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home of the famous NBA basketball team, Detroit Pistons on July 18, 2013, has become the largest city in US history to file for bankruptcy. This legal action happened when State-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr, asked a federal judge for a municipal bankruptcy protection after decades of decline and mismanagement and rendered the home of the nation’s auto industry, insolvent. The decline of Detroit refers to the continuing major economic and demographic decline the city of Detroit has gone through in recent decades. The population of the city has fallen from a high of 1,850,000 in 1950 to 701,000 in 2013. The automobile industry in Detroit has suffered from global competition and has moved much of the remaining production out of Detroit. Once a bustling beacon of industrial might, the city is now a poster child for urban decay. Its landscape littered with abandoned skyscrapers, factories and homes. Crime is rampant, and the city literally cannot afford to keep the lights on, where a whopping 40 percent of streetlights are out. Note that urban decay is the process whereby a previously functioning city, or part of a city, falls into disrepair and decrepitude or dilapidation. It may feature deindustrialization, depopulation or changing population, economic restructuring, abandoned buildings, high local unemployment, fragmented families, political disenfranchisement, crime, and a desolate, inhospitable city landscape. According to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, the decision made was a difficult step, but the only viable option to address a problem that has been six decades in the making. Among the factors that went through this situation are the racial tensions sparked by the civil rights movement and the devastating 1967 riots which exacerbated white and middle-class flight to the suburbs. Businesses followed suit, and thus further affecting and shrinking the tax base of the city. With less revenue, Detroit City government had to cut back on services, prompting even more people to leave and eventually sending the city into an economic tailspin. Moreover, the Motor City saw its main employers go through round after round of mass layoffs as auto factories were automated or outsourced and Asian competitors siphoned away market share. The Detroit citizens according to the good Governor thus need and deserve a clear road out of the cycle of ever-decreasing services and the only feasible path to a stable and solid Detroit is to file for bankruptcy protection.
Although Detroit has suffered the worst condition, Manila, the premier city in the Philippines for many years, in similar fashion, on one way or another, may go through the same fate unless a strong and effective intervention is created. Manila now is having the same characteristics that are similar with Detroit. It has achieved the highest rate in unemployment, has mounting public deficit, many years of inefficient garbage collection, unprecedented increase in number of informal settlers, continuous increase in crime rates, traffic problems, drugs related cases and other social and economic menace that pushed investments and other businesses out of its jurisdiction thus furthering increase in social unrest and problems. Although Manila has some places to show its grandeur, all these eyesores are manifested in the outskirts of the city. The effects in Manila are staggering that can defer and counter continuous development need for progress and security of the city. The solution requires an intensified political will of positive intervention and policy as well as a strong coordination and cooperation between the populace and the local governance. The local governance can institute a combinations of inter-related socioeconomic reforms including that of the city’s improved future urban planning decisions, acceptable rent control policies, the reduction of poverty of the local populace, total creation of business opportunities, the effective construction of infrastructure roads and rail road lines that bypass the city and avoidance of real estate neighborhood redlining. A decline in manufacturing based industries can be replaced by service oriented businesses that require mass based employment as a result of much improved Tourism which became the premier income sources of old cities in North America and Western Europe. Increase in number of businesses will also be strengthened by the reduction of cycle time in the issuance of business permits. Furthermore, converting Pasig River on the quality of that of Milan or Thailand will generate a good number of good businesses and employment. This of course needs an amplified cooperation between Barangay leaders and city planners and organizers for effective implementation. Reviving an improved railway system from Manila to the North and Manila to the South and vice versa and including the increase in the capacity load of both the MRT and LRT transportations will speed up movement of people as well as cargoes. Strict restrictions on illegal transportation franchises and colorum jeepneys and buses will ease up movement of traffic and pedestrians. Ineffective rent control policies distorts the supply and demand relationship in housing markets and contributes to the rapid deterioration of the community and does not provide the supposed benefits its proponents promise, must be immediately reviewed. Note that rent control problem contributes to the problem through reduction in new construction and investment in housing and as well as a de-motivation on the maintenance aspect.
A more visible and courteous policemen on the streets, patrol cars roving around day and night, more CCTVs in the public places, emergency numbers everywhere, repair and periodic maintenance of street lights and a response time in minutes will be deterrent to criminals. Strong discipline in the pedestrians, parking only on designated places and one standard time in all both private and public places and major thoroughfares free from beggars will generate discipline that encourage more tourists to visit Manila. Finally, the local government can construct and build large scale housing projects for the poor within the vicinity of their work to promote urban renewal and regeneration thus enhancing a community of progressive and cooperative people. Sources: 1. 2. 3. 4. Philippine Daily Inquirer, July 19,2013 issue Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia Urban Economics, 2nd Edition by Edwin S. Mills Encyclopedia Encarta and Britannica