Cozen Cities – April 5, 2023

April 5, 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

SEATTLE —  Gig Workers to Receive Paid Sick, Safe Leave

The city will be providing paid sick and safe leave for most gig workers, who will accrue a day of paid sick leave for every 30 days they do work in Seattle.

Labor & Employment

DETROIT —  Michigan First State in Decades to Repeal “Right-to-Work” Law

Michigan, long known as a mainstay of organized labor, on March 24 became the first state in decades to repeal a union-restricting law known as “right-to-work” that was passed over a decade ago by a Republican-controlled Legislature.

LOS ANGELES —  Los Angeles Schools, Union Leaders Reach Deal on Worker Pay, Benefits After Strike

The Los Angeles Unified School District and union leaders said March 24 they reached a deal on pay raises for bus drivers, custodians and other support staff after a three-day strike that shut down the nation’s second-largest school system.

PHILADELPHIA — Unionized Philadelphia Airport Restaurant Workers Discover What They Believed to Be a New Contract Was Merely a “Handshake Deal”

Employees of 15 restaurants at the Philadelphia International Airport had been waiting for changes to contracts that they believed had been successfully negotiated in June 2022 when they discovered that the agreement had allegedly only been a “handshake deal” between the union and their employer.

Policy & Politics

BALTIMORE — City Council Weighs Potential Affordable Housing Tax Credit

Baltimore City Council is considering creating a tax credit to address the need for more affordable housing while stalling a measure that developers say could inadvertently inflate development costs.

BOSTON — Expansion of Boston’s Tuition-Free Community College Program

Boston’s tuition-free community college program will be expanding to all residents this fall, regardless of their age, income, or immigration status.

CHICAGO — Brandon Johnson Wins Chicago Mayoral Election; Paul Vallas Concedes

Brandon Johnson has defeated Paul Vallas to become the next mayor of Chicago, the Associated Press has declared.

CHICAGO —  Lame-Duck City Council Makes Power Grab Amid Cries of Foul

An unprecedented reorganization approved March 30 boosts City Council’s committee numbers to weaken the mayor’s authority. However, critics say that this change should have been left up to the incoming Council.

LOS ANGELES —  Longtime Los Angeles Politician Found Guilty of Corruption to Secure Scholarship, Teaching Job for Son

Former Democratic City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas — a one-time legislator, county supervisor and a fixture in local politics for decades — was found guilty in U.S. District Court of seven felonies, including conspiracy, bribery, and fraud.

PHILADELPHIA — Former City Controller, Former Councilmember Earn Key Mayoral Endorsements

The Editorial Board of the Philadelphia Inquirer has endorsed former City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart for the Democratic mayoral nomination, while State Senator Vincent Hughes endorsed former District 9 Councilmember Cherelle Parker for mayor.

PHILADELPHIA — City Council Candidate Field Narrows Following End of Petition Season

Due to legal challenges to ballot petition signatures, several City Council candidates were forced to withdraw from the race in recent weeks.

PHILADELPHIA — City Council Committee Holds Hearings on Source-of-Income Discrimination, Rent Control

In its quest to evaluate potential policy solutions to Philadelphia’s affordable housing crisis, City Council’s Committee on Housing, Neighborhood Development & the Homeless heard testimony late last month on source-of-income discrimination and rent control.

SAN DIEGO — San Diego County Supervisor to Resign After Assault Lawsuit

A powerful San Diego County supervisor said he will resign amid accusations that he sexually assaulted a government employee, completing a swift and shocking fall for a decorated Marine combat veteran whose star rose with his Democratic Party’s ascendancy in the nation’s eighth-largest city.

Public Health & Safety

BALTIMORE — Johns Hopkins Evaluation Finds Baltimore Safe Streets Has Reduced Homicides, Nonfatal Shootings

A recent analysis of 15 years of data conducted by Johns Hopkins University indicates that Baltimore’s signature Safe Streets violence intervention program has led to statistically significant reductions in nonfatal shootings and homicides.

DETROIT —  Mayor Announces Sustainability Director to Lead City’s Fight Toward Climate Resilience

Mayor Mike Duggan announced the appointment of Jack Akinlosotu as the city’s new Director of the Office of Sustainability.

