The Urban Law Bulletin: December 3, 2018
Updated: Jan 29, 2019
This week's Urban Law Bulletin highlights legal updates on issues including housing, employment, equality, and justice.
Housing and Development #housing
For the third consecutive year, the New York City Council is considering a package of tenant protection bills. These bills take aim at “bad actor” landlords and major loopholes in the City’s rent-control regulatory scheme. One such loophole, vacancy decontrol, allows a landlord to raise the rent of a vacated unit up to 20% for an incoming tenant. Eventually, a landlord can charge market-rate rent, giving landlords an incentive to create unit vacancies. This has lead to tactics such as doing construction at odd hours and making buy-out offers to induce tenants to vacate their units. The new bills, if passed into law, would crack down on the use of construction to harass rent-regulated tenants, strengthen requirements for tenant protection plans on renovation sites, create new penalties for lying on permit applications, and require the city to inspect a landlord’s entire portfolio if the landlord is caught illegally gutting apartments.
Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion #equality
Ten years ago, the government of Norway passed the Anti-Discrimination and Accessibility Act which set a 2025 deadline for a national embrace of “universal design.” Universal design, also known as inclusive design, is an approach to urban planning that seeks to make public spaces and services as widely accessible as possible. St. Olav’s Hospital in Trondheim is a recent example of what the approach of universal design looks like in practice. Its “floor to ceiling windows," private patient rooms, and a focus on visual arts, placed among lush scenery, provide a window into what a future of universal design could look like.
Law and Justice #justice
“On December 6, Philadelphia’s city council will be the latest to vote on a fair workweek bill in an attempt to stop hourly work from being so wobbly. ‘We’re trying to change the way we look at what’s often seen as intractable issues like poverty and recognize all our responsibility,’ said at-large Council member Helen Gym, who proposed the legislation. ‘Governments, businesses, residents and citizens themselves.’”
Scholarship Corner #scholarship
“Over the past twenty-five years, Los Angeles—like many other global cities—has been transformed by affluence… Based on guidelines from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development... over two in five residents of Los Angeles are poor. Average rents in LA County exceed $1800 a month, making it the tenth most expensive rental market in the United States… Overall, workers of color more likely to be in poverty than white workers. What does this mean for the majority of Angelenos who cannot afford... even a one-bedroom apartment in places like Central Hollywood… not long ago shunned by well-off residents, but now a site of radical gentrification? This question is important not just for Los Angeles, but for cities around the country—San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Boston, and others—which are experiencing similar development pressures and demographic shifts...”
*For further discussion on these issues see the accompanying podcast: Reclaiming Land Use Law: Using People Power to Guide Development
We thank the Urban Law Center's Urban Law Student Fellows for assisting in preparation of The Bulletin, which provides news in all major areas of urban law, and categorizes the stories as follows:
· City Administration and Urban Governance #administration
· City-State Relations and Preemption #preemption
· Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion #equality
· Environment and Sustainability #sustainability
· Housing and Development #housing
· International/Global Urban Law #international
· Law and Justice #justice
· Public Health #health
· Technology #technology
· Transportation and Infrastructure #transportation
· Urban Mobility #mobility
· Urban Planning and Space #planning
If you have an article, legal decision, or commentary that you would like to share in an upcoming Bulletin, please e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Nestor M. Davidson
Faculty Director, Urban Law Center
Associate Director, Urban Law Center
Urban Law Student Fellow Contributors