The Urban Law Center is a research center focused on the role of the law in contemporary urbanism, advancing our understanding of the most pressing legal, policy and governance challenges facing cities and their metropolitan regions.
The Urban Law Bulletin: December 17, 2019
Does enforcement against public camping and sleeping violate the Eighth Amendment’s bar on cruel and unusual punishments? In Boise v. Martin, the Ninth Circuit ruled that it was unconstitutional to criminalize the act of sleeping outdoors when shelter space is not realistically available. In August, the city of Boise, Idaho asked the Supreme Court to hear the case, arguing that the Ninth Circuit’s decision could “imperil a host of other public health laws.” This past Monday, the Supreme Court decided not to hear the case, letting the Ninth Circuit’s decision stand.
The Urban Law Bulletin: November 25, 2019
After St. Louis’ proposed bikeshare program failed to secure grant funding, the city instead created a permitting system for e-scooters to help people travel within the city. Scott Ogilvie, the transportation policy planner in the Planning and Urban Design Agency for St. Louis, said “the permit identifies a number of neighborhoods where we require there to be a percentage of dockless bikes or e-scooters every day.” By installing a permitting system, the city is able to control the supply, rider speed, and location of e-scooters.
The Urban Law Bulletin: November 7, 2019
In Westport, CT, Timothy Hollister of Shipman & Goodwin, who represents a developer seeking to build affordable housing near Westport’s train station, stated in an investigatory report that the city’s zoning requirements “prevent development that would bring up a more economically and racially diverse housing population.” Hollister was challenging a waiver granting Westport an exemption from a state housing law. Hollister apologized after Westport’s Town Council called the remarks “inflammatory and insulting” and threatened to end the law firm’s decades-long contract with the Westport Board of Education.
The Urban Law Bulletin: October 16, 2019
“Florida school districts that fail to follow state rules to improve persistently low performing schools . . . need to face the possibility of state takeover[,]” Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran stated earlier this year. His remarks derived from frustration in observing turnaround plans to improve state exam outcomes for Duval County’s low performing schools. At the turnaround plan presentation, Corcoran pressed Duval superintendent Diana Greene on why she had not included plans to adopt a “‘Schools of Hope’” program, to “ease the path for state-approved charter school providers to open in high-poverty communities.” Greene responded such a program was not “acceptable to her community.” A state takeover of Duval County schools would be the third instituted by the Florida State Board of Education in the past two years.