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The invasion of the decks: from Palermo to the rest of the City, they gain space in the streets and there are complaints from the neighbors


Highlights: In Palermo alone, a group of neighbors surveyed many more than those officially listed. They are built by bars and restaurants to put tables, chairs and even awnings. There is little control. The amount is overwhelming and it would seem that every day a new one is added. The greatest concentration is in the gastronomic pole ofPalermo Viejo. The situation is out of control, says Martín Rodríguez Rivguez of the neighborhood organization Palermos Resiste.

In Palermo alone, a group of neighbors surveyed many more than those officially listed. They are built by bars and restaurants to put tables, chairs and even awnings. There is little control.

Decks, decks, and more decks. The homeland of the deck is in Palermo, although the movement extends to other neighborhoods with gastronomic development, such as Caballito, Colegiales, San Telmo and Villa Urquiza. Wooden, metal; with or without awnings; with high ceilings, with low ceilings, without roof; green, black, blue. Decks delimited with pots or fences; With platform, without platform. Although they were enabled before the coronavirus pandemic, it popularized them as a safe way to go out again, because they allowed bar and restaurant lounges to expand outwards. And they were an option for gastronomic entrepreneurs at a complex time and with little certainty.

But the pandemic passed – it even ceased to be a pandemic – and the decks survive it. The amount is overwhelming and it would seem that every day a new one is added. The greatest concentration is in the gastronomic pole of Palermo Viejo. Do they have a control? Are they enabled? Do they pay for the exploitation of public space? What about those left abandoned, unused?

All these questions are asked by many neighbors in the area. On the other hand, they are going through a very complex moment. The new Urban Code (which was voted in 2018) brought enormous changes in the neighborhood layout. Specifically: more constructive volume, which is generating a brutal densification.

Returning to the public space, it is enough to go for a walk through the neighborhood to understand the neighborhood concern. Decks obstructing storm hydrants, covering bus stops, interfering with water runoff. In addition, they "shrink" the streets, not only because of their own structure, but because there is another phenomenon: many drivers leave their vehicles in double row, as these terraces were the cord of the sidewalk, and instead of two lanes to circulate there is only one.

Decks, tables, chairs, posters, ramp and little space to walk in the heart of Palermo. Photo Marcelo Carroll

And although it is prohibited, by regulation, in many of these spaces there are speakers, which implies a sound invasion that complicates coexistence. Nor can there be on streets where parking is prohibited; And they only have to be destined to gastronomic premises, which is not fulfilled because there are places selling clothes, for example, that have them. Obviously they cannot obstruct pedestrian paths, ramps or ochavas.

To all this are added those who are abandoned, contributing their share of chaos. Although the neighbors make the complaints (through a collaborative management portal, a platform of the Buenos Aires government), they tell Clarín that months pass until the City withdraws them.

Space gained from the street. Only gastronomic sectors can use streets and sidewalks to expand their premises. But the residents of Palermo denounce little control. Photo: Marcelo Carroll

Through the organization Palermo Resiste, the neighbors made a request for access to public information (Law 107) before the authorities of Comuna 14, whose president is Martín Cantera (Together for Change). Thus, it was reported that the Buenos Aires government has registered and enabled 137 decks throughout the commune. Of these, 47 are located within the Palermo Viejo industrial estate.

But, as said, it is enough with a brief tour of Palermo Viejo to see that there are many, many more. Not to mention in the rest of the neighborhood, taking into account that there are sub areas that are also gastronomic poles, such as Palermo Soho and Palermo Hollywood, in addition to Las Cañitas.

The neighborhood organization Palermo Resiste made an exhaustive survey in Palermo Viejo and counted many more than the 47 authorized by the Buenos Aires government: they say there are at least 250. A number in constant motion because there is always one under construction. Right now a group of workers works in Gurruchaga at 1700, placing a huge iron deck to provide tables to a place that dispenses coffee from a window.

Deck under construction. It will be destined to a window café, which is almost confused with the local clothing of Gurruchaga at 1700. Photo Marcelo Carroll

"The situation is out of control. It is clear that the City lost control over these structures. The regulation is not new, but in recent years modifications were made and restrictions were removed. We understand that some solutions may be to delimit the use to the perimeter of the Armenia and Serrano squares, for example. This is seen in other cities around the world," says Martín Rodríguez Rivas, of the neighborhood organization Palermo Resiste.

In 2018, the regulations unified the criteria for the construction of decks; in addition, the City charged a fee for the use of public space. Not now. Palermo Resiste believes that this model could be returned to to limit proliferation. "Our idea is not to go against the decks, but to limit so that we are not forced to an increasingly complex coexistence," they explained.

For merchants, these "terraces" at the level of the sidewalk are a concrete expansion of the dimensions of their rooms. They double, and in many cases much more, the number of tables available inside their bars and restaurants. In a conversation with Clarín, the manager of a very large store, located in front of Plaza Armenia, was lapidary: "The account is very simple, if we were forced to remove the deck, then we would have to cut the work of half of our collaborators," he said.

Lost there, the bus stop of line 39. One of the problems generated by the decks and denounced by the neighbors. Photo Marcelo Carroll

The deck is not seen in optimal condition. "It is true that it needs comprehensive maintenance. We are going to do it after the winter holidays. The reality is that it has been used intensively for more than two years," admitted the manager. A couple of bricks support parts of the base, there is a lack of paint in the structure and somewhat informal cables are seen (strictly speaking, according to the regulations, cables cannot be extended to the decks, which is violated in each and every one of the existing platforms in the City, since they have lighting and some even fans or heaters).

Citizen Attention and Community Management -which depends on the Chief of Cabinet- is the area that grants the permits. But it doesn't do the checks.

A clothing store, occupying the sidewalks, with benches, pots and tables. Photo Marcelo Carroll

That task over the permits granted falls to the Government Control Agency (AGC). As reported by this agency, during the second half of 2022 they received 98 complaints. And 55 records were drawn up for different infractions.

"The intervention of the AGC is based on complaints. To normalize the situation of the decks, the Commune intervenes again, "they explained.

The situation in general – the ideal use of public space, which adds to the changes brought by the new Urban Code – puts enormous pressure on neighborhood dynamics. The neighbors see that there are no controls and everything is overflowing. They also understand that there is a necessary commercial and labor movement in a complex economic moment. That is why, precisely, they demand the intervention of the Buenos Aires Government to achieve a balance that guarantees a mixture of uses and not a polarization that ends up expelling the residents.


See also

Impossible to pass: the bars and restaurants that "take over" the sidewalks with their tables and chairs

How is the shopping that could become a tower and reopens this Thursday

Source: clarin

All news articles on 2023-06-10

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