Aug 1, 2011
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing finally announced his plan to shrink the city and concentrate city services. The most obvious thing about the plan he announced is that it is hard for anyone to figure it out. It came complete with a color-coded map with three types of areas designated on it and a chart listing four levels of 19 different services – and all combinations thereof.
Bing and the city fathers must have realized they would have legal difficulties pulling off their plan to “shrink the city,” so they are still proposing to do this, but in a way that makes it less clear what they are doing. They designated three “test” areas. One is the Palmer Woods/ Sherwood Forest district, the wealthiest area of the city which is marked for even more services than it already gets. Another is the Boston-Edison area, an old mansion neighborhood they want to rehabilitate, which will also get more services. And the last is Southwest Detroit, an area that currently has a certain amount of business development.
For the rest of the city, no one knows exactly what cuts in services they will get. For many areas it means that garbage still won’t get picked up, and water and sewage lines will still break.
But there’s one thing that’s very clear, and that is what the areas marked “distressed” (the worst possible designation), can expect: cutbacks on public lighting, lower enforcement of building codes, less maintenance of trees – meaning more power outages, and less boarding up of vacant buildings. Not surprisingly, these same areas will get more building demolitions and funding for assembling land for redevelopment – meaning handing the land over to the developers.
In reality, it is nothing but a jigsaw puzzle of a plan whose real aim is to push people out and justify cutting city services – except for a few wealthy areas – and to hide it all behind a bunch of confusion.