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
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.
Housing and Development #housing
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.”
Housing and Development #housing
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Nestor M. Davidson
Faculty Director, Urban Law Center
Director, Urban Law Center
Urban Law Student Fellow Contributors