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RevCEDOUA A. 4, nº 7 (2001) >

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10316.2/5730

Title: Programa Polis: programa ou falta de programa para a requalificação das cidades
Authors: Mendes, Joana
Keywords: Programa Polis
Requalificação das cidades
Código das Expropriações
Issue Date: 2001
Publisher: CEDOUA
location : Local:Coimbra
Abstract: Res:Foi recentemente criado o Programa Polis, programa de requalificação urbana e valorização ambiental das cidades. Considerando-se que a prossecução dos seus objectivos convoca competências de vários domínios técnicos e requer a coordenação e gestão integrada das operações a realizar no âmbito das diferentes intervenções específicas, julgou-se necessário criar um modelo de gestão próprio. Na lei de autorização que o possibilita, conferem-se poderes ao Governo para que adopte medidas que, no fundo, se traduzem em derrogações a algumas das regras gerais de urbanismo recentemente aprovadas pelo Decreto-Lei n.º 380/99 e pelo novo Código das Expropriações, em nome de “uma eficaz concretização dos objectivos a cumprir”. Pergunta-se: não seriam estes os objectivos a alcançar em todo o domínio da prática urbanística? Concretização das medidas plasmadas nos planos, através da coordenação das várias entidades envolvidas?
Res:The quality of the environment in urban centers is a problem that has assumed greater social importance. The Polis Program, recently approved by a Council of Ministers Resolution n.º 26/2000 of the 15th of May, aims to be a solution: its objective is to requalify and environmentally revalue our cities. Cities are an important reality in the consideration of the environmental protection problem given the pressure that their growth exerts on the surrounding area but especially because it is in the cities that one may find a higher concentration of polluting activities that contribute to environmental pollution, sound pollution, waste treatment and water protection. On the other hand, these areas are essential in the process of economic and social development, an aspect that is taken into consideration in the Polis Program. This program aims to requalify the urban space as a means to increase a region’s attractiveness and thus reinforcing the role of the cities in country planning. The program seeks to develop a set of interventions that are deemed to be examplary in various urban centers using the recently acquired experience with Expo’98 in terms of urban intervention, at the legal and institutional level, in particular in what concerns partnerships between the central government and local municipalities and in the utilization of new urban instruments. It is hoped that these interventions will serve as a reference for other actions undertaken by local authorities – that is, the Polis program aims to be a case study for the rest of the country – complimentarily supported by other local initiatives that have an environmental and urban merit. The urgency of such an intervention foreseen by this program is unanimously recognized, even on the part of those who criticize the solutions offered by this program, due to the serious situation in Portugal in what refers to urban and country planning questions. But if it is true that the program was welcomed by those who for years have urged for a greater intervention on the part of the state in urban questions it is also true that various criticisms were made. The first point of discontent generated by the program refers to the selection of the elected cities that will be the targets of various urban interventions which will serve as a model for later local interventions not contemplated in this first phase. Why was there no public offer regarding the project that all local municipalities could have entered into on equal terms? This would have been the most transparent solution. Another point that is criticizable is the exception policy followed in the implementation of this project. Based on a unjustifiable parallel with the Expo’98 experience the Polis program found a model of management that will direct its course of action adopting exceptions to urban rules similar to the ones that were previously created. However the context of the situations are very different: the exception policy adopted with the aim to realize Expo’98 was then justified by the schedules that had to be honored, unextendable deadlines, which if surpasses would jeopardize the country’s image externally. Having recognized that the existing general norms in force were inadequate and limitative of a rapid urban transformation, intervention based on exceptional rules was chosen. The interests that justified the then created exceptions are not present in the present execution of the Polis program relative to urban requalification interventions with a demonstrative character for the rest of the country. The reasons of urgency exist due to the urban chaos that has striken the country over the past few years and that no legislative measure has been able to subdue. Something is wrong when one has to revert to exceptional means in order to carry out a desired urban intervention with this program disregarding the general urban rules that are uniformally applied in the country and approved in 1998 and 1999. The adoption of this exception policy reflects these two aspects: the management model adopted and the exception regime foreseen for the urban rules. The management of each intervention project will be carried out by a private company made up of public capital constituted by the state (majority participation) and the local municipalities involved whose end is to execute the defined plan in the project approved for each zone where intervention will take place. It is considered that in this way the adaptation of the intervention model will be possible for each one of the concrete realities. The interventions that will be realized by each one of those private companies are subordinated to the previous elaboration of a strategic plan that defines the sequence of acts, specific areas, and nature of the interventions. The resolution states that this will be done by the respective municipality and by Park Expo on the proposal of a Program Coordinating Office. Recently, the Accounts Tribunal refused to accept the contract that was signed between the country planning and urban development General Directory (DGOTDU) and Park Expo whose object was the elaboration of the strategic plans relative to interventions in Albufeira, Aveiro, Beja, Bragança, Covilhã, Vila do Conde and Vila Real on the grounds of insufficient justification presented by the DGOTDU that would justify giving the contract directly to Park Expo. The State, the majority shareholder, will celebrate, after the constitution of those companies, a contract that manages its social participation with companies belonging to its business sector that have experience with large scale urban interventions. One should read Park Expo’98 Corporation and Porto 2001 Corporation. On the other hand, Law n.