Renia Ehrenfeucht and Maria Nelson on shrinking cities

Renia Ehrenfeucht at the University of New Orleans as a new manuscript in Planning, Population Loss, and Equity in New Orleans After Hurricane Katrina, Vol 26, Issue 2, pp 129-146.

From the abstract:
Shrinking, slow-growth and fast-growth cities have different opportunities and constraints. This paper uses New Orleans following the severe flood damage from the 2005 hurricanes as a case study to investigate the challenges to developing equitable and effective plans in a city with significant population loss. By addressing four elements that are necessary for effective planning in depopulated areas—strategies for targeted investment and consolidation; alternatives for underused areas; mechanisms to reintegrate abandoned parcels; and plans for infrastructure and service provision—we argue that the lack of effective tools was a pivotal impediment to effective planning.

I’ve enjoyed the burgeoning conversation on shrinking cities in planning, and this is a particularly nice contribution. There is a temptation with disaster areas to either a) rush to recreate what was there in order to try to restore normalcy, even if what was there before wasn’t particularly functional or pleasant or b) treat the place like a clean slate where the master-planner master builder Smart Growthers/New Urbanists can roam unimpeded by path dependence.

Often forgotten are the people who remain and who are looking for some level of both normalcy and improvement, but wonder why their neighborhoods have been designated for “shrinking” in favor of selected investment areas.