Homesteading on the Detroit Frontier

The Detroit Free Press reports:

In emptier parts of Detroit, some residents have fenced in the vacant lots next to their houses to create suburban-size parcels. They create gardens, children's playgrounds, parking for cars, toolsheds or other structures.

Some scholars who have studied the practice refer to these as "blots," a contraction of the words "block" and "lot." Over time, the practice is re-creating some Detroit neighborhoods with bigger lots more typical of suburban subdivisions. Only about 40% had been recorded in the city's assessor's office, a local expert has estimated.

The brief article also mentions another way Detroiters are using those abandoned lots, estimating that "there were more than 1,000 family, school and community gardens in the city in 2011."

Detroit isn't the only city undergoing a grassroots gardening boom. Rona Kobell (full disclosure: she's my wife) recently wrote about Baltimore's community gardens in the Chesapeake Bay Journal. In that case, she notes, the gardeners' improvements have been protected by the urban equivalent of a homesteading act: "a 'dollar-lot' policy, allowing community groups that have been using a plot of city-owned land to claim it for $1."

New York City did something similar in the '70s, but it wasn't willing to make the gardeners' property rights permanent. As Sarah Ferguson explained in a 1999 piece for the New Village Journal,

With so many gardens cropping up on city-owned land, in 1978 the city established Operation Green Thumb, which leases plots for $1 a year. Gardeners and greening groups had pressured for the program as a way of legitimizing their efforts. "They realized they were squatting and wanted some recognition of their right to be there," says former Green Thumb director Jane Weisman. But others saw it as a bureaucratic means to control the ad-hoc appropriation of abandoned land. From the start, the City made clear that all leases were issued on a "temporary" basis. In order to enter the Green Thumb program, gardeners had to agree to vacate their plots within 30 days if the land was ever selected for development.

Sure enough, it wasn't long before the eviction notices started arriving. Those evictions weren't always enacted in an above-board manner -- as Ferguson writes in another article, "dozens of gardens in Harlem, Brooklyn, and the Bronx were being disposed of as vacant lots, with Council members for the most part unaware of the true nature of the land they were voting on." Here's hoping the gardeners and blotters of Baltimore and Detroit don't have to fight any land grabs down the road; and if the fight does come, here's hoping they have the stamina to prevail.

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  • ||

    Only about 40% had been recorded in the city's assessor's office, a local expert has estimated

    So what happens when property tax bills go out? They may have made token efforts to let people develop these "blots" in the 70's, but I cannot believe that in today's world they will let these people keep anything. As soon as the assessor's office can start appraising these lots and defining them, they're going to try and take everything. It's the modern way.

  • Romulus Augustus||

    And, maybe, eventually, in a few centuries, the populace will get pissed off enough to restore a two or three party government to these one party fiefdoms.

  • ||

    Maybe. Eventually. Like, when the sun goes nova.

  • ||

    Heat death!

  • ||

    The sun won't go nova, you stupid Republitard science-hating christfag. It'll just expand and burn us all up because we didn't recycle even after President Obama tried to warn us, because of you Rand-worshipping Kochtopoids.

  • ||

    You shut your dirty whore mouth!

  • ||

    Sorry. "Christfag" is probably Othering. I retract that part.

  • R C Dean||

    So what happens when property tax bills go out?

    They go to the record owner. If the record owner doesn't pay the taxes, then the city can condemn and sell the property. I have no idea what the notice requirements are in Detroit, but the neighbor who fenced off the lot could certainly buy, if they know of the sale.

    Where it gets really, really interesting is if nothing is done until the adverse possession period runs. At that point, the neighbor "becomes" the new owner.

    If they file a quiet title action and get title, I don't think they can be held liable for the prior unpaid taxes, and I don't think the city can get a tax lien on the property, as it would dispossess the new owner who was not liable for the unpaid taxes of the previous owner. Not sure about that, though.

