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US Plans To Bulldoze 50 Shrinking Cities

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the out-of-the-rubble-and-into-the-future dept.

United States 806

chrb writes "Two days ago Slashdot discussed broke counties grinding their tarmac roads into gravel. Now the Telegraph reveals plans to raze huge sections of at least 50 US cities to the ground. The resulting smaller cities will be more economical to run, and the recovered land will be returned to nature."

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Perhaps can start with Crawford, TX (1, Flamebait)

goffster (1104287) | more than 4 years ago | (#28377921)

Nothing useful ever came out of that. :)

Re:Perhaps can start with Crawford, TX (0, Troll)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378063)

You mean the ranch Bush bought a few years before he was elected to make him look like an authentic Texan even though he was mostly raised and schooled in Maine and Connecticut?

Re:Perhaps can start with Crawford, TX (3, Insightful)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378219)

Laugh, while they slowly kill you, America.

This is no joke. You are living in some post-apocalypse vision from J.G. Ballard, and yet you use this as an opportunity to jest. This is not the result of some lack or inability on the part of one community or another.

Rather it is the gradual outcome of steady, oligarchal corporate piracy and class war. Here's the kicker: That's the super-rich class, versus all others. You middle-class allies are no longer needed, now the looting is complete. You are now in the avenue of destruction - but they'll have you at each other's throats over false ideological dichotomies instead of turning on the real villains of history.

Re:Perhaps can start with Crawford, TX (0, Troll)

sesshomaru (173381) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378401)

Well, Sardonic Laughter is appropriate. The laughter of the baby as it's consumed by Saturn's Sacrificial fires...

Oh, and look, the idiot moderator modded you 'off-topic' as well. People really love whistling past the graveyard, don't they?

Rock on Mr. Mod! Keep on burying your head in that sand, and remember it isn't real if you can't see it...

Re:Perhaps can start with Crawford, TX (4, Informative)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378517)

You mean the ranch Bush bought a few years before he was elected to make him look like an authentic Texan even though he was mostly raised and schooled in Maine and Connecticut?

I think it was the whole Governor of Texas title that made him look like a real Texan. Before that, it was the 20 years he lived in Midland TX where he met his wife and raised his kids.

But, hey! Don't let that stop you from hating him. You seem to have such a good grasp of the facts.

Lets start with... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28377927)

East Capitol Street, NE and 1st Street, NE Washington, DC 20002

Just sayin (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28377943)

They could have started with New Orleans before sending all that money.

Suggestion: (5, Funny)

Random2 (1412773) | more than 4 years ago | (#28377969)

Can DC be first?

Re:Suggestion: (4, Funny)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378119)

Can Redmond be second?

As long as we're targeting nukes... (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378479)

Ooo! Ooo! (waving hand) Californian here! Can Sacramento go third?

And then Corona. Why? Just because.

Re:As long as we're targeting nukes... (4, Insightful)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378627)

Californian here! Can Sacramento go third?

Californian here! Can California go third?

There, fixed that for ya.

Re:As long as we're targeting nukes... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28378645)

Not Sacramento! I dated a hot Chinese chick there.. I don't want her incinerated.

Article mentions Baltimore (5, Informative)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378003)

The article mentions Baltimore, which makes sense. If you've ever visited some of the, shall we say, less popular portions of that city, you'll find block after block of boarded-up rowhouses. It's actually kind of eerie. Hell, even if you take Amtrak and go past Charm City, you'll see lots of houses that are in dismal shape (but nevertheless, sadly, are still occupied).

Re:Article mentions Baltimore (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28378071)

Jesus save, Moses invests.

Re:Article mentions Baltimore (0, Offtopic)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378477)

Jesus saves sinners and redeems them for valuable cash prizes.

Gretzky shoots, Jesus saves, he shoots, he scores!

Re:Article mentions Baltimore (5, Funny)

Ironica (124657) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378259)

The article mentions Baltimore, which makes sense. If you've ever visited some of the, shall we say, less popular portions of that city, you'll find block after block of boarded-up rowhouses.

But if they tear those down, where will Marlo Stanfield's crew hide the bodies?

Re:Article mentions Baltimore (2, Interesting)

tcopeland (32225) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378311)

> The article mentions Baltimore, which makes sense. If you've ever
> visited some of the, shall we say, less popular portions of that city,
> you'll find block after block of boarded-up rowhouses.

I was just down in Richmond VA this past weekend and saw some of the same - albeit on a smaller scale. Really weird to see what should be primo storefronts boarded up. It'd be especially hard to restart those depressed areas given the current commercial real estate problems [blogspot.com] .

Re:Article mentions Baltimore (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378529)

What part of the city were you in? I live north of the city and sometimes work downtown. Some of the blight precedes the current unpleasantness.

