Cozen Cities – May 8, 2024

May 8, 2024

Gig Economy & Technology

CHICAGO — City Council to Consider Requiring Testing, Guidelines for City Government AI Tools

Chair of Chicago City Council’s Committee on Economic, Capital & Technology Development Gilbert Villegas (Ward 36) introduced a measure that asks the Chicago Department of Technology & Innovation “to guide and monitor the use of artificial intelligence (AI) programs and solutions in city operations and service delivery.”


MINNEAPOLIS — City Releases Analysis on Uber, Lyft Driver Pay Estimates

An analysis recently released by the City of Minneapolis provides an estimate of the wages rideshare drivers need to be paid in order to earn the city’s mandated minimum wage of $15.57 per hour.

SAN DIEGO — New SDGE Program Helps Fleets Transition to Electric

A new San Diego Gas & Electric (SDGE) program will help companies switch their fleets to all electric vehicles, helping to protect the environment with better options for transportation.

SEATTLE — Judge Hands Down 4-Month Prison Sentence to Binance CEO

Seattle Judge Richard Jones sentenced crypto mogul Changpeng Zhao to four months in prison for neglecting to install anti-money-laundering safeguards in the world’s largest cryptocurrency trading platform.

Labor & Employment

CHICAGO — CPS, SEIU Local 73 Reach Agreement to Raise Wages

After a year of negotiations, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 73, which represents around 11,000 district support staffers, have reached a tentative four-year agreement to raise wages of the “lowest paid workers.”

MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis Teachers Win Raises, Budget Deficit Still Looms

Minneapolis Public Schools’ new contract promises teachers 4% raises this year and 5% next year, amid a $110 million shortfall, with the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers hoping for a turning point to stabilize the district and curb enrollment decline.

SAN DIEGO — Unions Call on City to Mandate $25 Minimum Wage for Service Workers

An ordinance backed by multiple unions in the county representing thousands of workers would effectively boost San Diego’s current minimum wage by 50% in just one year.

Policy & Politics

BALTIMORE — In Primary Race, Mayor Scott Points to First-Term Track Record

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, facing familiar challengers in the upcoming election, defends his record on crime reduction and discusses personal growth, while opponents criticize his handling of quality-of-life crimes and cite policy disagreements.

BALTIMORE — City Council Primary Stakes Reflected in Campaign Spending

Baltimore’s City Council candidates are actively spending campaign funds as the May 14 primary elections approach, with significant expenditures seen in competitive districts and the race for Council president between incumbent Nick Mosby, Councilmember Zeke Cohen (District 1), and former Councilmember Shannon Sneed.

BOSTON — Brian Swett Appointed as City’s First Chief Climate Officer

Mayor Michelle Wu revitalized the city’s former chief of environment position with a role focused exclusively on decarbonizing the city’s energy and transportation sectors and optimizing climate resilience in urban flood planning.

LOS ANGELES — City Council Amends Ballot Measure that Promises “Truly Independent Redistricting”

The Los Angeles City Council approved amendments to a ballot measure to establish an independent redistricting commission that would be tasked with redrawing the boundaries of council districts for future elections.

NEW YORK — City Council Member Proposes Law to Crack Down on Squatting

After receiving more than twelve squatting complaints in three months, Councilmember Susan Zhuang (District 43) introduced a law that requires the New York Police Department (NYPD) to more rigorously record officer responses to squatting problems.

PHILADELPHIA — City Council to Consider Changes to School Board Nomination Process

City Council will investigate the process of appointing School Board members — and whether members should be elected instead. Despite City Council’s rejection, Joyce Wilkerson was sworn in with Mayor Cherelle Parker’s other Board of Education appointees.

SAN DIEGO — San Diego Rejects Proposal to Limit Corporate, Union Money in City Elections with Public Financing

An effort to limit corporate and labor union money in San Diego city elections was recently set back when a key committee rejected a November ballot measure proposing a public financing program.

SAN DIEGO — Housing Commission, Mayor in Conflict Over $23M Cut to Homeless Services

An independent budget analysis highlights the rift between San Diego’s Housing Commission request and Mayor Todd Gloria’s proposal, which would cut funding for homeless services by $23 million.

SEATTLE — More than 100 Asylum Seekers Forced into City Park Encampment

One day after hotel funding expired, more than 100 asylum seekers, who were originally housed in a Kent hotel subsidized by King County, are now camping out in a Seattle park.

Public Health & Safety

BALTIMORE — Mayor Scott, City Leaders Take “Crime Walk” with Gov. Moore

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott and other City leaders met with Maryland Governor Wes Moore this week for a “crime walk” to engage with residents, assess city service needs, and address community concerns.

BOSTON — City Council Considers Legislation to Combat Human Trafficking at Boston Hotels

Councilmembers Henry Santana (At Large) and Gabriela Coletta (District 1) proposed a new law that would assemble a seven-member team to establish an enhanced set of safety practices to crack down on drug use and human trafficking at Boston hotels.

CHICAGO — City to Establish Unified System to Address Homelessness, Migrant Crisis

City and state officials are planning to combine Chicago’s legacy homeless shelter system with its system for migrants into a unified shelter structure, an idea advocates have long championed.

PHILADELPHIA — Parker Admin Works to Establish Triage Centers

The City of Philadelphia is working to open at least three triage centers — reportedly including a location at the shuttered Philadelphia Nursing Home in Fairmount — to provide individuals with substance use disorders short-term care and connect them with long-term treatment options. The news comes amid efforts to clear out a homeless encampment in Kensington.

