Cozen Cities – March 22, 2023

March 22, 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

CHICAGO — Chicago Tests New Parking Enforcement Tech, Smart Loading Zones

Chicago will begin testing parking enforcement technology and smart loading zones following an ordinance the City Council passed March 15. The technology will automatically issue tickets for parking or standing violations in areas with posted signs, such as bike lanes and commercial loading zones.

DETROIT — Detroit Electrifies First City Department Vehicle Fleet

Detroit has moved its first city department to an all-electric vehicle fleet, spending $3 million to completely convert the municipal parking department’s 48 cars to Chevy Bolt EVs.

PHILADELPHIA — Taxi, Rideshare Drivers Vie for Space at Newly Merged Philadelphia Airport Pickup Zone

A merging of the taxi and rideshare pickup zones at the Philadelphia International Airport went into effect last week, resulting in protests from taxi drivers who claim the change threatens their business.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Temporary 15% Cap on Third-Party Delivery App Fees Expires

A 15% pandemic-era flat cap on fees charged to D.C. restaurants by third-party delivery apps has expired, resulting in an increase in commission fees.

 

Labor & Employment

BOSTON — “Director of Nightlife Economy” Begins Work

Corean Reynolds has begun as Boston’s “Director of Nightlife Economy.” She is tasked with reviving the city’s nightlife and building up local corridors.

CHICAGO — City Council Passes Labor Agreement Ordinance

Aldermen voted to pass an ordinance that mandates human service providers partnering with the City to sign labor peace agreements. The measure effectively prevents nonprofit organizations from interfering with employee unionization efforts.

CHICAGO — Lightfoot Orders Audit to Narrow Gender, Racial Pay Gap Among City Workers

On March 13, Mayor Lori Lightfoot signed an executive order requiring the city to conduct a “comprehensive pay equity audit” every two years to identify “gender and racial” differences in employee compensation in its workforce of 32,000.

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Teachers, Other Workers, Plan Three-Day Strike as Labor Woes Explode

The Los Angeles teachers union plans to join an anticipated three-day strike with thousands of L.A. Unified’s non-teaching workers. This would likely shut down schools amid an explosion of labor discontent.

NEW YORK CITY — Adams Administration Rolls Back $24-Per-Hour Wage for App-Based Food Delivery Workers

The Adams administration will be mandating a $19.96 per hour wage for app-based food delivery workers, in contrast to $23.82 per hour that the administration championed in November 2022.

RICHMOND — Richmond Public Utilities Faces 50% Staff Vacancy Rate

Richmond Public Utilities Director April Bingham revealed during a recent Audit Committee meeting that her department is dealing with soaring staff vacancy rates, with some areas of the department at 50% vacancy or higher, making it difficult for the department to do its job effectively.

SEATTLE — Workers Commuting Again, But Not Five Days a Week

A new report from Commute Seattle indicates that while workers are returning to downtown Seattle, they are primarily commuting on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

 

Policy & Politics

BALTIMORE — Councilmember Cohen Announces Campaign for City Council President

District 1 Councilmember Zeke Cohen announced his candidacy for City Council president over the weekend, formalizing a long-speculated challenge to current Council President Nick Mosby, who has already launched his own re-election campaign.

BALTIMORE — Faith Leach Approved as Baltimore City Administrator

Last week, after it had previously rejected Mayor Brandon Scott’s nomination due to members’ concerns about the necessity of the position itself, the Baltimore Rules and Legislative Oversight Committee voted unanimously to approve Faith Leach as city administrator.

CHICAGO — With New Mayor on Horizon, Aldermen Seek More Power on City Council

Seizing on the lame-duck period between Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s election loss and the start of the next administration, on March 15 a group of aldermen called for a special meeting next week to consider a slate of rule changes they say would bolster the City Council’s independence from the mayor’s office and “improve city governance.”

DETROIT — Five Takeaways from Duggan’s 2023 State of the City Address

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan shined the spotlight on an abundance of new and completed initiatives, such as crime and housing issues, in his 10th State of the City address on March 7.

NEW YORK CITY — “Welcome NYC” Launches Public-Private Partnership to Support Asylum Seekers

NYC Council has launched “Welcome NYC,” a $2.2 million public-private partnership to support organizations providing legal services, workforce development, youth services, and food assistance to asylum seekers.

PHILADELPHIA — Municipal Election Races Heat Up With TV Ads, Endorsements, Drawing of Ballot Positions

Mayoral candidates are continuing to distinguish themselves from their competition in a packed race, with former Councilmember Cherelle Parker becoming the third mayoral candidate to air television ads and former City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart securing former Mayor Michael Nutter’s endorsement. Meanwhile, all municipal candidates have now drawn ballot positions from Philadelphia’s infamous “coffee can of destiny.”

RICHMOND — Mayor Stoney, City Council Commit to Combatting Affordable Housing Crisis

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney and City Council have committed themselves to finding a solution to the city’s affordable housing crisis, with strategies including allocating more funding for first-time homebuyers, emergency shelters, and the Eviction Diversion Program.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — D.C. City Council Member Alleges Discrimination Over Reduced Committee Assignments

Ward 7 Councilmember Vincent C. Gray has filed a complaint alleging that his reduced council committee assignments and oversight responsibilities are due to health-based discrimination.

