January 31, 2007

My Bill

So this is my baby. The bill that I hope will sweep congress like glue.

H.R. _______

In the House of Representatives

Representative Zachary Wong introduced the following bill which was referred to the Committee on ______________________

A Bill

Section 1: The purpose of the bill is to provide protection as well as funding for restoration of all historical buildings in the United States.

Section 2: The Congress hereby finds and declares that during the post World War II years, the United States experienced a massive influx of returning GIs from Pacific and European fronts. Returning soldiers began leaving their previous rural lives and began living in heavily populated, metropolitan areas, and to accommodate these soldiers, older buildings were demolished and empty land tracts were cleared to create suburban sprawls. The bill covers an important topic because it is in the best interest of the Congress to preserve pieces of this nation’s history. Currently, buildings of any nature end up being demolished or marked for demolition regardless of age or historical value. This bill will define “historical” as well as “significant” to determine the protection of a building. Historical will be defined as any building 60 years or older in age, and Significant as any building with regional, state or national historical significance. It is known that buildings hold pieces of this nation’s history in their construction methods and events that occurred within these buildings. Historically significant buildings were usually built on prime real estate locations and land developers recognize the ideal locations. These buildings find themselves on the wayside and end up demolished to make way for newer commercial enterprises. Historic buildings hold the history of past eras and to remove these buildings would be to remove history itself since they hold information on construction methods as well as historical events itself that occurred within them. It is necessary to preserve buildings for future generations to enjoy and gain inspiration from. The bill understands the necessity of providing protection for all historical buildings by providing certification and funding if necessary and how to preserve buildings for future generations of Americans.

It shall be recognized that all public buildings and some private buildings hold historical value. Known that within the past 230 years, many historical events have occurred all over this nation including those that may have happened during critical times in this nation i.e. the Civil War, the Great Depression, et al. Buildings such as Penn Station in New York city were masterpieces of the Beaux-arts movement[1] wound up being torn down by financially struggling companies[2]. Such activities led to private movements to protect buildings. Politically significant buildings are no exception such as the Freedom tower in Miami, Florida which provided a safe haven for people who had managed to escape the Castro reign of the late 1950s. The building was marked for demolition to be turned into condominiums but however due to much protest, the building was spared and the condominiums built in front of it.[3] The Larkin Administration building of Buffalo, New York was famed architect, Frank Lloyd Wright’s first commercial project. The building had included many innovative features such as air conditioning and plate glass windows and was advanced for its time. But by 1950, it was sold and demolished. The claim that a truck stop was going to be built on it had been abandoned and a parking lot built instead.[4] This demolition like the other previous two mentioned brought uproar into local and national architectural communities and a rash of preservationists throughout Buffalo[5]. All three buildings similarly raised up certain points. What action should the government take to preserve these buildings and to prevent them from further harm?

It is known that buildings of past eras give cities an appeal as well as a unique character. The structural and aesthetic parts of these buildings are also important to US history in that they are sources of important information on the contributions and construction methods of those time periods. Problems arise when illegal clashes between private homeowners and the city undoubtedly occur. In the city of Alameda, there supposedly are buildings left partially demolished or in a state of public nuisance or a safety hazard. If such activity should continue, these pieces of history are lost forever.[6] In the city of San Francisco, the old Emporium, recently rebuilt as a new building in the old shell of the original building, had a demolition contractor that had demolished more of the building than was allotted by the city[7]. The construction company involved in demolition had violated the block charter on the limits of how much could be destroyed. It was noted that apart from the fa├žade and the dome, nothing else of the building had survived and the preservation board began asking questions[8]. What cities can do is limited and under the General Services Administration, only historically significant buildings are protected and receive federal upkeep funding. This also raises the question of “How much of a building must be saved in terms of structural frame and aesthetic accents?” As well as, How do you get funding buildings not on a national register?

It is recognized that buildings of the past need to be protected for the future. The Darwin D. Martin house of Buffalo, NY was a Frank Lloyd project and had been abandoned after the economic collapse of 1929. The property was subsequently vandalized and many pieces of it were stolen. Today private foundations are doing their best to restore such national treasures but the majority of funds come from private benefactors and public donations[9]. Many other buildings of the past have been preserved for future generations such as San Francisco City Hall, Wright’s Falling Water, museums, and landmarks. What can possibly be done to prevent a “crash” of building and preventing them from becoming nothing more than a vandalized building?

Although the damage of many historic buildings is irreversible, there is still time to preserve whatever buildings are left to hold American history intact through its buildings. This bill identifies the necessity of providing protection for all historically designated and/or significant buildings by providing local, state or national certification as well as funding and basic guidelines on restoration of buildings for future Americans. Through the problems identified and recognized in §2, it is necessary to pass the following bill to ensure the preservation of American heritage, culture and history.

