• Urban Law Bulletin

The Urban Law Bulletin: February 12, 2019

This week's Urban Law Bulletin highlights legal updates on issues including justice, housing, and sustainability.


Law and Justice #justice #housing

Where Luxury Meets Accessibility

Despite decades old civil rights laws, developing accessible spaces for people with disabilities

continues to be an uphill battle. Disability advocates are now calling on City officials to do

more. In 2014, the United States Attorney’s office filed federal lawsuits against prominent New York City development companies who have continued to violate federal and city laws, one such suit detailed here. The common violations include inaccessible entrances and tight living spaces.However, disability advocates believe these efforts are not enough and fail to combat continued housing discrimination. As more luxury rentals appear throughout the city, the number of affordable and accessible living options decline. Currently the city provides vouchers to help cover rent for disabled individuals, but advocates argue the city should update the accessibility laws and guidelines instead of trying to use those vouchers as a work-around.

Photograph by Stefano Ukmar/The New York Times


Housing and Development #housing #equality

A Bill to Foil Racist ‘Steering’ in Home Mortgage Lending

On February 4, 2019, Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto introduced the Home Loan Quality Transparency Act, a bill aimed at restoring a Dodd-Frank rule that set “transparency requirements for banks and mortgage lenders.” The bill is aimed to prevent a housing discrimination practice referred to as “steering.” Steering is defined as “a process whereby listing agents steer consumers to a specific lender by requiring that any buyer…pre-qualify with that particular lender.” The transparency requirements reduced predatory lending tactics that often negatively impacted minorities. For Senator Cortez Masto, who was the Nevada attorney general during the Great Recession, when approximately one in four houses in Las Vegas went into foreclosure, transparency represents an issue of great concern.

Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto is introducing the Home Loan Quality Transparency Act in order to bolster protections under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act repealed by the Republican-controlled Congress last year. Jacquelyn Martin/AP


Environment and Sustainability #sustainability

SB-100 Is Moving Cities in California Toward Zero-Emissions Futures

Pollution from refineries, railyards, ports, and other fossil fuel producing sites disproportionately affect the poor, minority, and working class communities that typically surround them. In September 2018, with the passage of SB-100, the California state legislature committed to address this issue by encouraging the use of 100% carbon-free electricity by 2045. Further, through processes like public comment, community activists in Los Angeles and Long Beach have successfully lobbied for the implementation of clean energy practices to address community health needs. The public review process has also led the Port of Oakland to adopt the Draft Seaport Air Quality 2020 and Beyond Plan. Activists hope that California’s renewed commitment to the elimination of fossil fuel pollution will have a positive impact on the quest for spatial equality in California’s cities.

In April 2018, Mario Cordero, Port of Long Beach executive director, speaks about the zero-emission project that will reduce port emissions. Bob Riha Jr./AP


Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion #equality #administration The Gender Disparity in Climbing Local Government's Ladder

The National Research Center recently released data that highlights a trend of gender inequality in local government. Surveys show that a significantly higher percentage of men as compared to women, rate their opportunities for promotion and career growth as excellent or good. The problem is particularly stark in senior-level positions, as women account for only 17.9 percent of Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs). HR leaders say that although women are equally qualified for these jobs, they don’t always perceive themselves as such. Data also shows that women are less likely to aspire to jobs at the top. Occupational segregation in male-dominated departments, such as transportation and fire, also contributes to the disparity between men and women in decision making positions. One way to reverse this trend is for elected officials to appoint more women. A bigger female presence at the top of an organization can inspire more women to seek their own advancement, and increase their likelihood of success. If interested in this issue, register for the breakfast launch of the Urban Law Center’s Women in Urban Law Leadership Initiative here.



Scholarship Corner #scholarship

“Recent years have seen a broadening of the scope of immigration enforcement. As a result, immigrants free of criminal convictions, once considered low priorities for enforcement, are increasingly subject to arrest, detention, and removal. Federal immigration authorities have sought the cooperation of states and localities in the enforcement of immigration laws. While there has been growing scholarly attention paid to the ways in which legal geographies can account for variation in local immigration policies, the long-term effects of these policies on immigrants themselves are often overlooked. In this article, we use the case of Colorado, one of the first states to pass a “show-me-your-papers” law in 2006, and data from two qualitative studies to highlight the collateral consequences of enhanced immigration enforcement on immigrants’ economic opportunities, emotional health and well-being, and academic trajectories.”

Lisa Martinez & Deborah Ortega, Dreams Deterred: The Collateral Consequences of Localized Immigration Policies on Undocumented Latinos in Colorado, 41 L. & Pol. 120, (2019)

Now Available: Global Perspectives in Urban Law: The Legal Power of Cities

Global Perspectives in Urban Law: The Legal Power of Cities is a collaborative scholarly focus on comparative and global perspectives in the growing field of urban law. This brand new volume offers diverse insights into urban law, with emerging theories and analyses of topics ranging from criminal reform and urban housing, to social and economic inequality and financial crises, and democratization and freedom for individual identity and space. Particularly now, social, economic, and cultural issues must be closely examined in conjunction with the rule of law not only to address inadequate access to basic services, but also to construct long-term plans for our cities and our world. The book is now available from Routledge here.

Global Perspectives in Urban Law: The Legal Power of Cities (Nestor M. Davidson & Geeta Tewari eds., Routledge 1st ed. 2018) #international


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 #environment

· 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 theurbanlawbulletin@gmail.com.

Subscribe to The Urban Law Bulletin here.

The Urban Law Center at Fordham University School of Law

Nestor M. Davidson

Faculty Director, Urban Law Center

Geeta Tewari

Associate Director, Urban Law Center

Urban Law Student Fellow Lead Contributor

Thomas Lloyd

Urban Law Student Fellow Contributors

Brittany Armstead

Emma DeCourcy

Daniel Lavian

Victoria Lee

Steven Stern

Shirley Urena