Editorial: New 'Paulista Houses'

02/05/2013 | 03h30

 

The Special Social Interest Zones (ZEIS) which were created by the City Statute in 2001, were conceived as urban space delineated by the government to legalize irregular land occupation, reserve land for the construction of housing for low-income families, and preserve water resources areas.

 

In São Paulo, the City Planning Law established the ZEIS zoning plan in 2002. It covers the shanty towns in the outskirts to the underutilized spaces downtown.

 

Now that the new municipal legislature has begun a debate on the new City Planning Law, “São Paulo” magazine published by Folha newspaper, has brought to light what has been achieved in these special zones. The result is disappointing.

 

In the ZEIS 1 Zone which covers precarious housing estates, little has been done in terms of urbanization and land regulation. In the ZEIS 2 Zone which covers empty and underutilized areas far from the central area, only 46% have been developed. Similarly, 51% of the area in the ZEIS 3 Zone, closer to the city center, was developed.

 

It is not only the low rate of housing regularization or construction that draws attention. The survey also reveals a deviation of plans - the usurpation of land declared for social interest for real estate projects aimed at high-income market.

 

Failure like this is not surprising in a city where irregular authorization of buildings has been a profitable business for many years. It is important now to understand why the idea of ZEIS in the City Hall was distorted in these cases, undermining an instrument to counter the tendency of confining social housing to the outskirts of the metropolis.

 

São Paulo would also win if public policies discourage the segregating logic of gated communities and social housing designed as pockets of poverty. It would be best to exchange such ghettos of rich and poor for more ambitious projects, which would promote shared living conditions and interaction between income brackets in the same neighborhood.

 

A commendable proposal in this direction came with the Casa Paulista Project in April, it is a public-private partnership involving the Municipal and the State government. 20,000 units of housing units will be built in the central area, for different income groups.

 

Innovation - this is the way that São Paulo always followed. There is no reason to stop it now.

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