A city’s excuses

  • Our downtown deteriorated because business “x” left the city.
  • Our downtown deteriorated because industry “y” left the city.
  • Our downtown deteriorated because manufacturing left the city; if you prefer the buzzworddeindustrialization.
  • Our downtown deteriorated because of suburbanization.  (Ooh, another ominous buzzword.  Surely, that’s the culprit!) (Sorry to to bust your bubble, but the modern suburb has been around since the early 19th century.)

Instead of taking responsibility for and learning from its planning and decisions, your city hall and its enablers sometimes like to make excuses; they love to pass the buck.  That way, city hall is never responsible for its role.

The remedy:  “Stop trying to improve hindsight.  Sharpen up your foresight instead.” (Schwartz)

So, here’s some foresight to sharpen:

1) The ad hoc, weak-kneed approach to building outdoor and indoor malls while ignoring a city’s layout invites problems.  We must not build malls (or anything for that matter) just to fill an empty space.  Rather, let’s ask how does a potential location for an indoor or outdoor mall affect the city’s layout as a whole?  And, what is the degree of legitimate need?

2)  If existing buildings are well built and largely free of hazardous materials, then let’s use them before building new ones.

3)  Are we relying too much on one industry?  As responsible corporate citizens, what is the private sector doing to provide a variety of jobs?

4)  The wholesale hand-out of our downtown to any one industry (public or private sector) does not a great city make.


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