L[i/o]ving cities

Posts tagged ‘equity’


In City Lines I have supported different policies and strategies to have better governance and planning for our cities. So, I am happy to celebrate and to participate with this post in the #spanishrevolution movement (also called #acampadasol, #globalcamp, #nonosvamos, etc.), because it goes straight into the core of the democratic system. For a non-Spanish reader, some of the main demands are:

  • Non-appearance of politics with opened investigations or trials in the electoral lists.
  • Clear difference between the politic and the judicial powers.
  • Open lists in the elections.
  • More transparency in the income and possessions of the politics.

I really think that these and other proposals are very important to change the incentives that rule the system and must be assumed by the political parties. But they are not assuming that, so it is a great time to demonstrate our thoughts in the street, as Hessel show in his “Indignez vous!” book.

These are the facts that are now happening, but I want to go further so I will take my crystal ball for the next months. The first thing to say is that the Spanish politics are forced to meet the deficit commitment of the European Union, and probably, it will require more welfare cuts in a lot of issues that concern the Autonomic Governments. So, it is possible that the new Regional Governments will proceed to cut some services related with Health (that consumes 1/3 of their budget) or Education. As an example of this, we can take a look at the new Catalonian Government acts, who advanced their election to the last autumn.

The second important thing is that the Regional Governments could not have into account their deficit and debt in the proper way, as the Financial Times suggests in his article “Hidden debt raises Spain bond fear”. So this is another fact that suggests more budget restrictions in the next months.

Summarizing, on the one hand #spanishrevolution are seeking for a better democracy framework and, on the other hand, we have the different Spanish governments trying to fix their deficit. As a consequence, equity is going to crash with all those efficiency speeches that do not mind if the field does not represent the players. So, my crystal ball suggest a restless new autumn.



In a broad sense, city planning is composed by a lot of professional disciplines. This is not a secret, but something that is ignored too many times. What we know well is the speech about the need to coordinate all these disciplines and all the professionals that work around city planning.

Moreover, below the technical speeches lies an economical logic that must be considered too. This economical logic is supported by two main foundations: equity and efficiency. As one professor explained to me one day, efficiency is related to the size of the cake and equity is related to the pieces that you cut from the cake. So, if we focus on every discipline that takes part on city planning, in each of their economic criteria they should talk about equity and efficiency. But, what is really happening?

I have taken two examples to illustrate what I think that is really happening. Firstly, on the one hand, we have some disciplines like Spatial Planning, that is focused on some criteria as to provide life quality and sustainability to the citizens and to the territories. These are equity criteria and usually are not well measured because of their complexity.

On the other hand, we have some disciplines like transport planning that is pointing out to some criteria as the minimization of the trip time or the search for a greater use of public transport. And these are mainly efficiency criteria that can be calculated because transport planners have developed more technical tools to manage some of the main transport parameters.

Obviously, this is a simplification of reality, but sometimes it is not as far from what happens in some planners’ studios. We cannot be satisfied handing out the same little crumbs to everyone or delivering the cake to just a few people, so we have to improve the coordination of efficiency and equity in the social, economic and environmental criteria.

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