    If they don't get record title, then they might still have the superior claim to anyone who bought from the City at the tax sale.

    I would be interested to see a real Michigan real estate attorney's take on this.

  • ||

    It was a rhetorical question, RC. I know what happens when the property tax bills go out, and that was my point.

    The thing is, does the assessor's office even have the staff and resources to deal with this?

  • Pro Libertate||

    I was thinking about adverse possession, too. I doubt you have tax or any other liability of ownership (aside from that arising from the actual use of the property) until you take title after the period runs, which is a good number of years, I'm sure.

  • R C Dean||

    Not as long as you think. Around ten years, most places.

    Adverse possession is special, but so are tax liens. It would take an expert to sort it out, which I am not.

    Since I'm sitting for the NM bar next year, I should probably study up. Plus, I have a parcel next to a vacant parcel . . . .

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    I thought twenty years is almost universal. But ten sounds good too.

    Adverse possession must be open, continuous, notorious, blahblahblah

  • R C Dean||

    Here's the law in Michigan:

    The elements of adverse possession in Michigan are: actual, visible, open, notorious, exclusive, and uninterrupted possession of the property that was hostile to the owner and under cover of a claim of right for a fifteen-year period. Rozmarek v Plamondon, 419 Mich 287, 295; 351 NW2d 558 (1984).

    Not sure what "under cover of a claim of right" means. I don't think we have that in Texas. Iffen its under your fence, its yourn, dagnabbit.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Here's a chart. Florida's is short (knew that from the bar), but Michigan's appears to be longer (15 years).

    There's an interesting factoid in the linked material that makes it sound like adverse possession can toll earlier for tax assessment purposes. Figures that the government gets special treatment.

  • ||

    I've been told that Florida judges tend to set the bar high for adverse possession regardless of what the law says. The other thing is that if you check the link, Florida requires payment of taxes to qualify. I don't know about other states but I think that's fairly common.

    That would meean you'd have to go and register your claim with the county tax assessor pretty early in the process.

    This suggests to me that succeeding at claiming adverse possession never happens "by accident". It takes a deliberate plan to actually act against the original owner's interests.

  • Lost_In_Translation||

    This suggests to me that succeeding at claiming adverse possession never happens "by accident". It takes a deliberate plan to actually act against the original owner's interests.

    If you can make it plain enough to them that its yours and they don't complain to authorities ever, then its yours. It really takes an absentee landlord for any of this to work. So I imagine it happens all the time in Detroit.

  • Gray Ghost||

    Not sure what "under cover of a claim of right" means.

    IANAL, but this site has the following definition for the general (i.e., not MI-specific) language, "under cover of claim or right."

    Under Cover of Claim or Right - Either when the person claiming the property makes the claim based upon constructive possession under color of title (e.g., there is an error in the legal description in their deed leading them to believe they own part of a neighboring property), or makes the claim based upon actual use and possession of the area of land at issue for the statutory period.

    Seems circular and prolix, but that's property law for you.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    The idea of unpaid taxes building up is insane, because at some point it would be so expensive that nobody would ever want to take ownership of the property until the city waived the taxes for some connected developer.

  • Lost_In_Translation||

    and...

  • fish||

    Yeah.....insane. Can't imagine anyone trying to acquire property that way.

  • ||

    Where it gets really, really interesting is if nothing is done until the adverse possession period runs. At that point, the neighbor "becomes" the new owner.

    In Washington state you cannot claim adverse possession against government owned land.

    I imagine that is pretty standard across the states.

  • R C Dean||

    Yeah, but these aren't government-owned parcels.

    If the tax lien goes in before the adverse possession runs, the neighbor is out of luck. If it goes in after? That's where it gets interesting.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    This is true across the country. People have tried it and failed. You can adversely possess other citizens' land, but not the government's.

  • sarcasmic||

    See that garden? You didn't make that.

  • Lord Humungus||

    let the land rush to Detroit begin. Load up the wagon! Tally-ho!

