ARG-015

The following appeared in a recommendation from the planning department of the city of Transopolis.

"Ten years ago, as part of a comprehensive urban renewal program, the city of Transopolis adapted for industrial use a large area of severely substandard housing near the freeway. Subsequently, several factories were constructed there, crime rates in the area declined, and property tax revenues for the entire city increased. To further revitalize the city, we should now take similar action in a declining residential area on the opposite side of the city. Since some houses and apartments in existing nearby neighborhoods are currently unoccupied, alternate housing for those displaced by this action will be readily available."


Write a response in which you discuss what specific evidence is needed to evaluate the argument and explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument.


The planning department of the city of Transopolis proposes to adapt a declining residential area of the city for industrial use in order to revitalize the economy, and they cite a previous case to support this proposal. As the recommendation mentioned, the city of Transopilis built several factories in an area of severely substandard housing near the freeway ten years ago. Subsequently, the crime rates in this area declined and the city’s property tax revenues increased as a whole. Since the neighborhoods near this about-to-transform place existing some unoccupied houses, the planning department also believes that the migration caused by this proposal should go smoothly. However, there are several unaddressed issues in the planning department’s recommendation, so we need more evidence to evaluate the feasibility of this recommendation.


Firstly, the author attributes the decline of crime rates and the increased whole tax revenues to the construction of factories. However, we should find out if there any other factors that can bring about these two results. For example, if we have evidence showing that the government who had hired more police officers made great contribution to improving the public security of this area, the claimed effectiveness of the urban renewal program must be questioned. In addition, if data indicates that these factories had not contributed to the increase in the tax revenues, then the author's points will be weakened. But if evidence does show these factories had done something like offering jobs for potential criminals or making great profits and paying lots of tax at that time, then the author's argument would be more tenable.


Granted that it is the urban renewal program ten years ago that resulted in the economy improvement, we still need to deal with another point the author raised. When talking about the adaptation process on the opposite side of the city, the authors claims that people to be displaced will and can find proper place to live in nearby neighborhoods. However, we need evidence to prove that, firstly, the original residents are willing to move. If they are mostly elderlies who feel more convenient to stay in the old neighborhoods, then this action may be faced with opposition. A properly conducted survey with local residents will help elucidate the feasibility. Secondly, even if people need to be re-accommodated support this action, we still need to know if the nearby neighborhoods can absorb them in. For example, if the houses which currently unoccupied are expected to be used in commercial ways like opening new shops, then they may not have the will and ability to welcome new residents. Apparently, information on the development plan of this particular area will be valuable. Even both of these two aspects are not problems, we also need to consider will people who need to cooperate with this project asking for abundant of compensations, which will directly result in financial loss.


Finally, even if the residents of houses that displaced by this action can be properly accommodated in an economical way, we still lacking evidence to prove that adapting this area for industrial use will revitalize the city. For instance, it might be the case that industrial development was in its prime time 10 years ago when former action was taken. However, the city may since then no longer rely on industry, or rather, the tax revenues are mostly come from other field like tourism. Therefore, in this scenario, these factories will not make much profit, let alone revitalizing the city. Moreover, even if industrial development still plays an important part in this city, to be more cautious, we need to consider whether the operation of these factories will cause some negative effects. For example, environmental quality could be a big concern to city residents. If evidence shows some factories pollute the air or water, this could lead to an exodus of city residents, thereby adversely impacting the progress of revitalization. On the contrary, if it could be demonstrated that the new factories will be compliant with local regulations, the proposal will carry more weight.


To summarize, while the proposed urban renewal program can under some circumstances revitalize the city’s economy, it is not a conclusion that can be confidently arrived from currently available information. We still need more evidence to evaluate it in an objective way.


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