Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 24 of 24

Thread: Article: How to shrink a city

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Plus
    Registered
    Jun 2003
    Location
    De Noc
    Posts
    17,614

    Article: How to shrink a city

    Not every great metropolis is going to make a comeback. Planners consider some radical ways to embrace decline.
    http://www.boston.com/business/artic...shrink_a_city/

    HIGHLIGHTS:
    Now a few planners and politicians are starting to try something new: embracing shrinking. Frankly admitting that these cities are not going to return to their former population size anytime soon, planners and activists and officials are starting to talk about what it might mean to shrink well. After decades of worrying about smart growth, they’re starting to think about smart shrinking, about how to create cities that are healthier because they are smaller.
    How new is this discussion to you ? Never mentioned in school.
    Do you expect to see more writings about this ?
    Have you seen / attended any conference sessions about this ?
    At the OKI conference there is a scheduling conflict with the Ethics session.
    Here is the session discription

    Planning Amid Population Decline
    How can “shrinking” towns, cities and regions transition from former growth‐fueled policies, plans, and development patterns into downsized, but enduring communities? This session will explore successful programs and initiatives that address this phenomenon in constructive ways, including the basic tenets of “right‐sizing.”
    Do you think there will be a session at APA National Conference ?
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Jamestown, New York
    Posts
    1,660
    There's been a lot of talk about this in places like Buffalo but virtually no action. Just clearing all the abandoned houses and leaving the occupied ones as is would be a vast improvement for the neighborhoods as it would lessen the kinds of crime that breeds in the warrens of empty buildings. Less drugs, less dog fighting and gambling, less arson, etc. With the derelict houses gone, the people who are left might be encouraged to fix their places up -- and they might even be able to get insurance on them.

    Community groups have agitated for land-banking for more than 5 years for Buffalo's East Side, but the politicians just nod and go their merry way giving tax breaks to waterfront and/or downtown condos for the wealthy and politically connected "leaders" who like to pretend Buffalo can recapture its "golden age" if only more housing were built in downtown. This happens because there's fat profits to be made by "the right people" (ie, developers) in "redeveloping downtown" (which Buffalo has been doing for half a century) and not anything much in demoing lots of little houses and leaving the land to go back to nature if nobody has a plan for it.

    Meanwhile, the local urbanist cheerleaders keep whining about "sprawl" rather than putting the blame for people moving to the suburbs where it belongs: on greedy, myopic city leaders (both political and business) who drive people out of the city by failing to insist that the city take care of its business -- providing safe neighborhoods, decent schools, and snowplowed streets.

    Okay, my rant's over.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally posted by Linda_D View post
    There's been a lot of talk about this in places like Buffalo but virtually no action. Just clearing all the abandoned houses and leaving the occupied ones as is would be a vast improvement for the neighborhoods as it would lessen the kinds of crime that breeds in the warrens of empty buildings. Less drugs, less dog fighting and gambling, less arson, etc. With the derelict houses gone, the people who are left might be encouraged to fix their places up -- and they might even be able to get insurance on them.

    Community groups have agitated for land-banking for more than 5 years for Buffalo's East Side, but the politicians just nod and go their merry way giving tax breaks to waterfront and/or downtown condos for the wealthy and politically connected "leaders" who like to pretend Buffalo can recapture its "golden age" if only more housing were built in downtown. This happens because there's fat profits to be made by "the right people" (ie, developers) in "redeveloping downtown" (which Buffalo has been doing for half a century) and not anything much in demoing lots of little houses and leaving the land to go back to nature if nobody has a plan for it.

    Meanwhile, the local urbanist cheerleaders keep whining about "sprawl" rather than putting the blame for people moving to the suburbs where it belongs: on greedy, myopic city leaders (both political and business) who drive people out of the city by failing to insist that the city take care of its business -- providing safe neighborhoods, decent schools, and snowplowed streets.

    Okay, my rant's over.
    This kind of shallow logic makes me sad for our country

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Sep 2006
    Location
    cyclone land
    Posts
    58
    I read an article about trying to do this for utilities and to rebuild denser, concentrated development (as opposed to it being spread out) after demolishing buildings in Detroit. The goal was to make delivery more practical.

