• Urban Law Bulletin

The Urban Law Bulletin: October 25, 2018

Updated: Jan 29, 2019

This week's Urban Law Bulletin highlights issues including mobility, planning and sustainability.


Urban Planning and Space #planning

NYC  Pilot Program Hopes to Beautify Miles of Scaffolding

Scaffolding may be a necessary safety precaution, but it is typically devoid of any curb appeal. That is about to change in New York City. The NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, Department of Buildings, and Office of the Mayor are amending city codes to allow art on the city’s 280 miles of scaffolding. The initiative, called City Canvas, is a 24 month pilot program to “improve the pedestrian experience” and “increase opportunities for cultural organizations and artists” to present art. Proposals must be site-specific, and should highlight the work of local artists. The cost of production and installation of the artwork will be absorbed by the selected nonprofit, not the city.


“Color Mesh,” by Mauricio Lopez. (Credit: Courtesy NYC Department of Cultural Affairs)


Law and Justice #justice

Where It’s Legal to Reverse the Vote of the People

Just last week, the D.C. city council voted to repeal Initiative 77, a ballot measure passed in June by D.C. voters to raise the minimum wage for tipped workers. In states across the nation, lawmakers have developed procedures to circumvent citizen-initiated ballot measures. There are only 21 states where citizens can introduce ballot initiatives and of those 21 states, 11 states allow lawmakers to repeal such initiatives at will. Citizens’ rights’ groups stress concern: When lawmakers follow procedures, whether lawful or not, to stifle direct democracy procedures, they call into question the very fabric of our nation - a self-governance democracy.


John Minchillo/AP


Urban Mobility #mobility

France to Allow Congestion Pricing in Bid to Reduce Traffic Jams

A new draft law on mobility is currently being vetted by the French state council. The law is aimed at reducing congestion, traffic jams, travel times, accidents, and pollution.  It follows the lead of other European cities, including London and Stockholm, which have implemented similar plans. Under the draft plan cities with 100,000 plus residents could charge up to €2.5 euros per entry into congestion delineated zones for private cars, and cities with more than 500,000 residents could charge up to €5 euros for private cars. Proceeds from the congestion charge will go to the local authorities “who can define the toll area, timing and tariffs with a view to limit car circulation and pollution.”


Rush hour traffic fills the ring road in Paris, France, June 28, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo


Environment and Sustainability #sustainability

A City That Takes Climate Change Seriously: Paris

Earlier this month the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report on the consequences of 1.5°C of warming. While the IPCC estimates dramatic changes are necessary to limit warming to 1.5°C, Paris has already implemented several mitigation and adaptation programs. With its programs to combat the urban heat effect, remove car lanes, add green space to public areas, and numerous other initiatives, Paris has quickly established itself as a model for municipal climate change policy, and the lessons of its experience are critical for other cities only beginning the process of preparing for climate change.


Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo visiting the climate-adapted kindergarten schoolyard at Avenue Daumesnil. Guillaume Bontemps


Scholarship Corner #scholarship

The United States is deeply divided on matters that range from immigration to religion to fracking. ‘Blue’ states resist ‘red’ federal policies, and intra-state disputes pit state legislatures against their local governments. One of these intergovernmental policy flare-ups involves so-called ‘sanctuary jurisdictions’—government actors that object to more aggressive immigration enforcement by slow walking their voluntary compliance or denying it altogether. In some cases, they have filed lawsuits to voice their dissent. This Article analyzes the recent wave of sanctuary jurisdiction lawsuits in detail and identifies ways in which they undermine claims that local governments are ‘mere instrumentalities of the state’ or otherwise powerless in the face of federal or state authority..”


Toni M. Massaro & Shefali Milczarek-Desal, Constitutional Cities: Sanctuary Jurisdictions, Local Voice, and Individual Liberty, 50 Columbia Human Rights Law Review 1, 2018



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 #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 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 Contributors

Brittany Armstead

Daniel Lavian

Victoria Lee

Thomas Lloyd

Steven Stern

Shirley Ureña

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