Planned shrinkage

Planned shrinkage

Planned shrinkage is a United States policy of withdrawing essential city services (such as police patrols, garbage removal, street repairs, and fire services) from neighborhoods suffering from urban decay, crime and poverty so that neighborhoods may be claimed by outside interests for new development. After the mid-century boom in highways, suburbs and urban dispersal, civic leaders felt that urban decline was a natural and inevitable process, and they sought to plan the manner in which cities would shrink in such a way that population loss would be greatest in the areas with the poorest non-white [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN1859842534 A Plague on Your Houses: How New York Was Burned Down and National Public Health Crumbled] By Deborah Wallace, Rodrick Wallace. ISBN 1859842534] residents."The Living City" by Roberta Brandes Gratz. Simon and Schuster 1989. ISBN 0671633376]

Under Planned Shrinkage, one 100-unit development on one piece of land cleared by a single developer is preferable to 10 neighborhoods-based efforts each producing 100 units. The policy supported monolithic development, and often development at much lower densities than the neighborhoods impacted by it sustained in the past."The Living City" by Roberta Brandes Gratz. Simon and Schuster 1989. ISBN 0671633376]

History of the term

The term "Planned Shrinkage" was first used in New York City in the mid-70s."The Living City" by Roberta Brandes Gratz. Simon and Schuster 1989. ISBN 0671633376] In 1976 the Housing Commissioner of New York City, Roger Starr responded to the urban decay that plagued many areas in NYC such as The South Bronx and Harlem proposing a policy now known as "planned shrinkage."

On January 14 1976 Starr gave a speech at the real estate industry lodge of the B'nai B'rith suggesting that the city should "accelerate the drainage" in what he called the worst parts of the South Bronx through a policy of "planned shrinkage." He suggested closing subway stations, firehouses and schools. In these days the city was in a deep financial crisis and Starr felt these actions were the best way to save money. ["Breathing Space: A Spiritual Journey in the South Bronx" By Heidi B. Neumark] Starr's arguments soon became predominant in urban planning thinking nationwide."The Living City" by Roberta Brandes Gratz. Simon and Schuster 1989. ISBN 0671633376] The people who lived in the communities where his policies were applied protested, without adequate fire service and police protection they faced waves of crime and fires that left much of the South Bronx and Harlem devastated. [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN1859842534 A Plague on Your Houses: How New York Was Burned Down and National Public Health Crumbled] By Deborah Wallace, Rodrick Wallace. ISBN 1859842534]

Origins of the idea

In the early 1970s, RAND conducted a study that showed how city services relate to population in a large city. They concluded that when services such as police and fire protection were withdrawn, the population in that area would decrease. [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN1859842534 A Plague on Your Houses: How New York Was Burned Down and National Public Health Crumbled] By Deborah Wallace, Rodrick Wallace. ISBN 1859842534] In part in response to the Rand study and in an effort to address the shrinking population in New York City, Starr proposed his policy of planned shrinkage to reduce the impoverished population and better preserve the tax base. The idea was that because most of the fires in poor neighborhoods were "caused by arson," there was no sense in improving fire services to combat the problem. Although, the Rand Institute report suggested that a large proportion of the fires were arson, subsequent analysis of the data would not back this up. Of the fires in buildings, only a very small portion were arson and that portion was not higher than the rate of proven arson found in wealthier neighborhoods. However, influenced by the report, Daniel Patrick Moynihan went on to make recommendations for urban policy based on the assumption that there was "widespread arson" in poverty stricken neighborhoods like the South Bronx and Harlem. To Moynihan arson was one of many social pathologies caused by large cities that would benefit from benign neglect. [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN1859842534 A Plague on Your Houses: How New York Was Burned Down and National Public Health Crumbled] By Deborah Wallace, Rodrick Wallace. ISBN 1859842534]

Results of planned shrinkage

"In the South Bronx, the average number of people per engine is over 44,000. In Staten Island, it's 17,000. There is no standard for manning areas of multiple dwellings as opposed to one- and two family residences." -Chief X, a battalion chief from the New York City Fire Department interviewed in the BBC-TV special "The Bronx is Burning," in 1976. [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN1859842534 A Plague on Your Houses: How New York Was Burned Down and National Public Health Crumbled] By Deborah Wallace, Rodrick Wallace. ISBN 1859842534]

By the mid 1970s, The Bronx had 120,000 fires per year (an average of about 3 fires every 2 hours); 40 percent of the housing in the area was destroyed. (The overall rate of fires in the city shows a dramatic rise from about 60,000 reported fires in 1960 to rates of over 120,000 per year throughout most of the 1970s, peaking in 1980.) Fact|date=May 2008 The response time for fires also increased, as the firefighters simply did not have the resources to keep up. Many residents felt that the city was doing nothing to stop the fires. Planned shrinkage also had impacts on public health. The pattern of the AIDS outbreak itself, has been gravely affected, and even strongly determined, by the outcomes of a program of planned shrinkage directed in African-American and Hispanic communities, and implemented through systematic and continuing denial of municipal services--particularly fire extinguishment resources--essential for maintaining urban levels of population density and ensuring community stability. [R. Wallace, "Urban desertification, public health and public order: 'planned shrinkage', violent death, substance abuse and AIDS in the Bronx." "Social Science & Medicine", Vol. 37, No. 7 (1990) pp. 801-813 - abstract retrieved on July 5, 2008 from [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov PubMed] ]

The populations in the South Bronx, Lower East Side and Harlem plummeted. Only after two decades did the city begin to invest in these areas again. New developments were built and today each of these neighborhoods has come a long way from the 1970s.

ee also

* Freeway revolts
* Gentrification
* Mortgage Discrimination
* Redlining
* Benign neglect
* Urban decay
* Urban renewal
* Principles of Intelligent Urbanism

References

Further reading

* [http://www.city-journal.org/html/11_4_sndgs04.html "The City Journal:" Roger Starr 1918–2001] by Myron Magnet; Roger Starr had been editor of "City Journal"
* "In the South Bronx of America" by Mel Rosenthal, Martha Rosler and Barry Phillips
* "South Bronx Rising: The Rise, fall and resurrection of an American city" by Jill Jones

External links

* Disinvestment and Planned Shrinkage: Clearing the Way for Redevelopment of the Lower East Side [http://gregoryheller.com/home/node/15 gregoryheller.com]
* New Hope in the Bronx [http://www.startsandfits.com/2006/06/new-hope-in-bronx.html startsandfits.com]
* [http://web.archive.org/web/20061019022623/http://www.cdc.gov/syndemics/overview-definition.htm Syndemic Preventions Network article quoting from the Wallaces' work about AIDS and the South Bronx] retrieved from Web Archive on July 6, 2008


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