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View Full Version : U.S. Issues Youngstown, Ohio waves the white flag


alnorth
03-27-2011, 03:44 PM
Thought these were an interesting couple articles.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2011/03/15/134432054/a-shrinking-city-knocks-down-neighborhoods

By 2006, most of the steel mills in Youngstown, Ohio, had been gone for decades. The population was shrinking year after year. So the city launched a bold plan to redeem itself.

The plan: Quit trying to redeem itself.

Before 2006 and the bold plan, there were other ideas. Or, rather, multiple variations on the same idea.

Youngstown was going to replace the steel industry with a car factory. Or with a NASCAR racetrack, or a riverboat casino. Maybe a blimp factory out by the airport.

"That was the mentality," says Mayor Jay Williams. "It was grasping for straws. If you came in with what seemed to be an even marginally viable economic idea, there was a rush to make that the thing that was going to save Youngstown."

In 2006, the city abandoned all that. And Youngstown walked away from the most fundamental assumption of economic development and city planning: The idea that a city needs to grow.

"We needed as a city to recognize that we're a smaller city," says Bill D'Avignon, head of Youngstown city planning. "We're not going to grow; we're never going to be the Youngstown we thought we were going to be."

But without the dream of growth, Youngstown just had a bunch of empty houses that no one was ever coming back to. So the city started demolishing thousands of empty houses.

"Whenever they decide to do it, they might knock down two or three in the run of that week," says Dolores Marie, who is 83 and has seen most of her block razed. "And then they move down to another section and just do the same thing."

The problem with shrinking cities is that they don't shrink in a smart, organized way. It's chaotic. Thousands of people will leave one neighborhood, and maybe a dozen people will stay behind.

So Youngstown has been offering financial help for those people left behind, offering to move them to a place with more neighbors.

"The theory is streets could be closed," D'Avignon says. "Trash wouldn't have to be picked up in that area."

That would save the city a lot of money. But nearly everyone responded to the offer to move the way Dolores Marie did:

I said I had six kids I raised here. And I said another thing, I got grandkids that's coming up. I been here. I don't feel right moving in any other neighborhood. I want to be here.

So the plan is moving a little slower than expected. D'Avignon says eventually, the people left in these neighborhoods will move or they'll pass away. And no one will come to take over their houses. Then, the city will close entire neighborhoods.

Earlier this week, the 2010 census numbers came out for Ohio. Youngstown's population shrunk by 18 percent in the last decade.

"We can't force people to stay in the city of Youngstown," D'Avignon says.

The city can only follow the people who leave with bulldozers. Take down their homes and hope that the population does eventually stabilize, while there's still some city left to enjoy.

Bulldozing America’s Shrinking Cities (http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/16/bulldozing-americas-shrinking-cities/)

Lots of interesting economic and moral issues here. Some cities in the rust belt originally grew due to economic factors and industries that are now gone and will never come back.

As the sun belt explodes with growth, other cities lose. Rather than try to fund light rail or gimmicks to "come back", some of these cities should accept the fact that people don't like to live in the cold northern midwest. If you have empty neighborhoods, then bulldoze them, return all that land to farmers or to nature, and accept that you are a medium sized town instead of a major city.

There's other interesting issues like putting a lot of funding into education if you are one of those cities, if all that will do is educate young kids to the point where they can leave for better opportunities, but maybe that is fine, too.

Direckshun
03-27-2011, 03:47 PM
Fascinating, and depressing.

alnorth
03-27-2011, 03:57 PM
good quote from the NY Times story

As America contemplates a new “train” agenda, the country should recall that Detroit’s People Mover reigns supreme as the silliest of all pieces of urban infrastructure. The farce of that rail-to-nowhere is tragic because the money spent building and maintaining the monorail could have been spent on Detroit’s children. Mayors of cities-in-decline have long been fond of subsidizing shiny downtown office buildings, and then declaring that the new towers mean that their city is back. Cleveland has been fond of calling itself the “Comeback City,” but its population has continued to decline, and 29.7 percent of its citizens live in poverty.

