Cozen Cities – October 26, 2022

October 26, 2022

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.

Labor & Employment

CHICAGO — Chicago Offering 12 Weeks of Paid Parental Leave to City Employees; New Policy Applies to Birthing, Non-Birthing Parents

In yet another pre-election sweetener, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that the city is expanding its parental leave policy, effective Jan. 1, to allow all 32,000 city employees up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave whether they are the “birthing or non-birthing parent.” Chicago’s parental leave policy now offers four to six weeks of paid leave for birth parents, depending on the type of birth, and two weeks for “non-birth” parents.

DETROIT — City Seeks Nonprofit Help in Getting Unemployed Detroiters into the Workforce

Mayor Mike Duggan announced that the city of Detroit is seeking help from community organizations to support long-term unemployed residents and shrink the labor gap. The city opened applications on Monday for JumpStart, a new program that offers financial incentives to organizations that advance Detroiters in a city that faces more than 11,000 unfilled jobs.

LOS ANGELES — As Warehouses Multiply, Some Cities Say: “Enough”

Several municipalities in California’s Inland Empire have halted new projects to study their impact on pollution and congestion, but labor and business groups have warned that moratoriums could cost the region tax revenue and jobs.

PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia Museum of Art Reaches Contract Deal with Unionized Workers

After two weeks of striking, unionized staff members at the Philadelphia Museum of Art have reached an agreement with museum management which includes salary and hourly wage increases, longevity pay increases, and improvements to benefits such as parental leave and assistance with health insurance costs.

SAN DIEGO — San Diego Will Raise Minimum Wage to $16.30 Next Year; What Can Businesses, Workers Expect?

San Diego’s minimum wage for all employers will rise from $15 to $16.30 an hour in January, the city announced Sept. 30. The scheduled increase comes as consumers face rising housing costs and higher prices on gasoline and food. “With the cost of living rising, this increase could not come at a more needed time for workers and working families,” Mayor Todd Gloria said in a statement.

Policy & Politics

CHICAGO — Aldermen Rail Against Voter Precinct Consolidation

Aldermen at the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners budget hearing voiced their concerns regarding the reduction in the number of voter precincts ahead of the upcoming general election and next year’s municipal election. In August, election officials released their plans for the new ward and voter precinct map, which include 779 fewer precincts and changes polling locations in certain areas. Aldermen have since expressed that the new maps will cause voter confusion and inaccessibility and overcrowding issues.

LOS ANGELES — Nury Martinez Controversy May Completely Change Los Angeles Politics

A scandal at the heart of the Los Angeles City Council may lead to greater reform as it pertains to district maps and future elections. The political fallout continues after racist comments made last October by former Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez and other officials were leaked in audio clips obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

NEW YORK CITY — City Council Redistricting Maps Approved by Commission

The New York City Districting Commission voted to approve the revised City Council maps and send to the NYC Council. In the new maps, part of Staten Island shares a district with South Brooklyn, and Roosevelt Island is included in a Manhattan district rather than Queens. The Council can now approve the maps or request additional changes from the Commission.

NEW YORK CITY — Mayor Adams Targeting Trash Rules to Improve NYC’s Rat Problem

Mayor Adams announced a proposed change to the Department of Sanitation’s trash rules, shifting the time that residential buildings can place their trash onto the curb. Currently, all trash can be placed on the curb as early as 4 p.m. the day before trash pickup. Under the new rules, trash in a secure container can be placed at 6 p.m., while unsecured bags are allowed at 8 p.m.

PHILADELPHIA — Vote to Impeach Philadelphia DA Krasner Appears Imminent

The Republican-led Pennsylvania House Committee investigating Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner regarding his alleged inaction on gun violence may hold a vote to impeach him as soon as this week. DA Krasner has maintained that the investigation is nothing more than partisan politics run amok.

PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia Voters to Consider Two Ballot Questions in Upcoming November Election

Questions of whether Philadelphia’s airports should get their own cabinet-level department — allowing for airport officials’ input on budget discussions — and whether graduates of the Philadelphia school district’s Career and Technical Education program should be given preference during the city’s hiring process will be put to voters in two ballot questions in November.

WASHINGTON D.C.  — Two D.C. At-Large City Council Seats Up for Grabs in November

Washingtonians will be voting to fill two at-large D.C. City Council seats. By law, a maximum one of these two seats may be held by a member of the majority party — in this case, a Democrat. See where candidates stand on the issues here.

Public Health & Safety

CHICAGO — Chicago Health Officials Concerned Over Low COVID Booster Rates

Chicago public health leaders are concerned at the low number of people getting their updated Covid vaccine. The latest vaccine booster targets the Omicron variant and subvariants which make up most of all the Covid cases in Chicago now. The good news is that Covid numbers still remain low in both the city and state.

CHICAGO — Aldermen Press Arwady on Health Department Grant Reliance, Expansion of Mental Health Crisis Response Pilot

One year into the launch of the Crisis Assistance Response and Engagement (CARE) program, aldermen pressed Public Health Commissioner Allison Arwady to expand the services citywide. The CARE pilot, launched in September 2021, sends two teams consisting of varying combinations of a Crisis Intervention Team-trained police officer, a paramedic, and a mental health professional to qualifying mental and behavioral health calls in the pilot areas. Aldermen said the department has been too slow in its work to scale up the program; Arwady shared that they will soon expand the CARE pilot program to additional neighborhoods.

LOS ANGELES — LA County Public Health expands Monkeypox Vaccination Eligibility

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has expanded eligibility for the monkeypox vaccine to closely align with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recent expansion, which includes persons in select occupational groups whose jobs may expose them to orthopoxviruses (such as monkeypox).

