The 20 Proposals of the Sestiere: from the 20th of January meeting at Ateneo Veneto

What follows is a translation of the document that was handed out at the Ateneo Veneto meeting on Jan. 20, 2017. Special thanks to #Veneziamiofuturo for sharing it with CFLV and for editing the translation.

Ateneo Veneto, 20 January 2017


The Proposals of the Sestieri


This document summarizes the proposals and the principal requests collected in the meetings with the venetian districts (the six “sestieri”). It is not exhaustive, nor does it represent the position of a single association because our objective is to give voice to the needs of the districts with reference to the problems most acutely felt in the ‘city of water’. In this sense it is also a ‘book of grievances’, where for each ‘grievance’ we have elaborated a possible response.

The proposals conform to the criteria which were specified at the beginning of the cycle of meetings: we are not asking for the moon, we do not want to create illusions or engage in demagoguery; the criteria by which we are inspired are those which translate to requests that are concrete, actionable and realistic. To the elected representatives in the Institutions we ask that each one do their part, and that they do it immediately, because Venice feels besieged and the situation does not allow for any further delay.

The discussion at Ateneo Veneto will permit discussion of some “priority” proposals, and to refine others, situating them in a vision of that which is necessary and urgent to give a future to Venice: we will not speak of long term but of things that can be done immediately, before it is too late; the rest is material for a ‘program of governance’ for anyone who wants to run for office in the next election. This document was published for 10 days on our Facebook page and on our web site to collect comments and suggestions from those who participated in the meetings (over 500 people) and also those who did not.

The cycle of meetings in the sestieri, including the concluding meeting at Ateneo Veneto, was entirely self-financed by the citizens, without any support from political parties or trade unions, businesses or cooperatives, public entities or Foundations. We do not have a label and we do not want one, ours is only a movement of opinion that has preferred a different approach from the ‘recipes’ that come from on high (often formulated by people who do not know the city): proposals born of daily contact with the city, sestiere by sestiere.

A as in Aloggi (Housing)

Of the Veneto Region we ask:

1) the urgent modification of the regional law of 2013 that brutally liberalized tourist locations; this modification could be adopted in a short time because it would only require the introduction of an exception for the sestieri of Venice, in recognition of the specific needs to care for its social fabric, which is an integral part of what makes it special, imposing requirements also on the disposal of waste water, to care for the hygiene and environment of the Lagoon.

2) immediate action regarding ATER (the social housing company) whose job is “the construction and recovery of housing, to assign as temporary or permanent lease to controlled apartments” to the end of the assignment of housing currently not used, eventually favoring a form of self-restore done by potential residents, and to the completion of housing units where work has been started but not yet finished.

B as in Bricole (Guide Posts for water traffic):

Of the Minister of Infrastructure and Transport we ask:

The allocation of funds needed to start a special program for the maintenance and replacement of the bricole, to complete the first work of the InterRegional Superintendent for Public Works, based on the maps which were updated at our request in May 2016.

C as in Change of use:

Of the Mayor and City Council of Venice we ask:

To immediately stop for at least two years the change in use of real estate from residential to tourist lodgings or hotels in the sestieri, an option which is already recognized by the current PAT (Plan for Territorial Assests) in force since 2014 to protect residential property, which has fallen to historic lows and in some sestieri risks being extinguished in the absence of immediate ‘shock therapy’.

This provision, by nature emergent and provisory, will be accompanied by ‘structural’ measures and permanent times to incentivize long term residence over that of a speculative nature (see also R for refuse, on the subject of TARI for the use of fiscal levers as equalizers): that which will be assembled is a mix of measure such as will build a common pact with ‘virtuous’ property owners.

D as in Dignity

Of the Mayor and City Council of Venice we ask:

To recognize and promote the right of each person to conduct an existence that is dignified and decorous. Respect for the old and the disabled cannot be limited to some ‘reserved’ seating on board the vaporetti, but must manifest in forms of support aimed at sustaining the quality of life for this sector of the citizenry.

