• Urban Law Bulletin

The Urban Law Bulletin: March 10, 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

5Pointz graffiti has now made an indelible mark on the law and art

This past month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit “affirmed a landmark 2018 decision awarding street artists $6.75 million in damages for the willful destruction of 45 works of aerosol art in Long Island City, Queens that were displayed on the walls of a building known as 5Pointz . . . The artists’ victory was considered a big win for graffiti, not only legally. It was irrefutable evidence that the form had graduated, achieving stature as high art.”

Forsakenfotos / Flickr / Permitted

Housing and Development #housing

Landlords Are Using Next-Generation Eviction Tech

As “[l]aws that guarantee a lawyer to people facing eviction have found traction in Philadelphia, San Francisco, New York, and other cities . . . landlords with large portfolios of hundreds or thousands of units are turning to technology to give them an edge.” ClickNotices, which tracks rental payments online, is one example of these new “delinquency management platforms.”

Nathan Klima / Boston Globe via Getty Images

Housing and Development #housing

Court dismisses lawsuit challenging city's property tax system

In February 2020, New York State Supreme Court Justice Cynthia Kern dismissed a lawsuit brought by the group Tax Equity Now New York [Tax Equity], a “coalition [of] . . . real estate developers, civil rights groups and homeowners . . . .” Tax Equity claimed that New York’s property tax system discriminates against minority homeowners via inequities in the ways property taxes are assessed and collected. The court held that these methods did not constitute “‘invidious discrimination.’”

Getty Images

Environment and Sustainability #sustainability

Cities Hate It, But Ducey Signs Bill Banning Local Bans on Natural Gas Anyway

As cities across the U.S. move toward electrifying their building sectors and reducing their reliance on natural gas in efforts to lower impact on climate change, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed into law a bill “that will prevent cities and towns . . . from banning natural gas . . . Mayor Kate Gallego of Phoenix has criticized the legislation as undermining local authority.”

Alan Levine via Flickr

City Administration and Urban Governance #administration

In 2019, the Privacy Advisory Commission (PAC), a “citizen-led board” established by the city of Oakland, California “to look at city policies through a privacy lens,” banned the use of facial recognition technology and limited the use of surveillance technology. PAC also works to “clarify general data usage rules and review agreements with . . . [federal] agencies . . . .” In many other U.S. cities, “privacy remains under the purview of the government officials . . . which may or may not provide a forum for hearing citizens' concerns . . . .”

The doormat at the home of an Oakland activist expresses a sense of distrust.

Scholarship Corner #scholarship

“The warranty of habitability was hailed as a ‘revolution’ in landlord-tenant law; it was expected to provide a ‘powerful new remed[y] with which the urban poor could compel landlords to maintain their buildings adequately.’ This Article presents . . . 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.”

Nicole Summers, The Limits of Good Law: A Study of Housing Court Outcomes, 87 U. Chi. L.J. 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.

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

Haleigh Zillges