SEATTLE — Mayor Harrell Announces New Contract Agreement with Seattle Police Union

If approved by the City Council, a tentative three-year contract, announced by Mayor Bruce Harrell and designed to affirm officer accountability for misconduct, will retroactively raise officer salaries by 23%.

Real Estate Development

BOSTON — North End Business Owners Call for Resurrection of Outdoor Dining

North End restaurant owners claim bans on outdoor dining make running a business on Hanover Street disproportionately more difficult compared to other neighborhoods, while Mayor Wu cites narrow streets, parking challenges, and trash containment issues.

CHICAGO — Perceived Downtown Commercial Property Fallout Not as Severe as Believed

Downtown commercial property owners, apprehensive about Fritz Kaegi’s latest estimates of their buildings’ value, may find their concerns validated by recent remarks from the Cook County assessor.

CHICAGO — Loop’s Weekend Foot Traffic Exceeds Level Before Pandemic; Retail Vacancies Still at Record High

The Loop is showing some signs of a revival as the average weekend foot traffic exceeded pre-pandemic levels in the first quarter, though weekday activity still lags.

DETROIT — Detroit Proves Reversing Real-Estate Doom Loop is Possible

Detroit’s business district transformation offers lessons to other cities struggling to revive their empty downtowns.

MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis as a Model for Housing Affordability

Through a combination of policies, the City of Minneapolis has managed to limit the severity of the nationwide housing crisis.

PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia NAACP Endorses Center City Sixers Arena

The Philadelphia NAACP officially endorsed the Sixers’ downtown arena plans, citing potential economic benefits for Black and brown communities, amid both support and criticism from various groups regarding the proposed project’s impact on the city’s neighborhoods.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Developers Seek to Reform TOPA

D.C.’s Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) — the first of its kind in the nation, aimed at preserving affordable housing and reducing resident displacement — now faces opposition from developers seeking exemptions.

Taxes & Spending

CHICAGO — Mayor Johnson Revives Basic Income Program with Remaining Federal COVID-19 Funds

Mayor Brandon Johnson’s administration will relaunch a popular guaranteed income pilot that provided $500 monthly payments to low-income residents, as the City works to spend federal COVID-19 relief funding to avoid having to return it to the feds.

CHICAGO — No New Taxes for City Residents with New Stadium Plan

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson says that the Bears’ new plan to build a stadium in Chicago will not raise taxes on city residents.

LOS ANGELES — Mayor Bass’ $12.8B Budget Focuses on Homelessness, Potholes

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass is proposing a $12.8 billion FY25 city budget — a decrease of $293 million, or about 2%, from the current fiscal year as the city grapples with rising labor costs and lower-than-expected revenues. Council budget committee hearings began April 30.

NEW YORK — Mayor Adams Reveals City’s FY25 Budget

Mayor Eric Adams’ FY25 budget includes funding for NYPD recruiting classes and $500 million in education funding while slashing $58 million in library spending, prompting skeptics to raise questions about the fundamental need for the budget cuts.

RICHMOND — City Council to Vote Wednesday on New Diamond District Financing Plan

Richmond City Council will vote on a revised financing plan for the Diamond District development after a special meeting to allow residents an opportunity to voice their opinions.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Mayor Bowser Defends Downtown Economic Plan

Though D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser faces criticism for prioritizing downtown investment while proposing significant cuts to city programs, she defended her strategy as essential for the city’s overall economic growth.

Transportation & Mobility

CHICAGO — Lawmakers Propose Unifying CTA, Metra, Pace

A new bill comes amid calls to remove Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) President Dorval Carter from his position. A top Illinois watchdog is urging state lawmakers to hand over much of the CTA’s responsibilities to a beefed-up version of the Regional Transportation Authority.

CHICAGO — Makeover of O’Hare’s Terminal 3 Takes Off as Airlines Mull Deal on Expansion, Global Terminal

The Terminal 3 project, made possible by $90 million in federal grants, includes wider concourses, renovated restrooms, a revamped baggage claim area, more concession space and a host of other passenger amenities.

LOS ANGELES — Bullet Train from Las Vegas to L.A. Under Construction

A $12 billion passenger bullet train linking Las Vegas and the Los Angeles area was dubbed the first true high-speed rail line in the nation, with the private company building it predicting that millions of ticket-buyers will be boarding trains by 2028.

MINNEAPOLIS — Amtrak’s New Route Between St. Paul, Chicago to Begin This Month

Amtrak is expanding its train service out of St. Paul, adding a second daily train to Chicago. The new route, called the Amtrak Borealis, will run between the two cities via Milwaukee. The train service will depart St. Paul at midday and depart Chicago in the late morning.

NEW YORK — Some LIRR, Metro-North Riders Eligible for Congestion Pricing Discounts

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority board approved a $4 million pilot program set to commence on July 1, providing monthly pass holders on the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and Metro-North with a 10% discount.

PHILADELPHIA — SEPTA Unveils Final Bus Revolution Proposal

SEPTA unveiled its final Bus Revolution proposal, boasting a 30% increase in route frequency and a simplified network following extensive feedback from the public and City Council. The plan may be approved as soon as this month.

SAN DIEGO — Orso Takes Over as CEO at Embattled Transportation Agency SANDAG

The San Diego Association of Governments has a new leader in Mario Orso, a chief deputy at the state highway administration for the San Diego region.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Circulator on Chopping Block Due to Proposed Budget Cuts

D.C. budget cuts threaten the discontinuation of its Circulator bus system, leaving riders searching for potentially more costly alternative transportation options.


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