Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 28

Thread: Town decline: comprehensive plan for a declining area

  1. #1
    Cyburbian gicarto's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Jeffstantinople
    Posts
    267

    Town decline: comprehensive plan for a declining area

    I am currently working on a comprehensive plan for one of the towns in my district to help the town plan for its future. There is a very different situation going on here than what most planners are thinking. How do you plan for a town that is not only not growing but declining in population? Here in Northwestern Iowa, populations have decline by a third in 30 years. Most of the youth have moved to bigger cities and all that remains are the elderly for the most part. Eventually, unless immigration helps, those people will pass on and the town will fall to almost nothing or become a ghost town. How do you write a plan for that? There is no hope for these towns and the best that can happen is to keep the decline at a low number.

    My inclination is to write a plan that acknowledges that the population will decline.

    How is the city going to handle the newly vacant housing that will go into disrepair and eventually become dilapidated?

    How are people going to sell their houses that will lose their value as the town further slides?

    For this discussion, I am not looking for possible actions that can save the town. I want to write a plan to help the town shrink to a size that can be manageable. Any thoughts?
    Trying to get my grubby hands on as much stimulus money as I can.:D

  2. #2
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
    Registered
    Sep 2001
    Location
    skating on thin ice
    Posts
    6,958
    Here are a few plans for places in decline

    http://www.miramichi.org/en/cityhall-bylaws-e.asp

    http://brucecounty.on.ca/county_plan.php

    You may also want to look for items on Cape Breton NS and northern New Brunswick.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  3. #3
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Machesney Park, IL
    Posts
    1,437
    Well, you have to plan for an aging population (public transportation, health facilities, retirement housing, etc). If you want to attract young people you can plan for that (incentives to attract scientific/revolutionary industries, affordable housing for young/single people, and an attractive nightlife/recreation, etc). I think I mentioned on here to you before when you got your job that I use to work for a RPC in Iowa. Just cause you aren't making plans to battle growth and sprawl doesn't mean there aren't plenty of things to plan for.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Upstate
    Posts
    4,872
    See this news article about the new master plan in Youngstown, Ohio, which embraces the concept of "smart decline." Interesting.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian gicarto's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Jeffstantinople
    Posts
    267
    Good Article Mud Princess. I think this concept might work for my 1000+ towns. If I was a billionaire philanthropist, I would donate my money to cities to conduct demolition projects.
    Trying to get my grubby hands on as much stimulus money as I can.:D

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Upstate
    Posts
    4,872
    I found much more on the Youngstown, Ohio plan at www.youngstown2010.com. Check out the excellent presentation on their four "vision principles."

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    The Cheese State
    Posts
    9,981
    I am doing some planning work in that part of Iowa right now. Ceepting population loss is one thing, but making the dicisions to deal with it intelligently is another. Regionalism is the answer which crops up most often, but it is hard for people to give up the things they see as a community identity. COmbined schools, police departments, and other government functions make sense, but are often resisted.

    The other aspect of decline is the loss of services and resources which an area formerly had. Stores move out. The town doctor retires and nobody new comes in. There is almost nobody under fifty left in town during the day to join the volunteer fire department. How do you cope with that? Often, there is nothing to do except to accept that the quality of life is worsening. The response? Move out.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Jamestown, New York
    Posts
    1,698
    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    I am doing some planning work in that part of Iowa right now. Ceepting population loss is one thing, but making the dicisions to deal with it intelligently is another. Regionalism is the answer which crops up most often, but it is hard for people to give up the things they see as a community identity. COmbined schools, police departments, and other government functions make sense, but are often resisted.

    The other aspect of decline is the loss of services and resources which an area formerly had. Stores move out. The town doctor retires and nobody new comes in. There is almost nobody under fifty left in town during the day to join the volunteer fire department. How do you cope with that? Often, there is nothing to do except to accept that the quality of life is worsening. The response? Move out.
    This isn't just a problem in rural Iowa but in rural areas all over the country that are removed from large, populous metropolitan areas. You can see this same problem in the rural areas of upstate New York and northwester Pennsylvania, in northern and western New England, and even in the small towns in the rural parts of Southern states like Georgia or Alabama.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Where the weak are killed and eaten.
    Posts
    6,247
    I can see the entire State of Michigan being like that soon.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  10. #10
    Member
    Registered
    Jan 2007
    Location
    University City, MO
    Posts
    1
    Population loss in old RR, mining and factory towns is a regional trend. We’re also seeing this trend in 2nd and 3rd tier cities as major downtowns become more livable. The first challenge is to change the assertion that population growth is a measurement of a town’s success. The days of posting population counts at the gateways of cities is gone. Today, towns post the number of acres preserved, places of interest, cultural events or other claims to fame. As planners it is our job to uncover a town’s claim to fame and educate the city fathers who want to be “50,000 by the year 2020”.

