Cozen Cities – February 28, 2024

February 28, 2024

Gig Economy & Technology

CHICAGO — Uber, Lyft Drivers Join Valentine’s Day Strike with Thousands Across Country

Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash drivers gathered at O’Hare Airport’s rideshare waiting lot on Valentine’s Day to kick off a strike that was held across multiple cities across the country, including in Philadelphia, Miami, and Los Angeles.

DETROIT — City Unveils Tech Hubs to Connect Residents to High-Speed Internet, Devices

Detroit officials introduced eight new technology centers in the city, the first of dozens, aimed at closing the digital divide for 200,000 residents who struggle with internet connectivity.

Labor & Employment

LOS ANGELES — LAX, L.A. Grand Hotel Workers Launch Strikes Over Wages, Staffing

Labor unrest erupted at two Southland locations on Valentine’s Day as LAX food and beverage workers launched a three-day strike over wage concerns, and L.A. Grand Hotel workers also walked off the job, demanding higher wages and increased staffing.

Policy & Politics

BALTIMORE — City Council Supports Eviction Proposal; No Mention of Juvenile Reform Bill

Members of the Baltimore City Council overwhelmingly backed two bills advocating for tenant rights and cracking down on out-of-state vehicles, while remaining silent on Maryland Governor Wes Moore’s proposed Juvenile Justice Reform Bill.

BALTIMORE — Mayor Scott Reaches Out to Other Candidates to Discuss Debates

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott initiated discussions with fellow Democratic mayoral candidates to arrange a debate schedule, emphasizing the importance of allowing residents to compare candidates’ records and visions for the city’s future.

CHICAGO — Judge Invalidates “Bring Chicago Home” Referendum on March 19 Ballot

Mayor Brandon Johnson’s cornerstone initiative to tackle homelessness through a referendum question on the March 19 ballot was invalidated by a Cook County judge as she sided with business and real estate interests opposed to the measure.

CHICAGO — Mayor Johnson Cites Differences on Migrant Response for Failure to Pitch in on Latest State, Cook County Funding Plan

Mayor Johnson told reporters his administration is in talks with Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker and Cook County Board of Commissioners President Toni Preckwinkle’s teams about the ongoing migrant crisis.

DETROIT — Candidates for Mayor, City Attorney, City Council Participate in Q&A

The San Diego Union-Tribune asked all of the candidates running for city elected office where they stand on key issues.

DETROIT — City Council Delays Vote on $3B New Center Development

The Detroit City Council delayed a vote to approve incentives for part of a $3 billion development in the New Center area that is a collaboration among Henry Ford Health, the Detroit Pistons and Michigan State University and has faced some criticism at public hearings.

LOS ANGELES — Gondola Project from Union Station to Dodger Stadium Gets First Approval from L.A. Metro

A proposed 1.2-mile aerial tramway that would transport baseball fans to Dodger Stadium via sky-high gondolas above Chinatown and other neighborhoods in northeast Los Angeles was approved by the L.A. Metro board.

LOS ANGELES — City Approves $1M for Hollywood Visitor Center, Public Restrooms

The Los Angeles City Council approved the allocation of $1 million to support a project in Hollywood intended to fund several public bathrooms and a visitor information center.

NEW YORK  — Noncitizen Voting Law Struck Down by Appeals Court

A New York State Appeals Court ruled that New York City’s noncitizen voting law violates the state constitution, upholding a 2022 decision. The law would open elections for citywide offices, City Council, and Borough Presidents to New Yorkers who are lawful permanent residents.

PHILADELPHIA — Mayor Parker Mandates Full-Time, In-Person Attendance for Senior City Officials

Last week, Mayor Cherelle Parker mandated full-time, in-person work for top city officials beginning Monday, March 4, citing the need for face-to-face collaboration, efficiency, and a desire for a more visible workforce.

PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia Ethics Board Amending PAC Regulations

The Philadelphia Board of Ethics is proposing amendments to campaign finance regulations that would clarify rules on coordination between candidates and political action committees (PACs).

RICHMOND — Six Candidates Vie to Become Richmond Mayor

There are six candidates in Richmond’s crowded mayoral race — ranging from familiar figures to newcomers — all vying to succeed Mayor Levar Stoney, with diverse backgrounds and priorities shaping the crowded field.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — PACs Take Aim at Council Members Amid Crime Spike

Two PACs are targeting the recall of two D.C. Council members, with one petition approved for Councilmember Charles Allen (Ward 6) and another in process for Councilmember Brianne Nadeau (Ward 1), citing concerns about ongoing crime and leadership.

Public Health & Safety

BALTIMORE — City Council Calls for Hearing Safe Streets Program Hiring Practices

The Baltimore City Council will conduct a hearing to address concerns over the hiring practices of the Safe Streets gun violence prevention program to seek answers regarding employee screening and program effectiveness.

CHICAGO — Mayor Johnson Spends $8.6M on Nine-Month Shotspotter Deal

Mayor Johnson announced last week that the city planned to shut down gunshot detection system Shotspotter after the historically violent summer months and the Democratic National Convention, making good on a key campaign promise.

LOS ANGELES — Mayor Bass, City Council Members Announce Delegation to Sacramento to Address Homelessness, Safety

Mayor Karen Bass announced a delegation with members of the Los Angeles City Council to Sacramento. The trip will focus on securing critical state funding and flexibility as Los Angeles continues to urgently confront the homelessness crisis, build more housing, and advocate for expedited reimbursements to help address past City emergencies like COVID-19 and the storm earlier this month.

