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8 issues that will define cities in the 2020s

The challenges and complex issues city leaders need to grapple with in the coming decade.

Economic Innovation Group

By their nature, cities are dynamic and ever-changing, shaking off the past and constantly reinventing themselves to face the future. But something seemed to happen to U.S. cities over the last decade, a kind of stasis in the face of rapid change. That may seem counter-intuitive, considering just how much urban America changed, from the introduction of new technologies and startups to building booms, increased gentrification, and rising rents. But time and time again, cities were more reactive than active.

Perhaps it wasn’t as much stasis as it was putting off tough decisions. Arguably, U.S. cities found themselves in a reactive stance throughout the 2010s: trying to bounce back from the recession and housing market crash, trying to decipher and regulate new technologies, working to create affordability and equity, and figuring out how to move away from business as usual in the face of the climate crisis.

For the most part, cities and their leaders muddled through all of these changes. Has there been an occasional flash of brilliance, brave stance, or progressive policy? Of course. But have cities truly made tough, bold, brave choices to embrace the future? Look at the New York City subway, arguably the symbol of urban America. Its problems have been evident for years, and yet no leaders have shown the guts to fix it. Or take the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and so many of our other big cities. How many politicians stepped up to build more supportive and affordable housing at the scale the crisis demands?

The 2020s will be just as, if not more, uncertain than the previous 10 years, with many of the same issues at the forefront. But the time for putting off hard choices may be at an end. Municipal governance will require bold action to take on the challenges we face, especially the reckoning with climate change and an ever-warmer planet. Here are the key issues that city leaders will be forced to confront over the next decade.

Car-free or car-focused

Cyclists commuting to work in London in 2014. Shutterstock via Curbed
Cyclists commuting to work in London in 2014. Shutterstock via Curbed

Read on >>>> Source: Curbed 8 issues that will define cities in the 2020s

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