Apr 18, 2024 - News

Duggan touts beauty efforts in State of the City speech

Duggan speaks in a church in front of a crowd.

Mayor Mike Duggan gives his State of the City speech at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. Photo: Courtesy of the city of Detroit via Flickr

Mayor Mike Duggan's State of the City address Wednesday night felt less big business-centered than recent years, largely zeroing in on efforts to improve Detroiters' surroundings.

The big picture: The third-term mayor highlighted major changes since the city's bankruptcy — the renovation of the Book Tower, the new General Motors EV parts facility, lower carjacking rates and scholarships for free college.

  • He outlined recent history to show how he expects the recovering city will be portrayed to a national audience next week with the NFL Draft.
  • It'll be introducing "America to a very different Detroit than they expect," compared with the city's bankruptcy headlines a decade ago, he said.

State of play: The administration's ongoing "blight to beauty" campaign in neighborhoods outside downtown played a large role Wednesday.

  • Duggan highlighted throwing out 30,000 tires to build part of the Joe Louis Greenway, cleaning 3,000 alleys and building solar fields on neighborhoods' vacant property in exchange for offering neighbors home repair funding.
  • "We've got neighborhoods where people love their homes, but the horrible blight nearby just depresses them," he said.

Detroit is also "finally" eradicating its crowds of abandoned vehicles, including those in backyards and private lots, Duggan announced.

  • Twenty parking officers are ticketing inoperable cars on streets, giving owners 48 hours to move the cars.
  • For private properties, 12 code enforcement officers will give property owners two weeks to clear ticketed vehicles in their yards. Officers are focusing on places storing semis or multiple cars.

Between the lines: Duggan also touted progress on fixing the city's long-broken bus system. "We are getting this done," he said.

  • The city hired 140 more drivers and raised their pay $3 an hour, and has gone from 129 buses to 159 on the road this spring, with plans to be at 188 buses this fall.

The other side: In an emailed statement after the address, Scott Holiday, activist organization Detroit Action's political director, pointed to the mayor's reputation among critics for supporting corporate interests over necessary assistance for low-income Detroiters.

  • "Channeling billions of dollars in abatements and corporate incentives does not ensure prosperity for all residents," Holiday said.
  • "Moreover, while narratives about transforming blighted areas into vibrant spaces are enticing, it's crucial to ensure that this revitalization extends meaningful support to low-income Black and brown communities, or else we'll continue the rapid cycle of gentrification and displacement."

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