  • John||

    Maybe if you didn't let socialists destroy the government and economy, that land would be put to a more valuable use than a garden? It is pretty fucking pathetic that what was once the most productive city in history is now reduced to a few home gardens.

  • Brandybuck||

    You don't understand. Urban gardening is the hottest thing right now with liberals. Grow your own heirloom kale and save the planet!

  • Pro Libertate||

    Say, what if we made everyone smelt their own iron in their backyard? Wouldn't that restore our industrial capacity to total supremacy?

  • ||

    I think we'd make a great leap forward in our standard of living.

  • Brett L||

    Well played, sir.

  • Mainer2||

    Indeed

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Only if they can subsequently convert it to steel. Just think of each neighborhood having it's own blast furnace!

    People will have to melt down their gardening tools to provide the raw material needed, but shared resources entails low risk and low prices! That's what everyone who supports Obamacare has told me!

  • Pro Libertate||

    Ah, so that's what the "Forward" is about in the Obama ads.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    How long would just such a plan take? Say, about five years?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Yes, five years sounds good. Some kind of new economic policy.

  • Geoff Nathan||

    You got that right. This afternoon I bought Thai eggplant at the Wayne State Farmer's Market, and there were vendors from several of these gardens. I think there actually was kale.
    I drive through landscape like that pictured above every day. If you go to satellite view with Google maps, and put in these coordinates you can see a sample:
    42.355195,-83.037672
    Try 'street view' or tilt the view to see what it really looks like. I take Mack to work daily.
    On the other hand, there was an art event in downtown on Saturday night called Dlectricity, and there were thousands of folks out wandering around near the Wayne campus enjoying light shows, including live streaming of the Detroit Symphony concert, projected on the exterior of Symphony Hall, with a fairly good set of speakers.
    Detroit may be a disaster, but folks still live here and some of us try to make the best of it.
    FWIW

  • ||

    It's all about beekeeping these days.

  • Loki||

    Here's hoping the gardeners and blotters of Baltimore and Detroit don't have to fight any land grabs down the road.

    It's fucking Detroit and fucking Baltimore. I think it's a pretty safe bet they will.

  • John||

    If either city had the kind of government that respected property rights, there wouldn't be any free land available for gardening.

  • thom||

    They had cooked up a plan last year in Baltimore to jack up the taxes on community gardens and farms and there was enough public outcry to defeat it.

    Baltimore City actually has the highest property taxes in the state of Maryland. It's ridiculous.

  • ||

    It reminds me of the later books in the Foundation series, when the remaining population of the former capital planet of the empire (whatever its name was) was reduced to subsistence farming and selling the metal from its ruined buildings for scrap.

  • ||

    You read the later Foundation books? Wow, between this and the Wheel of Time, you really are a glutton for punishment. So I'm assuming you read most if not all of the Battlefield Earth series?

  • Lord Humungus||

    It's now what he reads, but how he reads it.

  • Lord Humungus||

    *not

  • ||

    Warty's reading is like Warty's love: hard and fast.

  • John||

    Thank you Episiarch. I read the first one of those books. And it was good. But by the middle of the second one I gave up. Glad to know I am not the only one who didn't see why those books were such a big deal.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I object to you. I object to intellect without discipline; I object to power without constructive purpose.

  • ||

    I remember being bored shitless by them, but I persevered for some reason. Now I remember almost nothing about those pieces of shit, except that there was some kind of galactic hermaphrodite.

  • fish||

    ....there was some kind of galactic hermaphrodite.

    That's a shitty thing to say about Krugman.

  • ||

    See, I really liked Asimov's robot stuff, and then I of course tried his other work...and couldn't stand any of it. Foundation was particularly painful.

  • Brett L||

    I'm pretty sure I made it through the Foundation series because I was 12 and had a library card and nothing else to do that summer.