º 18/2000 of the 10th of August authorizes the Government to create a special regime of urban planning for the defined and to be defined zones where interventions will take place within the scope of the Polis program allowing for relevant exceptions to urban rules. Some detours relative to the general procedure regarding urban elaboration and detail plan were introduced foreseen in Decree-Law n.º 380/99 of the 22nd of September that resulted in municipalities having less powers when compared to these corporations where the state is a majority shareholder; it is also clear that there is a serious loss in public participation in this special procedure. The conformity of these solutions with the constitutional principles of municipal autonomy and administrative decentralization is doubtful; furthermore, it is legitimate to question if it is more effective to elaborate a plan more rapidly or one in which the measures adopted are the result of a participated procedure. In what refers to the licensing regime the text of the resolution that approved the program initially foresaw the definition of a specific regime for the licensing of works, infra-structures and construction capable of answering the needs of each project. This would mean that the licensing of works done by these corporations within the scope of the intervention plan would be dispensed therefore creating another exception to the general rules. However the Authorization Law did not go so far: although it does provide for an opening in the direction of dispensing the licensing in the case of lot operations and urban works. This solution was not foreseen for municipal licensing of works. One should also refer that the established 30 day time limit for licensing corresponds to the time limits that are constant of the general rules (article 13 n.º 5 and 6 and article 22 n.º 3 of Decree-Law n.º 448/91, article 20 of Decree-Law n.º 445/91); the difference that one can find refers to the manner in how this time limit is counted (this one can not be interrupted for periods greater than 10 days) and which reflect the preoccupation with the celerity of administrative procedures regarding licensing. Finally, one must also underline the specific exceptions foreseen in matters related to expropriations. Although Law n.º 18/2000 authorizes the government to attribute to the diverse corporations the power to decide on limitations regarding private rights through the declaration of expropriation for public utility, the government did not use the authorization to the full extent. They appear only as procedurally expropriative entities – they initiate the expropriation procedure, ask the state for an expropriation resolution and conduct the process before those who are being expropriated and are also responsible for the payment of compensation due to expropriation; the entities that benefit from this expropriation are the local municipalities. In what refers to the rules that regulate the expropriation procedure the creation of a specific regime is foreseen in order to accelerate the procedure of the necessary expropriations in order to realize the interventions as well as the establishment of specific rules relative to the resulting urban replanning and to the reinstallation, and functioning of the activities located in the respective zones of intervention, namely in what refers to the administrative possession of lands to be expropriated whose declaration of public utility has an urgent character, to the determination and method of payment of the compensation and the constitution of commissions that will arbitrate conflicts in order to respect the calendar foreseen for the interventions (article 2, line f, of Law n.º 18/2000). However, no legislative precept approved until now for the implementation of the Polis Program contains any reference to the establishment of special rules for the process of expropriations that are needed within the scope of the program. In this aspect, the legal regime that will be followed is the Expropriations Code approved in 1999. One last reference... The laws up until now approved have been very clear in regard to the set of powers, proper of administrative authorities, attributed to the corporations that are responsible for the execution of the integrated interventions in the Polis “due to the nature of the programmed interventions, which are urgent, it would be of no sense to constitute corporations in order to facilitate the realization of these interventions, if they were not given the sufficient means to pursue their ends” according the Council of Ministers Resolution. The corporations that will manage the Polis are also exempt of property taxes, municipal “sisa” taxes and succession taxes, stamp tax, and costs relating to notary and registration fees. We are before the first significant intervention made by the central administration in the area of urban requalification in our country. We are not here to contest the merit of the projects created and supported by the Polis – there are no doubts in regard to their material content and objectives which are worthy. However, their success will depend on how they are put into practice. The process should be transparent and should have the effect of mobilizing civil society in what refers to environmental and urban questions that are ever more important. In this perspective, the unfolding of this process to date and the management model chosen are questionable. On the other hand, creating exceptional urban rules for this effect is recognizing that the present general rules, recently created, are inadequate to operate the transformations required and wished for.
URI: URI:http://hdl.handle.net/10316.2/5730
ISSN: ISSN:0874-1093
Appears in Collections:RevCEDOUA A. 4, nº 7 (2001)

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