Nov 15, 2023 - News

How many scrapyards are actually in Detroit?

Junkyards in Detroit
Data: City of Detroit; Map: Deena Zaidi/Axios Visuals

We're another step closer to knowing how many scrapyards there are across the city — a figure that Mayor Mike Duggan used while pitching his sweeping land value tax proposal that's been held up by skeptical Democrats in Lansing.

Driving the news: There are 60 "junkyards" located within city limits, according to a report from the City Council's Legislative Policy Division released this month.

  • Legislative policy director David Whitaker wrote the memo in response to questions from Councilmember Mary Waters, who asked for a list of all parking lots and junkyards, plus any junkyards that are out of compliance.

Yes, but: There still are inconsistencies with the data — in a BSEED memo a spokesperson for the mayor shared with Axios, the city lists 920 repair shops, 372 used-car lots and 122 "scrapyards."

  • There are 110 in the regulated listings of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, according to local author and map maker Alex Hill.

What they're saying: "[Duggan] never said 452 scrapyards, but that's how some took it," John Roach, the mayor's spokesperson, told Axios in September.

  • In his presentation, Duggan referenced auto and scrap yards in the same category, but the establishments are not all the same, the mayor's office says.

The intrigue: The original number the mayor presented over the summer for "auto and scrap yards," 452, left many wondering how the yards are formally defined and tracked by the city.

The bottom line: It's unclear why the numbers used by the mayor differ so much from figures being presented by BSEED, the Legislative Policy Division and members of the public.

  • The information isn't available on the city's open data portal, and the data a spokesperson made available to us after a public records request included an estimate that up to 50% of the used-car lot businesses identified in the presentation are no longer operating.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Detroit.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Detroit stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Detroit.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more