There may be a new trend in the Midwest:

Temporary Mayor Michael Brown made the off-the-cuff suggestion Friday in response to a question at a Rotary Club of Flint luncheon about the thousands of empty houses in Flint.

Brown said that as more people abandon homes, eating away at the city’s tax base and creating more blight, the city might need to examine “shutting down quadrants of the city where we (wouldn’t) provide services.”

He did not define what that could mean — bulldozing abandoned areas, simply leaving the vacant homes to rot or some other idea entirely.

Presumably, those areas would go back under the jurisdiction of the county, like other unincorporated areas, including policing by the Sheriff rather than city police.

14 thoughts on “Downsizing?”

  1. Sounds like a good idea. The city should (as able) shut off water, sewage and electrical service to these blocks, consider them completely abandoned, and not spend any funds on maintaining them – unless and until someone lives there.

    Of course, a single person living in the middle of an ‘abandoned’ block would negate all their savings. It would probably be cost effective for the city to then buy out the individual, the cost of the buyout being less than providing the services required.

    Hmm….I see a new way to monkeywrench the system…..

  2. Robert Heinlein used the term “abandoned area” over 30 years ago – it wasn’t a pleasant concept then. Guess we’ll see what we see in Flint.

  3. Oooh! Ready-made Crack-slums!

    If they can’t figure out how to attract businesses (and hence new people) to the city (which might be a result of State policies, and hence beyond their control), then they’re better off bulldozing the areas. Or perhaps selling the buildings to anyone who’ll promise to demolish them within a set time period. There’s gotta be a lot of good, salvageable material there.

    I wonder if a house-moving company could make a profit dismantling these buildings, shipping them elsewhere, and selling them…

  4. Presumably, those areas would go back under the jurisdiction of the county

    For that the city would have to go through a process to detach the area from itself. It’s little-used, as one might imagine, but I think most states have laws detailing how it’s done.

    City-owned infrastructure, such as water and sewer lines, surrendered to the county would tend to complicate such a detachment since it could create an obligation on the county and the county may not want it.

  5. I wonder if a house-moving company could make a profit dismantling these buildings, shipping them elsewhere, and selling them…

    In my opinion, this would not be terribly likely in today’s market.

    Also, if the homes have been abandoned long enough they are probably already vandalized. Even with depressed scrap prices copper is valuable enough to attract scavengers.

  6. It seems likely that most of those abandoned houses and buildings belong to someone, most likely banks that have repossessed them. If that’s the case, I doubt the city could get away with bulldozing the area. Perhaps there would be a way for the banks to clear their books of these properties so they can be demolished. Unattended buildings tend to attract undesirable elements like druggies and the ACORN crowd.

  7. I think it’s sort of derogatory to the druggies to put them in the same category as ACORN…

    This has been discussed in Detroit for a while. I suppose if the area were given back to county jurisdiction there would be no obligation for the county to provide any greater amount of police or fire services than they do to rural areas. Also, in Michigan, any unincorporated part of a county automatically is organized as a township, so there would be some vehicle for providing some govermental services locally.

    Of course the Federal government could try exempting such areas from federal taxation, which would certainly revive them. That’s been proposed for DC. But that’s probably too radical, so I suppose they’ll just get torched.

    I’ve thought of the idea of taking some of the rapidly depopulating parts of the Great plains and offering them the option of becoming a commonwealth on the model of Puerto Rico. It would require the consent of the states involved, but hey, it would relieve them of a big expenditure obligation. No Senators, no presidential vote, just a non-voting delegate in the House. Still US citizens. But no federal taxes. Like the “buffalo commons” idea, only for libertarians. A “libertarian commons”.

  8. Jim Bennett,

    I like your idea of the buffalo commons – becoming a “Galt Gulch?” However, like Israel in the Mid-East, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea, does the higher prosperity of fewer taxes become a jealousy problem with the neighbors?

    The Libertarian Free State project chose New Hampshire. Funny thing, it went blue anyway, maybe due to Massholes. Is there any other place free people should congregate?

  9. That always happens. Athens, Venice, Antwerp, Amsterdam were all free trading cities that were eventually overwhelmed by the envy of their neighbors and predators from near and far. It’s called the “predation trap”. London did better because it had a big, highly defensible island under its control that was self-sufficient in food and natural resources, and they built a very good navy. The US tried the trick with a whole continent, and we did even better, but we are falling prey to internal predators. This “libertarian commons” woud fall too, but it might last for quite a while.

    It will be interesting to see what would happen if a free trading city can be established in space.

  10. There are a number of libertarians who didn’t go to New Hampshire, who are in Wyoming. They tend to be (IMHO) pretty aggressively libertarian (if there is such a thing) and dogmatic. They are trying to congregate in Crook County (towns of Sundance and Hulett) to maximize their voting power. So far not enough to make much of a difference.

    Montana also has a significant libertarian population, away from the college towns and capitol, and Idaho as well.

  11. I liked the Free State Project’s methodology — everybody pledges to move to a specified place when a critical mass is achieved — but I wonder whether a state has enough power these days to make a difference. The Federal government is about to take a lot more power in the next four years.

    Canadian provinces are interesting because, due to the Clarity Act, they have a visible roadmap to secession. The historical precedents on that issue in the US are, uh, somewhat discouraging. You wonder what Sherman would have done with nuclear weapons. (Actually, I don’t wonder about that question. And I’m not one of the Lew Rockwell Lincoln-bashers.) And between the vector Obama’s on and Harper’s, Canada will have lower taxes, freer medicine, and freer speech than the USA four years from now.

  12. I’ve already started working on my fur lined shoulder pads, leather g-string, and have booked a stylist appointment to get a mohawk. When the time comes I will be ready to submit to my Barter Town overlords.

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