The Urban Law Bulletin: August 22, 2018
Updated: Aug 4
The Urban Law Bulletin is a bi-weekly e-newsletter highlighting significant news and legal developments in the field of urban law.
Law and Justice #Justice Is Spying on Protesters a Legitimate Exercise of a City’s Police Powers? The city of Memphis seems to think so. For a couple of months, the city of Memphis has argued that its police department’s surveillance of protesters, specifically Blacks Lives Matter activists, has been legitimate because the protests have been unlawful. However, this type of surveillance is illegal according to the ACLU of Tennessee, which argued that the “Consent Decree,” established in 1978, prohibits the city from spying on protesters as it had done with civil rights activist regardless of whether the protest is lawful or unlawful. Earlier this month, Judge McCalla ruled in favor of the ACLU, and that the distinction between unlawful and lawful protests was “irrelevant” as it pertains to the “Consent Decree.” The trial is still set to go forward, but in the meantime, read up on how this recent decision will impact the case.
Urban Mobility #mobility
New York City Council Takes Lead in Uber Crackdown On August 8, New York City became the first major American metropolis to implement a freeze on new licenses for ride-sharing companies, such as Uber and Lyft. In addition to halting new licenses for ride-share drivers, the bill, which passed with overwhelming support by the City Council will also allow the city to impose a minimum wage for drivers. The need for the legislation stemmed in part from growing concerns over yellow-cab driver suicide rates. Since the end of 2017, at least six professional medallion drivers have ended their lives, with the community citing the overwhelming financial strains that major ride-share companies have caused as a contributing factor.
Diversity, Equality and Inclusion #equality
How Bill SB-826 can improve California's female board representation: Despite the fact that over half of the U.S. population is female, only 18% of corporate board seats are occupied by women. SB-826, if advanced to approval, will make it mandatory for publicly traded companies in California to appoint at least one woman to their board starting in 2020. If companies don't meet these obligations, they can be fined. In Europe, businesses have been utilizing this approach to reach gender parity since 2003.
Housing and Development #housing
“Hell is receiving an eviction notice in the Beehive State." Utah law students aim to work on a app that provides citizens facing evictions with legal help, fast. Utah has some of the strictest eviction laws of any state in the U.S. Most of these laws ensure landlords a huge payday, but ruin the lives of tenants and families facing evictions. The app in progress will ask straightforward questions, and provide instructions and options on how to proceed in urgent situations.
Urban Planning and Space #planning
In Inwood, Mayor de Blasio Means Business: In what is being hailed as a first in city zoning, an element of “commercial rent control” has been incorporated into the rezoning of Inwood, Manhattan’s northern most neighborhood. Mayor de Blasio maintains that the program, which requires certain mixed-use developments in Inwood’s up-zoned areas to grant commercial tenants a lease of ten years with “limited rental increases,” will create affordable commercial spaces in a city where they are in short supply. Real estate industry leaders worry, though, that shielding commercial spaces from market forces will cause landlords to inadequately invest in their properties, and in turn, the spaces may become outdated.
“American cities are under attack. The last few years have witnessed an explosion of preemptive legislation challenging and overriding municipal ordinances across a wide range of policy areas. State–city conflicts over the municipal minimum wage, LGBT antidiscrimination, and sanctuary city laws…, these conflicts are representative of a larger trend toward state aggrandizement.”
Richard C. Schragger, The Attack on American Cities, Texas Law Review, Volume 96, Issue 6.
We thank the Urban Law Center's Urban Law Student Fellows and Undergraduate Intern 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 opinion 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
Urban Undergraduate Student Intern Contributor