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Mayor cuts off dialogue with city councillors and citizens about the Master Plan

27 August /Popular Center of Human Rights

Almost a month after the request for a hearing on the revision of Recife's Master Plan (Plano Diretor do Recife - PDR), city councillors and the group Articulação Recife de Luta hadn't heard a word from the Executive office. The final draft of the Master Plan will go under discussion and approval in the Chamber at the end of the revision.

Nearly a month after city councillors Ana Lúcia, Ivan Moraes, Jairo Britto and Marília Arraes, along with the organizations that compose Articulação Recife de Luta sent a letter calling on mayor Geraldo Júlio to discuss the revision of Recife's Master Plan, he remained in silence, avoiding a public discussion on the issue.

The request letter, sent on the 4th of July directly to the mayor, was about a "Meeting on the creation of a Spatial Planning (Plano de Ordenamento Territorial - POT)". The goal is to present our remarks regarding the process and to suggest changes in the implementation schedule so as to make room for effective public participation in the revision, as well as to know where the mayor stands on the matter.

According to the paper, "the process of public participation that is being proposed by the Executive office is failing in allowing an actual dialogue between the members of the Spatial Planning work group (GT-POT). In addition, the proposed schedule does not give enough time for the participation process to take place the way it should in the revision of the plan, which hinders the legal compromise with a democratic administration of the city as a whole."

Mayor refrains from discussing the Master Plan - Despite its importance and the fact that it will set a turning point for the city's urban development for the next ten years, mayor Geraldo Júlio has practically withdrawn from giving his opinion on the current revision of the Master Plan.

This is also a way the mayor has found to turn away from the lawsuit that the Public Ministry's (MPPE) Housing and Urbanism office has filed against the city governance, as well as from the investigation on misconduct carried out by MPPE's Public Heritage office, both of which point out the lack of public participation in the PDR's revision.

During the GT-POT meeting on July 17th, Articulação Recife de Luta formally requested the mayor to respond whether it would be legally possible to extend the revision's deadline. The request, however, was solely ignored, and was not put forward by the work group. Besides, on the 12th of June, although being personally convoked by MPPE, the mayor did not attend a hearing on issues regarding public participation on the PDR's revision. Instead, he sent city officials who refused to listen to the appeals and proposals made by Articulação Recife de Luta towards a new deadline.

In public spaces and even in the media, the mayor hasn't spoken about the revision of Recife's Master Plan, neither has he attended decision spaces where the PDR is discussed. In other words, the mayor has remained invisible during the entire process. Such invisibility, however, is nothing but a way of not revealing which in fact is his intention as mayor. What plans does he have for the city? What interest group does he wishes to please: Recife's population or the construction firms?

City Hall did not present Technical Diagnosis - So far, despite popular demands, Recife's City Hall has not presented the city's technical diagnosis, which is vital for the discussion regarding the new PDR. The document - which has not come to public notice - is a compilation of research pieces, field observations, data collection, and analyses on current and forthcoming projects and action plans.

Organization advocates for adjournment of deadline -  Articulação Recife de Luta pleas for the deadline of the PDR's revision to pushed to August 2019, making public participation a top priority. The group proposed an alternative schedule on June 14th in the City Council, along with the legal and technical report on the Action Plan for the Revision of Recife's Master Plan. The proposal wasn't even considered or examined by the city governance

Among other suggestions, the alternative schedule proposes training the population so that citizens become aware of what a Master Plan is in the first place, before they are consulted about the changes. This training, as well as 5 specific workshops would be carried out in each of Recife's 18 micro-regions. Finally, the discussion would move to the city's 6 Political-administrative divisions, aiming at smaller spaces and at active listening. Moreover, the discussions would be based on a technical diagnosis that would be presented previously - which is not what the city governance is doing.

Final draft will be approved by the Chamber - After the City Conference, which should result in the final draft for the new PDR, the plan will go under discussion and voting in the House of Representatives, where it shall be approved and instituted. A hearing request is a way the city councillors found to get ahead of this moment so they become aware of the details of the revision and are able to give their opinion on how the discussion should be carried out on this next step.