LOS ANGELES —  Mayor Bass, City Attorney Feldstein Soto Announce Action to Preserve, Rehabilitate Nearly 2,000 Housing Units in Skid Row

Mayor Karen Bass was joined by City Attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto to announce that the City of Los Angeles is taking action to preserve and rehabilitate nearly 2,000 units of permanent supportive housing owned by the Skid Row Housing Trust.

SEATTLE —  City of Seattle, DOJ Ask Judge to End Federal Police Oversight

Seattle officials called on a judge to end federal oversight of the city’s Police Department, based on a decade-old police reform settlement agreement.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Federal Lawmakers Hold Hearings on Police Criminal Code Reform Passed by City Council

House Republicans questioned D.C. Council members last week during a hearing on revisions to the city’s criminal code passed by Council — after being unsuccessfully vetoed by Mayor Muriel Bowser — late last year.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Last of D.C. Pandemic-Era COVID-19 Clinics Close

As March came to an end, so too did the last remaining COVID-19 clinics in D.C., which had been funded by federal pandemic relief dollars. The closures come as a Republican-led measure to officially end the national COVID-19 emergency is expected to come to fruition.

Real Estate Development

CHICAGO —  Three Developers Gain Financial Support From City to Convert LaSalle Street Offices Into Apartments, Retail

Three developments were chosen to receive financial support from the city on March 28 through the LaSalle Reimagined Initiative, which aims to convert some of LaSalle’s five million square feet of vacant space into residential and retail use.

DETROIT —  Southwest Detroit Apartment Project Uses Big Capital Stack to Get to Groundbreaking

The nearly $24 million development will bring a total of 53 residential homes, including 42 income-based, below-market-rate units, as well as 11 market-rate apartments.

LOS ANGELES —  For Sale: Mansions in Los Angeles at Bargain Prices

Millionaire home sellers are slashing prices and sweetening deals this week in Los Angeles, eager to move their properties off the market before a new real estate tax aimed squarely at the rich goes into effect on April 1.

RICHMOND — Richmond Seeks Sustainable Redevelopment Proposals for City Center

The Economic Development Authority and Greater Richmond Convention Center Authority put out an RFO to four design firms seeking proposals to redevelop Richmond’s City Center with an eye toward sustainability.

SEATTLE —  Middle Class Residents Most Likely to Leave Area

In the past 20 years, middle class residents in Kings County were more likely to move out of the county’s wealthiest neighborhoods.

Taxes & Spending

DETROIT — Detroit Approves $748 Million in Tax Breaks for $1.5 Billion Downtown Redevelopment

City Council members spent hours tweaking a community benefits deal with District Detroit developers March 28 before signing off on roughly $748 million in tax breaks for a new phase of downtown projects.

RICHMOND — Richmonders Make Budget Demands During Public Hearing

Last week, City Council held a public hearing during which Richmonders demanded amendments to the proposed 2023-24 budget, including additional funding for Richmond Public Schools, parks, and affordable housing — which Mayor Levar Stoney and City Council recently declared an emergency — as well as reduce the city’s reliance on gas.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Mayor Bowser, City Council Spar Over Proposed Cuts to Affordable Housing, Homelessness Programs

Members of the City Council expressed dissatisfaction with Mayor Muriel Bowser’s proposed $19.7 billion budget, which includes spending cuts for certain housing and homelessness programs that have been supported primarily through federal pandemic relief dollars.

Transportation & Mobility

BOSTON —  Mayor Wu Defends Fare-Free Transit

Mayor Wu, a longtime advocate of fare-free transit, defended the position, in response to criticism that efforts could distract from reliable quality transit service.

CHICAGO —  CTA Adds More Blue Line Trains as Ridership Grows, Kennedy Construction Begins

The CTA is expanding service again on a busy portion of the Blue Line to accommodate a boost in riders — something that could benefit commuters stuck in traffic due to construction on the Kennedy Expressway.

NEW YORK CITY — Subway Workers Exit Booths

Station workers at NYC subway stations will now exit token booths, instead walking around stations to help riders navigate the fully digital payment screens.

SAN DIEGO —  San Diego Wants Electric Vehicle Chargers Installed Soon at 400 City Parking Lots

San Diego is launching a plan to have electric vehicle chargers quickly installed in more than 400 city parking lots, including every library, beach, park and recreation center.

SEATTLE —  On-Street Parking Rates to Increase Citywide

On-street parking rates are increasing up to $1 per hour as officials hope to open up more parking spaces.


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