Blasio’s choice for Department of Buildings Commissioner. Mr. Chandler, a professional engineer who previously served as Brooklyn, Bronx and Queens Borough Commissioner, will focus on increased efficiency at Buildings.

Mayor de Blasio’s recent Landmarks, BSA, and Buildings appointments add to his administration’s earlier of housing-conscious appointees. In February, Mayor de Blasio appointed Carl Weisbrod Chair of the City Planning Commission. Mr. Weisbrod, co-chair of the Mayor’s transition team, replaced outgoing chair and Bloomberg appointee, Amanda Burden. During his 35-year career in City government, Mr. Weisbrod has been intimately involved in the transformation of Times Square, which began when Mayor Ed Koch charged him with policing Midtown Manhattan’s unseemly sex industry. Under Mayor David N. Dinkins, Mr. Weisbrod led the New York City Economic Development Corporation and, since then, has also worked to re-zone Hudson Square, among other high-profile initiatives. The Center for New York City Law will host Chair Carl Weisbrod for a CityLaw Breakfast on September 5, 2014.

One of the new City Planning Commission chair’s chief responsibilities will be revitalization and maintenance of affordable housing stock. Joining Mr. Weisbrod in this effort will be Larisa Ortiz, Cheryl Cohen Effron and Bomee Jung, nominated on June 27 by Mayor de Blasio to serve on the City Planning Commission. Ms. Ortiz’s background is in government consulting, while Ms. Jung specializes in sustainable development. Ms. Effron is a real estate developer and was a member of the Mayor’s transition team.

On February 8, 2014, the Mayor appointed Vicki Been as Commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. Prior to her appointment, Been served as the Director of NYU’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, a leading academic and research center focusing on land use, real estate, and housing.

Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, appointed prior to inauguration in December 2013, began her career as an aide to then-Manhattan Borough President David I. Dinkins. Since then, she has advocated on behalf of low-income tenants as an attorney for Brooklyn Legal Services. She will continue to do so in her present capacity, and alongside Mr. Weisbrod and his City Planning colleagues, will have major responsibilities with respect to affordable housing stock. The de Blasio team has already left their mark on the Domino Development in Brooklyn by negotiating an increase in affordable housing prior to its final approval in March.

By: Alexander Talel (Alexander is a CityLaw Summer Associate and a Student at New York Law School, Class of 2015).





Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.