Regarding how the process would work, my understanding of Dan Kildee's concept doesn't include any cash payments. Instead it would entail grant-funded refurbishment of Land Bank owned houses on "winner" streets, then offering those houses on an even-swap-no-cash-free-moving basis to occupied-home owners that are current on their taxes (including landlords, I think) on "loser" streets. I assume that the city then would use legal processes to "vacate" loser streets, then tear out their pavement and shut off the water mains.
Thus there would be minimal gain for speculators and minimal incentive to buy abandoned houses.
My perception is that an objective way of ranking blocks and neighborhoods would be used, i.e. maybe the percentage of occupied and code-compliant houses.
Also note that the most labor intensive city services (police, fire, trash) are delivered not by the neighborhood, but by the street. Significant savings could be achieved without touching the incendiary issue of whole-neighborhood "loser" status, by selecting individual streets to deactivate. If the city had 50% fewer miles of streets, roughly 50% the old-days number of patrol cops and trash teams could provide the same patrol/pickup frequency the city used to get. Street paving and buried-infrastructure maintenance is by mileage, too.
Yes, it's true that a physically smaller city would result in *more* cost savings...it could have fewer fire stations, which require proximity to the areas they serve. Other infrastructure costs would be reduced. More schools would be within walking distance of more of their students' homes.
Politics is the art of the achievable, though. If what's achievable is deactivating 2 out of 3 or 4 out of 5 streets, it would make sense to go for those savings rather than holding out for perfection.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Street by Street
JWilly adds some important details on the plan to "shrink" the city: