Some have argued that sprawl is what got Detroit into this mess, others have said that Detroit should have just continued to expand. Sprawl arguments note that Detroit sprawl was not like sprawl in other cities. Detroit sprawled when there was no economic growth and it drew people away from the city as opposed to bringing new people in around the suburbs leaving an empty city center.
Should Detroit have worked harder to keep people inside the city? Sure, but there were a myriad number of factors working against that goal. Should Detroit have continued to expand its borders to encompass the suburbs and a broader tax base? Maybe, but Detroit already has a huge footprint as a city, anything more would most definitely have been unruly.