If you are a declining city, you should look at the fundamental reason why that is. If you have historically relied on dying and decayed industries and you cant reasonably replace all those jobs, then you should accept fate and adapt. Wasting tons of tax money on expensive boondoggle toys in a futile effort to fight the inevitable is dumb.

ClevelandBronco
03-27-2011, 04:18 PM
I am from a place that was called Cleveland in a time that was called Industry.

HonestChieffan
03-27-2011, 05:25 PM
Thought these were an interesting couple articles.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2011/03/15/134432054/a-shrinking-city-knocks-down-neighborhoods



Bulldozing America’s Shrinking Cities (http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/16/bulldozing-americas-shrinking-cities/)

Lots of interesting economic and moral issues here. Some cities in the rust belt originally grew due to economic factors and industries that are now gone and will never come back.

As the sun belt explodes with growth, other cities lose. Rather than try to fund light rail or gimmicks to "come back", some of these cities should accept the fact that people don't like to live in the cold northern midwest. If you have empty neighborhoods, then bulldoze them, return all that land to farmers or to nature, and accept that you are a medium sized town instead of a major city.

There's other interesting issues like putting a lot of funding into education if you are one of those cities, if all that will do is educate young kids to the point where they can leave for better opportunities, but maybe that is fine, too.

Have lessons been learned?
Failed policies, over regulation, no effort to look ahead, ties to the past and massive welfare programs that delay the decline.....

kc rush
03-27-2011, 05:28 PM
My sister and her husband lived in Youngstown for several years before moving to Columbus a couple of years ago. It is a depressing crappy town, I'm glad they were able to sell their house and get out when they had the chance.

LiveSteam
03-27-2011, 06:40 PM
Lots of interesting economic and moral issues here. Some cities in the rust belt originally grew due to economic factors and industries that are now gone and will never come back.

Thats just fine that they packed up & headed over seas. & will never come back. The products they make & sell should never be allowed back in the USA

ClevelandBronco
03-27-2011, 06:43 PM
Lots of interesting economic and moral issues here. Some cities in the rust belt originally grew due to economic factors and industries that are now gone and will never come back.

Thats just fine that they packed up & headed over seas. & will never come back. The products they make & sell should never be allowed back in the USA

I don't know why punishing the consumer would be an appropriate response.

alnorth
03-27-2011, 07:51 PM
Lots of interesting economic and moral issues here. Some cities in the rust belt originally grew due to economic factors and industries that are now gone and will never come back.

Thats just fine that they packed up & headed over seas. & will never come back. The products they make & sell should never be allowed back in the USA

Protective tariffs are a stupid idea that will only result in retaliatory tariffs and WTO sanctions, thus shutting off our companies from doing business in the rest of the world.

Its a world economy. Deal with it, and figure out what your high-priced talent can produce that asia cant.

banyon
03-27-2011, 07:56 PM
Protective tariffs are a stupid idea that will only result in retaliatory tariffs and WTO sanctions, thus shutting off our companies from doing business in the rest of the world.

Its a world economy. Deal with it, and figure out what your high-priced talent can produce that asia cant.

I think this idea, more than anything has been the false promise that lured us into our free trade quagmire. There's essentially no product or service (thanks to the internet) that can't be outsourced and produced more cheaply elsewhere soon after the production bugs are worked out. Unless, of course, it is local by definition like serving fast food or public-related functions.

That's also why, IMO, the public sector unions are the only ones left, because it's the only part of our economy where the administrators/CEO's cant threaten outsourcing blackmail to get rid of them.

Rain Man
03-28-2011, 11:00 AM
It's a great idea, and it makes a lot of sense. It takes some guts to do it, but kudoes to Youngstown for recognizing the situation and responding to it in an honest manner.

jiveturkey
03-28-2011, 11:15 AM
It's a great idea, and it makes a lot of sense. It takes some guts to do it, but kudoes to Youngstown for recognizing the situation and responding to it in an honest manner.
I completely agree. I remember reading a couple of years back that part of Detroit were doing the same thing. Of course they'd probably go broke with the amount of demolition that needs to be done up there.