Re:Article mentions Baltimore (1)

tcopeland (32225) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378677)

> What part of the city were you in?

I came north on 360 (Hull Street Road) all the way downtown; I was going to the home school convention [heav.org] . The next day I came up 360 but then took 288 South around to 95 N and got off on exit 47, so I dodged most of Hull St Rd.

Most of the boarded up areas were on Hull St Rd on the south side of the bridge.

better idea (5, Funny)

rev_sanchez (691443) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378059)

We wall these areas off and turn them into Escape from New York style maximum security prisons. As long as we don't fly Air Force One over that airspace we should be OK. Kurt Russell is getting a bit too old to keep helping us out with that sort of thing.

Escape from LA (or NY)? (1)

spydum (828400) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378069)

We could build a containment wall around these cities and use their infrastructure to support our growing prison population. Why not? Worked well enough for the Australians -- they eventually recovered and prospered!

Urban Transit (5, Insightful)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378077)

White flight into the suburbs has brought us nothing but Wal-Mart and SUV's. I grew up in a suburb, and I hated how I was not able to go anywhere without a ride from my parents because everything was so far apart. Should I have children, I will not put them through that sort of social isolation.

Re:Urban Transit (1)

Fieryphoenix (1161565) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378201)

Should you have children, they will resent you for the kind of virtual social isolation that comes from not having the correct network access.

Re:Urban Transit (3, Informative)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378299)

Yeah, I'm sure they'll thank you for moving them downtown to get harassed by bums, shot at by gangbangers, and attend a school where the teachers wear body armor. I can see them giving you the "World's Greatest Dad" cup now.

Re:Urban Transit (2, Informative)

doconnor (134648) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378459)

Bums are mostly harmless, and the odds of you getting killed in a car crash in an auto-dependent suburb is far greater then being killed in a gang war.

Re:Urban Transit (0, Flamebait)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378505)

If you're scared of people, then I guess that could all be a problem.
Can't have those blacks and Mexican living near me! Gotta build a house on the outskirts of town where everyone has the same economic status that I do!

Re:Urban Transit (5, Insightful)

harks (534599) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378441)

You never had a bicycle? Riding bikes to friends houses was the highlight of living in the 'burbs.

Re:Urban Transit (2, Insightful)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378823)

The modern suburban lifestyle, with long school days, long bus rides home from school, and too much homework doesn't leave enough daylight for today's fat kids to be able to bike a few miles to a friend's house, have some fun, and bike home for dinner.

Dayton (4, Interesting)

Ogive17 (691899) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378101)

Unfortunately Dayton, OH should be on that list. Just lost NCR.. you know it's bad when a company that was founded in your city over 100 years ago packs up shop without even giving the host city/state a chance to appease them.

Nothing good can come of this... (0, Flamebait)

RagingFuryBlack (956453) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378103)

So lets see here. They'd like to raze parts of Detroit (Homicide rate of 47.5% http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_Detroit/ [wikipedia.org] )and Philadelphia(Homicide rate of 27.7% http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_Philadelphia/ [wikipedia.org] ). Both of which also have large ghetto type areas which house hundreds of people who I'm sure that most of us here wouldn't want living in our backyards.

My question...Where are we moving all of these people if we're (According to TFA) "returning the land we raze to nature"? Won't this boost the crime rate and lower the property values of people who live in the smaller, surrounding suburbs?

How this isn't considered "ethnically cleansing" cities is beyond me. It seems as if the only people who would be affected negatively would be minority groups.

Re:Nothing good can come of this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28378297)

With those homicide rates, your half-life is about 1 year in Detroit.

Re:Nothing good can come of this... (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378305)

Some of the houses are abandoned. For those which are (legally) occupied, the city offers to move the occupants to nicer housing elsewhere.

Re:Nothing good can come of this... (5, Funny)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378323)

Detroit (Homicide rate of 47.5%

Wow! With that homicide rate, we don't even have to worry about razing the city, there'll be practically no one left in a few years anyway.

Re:Nothing good can come of this... (5, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378355)

You needn't worry, citizen. OCP has assured the public that a relocation plan is already in place for all residents displaced by Delta City.

Re:Nothing good can come of this... (1)

Ironica (124657) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378385)

110,000 people in 34 square miles is 3,235 people per square mile. Los Angeles? around 7,000 people per square mile.

They can significantly densify the population without impacting quality of life in a negative way. TFA discusses how the city is buying up houses in "more affluent areas" for people to relocate to... if they choose.

Right now, we let those low-income areas decay, with people inside them having no choices. This way, rather than unmanaged decay with people still inside, they're giving people the option of staying or going, and then removing the vacant buildings around the inhabited ones to contract the city's infrastructure to a manageable level. Anyone who has lived in a decaying urban area knows that vacant buildings are a hazard to people living around them for a variety of reasons.

