In 1973, Mayor Harvey Sloan oversaw the creation of Louisville’s first Landmarks Commission, modeled after an ordinance in New York City, making preservation public policy for the first time in the city. Now 39 years later, Louisville has created on average two Individual Landmarks a year, seven Landmarks Districts, a new merged government structure with new political dynamics, and the Metro Council has voted to change how preservation happens in the city.
In early February, Metro Councilmember David Yates sponsored an amendment to Louisville’s Landmarks Ordinance, complaining the original system lacked oversight, accountability, and public participation. Quickly joining Yates, eight additional council members, mostly representing suburban districts around the old Urban Service District, signed on as cosponsors. The amendment was introduced in Metro Council on Thursday, February 9, 2012, and over the proceeding six months, politicians and preservationists clashed on how Landmarks designation procedures should work, resulting in a newly politicized process and additional thresholds to be met in the public petition process. But in all the arguing, Louisville missed a real opportunity for preservation reform.