Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Them Eggheads at CMU...

Saw this over at CMU's Center for Economic Development, and felt it was worth a post here.

Basically, the CED is arguing that the City of Pittsburgh has become enveloped in a self reinforcing spiral of decay, triggered by the subsidization of highways and infrastructure of the suburbs. The result of the facilitated flight was an increasing burden on residents that remained, which thereby caused more residents to flee. The ultimate result is huge swaths of blight and decay.

As a side note, I've only half-heartedly believed this theory. I've never been a big proponent of technological determinism, feeling instead that humans have choices in the matter. Moreover, while highways may have facilitated the expansion to the suburbs, they are not the only cause. The baby and post-war booms spurred a demand for housing, which was only available in the suburbs. Redlining made it impossible to bring a lot of this investment into the cities. Racial tensions were an additional contributing factor as well. End of side note.

The solution? Well, according to the CED, it seems to be controlling the blight by stopping it before it starts. Instead of massive public works projects, they argue, it is simpler to start with LIHEAP and Credit Counseling programs in order to avoid foreclosures, and slowly escalate and target programs as necessary. The last resort is to use eminent domain to redevelop large segements of neighborhoods.

Interesting premise and conclusion. Anyway, take a look; it has pictures.

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