Our Nation’s Cities: Working Together to Provide a Better Alternative

Every morning seems to bring more disconcerting news out of Washington, D.C. Policies are crafted that harm and isolate our residents, particularly ones from our most vulnerable communities. It can all understandably lead to a sense of hopelessness for many people.

But as I witnessed this past weekend at the United States Conference of Mayors, there are a multitude of voices opposed to the harmful rhetoric coming from the administration. When the country’s mayors put our collective efforts together, we can be a very powerful counterpoint. During this time of great uncertainty and volatility, it felt reassuring to know that at the local level, cities can still band together to protect, serve and support our residents and our communities.

On my short visit to the conference — I had to be back in San Francisco for the Pride parade — I was able to confer with my colleagues from across the country on the pressing issues of the day and put support behind policies that will leave lasting positive impacts.

One of those policies was a resolution calling on the federal government to support the fight against climate change by fully committing to the Paris Climate Accord. Cities like San Francisco cannot formally join the Paris Climate Accord, but through our collective action we can put pressure on the administration to adopt responsible energy plans.

In San Francisco, we have reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by 28 percent at the same time that our city’s population has grown by 19 percent and our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has increased 78 percent.

We are also pledging to a goal of 50 percent renewable electricity supply by 2020 and 100 percent by 2030. We will accomplish these goals by enforcing new green building standards for all municipal construction project, continuing our investments in renewable energy, pursuing rigorous energy efficiency standards at city-owned properties and achieving zero waste to our landfills. And we will be happy to share these strategies with other mayors across the country, to ensure that other cities join us in leading the fight against climate change.

In addition to committing to strong environmental causes at the U.S. Conference of Mayors, a resolution I introduced to support responsible local drone regulation standards was approved.

Drones are becoming an ever-increasing presence in our metropolitan areas. While oversight falls to the Federal Aviation Administration, when a concerned citizen sees something in the sky, they are more than likely going to call local officials, like the police department. That is why local municipalities need to have some regulatory responsibilities for drones. Last weekend, we passed a resolution supporting a measure that would respect local authority over drones, allowing us to protect our residents and their privacy.

This is another example of how different municipalities can work together. Drones are an emerging issue in our cities, so it is important that we exchange ideas on how to deal with this new challenge.

We are experiencing trying, troubling times. But in our cities and municipalities, the promise of forward-thinking, tolerant and inclusive democratic values still stands strong.