Cozen Cities – April 24, 2024

April 24, 2024

Gig Economy & Technology

DETROIT — Newlab Startups Ignite Detroit’s Tech Renaissance

One year in, the members-only shared workspace, research lab, and venture platform in the former Book Depository building next to Michigan Central Station is driving innovations and creating a pipeline for new businesses to come into the city.

LOS ANGELES — Waymo to Launch Paid Robotaxi Service in L.A.

Waymo announced the launch of its paid robotaxi rides in Los Angeles. As autonomous taxis continue to receive buzz, General Motors (GM) subsidiary Cruise said it will be resuming some operations and Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he was planning a product launch in August.

MINNEAPOLIS — Minimum Pay for Uber, Lyft Drivers in Minneapolis Pushed Back to July

In response to rideshare companies threatening to pull out of the Twin Cities area if a minimum compensation ordinance went into effect, the Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously to postpone the effective date to July 1. Alternate proposals have been introduced.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — D.C. an AI Job Hotspot

The D.C. area has become an artificial intelligence (AI) job hotspot, with an unmet demand in government and the private sector, driven by the defense industry’s interest and recent federal mandates.


Labor & Employment

BALTIMORE — City Claims Owner of Ship that Hit Key Bridge Was Negligent

Baltimore officials argue that the owner and manager of the cargo ship responsible for the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse should be held directly liable for damages, refuting the companies’ request to limit liability and asserting negligence in court documents.

CHICAGO — Chicago Park District Reaches Deal with Employees to Avoid Strike

More than 2,200 unionized Chicago Park District workers reached a tentative labor agreement with the city.

DETROIT — Strikes Set by Detroit-Area Doctors, Nurses

Registered nurses, physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners at MyMichigan Medical Center Sault in Sault Ste. Marie and Ascension St. John Hospital in Detroit plan to take to the picket lines, alleging unfair labor practices.

LOS ANGELES — City Bus Workers Approve Contract for Higher Wages, Benefits

L.A. City bus drivers, mechanics, and utility workers overwhelmingly ratified a new contract that includes higher wages and benefit improvements, the union representing the employees announced.

LOS ANGELES — City Council Approves Double-Digit Raises for Tens of Thousands of Workers

Raises ranging from 18% to 24% come as City officials grapple with a budget deficit.

PHILADELPHIA — City Council Votes to Expand Worker Protections

Last week, the Philadelphia City Council passed an expansion of worker protections aimed at providing job security for Center City office building workers. The bill, which was pocket-vetoed by former Mayor Jim Kenney in December, heads to Mayor Cherelle Parker’s desk for approval.

Policy & Politics

CHICAGO — City Council Approves $70M More in Migrant Funding

Chicago will dedicate an additional $70 million to its efforts to house, feed, and provide other services to thousands of asylum seekers, after the City Council approved Mayor Brandon Johnson’s request for more funds to address the city’s migrant crisis.

LOS ANGELES — Mayor Bass Delivers Second State of the City Address

Homelessness, crime, and the City budget were key topics in Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass’ second State of the City speech.

LOS ANGELES — City Council Committee Hears Early Plans for Eliminating Vacant Positions

With Los Angeles facing budget challenges brought on in part by $289 million in overspending, a City Council committee voted unanimously to continue discussions on a plan to eliminate nearly 2,000 vacant positions across a range of departments.

PHILADELPHIA — Mayor Parker Signs Several Executive Orders

Mayor Parker signed several executive orders in recent weeks, including the implementation of new anti-discrimination policies for City workers, the re-establishment of the City’s Capital Program Office, and the streamlining of City permit and licensing processes.

RICHMOND — Which Mayoral Candidates Are Winning the Fundraising Race?

Recently filed campaign finance reports for Richmond’s mayoral race show political newcomer Harrison Roday leading in fundraising, followed by Andreas Addison, Michelle Mosby, and Maurice Neblett. Dr. Danny Avula, who entered the race recently, has not yet filed a campaign fundraising report. Meanwhile, all nine district City Council seats are up for election.

