Why Cities Matter
Cities are at the forefront of many issues
So many of our civic conversations are focused on national government - that’s where news media pays the most attention and what we learn about in school.
But cities and counties, as diverse as they are, can offer pragmatic solutions to both immediate and long-term problems. As the governments geographically closest to the people, they are also supposed to be the most accountable.
Likewise, these local governments are often non-partisan and able to avoid some of the gridlock common at the state and federal level. In addition, some of these governments oversee huge budgets, enabling them to have large community impacts.
What issues do local governments address?
It’s easy to assume that cities and counties only regulate zoning and land use. While those policies affect more lives than you might think, local governments do so much more.
In fact, many policies adopted at the national level end up being implemented by cities. That includes everything from affordable housing (through grants issued by the Department of Housing and Urban Development) to national security (through grants issued by the Department of Homeland Security). How these cities choose to implement those policies can be extremely important.
Here’s a running list of important topics being addressed at the local level.
Predatory lending: the City of Miami has sued big banks for targeting communities of color
Sea level rise: 4 counties in South Florida have banded together to share resources and develop policy to help communities adapt to climate change (which eventually led to a change in state law)
Expanded Internet access: 35 local governments working to offer broadband