  • ||

    That's more or less what my story was. We got the internet soon after that, and my free time was soon reallocated from reading shitty sci-fi to masturbating.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I like the Foundation series, especially the first three books. I hope you all die. [Runs sobbing from the room.]

  • Spoonman.||

    Yep, me too.

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    I reread Foundation this summer, and it was way better back in high school. Compared to Herbert, Philip K. Dick, Neal Stephenson, Heinlein--almost anybody--Asimov was incredibly pedantic.

    I think there was a single female with a name in Foundation, and I don't think she even got to speak a line. Asimov missed so many opportunities to salt his books with sex scenes.

  • R C Dean||

    I think there was a single female with a name in Foundation, and I don't think she even got to speak a line.

    Sounds like it has its good points, then.

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    Not really. He never described her boobs.

  • R C Dean||

    What a hack.

  • tarran||

    Isaac Asimov was not entirely a hack. He authored one of the greatest books of philosophy penned in the 20th century: The Sensuous Dirty Old Man.

  • Pro Libertate||

    You know, fuck it. I love Asimov. Burn me in effigy.

  • SugarFree||

    I only read the first one as well. So many other things to read that didn't bore me.

  • Lost_In_Translation||

    Damnit John, its the urban planners guidebook. Its what they actually think!!!

  • ||

    I took detailed notes on Battlefield Earth, dude. Want to read some of my pornographic Foundation-BfE mashup fanfic?

  • ||

    Absolutely not.

  • John||

    Talk to me after you have read the Mission Earth Decology.

  • ||

    The New York Times review of the first volume, The Invaders' Plan, describes it thus: "... a paralyzingly slow-moving adventure enlivened by interludes of kinky sex, sendups of effeminate homosexuals and a disregard of conventional grammar so global as to suggest a satire on the possibility of communication through language."[2]

    Amazing.

  • John||

    I read the first three or four books when I was in high school. I had no idea who L Ron Hubbard was. I didn't think the first couple were too bad. It is just hard to trudge through ten books. Hell, Dune was only good for three books.

  • Lord Humungus||

    I made it through the entire 'The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant'. As I went on, I hated the next book more and more. The last was almost unreadable. Never again... never again.

  • SugarFree||

    I made it through the entire 'The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant'.

    Ugh. "I feel great! Whelp, I guess it's time to rape someone!"

  • Brett L||

    Ugh. "I feel great! Whelp, I guess it's time to rape someone!"

    But he totally made up for it by having a gold ring and being a selfish dick.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Yeah, that put me off.

  • Brett L||

    I made it through the entire 'The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant'.

    I just read the first one of those, and pretty much thought, "I'll finish this one, but I have no desire to see what else happens." Of course, this was a lesson learned after slogging through 4.5 volumes of Wheel of Time. Just put it down and walk away.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    Did you make it to the Second y Third Chronicles?

  • ||

    See, I actually liked those a couple of decades ago. But I can't bring myself to read the third chronicles.

    Also, put me down for the first couple Foundation books and giving up on Wheel of Time after about 1 1/2 of them.

  • Zeb||

    No way, the fourth Dune book was the best in my opinion. Fifth and sixth never really seemed to get going, though.

  • John||

    Really Zeb? God Emperor is good? My dad hated it so I never read it. I really liked the first two but just kind of liked the third book. Maybe I should give God Emperor a shot.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I liked it. Not as good as Dune, but it's pretty interesting.

  • robc||

    I stopped after God Emperor. 3 is the weakest of the first 4. While it was good, I know longer cared about the universe in God Emperor.

  • tarran||

    The secret with the Dune books is that the even numbered ones (eg 2nd, 4th, 6th) suck balls while the odd numbered ones in the series are worth reading.

  • John||

    I thought the second one kicked ass and the third one kind of sucked.

  • robc||

    John, agreed. 2 good, 3 bad.

  • ||

    Hell, Dune was only good for three books.

