Marcela Ruiz-Tagle

Marcela Ruiz-Tagle

Cities arise from the need to link and associate to satisfy different needs, among which exchange (in ancient times, barter) is crucial. Hence, trade is in its nature, and the more intense this exchange is, the more relevant it becomes for the settlement of the population.

Urban planners argue that a good city must be dense, compact, diverse and complex, attributes that in economic terms are expressed in the benefits of agglomeration. Fruits that, although they are decisive for its development, are not the only thing that should be evaluated. The city is also the space of coexistence, of life in common, so its dynamics affects our quality of life. From this perspective, there is little or nothing to celebrate.

The appropriation of public space by street vendors, homeless people and criminals, has become a conflict in which we all lose and in which a prompt solution is not envisaged. This is at least evident in Greater Santiago, in the Meiggs and July 10 sectors, the so-called University neighborhood, the Persian Biobío and the Reyes and Forestal parks, the Alameda axis and the Metro stations and trains.

Realities that go beyond the actions of mayors and that different surveys identify as the main problem that affects citizens: crime and citizen insecurity, and that the population perceives will continue to be unsolved during the next decade. The deterioration of the quality of life in Greater Santiago has reached the point that four out of every 10 inhabitants would move to another city if they could, and for the most part they would prefer that the decisions on these issues be plebiscited or consulted with the citizens, and not taken directly by the elected authorities.

This is not minor. Six months ago we had democratically elected Regional Governors, who should generate a relevant change in the decentralization of the country and in the sustainable development of cities. This week they met with the President-elect to raise their needs and priorities in the short term, such as the elimination of the figure of the presidential delegate, budget flexibility, sectorial investment binding on the territory, and that the transfer of new powers is at the request of each governor or group of these.

The points raised are consistent with the weaknesses that had been anticipated in the decentralization process initiated, and are particularly relevant in metropolitan areas.

What should your minimum attributes be? In the governance of cities with high standards of development and quality of life -such as Berlin, New York, Paris or London-, their mayor mayors are responsible for managing, at least, the areas of security and emergency control, metropolitan transport , urban development (including provision of housing), waste and environmental management, and city planning strategy. It is not necessary to invent the wheel to give priority to the urgencies of the citizenry.

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