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Will your city shrink to fit?
Old 07-24-2009, 10:10 AM   #1
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Will your city shrink to fit?

Plans are underway to "bulldoze" uninhabited parts of rust belt cities such as Flint and Akron. Sections of these cities will be cleared and returned to nature. Some results will be smaller urban cores which will be cheaper to maintain and service and police. The empty land could be used for many useful projects, even growing food, if necessary.

Some cities, like Detroit, are going bankrupt. They have to downsize in order to survive.

I think this is very smart planning. Some of the empty houses in these cities end up housing criminals. The neighbors are hostages. Hopefully, the residents will be resettled into new neighborhoods. It's always difficult when people lose their homes and neighborhoods. But if energy becomes expensive again, they will be happy to live closer to stores and services.
US cities may have to be bulldozed in order to survive - Telegraph
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Old 07-24-2009, 11:22 AM   #2
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I heard a piece on NPR about doing this in Flint. It does seem smart. The people who want to stay will wind up in neighborhoods with others who want to stay, rather than where half the houses are abandoned and falling apart or used by vagrants and criminals.
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Old 07-24-2009, 11:30 AM   #3
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I have not read the article.... but am wonding if RunningBum did?

How can someone make a decision on neighborhoods? If you are talking about a huge factory that is owned by one entity... it is easy...

But Running seemed to imply that someone will say... this neighborhood is good and this one is bad... we will bulldoze the bad... who cares about the people there... they will be better off moving to the 'good' neighborhood... who cares about their property rights....

I just don't see it flying when you are talking single family housing...
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Old 07-24-2009, 12:12 PM   #4
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I read it, I also remember the interview. It is controversial, and they expect some resistance. I would not want to move from a house I lived in for 40 years...but if many of the houses on my block had been abandoned, and their yards were overgrown, houses had been turned into crack houses and so on, I would jump at the opportunity to move and be surrounded by other home owners. These people probably have zero prospect of selling their homes otherwise.

There are also some places where they are tearing down houses and letting neighbors buy the lots cheap. They just had to make some commitment, like putting up a garage, making a garden, or something like that. I don't remember the details I heard on that.

I don't know if they are condemning neighborhoods to force people out and make them move elsewhere. This wouldn't be the first time it has happened though. How do you think freeways get built inside established cities?

There's very little precedent for cities that shrink this much. Ideally you would attract new businesses and re-grow the city, but realistically, is there any chance this will happen in places like Flint? What else are you going to do?
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Old 07-24-2009, 12:53 PM   #5
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There's very little precedent for cities that shrink this much. Ideally you would attract new businesses and re-grow the city, but realistically, is there any chance this will happen in places like Flint? What else are you going to do?
Actually, there is precedent for cities that shrink this much. Consider, picking a random example, Rome. During the height of the Roman Empire, Rome had an estimated population in excess of 1,000,000. After the sack, the population fell to an estimated 20,000, about 2% of its population at its height. Rome's still around. Constantinople is another similar example.
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Old 07-24-2009, 01:05 PM   #6
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I went to Opening Day at Yerba Buena Gardens some years ago. Saw one lone protester who had lost his housing. The area, for many years was full of flophouses, aka, affordable housing. Now, itís an urban park which this weekend will be the center of a theater festival but where do the dislocated people live? I went to a free outdoor event there recently, very pleasant, have mixed feelings about the beggars who stroll through the crowds. Yerba Buena has a small artwork done by Native American artists, in doing the project the artists were careful to be respectful to the placement of stones that were hauled from (current!) native property.... (long story). One of the things I may get back to in retirement is hanging out at City Hall. The land use committee holds interesting hearings.

I donít know, Oldbabe, it sounds very good on paper. If a city area looks like a bombed out war zone, and the city can find a way to deal with it, could be a great solution. Good topic.

Here is a comment from Zack, in the article comments section:

Quote:
How is it that they propose to "bulldoze entire neighborhoods" and expect nobody will "have to move"? There's something rotten going on here. How do they account for the displaced citizenry potential. FEMA still has no idea where thousands of New Orleans people disappeared to after Katrina. How will this disaster be any better?
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Old 07-24-2009, 01:07 PM   #7
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More common is "urban renewal" "urban infill" or "brownfield development". Basically recycling parts of town that are functionally and structurally obsolete, worn out, beat up and nearly worthless (or an actual liability in many cases). Our city has done a couple of these fairly successfully over the years. Sometimes it gives poor people a better environment in which to live, sometimes it gentrifies the neighborhood, forcing the poor to live somewhere more affordable. Not having done a cost benefit analysis, it is hard to say whether these make sense. But the end result looks nice at least in my city.

From an urban planning perspective, it can be just a bandaid on the situation where there are deeper underlying problems (crime, corruption, lack of industry and basic employment, poor educational system, etc).
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Old 07-24-2009, 02:27 PM   #8
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The plan is to move the displaced to much better houses in other neighborhoods, effectively giving them more than their property is worth. Initial reaction in the bad neighborhoods has been very positive because people are finding it impossible to sell their homes in neighborhoods where half the houses are boarded up.

