Tuesday, July 20, 2010
As we swerve around a familiar Michigan tableau—a dead deer on the side of the highway—Kildee previews the speech he is scheduled to deliver that afternoon on a familiar Michigan imponderable: "The Future of Michigan Cities." For Kildee, the talk is yet another chance to trumpet what he sees as a common-sense approach to urban planning in an age of decline. Others view it as a radically un-American idea that embraces defeat and limited horizons.
First, he says, shrinking cities must accept that they're not going to regain their lost populations anytime soon. Abandoned houses and buildings should be leveled and replaced with parks, urban gardens, and green space. Eventually, incentives can be used to lure residents into higher density neighborhoods that have been reinvigorated with infill housing and rehab projects. While there are no hard numbers, local governments could save money by reducing infrastructure costs, and the housing market would stabilize, if not improve.