The New York Sun is reporting today that Councilmember Tish James has introduced a bill to ban the use of city money for any project that uses eminent domain to acquire property. The bill, clearly a response to the Atlantic Yards project, has 14 co-sponsors but does not yet have the support of Speaker Miller.
Since the AY project has a good deal of political backing it is likely that the current bill will have trouble garnering the kind of political support needed to pass it. As Councilmember Barron commented, "If those who support the Ratner project think that this will impact Ratner, they may not sign on".
The bill, drafted with the help of the Castle Coaltion, a national group based in Washington D.C., would still allow for some seizures of private property, such as when legitimate public uses like railroad right-aways or hospital construction are proposed. In addition, taking could also occur if property had been abandoned or had become a "public nuisance".
The Alliance has yet to examine the bill in detail but clearly a full public debate on the overall issue is healthy. Our position on the question, as we have previuosly pointed out, is still fluid and as always with any legislation, the devils in the details.