    From a land use perspective, we need to rewrite the zoning codes. They need to allow residential uses in the downtown, promote live work units, encourage life-cycle housing and allow more than one primary structure on a lot so that we can fill empty parking lots with additional development or dwellings to create LU synergies. We need to provide incentives to do something great, no matter how small or large. Redevelopment ques justifying these changes should come out of the comprehensive planning process- if done propertly.

    Realize that land use changes over time and that we have a lot of unsustainable development that has outlived its functional existence. Adaptive re-use is always preferred, I’ve seen some great church and school adaptive re-sue projects, but if it’s impractical get ride of it. Do these towns a favor and draft them a good demolition ordinance. Every town needs some new development mixed with its old to help memorialize the places’ past, present and future.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Jamestown, New York
    Posts
    1,698
    Quote Originally posted by Big Smith View post
    From a land use perspective, we need to rewrite the zoning codes. They need to allow residential uses in the downtown, promote live work units, encourage life-cycle housing and allow more than one primary structure on a lot so that we can fill empty parking lots with additional development or dwellings to create LU synergies. We need to provide incentives to do something great, no matter how small or large. Redevelopment ques justifying these changes should come out of the comprehensive planning process- if done propertly.
    What if most people don't want to live in the kind of high density, mixed use housing you propose? I haven't seen downtown residential development actually "work" in any city. All I've seen is that it creates over-priced yuppie "playgrounds" while families with children hit the roads for the 'burbs in search of affordable housing, decent public schools, and safe neighborhoods because the city no longer offers those.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2005
    Location
    London, UK
    Posts
    1,150
    Quote Originally posted by Linda_D View post
    What if most people don't want to live in the kind of high density, mixed use housing you propose? I haven't seen downtown residential development actually "work" in any city. All I've seen is that it creates over-priced yuppie "playgrounds" while families with children hit the roads for the 'burbs in search of affordable housing, decent public schools, and safe neighborhoods because the city no longer offers those.
    It's inconsistent to say that "people don't want to live" in a place and yet it retains high value ("over-priced").

    What alternative do you propose, more of the vacuous sprawlburbian nothingness that blights the American landscape? Is that your clever plannign solution?Did you have to get a degree to figure tht out?
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  13. #13
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2004
    Location
    on my 15 minute break
    Posts
    18,170
    Quote Originally posted by Luca View post
    It's inconsistent to say that "people don't want to live" in a place and yet it retains high value ("over-priced").

    What alternative do you propose, more of the vacuous sprawlburbian nothingness that blights the American landscape? Is that your clever plannign solution?Did you have to get a degree to figure tht out?
    Moderator note:
    Luca I think it's evident you feel passionately on this subject but you're probably crossing that fine line towards a personal attack with the insult.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  14. #14
    Gunfighter Mastiff's avatar
    Registered
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Middle of a Dusty Street
    Posts
    6,392
    Quote Originally posted by Luca View post
    It's inconsistent to say that "people don't want to live" in a place and yet it retains high value ("over-priced").

    What alternative do you propose, more of the vacuous sprawlburbian nothingness that blights the American landscape? Is that your clever plannign solution?Did you have to get a degree to figure tht out?
    Instead of putting words in someone's mouth, then insulting them, perhaps you might have stopped after the first five words? Like this:

    "Linda, what alternative do you propose?"

    You're more likely to get an answer and a real discussion that way, Luca.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    C'mon and get me you twist of fate
    I'm standing right here Mr. Destiny
    If you want to talk well then I'll relate
    If you don't so what cause you don't scare me

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2005
    Location
    London, UK
    Posts
    1,150
    I apologize. That was harsh.

    I promise to take my meds from now on...

    I do think that it is self-evident that if something sold competitively in the open market commands a premium, it's odd to suggest 'people don't want it'.