Re:Nothing good can come of this... (1)

Sylos (1073710) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378669)

I wouldn't use LA as the prime example of population density not effecting quality of life...

Re:Nothing good can come of this... (3, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378423)

Both of which also have large ghetto type areas which house hundreds of people who I'm sure that most of us here wouldn't want living in our backyards.

Truth be told, I really don't want *anyone* living in my backyard.

Re:Nothing good can come of this... (4, Funny)

rev_sanchez (691443) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378467)

Feral crackheads will swing from tree to tree like Tarzan, battling beast and man alike for dominion over the urban green spaces.

Re:Nothing good can come of this... (1)

grub (11606) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378485)

47.5%? Wowzers... in just a few years you can take the sole survivor, charge him (her) with mass-murder and execute.

Re:Nothing good can come of this... (4, Insightful)

Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378507)

Huh? Relocate what people? The article mentions that much of this property is already empty/abandoned. Maintaining infrastructure to support large swaths of city that are relatively empty doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

One would think that people would not be fleeing "desirable" parts of town so I don't see any issue with the city "decommissioning" underutilized parcels of land and reallocating resources to areas where people actually want to live.

Surely, the squeaky clean politicians in that area don't have any plans to clue in their cronies to areas about to be decommissioned so that those folks can snap them up on the cheap and then sell them to the gummint at a profit? Nah...


Re:Nothing good can come of this... (1)

Nautical Insanity (1190003) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378651)

Incredibly insightful post from the parent.

My suggestion would be to construct higher-density housing closer to the "live" portions of civilization and make it available to displaced residents. Being closer to actual living parts of the city could boost opportunities for these people, and thus reduce the crime rate.

An other issue is how to get them to move in the first place. The government does have the capacity to declare eminent domain, so that's not a challenge. The issue is that while it may be legal for the government to seize and compensate people for the current values of their property, the whole point of this idea is that their property is worth jack squat (you can buy a house for $10 in Detroit), and so you'd also need to compensate them for more than the property is worth on the market. Perhaps the extra money could be in the form of a subsidization to find an alternate place to live.

Re:Nothing good can come of this... (1)

RollingThunder (88952) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378673)

They encourage them to move closer in, in the same city. They're not routing people, just moving them around.

Re:Nothing good can come of this... (2, Informative)

YojimboJango (978350) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378741)

From the article. They're buying up abandoned property. Because we're smart kids we know 'abandoned' means that no one lives there. Therefor no one will be relocated.

Also they're bulldozing the land and offering to sell it to neighbors for cheap on the outskirts of town, and restoring the properties near downtown, in an effort to get people to willingly move closer together.

In most cases that means that they're bulldozing the suburbs (property on the outskirts) and restoring the ghettos (inner city housing).

Re:Nothing good can come of this... (2, Informative)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378749)

They are talking about razing EMPTY buildings. They aren't talking about moving people anywhere. Both of the cities you mentioned (and I believe all of the others on the list) once had much larger populations. Philadelphia had a population of over 2 million. It now has a population of 1.4 million and shrinking. Detroit once had a population of 1.8 million. It now has a population of 900,000 and shrinking.
Eliminating much of the excess housing stock in these cities (as well as the abandoned factories/warehouses) should also help to reduce the crime rates.

Re:Nothing good can come of this... (1)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378813)

No, no, not "ethnic" cleansing, "economic" cleansing. They want to get rid of all the poor people, doesn't matter what color they are. Maybe they can build some kind of camps to move all these people into. Something with fences...for keeping bad people out. And really big ovens...for baking lots of bread.

Re:Nothing good can come of this... (3, Insightful)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378841)

You just said only minority groups live in poor neighborhoods. That's racism if I've ever heard it.

Seems like a good idea (5, Interesting)

jskoda (1579933) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378109)

This seems like a win-win scenario. Construction companies get hired to demolish the old buildings, which stimulates the economy and if the right buildings get the axe, old run down buildings full of lead paint and asbestos insulation go away and are replaced with meadows, forests or new greener buildings. The catch would be all the geezers coming out of the wood-work to save all the "historical sites"

Re:Seems like a good idea (3, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378433)

No reason you can't save the historical sites while demolishing the rest of the neighborhood. If there's a significant building, build a park around it. It'll be in the middle of the wilderness, but that'll just make it all the more interesting.

I suspect people will be a lot more likely to pay attention to historic sites when they're not in the middle of a boarded-up section of town, and it might be better for the buildings in the long run, since they're less likely to be destroyed in a fire. (Wildfires would be a problem, admittedly.)

