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Legislation Introduced to Ban Drones From New York City Skies

Drones could be banned from the New York City skies under legislation introduced Wednesday in the City Council which lawmakers say is needed to address safety and privacy concerns.

One bill would ban the use of the unmanned aircraft except by the New York City Police Department, which would still need to obtain a warrant. Another would restrict the aerial vehicles to limited public spaces like parks, while banning them from heavily populated areas, such as sports arenas or airports.

Councilman Dan Garodnick, who sponsored the broader ban, said he feared the drones could be used as weapons, or cause mid-air collisions. In September, he noted, an NYPD helicopter had a near-miss with a drone.

“Yes, it is physically possible for drones to deliver pizza to your door, to bring you your newspaper or your dry-cleaning. That sounds exciting,” said Mr. Garodnick, a Manhattan Democrat. “But let’s not rush toward a ‘Jetsons’ future, only to find ourselves scrambling after a tragic accident.”

Councilman Paul Vallone, a Queens Democrat and the sponsor of the bill that would impose less sweeping restrictions, said the city was forced to take on the issue because the Federal Aviation Administration had not.

“Until the FAA gets their act together and passes some regulations, the city once again is left to defend itself,” Mr. Vallone said.

A spokesman for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the mayor is reviewing the legislation. In July, he said it should be “common sense” for drone operators to steer clear of NYPD helicopters.

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said Wednesday she is open to discussion about regulating drones but has not made a decision on the two pieces of legislation.

A spokesman for the FAA did not immediately return a request for comment.

Supporters of the drone industry said Wednesday they opposed the legislation.

Michael Toscano, the president and CEO of  the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, a trade group, called the regulations “unnecessary and excessive.”

View complete story at The Wall Street Journal.