In recent years there has been a big surge of interest in urban commons. Much of this activity is driven by people’s demands that everyone have access to public spaces and city facilities, not just to wealthy elites, developers and investors. Most urban commons tend to arise as social and civic collaborations, but increasingly new legal frameworks and municipal ordinances are important. Law is often needed to authorize ongoing acts of urban commoning, protect share resources, or build new infrastructure.
Representative Examples of Urban Commons
Bologna Regulation for the Care and Regeneration of Urban Commons
One of the most significant such experiments in urban commons is the Bologna Regulation for the Care and Regeneration of Urban Commons , . This one-year old project in Bologna, Italy, is attempting to remake local government and transform standard bureaucratic process by inviting ordinary citizens and neighborhoods to come up with their own urban commons ideas, and then work with the government to make them real. The city now has more than 90 “pacts of cooperation” with self-nominated citizen groups, each of which works with the city in three areas – “living together, growing together and making together.” Examples include a neighborhood becoming a designated steward of certain public spaces or gardens; residents of a street removing graffiti with the city’s help; parents who are managing a local kindergarten; and neighbors creating “social streets” that encourage socializing. Originally developed by the Laboratory for the Governance of Commons  (LabGov; Professor Christian Iaione) and by Labsus  (Laboratory for Subsidiarity; Professor Gregorio Arena), the Bologna Regulation is now being emulated by dozens of Italian cities.
A broader, US-based initiative is seeking to promote “shareable cities.” Two Bay Area organizations – Shareable and the Sustainable Economies Law Center  -- released an October 2013 report, “: A Sharing Economy Policy Primer for Urban Leaders.”  The report identifies “scores of innovative, high impact policies that US city governments have put in place to help citizens share resources, co-produce and creative their own jobs.” Examples include carsharing, bikesharing and ridesharing, as well as changes in local taxes and other policies to promote them. Other “sharing policies” encourage urban agriculture on vacant lots, easier permitting to encourage home-based micro-enterprises, and city permission for the selling of homegrown vegetables in the neighborhood. A “sharing city” can also include city-supported co-working spaces, shared commercial kitchens, community-financed startups, and spaces for “pop-up” businesses. A number of cities have very aggressive sharing cities initiatives, including Seoul, Korea ; Lille, France ; and Barcelona, Spain. 
Charter of the Eco-Quartier of Lausanne
One notable socio-legal-ecological experiment for urban living is the Charter of the Eco-Quartier of Lausanne ,  (Switzerland). On a site of 30 hectares in the city, Plaines-du-Loup, the city will build a new eco-neighborhood in 2017 that will ultimately have about 3,500 homes and more than 10,000 residents. This section of the city aims to create and implement new models of property and social norms that will facilitate more ecological forms of urban life. The neighborhood is envisioned as a living, self-governing community of commoners that will “negotiate” with the city government and undertake systemic social and design approaches to buildings, transportation, energy, waste and social activities. Apartments, for example, will be designed to accommodate adaptive changes during the life cycle of the inhabitants, such as adding rooms to accommodate new children and removing rooms as children leave home.
Participatory Budgeting, a process pioneered in Porto Alegre Brazil in 1969, is continuing to gain in popularity, particularly in the US.  This procedure invites city residents to democratically determine how a (modest) portion of their city’s budget is allocated. Since coming to the US in 2009, participatory budgeting  has been used in Chicago, San Francisco, St. Louis, Boston, Vallejo, much of it promoted by the Brooklyn-based Participatory Budgeting organization. Worldwide, there are now more than 1,500 participatory budgeting projects being carried out.
Open Commons Linz
A number of cities have pioneered new sorts of digital initiatives to improve cities (in addition to the open data efforts mentioned in this wiki). One of the more significant is the pioneering work of Linz, Austria, which launched the Open Commons Linz initiative  to foster open information and digital access in many guises: free email and wifi for residents, public space server, use of open data, use of Creative Commons licenses, access to government information, geodata based complaint management, and more.
Government Procurement Policies
Some cities recognize that government procurement policies could be an especially powerful force for improving urban life and livelihoods. The Evergreen Cooperatives  of Cleveland, Ohio, are a pioneering example of leveraging the power of public monies to create green jobs at a living wage, and to boost local economies. In the digital context, government procurement can also be used to advance open technical standards, open source software, worker co-ops, open data, open educational resources, and the use of Creative Commons-licensed works.
The Sustainable Economies Law Center  has gone further, suggesting that perhaps city governments should develop open platforms for taxis, short-term housing and other resources as “Municipal Software Cooperatives.” This idea of an “open information commons” for cities has great potential in other cities, but it requires new legal authorizations and programs.
Top Level Domains (Web URLs) for Major Cities
Newly available Top Level Domains (Web URLs) for major cities could be an unprecedented tool for urban planning and livelier cities. Ever since ICANN,  the Internet domain-name body, authorized cities to apply for their own Top Level Domains (e.g., .nyc, .paris, .berlin), major cities have had the opportunity to use electronic networks as part of their urban planning – something that has become highly appealing as smartphones become ubiquitous. The TLDs provide a way for people to have easy access to city resources via the Web. For example, New York City could in principle put all museums under the domain name www.museums.nyc, and a neighborhood could have its own domain name (www.jacksonheights.nyc).
However, many cities appear more inclined to auction off the TLDs  rather than use them as urban planning tools to make the city more lively and easier to navigate: another political contestation over digital space. Thomas Lowenhaupt of ConnectingNYC.org  has been a long-time advocate for using the TLDs as a shared urban resource.
Timebanks and Alternative Regional Currencies
Timebanks  and alternative currencies have great potential to help revive the social and economic fortunes of cities. The Helsinki Timebank,  for example, is a robust barter-credit system that helps people without much money both provide and receive everyday services that might not be able to afford: dog-walking, lawn-moving, care-taking, rides to doctors, and so. In other cities, local currencies are attempting to relocalize economic activity, such as the successful effort of the Bangla-Pesa – in effect a currency, but officially “a credit-clearing system for multilateral reciprocal exchange” – that enables hundreds of poor residents in a poor neighborhood in Mombasa, Kenya, to meet their basic needs. But in the face of state fears about Bitcoin and other self-organized currencies, the legal complications in using and expanding such currencies are increasing. There are also sometimes tax and legal complications in using such currencies, and resistance by city governments to payment of taxes with them.
The Convention on the Use of Space
The Convention on the Use of Space  is a legal instrument developed by Adelita Husni-Bey to support the use value of housing and occupied space over vacancy and speculation. The document was written through a collaboration of lawyers, activists, squatters, researchers and cultural workers. Although not currently recognized by the legal system in the Netherlands (where it was first released) or by other national or municipal authorities, the Convention is intended to bring attention to the problem of unused spaces and financial speculation. It also gives squatters and other occupiers of vacant property a serious legal tool to assist them in their campaigns to re-appropriate property for the common good when it is not being used.