Cozen Cities – April 19, 2023

April 19, 2023

Throughout the country, large municipalities are laboratories of democracy. New and innovative policies introduced in one market are often exported to others, and ultimately replicated at the state and federal level. This newsletter highlights emerging local policy and regulatory discussions that impact industries, businesses, and organizations across the nation.

Gig Economy & Technology

NEW YORK — NYPD Rolls Out Robotic “Digidog”

The New York Police Department (NYPD) recently announced a series of high-tech security, including a robotic “digidog” to be used in life-threatening situations.


Labor & Employment

BOSTON — REI Workers File for Union Election

REI workers in Boston have formally filed for a union election, adding to the group of retail workers who are organizing at large stores across the country. The Boston REI store is the sixth in the past year to request union recognition.

CHICAGO — Chicago State University Strike Suspended After 10 Days

Faculty and staff will return to classrooms at the Far South Side campus on April 17 after reaching a tentative deal with Chicago State University administrators.

LOS ANGELES — With L.A. Tourism Rebounding, A Push To Raise LAX, Hotel Workers’ Minimum Wage

Los Angeles City Councilmember Curren Price is pushing to raise the wages of thousands of city hotel and airport workers ahead of a predicted boom in local tourism, introducing a motion for a proposed ordinance that would raise the wages of tourism workers, including privately contracted workers at LAX, to $25 an hour.

LOS ANGELES — Worker Shortage Closes Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach Amid Labor Dispute

A shortage of West Coast port workers forced the busiest U.S. ocean trade gateway to largely shut on April 14, after months of strained labor negotiations between the union dock workers and their employers.

PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia Enforces Wage Theft Law for the First Time

The City of Philadelphia is suing a local construction company for wage theft, marking the first time the City has enforced its 2016 wage theft law.

PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia Coca-Cola Distributor Teamsters Authorize Strike

Unionized warehouse workers, drivers, and sales staff at Liberty Coca-Cola, Philadelphia’s largest Coca-Cola distributor, began striking over the weekend, citing an “insulting” contract proposal by the company.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — New Poll Finds Demand for Remote Work Options Still High

A new Washington Post-Schar School poll finds that 67% of D.C.-area employees would prefer to work remotely most or all of the time, presenting a sizable challenge for city officials and businesses whose goal is to draw workers back to offices downtown.


Policy & Politics

BALTIMORE — Baltimore City Council to Consider Inclusionary Housing Law

Baltimore City Council is considering a new inclusionary housing law, which would require new constructions to reserve a share of its units for low-income residents.

CHICAGO — Chicago to Host 2024 Democratic National Convention

The DNC announced last week that Chicago will host the 2024 Democratic National Convention.

CHICAGO — Progressives Focus on Local-Level Wins in Chicago, St. Louis to Counter Setbacks

In Chicago earlier this month, a former teacher’s union organizer unexpectedly won the mayor’s race. In St. Louis, progressives secured a majority on the municipal board. The next opportunities could lie in Philadelphia and Houston, which also hold mayoral elections this year.

LOS ANGELES — Mayor Karen Bass Delivers First State of the City Address

Mayor Karen Bass delivered her first State of the City address on Monday, highlighting a proposed $250 million expansion of her signature homelessness reduction program and improvements to public safety.

PHILADELPHIA — Former Councilmembers Quiñones Sánchez, Green Suspend Mayoral Campaigns

Former City Councilmembers Maria Quiñones Sánchez and Derek Green have each suspended their mayoral campaigns, both citing difficulty competing with the amounts of money their opponents have been fundraising, leaving five viable Democratic candidates in the race.


Public Health & Safety

BALTIMORE — Mayor Scott Talks Summer Youth Strategy

During his State of the City address Monday evening, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott described a summer youth strategy his administration is planning to implement in order to combat the recent uptick in violence committed by the city’s teenagers.

LOS ANGELES — Debate Continues Over L.A. County Jail Overcrowding Solutions

Los Angeles County Supervisors Lindsey Horvarth and Hilda Solis have proposed that the county “declare the state of mental health services and overcrowding in the Los Angeles County jails a humanitarian crisis.”

NEW YORK — New York Leads City, County Coalition to Protect Access to Medication Abortion

New York City has led a coalition of cities and states nationwide in filing an amicus brief supporting continued safe access to medication abortion.