    I think it was only good for one.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    For some reason that review made be think of the Mark Twain review of another religious founders writing:

    All men have heard of the Mormon Bible, but few except the “elect” have seen it, or, at least, taken the trouble to read it. I brought away a copy from Salt Lake. The book is a curiosity to me, it is such a pretentious affair, and yet so “slow,” so sleepy; such an insipid mess of inspiration. It is chloroform in print. If Joseph Smith composed this book, the act was a miracle—keeping awake while he did it was, at any rate.
  • SugarFree||

    I managed not to read them. But I read Battlefield Earth a few times. It's not the worse science fiction I've ever read and, besides, there is a lot of doubt that Hubbard wrote it or the ME decology.

  • ||

    Why did i do that to myself?

  • SugarFree||

    Cocksucker. I had to go looking for it, Warty. Nothing, thank goodness. But I did have to encounter Battlefield Earth fan poetry, which I now inflict on you:

    Sounds of Silence

    Silence abounds along my path,
    The wind whispers its songs.
    It's like this is another world,
    One where I don't belong.

    ...

    The scenery's unchanging,

    Just ruins, trees and grass.

    Artifacts of the gods perhaps,
    Or from the distant past?

    ...

    I don't know what road I travel,
    If a road exists at all.
    But there's a world of mystery here,
    And I'm compelled to see it all.

  • Brett L||

    Hubbard had less talent than that.

  • ||

    See, this is why we keep you on staff. A+ work.

  • Trespassers W||

    "MISSION Earth series. Battlefield Earth was just one book. Mission Earth was ten, you wool-headed lout!", she fumed, tugging at her braid while crossing her arms beneath her breasts.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    They create gardens, children's playgrounds, parking for cars, toolsheds or other structures.

    They better be submitting plans and paying permit fees.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Property taxes are gay because:

    it is discouraging vacant land from being utilized in Detroit.

    and

    it is resulting in homesteading property owners neglecting to formalize their ownership of land they have already claimed.

    Also, land value taxation is a retarded idea.

  • ||

    Property taxation is bullshit for so many reasons, but the biggest scam of all is assessment valuation. It's utterly subjective, loosely based on current market value (that cannot be specifically determined since...you aren't selling your house), and so must be based on the sales of similar houses that sold recently.

    It's smoke an mirrors and utterly against property rights.

  • ||

    We should just move to a civilized, old-fashioned tax farming system. It would be honest, at least.

  • Spoonman.||

    And counties have no fucking idea how much properties are worth.

    For some reason, in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, your assessment isn't reset to the sale value on sale the way it is in Texas. They didn't think my sale price was even relevant because I bought a foreclosure from a bank, so it wasn't "arms-length" by their definition.

  • ||

    Dude, you should see the shit the assessors pull in Jersey. They disqualify sales for WAY more reasons than anywhere else I've seen.

  • R C Dean||

    True story:

    In Texas, assessors are not allowed to go inside a residence (unless you give permission).

    A neighbor renovated an old barn into a house. From the outside, it still pretty much looks like a barn, although you can tell its habitable now. Inside? Niiiice.

    So when the assessor came, he drew all the curtains, locked the doors, and wound up with an assessment of around half what its probably worth.

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    Underground compound with the entrance hidden under a camper shell on cinder blocks.

  • ||

    Yeah, but Texas is a non-disclosure state, so without access to an MLS, it's very hard to appeal your property taxes (unless you shell out for a lawyer or CPA who has MLS access), because you cannot get recent sale information.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Dad: "Close the damn door! You weren't raised in a barn!"

    Kids: "Umm, Dad...."

  • Enough About Palin||

    Assessment is bullshit. My property value drop 50%, but my taxes remained the same.

  • ||

    Did your neighbors property value go up 25%? I think not. Assessments are not related to individual tax rates.

  • Brett L||

    I will say that my local tax-assessor has been great. Because (A) he never set my valuation to the inflated price I paid for it and (B) for the last 4 years, the assessment has declined such that the assessed value is probably still less than I could get for it. So having a good tax assessor is valuable.

