The Weekly WrapThe Weekly Wrap

The Weekly Wrap: Governor Hochul Backs Off Housing Mandate

Plus, momentum for public banks is growing, and more.

(Photo by Marc A. Hermann / CC BY 2.0)

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Welcome to The Weekly Wrap, our Friday round up of stories that explain the problems oppressing people in cities and elevate the solutions bringing us closer to economic, environmental and social justice.

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Hochul Backs Off Suburban Housing Mandates In New York Budget

The centerpiece of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s ambitious housing plan was a mandate that would have required towns to meet state-mandated targets for housing productions. Suburbs of New York City would have had to increase their housing stock by 3% according to the plan, and the governor would have been able to override local zoning in regions that failed to meet its targets, Gothamist reports. New York City’s suburbs have long been criticized for not adding to their fair share of housing to the region.

Amid pushback from suburban lawmakers, Hochul looks to be dropping the housing mandate from the long-delayed state budget, which was due April 1. In a statement reported by NY1, Hochul said, “It remains clear that merely providing incentives will not make the meaningful change that New Yorkers deserve,” a reference to failed attempts to placate suburban lawmakers. Hochul has indicated, however, that she may include a statewide rent voucher program that could help public housing tenants cover pandemic back rent, according to The City.

Public Bank Momentum In New York City and The Bay Area

On Wednesday, New York City held its first city council hearing on the People’s Banking Act, a set of bills that would require the city to better report where city funds are deposited and establish a taskforce to look into creating a public bank. The act also includes a non-binding resolution calling on the state legislature and governor to pass the New York Public Banking Act, which would establish a regulatory framework allowing local public banks across the state.

In California, the Berkeley City Council voted to join a working group to set up a public bank together with Oakland, Richmond and Alameda County. Richmond had already joined the working group in early April and Oakland joined in December. California passed a law in 2019 allowing cities and counties to set up a public bank or to combine resources and form regional public banks. Since the law passed, no public banks have been established, but Public Bank East Bay, as it’s being called, is furthest along. A report from the University of California, Berkeley found that setting up a public bank could increase capital for small businesses owned by people of color.

Federal Court Shuts Down Gas Stove Ban

A federal appeals court has blocked a 2019 Berkeley law that banned the use of gas stoves in new buildings, Grist reports. Natural gas use in buildings can lead to leaks of methane, a greenhouse gas. Research has also tied natural gas use to childhood asthma and the release of benzene, which is a carcinogen.

The lawsuit that led the Ninth Circuit to end the law was filed by the California Restaurant Association, which claimed a gas ban would hurt the restaurant industry. Three judges for the Ninth Circuit ruled in the association’s favor, saying that the natural gas ban would have preempted the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act. The ruling could imperil similar gas bans at the local level. Berkeley’s law helped spur 99 similar bills across the country, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

City Transit Agencies Are Going Bust

Big city transit agencies across the country are dealing with a loss of fare revenue as people have shifted to working from home. As federal stimulus funding runs out, more of those agencies are asking city and state governments for help, Route Fifty reports. This includes Bay Area Rapid Transit, whose head told the San Francisco Chronicle that the agency needs to shift to state subsidies as a funding source. It is one of several California transit agencies requesting a cumulative $6 billion from the state.

Chicago’s public transit agency is looking at a $730 million annual shortfall. The MTA in New York has a $600 million budget shortfall that could balloon to $3 billion by 2025, and officials have been pleading with the state to step in. According to Route Fifty, many agencies are also looking at service cuts and fare hikes, but policy analyst Garret Shrode told the outlet that “cutting service won’t really help solve this fiscal cliff,” because most costs are from staff and station maintenance.

Florida Bill Would Make It Impossible To Remove, Change Confederate Monuments

A state senate bill in Florida would make local governments liable for three times the cost of removing public monuments by allowing citizens to sue them, Hyperallergic reports. The legislation is seen as a response to a movement to remove confederate monuments, dozens of which still stand in Florida. The bill also prohibits cities from adding context to statues or memorials in the form of plaques or signs. The bill was voted out of two committees and will go before the Committee on Rules, and an accompanying bill was introduced into the state’s House of Representatives, according to Hyperallergic.


MORE NEWS

  • Connecticut ended its 12-month pilot for fare-free transit. The federal Department of Transportation is requiring the state to conduct an equity analysis before it can continue the program beyond the pilot period. Connecticut Public Radio

  • Here’s a look at how environmental laws are used to kill climate-friendly development. Mother Jones

  • New data from four jurisdictions with new zoning rules that allow more housing — Minneapolis; New Rochelle, New York; Portland, Oregon; and Tysons, Virginia — shows sharply slowed median rent growth. Pew

  • Morehouse College research suggests equity from worker cooperatives can address current economic challenges for small businesses and help build wealth for Black Atlantans. Capital B Atlanta and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

EVENTS

  • It’s Earth Week! Find an Earth Day event in your community.

  • If you’re in Chicago (or a nearby city) and into transit, you might be interested in the National Shared Mobility Summit. May 2-4, 2023. Learn more about it here.

  • REPLAY: If you missed our conversation with Adriana Abizadeh of the Kensington Corridor Trust, watch it here.

This article is part of The Weekly Wrap, a newsletter rounding up stories that explain the problems oppressing people in cities and elevate the solutions bringing us closer to economic, environmental and social justice. Click here to subscribe to The Weekly Wrap newsletter.

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Roshan Abraham is Next City's housing correspondent and a former Equitable Cities fellow. He is based in Queens. Follow him on Twitter at @roshantone.

Tags: floridapublic banksnew yorktransportation equity

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