De Blasio Sounds Off on Private Property Rights He Says the City Should Determine How Development Would Proceed

Mayor Bill de Blasio at the 34 St-Hudson Yards Opening in 2015 (By MTA of the State of New York, via Wikimedia Commons)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's recent comments about private property rights have raised some eyebrows, both in the media and especially the real estate industry.

In an interview with New York Magazine, de Blasio--who is running for re-election and has made the issue of affordable housing a prominent part of his agenda--commented about how private property has posed a challenge when it comes to income equality. He argued that city government should exercise greater involvement in areas of development:

"I think people all over this city, of every background, would like to have the city government be able to determine which building goes where, how high it will be, who gets to live in it, what the rent will be. I think there’s a socialistic impulse, which I hear every day, in every kind of community, that they would like things to be planned in accordance to their needs. And I would, too. Unfortunately, what stands in the way of that is hundreds of years of history that have elevated property rights and wealth to the point that that’s the reality that calls the tune on a lot of development.

"Look, if I had my druthers, the city government would determine every single plot of land, how development would proceed. And there would be very stringent requirements around income levels and rents. That’s a world I’d love to see, and I think what we have, in this city at least, are people who would love to have the New Deal back, on one level. They’d love to have a very, very powerful government, including a federal government, involved in directly addressing their day-to-day reality."

The mayor's comments drew media attention, from the conservative publication The Weekly Standard, whose headline read: “Bill de Blasio Sure Sounds Like a Communist,”  to the New York Post, with Steve Cuozzo writing: “Each and every time the city sets out to tinker with neighborhood density, building sizes and shapes and permissible uses, 'the people' recoil and revolt.”

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