    In the specific case of a declining town, I would not advocate massive densification (is that a word?) for its own sake and it likely would not be economically feasible. However, I do think that shrinking the town from the outside in makes more sense than allowing it to hollow out, if for no other reason that the older/more central townscape and architecture is likely to be better than what is further out.

    I have advocated before the concept of cascading permit issuance so if you have an empty lot within or adjacent to an existing developed lot AFAIAC it should be very, very rarely permissible to build anything ‘greenfield’ within a certain distance of it.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Jamestown, New York
    Posts
    1,698
    Quote Originally posted by Luca View post
    I do think that it is self-evident that if something sold competitively in the open market commands a premium, it's odd to suggest 'people don't want it'.

    In the specific case of a declining town, I would not advocate massive densification (is that a word?) for its own sake and it likely would not be economically feasible. However, I do think that shrinking the town from the outside in makes more sense than allowing it to hollow out, if for no other reason that the older/more central townscape and architecture is likely to be better than what is further out.

    I have advocated before the concept of cascading permit issuance so if you have an empty lot within or adjacent to an existing developed lot AFAIAC it should be very, very rarely permissible to build anything ‘greenfield’ within a certain distance of it.
    In the US, there are relatively few -- ie, small percentage -- of people who prefer high density -- condos or townhouses -- to single family detached housing. There are even fewer people who are that interested in living in mixed use areas where they would be living in apartments above or beside businesses. That's a fact.

    Even in a large Northeastern city like Philadelphia, the population within the "redeveloped" downtown area is less than 8% of the city's total population. In Buffalo, it's around 3%. The high prices for downtown housing in most cities, especially declining ones, is the result of building/rehabbing a relatively small number of units for high-end consumers, not because of wide-spread demand for that kind of housing.

    I think the example of Youngstown with its "smart decline" is a good one. The demolition of abandoned buildings needs to be done in a timely manner to prevent the city from looking like a war zone, and to keep neighborhood decay from spreading. The removal of utilities and streets to create larger areas of green space lowers the costs of maintaining city services, and concentrates people in fewer areas.

    There also needs to be an emphasis on neighborhood preservation, including not just the restoration of historically significant homes and neighborhoods but also more modest improvements in more modest homes. Part and parcel of neighborhood preservation is tough code enforcement and measures to discourage 'flipping'.

    Public transportation routes need to be re-thought so that bus routes and schedules fit current needs, not the needs of 50 years ago. This includes recognizing that not everybody works downtown (many people work in commercial/business districts scattered throughout the city and suburbs), and that many low-income people need to use public transportation to jobs that start well before or end well after typical rush hours.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2000
    Location
    Sans Souci
    Posts
    5,265
    Just a quick thought... actually it's a thought advocated in these here parts by John Keller, FAICP, Professor at Kansas State University. I personally think small towns can die gracefully and responsibly by capping or abandoning aging infrastructure, measured reduction in services, consolidating of activity, etc... Keller advocates a triage process, particularly from a state and federal funding perspective -- meaning that scarce financial resources for housing programs, infrastructure, business development, etc... should be targeted only to those communities with a fighting chance to survive. Our state spends large sums of money in communities that are dying. Water line replacement projects in towns of 400 that had a popuation of 2000 in 1950. Consolidation is a shrinking pain (rather than a growing pain) and in a state with 104 counties, with many of them having between 5000 and 8000 population, seperate governments and seperate services is wasteful. But the territoriality (often times 5 generations tied to high schools) persists.

    Folks, it's time to go away gracefully.
    "And all this terrible change had come about because he had ceased to believe himself and had taken to believing others. " - Leo Tolstoy

  18. #18
    Cyburbian gicarto's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Jeffstantinople
    Posts
    267
    Quote Originally posted by Budgie View post
    Just a quick thought... actually it's a thought advocated in these here parts by John Keller, FAICP, Professor at Kansas State University. I personally think small towns can die gracefully and responsibly by capping or abandoning aging infrastructure, measured reduction in services, consolidating of activity, etc... Keller advocates a triage process, particularly from a state and federal funding perspective -- meaning that scarce financial resources for housing programs, infrastructure, business development, etc... should be targeted only to those communities with a fighting chance to survive. Our state spends large sums of money in communities that are dying. Water line replacement projects in towns of 400 that had a popuation of 2000 in 1950. Consolidation is a shrinking pain (rather than a growing pain) and in a state with 104 counties, with many of them having between 5000 and 8000 population, seperate governments and seperate services is wasteful. But the territoriality (often times 5 generations tied to high schools) persists.