I don't think that historical preservation and getting rid of hazardous, blighted buildings are mutually exclusive. You just need to achieve some sort of balance. Not every old rowhouse is really "historic," and not every building needs to come down just because it's in a crappy neighborhood and has some peeling paint. A few significant buildings here and there can stay, and won't impact wildlife if they're managed correctly.

Re:Seems like a good idea (1)

jskoda (1579933) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378829)

That's very true. A lone tall building in an arboreal setting would be a destination for tourists. I had to go looking for Paul Revere's house in Boston and found it unceremoniously sandwiched between buildings in a downtown block. With proper landscaping you could mitigate some of the wildfire risk. The government could charge for access to the historical sites, like they do for state parks, and use the funds for maintenance.

Re:Seems like a good idea (2, Informative)

peragrin (659227) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378535)

In Rochester,NY we have been doing this for years. Some 200-300 abandons homes are destroyed and then the empty lots are resold. Advantagesare less housing for homeless and drug shelters. On the bad side other than cleaning up bad buildings it doesn't help a lot, and someone still has to pay for it.

I really wish they had portable generator setup so you could do controlled burns and genrate electrcity from the heat produced.

Re:Seems like a good idea (3, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378575)

It's a complete waste of effort. The economy grows because we produce things, not because we dig holes and fill them up.

At one time, everyone in society had to spend their effort on food/shelter production, basic maintenance. Then, as society progressed, farming techniques improved, it wasn't necessary for everyone to be a farmer. The people who didn't need to farm anymore started building more interesting things, like iPods, and books.

I like my iPod, I'm glad the developers at Apple weren't wasting their effort building things and then demolishing them. For society to progress, we need people to think of new things, not waste their time building things that don't matter. That is the catch.

concentration camps (0, Flamebait)

Lead Butthead (321013) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378693)

Relocating population from sparsely populated area into that of a smaller area does allow the government to more easily monitor and control the said population as there are now substantially smaller area to cover. I am just waiting for one day when the said area will get fenced off with electrified barbwire and guard towers with sentry guns built around the perimeters, for the... protection of the caged population.

Detroit (3, Interesting)

Nautical Insanity (1190003) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378121)

Hearing this makes me think of Detroit. Its population is constantly shrinking and much of the city is in disrepair. I've ridden greyhound busses through it a few times and you pass mile after mile of boarded up, dilapidated buildings.

It makes one wonder what the city would be like if it ended up being completely abandoned, sort of like Rome after the fall of the empire.

Most likely there would be a half-attempted cleanup effort, but it would probably fail. Demolishing buildings isn't cheap. Returning the land to it's natural state is even more expensive, not to mention nature would probably do it herself over a slightly longer time frame.

Re:Detroit (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378457)

> It makes one wonder what the city would be like if it ended up being completely abandoned, sort of like Rome after the fall of the empire.

This isn't really true; Rome was never completely abandoned. The population just shrank dramatically as the infrastructure broke down. People moved out when the water stopped flowing and sewage stopped being washed away, or when there started to be outbreaks of plague or other diseases. But some people stayed.

So Detroit is a lot closer to Rome already than I think you imagine.

Re:Detroit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28378481)

perhaps a large corporation focused on providing an every consumer product you will ever need will sweep in and rebuild a new detroit, leaving "old detroit" to rot.

perhaps said company can also build a cyborg police officer to deal with increasing crime in old detroit?

Urban Decay? (5, Interesting)

JonBuck (112195) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378123)

This reminds me of the "urban renewal" projects of the 50s and early 60s, when huge sections actually were razed in various major cities. Boston's West End was a victim of this.

It's widely considered to be one of the stupidest projects the government's ever done.

Here I thought we were supposed to encourage people to move back into cities so high population densities would make mass transit more viable. Silly me.

Re:Urban Decay? (4, Insightful)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378365)

Here I thought we were supposed to encourage people to move back into cities so high population densities would make mass transit more viable. Silly me.

Actually, if you read the article, I think you'll find that's exactly the idea (and not just making mass transit viable, also garbage collection, policing, etc). The idea is to compact the city that has become only sparsely populated due to everybody leaving, into one or more denser pockets. The problem, of course, is that some old geezer isn't going to want to move out of the old neighborhood and will end up being the only one in the middle of nowhere but still expect his mail to be delivered to his door.

Re:Urban Decay? (5, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378639)

Part of the point of this is to raise population densities. Right now you have huge tracts of abandoned buildings, with people living here and there among them. It's a huge drain on public resources (providing police and, especially, fire protection to all the abandoned buildings), and doesn't really foster healthy communities.

