Urban Law Bulletin: October 9, 2018
The Urban Law Bulletin is a bi-weekly e-newsletter highlighting significant news and legal developments in the field of urban law.
Transportation and Infrastructure #transportation
The Cincinnati City Council has removed the requirement that developers build parking facilities or spaces when they develop in certain downtown neighborhoods. The move is aimed to help densify downtown neighborhoods, as well as lower the cost of housing. Developers typically mix parking costs into the price of a monthly rental. However, some worry that the removal of parking minimums is premature, and will encourage developers to forgo building parking spaces even when they are needed.
Environment and Sustainability #sustainability
Even before Hurricane Florence, black communities in North Carolina were exposed to environmental hazards as a result of “toxic odorous emissions” coming from hog farms and hog-waste lagoons. African-American residents sued Smithfield Farms, and its hog-production division, Murphy Brown, in 2015 for decades of health issues related to the toxic practices by the hog farms. The problem became worse with “at least 21 pig-feces lagoons” spilling over following Hurricane Florence. The author argues that these issues are not limited to environmental justice, but also closely relate to “racism-made disasters,” that have forced African-Americans into these communities and the law’s failure to protect them.
Public Health #health
In the past four years, roughly 400 cities, counties, and states have initiated lawsuits seeking recovery for their additional public spending traceable to the opioid epidemic. Everything from policing, education, foster care, the provision of health care, even the operation of coroner’s officers, have all been made more expensive. Facing these spiraling costs, the governmental plaintiffs contend that the opioid defendants—who, they contend, caused and profited from this crisis—should foot the bill. This week, another two West Virginia Counties and two cities filed their own suit.
City-State Relations and Preemption #preemption
Cemetery Case Could Change Path for Property Rights Claims Against Local Governments On Wednesday the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Knick v. Township of Scott, a dispute arising out of a city ordinance that required Knick to allow public access to a cemetery on her land. The court seems poised to overturn its 1985 precedent, Williamson County Regional Planning Commission v. Hamilton Bank of Johnson City which held that 5th amendment “takings” claims are not ripe for federal court until the claims are first litigated in state court. If the precedent is reversed, it will make it easier for litigants to bring takings cases in federal court. Further complicating the case is the unique status of cemeteries at common law. For initial analysis impressions of the oral argument itself, click here.
City Administration and Urban Governance #administration
‘Public Charge’ Rule Would Present Challenges for Cities The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service proposed an amendment to the “Public Charge” rule, which is used to evaluate whether a potential citizen might become a burden on the government. The amendment would broaden the criteria used to evaluate potential citizens to include whether they have at any point in the last three years received SNAP (food stamps) benefits, Medicaid, Medicare Part D, housing vouchers, or rental assistance. Participation in any program would count against an immigrant applying for a green card. Municipal officials, like Bitta Mostofi, commissioner of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, fear that these changes will have a chilling effect on immigrants seeking public assistance and undermine trust between immigrant communities and local governments.
Scholarship Corner #scholarship
“Vegetated, or “green,” roofs provide numerous social and environmental benefits to urban areas. Compared with conventional roofs, green roofs promote biodiversity, reduce building energy use, decrease noise, and improve the productivity of solar photovoltaic installations. They can also mitigate the urban heat island effect and reduce stormwater runoff, thereby diminishing flooding and pollution of local waterways. As the effects of climate change worsen, and extreme heat and rainfall events become more common, these attributes will become all the more valuable. . . This Article asks, how can [a model] incentive program be reformed to encourage more property owners to turn their roofs green?”
Danielle Spiegel-Feld & Lauren Sherman, Expanding Green Roofs in New York City: Towards a Location-Specific Tax Incentive, 19 NYU Env. L. J. 101, 2018
We thank the Urban Law Center's Urban Law Student Fellows and Undergraduate Intern 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Nestor M. Davidson
Faculty Director, Urban Law Center
Associate Director, Urban Law Center
This Week’s Urban Law Student Fellow Contributors