    Folks, it's time to go away gracefully.
    This is what is going on here in Iowa as well. I have a few towns that are almost finished and becoming ghosttowns. There is going to have to be consolidation and football games from 30 years ago creates a problem.
    Trying to get my grubby hands on as much stimulus money as I can.:D

  19. #19
    Quote Originally posted by Luca View post
    In the specific case of a declining town, I would not advocate massive densification (is that a word?) for its own sake and it likely would not be economically feasible. However, I do think that shrinking the town from the outside in makes more sense than allowing it to hollow out, if for no other reason that the older/more central townscape and architecture is likely to be better than what is further out.
    More importantly, a town that hollows out in a random pattern starts looking like a ghost town and ultimately stops functioning like a town at all. Proximity is necessary to a town's function.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Someplace between yesterday and tomorrow.
    Posts
    12,757
    Just say “The community is in transition and an emerging eclectic bohemian culture is forming.”
    Invest in the things today, that provide the returns tomorrow.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2005
    Location
    London, UK
    Posts
    1,150
    Just a dumb-ass. 'blue-sky' question from a non-professional.

    Instead of tearing down empty buildings, why not give them for free to people who need/want them?
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  22. #22
    Cyburbian gicarto's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Jeffstantinople
    Posts
    267
    Quote Originally posted by Luca View post
    Just a dumb-ass. 'blue-sky' question from a non-professional.

    Instead of tearing down empty buildings, why not give them for free to people who need/want them?
    Most of the time, it costs more money to rehabilitate a building than it does to rip it down and start over. Part of the problem is that building codes have become so stringent that it's impossible to bring up to code. I would like to see a relaxation in code for historic preservation.
    Trying to get my grubby hands on as much stimulus money as I can.:D

  23. #23
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Jamestown, New York
    Posts
    1,698
    Quote Originally posted by gicarto View post
    Most of the time, it costs more money to rehabilitate a building than it does to rip it down and start over. Part of the problem is that building codes have become so stringent that it's impossible to bring up to code. I would like to see a relaxation in code for historic preservation.
    It's more than that, however. Not only are many of these homes aren't historically or architecturally significant, they were the "Levvittowns" and "McMansions" of their day, being built to satisfy the need for more housing by shopkeepers, factory workers, and immigrants who had climbed up the economic ladder a rung or two.

    Many sit on tiny lots that don't allow for off-street parking. Many sit so "cheek-to-jowl" to their neighbors that you can reach out a windown and touch the house next door. Many are plain, frame, basement-less, and lacking central heating. Many are multifamily homes that only appeal to investors these days. They have tiny bedrooms, few closets, poorly designed kitchens, and steep, narrow stairs -- and most sit in neighborhoods where someone who actually did rehab the house would never get his or her money back for it.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2000
    Location
    Sans Souci
    Posts
    5,265
    Quote Originally posted by gicarto View post
    Part of the problem is that building codes have become so stringent that it's impossible to bring up to code. I would like to see a relaxation in code for historic preservation.
    I think the latest IBC (2003..I think) does allow some flexibility in dealing with renovation of historic buildings. I instructed our building official to be pragmatic when it comes to historic structures and when there is some flexibility make sure that basic health and safety is met and be liberal with renovation projects. There is nothing keeping you from adopting differential standards for historic buildings.
    "And all this terrible change had come about because he had ceased to believe himself and had taken to believing others. " - Leo Tolstoy

  25. #25
    BANNED
    Registered
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Victoria, BC
    Posts
    4
    I would like to see a town in this situation try some aggressive deregulation. Limit zoning restrictions, make building code adherence voluntary, and stop taking money from citizens in order to subsidize public facilities and transportation. Leave the residents the freedom and money they need to adapt to the changes in the way they best see fit, rather than imposing a top-down solution.

+ Reply to thread
Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

More at Cyburbia

  1. How to revive a declining rural/suburban town
    Rural and Small Town Planning
    Replies: 16
    Last post: 24 Mar 2014, 9:15 AM
  2. Replies: 3
    Last post: 17 Jun 2009, 11:02 AM
  3. Replies: 0
    Last post: 22 May 2008, 9:03 AM
  4. Replies: 4
    Last post: 27 May 2005, 1:28 PM