Most of the plans that I've seen, including the one in Flint, involve buying up abandoned properties and demolishing them, while simultaneously restoring ones in better areas and encouraging people to move from blighted areas into them. The result is condensing the remaining residents of the city into a smaller, more densely-populated area. More public services in a smaller area, better public transportation, etc.

They're not trying to chase people out of the cities and into the suburbs or exurbs, quite the opposite. Most of the areas they're trying to get rid of were the original suburbs, and what they are trying to achieve is a rebuilding of the urban core.

Yeah, it would be great to get people to move in from the suburbs and fill in the high-density rowhousing in places like Baltimore, but that's just not going to happen. Nobody wants to live there, not given the way the areas are now. And those areas aren't going to get better. What's needed is a "rebooting" of cities -- get people back into the core areas, demolish some of the older urban/suburban transitional areas, and show that cities actually work. When people out in the 'burbs see that a city can be a nice place to live again, and not just a ghetto for people who have nowhere else to go, then it'll be time for new construction. (But this time, build mixed-use and actually plan the growth, rather than just letting stuff grow and create huge tracts of transportation-dependent, single-use housing, miles away from commercial or industrial areas.)

This is the first step towards making cities desirable again.

My support (2, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378135)

If this plan includes Detroit, I fully support it. Otherwise, I think it's sad and wrong and I oppose it.

Fantastic (2, Insightful)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378159)

The great depression brought us some awesome things in parks.

Maybe this one can lead to some awesome parks.

Demolition as usual (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28378183)

"Returned to nature"?


It's just more corporate "demolish and redevelop" - just like 9/11.

Re:Demolition as usual (1)

Ironica (124657) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378501)

Corporate? What's corporate about it? What companies do you think are participating in this? You think some company is going to spend money building something on the outskirts of Flint, MI?

Re:Demolition as usual (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378745)

Uh, people don't seem to be exactly chomping at the bit to "redevelop" these areas. If they were, I'm sure Flint or Detroit would love to hear from them. Real estate investment, especially commercial RE, isn't exactly a hot area right now, perhaps you've noticed.

They're demolishing them because nobody wants to live there, nobody wants to redevelop them, and the buildings are hazardous.

They would much prefer "demolish and redevelop" I'm sure, but they're going for "demolish, wait a generation or two, maybe hopefully redevelop," precisely because Plan A hasn't worked.

Detroit (2, Insightful)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378191)

Detroit seems to be the wisest place to begin with. High crime, lost Stanley cup, agony of the car companies. Let Sillicon Valley become the new city for car makers. Li-Ion rules!

Re:Detroit (1)

MonsterTrimble (1205334) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378777)

Detroit seems to be the wisest place to begin with. High crime, lost Stanley cup, agony of the car companies. Let Sillicon Valley become the new city for car makers. Li-Ion rules!

For a minute there I thought you said 'Lions Rule'. When the B.C. Lions can beat the Detroit Lions, something is wrong.

And for the record - Osgood is still Hall of Fame worthy.

Create parks inside the cities (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378203)

I hope that they do this in a sensible manner, introducing large parks inside the cities, instead of concentrating on creating a dense urban pimple with no nearby parks.

I.e., you make the city desirable via being an attractive area to live. This eventually brings in more modern businesses that have employees that demand such things.

Re:Create parks inside the cities (1)

saintlupus (227599) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378445)

Why do people assume that parks have some naturally elevating and edifying effect on the populace?

Urban planners come up with these ridiculous tower project designs straight out of "City of Tomorrow", to maximize green space. And in a bad neighborhood, the first thing you're told is to stay out of the park after dark. Bizarre.


Pollution? (2, Insightful)

pugdk (697845) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378213)

I think someone seriously underestimated the hazardous nature of building materials. R

azing a building containing asbestos [wikipedia.org] or Ammonium bromide [wikipedia.org] which a lot of older buildings contain (fireproofing) and just leaving it there is quite stupid!

"Shrink!" It's the new Growth! (2, Insightful)

smackenzie (912024) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378233)

A modest home in a lot of 7 abandoned (or un-sellable) homes is worth very little. But, if the home owners are willing to relocate, they could potentially own a similar home, closer to a "living" civilization, and bordering the nice new woods that has now been created out of all the empty districts. That home is worth a lot more.

It's obvious that the kind of home growth that we saw over the last ten years is not sustainable for any substantial amount of time. And it's a little ironic that many of the same construction companies that were thrown together to build the homes might transition into companies that are hired to tear down the very same homes... but, having said that, nothing makes me happier to think that we might rollback at least some of the ugly brown areas and return them to Nature.

Rural! It's the new Urban! (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378363)

But... but... I thought urban was hip and with it, and we're supposed to make fun of anyone within line of sight of more than two trees next to one another. ;-)

Country mouse: I have a yard with three trees.
City mouse: Cousin marrying hillbilly!!!