PHILADELPHIA — Budget Hearings Feature Discussion of Teen Programs

In light of recent incidents of violence and disorderly gatherings, much of Philadelphia City Council’s budget hearing with the Managing Director’s Office and Police Department focused on the city’s extracurricular offerings to teenagers in preparation for the upcoming summer season.

SAN DIEGO — Proposal to Ban Homeless Encampments in San Diego Moving Forward to Full Council for Consideration

An amended version of the Unauthorized Camping Ordinance was approved 3-1 by the San Diego City Council’s Land Use and Housing Committee April 13. It will now move forward to full council with no recommendation and a companion information item.

SEATTLE — Proposed Crisis Centers in Kings County To Appear on Ballot

In Tuesday’s special election, Seattle-area voters will make a choice of whether to fund five new 24-hour mental health crisis centers via a homeowner tax levy.


Real Estate Development

CHICAGO — Commercial Real Estate Braces for Johnson Mayoral Administration

Most of Chicago’s biggest commercial real estate players, including downtown developers, property investors, and trade groups, didn’t get their preferred result in the mayoral election. Now, they’re bracing for what comes next.

DETROIT — Fewer Houses on Market This Spring as Owners Remain Reluctant to Ditch Cheap Mortgages

Mortgage rates are causing problems this spring in metro Detroit’s housing market as homeowners who refinanced or bought a house in 2020-21, back when rates were at historic lows, are now reluctant to sell their houses and part with their cheap mortgage.

PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia City Council Considers Amending Short-Term Rental Industry Regulations

Philadelphia City Council hosted a public hearing to discuss potential amendments to recently implemented regulations on the city’s short-term rental industry, with the ultimate goal of balancing sufficient government oversight of companies like Airbnb with business-friendly policy.

PHILADELPHIA — PIDC to Conduct Independent Impact Study on Proposed Center City Sixers Arena

The Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) has fast-tracked requests for proposals for a community impact analysis, design consultation, and economic analysis for the proposed Center City Sixers basketball arena.


Taxes & Spending

BALTIMORE — Charter Amendment Restores Certain Budgeting Powers to Baltimore City Council

A charter amendment approved by Baltimore voters in 2020 will be going into effect this year, giving City Council the authority to add items to the city budget without relying on mayoral approval for the first time in 125 years.

BOSTON — Mayor Wu Unveils $4.28 Billion Budget

Mayor Michelle Wu has released a $4.28 billion operating budget for FY24, with a focus on core city services, sustainable infrastructure, and housing.

CHICAGO — Governor Pritzker Casts Doubt on Part of Mayor-Elect Johnson’s Tax Plan After First Meeting

After an hour-long meeting with Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson in the governor’s Chicago office, J.B. Pritzker told reporters during a joint news conference that he has “not stood for a transaction tax” because he believes financial services companies would relocate their operations or their computer servers if one were enacted.

DETROIT — Second Consecutive Moody’s Rating Upgrade Puts Detroit on Cusp of Investment Grade Status

Moody’s announced it has upgraded Detroit’s rating to Ba1 with a positive outlook, a move that reflects the improvement and strengthening of the city’s financial position and structural balance.

SAN DIEGO — Mayor Gloria Lays Out $5.12 Billion Budget for FY24

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria revealed his $5.12 billion proposed budget for fiscal year 2024. The mayor calls it his “getting it done” budget, focusing on three top issues, including infrastructure and a major bump in spending to take care of roads in rough shape.


Transportation & Mobility

CHICAGO — Chicago Ranked Among Best Cities for Public Transit

Time Out magazine published a list of the 19 best cities in the world for mass transit, and Chicago came in at number 17.

RICHMOND — RRTPO Begins Planning for “Unexpected Developments”

The Richmond Regional Transportation Planning Organization (RRTPO) has begun planning for potential “unexpected developments” that have the potential to disrupt the city and regional transportation ecosystem over the next 10 to 20 years.

SAN DIEGO — San Diego Pulls in $24 Million in Federal Cash to Upgrade Palm Avenue Bridge in Otay Mesa

The Palm Avenue bridge in Otay Mesa will get a significant overhaul thanks to $24 million in federal cash paid for in part by the bipartisan infrastructure law, officials announced.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Mayor Bowser Proposes Scaling Back Road Safety, Circulator Routes

Among recent cuts proposed in Mayor Muriel Bowser’s 2024 budget are decreases in road safety spending and a halving of the number of routes offered on the D.C. Circulator system.


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