A new plan to decide Detroit's future

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    A fence keeps trespassers out of an abandoned home in Detroit in what was once a thriving middle class area.

    - Jeff Haynes/AFP/Getty Images

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    A lot is offered for sale next to an abandoned homes in Detroit.

    - Jeff Haynes/AFP/Getty Images

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    A biker passes by an abandoned home in a Detroit neighborhood that was once a thriving middle class area.

    - Jeff Haynes/AFP/Getty Images

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    Houses along Detroit streets have become derelict abandoned buildings. There are thousands of abandoned homes in the Detroit area.

    - Jeff Haynes/AFP/Getty Images

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    A neighborhood stands with numerous empty lots in Detroit, Mich.

    - Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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    Seats in a downtown restaurant remain empty in the economically struggling city of Detroit.

    - Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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    Pens rest on a table in an empty lobby of a former bank in Detroit.

    - Spencer Platt/Getty Images


JEREMY HOBSON: Earlier this year, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing suggested moving some of the city's residents from blighted neighborhoods to other parts of the city. Detroit is trying to save money on services in areas that are largely abandoned. But the proposal didn't go over well with some residents.

Now, as Sarah Hulett reports from Michigan Radio, Mayor Bing is trying a different tack.

SARAH HULETT: This month, Detroit officials plan to launch a series of meetings to build consensus on a plan for the Motor City's future. It's a kinder, gentler approach than Mayor Bing initially took. Back in February, he predicted there would be "winners and losers" as the city looked to scale back services like trash pickup and street maintenance to better align with Detroit's declining population. The city spends nearly $3 billion a year on municipal services, and Detroit is struggling to close an $85 million deficit.

Bing's comments prompted an uproar over the prospect of forced relocations, and drew comparisons in one of the city's newspapers to the treatment of Native Americans in the Trail of Tears. Bing now promises eminent domain is off the table.

Marja Winters is the deputy director of Detroit's Planning and Development Department.

MARJA WINTERS: I think there's a large level of mistrust, and I think that we have to build credibility. We have to regain confidence and trust in government.

Winters will help oversee a 12- to 18-month process to come up with a strategic plan for how the city deals with major issues -- including land use, housing, and transportation.

In Detroit, I'm Sarah Hulett for Marketplace.


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