As we all know, the only constant is change. Cities are good examples of change…they are and must be dynamic in order to function effectively in the present and into the future.

Some of the issues leaders in all aspects of our government, economy and society will have to grapple with during this 2020 decade will help define how our cities and residents in those cities function.

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Patrick Sisson writing for Curbed gave us a crib sheet for some of these issues and questions.

  1. Will our cities be car-free or car focused in the midst of climate crises, air pollution and traffic congestion?
    1. During a decade in which autonomous/electric vehicles may become mainstream, will we reposition city transit and prioritize pedestrian access?
    2. Will we develop a portfolio of alternative initiatives such emissions-=free zones, congestion pricing, bike sharing, a rise in e-bike sales, bus rapid transit?
  2. Will we see the rise of self-powered cities?
    1. As cities shift towards energy efficiency, will we revise our building codes to promote green building, green materials, solar/wind power and urban energy micro-grids to help mitigate increasing natural disasters such as flooding and wildfires?
    2. According to Tyron Woeste, a venture partner with Fifth Wall, an investment company emphasizing real estate tech, “…efficiency will become a big business as the real estate industry consumes 40% of all energy globally, emits 30% of total carbon dioxide and uses 40% of all raw materials. Construction and demolition account for 25%-35% of all waste generated in certain markets. So if we want to make progress in the looming climate crisis, our first order of business needs to be radical change across the real estate business.”
  3. Can we all live together?
    1. Density, up zoning and revising building regulations are all interrelated to economic mobility and equity.
  4. Is it time to decide what to save and what to leave behind?
    1. With the realities of more storms, flooding, hurricanes and wildfires, will we develop managed retreat plans and criteria around which abandoning communities becomes essential due to the fact that some areas are too costly to save?
    2. Where will people be relocated to if and when property damage is too severe to rebuild or even maintain?
  5. How will we deal with the increasing challenge of staying cool?
    1. Will we invest in neighborhoods that haven’t trees, parks and/or shade structures?
    2. Will we shift our life rhythms to early mornings and late evenings in light of ever warming temperatures?
  6. How will we accommodate seniors living in our cities?
    1. According to Harvard’s Joint Center on Housing Studies, the number of people ages 70-79 living in cities will hit 10.7M in this coming decade and the number of seniors 80+ years in 2038 will hit 17.5M for a total of 12% of American households, 57% of them living alone.
    2. What happens when existing housing stock is not equipped for senior independent living?
    3. What happens when affordable single-family housing stock is not passed on to next generations?
  7. How will economic inequities manifest themselves when, according to the Brookings Institute, 50% of all innovation jobs are now found in only 41 counties in the country?
    1. ProPublica’s Alec Mac Gillis wrote, “Growing inequality is THE story of our moment.”

Obviously, there are no easy answers/solutions to any of these questions and issues. But, leaders must be leaders regardless of circumstances and the realities of new technologies and startups, new limits regarding land and resources, rising costs and more people needing more support.

With 80% of our country’s population living in cities, according to the US Census Bureau, cleaders must be dynamic and ever-changing so that our cities are dynamic and ever-changing.



Thanks to Curbed’s Patrick Sisson for source data.




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