• Urban Law Bulletin

The Urban Law Bulletin: September 21, 2018

Updated: Oct 5, 2018

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


City-State Relations and Preemption #preemption

Albany to City: Drop Dead

“[B]anning plastic bags, regulating speeding cars near schools, or how to fix the subways, most New York City residents are probably asking the same question: Why are those decisions being made in Albany by the governor and the state Legislature instead of in City Hall by the mayor and the City Council? Legally, the answer is the state Constitution. . . [t]he simple answer to why, though,. . . [i]t’s the result of political calculations.”


Housing and Development #housing #planning

Are Community Land Trusts a Viable Legal Solution to the Affordable Housing Problem? The Oakland Community Land Trust (OakCLT) is protecting some of Oakland’s lowest-income tenants from likely displacement by purchasing properties that are under threat of reverting to market-rate rentals. After purchasing a building, OakCLT endeavors to transfer ownership to the building’s tenants. It does so through the creation of a nonprofit entity called a Limited Equity Housing Cooperative, in which tenants have a share. This arrangement also guarantees tenants the right to remain in their units.

Oakland Community Land Trust purchased this property at 812 East 24th Street to preserve the affordability of several artists' live-work spaces. (Credit: Oakland Community Land Trust)


Environment and Sustainability #equality #sustainability

Including Equity in Climate Action Plans

Former Portland, Oregon Mayor, Sam Adams, urges cities to adopt climate-action plans that

take equity into account even where the law may not. Following the Global Climate Action

Summit held in San Francisco recently, more cities are drafting climate action plans to “Take Ambition to the New Level” in an effort to reduce global emissions by 2020. One such plan, drafted by the Oregon Public Utility Commission, urges for “changes in state law to properly consider impacts on carbon emissions.” Adams warns that by failing to incorporate equity safeguards, cities run the risk of carbon gentrification, where cities by “enact[ing] measures to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions” potentially push “more low-income ratepayers out of the city.”

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti help pack lunches for the needy. They met Tuesday ahead of the global climate summit that began Wednesday in San Francisco. Reed Saxon/AP


Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion #equality

The Suburban Struggle for LGBTQ Rights

“This summer, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in the most important case involving same-sex marriage since it became legal in all 50 states. On its surface, the Masterpiece Cakeshop case looked like it was a contest about discrimination and the meaning of religious liberty.” But the circumstances of the case may actually be more important than the decision. . . As areas outside central cities grow increasingly diverse,” suburban areas are being forced to reexamine their laws and policies related to equity and inclusion, even pertaining to issues as “seemingly trivial” as wedding cakes.


Scholarship Corner #scholarship

Of the roughly 450,000 Americans who are in local jails awaiting trial, many are there because they are poor…This Article is about federal lawsuits challenging various state and local regimes that criminalize poverty and a threshold barrier that has blocked some such federal suits. Under Younger v. Harris — and the doctrine of Younger abstention — federal courts may not disrupt a state criminal proceeding by means of an injunction or declaratory judgment…When a state is engaging in a structural or systemic constitutional violation, federalism interests diminish and the risk of irreparable harm is grave.”

Fred O. Smith, Jr., Abstention in The Time of Ferguson, 113 Harv. L. Rev. 2283 (2018).

Local government formation and boundary change law has a powerful and often underappreciated impact on the ability of local governments to engage in efforts to promote local resiliency. The boundaries of a local government determine the extent of a local government’s regulatory and fiscal jurisdiction, yet legal boundaries often do not correspond to the pressures local governments must respond to. In the context of stormwater management and flood control, examples of the potential mismatch are myriad.”

Kellen Zale, Local Government Formation and Boundary Change in Texas: A Post-Harvey Assessment, 8 Hous. L. Rev. 9 (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 theurbanlawbulletin@gmail.com.

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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

This Week’s Urban Law Student Fellow Contributors

Daniel Lavian

Thomas Lloyd

Steven Stern

Shirley Ureña