Cities are asking the Supreme Court for more power to clear homeless encampments

“In 2018, a federal court issued a consequential decision about homelessness in America: People without housing can’t be punished for sleeping or camping outside on public property if there are no adequate shelter alternatives available.
The Ninth Circuit’s decision, Martin v. Boise, said that punishing homeless people with no other place to go would violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. Ever since, cities and states have struggled to comply with it, crafting convoluted policies like a new camping ban in Portland, Oregon that prohibits homeless camping during the hours of 8 am to 8 pm.

As municipal backlash to Martin grew, so has the nation’s homelessness crisis, especially in the nine Western states under the Ninth Circuit’s jurisdiction, where some 42 percent of the country’s homeless population now lives.

The Supreme Court declined to hear Martin in 2019. But they now could reconsider the decision. A petition was filed in late August concerning a similar case in Grants Pass, Oregon, a city of 38,000 people. In 2022, the Ninth Circuit decided it would be unconstitutional for Grants Pass to fine homeless people sleeping on public property if there was nowhere else for them to go. The city is challenging that decision.”

Why fear of crime more than crime itself is holding back America’s downtowns

“While crime has risen since the pandemic in most US cities, it’s not spiking in downtowns.”

“Violent crime has long been concentrated in low-income Black and Latino neighborhoods that have also been marked by segregation, discrimination, and disinvestment. But crimes in those areas, Love said, tend to get less media attention than those that occur downtown.”

“And therein lies the problem. People don’t want to go downtown because they’re worried. But the best way to make people feel safe again downtown … is to have more people there. The best way to square that circle, Grabar suggests, is that downtowns should try and attract residents instead. That means converting offices to residences and building new housing.”

Zoning Police Continue To Find New Ways To Punish the Poor

“Some people live together by choice. Others share space out of necessity. Lack of affordable housing forces many families to adjust, but the zoning police remain rigid in Cobb County, Georgia.
Even during a nationwide housing crisis, code enforcers northwest of Atlanta continue to enforce a narrow vision of suburbia. One rule limits overnight parking based on property size. Families can have one car for every 390 square feet of living space, which effectively prevents more than two vehicle owners from living together in a 1,000-square-foot unit.

Teen drivers are out of luck. So are adult children, college students, mothers-in-law, and any guest who stays longer than one week. The city does not concern itself with individual circumstances, nor does it care if vehicles remain in good condition with current tags. It counts newer models and clunkers the same.”

Cities Switch From Requiring Too Many Parking Spaces To Banning Too Many Parking Spaces

“This is part of a trend.
Across the country, jurisdictions are waking up to the high costs of mandated parking. But the reforms they enact often pair an elimination of costly parking minimums with counterproductive parking maximums.”

“imposing parking maximums comes with its own costs.

At best, they’ll force developers to make some special showing to city officials that their buildings will require more spaces than what the parking maximum allows in order to obtain a variance. The costs and delays of that process will be paid by consumers too.

Worse still, parking maximums could prevent builders from adding parking spaces they think are necessary.

The problem with parking minimums isn’t per se that they made buildings more expensive; it’s that they added expenses people don’t think are worth paying.

If people are willing to pay for additional parking spaces but are prevented from having them, that will reduce the utility of a new development. Residents of a new apartment might have to compete for too few parking spaces. Business owners could lose customers for lack of available parking.

Multiply those results across a whole city, and overall economic efficiency suffers.”

‘Unprecedented emergency’: Dem-led cities and states brace for influx of migrants

“Title 42, an immigration policy put into place during the pandemic, was scheduled to be lifted Wednesday, but Chief Justice John Roberts temporarily blocked the border rule at the urging of 19 Republican-led states, which appealed the plan to open up the nation’s borders again.

The stay by Roberts is temporary, and states are bracing for what’s next if — and when — Title 42 is eventually lifted. There’s added anxiety too over whether Republican governors will transport thousands of migrants to Democratic-led strongholds by bus or plane, as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis did this year.

Over the last month, thousands of migrants have crossed into the U.S. at the Texas border ahead of the expiration of Title 42, a Trump administration pandemic policy that allows the U.S. to expel migrants in order to stem the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Last weekend, the mayor of El Paso declared a state of emergency to help manage the rush of people while Abbott deployed hundreds of Texas national guard and state troopers along the border to block migrants from entering the U.S.”

“The migrant issue hasn’t gone unnoticed in Congress. Special funding in the federal spending bill released this week could take the pressure off of cities like New York, Chicago and Washington, as they try to handle the rise in immigrants and the challenges to provide shelter, food and other basic needs. Cities could apply for a piece of the $800 million that Congress has carved out to handle the flow of migrants if the spending is approved.

Adams, who earlier this week asked for $1 billion to help New York handle “the brunt of this crisis,” said he was “encouraged” by the federal funding, but said that should just be the start.

“With over 800 people arriving in the past four days alone, it’s clear that we still need a comprehensive strategy at our border and additional resources. We cannot be put in a position where we have to choose between services for New Yorkers and supporting arriving asylum seekers,” he said in a statement. Adams has also called for asylum seekers to be authorized to work before six months.”

Food Trucks Still Being Squeezed Out by Local Governments

“Detroit’s city council introduced new rules that will allow food trucks to operate in more parts of the city beginning next spring.

“From an equity standpoint and from a food access standpoint, we believe food trucks should be able to operate in public spaces across the city,” city councilor Raquel Castañeda-Lopez, who introduced the measure, told the Detroit Free Press.”

“While words such as “fairness and harmony” and “equitably” make for a nice word salad, they mask the true, protectionist spirit underlying the new ordinance.

“Food trucks must be 200 feet away from existing restaurants and 300 feet from entertainment and sports arena areas,” the Freep report indicates, also noting that food trucks may no longer operate after 11 p.m. That’s progress?

Maybe to Larson, whose nebulous, we kinda sorta like it remarks aren’t a huge surprise, given that Downtown Detroit Partnership’s member list includes a host of giant companies and traditional food-truck opponents—including brick-and-mortar restaurateurs and the realty groups that rent space to them.

Indeed, in discussions of expanding food truck access to other parts of Detroit—or any city or town in America—the devil’s in the details.”