Cozen Cities – January 31, 2024

January 31, 2024

Gig Economy & Technology

CHICAGO — Chicago Rideshare Drivers Looking for Safety Solutions

Chicago Gig Alliance organizer Lori Simmons is leading the charge in demanding city officials take action in response to a rash of recent rideshare driver robberies on the city’s West Side.

LOS ANGELES — Tech-Based CPU to Open L.A. Campus This Fall

The Catholic Polytechnic University (CPU) in Los Angeles announced that it will welcome its first inaugural class of students in fall 2024 after receiving its license from California at the end of 2023.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — D.C. Lottery Seeking New Platform for Troubled Sports Betting App

D.C.’s Office of Lottery and Gaming aims to improve its struggling sports gambling app, GambetDC, by transferring it to a private operator with a stronger platform in order to enhance competitiveness and address issues that have plagued the app since its 2020 launch. Concerns about transparency and potential impacts on local businesses have been raised.

Labor & Employment

CHICAGO — More Migrants Receive Permits to Legally Work in Chicago

Nearly 1,000 new arrivals in Chicago have obtained work permits roughly four months after the Biden administration expanded eligibility to nearly a half-million more Venezuelans.

DETROIT — Foreign EV Battery Firms Plan to Open Detroit Locations

Two foreign electric vehicle (EV) battery assembly and charging station firms plan to open locations in Detroit, potentially creating 600 or more jobs by the end of the decade.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — City Offers $3M in New Grants to Attract, Keep Businesses Downtown

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced $3 million in “downtown recovery grants” to cover construction, rent, and utilities costs to incentivize businesses to open or expand in vacated downtown properties, aiming to revitalize the city’s epicenter.

Policy & Politics

BALTIMORE — Sinclair Chairman-Backed Petition to Shrink Baltimore City Council Submitted to Board of Elections

A group funded largely by Sinclair Broadcast Group Chair David Smith submitted a petition to the Baltimore City Board of Elections with over 25,000 signatures, aiming for a charter amendment to reduce the Baltimore City Council from 14 to eight members, subject to voter approval.

BALTIMORE — Mayor Scott Addresses Citizens During Budget Forum

During a recent budget forum, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott signaled that he would prioritize corrections of historical wrongs, treat gun violence as a disease, and advocate for investments in education and Recreation and Parks to address historical disparities.

CHICAGO — Democrats Provide Update on Message, Logo, Security for National Convention

Democrats talked security, logistics and messaging at a media briefing at the United Center on Thursday, January 18, a prelude to the Democratic National Convention this August.

DETROIT — U.S. Supreme Court Will Not Overrule Judges’ Order to Redraw Detroit Legislative Seats

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, January 22nd rejected a request from Michigan’s redistricting commission to overrule an order to redraw 13 Detroit-area seats in the Legislature, a decision that will likely make the legislative maps more competitive.

PHILADELPHIA — Several Bills Introduced During First Regular City Council Meeting of 2024

The first meeting of 2024 back at City Hall saw the introduction of several new bills, including proposed regulations on Philadelphia’s for-profit eviction system, a requirement that retailers maintain video surveillance of customer parking areas, an investigation into spending by the Office of Homeless Services during the previous mayoral administration, and a resolution that would allow the Committee on Technology and Information Services to utilize data to address the city’s gun violence crisis.

RICHMOND — Former Councilmember Mosby Launches Mayoral Campaign

Former Richmond City Councilmember Michelle Mosby launched her mayoral campaign, pledging to make City Hall more accessible, address tax collection issues, and focus on growth, development, affordable housing, and education.

RICHMOND — PlanRVA Begins Public Engagement Process for Emission Reduction Plans

PlanRVA is initiating public engagement efforts to gather input for plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the Richmond region, funded by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Climate Pollution Reduction Grant program. The plan is due on March 1, 2025.

SAN DIEGO — San Diego Signs Sweeping Changes to Surveillance Law

The City Council voted to overhaul San Diego’s hard-fought surveillance law, a move officials said was necessary to prevent citywide disruptions, but that privacy advocates saw as a gutting of oversight powers.

Public Health & Safety

BALTIMORE — City Council Holds School Safety Hearing

The Baltimore City Council held a hearing addressing concerns about juvenile crime and student safety after a 15-year-old student was found with three loaded guns at a local high school.

BALTIMORE — Mayor Scott Signs Bills Enshrining BPD into City Charter, Code

Mayor Scott signed City Council bills into law, embedding the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) into the City’s Charter and Code. For the first time in 164 years, the City is centralizing control over the BPD to improve police accountability and community-oriented law enforcement.

BOSTON — “Family Overdose Support Fund” Created

The Boston Public Health Commission announced the creation of the “Family Overdose Support Fund” for families who have lost a loved one to opioid overdose. The fund is the first use of the City’s payments from multistate settlements with opioid manufacturers and distributors.

LOS ANGELES — LAPD Releases 2023 End-of-Year Crime Statistics

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass and Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Chief Michel Moore announced crime statistics for the City of Los Angeles in the year 2023.

NEW YORK — City Council Overrides Mayor’s Vetoes on Law Enforcement Bills

The New York City Council voted to override Mayor Eric Adams’ vetoes of two law enforcement bills — the How Many Stops Act and a bill limiting the use of solitary confinement in city jails — projecting unity in the legislative body.

SAN DIEGO — San Diego County Now Qualifies for State Flood Relief Funds

San Diego County will qualify for much needed state relief money to help fund repairs to public infrastructure damaged by floodwaters last week, officials said January 27.

