More Debate About 'Saving' Rust Belt Cities

The populations of at least a dozen major cities declined by more than ten percent between 2000 and 2010, including Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Detroit. How best to regenerate those “legacy cities” is a matter of no small amount of debate.
Tony Faiola / flickr

Randall O’Toole recently responded to the prescriptions of a May 2013 report from the Lincoln Land Institute called “Regenerating America’s Legacy Cities.” O’Toole’s take: “While [the report’s prescriptions] may sound good at first glance, close scrutiny reveals that they are the same tired policies that have been trotted out by urban planners for decades.”

In light of what O’Toole sees to be the failure of the report in showing examples of those cities actually succeeding in any of the report’s prescriptions, he presents a series of rejoinder recommendations, including “improve schools,” “reduce crime,” and “reduce taxes.”

The recommendation to "reduce crime" has relevance to the land use conversation because O’Toole would reduce crime in these cities by “doing things like changing the gridded city streets that planners love into cul de sacs so that criminals have fewer escape routes.”

After questioning the libertarian bonafieds of that claim, Emily Washington addresses whether or not that typically suburban street configuration can actually be credited with reducing crime: “Some studies have found that culs de sac experience less crime relative to nearby through streets, perhaps in part because they draw less traffic. However, it’s far from clear that a pattern of suburban streets makes a city safer than it would be would be with greater street connectivity.”

Full Story: Saving Rustbelt Cities

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