    I think its an interesting topic and would like to check it out if there's an APA session.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian ursus's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Northern Utah
    Posts
    3,762
    Quote Originally posted by steel View post
    This kind of shallow logic makes me sad for our country
    I don't agree with everything in the post, but I find the points and the point of view represented to be interesting. Can you elaborate on what you find shallow about the argument? I think it's an interesting discussion...
    "...I would never try to tick Hink off. He kinda intimidates me. He's quite butch, you know." - Maister

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Jamestown, New York
    Posts
    1,660
    Quote Originally posted by ursus View post
    I don't agree with everything in the post, but I find the points and the point of view represented to be interesting. Can you elaborate on what you find shallow about the argument? I think it's an interesting discussion...
    I believe that Steel lived in a Buffalo 'burb before moving to Chicago, and therefore takes safe neighborhoods, decent schools, and snowplowed streets for granted. I lived in Buffalo for 20 years before moving out, so I don't take any of those "amenities" for granted.

    My comments were only about Buffalo. Not all cities are as dysfunctional as the COB. I never had to snowblow my street when I lived in Albany or Jamestown.

  7. #7
    The article itself was a bit strange. After pointing out that Boston lost population since its peak, it eventually concedes that it is not losing households and is not really in need of a shrinking strategy.

    Later on, it says that all cities will shrink sooner or later. But while some cities are in deep shrinkage mode, most are not.

    The article also glosses over the social justice concerns.

    Most planners will go their entire careers without having to deal with shrinkage. Others will find themselves deeply involved in the issues.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Where Valley Fever Lives
    Posts
    7,030

    Uh OH!

    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    Most planners will go their entire careers without having to deal with shrinkage.
    .....Really?
    Skilled Adoxographer

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Plus
    Registered
    Jun 2003
    Location
    De Noc
    Posts
    17,614
    Off-topic:
    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    Most planners will go their entire careers without having to deal with shrinkage.
    Talk about ripe for being taken completely out of context.
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  10. #10
    Cyburbian jswanek's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2009
    Location
    County of Orange
    Posts
    134

    Real Shrinkage

    .

    As in Pripyat (see: http://www.angelfire.com/extreme4/ki...eed/index.html, the site managed by a woman who has spend years sneaking into the Chernobyl Abandoned Lands zone), where the wolves roam through the old child care facilities...

    .
    Quote Originally posted by Linda_D View post
    There's been a lot of talk about this in places like Buffalo but virtually no action. Just clearing all the abandoned houses and leaving the occupied ones as is would be a vast improvement for the neighborhoods as it would lessen the kinds of crime that breeds in the warrens of empty buildings. Less drugs, less dog fighting and gambling, less arson, etc. With the derelict houses gone, the people who are left might be encouraged to fix their places up -- and they might even be able to get insurance on them.

    Community groups have agitated for land-banking for more than 5 years for Buffalo's East Side, but the politicians just nod and go their merry way giving tax breaks to waterfront and/or downtown condos for the wealthy and politically connected "leaders" who like to pretend Buffalo can recapture its "golden age" if only more housing were built in downtown. This happens because there's fat profits to be made by "the right people" (ie, developers) in "redeveloping downtown" (which Buffalo has been doing for half a century) and not anything much in demoing lots of little houses and leaving the land to go back to nature if nobody has a plan for it.

    Meanwhile, the local urbanist cheerleaders keep whining about "sprawl" rather than putting the blame for people moving to the suburbs where it belongs: on greedy, myopic city leaders (both political and business) who drive people out of the city by failing to insist that the city take care of its business -- providing safe neighborhoods, decent schools, and snowplowed streets.

    Okay, my rant's over.
    .

    When urban leaders make promises, the citizenry themselves must follow up.

    .

    .

  11. #11
    Quote Originally posted by JNA View post
    Off-topic:

    Talk about ripe for being taken completely out of context.
    I ave no idea what you are talking about!

  12. #12
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Where the weak are killed and eaten.
    Posts
    6,128
    Quote Originally posted by cyke View post
    I read an article about trying to do this for utilities and to rebuild denser, concentrated development (as opposed to it being spread out) after demolishing buildings in Detroit. The goal was to make delivery more practical.

