Urban Planning Project Puts One of the World's Most Populated Cities to the Test


Panoramic view of Mexico City, home to more than 21 million people and the site of an ambitious and controversial urban planning project. Photo: Claudia Romero.

The urban planning project Chapultepec Social and Economic Development Zone, which was announced last week by the Government of Mexico City, has sparked controversy. Some defend it as a model of security, diversity and social integration. Others say it will split communities, privatise public space, cause insecurity and further encourage the use of cars in one of the world's most populated cities.

The #CCChapultepec [Cultural Corridor Chapultepec] combines all the negatives of Mexican urban planning: lack of foresight, foolishness, carbon copies and “technical surveys”

I am looking at what will be @ManceraMiguelMX [Miguel Ángel Mancera's] Chapultepec Cultural Corridor and wow!!! Debt free and without privatisation the #CDMX [City of Mexico Government] will make 3 billion pesos.

The #CCChapultepec [Cultural Corridor Chapultepec] project has generated mixed opinions, what's yours? http://t.co/44T6oFyIXepic.twitter.com/UqqjV3hBlp

The urban area of Mexico City is home to more than 21 million people. Considering its high levels of pollution, its water supply situation and economic inequality, no new design on the city is a trivial matter.

Since August 17, statements, online petitions and messages have been circulating as part of a residents’ movement. They invite people to get to know the project and question the vision, the outcomes and the transparency of the Cultural Corridor Chapultepec project.

Add a bit of culture, some bikes and trees, and no one will notice the second level for cars and the public square we want to build in #CCChapultepec [Cultural Corridor Chapultepec] #Simonsays

Currently it is a dilapidated public space with enormous redevelopment potential. But there is a risk the voices and opinions of those whose living conditions will be impacted by the works will not be considered.

This is especially necessary as the project is located in an area of high seismic activity and significant historical worth. In fact, the biggest complaint has been the lack of resident consultation, in accordance with the right to participate.

The right to participate is explicitly mentioned in the Mexico City Charter for the Right to the City, and it can not be substituted by public opinion polls, instead it requires arrangements for meaningful participation.

Resident participation on projects like the #CCChapultepec [Cultural Corridor Chapultepec] must occur from the design stage and not once everything has already been decided. This is a sham.

In response, the Investment and Development Agency of the City of Mexico has taken a few steps in a belated attempt to be more inclusive, such as promoting information about surveys and contracts, the installation of information booths.

A public consultation on the project has also been scheduled at various public spaces in the adjacent communities from 29 August to 6 September.

Under instructions from #JefeDeGob [Head of the Government of the Federal District], @ManceraMiguelMX [Miguel Ángel Mancera], today, reports detailing the processes of selection and calling of public tendering were released.

Published based on article 1 and 4 F XII of the Law of Transparency in the Federal District Official Gazette @CCChapultepec [Cultural Corridor Chapultepec] http://t.co/c0wn1MiVYLpic.twitter.com/tHAaWWYalH

#ProCDMX [Mexico City Investment and Development Promotion Agency] is preparing a resident consultation for the #CCChapultepec [Cultural Corridor Chapultepec] – today at 7 pm informative assembly in #ZonaRosahttp://t.co/kWJxoykIhk

Although the restoration of the area will potentially bring benefits — the area houses some of the most important tourist sites in Mexico, like the Museum of Anthropology — it is important to ensure that the project benefits all social classes, and has a comprehensive approach to sustainable development to avoid the risks inherent in gentrification.

Skepticism and distrust among residents has its roots in a series of policies regarding the privatisation and systematic repossession of public property and natural areas.

These policies have characterised the federal government, and have in turn increased levels of vulnerability, poverty and inequality in the country over the last few years.

@ProCDMX [Mexico City Investment and Development Promotion Agency] says on one hand that there'll be “resident consultation” for #CCChapultepec [Cultural Corridor Chapultepec], and on the other hand works will start in Sept. http://t.co/pQXvMc1dO7

Chapultepec needs its road and old buildings restored, not a second level #NoShopultepec #CCChapultepec [Cultural Corridor Chapultepec] @epnpic.twitter.com/8Uw8BvP9At

Residents’ needs are diverse, and out of this comes the need for informed discussion. The option with the greatest public benefit will be the one which respects human rights, aware that inclusive does not mean just drawing up everything for everyone on paper.

‘Sustainable’ is not reduced to merely some green on the plans or to the planting of a few trees, nor is culture reduced to consumer culture or entertainment.

Can anyone tell me what public space they are defending? I can't even cross the avenue with all the street vendors and cars #CCChapultepec [Cultural Corridor Chapultepec]

My urban planning students one week into the course understand the #CCChapultepec [Cultural Corridor Chapultepec] problem, what did the developers study? #NoShopultepec

#CCChapultepec [Cultural Corridor Chapultepec] will provide work for many people and a better image for the #CDMX [Mexico City Investment and Development Promotion Agency] @SimonLevyMx@ManceraMiguelMX

@NoCorredor [No Cultural Corridor Chapultepec] I can't see anywhere what they have done with the hawkers along Chapultepec avenue and especially at the train station.

With the call to “enrich the project”, not just to support it, comes the risk of non-genuine participation, however it is also an opportunity to transform the concern, worry and anger into concrete and well directed questions that will perhaps make a difference.

#OJO A consultative participation approach is not the same as a deliberative one… ‘#NoShopultepec, the #democraciadirigida [guided democracy] of @manceramiguelmx [Miguel Ángel Mancera]

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