Cor! (4, Funny)

dr_wheel (671305) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378287)

"But some Flint dustcarts are collecting just one rubbish bag a week, roads are decaying, police are very understaffed and there were simply too few people to pay for services, he said."

Ya know they's in barney when the dustcarts dont' e'en have any rubbish to pick up!

Re:Cor! (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378791)

"But some Flint dustcarts are collecting just one rubbish bag a week, roads are decaying, police are very understaffed and there were simply too few people to pay for services, he said."

Ya know they's in barney when the dustcarts dont' e'en have any rubbish to pick up!

The problem isn't the lack of rubbish, it's that the dustcarts are made of flint. That's a huge fire risk if people have any steel in their rubbish.

And they're not in Barney if they're made of Flintstone, they're in Bedrock.


Really a Shame (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378307)

My hometown in Minnesota shrinks all the time. Whenever a class graduates, we get the hell out of Dodge. Through the 90s I recall a huge influx of Hmong and Somali peoples to Minnesota [minneapoli...dation.org] , including the smaller towns. Now, it should be noted that jobs like factory work and farm work existed for these people but I think it a shame houses in the United States are going to be demolished.

With the amount of civil war and civil unrest in the world, one would think that a displaced or repressed person from Israel, Pakistan, Iran, Somalia, Darfur, Sudan or near any place of high population density would bother to learn English and move out to the United States with for stability, law enforcement, cheap housing and a shot at a job.

"Give us your poor, your tired, your huddled masses longing to be free..."

I know that a lot of people disagree with me on this and a lot of people here in the states are downright afraid of/opposed to immigration but I still think it's a shame they bulldoze houses due to lack of occupants. Granted, the people moving in would have to be sustained by welfare for a time but they could create their own markets and industry. It hasn't gone without problems in Minnesota but I can assure you it's for the betterment for those individuals and the diversity of Minnesota in the long run.

Re:Really a Shame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28378463)

Oh yes a nation with 10% unemployment, mostly in blue collar jobs, should just be EAGER to accept more uneducated blue collar labor, especially from ethnicities that will be subject to racism and bigotry from the majority of the population. That's what France did--they brought in more north africans than they had jobs for and now there are disenfranchised masses of them in slums with no options (due to unemployment and racism) and it causes much unrest.

Re:Really a Shame (2, Interesting)

dave562 (969951) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378807)

In your plan for mass immigration, where are the immigrants going to get the resources to fix up the houses? There aren't enough jobs for the current residents.

Completely off topic here, but America needs to seriously reform the welfare system. There are significant portions of the population whose entire aspirations in life involve getting qualified for either General Relief or Social Security Insurance payments. They are content to take to their EBT coupons and subsist on whatever the government can tax the productive members of society for. Welfare should be a supplement. Welfare should be a government match against hours worked. The hours worked can be community service for all I care. But people need to be put to work if they want the state to tax people with jobs to support them. Maybe I'm a bit bitter from riding through the train South Central LA every day, but the system is broken.

As long as I'm ranting, they need to modify the welfare system and deny payments to felons and their children. That would go a long way to dealing with the "baby daddy" syndrome of stupid girls letting themselves get knocked up by the most alpha, ghetto hood thugs they can find. All of a sudden the baby of a gangster won't be a free ticket to hundreds of dollars a month and a free place to live. Require a paternity test and a valid identify for the father of the child. The government needs to start holding the people that they support accountable for the choices those people make about how they live their lives. I'm sick and tired of seeing my tax dollars disappearing into the bottomless pit that is the ghetto.

Re:Really a Shame (2, Interesting)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378857)

There are two problems with your idea:

1. The huge manufacturing sectors that provided the kinds of low-wage, low-skill jobs that immigrant populations used to gobble up, have actually relocated to the former immigrants' home countries.

2. We would have to be willing to legally allow people to work low-wage, low-skill, dirty, dangerous jobs, and we don't really seem willing to do that.

Send in NASA rockets, looking for water there ... (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378339)

. . . that should do the trick real quick. And we could finally have an answer to that baffling scientific question, is there water in Camden, New Jersey?

If there is, you can bet that it belongs to some other city.

Tent Cities (2, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378377)

This reminds me of the tent houses that were supposedly popping up all over the place a few months back, full of homeless victims of the recession. Turns out the only one (that I could find any real reference to) was in Sacramento, CA, and it was mainly because that city has such a good homeless program. The people living in the tent city weren't homeless because of the recession, they were normal homeless people, incapable or unwilling to find a job.

The only city they actually mention in the article is Flint, Michigan; but Flint has been having problems long before this recession. The chances of it ever growing to it's former size are about the same as Bodie [bodie.com] ever being populated again: not likely, it's a ghost town.

