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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios
Legal battles between cities and states are expected to intensify in the coming months with dust-ups over municipal broadband networks, paid sick leave and affordable housing policies at the forefront.
Why it matters: After some high-profile disputes with governors over pandemic-related restrictions, some mayors are emboldened in pushing back on state laws prohibiting city-level policies that, they say, will be important to recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. Community-run broadband networks: 19 states have legal barriers or bans on municipal-owned broadband networks.
"You have the dual effect of communities that are completely disconnected in a world that is more interconnected than ever before, combined with the realization that telecommuting is effective. Cities wanting to be competitive are looking at ways to move that forward."— Columbia, South Carolina, Mayor Steve Benjamin
Where it stands: More than 500 communities have some sort of publicly owned broadband networks, per the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.
"Never has it been more important that people have the ability not to go into a workplace, and the public really gets that now."— Shelley Hearne, CityHealth president
Where it stands: Despite the pandemic, a federal judge in March blocked Dallas from enforcing a local ordinance requiring private employers to offer paid sick leave, per the Dallas Morning News. Similar ordinances have been blocked in San Antonio and Austin, with Austin appealing to the Texas Supreme Court.
3. Affordable housing: A number of cities and states have implemented eviction moratoriums to give relief to renters suddenly out of work, but some are already expiring.
Where it stands: Despite a dramatic expansion of tenants' rights laws over the past few years with rent control laws in New York, Oregon and California, 31 states have statewide laws preempting rent control, said Haddow.
Driven by a dramatic rise in unemployment, more than one in three Louisiana residents now lives in food-insecure communities due to COVID-19, according to an analysis by data firm UrbanFootprint.
The big picture: The number of Americans considered food insecure has risen 46% since the beginning of the outbreak, according to Katie Fitzgerald, chief operating officer of Feeding America, in an April interview.
Zooming in: Louisiana ranks third in the nation for risk of food insecurity, following the District of Columbia and Georgia. Nearly half of newly food insecure communities are small towns and unincorporated rural areas.
Details: The analysis tracked changes in social vulnerability, economic stress, health risk and accessibility.
What's next: Pop-up food pantries at schools and churches in food desert neighborhoods can boost access, ideally allowing residents to be within a 10-minute walk of a grocery store or food outlet that sells healthy options.
This year's real-estate outlook is bleak, but commercial property rents are expected to improve over the next two years, according to the Urban Land Institute's annual survey of real estate economists and analysts.
Brick-and-mortar retailers, which were already shrinking before the pandemic, are suffering across the board. Meanwhile, e-commerce is rapidly increasing its market share.
Apartments are necessities, and rent collections haven't dipped as much as expected — yet. There will likely be a slowdown in building new multi-family projects.
Office demand is expected to improve over time. Even if more people decide to work from home, social distancing could require companies to lease more space to accommodate workers.
The bottom line: The big question that will determine how quickly rents bounce back is whether the crisis will prompt people to swap a city lifestyle for a more spread-out suburban one.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
There could be colliding interests as commuting begins to revive while environmental advocates fight to preserve and expand the newly airy spaces opened up for pedestrians and cyclists, Axios' Ben Geman reports.
Why it matters: Cities face a new reality of uncertain duration even as restrictions are eased.
The big question: How many of these changes will be made permanent even once people are largely able to return, in theory, to pre-crisis norms? London and Paris officials have signaled the changes could last.
But, but, but: Cities could face pressure in the other direction. There's already evidence that driving levels are bouncing back from April's troughs in a big way.
What they're saying: Urban transportation expert Yonah Freemark points out that in the 2000s, New York City's then-transportation chief Janette Sadik-Khan experimented with pro-pedestrian and cycling changes. Many became permanent.
Several Southern states are seeing a rise in new coronavirus cases, moving them further away from an important target for safely reopening parts of their economies, Axios' Sam Baker and Andrew Witherspoon report.
Why it matters: The Trump administration's reopening guidelines call for a consistent decline in new cases before proceeding with the process — and some states are proceeding even without clearing that threshold.
Between the lines: The total number of cases is only one piece of the puzzle.
Where it stands: South Dakota has made the most progress over the past week, cutting its new cases by over half.
The bottom line: No one measurement tells the whole story, and there are signs that most of the country is moving in the right direction.
People practice social distancing in white circles in Brooklyn's Domino Park. Photo: Johannes Eisele / AFP via Getty Images.
Isolating coronavirus patients isn't as easy as it sounds (Axios)
COVID-19 continues spreading in counties with strong Trump support (Brookings Institution)
Even the pandemic can't kill the open-plan office (CityLab)
Let the coronavirus break up the "Super Zips" (Washington Post)
States are reopening: See how coronavirus cases rise and fall (ProPublica)
Photo: Courtesy of Tortoise
Scooters that (somewhat) drive themselves are now a reality — at least in Peachtree Corners, a suburb of Atlanta, writes Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva.
How it works: Riders in PeachTree Corners can open the Go X app and hit a button to summon the nearest scooter.
Between the lines: Some experts predict a boom in scooter and bike use — as long as they are cleaned frequently— in the near future as people look for alternatives to public transit, which may feel too risky during the current coronavirus pandemic.
Have a great (and safe) week!