Local government law relies on a dichotomy between the "city" and the "special district." While the city is understood as a fundamental building block of the U.S. system of democratic governance, the special district is perceived as a mere bureaucratic entity. This Article argues that this simplistic distinction ignores a third category: The "quasi-city. " The quasi-city is an entity that functions like a city, but is legally a special district. As a result, despite its city-like nature, the quasi-city is not subject to most of the rules that federal and state laws impose on cities but not on special districts - rules that pertain to citizen participation, equality, taxation, financing, and administration, among others. Hundreds of these city-like special districts have recently been created, even though they diverge from the definition and role U.S. law has historically assigned to the special district. U.S. law must thus adopt a new normative theory to evaluate the desirability of the quasi-city's ability to evade the laws imposed on cities. In certain circumstances, the quasi-city is an effective alternative to cities and thus its exemption from general laws applicable to cities is beneficial. But in other circumstances, the quasi-city undermines the objectives of local government law.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||62|
|Journal||Boston University Law Review|
|State||Published - Dec 1 2013|
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