The article tries to spin it like it's the end of some American dream of having lots of space, and we are all going to have to start living close together now, because it's cheaper for utilities, etc. Not likely.

Best thing that could happen (1)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378381)

Think of this as an extension of the whole broken windows theory. When you are surrounded by broken windows you treat a neighborhood as bad (never mind the residents). When a person is surrounded by blighted neighborhoods then the only thing they can see is blight. Improve the environment, change the neighborhood - it can only help change the residents.

Nothing new here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28378453)

Seriously, urban renewal, up to and including, bulldozing whole blocks out of existence is nothing new. People move on from one area to another, and as long as we have some empty space (and yes, yes we do), it's not going to change.

Rome may be the Eternal City, but it has changed considerably.

Whether or not these specific plans are worthwhile, I decline to comment, but I see nothing unusual about these as they are.

there's opportunity in this (4, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378461)


"Much of the land will be given back to nature. People will enjoy living near a forest or meadow," he said.

take older rust belt cities and remove the suburban sprawl surrounding them and prune them down to their urban core, and then you have a city layout from the days before the rise of the automobile

as gas prices continue to rise, urban development plans will favor this model of development: tightly clustered cities with good public transportation, surrounded by parkland. a much more humane and livable environment. places like phoenix and las vegas and houston, nothing more than giant sprawling suburbs really, will become inhospitable to affordable living while rust belt cities will develop a new cachet as nice places to live: condos and coops in refurbished historical buildings surrounded by healthy woodlands, with easy public transport or foot traffic to anywhere you want to and need to go

of course this cachet of "nice place to live" also has to imply some sort of job growth too, but as these rust belt cities shrink, they have ample opportunity to invest in emerging job sectors to bolster that sort of growth

then the choice between sitting in your car in a traffic jam on the freeway at $4/ gallon gasoline in 105 degree phoenix won't look as nice as walking the charming old refurbished downtowns of historic cities. these old cities have good bones, they just need to be pruned and invested a little in, and natural growth will take hold again

notice one city not mentioned as ripe for bulldozing: pittsburgh. yet pittsburgh is pretty much a poster child of a rust belt city. why? good planning for investing in future job sectors:

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/business/s_612352.html [pittsburghlive.com]

now compare pittsburgh's sober but cheerful outlook to the armageddeon-level job losses at work in the newer suburban sprawl cities that relied too much on overheated sectors like construction

detroit and flint and any other city heavily dependent on automobile manufacturing, alas, has a different story than pittsburgh. but this part of the larger picture at play here: the death of the automobile, the death of suburban sprawl, the return to small compact cities with a livable core surrounded by healthy woodland and with good public transportation

i for one welcome the death of the age of the automobile and the idiotic environmental damage of gas guzzling automobiles and space wasting burbs, and the inhumane anonymity of living in the isolating mcmansions and sitting in traffic jams, in areas of the country no one can survive in without artificial air conditioning

death to california

long live ohio

mark my words: the 1950s trend of everyone moving west will be replaced in 2025 by stories of everyone out west moving to the midwest belt

for the same reason: better quality of life

mark my words

Re:there's opportunity in this (2, Interesting)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378679)

death to california

Don't worry. Our state government in Sacramento is working diligently toward that goal. :-P

Government: We passed the largest state tax increase in U.S. history in the middle of a massive economic slump! Yay!

California: (falls over face first and vomits jobs and taxpayers into neighboring states. people spend even less due to 10% sales taxes. tax revenues actually go down)

Govenrment: D'oh! That haz teh FAIL! Who do we do now? I know! Let's raise taxes again! It'll be sure to work differently this time!

California: (death rattle)

Government: D'oh!

This little skit was brought to you by gerrymandering, and the letters F and U.

Re:there's opportunity in this (3, Insightful)

MachineShedFred (621896) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378825)

Hint: "out west" consists of more than California. I envision exactly nobody leaving the Pacific Northwest for anything in the midwest.

Oh, by the way: Portland (and Oregon at-large) pretty much pioneered the urban planning and growth boundary system that you are cheerleading with your car-hate and enviro-spew in the 1970s.

good, but how much will it cost? (4, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378593)

This is not a bad idea, but will this be considered 'taking' and therefore require that we, the taxpayers, buy the land from the legal owners. I have read that in some cases not even the banks want the place, and have abandoned it along with the owners. Given that we have already given money to banks to cover the losses, I would hope we would not cover the losses again. In addition, given that we have paid for these homes with tax money, we would not waste the asset.

