Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Another Comment

Here's another comment I was unable to post at Next City, in response to this piece:

In this nice detatched discussion you're missing a couple big elephants in the room.

First is the area's racial polarization. It was one of the causes of the city's problems to begin with. It's a big reason why we have a 90% black core city and a ring of affluent burbs which are close to 90% white. It's why we have alternate downtowns like Royal Oak, when there's only one real downtown. "Rightsizing" means compressing not just the core city, but the widely scattered, inefficient region. I'd argue that the racial problem remains THE key issue for the city, as it affects all political moves and maneuvers, the tug-of-war between city and state, and so on.

The second elephant in the room is the city's history. Not just the legacy of the auto industry, which is impossible to ignore, but also the city's labor history. Are those throwing out the city's past also throwing out that part of it? Are they siding with Governor Snyder in saying that the old ways of operating are obsolete? Isn't that the inevitable conclusion when you scorn and dismiss the past?
These are questions I haven't seen discussed here-- yet for those living in this town they affect everything.

(Let me add to this, that I find the "rightsizing" idea absurd. Moving relevant pieces around within the city's boundaries, which can't be done. Can you move Palmer Park and Indian Village and University of Detroit next to downtown? Of course not. Why would you want to? The only real solution is to make Detroit an attractive place to move to-- and then get the population back. From hyper-expensive places like New York City, and from Detroit's own many suburbs and exurbs. The infrastructure is here. It doesn't need to be built. It only needs to be utilized, by the farsighted.
Brady, I invite you to visit Detroit some weekend. Drive here and we'll take a tour of the city, downtown and exurbs, so you can see the realities.)

I also suggest reading this rant I posted shortly after moving back here, "Shrinking Detroit?":

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