Recently, we have heard constantly about projects and plans that want to regulate the growth of the city defined by their boundaries today, the current POT (land use plan) defines the northern border as a forest reserve, thus defining urban renewal processes in city center as the way to respond to future growth. However, we have´t heard about any plan that aims to build a metropolitan framework for the big city and the surrounding municipalities. City region, Greater Bogotá, etc… A couple of names for a necessity that does not wait.
The situation with Bogotá and towns like Chia, Sopo, La Calera, Cajicá, among others, can be summarized in just one sentence: they are the largest city and satellite settlements or commuter towns. All these occupations, though legal, could be more parlous than what currently happen in places like Ciudad Bolivar or Bosa.
The high cost of housing in Bogota and the proximity with the surrounding countryside are some of the reasons why people -typically higher class – are moving from the city to these places, supported by their own of private cars (of which it is possible to find up to 4 cars per house*).
This results in congestion even in small towns, more demand for roads, pollution and most importantly, the pressure in Bogotá continues to increase until the city organizes a plan that can bring balance to the current city center. Under the current scheme, as you know, always the same amount of people have to travel to the same places at the same times.
In recent news, for example; the controversy about a possible tunnel to La Calera illustrates this situation and also puts an alarm for any possible damage to the fragile ecosystem of the eastern hills and to the water supply infrastructure. Also, what an infrastructure of this kind would do, is to encourage more ‘gated type’ construction in the eastern hills that are quite deteriorated.
With this background, the urgency would be to establish an interagency committee to coordinate and harmonize the existing norms, both urban and economic (Integration Development Plans, POT’s, LOT, RAPE and Royalties Act) this means that if something is planned in Bogota and vice versa it would be taken into account by other mayors and by this way articulate the tone to what we want to happen in the savannah.
The question that remains is that, after a huge amount of specialized forums and studies, when will we see the implementation of any rule of this type? What does it take? The city can´t wait, and this is the moment to get into a discussion of this kind.
*In Colombia we are repeating in the latin way the same mistakes (urban sprawl) that the United States has already recognized as its major failures.