I’m a bit late on commenting here, as the shrinking cities stuff was all over the news about a week ago. First off, some links:
I get to save myself some work today, as I don’t have much to add that Glaeser doesn’t cover here. Park space for current residents is a better use the land.
What strikes me as interesting about the discussion comes from the original reporting in the UK Telegraph. It is the way in which Kildee conflates his idea with “fighting sprawl.” It’s almost like “fighting sprawl” is a magic legitimization of anything planners wish to do. Flint is hardly in the position of “fighting” to avoid excess land consumption. But, as Glaeser suggests, there’s nothing much interesting here, and Kildee’s self-promotion via changing land uses isn’t particularly sinister. Overall, it’s a sensible enough thing to do where land for housing is virtually worthless.