Cozen Cities – October 5, 2023

October 5, 2023

Gig Economy & Technology

CHICAGO — Chicago Government’s IT Infrastructure Inefficient to the Point of “Barely” Working, Consultant Tells City Council

An IT consultant hired by City Hall to diagnose the city’s wide array of technological woes urged aldermen to drastically revamp its software and up its investments in information technology infrastructure.

CHICAGO — Chicago, Community Leaders Publicly Release Cumulative Impact Assessment Report

Community and City of Chicago leaders publicly released the findings and recommendations from a 15-month process to develop Chicago’s first Cumulative Impact Assessment (the “Assessment”), a citywide project to provide data on how environmental burdens and other stressors vary in impact across the city.

SEATTLE — City at Forefront of Gig Worker Protections

Seattle is the first city to create legislation, the App-Based Worker Deactivation Rights Ordinance, making it more difficult for app-based companies to remove workers from their platforms without notice.

Labor & Employment

BALTIMORE — Baltimore City Schools Failed to Pay $5.1 Million in Retirement Contributions for Nearly 500 Employees, Report Says

The Baltimore City Public Schools System failed to pay $5.1 million in employee benefit contributions over eight years, according to a Baltimore inspector general investigation.

CHICAGO — Chicago Takes Another Step Toward Raising Subminimum Wage for Tipped Workers

A City Council committee voted 9-3 to approve a raise in what’s known as the subminimum wage, meaning tipped workers would make the same minimum amount as other workers across Chicago.

CHICAGO — More Than 4,000 More Young People Employed Through One Summer Chicago This Year Than Last

The One Summer Chicago program employed more people this year than last, the Mayor’s office announced this week. In 2023, more than 24,000 young people were employed through the program – an increase of 19 percent, or more than 4,000 – from last year.

DETROIT — President Biden Makes Historic Visit to Autoworker Picket Line

President Biden walked the picket line with striking UAW workers on Tuesday, September 26 at a GM facility in Wayne, Michigan, donning a UAW ball cap and using a bullhorn to tell them that they had helped save the auto industry when it went through tough times, and now deserve better pay because the industry is doing well.

SEATTLE — Union Leaders Rally for New Contract

Workers gathered at City Hall, demanding a fair contract for city workers after a year of negotiations and concern over the proposed cost of living adjustments.

Policy & Politics

BALTIMORE — New Telework Policy For Baltimore City Employees To Take Effect January 2

Beginning January 2, 2024, Baltimore City government agencies and departments will be able to schedule employees for telework no more than two days per week. The new policy is part of the city’s Future of Work initiative, which was piloted in April.

BALTIMORE — Baltimore City Council Delays Redistricting Vote Following Letter From Mayor Brandon Scott

The Baltimore City Council delayed a vote on a proposed redistricting map Monday, despite receiving no firm assurances from Mayor Brandon Scott about how he may exercise a veto on the plan.

NEW YORK — Adult Asylum Seekers to Receive 30-Day Notice for Shelters

Adult asylum seekers applying for shelter for the first time will now receive a 30-day notice for shelter services, a reduction from the 60 days previously permitted.

PHILADELPHIA — City Council Overrides Kenney Veto, Bans Supervised Injection Sites in Majority of Districts

Last week, Philadelphia City Council voted 14-1 to effectively ban safe injection sites throughout the majority of the city. In the announcement of his intent to veto, Mayor Jim Kenney called the legislation “troublingly anti-science and misleading.”

PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia Mayoral Candidates to Debate in October

KYW Newsradio will be hosting Democratic mayoral nominee Cherelle Parker and her Republican opponent David Oh for a debate on October 26.

PHILADELPHIA — Democratic Senator Fetterman Backs Philadelphia WFP City Council Candidates

U.S. Senator John Fetterman and Governor Josh Shapiro have endorsed both of Philadelphia’s progressive Working Families Party (WFP) City Council candidates. The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter requires that two of the seven at-large seats on Council be reserved for members of a minority party, which has historically meant Republicans.