PHILADELPHIA — Mayor Parker Promises Rigorous Enforcement of Illegal Dumping, Abandoned Vehicle Laws

Mayor Parker vowed to address quality-of-life issues like illegal dumping and abandoned vehicles, signaling plans to allocate more funding to enforcement initiatives in her upcoming budget proposal.

PHILADELPHIA — PPD Increases Number of Officers Assigned to Weekend Shifts

The Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) announced plans to increase weekend patrols, including implementation of a special “roving” unit, targeting crime hotspots and mass gatherings and deployment of additional officers in marked vehicles.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — City Leaders Focus on Public Safety Bills Despite Early-Year Crime Drop

Despite a notable decrease in crime so far this year, D.C. city leaders remain focused on passing public safety bills.

Real Estate Development

BOSTON — Empty Office Buildings Have Boston Staring Down $1B Budget Shortfall

Boston faces a potential $1 billion budget shortfall in five years due to declining commercial property values, potentially leading to higher taxes for residents.

BALTIMORE — City Council Advances Harborplace Rezoning

The Baltimore City Council advanced zoning changes crucial for the redevelopment of Harborplace, with overwhelming support and plans to place necessary charter amendments on the November ballot, facilitating MCB Development’s proposal to replace the aging waterfront pavilions with mixed-use buildings.

BALTIMORE — City Aims to Reduce Homelessness Through Purchase of Hotels

Baltimore City plans to purchase two hotels, a homelessness-reduction measure backed by Mayor Scott. Some advocates have voiced concerns about the effectiveness of the plan.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Plan to Revitalize Downtown D.C. Would Cost $400M

D.C. leaders have proposed a $400 million, five-year plan to revitalize the downtown area in response to declining economic activity, aiming to attract visitors, improve infrastructure, and support businesses and public safety initiatives.

Taxes & Spending

CHICAGO — Mayor Johnson Pitches Borrowing $1.25B for Housing, Development

Mayor Johnson says his signature development plan would rely on letting dozens of the city’s controversial Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts expire, and that money would be used to pay back the debt.

CHICAGO — Mayor Johnson Cracks Door Open to Subsidize White Sox Stadium in South Loop

One day after White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf traveled to Springfield seeking $1 billion in state funding, Mayor Johnson was considerably more receptive to the idea of using tax revenue for new stadiums than state officials have been.

DETROIT — City Reports Revised Revenue Estimates for FY24–FY28

On February 12, the City of Detroit held its biannual Revenue Estimating Conference to receive an update on the Detroit economic outlook and approve new economic and revenue forecasts for the remainder of fiscal year 2024 and for fiscal years 2025 through 2028.

NEW YORK — City Comptroller Releases Annual M/WBE Report

New York City Comptroller Brad Lander’s annual report on minority- and women-owned business enterprises (M/WBE) indicated that City agencies registered only 9.8% of eligible contracts to M/WBE vendors in FY23, with Black, Hispanic, and women-of-color-owned businesses receiving around 1% of contract value.

PHILADELPHIA — How Philadelphia’s Real Estate Market Might Impact the Upcoming City Budget Cycle

Mayor Parker is preparing to give her first budget address amidst a 26% decrease in realty transfer tax revenue due to a sluggish real estate market, which may impact the City’s projected revenue, though other taxes exceed expectations.

RICHMOND — Richmond Freezes Forfeitures on Restaurants as City Reviews Meals Taxes

The City of Richmond announced the implementation of penalties and interest freeze for meals tax accounts with overdue balances following outcry from the local business community.

SAN DIEGO — City Faces Larger Budget Deficit than Expected

The City of San Diego’s projected budget deficit for the next fiscal year is about 44% higher than previously projected, according to a recent update by city staff, largely due to lower-than-expected sales and hotel tax revenue fueled by 2023’s struggles with inflation.

SAN DIEGO — City’s Proposed Flood Prevention Tax Advances Toward November Ballot

The San Diego City Council’s Rules Committee unanimously supported a proposed November ballot measure that would sharply increase outdated city storm water fees with a parcel tax.

Transportation & Mobility

BALTIMORE — Major Changes Coming to I-895 Baltimore Harbor Tunnel

Changes to the I-895 Baltimore Harbor Tunnel — including the removal of toll plazas and implementation of electronic toll collection — aim to improve commute times, safety, and air quality, with construction expected to last three years thanks to an $80 million federal grant.

BOSTON — City Council Punts Congestion Pricing Discussion to Future Hearing

Boston City Councilor Tania Fernandes Anderson has initiated discussion on congestion pricing, emphasizing its potential impact on transportation, while drawing mixed reactions from proponents and opponents regarding its feasibility and implications for residents and businesses.

CHICAGO — O’Hare to Receive $40M in Federal Dollars for Upgrades

O’Hare International Airport will receive $40 million in federal grant money as part of $970 million being awarded to more than 100 U.S. airports, the latest effort to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure — a top priority of President Joe Biden.

PHILADELPHIA — SEPTA Receives $317M Federal Grant to Replace Aging Market-Frankford Line Cars

SEPTA secured a $317 million federal grant, its largest ever, to purchase 200 rail cars for the Market-Frankford Line, replacing aging models with structural issues, a crucial investment toward modernizing transportation in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

PHILADELPHIA — City Wins $1.47M Federal Grant for EV Workforce Development Program

Philadelphia received $1.47 million in federal funds for its Plug In Philly initiative aimed at training 45 diverse residents for electric vehicle (EV) supply and equipment careers. The program is supported by partnerships with organizations like IBEW Local 98.

RICHMOND — Richmond Paratransit Company Raises $34.8M

Richmond paratransit company Uzurv secured $34.8 million in equity funding, aiming to expand gig-based ridesharing services for people with disabilities and the elderly nationwide.


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