Saturday, March 07, 2009

forming a theory of urban secession, a two-way street

It is my thinking that Brooklyn Centre, Ohio City, and Old Brooklyn at this point have sufficient grounds to begin to ask to secede from the City of Cleveland and each become its own governing entity. In the coming trend towards regionalization, each of these areas needs to have parity and equal standing with each of the existing suburbs in Cuyahoga County.

If at one time it was advantageous to annex, at this point, I have a feeling that it's advantageous to detach each previously annexed area from the dysfunctionality of the City of Cleveland and its conflicted public servants, who now think they're rock stars and not accountable to their fans for their actions. The governance is not as attractive as it was when the annexations occurred; back then, the politicians had a more humanistic bent and a holistic view of the universe and mankind. Individual rights were paramount, and the welfare of the group was assured so long as the rights of the individual were held inviolate and common-sense, sustainable, economical, efficient practices prevailed. There were efficiencies and economies of scale to be achieved.

Today, the world is changing quickly, going from a hierarchical structure to a networked structure, vertical to lateral, and Cleveland government is not. I don't think those boys and girls read or think a whole lot. I see little evidence that they are lifelong learners.

Here's a snippet from Wikipedia with reference to the thinking of Jane Jacobs on the topic of secession, on which few agree, it seems. What I do know is that I want out, and I don't want to have to move and give up a nice neighborhood to escape stupidity and abuse, waste and compromised representation, withholding of services and pitting of neighbors against neighbors. I want to live in a small town again, and we have that already in Brooklyn Centre, except for our form of government. Lately, I like being close to Cleveland's downtown, but not part of Cleveland. It's a values thing.

Modern theorists of local civic economies, including Robert J. Oakerson and Jane Jacobs, argue that cities reflect a clash of values, especially of tolerances versus preferences, with views of the city varying from a pure community to that of a pure marketplace. Suburbanites have a strong tendency to view the city as a marketplace since they do not participate in its street life voluntarily, nor do they consider the city to be a safe and comfortable place to live in. By contrast, those who choose downtown living tend to see it as more of a community, but must pay careful attention to their tolerances (for smog, noise pollution, crime, taxation, etc.). Ethics and thus politics of these interest groups vastly differ.

Secession (the setup of entirely new legislative and executive entities) is advocated by certain urban theorists, notably Jane Jacobs, as the only way to deal politically with these vast differences in culture between modern cities and even their nearest suburbs and essential watersheds. She stated that "cities that wish to thrive in the next century must separate politically from their surrounding regions." She rejected the lesser "Charter" and less formal solutions, arguing the full structure of real regional government were necessary, and applied to the urban area alone. In particular she rejected the idea that suburban regions should have any say over the rules in the city: "they have left it, and aren't part of it." Jacobs herself lived in an urban neighborhood (The Annex, Toronto) which would have been paved over in the 1970s by a highway project to serve the suburbs, the Spadina Expressway, had the proponents of urban secession not stopped it. Jacobs likewise took part in blocking the development of the Cross-Manhattan Expressway in the 1960s, opposing Robert Moses. These freeways are examples of the clash of urban community versus suburban market interests.

Advocates of highway development and suburban participation in urban government theorize that cities which protect themselves from the suburbs, forcing them to become self-sufficient small towns, cutting off the freeways, forcing commuters into subways, etc., are committing suicide by forcing business out into the suburbs. Advocates respond that cities depend more on their quality of life to attract migrants and professionals, and that telecommuting makes it possible for workers in the city to live anywhere, coming into town less frequently, without the rush.

Urban secession - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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