Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 5 of 5

Thread: Vacant lot v vacant structure

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered
    Nov 2004
    Location
    On Deck
    Posts
    5

    Vacant lot v vacant structure

    I'm currently working as an Environmental Health Specialist, also working on my Masters in planning. My assigned area is in an area that is @50-60% vacant,obviously extremely economically depressed. Anyway, I've had debate in class and with neighborhood groups concerning the demolition of unsafe structures. Many neighbors prefer the houses to stay in the hopes someone will fix it up and move in. There's almost no chance of this, and the houses just deteriorate,draw homeless,drug dealers,etc. Some of the neighbors also complain of the broken tooth look. I contend that removing these houses opens up the neighborhood by providing light and green space in such a dense area (someone could always come in and build on the lot as well). It also seems to discourage some of the dealers because it's not so dark and dense.I have also hadd several neighbors buy the lots and put in gardens etc. I have more, but I just wanted to see what you guys thought.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Dennis, MA
    Posts
    197
    Tough choice. I can see both arguments. Tearing everything down destroys community character and cohesion. Empty lots can also be attractive to crime, illegal dumping and its own host of enforcement problems. It would seem that the target area could clearly be eligible for housing rehab funding. Have you sought out any such funding to get the properties back into livable condition? More active police activity in the area could also chase away some of the crime you cite. Many cities have adopted by-laws requiring property owners to board up vacant properties. Also the city should look into condemnation of these blighted properties. Perhaps an aggressive condemnation process combined with rehab funding and an urban homesteading project could get these properties fixed up and back on the tax roles.
    Planning is much like acting, as my old theater professor used to say, "If you sin, sin boldly, only you know if you are ad libbing." I follow this adage almost daily.

  3. #3
    Member
    Registered
    Nov 2004
    Location
    On Deck
    Posts
    5
    I've worker with CDC's on some of the funding issues, but my position somewhat dictates that I remove myself from more aggressive actiions. The department does'nt want us to get too involved on that end. I can only assume this is because of the rampant funding fraud (mortgage,flipping,etc.) that occurs and they don't want any appearances of impropriety...and yes, one of my CDC's was busted for some of their funding practices.
    I've had success with getting two streets directed to one-way only (with the assistance of the prosecutor's office)-this has helped drop the crime rates measurably. I also got one of the local groups to put a community garden on three of the lots where I had the structures removed (they have raised boxes so that people don't have to stoop to plant,tend, and pick, a community compost pile,etc....I'm a Master Gardener so this was a lot of fun to help on). The city is active in code enforcement for board orders and health/safety issues, but I guess we'll need legislative action for real teeth in enforcing landowner actions. Realistically, this part of the city is so far gone I just don't know how to proceed other than by just maintaining and removing structures when needed. Your thoughts and ideas are definitely appreciated.

  4. #4
    maudit anglais
    Registered
    May 1997
    Location
    Odd-a-wah
    Posts
    6,586
    By coincidence, I came across this article today in the Guardian. Not sure if it helps you at all, but it is an interesting approach.

    I don't have any experience in this field, but my gut instinct would be to keep the houses if at all possible...

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    The Cheese State
    Posts
    9,920
    It's a tough choice. Leaving the homes does create an opportunity to give the community a sense of history and a rootedness that you do not get from new construction, regardless of quality. In addition, it offers more product in the market, for those who would prefer to own an older home. On the other hand, if they will not develop until they have decayed to a point where it is no longer economically feasible to restore them, they are not much value. You might have the option of the city or some non-profit acquiring and mothballing them until the area redevelops.

    One of the ideas I have come to believe is that if a city is to push neighborhood revitalization in areas this distressed, it cannot do it piecemeal. The best strategies are comprehensive and focused. Infrastructure needs to be improved. Amenities (parks, libraries, public buildings) need to be brought in. Retail and other services need to be convenient. And when it comes to housing, it is better to concentrate on a few blocks for rehabilitation and infill, rather than pick random lots throughout a larger area.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Replies: 9
    Last post: 12 Dec 2010, 10:40 PM
  2. Vacant buildings or vacant lots?
    Make No Small Plans
    Replies: 19
    Last post: 17 Aug 2005, 5:14 AM
  3. Vacant Property
    Economic and Community Development
    Replies: 0
    Last post: 04 Aug 2003, 4:05 PM
  4. Vacant Structures
    Land Use and Zoning
    Replies: 6
    Last post: 28 Jun 2002, 7:16 PM
  5. Vacant lot fencing
    Land Use and Zoning
    Replies: 0
    Last post: 27 May 1997, 10:35 AM