  • ||

    Assessors vary wildly. Some are complete scum, whereas others actually think of themselves on the side of the property owner. Sounds like you got the latter, congratulations.

  • Brett L||

    Yeah, I know its just luck.

  • Spoonman.||

    Yeah, my county's actual assessor is a good guy. He looked at my house, saw I wasn't shitting them about it being a serious fixer-upper, and left. Two months later I got a letter with a 40% reduction.

  • fried wylie||

    I wish simcity had this feature.

    Then again, if the zones self-selected their density I'm not sure what part I would actually play in the game...

  • ||

    Crushing your Sims' hopes and dreams with natural disasters, of course. What did you think the point of the game was, anyway? To make them happy? Idiot.

  • fried wylie||

    1. guilty as charged.

    2. why the fuck would I intentionally break the things I spent so much time building. full disclosure: I also got upset as a child when my lil brother dismantled my Lego creations. an experience recreated recently when a buddy introduced me to minecraft, playing on his thoroghly modded and not-backed-up server.

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    In SimCity: Libertarian Edition, you basically just speak at Rotary Club meetings and run for re-election.

  • mb||

    People should always test the soil especially for lead. City land is not virgin land, it usually has a long history. In Boston the mayor has an initiative to use local (city grown) food in the schools, I would bet the plots have not been tested for lead. Which means the city is feeding school children lead tainted food (any former house lot has a very high probability of lead contamination - especially in an old city like Boston)

  • John||

    They don't call them brownfields for nothing. Fucking hipster doofuses.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10.....l?emc=eta1

  • John||

    The stupid it burns

    Declan Walsh, 44, a Dublin native and father of three who has kept chickens for nine years behind his home in Red Hook, Brooklyn, said he has always been aware that the eggs could contain small amounts of lead and was unconcerned.

    “The benefits of raising your children with an awareness of where your food comes from and having an honest relationship with your livestock way, way outweighs the possibility that they might encounter a heavy metal,” Mr. Walsh said.

    “If your alternatives are trusting the industrial food system versus what’s in your backyard,” he said, the decision was easy. Eating eggs from chickens you raise “exposes you to a much healthier mind-set and physical well-being.”

    What is a little lead? Didn't hurt the Romans or the hat makers.

  • ||

    Growing up with a holistic, earth-centered worldview far outweighs the brain damage, John. You teabagging racist monster.

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    Indeed, they're synergistic.

  • Brett L||

    Eh. Unless the kids are eating a dozen of them, shells and all, I'm with the dad. All but one egg tested were less than 100ppb lead, which is about the recommended max daily consumption threshold, which is well below the harm threshold. OMG KEMIKILZ! reporting strikes again.

  • ||

    Who the fuck eats one egg? I eat at least half a dozen a day. Are you trying to tell me something about yourself, stick-boy?

  • ||

    Sucking eggs doesn't count, Warty.

  • ||

    Of course it does, idiot. It's the most efficient way to build mass. Just ask dunphy about it.

  • ||

    Be pompous, obese, and eat cactus
    Be dull and boring and omnipresent
    Criticize things you don't know about
    Be oblong and have your knees removed

    (Ladies only) Never make love to Bigfoot
    (Men only) Hello, my name is Bigfoot
    (Everyone) Put a live chicken in your underwear
    Go into a closet and suck eggs

  • Azathoth!!||

    Be courteous, kind and forgiving,
    Be gentle and peaceful each day,
    Be warm and human and grateful,
    And have a good thing to say

    Be thoughtful and trustful and childlike,
    Be witty and happy and wise,
    Be honest and love all your neighbors
    Be obsequious, purple and clairvoyant

  • John||

    No Warty. Dunphy will tell you the best way to build mass is by forcibly shoving your finger up suspects' asses. Nothing builds mass like that. But you have to remember to use both hands equally.

