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«Nova Luz, Uma Ova Luz» | The Day in Sambodian Urban Planning

O Estado de S. Paulo — Estadão — keeps a better eye on local news than its competition, I always find. Today, for example, posted in real time:

More than 5,000 shop owners and residents of the Santa Ifigênia neighborhood in downtown S. Paulo are holding a protest today against the Nova Luz project being implemented by the city government. The urban planning measure seeks to renew the area through private initiative.

The group convened on the corner of Vitória and Santa Ifigênia Streets and is expected to head toward City Hall, on the Viaduto do Chá. The protest was organized by the Neighborhood Merchants Association of Santa Ifigênia, led by Paulo Garcia. Garcia says that residents and business owners are united in their opposition to the project.

“The neighborhood despises this initiative, and any plan that would expropriate residences and businesses cannot be approved. We have protested this before and we will keep on protesting,” said Garcia.

The association has a plan of its own, downloadable from its Web site and uploaded here for follow-up reading:

Among other things, it calls for the protection of small businesses in the area, which is known for its bazaar-like qualities as well as for its black and gray markeeting and retail drug trade.

It demands

… that small merchants, many of them in the neighborhood for decades and more vulnerable to the proposed actions, be included in the urban planning project according the intangible assets they represented, including accumulated knowledge, trades and savior faire.

Very few press outlets covered the story apart from OESP.

Garcia announced that all the area’s shops would close beginning at 2:00 p.m. today. The Association estimates that 5,000 businesses will stop work for up to six hours, reopening on Saturday.

The protest specifically targets the Urban Concessions Law, No. 14917/09, which allows private initiative to expropriate properties through an auction process. The protested auctions are expected to involve Ipiranga, São João, Duque de Caxias, and  Cásper Líbero Avenues, as well as Rua Mauá — 45 square blocks in all.

The Estado contacted City Hall and has yet to hear back.

It is about time for us to catch up to the anti-verticalization initiative forming ranks here in the Vila Beatriz-Sumarezinho. City Hall is starting to look to us a lot like a present-day tropical Tammany Hall for real estate speculators.

The fact that 30 of the city’s 31 subprectures are solidly in the hands of ex-police colonels — decades of experience in the rubber-bullet battalions that precede the wrecking balls — does not bode well, either.

We looked at interesting apartment a year or so ago in one of the areas targeted for urban renewal — near the Praça da República, I think. The view from the window of the attractive bachelor pad resembled the dark side of the moon — yet another stalled urban renewal project, in this case, a new subway station. But subway construction has been at a standstill in recent years, after the 2007 accident at the Yellow Line Pinheiros Station — we dubbed it «The Great Sambodian Smoking Hole».

The seller was bullish on the prospects of being able to come and go after dark sometime in the coming decade.