• Urban Law Bulletin

The Urban Law Bulletin: February 26, 2019

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


Urban Mobility #mobility

Mapping the Growing Gap Between Job Seekers and Employment

In some cities, such as San Francisco, Boston, and Chicago, ample jobs exist, but there is a dearth of workers within a reasonable distance to those jobs. In other cities, such as Atlanta, Miami, and Detroit, there are plenty of job-seekers, but a lack of jobs within a reasonable distance of those workers. This phenomenon is outlined in a recent report by the Urban Institute. High housing costs do not allow hourly workers to live within a reasonable distance to the Bay Area’s plentiful available jobs. In 2017, new jobs outnumbered new available housing by over 70 percent. In Columbus, Ohio, local government is attempting to restore balance by connecting more neighborhoods to job centers by public transportation, and by establishing community land trusts to help lower-income residents stay in place as housing costs rise in its urban core. According to the Urban Institute report, employers can also contribute to a solution by ensuring their jobs are worth commuting to. This can be accomplished through benefit packages, transportation incentives, or higher wages.

Jae C. Hong/AP


Law and Justice #justice

Why the Case Against the Obama Presidential Center Is So Important

Plans to bring the Obama Presidential Center to Chicago’s South Side are on hold. Judge John Robert Blakey of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ruled that a lawsuit brought by Protect Our Parks along with three individual plaintiffs can move forward. The complaint against the City of Chicago and Chicago Park District charges that the expropriation of 20 acres of Jackson Park to host Obama’s library violates the public trust doctrine. Rooted in Roman civil law, the public trust doctrine places public land-use rights above private claims. The battle over the rights to Jackson Park is emblematic of the backlash garnered when city officials make deals with private developers behind closed doors. Google’s Toronto waterfront scheme, as well as Amazon’s H2Q plans were similarly met by stiff opposition. A decision on the merits in this case would go a long way in determining the legality of land-use practices throughout the country.

A design maquette for the Obama Presidential Center planned for Jackson Park and designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects with Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. Obama Foundation


City-State Relations and Preemption #preemption

Because of Louisiana, the Minimum Wage in New Orleans Is a Poverty Wage

Across Louisiana, the minimum wage remains $7.25 an hour. Even after sweeping changes to minimum wages across the United States, the state has opted to rely on the default federal minimum. In New Orleans, a city that earned $7.5 billion in revenue through tourism alone, local leaders have pledged support to a $15 minimum wage. But such support does little, where in the case of Louisiana, “local governments are ‘preempted’…from setting their own minimum wage” for the communities they serve. According to the “Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE) Report” from the United Way of Southeast Louisiana, a NoLa resident would need to earn $11.09 per hour to “cover basic necessities.” This amount grows depending on whether one is seeking stability or has more than one mouth to feed. Each time Louisiana attempts to raise the minimum wage, it has been met with opposition from “powerful lobbying groups like the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) and the Louisiana chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).” As noted in the article, even a small increase to $8.50 would serve as a raise to thousands of New Orleanians.

A sanitation employee helps homeless people with their possessions in New Orleans in October 2017. Gerald Herbert/AP


Scholarship Corner #scholarship

“Local governments have been working toward environmental goals on a number of fronts, especially through climate change mitigation and adaptation. But in this Article, I want to address a topic that would likely be considered outside the traditional canon, but one that constitutes a growing and important part of environmental law: local and regional food systems . . . A number of local governments have been adopting what are known as “food sovereignty” ordinances with a variety of goals, including improving their ability to produce and consume locally grown food. . . In discussing the relationship between state

and local governments, and the fact that local governments often lack power to take bold actions to advance environmental goals, this Part will suggest that this leaves a lot of room for states to step in and take actions to encourage and empower local governments. Part VI presents an example of a state doing just that: it addresses Maine’s passage of a State law recognizing local food sovereignty and the federalism issues that this law raised.”

Sarah Schindler, Food Federalism: States, Local Governments, and the Fight for Food Sovereignty, 79 Ohio L. J. 761 (2018)

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

Steven Stern

Shirley Ureña