Section 3: Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled that this be entitled “The National Historical Building Preservation Act”

(A.) Establishment

(1.) In general: There is established within the Department of the Interior an office to be known as the Building Preservation Administration (in this section hear after to be referred to as the “Preservation Administration”)

(2.) Headed by: The Preservation Administration shall be formed as a new agency in the Department of the Interior.

(3.) Purpose: The purpose of the Preservation Administration is to maintain and regulate records of all buildings as defined as “Historic”. As well as providing funds to private owners to maintain historic properties to ensure the character of local regions. The Preservation Administration also will serve as a central office of all State historic councils.

(B.) Administration of Funds

(1.) Process: Under the direction of the Preservation Administration, Each state shall form a council of no less than 15 persons to be known as the State Historical Council. In turn, each county or designated jurisdiction shall form a Sub State Historical Council with no less than 7 persons each. The Sub State Historical Council shall process local applications for certification to receive funding from the county in which certification is applied for. Should the Sub State Historical Council find that a building applying for certification is of State significance, the building will receive funds from both state and the jurisdiction certification was applied for. Should the building in question be significant on a national level, the building will receive funding on the national and state levels.

(2.) Certification: For owners to receive any federal or state funds for restoration, the property in question must undergo certification

(a.) Administration of Certification: Property owners must apply for certification for funding. A copy of the certificate must be posted in a visible and public area of the property if undergoing renovations.

(b.) Regional Level: Building owners must apply for regional certification before receiving any federal funds.

(c.) State Level: Should a regional applicant find that his or her property is if state importance, the regional application will move onto the State Historical Preservation Council where it will be determined if the applicant should receive state or regional funding.

(d.) National Level: Should a building be found of national importance, the owner of the property must either turn over the property with just compensation to be maintained by federal personnel, or apply for national certification and keep the property.

(3.) Budget: This bill will cost approximately 2 billion dollars per annum and shall be distributed among states and distributed further by a state council for restoration of buildings. Funding will come from federal income taxes. States shall be allowed to issue parcel taxes which also will provide funding for the bill.

(a.) Distribution of Funds: Among the Preservation Administration and State administration, the 2 billion dollar budget will be distributed as follows

(i.) 1.2 billion dollars will be distributed among States for redistribution among counties and or jurisdictions.

(ii.) 500 million dollars will be maintained by the Preservation Administration when the use of eminent domain is required.

(iii.) 200 million dollars will fund for the upkeep of currently registered national and state historical buildings

(iv.) 100 million dollars will provide salaries for workers and employees working under the services of the administration

(b.) Determining the allotment of money for a building.

(i.) If a building is found to be of regional and/or state significance, the property owners shall be entitled to the allotment of 5,000 dollars

(ii.) If a building is found to be of national significance, the property owners shall be entitled to the allotment of 10,000 dollars

(iii.) If a building not of significance, but of historical merit has received local and/or state certification, it is entitled to a graded allotment system. The building in question shall be inspected by a local committee of no less than 3 persons holding civic positions. The committee shall determine based on condition and significance how much shall be allotted.

(C.) Enforcement

(1.) Incentive to comply: The Preservation Administration and/or State Preservation Administrations shall make it known public of incentives in complying with regulations of building preservation.

(2.) Outsider Incentives: If in the case where a building without proper certification or visible certification goes under massive restoration such as demolition, State administrations shall offer small incentives to reporters of “non-comply” renovations.

(a.) Should it be found that the outsider incentive system is abused; the person of the abusive nature shall be punished by government under the full extent of the law.

(3.) Failure to Comply or Refusal to Comply: If in the case where a property owner refuses to either certify, or is certified and fails to meet expectations of the administration, under Eminent Domain, the property in question shall be purchased at or above market value, from the incumbent owner and sold to someone who is found of good character and willing to comply with restoration regulations.

(D.) Date Effective

(1.) Should the bill come to pass, it shall become valid at noon on the first day of the next month in the year it was passed in.

(E.) Date Ineffective

(1.) Should this bill be surpassed by a more effective bill, this bill shall be rendered null and void only with the consent of at least a one half majority in both houses. As well as being authorized as null and void by the incumbent president.

1 comment:

Mel said...

The lines in your club amendment are ruining your whole page. Fiiix it.

Last year in my geometry class we had a project of drawing a picture of a building to scale. My group chose a pic of Wright's Falling Water for a 1:5 scale. I got to draw the whole thing! It was the best project ever. Did you know Wright's son created Lincoln Logs?

I live in a Victorian house that was really poorly built. It's falling apart (which is why we're renovating it -- and living in an apartment). It was built by a church for a minister in, oh, I don't know -- 1900? Before the SF earthquake (there is a huge crack in my bedroom wall from that). It was built with barely any money. My mom thinks it ought to be torn down... I could go either way.