Urban law issues

Health, safety, and welfare for the next generation

Lately I’ve been thinking about “health, safety, and general welfare” — the basis by which zoning is typically legitimized and measured — and wondering just how great a disconnect needs to form between our purported values and our land use regulations before we admit that something’s not working.

The price of peace with the homeowners' association

I used to think homeowners’ associations had the potential to be great democratic institutions.

The dark side of New York’s Airbnb regulations

A New York City judge recently ruled to make the renting of apartments on Airbnb illegal, limiting the diversity in services that makes the city cheaper, more entrepreneurial, and worth visiting.

Is the jig up?

In the boom years, cities got very lazy with the assessment process, allowing the general widespread rising of property values to cover up their poor practices. Few have adjusted to the new reality.

Zoning our way to HOA insanity

Ironically, we end up appealing to higher forms of government, just so we can gain permission to hang the clothes out to dry. That’s not the way strong, resilient communities get built.

How to stop traffic

"The dream of bringing Manhattan traffic flow to a total standstill draws nearer every day," writes Bruce McCall in an op-ed piece in Wednesday's New York Times. McCall is a humorist as well as artist. Even so, his 13 "new regulations" suggest that the City's recent traffic interventions are making some folks resentful. No. 1 on his list: "No-drive zones denoted by special painted lanes are reserved exclusively in the new Citi Bike bike-sharing system. Those riders are required to pound, whack, kick, spit on or key any vehicle entering or crossing a lane." Left unanswered: Why does a Manhattanite like McCall insist on driving everywhere?

Bike-share advocates say no to helmet law

Lots of cities are starting bike-sharing programs or thinking of doing so. But in Vancouver, British Columbia, a decision to subsidize a new bike-share system has sparked debate over whether the program can thrive if the province retains its 1996 law requiring cyclists to wear a helmet when riding on a road or bikeway. Daniel Fontaine, a columnist for Vancouver 24 Hours, says debate has been intense. Bike advocates have suggested that if cyclists are forced to wear helmets, so too should car and truck drivers. Fontaine will host a live discussion about it on Twitter next week.

Transfer fees for New Urban cultural organizations survive a challenge

A federal agency allows mortgage financing in communities that use private transfer fees to support 501(c)(3) organizations.

Protests kill Congressional attempt to defund transit

Speaker Boehner withdraws a proposal that would have stopped spending 20 percent of the Highway Trust Fund revenue on transit.

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