The issue to me is that hyperinflation that occurred during the early and mid 200's, and the hyperdeflation we are now living with. During the inflatory period, everyone was taking fictional money out of their fictional property values to buy real goods. Banks made money, people got stuff, everyone was happy. The problem now is that, like it was with credit cards, people owe more than they possible can pay, and so the best thing to do is to walk away from the house. All this is covered by taxpayers. We can complain, but nothing can be done.

I think we just need to admit we have lived through 8 years of insanity, a national coke addiction, get over it, and move on. We don't need to pass blame, or punish people, just solve problems. If population is declining, and there are no jobs, and no people to live in the homes, then let's raze the land and return it to natural habitat. Hell, I say with a significant portion of a development is empty, pay the people to move, and raze the whole thing.

But we do have families without homes. Families who were priced out of home given the greed of the home investors at the expense of the home owners. It seems that since we have already bailed out the banks and the taxpayers have already in effect covered those mortgages, it seems that the FHA could help families move into the foreclosed homes. Right now the FHA does not want to deal with the average foreclosed home. Right now the FHA thinks that homeless is better than a imperfect home. That a leaky roof is worse than no roof at all. So it seems to me that there is a lot of housing available, and a lot of demand for cheap housing. When I say this the first time, and I saw the brookings institute, I saw it as a plot to maintain unsustainable property values rather than an way to help the country move forward.

We must destroy the city to save it (5, Interesting)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378631)

This is understandably a touchy subject for a lot of people. It's hard to overstate the sense of loss; more than that, the sense of historical obliteration. Neighborhoods where once happy, prosperous people lived productive lives are vacant, and one cannot help but feel that those happy, prosperous people are gone, perhaps never to return, and those empty houses stand like tombstones marking the death of their dreams.

Of course, this is thankfully not really true - those happy and productive people simply moved to other places, where they continue to live out their happy, productive lives. We feel bad about razing these homes because we feel like we are razing the lives of the people that used to occupy them. But those people left those homes behind long ago. They've moved on - so should the rest of us.

We feel sick about obliterating what should be valuable assets. This is a hard problem too. laborers built these structures, many of them good strong structures, some of them the likes of which will not be seen again. With care, they should be able to last centuries. But a society too obsessed with preserving the past - particularly a past that is not valued - is a moribund society. We should not carelessly annihilate our history. But at the same time we need to remember who we, historically, are:

We are a dynamic society. We are a dynamic people. The only constant is change. These cities shrank while other cities grew. It is in many ways a reflection on the freedom of our society, that people and businesses decided to leave and go elsewhere. Other places gained while these places lost. Now it's time for the principle of creative destruction to come into play. It's time to give up on what people have freely decided they don't value. It's time to re-allocate resources from failure to profit. It's time to clear the landscape of the ruins of yesterday, to make room for the possibilities of the future.

The ideas in this article are on the right track. We can't get sentimental about a past that is gone, never to return. Raze the unowned buildings, now sheltering criminals and vagrants. Hell, de-annex the empty land and return it to the township. Sell whatever mobile capital goods are underutilized. Wipe the ordinance book clean and start over again. Put every budget item and every tax on the chopping block. Clear the path for future opportunity, or it will never arrive.

Sounds Like A Bad Idea to Me (1)

SteveHeadroom (13143) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378765)

I don't like this idea. Sure, abandoned structurally unsafe buildings should be torn down. Tearing down empty big box stores might not be a bad idea either, but tearing down usable homes and entire neighborhoods seems like very short-term thinking to me.

I've noticed that often poorer neighborhoods have some very nice old homes. We shouldn't be tearing them down, we should be restoring them. There's lots of historic architecture out there that helps give cities their character, and already too many beautiful buildings have been torn down to build CVSs and parking lots.

What happens when the economy does rebound and the demand for housing rises? The remaining housing will be costlier and developers will just go ahead and replace the demolished neighborhoods with expensive "luxury" apartments, condos and McMansions that people will need to take out expensive mortgages to afford. It will be the housing/mortgage bubble all over again.

We should be encouraging more people to move to cities. They're more environmentally sustainable then suburbs. If there's a glut of empty homes, we should be making home ownership easier and affordable, not tear them down.

Tearing down blocks of buildings to return them to nature might make city government accountants and narrow minded environmentalists happy, but it's really a wasted opportunity.

What happened to homes for the homeless? (1)

rhaacke (1563489) | more than 4 years ago | (#28378833)

I thought there was a big concern in this country for the plight of the homeless. While I'm not usually one to to condone the government giving away my money, it seems to me that they've already stolen that property so they can tear it down. Couldn't we at least put up some of the homeless in these buildings? Looks like the usual ineffectual government meddling we've seen before. The gov. complains for years on end about social problems while using them as a pretense to expand its power and then when a way to solve the problem comes along they ignore it and do something that will only make it worse.
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