Like many cities in Latin America, Buenos Aires has many barrios so different between them that on some occasions there appear to be small cities inside a city.
It is in this way that Comuna 13 (responding to the neighborhoods of Belgrano and Nuñez) is taking a step further from the mere improvement of governmental reach and institutional functioning. Comuna 13 is actually leading a process which promotes the inclusion of citizens and promotes active participation on day-to-day issues. This system promotes a new way for urban planning.
For example, last spring a process of public consultation commenced in order to solve a recent environmental problem that had been brought to attention. Every summer torrential rainfall hits Buenos Aires, in a scale unprecedented and influenced clearly by climate change during these past few years. The direct consequence of this exponential rain is urban flooding and material losses for people living in Belgrano’s commercial district, the area most affected.
Guided by the city's government experts, responses were varied; but the majority of them stated an imperative need for more green surfaces in order to absorb the increased amounts of rain. This led to the final proposal for a reduction in walking space on sidewalks, creating a long green extension on every block.
Though all of this is said to be paid for entirely by the government, some inhabitants may have to sacrifice private property space in order to improve the neighborhood’s overall condition.
As this project has yet to be implemented (full expansion expected by January 2014), only time will tell if it does the trick and avoid flooding completely. But for now, the Comuna 13 can praise itself for creating the first example of full citizen participation and full population-government collaboration in the City of Buenos Aires.
Would you sacrifice your property space for the benefit of the neighborhood?
Credits: Images provided by Luis Lozano-Paredes. Data linked to sources.