RICHMOND — Richmond City Leaders, Parents Bet Big On Childcare

A resolution recently introduced by Mayor Levar Stoney that would establish the first-ever Richmond child care and education trust fund passed unanimously. However, the fund all depends on Richmond voters approving a casino referendum this November.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — D.C.’s Ban on Cashless Businesses Takes Effect

D.C. has begun enforcing a law starting Sunday that bans businesses from refusing cash payments.

Public Health & Safety

CHICAGO — Chief Larry Snelling Confirmed by City Council as Chicago Police Department Superintendent

Chief of the Bureau of Counterterrorism Larry Snelling was confirmed as the Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department by a unanimous vote from the Chicago City Council.

CHICAGO — Committee Approves Establishing Treatment Not Trauma Working Group

After facing pushback from the prior mayoral administration, a proposal to send mental health professionals instead of armed police to calls of people experiencing mental health crises came one step closer to reality when the City Council Committee on Health and Human Relations unanimously approved the proposal (O2023-0004179).

DETROIT — Detroit Council Approves $5 Million to Expand Police License Plate Readers Amid Contentious Debate

The Detroit City Council on Tuesday, September 26th approved a $5 million contract extending license plate recognition cameras for the police department after a contentious debate between activists and authority advocates.

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles to Spend Billions to Help Homeless People Under Lawsuit Settlement

The county ends more than two years of court battles over LA’s response to the homelessness crisis by agreeing to provide an additional 3,000 beds by the end of 2026 for people with mental health and drug abuse issues.

LOS ANGELES — L.A. County’s No Cash Bail Policy Takes Effect Sunday

Law enforcement officials and some residents continued to express safety concerns Tuesday, September 26 about the imminent implementation of no cash bail in Los Angeles County, but backers of the plan told the Board of Supervisors that misinformation about the system is leading to unfounded perceptions that crime will increase and criminals won’t be held accountable.

PHILADELPHIA — Rate of Shootings in Philadelphia Slows, Though There is Still Much Room for Improvement

Police data show a 20% decrease in shootings compared to this time last year, though the pace of gun-related deaths is still higher than it was in 2020 when the uptick in violence began nationwide.

PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia City Council to Investigate 911 Dispatch System

Last month, District 3 Councilmember Jamie Gauthier introduced legislation to authorize a hearing on the “ongoing challenges” faced by the City’s 911 dispatchers, with particular focus on the botched response to a call that preceded a July mass shooting in Kingsessing.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Acting D.C. Police Chief Defends Strategy Before Council Committee

Acting D.C. Police Chief Pamela Smith received a relatively warm reception from the D.C. Council committee weighing her nomination to become permanent chief. Smith offered some insights into how she intends to fight crime, referring to a new strategic plan.

Real Estate Development

BOSTON — City Council Approves Increase to Low-Cost Units Required in New Development

A proposal newly approved by City Council increases requirements for income-restricted affordable rents from 13% to 17%, with an additional 3% set aside for Section 8 voucher holders.

CHICAGO — Mayor Johnson-Backed Plan to Fight Chicago Homelessness by Hiking Taxes on High-End Property Sales Takes a Step Forward

Years after a measure to raise a tax on property sales above $1 million to fund homeless services failed to gain traction, Mayor Brandon Johnson’s aldermanic allies introduced an updated version of the plan at the last City Council with hopes that momentum from the new mayor’s electoral victory this year will help secure its passage.

DETROIT — Major Detroit Developers Differ on Duggan’s Plan to Punish Empty Land, Buildings

Major developers who own scores of empty properties in Detroit are having mixed reactions to Mayor Mike Duggan’s proposed property tax overhaul that would double the levy on owners of vacant, unused land.

NEW YORK — “City of Yes for Housing Opportunity” Zoning Proposals

The Adams administration unrolled the “City of Yes for Housing Opportunity” zoning proposals with the goal of “a little more housing in every neighborhood.” The text amendment will begin the formal public review process in spring 2024.

