Monday, February 8, 2010

Perkins bill would eliminate ED based on government-caused blight

From Atlantic Yards Report:

As previewed (Gotham Gazette, New York Times), State Senator Bill Perkins has introduced a sweeping bill (S. 6971) to redefine eminent domain by redefining blight--currently subsumed under the amorphous terms "substandard and insanitary."

Thus environmental consultants like AKRF inevitably find blight when so requested by agencies like the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC).

The bill, which likely will gain both supporters and critics, is clearly a response to the efforts to use eminent domain in the cases of Atlantic Yards, Columbia University, and Willets Point.

It requires that vacant or deteriorating buildings be condemned only after a grace period to abate code violations, pay back taxes, and repair the structures.

And, in cases where multiple parcels are part of a blighted area, the condemnor must demonstrate in writing that 75% of the parcels in the area are individually blighted.

The eminent domain fight on which the bill might have most impact is the city's redevelopment plan for Willets Point, where some business owners are fighting fiercely as Willets Point United, pointing out that the city long neglected the industrial area.

The bill would bar the use of eminent domain where utility services and infrastructure were not provided. (emphasis added)

Given this clear challenge to the Bloomberg administration--and New York City has long resisted any change in blight laws--the Perkins bill likely will face some serious pushback in the legislature.