Cadep discusses Urban Planning

Alejandro Baldizon (first, from left to right), from Cadep, during the discussions

With the participation of lawyers, economists, politologists, journalists and civil employees from Guatemala´s Municipal government, the Public Decisions Analysis Center of the University Francisco Marroquín, celebrated the colloquy The market forces and urban planning.

During the colloquy, lead by Alejandro Baldizon, from Cadep, the representatives of the commune exposed projects like the intersection of the Simeón Cañas Avenue and the Martí Street, as well as the central axis that crosses the city from north to south throughout the Sixth and Seventh avenues of zones 1, 4, 9 and 10. The expositors were Juan Roberto Brenes, Alvaro Véliz and Josué Morales.

«The decisions that the municipal government takes around infrastructure have social and economic effects.  We have seen how the construction of a freeway can kill a neighborhood, transform property into suburbs, cause the development of commerce and more, indicated Cadep´s invitation, in addition. Is it possible to anticipate the socioeconomic impact that an infrastructure project will have?  Is it desirable that the municipal governmet takes into account the anticipated private decisions before selecting one or another course of action?»

» New urbanismis a tendency that arose in the middle of the past century as a reaction to the uncontrolled expansion of cities.  It was thought that this population deconcentration was injurious because land with agrarian vocation or environmental reserves was occupied and additional transport expenses would generate more contamination.  Abandonment and decay of the cities was being regreted. They tried to revert this tendency by means of central planning, promoting mixed uses of urban land and investing in public transport systems.  The empirical evidence indicates that these public policies are inefficient since they go against the spontaneous decisions of the citizens.  Even in modelcities for the new urbanism like Paris and London, there is an inexorable tendency to expansion and the population density reduction», added as the justification of the colloquy.

«In addition, the governmental decisions usually respond more to political factors than to the true well-being of the citizens.  The book The Death and Life of Great American Citiesby Jane Jacobs (1961) made a devastating critic to the urban planning, that continues being actual.  Jacobs and others have documented abuses of the governmental power, like when a complete neighborhood is destroyed under pretext or based on the public interest, or under protection of the doctrine of eminent domain. Is it possible to overthrow the new urbanismwith public policy strategies that are more respectful of the actions free and responsible citizens »

It was also discussed if the collective interests must prevail over the individual rights, if a harmonious city is possible where the property rights are not respected, the use of taxes to force and alter the use that the proprietors give to their buildings, the externalities that municipal works cause and if the Municipal government would have to compensate the proprietors when their works harm the value of their properties.

The participants were from UFM: Christian Alvarez, Ana Beatriz Asencio, Javier Calderón, Ingrid de Godo, Luis Figueroa, Gunther Meléndez, Warren Orbaugh, Angel Creek and Sara Siegel;  Cadep´s Alexander Baldizon, Lisardo Bolaños, Juan Francisco Mollinedo and Lucia Olivero;  from the Ibn Khaldun Center, David Martínez-Amador;  from the University Rafael Landívar, Jorge Luis Córdova;  and from the Municipal Government, Juan Roberto Brenes, Paola Constantino, Jorge Luis Contreras, Michelle Hazbun, Josué Morales, Edgar Román and Alvaro Véliz.

Cadep´s objective is to spread the ideas of the sub-discipline  Public Decisions Analysis (Public Choice)  between the Guatemalan professionals, so that these ideas allow to contribute and to support political solutions to create a society of free and responsible persons.

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