FLINT, Michigan -- Look in any direction from Bianca Bates' north Flint home, and you'll see graffiti-covered siding, boarded-up windows and overgrown lots.
About half of the homes on her block are burned out or vacant magnets for drug dealers and squatters. It isn't where she thought she'd end up, but it's all she can afford to rent.
"It's a dangerous place to live," said Bates, 21, who lives on East Russell Avenue. "Everywhere you look, these houses are empty around here."
Property abandonment is getting so bad in Flint that some in government are talking about an extreme measure that was once unthinkable -- shutting down portions of the city, officially abandoning them and cutting off police and fire service. [emphasis added]
Temporary Mayor Michael Brown made the off-the-cuff suggestion Friday in response to a question at a Rotary Club of Flint luncheon about the thousands of empty houses in Flint.
Brown said that as more people abandon homes, eating away at the city's tax base and creating more blight, the city might need to examine "shutting down quadrants of the city where we (wouldn't) provide services."
He did not define what that could mean -- bulldozing abandoned areas, simply leaving the vacant homes to rot or some other idea entirely.
On Monday, a city spokesman downplayed Brown's comments.
Bob Campbell, Brown's spokesman, said the acting mayor was speaking hypothetically about a worst-case scenario, "not something that would be laid out in the next six months" while he's in office.
But City Council President Jim Ananich said the idea has been on his radar for years.
The city is getting smaller and should downsize its services accordingly by asking people to leave sparsely populated areas, he said.
"It's going to happen whether we like it or not," he said. "We'd have to be creative about it, but it's something worth looking into. We're not there yet, but it could definitely happen." [emphasis added]...
Article here. We may see more of this as the economy worsens. Call it the Escape From New York scenario.