The Bloomingdale Civic Association (BCA) survey is arriving in neighborhood property owners’ mailboxes this week, and residents who want to make their voice heard on this issue should make sure to fill out the survey and return it.
Unfortunately, as I’ve laid out before, this survey has some weaknesses that make it hard to feel like it will do an adequate job assessing the opinion of the neighborhood.
The biggest weakness, however, is that it’s coming much too late. Though the survey asks neighbors if they “would like to pursue historic designation,” the reality is that choice has already been made by a small group of neighbors who filed the application this summer before surveying the community or soliciting the support of the BCA and ANC. That decision went against both the recommendation of the BCA Historic Preservation Committee and the Office of Planning themselves.
Worse, it may have eliminated the possibility for community input at all. The Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) which is scheduled to rule on this application in the next couple of months specifically states that — while community support is “beneficial,” — “by law, [the board] makes its decision on the basis of the written designation criteria.” That means it may not matter anymore whether the community supports it or not.
There’s enough ambiguity in the law that hopefully that’s not the way they’ll choose to interpret it. If they do decide to weigh community input, it’s important to make sure large numbers of neighbors are on record with their opinions both through the survey, but also through the broader tools of petitions and letters to the ANC and HPRB.