For Detroit’s dwindling middle-class, living in the Motor City isn’t easy. Take, for instance, the two-day driveway rule.
“You don’t leave your car in the driveway for more than two days,” says Patrick Lindsay, Wayne State University’s Vice President for Government and Community Affairs, a lifelong city resident. “They’ll steal something.”
“They” are Detroit’s gangs, which canvas neighborhoods noting their residents’ daily habits. “Something” are radios, wheels, tires, and other easily stolen items on cars like Lindsay’s Chrysler 300, which is popular with thieves. With a dwindling tax base and overwhelmed police force, Detroit ranks Number One on Forbes’ list of Most Violent American Cities with 2,137 violent crimes per 100,000 people.
As a result, Detroit sports the nation’s highest auto premiums at a staggering $6,000-a-year on a mid-size vehicle like a 2012 Chevy Malibu. The average premium in Michigan, by comparison, is $1,000-a-year – nationally, $800. Detroit faithful like Lindsay call it the “love tax” – the cost they are willing to pay to stay in their hometown. Lindsay says he will never leave Detroit – he was born here, runs a church in Southeast Detroit, and had been active in local charities like Focus: HOPE – but he understands why others do.
Inconveniences like the 2-day driveway rule are too much to bear when you are paying the region’s highest income and property taxes and getting lesser services in return.
Conventional wisdom is that Detroit is losing population because of racism and the decline of the auto industry. But Detroit’s 25 percent population decline in the last decade was the black middle-class following the white middle-class exodus of the 1980s. The cost of auto insurance alone – 6 times that of surrounding townships – drives families out along with the city’s high crime and low-quality schools.
And when they abandon Detroit for the ‘burbs, folks can leave their cars in their driveways for as many days as they like.