It is often assumed: in order to solve their problems shrinking cities need to downsize. For example, Detroit should be smaller and greener (DFC - Detroit Future City Plan). However, this also means that city’s most abandoned and deteriorated neighborhoods need to be cleared and people residing in this areas need to be relocated. At the same time, communities cannot be right-sized.
This article* explores this issues. In Detroit public resources are being redirected out of this ‘nonviable’ neighborhoods. Namely, it is often hypothesized that by removing infrastructures and services (‘city systems’), people would leave. Author argues that city systems are embedded in complex web of structures, processes, relationships and interests. This ‘stickiness’ implies it’s difficult to dismantle these systems. Moreover, socio-spatial persistence exhibited by groups in neighborhoods is stronger than an incentive to move provided by removing city systems. The perceptions of residents are not always complying with the wishes of the policy makers. The tension between these two is nicely presented in an analytical manner drawing attention to the need for complex analysis of the ‘sticky’ systems before planning and conducting regeneration policies. Finally, conclusion is made that if the decades of general deprivation have failed to be strong enough incentive to leave the neighborhood it is very much questionable whether removing of the city systems will yield this ambitious result.
* Owen Kirkpatrick, L. (2015). Urban Triage, City Systems, and the Remnants of Community: some ’Sticky’ Complications in the Greening of Detroit. Journal of Urban History, Vol 4 (2), 261-278. Sage Publications.