No question: one of the best parts of Buenos Aires are the beautiful urban parks, since especially in the summer, they’re a great place to spend time outside.
However, even though they’re free for public use, not all porteños have equal access to these public spaces. In fact, according to the City’s Office of the Ombudsman, the neighborhoods with the highest population density have the fewest number of parks.
In a recent survey titled ‘Perceptions Of the Neighborhood’ by the Office of the Ombudsman, 49.3 percent of respondents said they were either only a little or not at all satisfied with the quantity of green spaces in their neighborhood and their distance from the nearest plaza or park. In total, there are 1,826 green hectares distributed across 15 communities in Buenos Aires, totaling around 5.9 square meters per resident. With the World Health Organization (WHO) recommending a minimum of 10 square meters per person, one can actually understand where the discontent comes from.
“These types of claims often happen collectively, as groups of neighbors are concerned about the scarcity of green spaces in their communities,” said Dolores Gandulfo, of the Center for Studies, Research and Public Opinion of the Ombudsman. “Our job is to make non-binding recommendations. We guide the mayor’s projects based on what residents ask for, and then we propose initiatives to the legislature.”
Those who live in the southern and central areas of the city reported the highest amount of dissatisfaction related to green spaces.
In the southern areas, 52.3 percent of respondents expressed little to no satisfaction with the green space distribution, and that number was almost the same (51.4 percent) for the people in the central areas did. Meanwhile, in the north, the statistic was only 40.8 percent. “We noticed a lot of difference in satisfaction between the north and central-south of the city.”
This discrepancy in satisfaction has probably something to do with a quite uneven distribution of green spaces. While in the Comuna 1 (District 1, which covers Retiro, San Nicolás, Puerto Madero, San Telmo, Montserrat and Constitución) a casual stroller will find a grand total of 465.3 hectares of green spaces, in District 5 (Almagro and Boedo) one can only find the ridiculously low number of three hectares in total, the lowest amount of any zone in the city.
“The structure of the neighborhoods doesn’t allow for the construction of many spaces because they have a high population density. But we are fighting to create more land and present more projects to the legislature,” said Rubén Otero, the president of District 5, where 210,000 people live.
On the other hand, those in District 1 live very close to the nature reserve of Costanera Sur and other green spaces. However, the neighbors have stated that there’s still other problems to think of: According to the district’s president Roberto Salcedo, “Vandalism and damages to the plazas cause many residents to want to close the spaces at night and erect barriers. But we don’t want to do that, these are open spaces for public use.” Here, here!
According to data from the City Department of the Environment and Public Space, in 2017 there were already 57,114 square meters of green, public spaces in the city, and 25,151 square meters were added. This year, the goal is to add 3,660 additional square meters between the former Padelai building area and the Plaza de Mayo. In addition to this, they will be adding 60,000 green square meters in the Paseo del Bajo, where works began around July last year (check out how they’re coming along here).
Here’s hoping a greener city is truly on its way.