New York City’s Lobbying Law requires lobbyists to register with the city. On June 30, 2016 the city concluded an amnesty program allowing lobbyists to register without penalties. The New York State amnesty has been extended to September 30th, 2016. It’s clear the city wants to enforce lobbying practices, including in real estate and construction.
What is a lobbyist?
A lobbyist is anyone who is part of a lobbying firm retaining clients. The definition of a lobbyist expands beyond the job to include anyone behaving as a lobbyist, including architects, board members and not-for-profits.
Local Law 129 of 2013 clarifies lobbyist activity in New York City. The section specific to development states lobbyist activity as “influencing a determination by a city official* with respect to zoning or the use, development or improvement of real property subject to city regulation.” This includes:
- Appearances before community boards or city planning with respect to ULURP applications, zoning variances and special permits
- Attempts to influence City Planning with respect to an application to amend the zoning resolution or its maps.
Architects and engineers are allowed a threshold of $10,000 in fees annually before they are required to register as a lobbyist (the limit is $5000 for other professions). Lobbyists are required by law to declare their clients, which design professionals don’t like doing for a myriad of reasons.
The city plans to penalize bad actors based on audits and peer complaints. Penalties include the possibility of a cease order and fines up to $30,000.
*mayor, city council, city planning commission, borough president, borough board or community board
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