• Urban Law Bulletin

The Urban Law Bulletin: August 18, 2020

The Urban Law Bulletin is a bi-weekly e-newsletter highlighting significant news and legal developments in urban law.


City Administration and Urban Governance #administration

Fordham Professors Look at COVID-19’s Impact on Cities

“[M]any questions remain about why cities were hit so hard [by the COVID-19 pandemic] and what this means for their future.” Professor Nestor Davidson observes that public health crises will often raise questions of authority and power in cities: “Even though cities are often the first to grapple with ‘an issue like a pandemic, and it’s often where the effects of crises like this are felt most deeply,’” the “incredibly fragmented response” to the pandemic by different levels of government has meant that “city leaders are sometimes challenged when it comes to their authority to act.”



City Administration and Urban Governance #administration

Cities Scramble to Complete Census Count Under New Deadline

“The U.S. Census Bureau announced last week that it will stop counting efforts for the 2020 census on Sept. 30, a month earlier than previously planned . . . The Census Bureau’s decision to expedite the reporting deadline will likely impact cities' count accuracy, putting federal funding at risk as many jurisdictions are already struggling to achieve complete counts.”



Transportation and Infrastructure #transportation

Will Cars Rule the Roads in Post-Pandemic New York?

“Under pressure from advocates for open spaces and the restaurant industry, [New York City] has temporarily excluded cars from more than 70 miles of open streets for social distancing, biking and outdoor dining.” Some criticized the city’s approach for “creating a series of disconnected open streets instead of building a comprehensive network of continuous routes and public spaces. The result has been confusion and conflict at times among groups trying to use the same space, including bike lanes blocked by outdoor restaurant seating.”

Karsten Moran / The New York Times


Housing and Development #housing

Long-Term Approaches to Preventing Evictions Now and Beyond COVID-19

As short-term solutions to the impending Eviction Cliff - including eviction moratoriums, rental assistance programs, and legal assistance funds - expire or run low on funding, “cities must consider the long-term impacts of mass evictions on their communities, and implement and institutionalize effective policies or programs.” The National League of Cities has recommended that cities adopt long-term strategies, such as eviction mediation and eviction diversion programs to ameliorate the threat of eviction, especially for vulnerable renters.

Stanford Legal Design Lab


Housing and Development #housing

Voters to Weigh a ‘Social Housing’ Solution in San Francisco

Eviction cases in San Francisco’s already overpriced and competitive rental-housing market have taken on a different quality in the last few months. “While landlords are currently prevented from evicting tenants for missed rent payments due to coronavirus-related income losses, the Eviction Defense Collaborative (EDC) is seeing an uptick in eviction filings against tenants in subsidized and supportive housing.” The EDC is responding by proposing a “measure on the November ballot in San Francisco that would authorize the city to own, develop, construct, acquire, or rehabilitate up to 10,000 affordable rental units.”

Shelly Prevost


City-State Relations and Preemption #preemption

Why Federal Aid Remains a Tough Sell for States and Localities

Although the federal government has been skeptical of giving aid to states and localities, “[e]conomists almost universally agree that direct aid to states and localities is one of the best tools the federal government has at its disposal to avoid a weak recovery or a dip back into recession.” The CARES Act, an earlier stimulus package that was signed into law in March 2020, provided $150 billion to states and localities.

Chris Clark / Mlive.com


Scholarship Corner #scholarship

“The story within this article explores how narrative justice can be applied as a form of advocacy for persons seeking access to justice . . . [N]arrative justice is the power of the word—written, spoken, articulated with the emotion or experience of an individual or collective, to shape or express reaction to law and policy.” In particular, Professor Tewari argues, issues “such as environment, transportation, finance, and education also hold narratives that could change the path for reform,” with significant implications for urban law and beyond.

Geeta Tewari, Regarding Narrative Justice, Womxn, 25 Mich. J. Race & L. 61 (2019).


Law and the New Urban Agenda (Nestor M. Davidson & Geeta Tewari eds., Routledge 1st ed. 2020) #international

Given COVID-19’s impact on cities globally, it is more important than ever to highlight the significance of urban law and policy for students. Law and the New Urban Agenda examines the legal dimensions of the United Nations' New Urban Agenda (NUA), a globally shared understanding of the vital link between urbanization and a sustainable future.

Law and the New Urban Agenda underscores the value of urban law as a discipline in supporting the healthy development of inclusive cities for all. This timely volume sheds light on the many complex challenges that urban growth poses for legal systems around the globe, and I commend this eclectic group of scholars for their engagement with the New Urban Agenda.

Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director, UN-Habitat

This book is available from Routledge here.


We thank the Urban Law Center’s Urban Law Research Fellows for assisting in preparation of The Bulletin. The Bulletin categorizes 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 email it to urbanlaw@fordham.edu.

Subscribe to The Urban Law Bulletin here.

The Urban Law Center at Fordham University School of Law

Nestor M. Davidson, Faculty Director

Urban Law Student Fellow Contributors

Quinn D’Isa

Justin Meshulam

John Planamento

Daniela Weinstein

Haleigh Zillges