Albuquerque voters to consider first-ever municipal abortion ban.

In a new variation on state-local battles over controversial social issues, Albuquerque anti-abortion groups succeeded in gathering enough signatures to place on the city’s November ballot a measure that would criminalize abortion after 20 weeks with exceptions only to prevent the death or life-threatening physical condition of the woman.  Called the Pain Capable Unborn Child […]

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At the Intersection of Decentralizations: Privately Funded Courts

Business improvement districts (BIDs) have proliferated as a means of increasing property value in city commercial areas. Property owners in the district opt in to an assessment that provides funds for improved maintenance, beautification, capital improvements, community events, and enhanced security. BIDs allow willing property owners in cash-strapped cities to pursue development goals without increasing […]

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Detroit: As Hotel Charlevoix Comes Down, Preservationists Walk Fine Line

One week after issuing a demolition permit, the city of Detroit has begun demolition of the century-old Hotel Charlevoix, a historic 11-story structure on the edge of downtown. The building had already been approved for demolition by the City Historic District Commission. It was initially labeled dangerous and slated for removal ten years ago, according […]

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Zoned Out! — New York and California Edition

What is smelly, makes some people happy but others very irate, and may be zoned out of cities? A) Fracking for natural gas B) Medical marijuana C) All of the above In opposite ends of the country, state courts this week upheld the cities’ ability to use zoning regulations to keep out two controversial activities […]

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Another State Takes Issue with Local Same-Sex Partner Benefits

Local governments that offer benefits to unmarried same-sex partners of their employees are violating a ban on same-sex marriages in the Texas Constitution, the State Attorney General announced this week in an advisory opinion. The opinion does not have legal force, but it does function as something of an invitation to lawsuits to test the […]

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Environmental Lawsuits: City Business or State Business?

The Texas legislature has long turned a disapproving eye to local environmental legislation through preemptive laws meant to override local initiatives, such as the Shopping Bag Freedom Act filed in response to a plastic bag ban in the liberal enclave of Austin. Last week, state lawmakers introduced a new twist by introducing a bill that would limit […]

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The Private Law of Drones

I have been writing over the last few weeks about drones and the opportunities and challenges they represent for local governments. This is the last entry in that series. One aspect of the drone problem that is particularly ripe for local level attention, and is likely to be neglected in national regulation, is how ordinary […]

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Chicago: Ashland Avenue is the Next BRT Corridor, City Says

m4s0n501 Bus rapid transit will come to Chicago’s Ashland Avenue by 2016, the city announced Friday, in a $160 million effort to boost transit efficiency and reduce congestion on the Near West Side. Financed with a mix of federal and local money, the project will remove the interior lanes from Ashland, a major north-south thoroughfare, […]

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What’s Keeping Drones Out of the City

Last week I posted about the opportunities for cities to improve law enforcement effectiveness, save money, and create jobs and fun in their communities. But to do that, they need to navigate legal issues. The first challenge is how to allow safe flying. Congress mandated in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Modernization and Reform Act […]

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St. Louis: NorthSide Renovation to Start Construction by Year’s End

After three years bogged down in court, the NorthSide Renovation Project will break ground by the end of the year, says developer Paul McKee. The project, a massive plan to transform vast swaths of derelict and underutilitized land north of downtown St. Louis into vibrant neighborhoods, had been stuck in limbo since 2009. Last week, […]

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