April 28, 2009
More on Shrinking Cities
Both Ryan Avent and Matt Yglesias had posts this weekend on how to manage the decline of cities like Flint, Michigan, noting the difference between the situation of a place like Flint, where the entire region is shrinking, and places like Baltimore, which is an island of poverty amid a sea of relative prosperity. In short, whereas Baltimore could and ought to become a more integrated part of the regional economy, Flint has no recourse but to shrink to a more sustainable size. It's a good point to make; obviously, just as a growth policy has to be well suited to a particular region, so a shrink policy, as it were, has to have some flexibility with respect to local differences. That's why I think the idea of a federal land bank would be useful in this regard, as it would give cities in decline the resources to pull back development, while still having the decision-making in the hands of the communities affected.