Shrinking Buffalo...Our Inconvenient Truth

fixBuffalo readers have been learning that the folks at LISC - Buffalo are doing the heavy lifting and helping us understand what we should probably call Buffalo's Inconvenient Truth...we are shrinking, not growing. Blueprint Buffalo, first featured here - Getting Smarter about Decline, last November - was a collaborative effort in part between LISC - Buffalo and the National Vacant Properties Campaign. Here's the announcement from NVPC about the project here in Buffalo - right here.

And while no one in City Hall has their arms around the extent of the problem - denial perhaps? - there's an emerging body of literature and growing set of web based resources available to help citizens understand the extraordinary scope of the problem. While we educate ourselves...we can push the ball forward and help shape policy discussions here in Buffalo, NY. The truth is we are shrinking, not growing...the truth is that we are losing people and jobs faster than they are being replaced. The result - block upon growing block of abandonment and vacancy. Partially boarded and disastrously dangerous houses ready for demolition are so finely woven into the urban landscape that they are accepted as normal, especially around schools.

Wondering about the census data. So was I. Wrote about it - Ouch! - last month.

Last week we read about the Youngstown, OH model. Here - Shrink to Fit. This week, culled from the growing list of resources at the NVPC, we are introuduced to Vacant Richmond .
Richmond VA (PRWEB) April 27, 2007 -- In response to the recent attention of several high profile fires of vacant buildings in Richmond and the publication of more than 3,000 vacant properties on the city of Richmond's "blight" list, several bloggers from Richmond have created the web site "www.VacantRichmond.com" that makes it not only possible for local citizens to track and comment about troubled properties in their neighborhoods, but also for city officials and others to follow and keep track of neighborhood comments and concerns read the rest...
According to the site...
Vacant Richmond allows you to find vacant properties in Richmond, VA and discuss them with other concerned and interested citizens.
Exactly the sort of transparency that we need here in Buffalo. Click through Vacant Richmond and see for yourself. Amazingly simple as the google maps code is used to ease interactivity and understanding.

Knowing and quantifying the true scope of the problem is the first step. This will be established here in Buffalo with an extensive street level survey, Postal Service data - like just how many houses don't get mail? - and working with National Grid and National Fuel Gas. After the numbers are gathered regarding just how many houses is enough and decisions about mothballing Grandma's house or trucking it off to a landfill will have to be made. Then the real difficult choices begin. Imagine one of our council members standing up in Council Chambers advocating streets, sidewalks and sewers in his district be dismantled and dug up. Yet, this will have to happen.

From Youngtown, OH we learned...
"It's un-American. It seems like you're doing something wrong if you're not growing," says Hunter Morrison, director of the Center for Urban and Regional Studies at Youngstown State University, who worked with the city to come up with its strategy. But he says the idea is "not really about growth or shrinkage, it's about managing change."
An Inconvenient Truth? Oh yeah. Get off the couch, walk the neighborhoods and see for yourself. We're shrinking, not growing. Question is will we bury our heads in the sand and deny this...or embrace the change as 35 year old Mayor of Youngstown, OH has.

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Mirror mirror ... said...

Policy makers, developers, realtors and city residents all need to get on the same page in Buffalo or it is faced with continuing decline and ensuing chaos.


...informed by knowledge and detailed neighborhood conditions.

Objective, sensible planning together with honest, unfettered development.

What we have now is little disconnected kingdoms, with queens of shit high atop their pile. There is no wonder that rats come running for the leavings, found on ebay and at foreclosure auctions.
Challenge the kingdoms power and beware of the dirty tricks that will be thrown your way !!!

Ask yourself, why is it that leading developers (as on the Sycamore St. $ Million dollar three houses on a brownfield debacle/Penman)& (as on the Termini project)&(as on the Belmont projects/for-profit companies owned by executives of Belmont) make millions, drive smaller companies out of business along the way, exploit federal and state program monies, and are nowhere to be found on solving the myriad real problems of our East Side?


Think about it.

b said...

Interesting stuff.

When your wrote
This will be established here in Buffalo with an extensive street level survey, Postal Service data...

- do you mean "will be" in the sense that someone is planning to do it, or "could be" in a hypothetical good idea sense?

The leg work sounds daunting but it's a little hard to believe that City Hall doesn't already have a bunch of data in some form about this - for example, shouldn't tax assessment data account for whether a house is occupied?

Getting that data from them in a usable form is a diffrent matter, of course.

fix buffalo said...


City Hall needs help. Stay tuned...

TonyArmani said...

nothing will ever happen as long as:

1. NYC is still attached to NY
2. There are unions
3. There are politicians