I think I mentioned in another thread that our city decreased in population by about 25% in the late 70s when the steel industry crashed and our steel mill closed. In the 80s an entire blighted neighborhood was razed and a paper mill was built on the land. Most people were delighted to go. There were a few who did not want to leave and had their homes condemned. They were paid well as part of the condemnation but would have done better by cooperating. Relocation costs were paid as well.
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Old 07-24-2009, 02:34 PM   #9
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There was a restaurant/motel near here, out in the countryside, that closed. It was purchased by a nature group and demolished. The site was completely cleaned up, and you can't even tell there was ever anything there. Pretty refreshing.
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Old 07-24-2009, 03:40 PM   #10
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maybe a little off topic...this is what they did with an abandoned navy base in the middle of orlando...."Baldwin Park"





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Old 07-24-2009, 03:51 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Texas Proud View Post
I have not read the article.... but am wonding if RunningBum did?

How can someone make a decision on neighborhoods? If you are talking about a huge factory that is owned by one entity... it is easy...

But Running seemed to imply that someone will say... this neighborhood is good and this one is bad... we will bulldoze the bad... who cares about the people there... they will be better off moving to the 'good' neighborhood... who cares about their property rights....

I just don't see it flying when you are talking single family housing...
That is exactly what happened in urban renewal back in the 60s. Giant swaths of Boston's North End got bulldozed, and the people were relocated various places like Roxbury, etc. I think it was quite hard on many people, especially oldsters. But it was a great commercial success! ( Which was usually the main criterion.)

Ha
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Old 07-24-2009, 06:10 PM   #12
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The plan is to move the displaced to much better houses in other neighborhoods, effectively giving them more than their property is worth. Initial reaction in the bad neighborhoods has been very positive because people are finding it impossible to sell their homes in neighborhoods where half the houses are boarded up.

I think I mentioned in another thread that our city decreased in population by about 25% in the late 70s when the steel industry crashed and our steel mill closed. In the 80s an entire blighted neighborhood was razed and a paper mill was built on the land. Most people were delighted to go. There were a few who did not want to leave and had their homes condemned. They were paid well as part of the condemnation but would have done better by cooperating. Relocation costs were paid as well.
That's encouraging, Martha. I think people will be better off living in a city that can afford to pay for its services. If it's smaller, more affordable, with reasonable tax structures, it might even attract new businesses and residents. It could even happen in Flint!
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Old 07-24-2009, 06:14 PM   #13
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Costs per person (for police firefighters water sewer ...) also decrease when people live in a smaller geographic area.
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Old 07-25-2009, 12:45 AM   #14
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Costs per person (for police firefighters water sewer ...) also decrease when people live in a smaller geographic area.
That's true for sewers and streets I suppose, but not necessarily true for fighting crime and fire. The lower the population density the less crime there is, and I can only assume something similar for fires. A 35 square mile city with low population density can be served with fewer police officers than the same 35 square miles with greater population density. That's with all other things being equal, because there are a number of other factors that go into how much crime you will find in a community.

So, if they kill off whole neighborhods and compact everyone toward the city center, crime could actually rise there where the population is. If they just bulldoze vacants and create parkland out of it, then crime would be reduced because the population density would stay the same and you simultaneously eliminated places where squatters, drug fiends and other crooks like to hide out.
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Old 07-30-2009, 09:09 AM   #15
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Above, I mentioned the motel/restaurant that was returned to nature. Yesterday I went by it and took a photo. Here are the before and after shots.

Before (from the web):



After:

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Old 07-30-2009, 10:18 AM   #16
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Al, probably just as well. From the 'before' picture it looks like it might have been turning into a biker bar...
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Old 08-07-2009, 08:08 PM   #17
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With regards to demolishing old unused buidlings...the old (now unused) high school in a town near me was recently torn down. It was becoming an eyesore and a party place for teenagers or worse, right in the middle of a nice residential neighborhood. It was not a candidate for refurbishment due to its dated construction and noncompliance with codes.
Many residents loudly opposed the demolition for nostalgic reasons.
The town has plans to turn the vacant lot into a public park.
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Old 08-07-2009, 10:18 PM   #18
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Al, probably just as well. From the 'before' picture it looks like it might have been turning into a biker bar...
What do you have against bikers?

Well, I think they could have saved the parking lot for RV boondockers, like Slab City in CA.
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Old 08-08-2009, 09:14 AM   #19
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maybe a little off topic...this is what they did with an abandoned navy base in the middle of orlando...."Baldwin Park"





I was stationed there in 1982. It looks much nicer now.
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Old 08-08-2009, 01:05 PM   #20
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maybe you can explain why there would be a navy base in the middle of florida?
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