    I think its an interesting topic and would like to check it out if there's an APA session.
    Here is a paper that explains what is going on here.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  13. #13
    Cyburbian RPfresh's avatar
    Registered
    May 2008
    Location
    Surf Jock City
    Posts
    197
    This is really interesting stuff and I hope to read more about it and its successes and failures, BUT it does sting of 'urban renewal' in that some supposed "slums" that are actual living neighborhoods may be unfairly targeted, once again, as blight. That scares me a little.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Jamestown, New York
    Posts
    1,660
    Quote Originally posted by RPfresh View post
    This is really interesting stuff and I hope to read more about it and its successes and failures, BUT it does sting of 'urban renewal' in that some supposed "slums" that are actual living neighborhoods may be unfairly targeted, once again, as blight. That scares me a little.
    I think if you toured some of the abandoned neighborhoods of Buffalo's East Side, you would realize that we're NOT talking about "actual living neighborhoods" but about block upon block of empty, abandoned houses with perhaps 1 or 2 occupied homes out of every 20 or 30 homes -- and maybe half of those "occupied" homes may be filled with squatters or drug users.

    In Buffalo, these used to be working class neighborhoods built in the late 19th and early 20th century. The single-story frame homes are wedged onto narrow lots, frequently 25 x100. Some are SFD but most are front/back doubles with a second apartment added after construction. They were built cheaply as utilitarian housing for industrial workers, so there's no gingerbread and no "charm". Most don't have basements or central heating. Frequently, there's only 3 or 4 feet between houses and only 8 or 10 feet between the back of the house and the property line.

    It would cost thousands more to fix one of these homes up than it could ever be sold for, so nobody wants them. The owners, usually out-of-town investors who thought they're going to make big $$$ flipping these homes, quickly find out otherwise and just walk away, leaving them to the banks or the city. 'Urban renewal' would be a major improvement.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian RPfresh's avatar
    Registered
    May 2008
    Location
    Surf Jock City
    Posts
    197
    Quote Originally posted by Linda_D View post
    I think if you toured some of the abandoned neighborhoods of Buffalo's East Side, you would realize that we're NOT talking about "actual living neighborhoods" but about block upon block of empty, abandoned houses with perhaps 1 or 2 occupied homes out of every 20 or 30 homes -- and maybe half of those "occupied" homes may be filled with squatters or drug users.

    In Buffalo, these used to be working class neighborhoods built in the late 19th and early 20th century. The single-story frame homes are wedged onto narrow lots, frequently 25 x100. Some are SFD but most are front/back doubles with a second apartment added after construction. They were built cheaply as utilitarian housing for industrial workers, so there's no gingerbread and no "charm". Most don't have basements or central heating. Frequently, there's only 3 or 4 feet between houses and only 8 or 10 feet between the back of the house and the property line.

    It would cost thousands more to fix one of these homes up than it could ever be sold for, so nobody wants them. The owners, usually out-of-town investors who thought they're going to make big $$$ flipping these homes, quickly find out otherwise and just walk away, leaving them to the banks or the city. 'Urban renewal' would be a major improvement.
    You'll notice that I said 'may' be unfairly targeted. If this isn't the case here, it's not the case here.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Jamestown, New York
    Posts
    1,660
    Quote Originally posted by RPfresh View post
    You'll notice that I said 'may' be unfairly targeted. If this isn't the case here, it's not the case here.
    I understand that you weren't indicting all of this movement, but I wanted to make sure that all readers understood the situation that cities like Buffalo, Cleveland, and Detroit are dealing with. This depopulation of entire neighborhoods seems to be a phenomenon restricted to some Rust Belt cities clustered around the Great Lakes, so it's sometimes difficult for people in other parts of the country to comprehend it. Even in many cities that have suffered huge population declines in the last 60 years, the declines are spread out much more evenly -- all neighborhoods lose population, and a lot of substandard housing gets emptied because it's not needed. In cities like Buffalo, though, there's been not only a lowering of population density in many neighborhoods, but also total abandonment in others. These neighborhoods are like ghost towns within cities.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Where the weak are killed and eaten.
    Posts
    6,128
    Quote Originally posted by Linda_D View post
    I understand that you weren't indicting all of this movement, but I wanted to make sure that all readers understood the situation that cities like Buffalo, Cleveland, and Detroit are dealing with. This depopulation of entire neighborhoods seems to be a phenomenon restricted to some Rust Belt cities clustered around the Great Lakes, so it's sometimes difficult for people in other parts of the country to comprehend it. Even in many cities that have suffered huge population declines in the last 60 years, the declines are spread out much more evenly -- all neighborhoods lose population, and a lot of substandard housing gets emptied because it's not needed. In cities like Buffalo, though, there's been not only a lowering of population density in many neighborhoods, but also total abandonment in others. These neighborhoods are like ghost towns within cities.
    I would like to use some numbers that would support Linda_D's comments. The State of Michigan has lost 400,000 manufacturing jobs, most of which were in the Detroit metropolitan region. Each manufacturing job supports other jobs in the local economy. Without the money brought in through manufacturing people are spending less in stores, resturants, or on liesure activities. This has had a domino effect and led to layoffs in all sectors of the economy. Without jobs or the availability of other jobs people are leaving en masse.

