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Decentering São Paulo: The Prefeitura’s Master Plan


São Paulo’s new mayor has a plan for the Augean Stables of one of the world’s most automobilistic sprawls.

Source: Brasilianas.Org.

By: Wanderley Preite Sobrinho
Translation: C. Brayton

SÃO PAULO — With its Arch of the Future and “urban corridor” plans, the city government intends to revise the Strategic Master Plan by increasing the supply of jobs on the periphery of the city without having to restrict the circulation of automobiles.

The administration of São Paulo mayor Haddad is betting all of its chips on revising the city’s Strategic Master Plan in order to reduce traffic congestion without the need to restrict traffic in the central districts, as it has since 1997 with the rodizio, the  once-a-week rotating restriction of automobiles based on license-plate numbers.

In this way, the city will also have no need to challenge the federal government’s industrial incentives program, responsible for an increase in the purchase of personal automobiles — the principal villain of traffic congestion in the city.

The city government’s strategy is to use the Master Plan to realize one of the principal promises of mayoral candidate Fernando Haddad (PT): the Arc of the Future, whose aim is to reduce the circulation of vehicles in the expanded urban center by urbanizing and attracting jobs to the periphery, where most of the city’s population lives.

[photo caption ]Arch of the Future will transfigure the Avenida Cupecê. Residents and small business owners comment.

According to data from Fenabrave, the national federation of automobile distributors, more than 3.8 million new cars were sold in Brazil last year, up 4.6% from 2011. The study attributes this growth to the increase in consumer credit and the reduction of the IPI, the tax on industrial products.

“There really is a contradiction between the federal policy, which encourages car sales, and the need to reduce the flow of cars in favor of public transport in the cities,” admits the municipal secretary for urban development, Kazuo Nakano, during a discussion of the Master Plan and urban mobility held last week (May 7)

“Federal policy on car sales is one thing and city policies are another. They need to be reconciled”, says Lucila Lacret, of the Movimento Defenda São Paulo. “There is no point ini restricting the flow of automobiles without offering more public transportation. The passenger suffers a double penalty.”

Rather than adopting unpopular measures such as the rotating ban or an urban toll, City Hall is betting on the Arch of the Future, designed to attract companies to the banks of the Pinheiros and Tiete River beltways and the extensions of their principal connecting routes: Jacu-Pêssego Avenues, in the Eastern Zone, and Cupecê, in the Southern Zone. These peripheral routes form an arch surrounding the city.

According to urban planner and city councilmember Nabil Bonduki (PT), “The arch was first sketched out in the Master Plan of 2002 and will be defined more explicitly in this year’s plan.” “The current plan already defines zones of centralization and restructuring.  The idea is to restructure the city based on the concept of the Arch, which will connect the city’s subcenters.”

Bonduki explains that Jacú-Pessego and  Cupecê need to be “requalified” by means of interventions defined by the Master Plan and expressed in a specific ordinance that affords financial incentives to companies who set up shop in these areas.  The promise is to reduce ISS, the tax on services, to 2% and reduce IPTU, the tax on urban properties and buildings, to zero.

“It is not just about transportation. It has to do with integrating transportation with the city’s other needs. “65% of jobs in the services industry are migrating from the historic downtown to offices in the Southern Zone, generating congestion in those areas,” he says.

According to the urban development secretary, 2.5 million people leave the periphery every day for these areas, “overwhelming the public transport system.”

Urban Corridors

Without citing former mayor Gilberto Kassab (PSD) by name, he blames the Kassab government for the increase of traffic in the city in recent years. He explains that the “single ticket” Bilhete Único program increased the number of passengers, but the construction of new bus corridors went nowhere.

“71 km were built between 2003 and 2004 [the final year of the Marta Suplicy administration]. None were constructed between 2010 and 2012.” Haddad promises to build 150 km by the end of his four-year term.

The secretary said, however, that areas slated for restructuring will receive “urban corridors” designed in accordance with the new development plans.  “These are corridors that will receive landscaping and functional upgrades, not just a scar where buses circulate.  They will receive adjoining leisure areas in order to add value to the city,” Lucila explains.

The urban planner believes that the Master Plan will have to be very explicit if the Arch of the Future is to make it off the drawing board.  “It is not enough to bring jobs to the area without infrastructure where the companies can create jobs,” she says

“The street plan of the entire Eastern Zone is substandard. The streets are narrow and do not afford general access to all destinations.  WIthout accessibility, companies and suppliers will not migrate to the periphery. The city administration must explain more effectively how they plan to implement this plan.”

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