|New York Judge Lucy Billings: ACLU activist|
Well, this nonsense goes beyond that. Mayor Bloomberg is quoted saying:
“The First Amendment protects speech,” Bloomberg said in a press conference at City Hall . “It doesn’t protect the use of tents and sleeping bags to take over a public space. Protesters have had two months to occupy the park with tents and sleeping bags. Now they will have to occupy the space with the power of their arguments.”
Bloomberg made another statement, probably by accident, that gets to the core of the problem:
The mayor, at his news conference, read a statement he had issued around 6 a.m. explaining the reasoning behind the sweep. “The law that created Zuccotti Park required that it be open for the public to enjoy for passive recreation 24 hours a day,” the mayor said in the statement. “Ever since the occupation began, that law has not been complied with” because the protesters had taken over the park, “making it unavailable to anyone else.”
The 1961 Zoning Resolution inaugurated the incentive zoning program in New York City. The program encouraged private developers to provide spaces for the public within or outside their buildings by allowing them greater density in certain high-density districts. Since its inception, the program has produced more than 3.5 million square feet of public space in exchange for additional building area or other considerations such as relief from certain height and setback restrictions.Of course, a heavy helping of rent-seeking is at play for owners of enough property to make some "public space" in return for privileged zoning rules just for them.
Here is a thought: if government wants public parks, let them buy the land on the free market (or use donated land) and build them, taking public responsibility for them, and let the private property owners do what they will with their own property? Of course, that is too simple.