    We now have a huge surplus of housing which has depressed its values. People who could not afford to live in middle class nieghborhoods now suddenly can afford to. Likewise, since all sectors of the economy are impacted those who cannot afford to live in the upper income areas any longer either move to the middle class nieghborhoods or leave the state all together. You would think under such conditions that the middle class neighborhoods housing values would stabilize, but as I mentioned the exodous has been so great that even these have depressed housing values.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  18. #18
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Pennsylvania
    Posts
    28
    I agree that it is tough to really understand the neighborhoods that something like planned shrinkage is really referring to if you aren't familiar with the Great Lakes, Rust Belt, or midwest in general.

    This isn't your parent's urban renewal. For the most part, they aren't knocking down beautiful Victorian or Italianate homes that have fallen into disrepair. These are neighborhoods that are mostly filled with small, cheap, unassuming housing units that were thrown up quickly and in mass amounts and lack the utilities to support modern amentities, to house factory workers. They have become barren, ghost towns that serve as hotbeds for criminal activity, property depreciation to surrounding communities that are still established, and buildings in dangerous and unstable conditions.

    There are city blocks that have almost completely reverted back to nature by their own accord via demolition and house-burning (which especially seems to be a sad pastime in Detroit). There are blocks of streets and sidewalks with few if any houses on them that vegetation and wildlife have reclaimed. From some perspectives, if you didn't know any better, you would think you were looking at a house in a rural community100 miles outside of the city borders.

    If people aren't familiar with this type of urban landscape I highly recommend they do some photographic or site visit research to really grasp the severity of the problem in some areas. Just look at the aerial and birds eye images of the neighborhoods around downtown Detroit via Google or Bing. I'm far from an expert on Detroit. I'm sure someone could point out specific neighborhoods that are the most distressed.

    I don't mean to slam any city or make the situation sound impossible, I just am trying to clarify the situation for those who may not fully understand it.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    I would like to use some numbers that would support Linda_D's comments. The State of Michigan has lost 400,000 manufacturing jobs, most of which were in the Detroit metropolitan region. Each manufacturing job supports other jobs in the local economy. Without the money brought in through manufacturing people are spending less in stores, resturants, or on liesure activities. This has had a domino effect and led to layoffs in all sectors of the economy. Without jobs or the availability of other jobs people are leaving en masse.

    .
    I find this fascinating because the San Jose Metro area lost about 250,000 jobs after the dot com bust in 2000 and though there were one or two years where the population fell, by 2003 it was on the increase again and today there are more people than in 2000. Total employment is still below 2000 however. With only 1.8 million people, its about a third of eh Detroit metro area size so proportionately, the job loss may have been greater. Even so, there never was an abandonment problem. On the contrary, housing remained robust. So its more than job loss. Something greater may be going on. I have to admit I don't understand it all

  20. #20
    Cyburbian RPfresh's avatar
    Registered
    May 2008
    Location
    Surf Jock City
    Posts
    197
    Well the San Jose metropolitan area is the entire Bay Area, considering people commute out of SF, the East Bay and outlying bedroom communities (like Santa Cruz where I'm from) to work in Silicon Valley. That population number is more along the lines of 7 to 8 million, and if you buy half that measurement than the job loss would be worse in Detroit.