NEW YORK CITY — Federal Judge Blocks Significant Portions of NY’s Concealed Carry Law

U.S. District Court Judge Glenn Suddaby blocked significant portions of New York’s new gun control law. Judge Suddaby’s order paused a requirement that concealed carry applicants prove “good moral character” and submit their social media profiles for review.

RICHMOND — Spike in Opioid Overdoses Prompts Alert for Richmond Residents

A new alert system that was implemented in April of this year notified Richmond residents of a recent spike in opioid overdoses in the area. Drug-related deaths remain the leading cause of unnatural death in Virginia.

WASHINGTON —  D.C. City Council Votes to Fund Medicare Contracts, Improve Housing Authority

Last week, D.C. City Council voted to spend more than $8 billion over the course of the next five years to cover health care costs for the city’s Medicaid recipients. They also voted to add new requirements for D.C. Housing Authority employee training.

Real Estate Development

BOSTON — With COVID-19 Aid Ending, Many Residents Fear Eviction

Many Boston residents relied on strengthened housing protections and the $846 million in federal funding that the state received during the COVID-19 pandemic to continue paying their rent. Two years later, the legal protections have shifted and many of the funds have now dried up, leaving thousands at risk of eviction.

CHICAGO — With Housing Market Slowing, Sellers Start to Panic

In September 2021, online residential brokerage, Redfin, reported that about half of Chicago-area homes were on the market for two weeks or less before landing a buyer. In the past month, only 7% of properties have sold that fast. Now, the typical time on the market in the Chicago area is about 55 days.

DETROIT — Metro Detroit Home Sales Down 20% Amid Higher Mortgage Rates

Home sales in metro Detroit were down 20% in September from a year earlier and prices were up just slightly, according to the latest housing market report released Tuesday by RE/MAX of Southeastern Michigan. The report underscores how rising mortgage rates have put the brakes on the frenzied home-buying market that began in summer 2020.

PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia City Council Extends Eviction Diversion Program

Philadelphia City Council has voted to extend its nationally lauded eviction diversion program through June 2024. The program, which was initially created in 2020 as an emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic, allows for landlords and tenants to settle disputes outside of court and has reduced the number of evictions in the city by 75 percent.

SAN DIEGO — San Diego Renters Face 5th Most Expensive Market in U.S., But Has Slowdown Begun?

San Diego ranked as the fifth most expensive rental market in the nation in September, though there are signs the rapid rise in costs is slowing, according to housing analysts., an online apartment search service, placed the median prices of one and two bedrooms in San Diego at $2,620 and $3,420, respectively. Overall, Zumper estimates that the price of two bedrooms in the area is up 26.2% since the same time last year.

SEATTLE — Neighborhood Seeks Historic Status, but Opponents Worry It’s a Roadblock for Future Homeowners

Current Wallingford homeowners are making efforts to get a portion of the area listed on the National Register of Historic Places. However, opponents have concerns that the process is classist and will extend future exclusion from homeownership in the neighborhood. The nomination must now be approved by the National Park Service.

WASHINGTON D.C. — One in Four Public Housing Units Are Vacant

Despite high demand brought on by record rates of inflation wreaking havoc on housing markets across the nation, approximately 2,000 public housing units are vacant — and remain so for two years on average — according to the D.C. Housing Authority.

Taxes & Spending

BOSTON — Debate Held Over 4% Surtax on Millionaires

WBUR, the Boston Globe, and WCVB hosted a debate on Question 1, a proposed constitutional amendment which would impose a 4% surtax on annual income over $1 million. However, it is unknown how many taxpayers would fall into this category, and opponents have argued that the $1 million threshold does not target the “uber-wealthy” as intended. Massachusetts voters will cast their ballots on the amendment on November 8.

LOS ANGELES — LA to Vote on “Mansion Tax” to Raise Money for Housing; Bass, Caruso Don’t Support it

Los Angeles mayoral candidates Rep. Karen Bass and Rick Caruso have each put forward expensive plans for expanding interim and permanent housing for homeless people, but have offered few specifics about how they would pay for them. One possible way to fund these plans is a ballot measure going before city voters in November known as Measure ULA, or “United to House L.A.”. The proposed “mansion tax” would impose an additional tax on commercial and residential property sales that exceed $5 million.

RICHMOND — Increase in Average Home Assessment Will Likely Lead to Real Estate Tax Cuts

Last week, Richmond City Council moved forward three proposals, without recommendations, that will cut Richmond’s real estate tax rate next year. The move comes after a staggering 13% growth of the average home assessment.

Transportation & Mobility

CHICAGO — O’Hare, Midway Websites Hit by Russian Cyberattack

A few weeks ago, websites for O’Hare and Midway airports went down in a suspected cyber-attack involving several airports nationwide. ABC News says the attack came from within Russia. The outage did not affect flight or security operations at the airports.

DETROIT — Detroit Unveils New Plans for City Airport

Detroit has received federal approval for a plan to put its city airport back on track. The Coleman A. Young Municipal Airport, widely known as City Airport, has been declining and under-utilized for decades. But city officials say this new layout plan, just approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, opens up a world of possibilities — as well as up to $100 million in federal grants.

LOS ANGELES — New $2.1 Billion Metro K Line Opens in Los Angeles

The $2.1 billion Metro K Line, previously known as the Crenshaw/LAX Project, has officially opened in Los Angeles. Bringing seven stations of light rail to South Los Angeles, the Metro K Line will be linked with the LAX People Mover and the Metro C Line (Green). The new line is claimed to be the Metro’s single largest transportation investment in the South Los Angeles area since the building of the Metro A Line (Blue) and C Line (Green) over 25 years ago.


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