• Urban Law Bulletin

The Urban Law Bulletin: July 21, 2020

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


Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion #equality

In Seattle, Protests Over Racial Equity Turn to Land Ownership

Activists from the Central District, the “heart of Seattle’s Black community,” are looking to further develop their “community land trust – a nonprofit entity that collectively owns and holds property for community uses.” “Their campaign, ‘King County Equity Now,’ sets forth several demands for handing over vacant lots, a nursing home, and other properties to Black community ownership, in addition to establishing a $500 million anti-gentrification land acquisition fund.”

Karen Ducey / Getty Images North America


City Administration and Urban Governance #administration

Chicago Unveils Plan for Its Post-Pandemic Recovery

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot released recommendations to help rebuild the economy and improve racial equity. “Many of the recommendations are ambitious . . . goals around equity and increased minority business ownership that have eluded Chicago and other cities for decades. Even the simplest ideas — such as creating and staffing a multilingual 211 service to help residents access social service programs — pose a challenge for a city that’s facing a $700 million budget shortfall.”

David Kidd


City Administration and Urban Governance #administration

Money talks: U.S. Town Prints Own Currency to Boost Coronavirus Relief

The town of Tenino, “located about [sixty] miles southwest of Seattle, started printing [] local banknotes in April” to “bolster[] the town’s economy.” “Anyone with a documented loss of income as a result of the pandemic is eligible for up to $300 a month of the local currency,” coming in the form of “$25 wooden bills.” Local “businesses . . . accept the wooden note for everything except alcohol, tobacco, cannabis and lottery tickets.”

Thomson Reuters Foundation / Gregory Scruggs


Pubic Health #health #COVID-19

What Could Be: A 2030 Retrospective on Urban Mobility After COVID-19

In the wake of the coronavirus, cities have the opportunity to rethink the way in which they facilitate mobility. Transit ridership is down across the world, between 50-90%. In the U.S., San Francisco’s BART system is losing $55 million a month. In Brazil, reports show a daily loss of more than $188 million. The U.S. CARES Act included $25 billion in emergency relief for transit agencies.

Jens Schott Knudsen / Flickr


City-State Relations and Preemption #preemption

States Are Abusing Preemption Powers in the Midst of a Pandemic

Conflicts between state and municipal governments over issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as mask requirements and stay-at-home orders, provide “some of the most egregious examples in recent history . . . of a long-term trend of state governments overriding local control.”



Scholarship Corner #scholarship

“As the impacts of marine plastic pollution become ever more apparent, a number of states have begun calling for the development of a new international agreement to address the problem. This Essay considers which jurisdictional entities should be engaged in the drafting of such an agreement if one should materialize. While nation states have traditionally been the main entities recognized as having the legal personality to make treaties, cities have the potential to substantially advance efforts to mitigate certain international environmental problems, including the plague of global marine plastic pollution. We argue, on functional grounds, that this potential should be acknowledged, indeed encouraged, by engaging cities in the development of international action to address these problems. In particular, we suggest a ‘city supplement’ to international agreements dealing with environmental problems where there are functional reasons for involving cities.”

Danielle Spiegel-Feld & Katrina M. Wyman, Cities As International Environmental Actors: The Case of Marine Plastics, 62 Ariz. L. Rev. 487 (2020).


Law and the New Urban Agenda (Nestor M. Davidson & Geeta Tewari eds., Routledge 1st ed. 2020). #international

Given COVID-19’s impact on cities globally, it is more important than ever to highlight the significance of urban law and policy for students. Law and the New Urban Agenda examines the legal dimensions of the United Nations' New Urban Agenda (NUA), a globally shared understanding of the vital link between urbanization and a sustainable future.

Law and the New Urban Agenda underscores the value of urban law as a discipline in supporting the healthy development of inclusive cities for all. This timely volume sheds light on the many complex challenges that urban growth poses for legal systems around the globe, and I commend this eclectic group of scholars for their engagement with the New Urban Agenda.

Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director, UN-Habitat

This book is available from Routledge here.


We thank the Urban Law Center’s Urban Law Research Fellows for assisting in preparation of The Bulletin. The Bulletin categorizes 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 Student Fellow Contributors

Quinn D’Isa

Justin Meshulam

John Planamento

Daniela Weinstein

Haleigh Zillges