  • ||

    i am OVERWHWLMINGLY a fist for good

  • John||

    So you are okay with getting your max daily consumption of lead from a single egg? You really think someone living in a city will not be exposed to any other lead?

  • Brett L||

    I think that 100 ppb of a 2 oz egg is a tiny amount of lead. You'd have to eat a lot of eggs to make even a single paint chip. I would describe this as unlikely to be the (or even a) major contributor to any developmental issues.

    Also note that 28 of 58 eggs had lead sources. Let's say 50%, and that all but one egg of those 28 had levels between 10ppb (probably the minimum threshold for detection) and 73ppb. Yeah, I'm not sweating it. Everyone else can make their own choices.

  • R C Dean||

    Sounds like I kill more brain cells with a single bottle of Scotch than I would lose in a lifetime of eating those eggs.

  • mb||

    Well, we started a garden in the side yard with best sunshine. Funny thing about that side of the house, the paint always chips there first. Had the soil tested (should have done it before digging everything up - but didn't think of it and it was kind of a spur of the moment thing), came back 1000 ppm lead, as well as some other stuff. The other thing about lead - it bio-accumulates - those eggs add up.

  • fried wylie||

    Whoops.

    I did some gardening in dundalk. Ate plenty of radishes, cucumbers, and hot peppers grown on what was probably a landfill around the turn of the last century.

    Transitioned mostly to container gardening last season. Miracle Grow wouldn't stay in business long if they were selling bags of lead-tainted soil.

  • Enough About Palin||

    I live in the inner-city in a house nearly 100-years-old. I had the land tested for lead. The levels were incredibly low because the house is stucco and until I moved in in '85, no one living there had ever owned a car. Very fortunate.

  • ||

    Here's hoping the gardeners and blotters of Baltimore and Detroit don't have to fight any land grabs down the road.

    The land would have to become valuable...

    That is never going to happen.

  • BarryD||

  • Hyperion||

    in the Chesapeake Bay Journal. In that case, she notes, the gardeners' improvements have been protected by the urban equivalent of a homesteading act: "a 'dollar-lot' policy, allowing community groups that have been using a plot of city-owned land to claim it for $1

    Yeah, right. In the parts of Baltimore where you could buy a lot for $1, if you want to garden it you better be wearing full body armor and be armed to the teeth. You will also need an electrified razor wire fence around it to protect anything valuable in it or keep it from being buried in garbage.

    In the parts of Baltimore where you could safely garden on an empty lot, the taxes on the lot will be more than a mortgage.

  • OldMexican||

    Detroit isn't the only city undergoing a grassroots gardening boom. Rona Kobell [...] wrote about Baltimore's community gardens in the Chesapeake Bay Journal.


    Interestingly enough, no-zoning laws Houston is just growing with new people, houses, businesses and commercial property by the year. I wonder why only the socialist-run cities are experiencing such decay... Hmmm.

  • Brett L||

    Lack of gay mayors?

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Brett L,

    Lack of gay mayors?


    Even despite the best efforts from battering-ram gay mayors, Houston is growing. Detroit and Baltimore are contracting.

  • Jesse Walker||

  • Spoonman.||

    The Bloody Fifth: Houston's Baltimore.

  • wakeup||

    Hey, lay off Detroit. Them people is going through Mad Max times.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    The New York Times review of the first volume, The Invaders' Plan, describes it thus: "... a paralyzingly slow-moving adventure enlivened by interludes of kinky sex, sendups of effeminate homosexuals and a disregard of conventional grammar so global as to suggest a satire on the possibility of communication through language."[2]

    Truly awe-inspiring.

  • R C Dean||

    But other than that, how was the book?

  • ||

    They should read up on adverse possession. If they can hang onto that land long enough they can sue for title.

    Naturally the city doesn't want that and as soon as the neighborhood starts to blosson they will try to sell the land to developers. So they need to be careful to avoid any signs of gentrification until the time limit expires.

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