Enrique Peñalosa on Urban Expansion in Bogotá

Enrique Peñalosa advocates in this piece (enlgish-language translation here) for Colombian newspaper, El Tiempo, that Bogotá should avoid containment policies. He opens by arguing that containment policies end up making cities more unequal and making housing unaffordable, clearly an undesirable outcome.

It sounds good to say that Bogotá or any other city, should not expand and should just densify. Also that social housing should not be located at the edges of the city, but in the center. Actually, in the case of Bogotá, these are only emotional unsubstantiated messages.Stopping the growth of the city in different manners, as mayor (Gustavo) Petro is doing, leads to higher unemployment and makes housing scarce and unaffordable. The consequences then are suffered by low-income citizens who have to bear with overcrowding, must go to illegally urbanized sites with disastrous conditions and must go, every time, further away to find housing, most times outside of Bogotá.

After outlining Bogotá's growth trajectory, demographics, and current inefficient land use policies, he highlights the work of the Urbanization Project's Solly Angel and recalls the historical cases of New York City and Barcelona - two places that wisely planned for their inevitable expansion, constrasting it with the containment policies pursued by the current administration of Bogotá.

In Planet of Cities, Shlomo Angle argues that it is better to anticipate a higher growth than the one that will actually happen, rather than to naively believe that it is possible to prevent urban expansion. He states that at least it is essential to acquire the land for the arterial roads and the great parks of the future.In 1811 the government of New York planned in detail a 7 fold growth to the area occupied by the city at the time, in 1859 the government of Barcelona did the same, planning for a 9 fold growth for the city at that time. In contrast, city hall suggests that the growth of Bogota should fit in 600 hectares: 1.6% of the current urban area.
Back to top
see comments ()