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Advisory Opinions

ADVISORY OPINION 1989-1
ISSUE

A law firm inquires whether requests to the New York City Department of Buildings for interpretations of existing provisions of the Zoning Resolution and their applicability to proposed development constitute lobbying under the provisions of Section 3-211 of the New York City Administrative Code.

OPINION
"Lobbying" is defined by Administrative Code Section 3-211(c)(1). That section states in pertinent part:

The term "lobbying" or "lobbying activities" shall mean any attempt to influence:

(iv) the adoption or rejection by an agency of any rule or regulation having the force and effect of law,

(v) the outcome of any rate making proceeding before an agency,

(vi) any determination by an agency in connection with a proposed concession agreement...

The instant question pertains to requests to an agency for the interpretation of existing zoning rules and regulations.[1] A request on behalf of a client for an interpretation from an agency, board or commission regarding an existing provision of law and its application to either an existing set of circumstances or a proposed situation, thing or event, does not constitute "lobbying" under any of the provisions section 3-211(c)(1).[2] Activity otherwise subject to the reporting and registration requirements of the Lobbying Law is not exempt under that law because a request for the interpretation of law or rules has been made. For example, an attempt to influence a change in existing provisions of the Zoning Resolution is not exempt[3] from reporting and registration requirements of the law because an opinion interpreting that rule has been requested.

CARLOS CUEVAS City Clerk and Clerk of the Council
KATHERINE E. TIMON General Counsel
WILLIAM THYMIUS Deputy General Counsel

_______________________________________________________

1. Administrative Code § 3-211(c)(2)(i), which provides in pertinent part that persons are not deemed to be engaged in "lobbying activities" when they are rendering opinions on proposed rules or regulations, is applicable.

2. An interpretation of existing zoning rules and regulations may result in proceedings before the Board of Standards and Appeals. This opinion does not address application of the Lobbying Law to such proceedings.

Editor's Note

[3] "exempted" in original

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