 

Public Health & Safety

DETROIT — Duggan Unveils His Plan to Reduce Gun Violence at 2023 State of the City Speech

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is looking to provide community groups with financial incentives to help curb shootings and homicides in the city. The city’s contracting and procurement department issued a Request for Proposals seeking plans to reduce gun violence in defined areas from local organizations known for intervening and mediating situations involving public safety.

LOS ANGELES — L.A. Council Approves $1 Million for Unarmed Crisis Response Program

The City Council unanimously approved $1 million to fund and create the Office of Unarmed Response and Safety, which council members said is necessary to expand the 9-8-8 suicide and crisis hotline to include an unarmed crisis response.

SAN DIEGO — San Diego City Officials Call for Ban on Homeless Encampments

With downtown homeless encampments in his district surging in recent months, San Diego City Councilmember Stephen Whitburn announced he will propose an ordinance banning tents and makeshift structures on public property.

SEATTLE — ACLU Sues City Over Jail Conditions

The ACLU of Washington has filed a lawsuit against the city of Seattle for the deteriorated conditions of the Kings County jail.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Local Crime Bill Turns Into Federal Political Football

Congress is likely to block legislation passed by D.C. City Council to revise the city’s criminal code, reigniting the federal debate over D.C. home rule. While Mayor Muriel Bowser had unsuccessfully vetoed the bill, she also opposes congressional efforts to overturn it.

 

Real Estate Development

BOSTON — City Council Approves Rent Control Proposal

Boston City Council approved Mayor Wu’s rent control proposal by a large majority. The state must now approve the proposal before it can become law.

LOS ANGELES — L.A.’s Ultra-Luxe Properties Are Seeing Massive Price Reductions—Here’s Why

The days of mega-mega-million dollar home sales may be coming to an end, at least in Los Angeles, as several seven and eight-figure properties in the city have seen their prices slashed.

SEATTLE — More Accessory Dwelling Units than Single Homes

Accessory dwelling units have surged since regulations eased in 2019, and ADUs now outnumber single homes in the city.

SEATTLE — Seattle Social Housing Developer Established

Mayor Harrell signed a law which would provide 18 months of funding to the Seattle Social Housing Developer, a public authority to build, acquire, and maintain social housing.

 

Taxes & Spending

CHICAGO — City Council Accepts $20 Million From State To Support Migrants After Fierce Pushback 

City Council approved a measure to accept $20 million from the state to care for migrants in Chicago — but not before several alderpeople rebuked how Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration has communicated decisions surrounding the thousands of migrants who have arrived in the city since this summer.

DETROIT — Fuller Details on $1.5B District Detroit Buildout as It Nears Big Vote

The nearly $800 million in development incentives and tax breaks for the proposed $1.5 billion District Detroit buildout are drawing closer to a crucial Detroit City Council vote later this month following weeks of hearings and process approvals.

LOS ANGELES — Ultra-Wealthy Get Gimmicky to Sell Houses Before April 1 Mansion Tax

Ahead of Los Angeles’ ULA Measure taking effect next month, which will raise taxes on house sales above $5 million to fund affordable housing, sellers are scrambling to sell mansions by offering discounts and closing bonuses.

PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia City Council Threatens to Withhold School District Funding

Philadelphia City Council intends to withhold funding from the Philadelphia School District until it is able to present a “concrete plan” to deal with the multiple school buildings with damaged asbestos.

RICHMOND — Richmond to Mail One-Time Real Estate Tax Rebate Checks

The City of Richmond will soon be mailing one-time real estate tax rebates in order to counteract the financial burden as part of Mayor Levar Stoney’s “Five Back Initiative.”

SAN DIEGO — Aiming to Reduce Disparities, San Diego Injects Social Equity into Budget Process

To help Mayor Todd Gloria’s staff put together a proposed budget for fiscal 2024, scheduled to be unveiled April 14, each city department has been required to create a tactical plan and an equity action plan.

 

Transportation & Mobility

CHICAGO — Biden Budget Includes $350 Million for Red Line Extension

President Joe Biden’s 2024 budget proposal includes a $350 million capital grant toward extending Chicago’s Red Line south to 130th Street. The funding comes just three months after the City Council approved the creation of a new tax-increment financing district to create $950 million over three decades to help pay for the estimated $3.6 billion project.

NEW YORK CITY — LaGuardia Air Train Plan Dropped

The Port Authority has formally ended plans to bring Air Train service to LaGuardia airport, due to cost. The agency is exploring other alternatives, including an express bus service.

PHILADELPHIA — SEPTA Ceases Work on King of Prussia Extension

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) announced Friday that it has ceased work on the King of Prussia railway extension project after the federal government declined its capital grant application.

SAN DIEGO — Police Want to Install 500 Cameras on City Streets; San Diegans Skeptical

San Diego police officials held public meetings in each of the city’s nine council districts to give residents an opportunity to weigh in on proposed surveillance technology that would revive the controversial “smart streetlight” program and add technology to those cameras, allowing the agency to collect drivers’ location data.

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