SAN DIEGO — San Diego Unified Amends COVID-19 Rules for Asymptomatic Students

The San Diego Unified School District amended its districtwide COVID-19 policies to align with recently updated guidance from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). One of the most notable changes is that those who test positive but are asymptomatic no longer need to isolate.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Controversial Crime Bill Discussed by City Council

The D.C. City Council is considering the “Secure D.C.” bill, a significant crime package aimed at addressing rising violence and featuring more than 100 initiatives from twelve smaller crime proposals. Key concerns include the constitutionality of drug-free zones, the collection of DNA from felony arrestees, and the impact of pretrial detention on public safety.

Real Estate Development

BALTIMORE — Mayor Scott Signs Inclusionary Housing Bills into Law

Mayor Scott signed two historic inclusionary housing bills into law, marking the first inclusionary housing legislation passed in Baltimore since 2007. The bills aim to provide safe, affordable housing throughout the city and address the failure of the previous inclusionary housing law.

LOS ANGELES — Environmental Reviews Holding Up New Affordable Housing in L.A. Despite Mayor’s Promise

Mayor Bass has made speeding up the development of new affordable housing a centerpiece of both her successful campaign and her time in office.

PHILADELPHIA — $1,700 Rent Can Secure Larger Apartments in Philadelphia than Rest of the Northeast

An analysis by RentCafe shows that Philadelphia is the only city in the Northeast where a $1,700 monthly budget for rent can provide over 1,000 square feet of space, with the most space available in the 19135 zip code covering Tacony and Wissinoming neighborhoods.

RICHMOND — Richmond Breaks Ground on New Riverfront Amphitheater

The City of Richmond broke ground on the Riverfront Amphitheater, a new outdoor venue set to open in 2025, created through a partnership between Red Light Events and Live Nation.

RICHMOND — West End Redevelopment Stokes Concern Among Residents

Residents in Richmond’s West End expressed concerns about a potential four-story, mixed-use development, including the building’s design not fitting the area, insufficient parking, and its potential impacts on the cost of living.

Taxes & Spending

CHICAGO — Proposal Would Require City Council Approval to Spend Any Federal Relief Funds Over $1M

Chicago City Council bill sponsors, Ald. Bill Conway and Ald. Scott Waguespack, want to avoid a repeat of late 2023, when Mayor Johnson transferred $95 million in COVID-19 relief without getting the Council’s OK first.

DETROIT — Motor City Match Round 25 Grants to Help Entrepreneurs Open New Businesses in 19 Detroit Neighborhoods

Mayor Mike Duggan and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC) awarded more than $1.2 million in grants to support 23 Detroit businesses in Round 25 of Motor City Match. The grants will allow the opening of nearly two dozen new storefronts in the city of Detroit.

LOS ANGELES — L.A. Faces Possible $400M Budget Shortfall

Los Angeles is facing a possible budget gap of up to $400 million, which could prompt city leaders to cut vacant jobs in departments already trying to plug staffing holes.

NEW YORK — Mayor Adams Releases FY25 Preliminary Budget

Mayor Eric Adams released his FY25 Preliminary Budget, which is balanced and includes $109.5 billion. The Mayor estimates a decrease in costs to accommodate asylum seekers. The Council will now hold budget hearings in the coming weeks.

RICHMOND — Business Owners Affected by Meals Tax Issue Meet with City Council Member

During a meeting hosted by City Councilwoman Ellen Robertson, local business owners in Richmond sought answers regarding a 7.5% meals tax, which they were initially informed they did not need to collect but later were told to do so and held responsible for lost revenue.

SAN DIEGO — San Diego Council May Take More Control Over City Budget Process With Big Deficits, Cuts Looming

San Diego City Council members are exploring fundamental changes to the city’s budget process that would give the council more power to debate and shape spending decisions, budget cuts and possible employee layoffs.

Transportation & Mobility

BALTIMORE — Baltimore to Assess Concerns Regarding Bike Infrastructure

Baltimore City Council Vice President Sharon Green Middleton called for an informational hearing to assess concerns about the city’s bike infrastructure.

BOSTON — End of Fare-Free Bus Program Approaches

Boston’s fare-free bus pilot program will end on March 1. Mayor Michelle Wu has pledged to continue the program for two more years, but MBTA leadership has not indicated support.

LOS ANGELES — L.A. Conducting America’s Biggest Universal Basic Mobility Experiment

The Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) aims to eliminate the immobility many people face due to racism, systemic marginalization, high cost, and other transportation-related burdens through its “Universal Basic Mobility” study.

LOS ANGELES — $2.5B Approved for High-Speed Train Connecting L.A., Las Vegas

A high-speed rail line connecting Southern California with Las Vegas received a major boost with the approval of $2.5 billion in bonds.

RICHMOND — GRTC Narrows Search for Permanent Transfer Hub

The list of potential sites for a permanent downtown transit hub in Richmond has been narrowed down to five by the Greater Richmond Transit Company (GRTC), including the current temporary location along East Leigh Street and the former temporary station and city-owned public safety building across the street, among others.

SAN DIEGO — San Diego Street Assessment, Roads Still in Subpar Condition

A San Diego street assessment found that roads are below industry standards and will require tens of millions of dollars over budget to get on track in the next 10 years.

SEATTLE — New RapidRide Bus Project to Begin

Kings County Metro Transit will begin building the RapidRide J route, as the first RapidRide route to operate as a trolley bus. The conversion is scheduled to be finished in 2027.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — D.C. Implements $100 Fines for Using Bus-Only Lanes

Beginning this week, unauthorized drivers who enter bus-only lanes illegally will face a $100 fine as part of the District Department of Transportation’s (DDOT) and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) Clear Lanes Program.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — D.C. Advocates Fight for Bike Lanes in Ward 8

Residents of D.C. ‘s Ward 8 are advocating for the introduction of protected bike lanes, citing safety and transportation inequity concerns.

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