SEATTLE — SPS Projects Significant Budget Deficit for 2024-25 Academic Year

Seattle Public Schools (SPS) is projected to incur up to $111 million in debt, prompting the school district to reconsider certain administrative operations ahead of the final budget vote in July.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — “Generational” Ward 7 Race; Recall Efforts Underway in Wards 1, 6

Candidates for the Ward 7 D.C. Council seat are grappling with the effects of redistricting and the departure of longtime Councilmember Vincent Gray, with no clear frontrunner emerging in a crowded field. Meanwhile, concerns about crime and safety have prompted recall efforts for Councilmembers Brianne Nadeau (Ward 1) and Charles Allen (Ward 6).

Public Health & Safety

BALTIMORE — City Updates Violence-Reduction Plan with New Youth Justice Pillar

Baltimore City’s violence-prevention plan has been updated with new goals to reduce youth arrests, provide community-based solutions and services, and expand initiatives like the Group Violence Reduction Strategy (GVRS) to the Eastern District.

DETROIT — Detroit Program Reducing Violent Crime, Deputy U.S. AG Says

Deputy U.S. Attorney General Lisa Monaco, Detroit Police Chief James White, and Deputy Mayor Todd Bettison held a press conference in the City’s Public Safety Headquarters, before privately meeting with other law enforcement officials and community stakeholders to discuss the One Detroit Violence Reduction Partnership, which launched last year.

LOS ANGELES — City Council Member Lashes Out About Public Safety Policies

Los Angeles City Councilmember Traci Park (District 11) lashed out at the problem of public safety in the city, blaming “catch-and-release” and “criminals-are-the-victims” policies for making the city unsafe.

MINNEAPOLIS — Residents Near South Minneapolis Homeless Encampment Decry Crime, “Chaos”

For the second time in less than three years, residents near East 29th Street and Fifth Avenue South in Minneapolis are living next to an encampment.

NEW YORK — City Announces Pilot Program to Help Secure Housing for Domestic Violence Survivors

Mayor Eric Adams and New York’s Department of Social Services unveiled Project Home, a program aimed at providing safe, permanent housing for survivors of domestic and gender-based violence.

PHILADELPHIA — City’s Emphasis on Law Enforcement Part of Larger National Trend

The shift in Philadelphia’s political landscape toward a more law-enforcement-reliant approach — and Mayor Parker’s rejection of more progressive drug policies — to combat the open-air drug market in Kensington may be indicative of a wider national trend.

RICHMOND — Lawmakers Implement Youth Curfew

Richmond officials implemented a curfew for minors, among other strategies, to combat the uptick in gun violence impacting the city’s schools and students.

RICHMOND — City Officials Respond to Public Housing Evictions, Reduced Shelter Capacity

Richmond City Council members are planning to discuss long-term solutions to prevent homelessness in response to public outcry over public housing evictions and reduced homeless shelter capacity.

SEATTLE — Mayor Harrell Introduces Legislation to Reduce Vacant Building Fire Risks

Mayor Bruce Harrell proposed an amendment to the City’s fire code that would require a comprehensive overhaul of buildings that Seattle’s fire department deems unsafe.

Real Estate Development

CHICAGO — Mayor Johnson Announces “Cut the Tape” Report to Streamline Construction Development Approvals

The Johnson Administration announced bold new plans to streamline construction and affordable housing development approval processes.

CHICAGO — Mayor Johnson Seeks More than $150M in TIF Assistance for La Salle Street Revamp

The four projects named by Mayor Johnson’s office stand to create more than 1,000 new apartments with at least 319 projected to have affordable rents through tax increment financing assistance.

LOS ANGELES — State Awards Funding for 17 L.A. County Affordable Housing Developments

Seventeen projects in Los Angeles County are set to receive more than $130 million in total for affordable housing developments. Collectively, these projects would account for more 1,300 new homes.

MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis Realtors Fulfill Public Apology Over Discriminatory Home Buying Policies

The racial disparity between Black and white homeowners persists, and Minnesota has one of the largest gaps in the country. Two years ago, some of the area’s most prominent realtors publicly apologized for perpetuating the problem.

NEW YORK — City Council Approves Zoning Change for Casinos

The New York City Council voted to approve a zoning change that will allow casinos to operate in the city, ahead of a state-led initiative for three new NYC casinos next year.

