2009 June 22 Monday
Cities Shrinking To Save Money

Shrinking Flint Michigan will pull in toward a city core in order to cut costs.

The government looking at expanding a pioneering scheme in Flint, one of the poorest US cities, which involves razing entire districts and returning the land to nature.

Local politicians believe the city must contract by as much as 40 per cent, concentrating the dwindling population and local services into a more viable area.

Concentrating cities in a smaller area reduces the costs of trash collection, street maintenance, police patrols, and other city services. Flint's economy has been in decline for decades. It needs to shrink to survive.

Detroit is in a similar situation.

In Detroit, shattered by the woes of the US car industry, there are already plans to split it into a collection of small urban centres separated from each other by countryside.

"The real question is not whether these cities shrink we're all shrinking but whether we let it happen in a destructive or sustainable way," said Mr Kildee. "Decline is a fact of life in Flint. Resisting it is like resisting gravity."

What some poor Michigan cities are going thru foreshadows what the country as a whole will go thru as Peak Oil hits. The economy will contract much more than it is contracting right now. The costs of road maintenance, trash collection, and other local government services will soar along with the costs of asphalt and vehicle fuel. Already Michigan counties are converting some roads from asphalt to gravel in order to save money.

The economy's decline is creating a crisis atmosphere where extreme options become thinkable.

State income-tax revenue fell 26% in the first four months of 2009 compared to the same period last year, according to a survey of states by the nonprofit Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government.

The revenue decline could become even more severe as the year wears on.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2009 June 22 11:50 PM  Economics Government Costs


Comments
Jerry Martinson said at June 23, 2009 12:51 AM:

I think it is important to think about this in these cities. In previous decades, Pittsburgh shrank from 800,000 people to under 400,000. A good portion of this was not out into the suburbs either. Its massive infrastructure was too much for the tax base and it became a burden as it aged. It's good that these towns are being realistic.

Concrete Jungle said at June 23, 2009 6:20 AM:

Detriot being isolated is a fine idea. Perhaps other cities will contract and can be isolated as well. When "trouble" breaks out (and it will) it will stay in one place. The "troublemakers" will be unable to move around too much and fuck things up for normal people. Gravel roads are good too. You can hear vehicles coming from farther away and "trouble" won't be able to drive around so easily. And on a side note, having a gravel driveway is a good security measure as well. Nobody will drive up without being noticed.

James Bowery said at June 23, 2009 6:54 AM:

No, the problem is that the cities, as incorporated land trusts, are _not_ shrinking the way they should.

Rather than tearing down housing, they should simply unincorporate those areas and let the market do the rest.

But of course what they are _really_ doing is what the WSJ recommended as the solution to the drop in housing prices: Tear down housing.

Truth said at June 23, 2009 12:32 PM:

But of course what they are _really_ doing is what the WSJ recommended as the solution to the drop in housing prices: Tear down housing.

No...what they are really doing is practicing a form of de-segregation. Destroy the homes in the black neighborhoods so you can move blacks into the white neighborhoods.

Concrete Jungle said at June 23, 2009 1:43 PM:

"No...what they are really doing is practicing a form of de-segregation. Destroy the homes in the black neighborhoods so you can move blacks into the white neighborhoods."

You bet, Truth...

http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200807/memphis-crime

Funniest line of the article:

"Lately, though, a new and unexpected pattern has emerged, taking criminologists by surprise."

I'll bet it did! And coming to your town too...Be prepared.


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