• Urban Law Bulletin

The Urban Law Bulletin: June 2, 2020

Updated: Jun 3, 2020

The Urban Law Bulletin is a bi-weekly e-newsletter highlighting significant news and legal developments in the field of urban law. Below is a selection of critical insights into the urban-legal dimensions of the COVID-19 crisis. We will continue to share similar stories as the situation develops.


Public Health #health

Judge Issues Order for Los Angeles to Move Homeless Living Near Freeways, Citing Health Concerns

On May 15, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter issued a preliminary injunction “requir[ing] city, county and homelessness officials to provide space in shelters or alternative housing for the estimated [7,000 homeless] living near freeway overpasses, underpasses and ramps.” Judge Carter cited health concerns, specifically the contracting and spreading of COVID-19, and the risk of being hit by cars, for the injunction.

Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times


Environment and Sustainability #sustainability

How Car-Clogged Houston Could Be a Climate Policy Leader

Houston adopted a citywide climate action plan to proactively “minimize its impact on the environment.” The plan includes “calls to electrify the city’s fleet of vehicles, switch to renewable sources of energy, and improve energy efficiency in buildings.” The plan also includes a “bicycle master plan,” a “push to overhaul mass transit,” and a move to “eliminate minimum parking requirements by 2030.”

Sharon Steinmann / Bloomberg


Housing and Development #housing

New Threat to New York City: Commercial Rent Payments Plummet

“Across New York City, commercial tenants are falling behind in rent at unprecedented rates as the coronavirus outbreak has caused a nearly complete lockdown of the city for two months. Residential rent collections have also declined as tenants who lost jobs have stopped paying. [T]he erosion of commercial rents . . . has stripped landlords of their largest source of income every month, especially for smaller property owners, and has started to jeopardize the health of their own businesses.”

Chang W. Lee / The New York Times


City Administration and Urban Governance #administration

States and Cities Continue Plunge into Financial Black Hole

“States face revenue shortfalls exceeding 20 percent. Cities and counties have furloughed hundreds of thousands of workers. Already, public employment has fallen more than during the Great Recession.” On May 15, The House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act, providing over $1 trillion in funding to state and local governments. Opponents argue that such “a bailout . . . reward[s] profligate states at the expense of those that have been more prudent.”



Scholarship Corner #scholarship

“It may be bordering on apostasy in certain circles to suggest that Knick v. Township of Scott — in which a sharply divided Supreme Court held that municipal and local governments may be sued in federal court to recover just compensation for Fifth Amendment regulatory takings — is a ruling that municipalities could celebrate . . . The reason why local governments should look for a silver lining in the majority ruling is the unstated premise which all the justices confronted: Are local governments merely conveniences of the state, or are they separate from the state and its judiciary. . . the answer to that question is the latter — state courts resolving state law inverse condemnation and state takings claims are not part of a local.”

Robert H. Thomas, Sublimating Municipal Home Rule and Separation of Powers in Knick v. Township of Scott, 47 Fordham Urb. L.J. 509, 509 - 510 (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, 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

Daniela Weinstein

Haleigh Zillges