RICHMOND — Where Home Values Went Up in Richmond

City of Richmond homeowners are finally seeing some relief in their real estate assessments after back-to-back years of double-digit increases, with the average assessed value of a Richmond home having increased by only 7.7% for the 2024 tax year.

RICHMOND — Casino Developers Going All-In To Win November’s Referendum

In its record-breaking $8.1 million referendum campaign, the Richmond casino project is using its funds to hire some of the biggest national, and international, campaign strategists and political analyst firms, campaign expenditures show.

SAN DIEGO — City College Enters Negotiation With Developer For Its First Affordable Student Housing Project

The San Diego Community College District has entered negotiations with the developer managing the military housing community at Naval Base San Diego to shepherd its vision of building affordable student housing at City College.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Where 20 Years of New Housing Was Built in Washington, D.C. — And Where it Wasn’t

A recent paper by the Brookings Institution illustrates one possible approach to expanding housing supply, based on a study of D.C.’s adoption of a new zoning code in 2016 that reallocated land in some non-residential areas for high-density housing, but largely preserved zones that only allow single-family homes.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — D.C. Rents Remain at Similar Rates as Before Pandemic

D.C.-area rental rates posted double-digit percentage declines in the early months of the COVID pandemic, when out-of-work renters led to a jump in vacancies. Rental rates recovered quickly in 2021 and 2022, when renters were returning to work. Rising rents have waned in 2023.

Taxes & Spending

CHICAGO — Mayor Johnson Quietly Signs $29 Million Deal With Private Security Firm For Asylum-Seeker “Base Camps” Despite Controversies

Mayor Brandon Johnson’s administration is moving forward with plans to put up migrant base camps across the city by signing a nearly $30 million contract with a private security firm at the center of controversies related to its handling of asylum-seekers elsewhere and a deal with GOP Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to relocate migrants.

CHICAGO — City of Chicago Forecasts $538 Million Budget Gap for 2024

Mayor Brandon Johnson released the City of Chicago Budget Forecast for the upcoming 2024 fiscal year, which projects a budget gap of $538 million and holds the line on not raising the base property tax levy.

DETROIT — City of Detroit Reports Revised Revenue Estimates for Fiscal Years 2024-2028

On September 11, the City of Detroit held its regular biannual Revenue Estimating Conference to receive an update on the Detroit economic outlook and to approve revised economic and revenue forecasts for the remainder of fiscal year 2024 and for fiscal years 2025 through 2028.

Transportation & Mobility

BOSTON — Project Manager for Long Island Bridge Replacement

Mayor Wu’s administration is seeking a project manager for replacement of the Long Island Bridge, connecting Boston to a recovery campus that has been unused since 2014.

PHILADELPHIA — SEPTA Rolls Out Contactless Pay

Last week, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) rolled out its new contactless pay feature for fare payment on trains, buses, and trolleys. The agency hopes to roll out the feature for regional rail by 2024.

RICHMOND — New Report Shows How Much Roads, Bridge Conditions Impact Drivers

A new report finds that 21% of roads in the Richmond area are in poor shape, and another 27% are rated mediocre, which may cost drivers an extra $596 annually to maintain their vehicles.

RICHMOND — VCU, City of Richmond Release Pedestrian Safety Study, Recommendations

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and the City of Richmond recently released the findings and recommendations of a new study aimed at improving pedestrian and traffic safety on VCU’s campuses in downtown Richmond.

SAN DIEGO — SANDAG removes controversial mileage tax from 2025 transportation plan

The San Diego Association of Governments’ Board of Directors (SANDAG) voted 15-4 to remove a controversial Regional Road User Charge — sometimes referred to as a mileage tax — from SANDAG’s 2025 Regional Plan.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Metro Mapping Out Its Future With New Stations, Signs

Metro has reportedly begun work on visions for new Metro stations, new signs for train and bus lines, and plans to solve the Rosslyn tunnel bottleneck.


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