• Urban Law Bulletin

The Urban Law Bulletin: February 18, 2020

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

Judge Upholds Northam’s Ban on Guns Outside Va. Capitol for Monday’s Rally

In January, a Circuit Court judge “upheld Gov. Ralph Northam’s temporary ban on firearms in [Virginia’s] Capitol Square” in anticipation of a gun rights rally to be held later that month. The ban was a response to reports of potential violence” by “militias and gun rights advocates.” Pro-gun groups, including Virginia Citizens Defense League and Gun Owners of America, argued that the ban “infringed on protesters’ rights to arms, assembly, and speech,” and planned to appeal the decision.

(Steve Helber/AP)

Housing and Development #housing

The Last Days of SB50, California’s Doomed Upzoning Bill

A controversial California bill [SB50], put forth to promote “higher-density housing near transit stops,” was defeated by the State Senate this past month. The bill proposed to “rewrite local zoning laws to allow multi-unit buildings in areas previously reserved for single-family homes” in communities “amenable to car-free mobility . . . .” Proponents argued that “housing built in urban areas, near transit, jobs and services . . . can reduce greenhouse gas pollution more effectively than any other option.” Critics cited concerns about “harming communities already vulnerable to housing displacement.”

Michael Short/Bloomberg

Housing and Development #housing

Tacoma’s Got Housing Vouchers Just for College Students

Tacoma’s Housing Authority [THA] launched a College Housing Assistance Program to provide subsidized housing units to homeless or near homeless students. THA found that the recipients of housing assistance had higher enrollment and graduation rates, as well as higher GPAs than students in similar positions who did not receive housing assistance. In January, the University of Washington Tacoma announced another apartment building with subsidized housing available for “homeless or housing-insecure” students.

Photo by Joe Wolf / CC BY-ND 2.0

Technology #technology

Facial Recognition Moves Into a New Front: Schools

In January, Lockport City School District became the first in New York to implement facial recognition technology. Proponents see it “as a crucial crime-fighting tool, to help prevent mass shootings and stop sexual predators.” In December 2019, the federal government released a study, one of the largest of its kind, that found that most commercial facial recognition systems exhibited bias, falsely identifying African-American and Asian faces 10 to 100 times more than Caucasian faces.

Libby March for The New York Times

Scholarship Corner #scholarship

"[D]igital technology is increasingly expected not only to transform relationships between local politicians and voters in democratic processes, but also to engage and empower ordinary citizens to have a voice in monitoring electoral processes by new electronic means . . . [E]ngaging citizens in the forgotten level of local government can improve participation and the ability of local authorities to create more inclusive and cohesive communities . . . .”

Deodatus Patrick Shayo, Citizen Participation in Local Democracy Online: A Snapshot of Trends and Challenges in Adoption of Crowdsourcing Methods in Tanzania, 2 J. of Soc. and Pol. Sciences (Nov. 2019).


We thank the Urban Law Center’s Urban Law Student Fellows for assisting in preparation of The Bulletin, which provides news in 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 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 Center

Geeta Tewari

Director, Urban Law Center

Urban Law Student Fellow Contributors

Quinn D’Isa

Justin Meshulam

Haleigh Zillges