• Urban Law Bulletin

The Urban Law Bulletin: January 28, 2020

The Urban Law Bulletin is a bi-weekly e-newsletter highlighting significant news and legal developments in the field of urban law.


Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion #equality

The Made-Up Crisis Behind the State Takeover of Houston’s Public Schools

This January, a Texas court temporarily blocked state takeover of the Houston Independent School District, ordering a trial to decide the issue in June. “Following a 2015 law, HB 1842, the state of Texas was granted authority to take over a school district if a single school in that district fails to meet state education standards for five or more years . . . .” In issuing a temporary injunction, the court wrote that an immediate takeover would cause “irreparable harm.”

Houston's John J. Pershing Middle School (Photo by Henry Han/CC BY-SA 3.0)

Public Health #health

Chinese cities cancel New York celebrations, travel ban widens in effort to stop coronavirus outbreak

“Chinese cities, including Beijing and quarantine-blocked Wuhan, banned all large gatherings over the coming Lunar New Year festival . . . in an expanding effort to contain a rapidly spreading coronavirus outbreak . . . At least 26 deaths have been confirmed . . . [and] [a]t least 835 people have been infected.” U.S.-bound travelers from Wuhan have been rerouted to five international airports for screening.

Medical staff in protective clothing at the Red Cross Hospital in Wuhan, central China, the epicenter of an outbreak of viral pneumonia. Credit: Hector Retamal/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Transportation and Infrastructure #transportation

Will Free-Transit Fever Spread?

Currently, thirty-two cities in the United States, including most recently, Kansas City, Missouri, run free transit systems. Free public transportation is now being explored in Miami, Florida. Miami-Dade County Commissioner Xavier Suarez argues “‘[g]iven the fact that total revenues from buses and Metrorail barely exceed $100 million, which is less than two percent of the operating budget for the county, the time has come to induce the use of mass transit by any and all means.’

(Photo by Ed Webster / CC BY 2.0)

Housing and Development #housing

Seattle to Transition City-Owned Buildings Away From Fossil Fuels

Seattle’s Mayor recently signed an executive order “advancing a Green New Deal for the city.” The advancement focuses on transitioning “municipal buildings away from using fossil fuels.” The city has placed goals to expand green energy jobs and “invest in job training to transition affected workers to other positions” to address the “economic impact of lost jobs for all those who . . . are dependent on the fossil fuel industry.”

Credit: Bala from Seattle, USA [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Technology #technology

NYC’s New Internet Master Plan Aims To Close Digital Divide

New York City Mayor de Blasio has released a new Internet Master Plan , “to partner with private companies to bring affordable, high-speed internet service to the city . . . . ” City data has shown that approximately “40% of residents lack either mobile or home broadband service . . . [and] [t]he planned infrastructure, if built throughout the entire city, would cost an estimated $2.1 billion, although the initial focus will be on unconnected neighborhoods.”

Credit: Ryan McKnight

Scholarship Corner #scholarship

"This Article presents the results of the first large-scale empirical study rigorously assessing the extent to which there is a warranty of habitability operationalization gap—a gap between the number of tenants with meritorious claims and the number of tenants who receive some benefit from the claim. Determining that there is a large gap, the study explores the reasons underlying it through further empirical analysis.”

Summers, Nicole (2020) The Limits of Good Law: A Study of Housing Court Outcomes, University of Chicago Law Review, 87 U. of Chic. L. Rev. 145, 148 - 149 (2020).


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.

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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