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Thread: What lack of urban planning creates... [LONG]

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    What lack of urban planning creates... [LONG]

    I'll try to be the least biased as possible on the following post/essay/whatever.

    First off, I'll focus evidently in my country (Chile) and the consecuences that the liberalization of land markets and lack of proper urban planning in Chile during the late '70s and '80s. This happened after the military government took over and adopted the neo-liberal model, and following the advice of "expert" economists (like A. Harberger), liberalized the boundairies of urban growth, which evidently caused an explosive growth of the cities, and specifically Santiago, Chile's Capital, that now has around 40% of the population in no more than 2% of the land. This fact plus the lack of investment in the subway system of Santiago and the lack of investment in regional and national commuter rail caused a growing urban chaos.

    The basin in which Santiago was founded, presents one of the most fertile lands in Chile, many of these lands that were formerly agricultural are now the prey for land speculators, and with this, the downfall of the rural lifestyle (typical and modern). Many of these areas where filled with affordable housing far away from the city downtown, and be it for lack of information, or downright stupidity, many of these affordable housing neighborhoods ended in regular flood areas, causing a frequent social harm. Since these areas were developed without much planning and little infrastructure investment to allow good rainfall drainage, like in the case of the City center in which the rainfall collector drains date back to the 1920's. So now the latest governments have been forced to invest heavily in infrastructure, one of the areas that where more left aside during the Pinochet regime.

    Since the subway system was practically left without any investment for growth, the majority of the public transport for Santiago came in the form of buses, that are highly contaminating and offer a very poor level of service. The growth of the city, created a need for a lot of buses and cars, besides the fact that the majority of the factories are located in Santiago, this caused the appearace of a smog layer that sometimes gets dangerously toxic due to lack of ventilation of the Basin of Santiago.

    So, how many of these things could have been prevented with the existance of proper urban planning? The misery of many poor families that have to suffer winter after winter each year the flooding of their houses due to lack of investment in rainfall drainage infrastructure and the lack of scrupules of the building contractors that build in regular flood areas and the floodplains of many creeks and rivers; the destruction of fertile agricultural lands and the decay of the rural lifestyle; the air pollution, while not necesarily caused by the lack of urban planning, it got worse, just like one of the biggest problems in Chile; Centralism.


    Comments are welcome, and of course further discusion of other cases.

  2. #2
    That is so depressing. OT but a while back NPR did a series on five Latin American cities, short but interesting stuff to look at.http://search1.npr.org/search97cgi/s...hts&QueryText=

    Also, right on topic is an interseting class that deals with Santiago's transportation issues, I suggest going to the readings secction, many of the World Bank's reports are available on lineSantiago info is at the bottom of page..http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Urban-Stud...ings/index.htm

  3. #3
    It's as hopeless as it seems.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    More on Transportation...

    Speaking of Santiago's transportation issues... Right now there is a whole new subway line under construction, and 2 extensions of a subway line, the extensions are due for late this year and the new line is due for mid 2005. Besides the subway, there are urban expressways under construction which comprises Most of the Circumvalating ring, the central highway (the Pan-American Highway strech that passes through Santiago) and a new riverside expressway that will conect the high income municipalities with the downtown and will provide better accesibility to the Airport. As anyone can guess, right now Santiago is quite chaotic with all of these transportation improvements. Now, the problem is that all of these expressways are going to be paid through electronic tollways, so of course you have the high income people arguing that it's going to be very expensive to live and what not. Well, I guess that's what they get for living in suburbs...
    At least I'm glad that the new subway line and extensions are going to be paid by the users (like me) and not by all the Chileans, like what happened when the last line was built in the mid '90s, and the expressways and highways are all concessioned to private companies.

    There is a transportation plan that's under development (Transantiago) and should be up and running by the year 2006, and will coordinate the subway system with the surface bus system and improving the bus system with new, better and sometimes longer buses. So we'll have to see how that turns out.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by The Irish One
    It's as hopeless as it seems.
    I don't think anything is "hopeless" (generally speaking). In fact, since there has been no real planning efforts in Santiago, Chile, I think there is a lot of room for improvement and it wouldn't take too much smarts to make things better. If you are that bad off, "there's no where to go but up". I think there would even be a lot of potential for a grass roots movement to make a real impact.

    I really do not know anything about Santiago, but it sounds to me like there is a huge disconnect between the "haves" and "have nots" and that any "planning" is done solely for the benefit of the "haves" and the "have nots" get to just go to hell. This isn't really all that different from the paradigm in America, where we subsidize sprawl for the upper middle class and help them afford larger McMansions (what with tax breaks on mortgage interest and similar policies) while doing nothing of note to help lower income folks get a toehold into the housing market. Off the top of my head, I wouldn't know where to begin to improve the situation. But sometimes a small difference that is targetted and leveraged can have a huge impact. (In fact, I recently read "The Tipping Point", a book about exactly that.) If SkeL wants to change things, he could consider doing what I have been doing and using the same town or project as the basis for a lot of his class projects so as to develop in-depth knowledge and start coming up with some answers or ideas of where one might start.

    I would really like to see more discussion in this thread and perhaps SkeL needs to not be so shy and not try to give us "the short version". Since this forum is dominated by Americans and we are notoriously ignorant of what really goes on in much of the world, I would welcome a more in-depth commentary, links, etc. I always had fantasies that I would learn fluent Spanish and spend some time in South America as a planner/consultant. That is looking highly unlikely. So I think it would be cool to vicariously do a little of that here.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SkeLeton
    ....areas where filled with affordable housing far away from the city downtown
    Affordable housing and sprawl seem to be synonyms where ever you go. It seems that the traditional “urban” lifestyle is mostly just for the rich and the poor. The middle get sprawl.

    Is the sprawl of Santiago’s affordable housing mostly multi-family or single-family?

  7. #7

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    For an interesting perspective, look at Shannon's Buenos Aires thread over at urbanphoto.net. Excellent comparative discussion of Santiago vs. Buenos Aires. He found Santiago pretty disappointing.

    Not a good discussion for Chilean patriots, though

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by H
    Affordable housing and sprawl seem to be synonyms where ever you go. It seems that the traditional “urban” lifestyle is mostly just for the rich and the poor. The middle get sprawl.

    Is the sprawl of Santiago’s affordable housing mostly multi-family or single-family?
    wow... hadn't seen this thread in a while...
    Now.. affordable housing here is mostly small 4 floor buildings, with small appartments for a family, also in a more suburban enviroment you'll se a 2 family house (half a house each), it's very rare to see single family affordable housing.
    When I was in Valdivia a few weeks ago I went for a city cruise to the "suburbs" and well, the government affordable housing there still is the 2 family barn-ish house . There's other development in Valdivia's suburbs that are not that affordable, but are single family; but then again they're more expensive.

    Around here, in Santiago, the lower class gets the west and center of the city, the middle class gets the center east part of the city and the high class lives in the piedmont of the Andes (extreme East) so you can say Santiago is very... very ... VERY segregated.

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