    Besides that, housing prices stayed ridiculously high in the Bay during the local recession, which seems to have leveled off somewhat compared to the recession in the States overall. If I recall three Bay Area counties (San Francisco, Santa Clara which includes San Jose, and Santa Cruz which nearby if not always considered part of the bay area) were among the most if not THE most expensive counties in the country to live in during this period. As someone who retains familiarity with these counties I can say that it is true that there has been no noticeable exodus out of the area and agree that for whatever reason it is incomparable to Detroit. The abandonment-related housing problem in SF is that a huge chunk of the housing stock is made up of vacation homes.

    I wasn't indicting anything about this concept, Linda_D, I was just saying that in the wrong hands shrinking policies could do damage to cities not facing the kinds of issues apparent in the Rust Belt and the Midwest.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Where the weak are killed and eaten.
    Posts
    6,128
    Quote Originally posted by Johio View post
    If people aren't familiar with this type of urban landscape I highly recommend they do some photographic or site visit research to really grasp the severity of the problem in some areas. Just look at the aerial and birds eye images of the neighborhoods around downtown Detroit via Google or Bing. I'm far from an expert on Detroit. I'm sure someone could point out specific neighborhoods that are the most distressed.
    Actually Downtown is not so bad. Try looking at Brightmoor which is on the far West Side off of Fenkell, Schoolcraft, Lahser, and Telegraph.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  22. #22
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Colo Front Range
    Posts
    2,368
    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    Actually Downtown is not so bad. Try looking at Brightmoor which is on the far West Side off of Fenkell, Schoolcraft, Lahser, and Telegraph.
    I was born there in the early 60s and finally got out when I turned 18. I return on occasion and am always surprised at the decay. If there were a way to raze the buildings and let nature come back, that not only would be a 447% improvement but might make an interesting city.

    Jus' sayin'.

  23. #23
    Member
    Registered
    Sep 2010
    Location
    London, UK
    Posts
    2

    go to eastern Germany

    In Sachsen-Anhalt, which I visited recently, they actively embraced the 'shrinking cities' concept just over five years ago in places like Magdeburg and Halle as well as smaller towns. The assumption is that the state's population of 3m in 1990 will be halved by 2060 but there will be no fossil fuel economy by then (entirely replaced by renewables). Two salient features: there are no master plans, more consultation with stakeholders; there is a rethink of razing empty properties, partly on grounds of cost, partly because inhabitants prefer to stay there...Much of reclaimed land is given over to community parks and the like but the Detroit notion of 'urban farming' has NOT taken root.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian jswanek's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2009
    Location
    County of Orange
    Posts
    134
    Quote Originally posted by davidgow View post
    In Sachsen-Anhalt, which I visited recently, they actively embraced the 'shrinking cities' concept just over five years ago in places like Magdeburg and Halle as well as smaller towns. The assumption is that the state's population of 3m in 1990 will be halved by 2060 but there will be no fossil fuel economy by then (entirely replaced by renewables). Two salient features: there are no master plans, more consultation with stakeholders; there is a rethink of razing empty properties, partly on grounds of cost, partly because inhabitants prefer to stay there...Much of reclaimed land is given over to community parks and the like but the Detroit notion of 'urban farming' has NOT taken root.
    Let's reword that and see if it sounds so pleasant after all:

    In Germany, they are actively embracing the 'shrinking cities' concept. The assumptions are that the population of cities not favored by the cosmo future will drop at least 50% over the next 50 years, there will be no fossil fuel economy, very limited privately owned motorized transport of any kind, and that the remaining residents will simply be given empty properties with encouragement to “only gradually” abandon them, room by room, as their needs ebb...Finally, properties that collapse would be crushed and buried for “community wildland”.

    .

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Replies: 0
    Last post: 24 Jul 2012, 9:57 PM
  2. Article: Site of the Day: CIty of Sound
    Front Page Article Comments
    Replies: 0
    Last post: 08 Dec 2011, 9:01 AM
  3. Replies: 0
    Last post: 01 Nov 2011, 11:17 AM
  4. Replies: 15
    Last post: 03 Jul 2009, 2:08 AM
  5. Replies: 2
    Last post: 24 Oct 2007, 10:08 PM