RICHMOND — Richmond City Council to Consider $3M Coliseum Demolition

The Richmond City Council may soon vote to allocate $3 million in additional funds to demolish the defunct Richmond Coliseum, deemed a high priority due to liability and security risks, with its future tied to the goals of creating a vibrant district.

SEATTLE — SHG Set to Own Two Seattle Brewing Companies

After acquiring Pike Brewing back in 2021, Seattle Hospitality Group (SHG) announced that it will buyout Fremont Brewing.

Taxes & Spending

BOSON — Mayor Wu Releases $4.6B City Spending Plan

Mayor Michelle Wu released her $4.6 billion spending plan for FY25, which she states would boost city spending by $344 million, or 8%.

CHICAGO — Mayor Johnson’s $1.25B Borrowing Plan Sails Through City Council

The Chicago City Council approved Mayor Johnson’s $1.25 billion budget. With interest, the plan could cost the City $2.4 billion over 37 years, though the administration says money will be recouped by property tax revenue from expiring TIF districts.

DETROIT —  City Council Adopts $2.7B FY25 Budget

The Detroit City Council adopted the mayor’s proposed $2.7 billion budget five minutes before midnight after long discussions regarding recommended uses of the City’s one-time funds.

LOS ANGELES — “Mansion Tax” Measure Faces Repeal

The purpose of Los Angeles’ “mansion tax” was to utilize the generated revenue to fund initiatives aimed at addressing the city’s homelessness crisis. However, the measure is now facing a repeal, as the projected revenue it was anticipated to generate has failed to meet its benchmarks.

LOS ANGELES — Mayor Bass Urges L.A.’s Wealthy to Fund Homeless Housing

During her State of the City address, Mayor Bass unveiled a new campaign that asks business leaders, philanthropic organizations, and others to donate millions of dollars to an effort to acquire buildings so they can be used as apartments for the city’s homeless population.

PHILADELPHIA — City Council Conducts FY25 Budget Hearings

Recent City budget hearings have brought scrutiny to Philadelphia’s Office of Homeless Services for its overspending of nearly $15 million last year, a deep dive into the new Office of Clean & Green Initiatives, and details about the Philadelphia Police Department’s $877 million budget request.

SAN DIEGO — Mayor Gloria’s Unveils $5.25B FY25 Budget

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria released a $5.65 billion proposed budget that increases spending on homelessness and flood prevention but cuts free city Wi-Fi, help for immigrants, and other low-profile programs.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — City May Clash with Congress Over FY25 Budget

A dispute over D.C.’s budget may lead to another standoff between City officials and Congress, as D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson threatens to defy the chief financial officer’s requirement to allocate more than $200 million for emergencies.

Transportation & Mobility

BOSTON — Hitachi Rail Sues MBTA for $158M

Hitachi Rail, the builder responsible for integrating a federally authorized safety system for Commuter Rail, sued the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) for regularly demanding work beyond contractual agreements.

CHICAGO — E-Scooters No Longer Banned in Chicago

The Chicago City Council passed an ordinance lifting the overnight restrictions and invited more companies to apply to join Chicago’s fleet.

CHICAGO — Red Line Extension “Top Priority” for Biden Administration, CTA

Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) President Dorval Carter said the agency is on track to hit a major milestone in the Red Line Extension project by the end of the year, with construction on the massive project expected to begin in 2025.

LOS ANGELES — Tunneling Wraps Up on L.A. Metro’s $9.5B D Line Extension

After five years, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) has completed boring for the final section of the $9.5 billion D Line Subway Extension.

SAN DIEGO — San Diego Ranks Among Best Cities for Clean Transit

San Diego is among the nation’s top metro areas limiting transportation’s impact on greenhouse gas emissions, according to a recent report.

SAN DIEGO — City Council Considers EV Charging Network Contract

Depending on the results of a complex revenue-sharing agreement, the City could owe as much as $60 million in reimbursement costs for the electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure installed.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — How D.C. Pulled Its Public Transit from the Brink

How D.C.’s Metro revamped its services with federal aid and defied traditional transit funding models to achieve higher ridership serves as a lesson for other metro areas and highlights the importance of public investment in transit as a service.


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