In these sectors the City of Venice boasts a solid tradition that we maintain is necessary to preserve or restore against the spending cuts that have been made, also encouraging the numerous forms of volunteerism present in the area that often operated without any public contribution.

E as in Education (Nautical)

To the city schools we propose:

A project of nautical education, to which we are ready to provide our contribution with volunteer teachers and experts, in consideration of the increasingly frequent accidents (at times fatal) that are in part due to inexperience and/or a lack of understanding of the basic rules, given that the current law allows navigation without a license for motorboats under 40 hp (that with simple modifications can be brought up to 60).

F as in Flow of Tourists

Of the Mayor and City Council of Venice we ask:

To start as soon as possible some form of planned management of the flow of tourists that would permit a loosening of the grip of a pressure that has become unsustainable and incompatible with the very possibility of offering a welcome worthy of the City’s reputation; among the proposals on the table, that of Roberta Bartoloni which was illustrated at the meeting in Castello presents characteristics of being incremental, flexible, achievable, and non-discriminatory, while containing costs, which we particularly appreciated – without excluding others that can be compared with this one, to the end of taking the best parts of each.

G as in Gestione dei beni comuni (Management of Public Property)

Of the Mayor and City Council of Venice we ask:

To give a tangible sign of discontinuing the policy of selling off public properties begun by previous administrations, which in the current budget situation (with the loosening of the restrictions of the stability pact) is incomprehensible if not myopic, and in some cases translates in to an absolutely paltry amount of revenue relative to the permanent loss for the community as has happened with custody of the Giardini Papadopoli.

H as in Hotels

Enough hotels in the Sestieri! See C for Change of Use

I as in Illumination:

Of the Administration and City Offices in charge we ask:

Night lights and the installation of surveillance cameras in ruga degli Oresi, which recently has seen incidents of terrible violence against a store owner.

L as in Labor

Considering that the tourist industry at Venice is already that which employs the largest number of workers, often temporary and poorly paid in respect to the cost of life [1], with the double consequence of commuting from the mainland (about 30,000 people) and of an ever larger number of young Venetians who choose to leave the city [2]

Of the Mayor and City Council of Venice we ask:

To move beyond the current phase of using the Arsenale as a space for private parties –the proceeds from which are not being used, as would be logical, to address the many maintenance problems that become emergences ignored by the Administration (such as risks of collapse) –  when instead it should be a natural point and ideal fulcrum for the creation of qualified jobs, that are not related only to the tourist monoculture – this could be designed as a center of maritime research able to host research institutions both Italian and foreign and offering spaces to businesses compatible with the complex and engaged in the maritime sector (shipbuilding, maritime jobs), traditional artisanry (metalwork, woodwork) and restoration, in a cultural framework unique in the world. To respect the promise of ‘revitalization of the city’ we further ask for the opening of the Arsenale to the citizens, breaking down the barriers to permit a unique tour for visitors (also in the spaces occupied by the Biennial) which could generate income with paid guided tours for small groups.

[1] Unioncamere data: 77% of jobs created in the City of Venice in 2016 were temporary. More than half of the job offers (4,350 of 8,000) were in hospitality or restaurants. In second place (3,600) were ‘unqualified’ positions in retail and services. Source: Nuova Venezia 8 November 2016

[2] Venetians permanently residing outside the city as of December 2016 (source: electoral lists from the constitutional referendum): 12, 296, more than the combined number of residents in the sestieri of both San Marco and San Polo!

M as in Museo Correr

To the Foundation of Civic Museums we remind:

The Museo Correr , a fundamental institution in the cultural life of the city, owes its name to its founder, Teodoro Correr: a Venetian nobleman who in the years following the fall of the Republic was able to collect an enormous quantity of artistic works and Venetian heirlooms from many time periods, saving them from dispersion and constituting the nucleus of the museum. Thanks to later important donations and acquisitions, such as that of articles belonging to Doge Francesco Morosini, given by the City of Venice at the end of the 1800s, the Museo Correr has grown ever more robust and has become an important point for reference for academics and citizens. In 1922 the collections were transferred to Piazza San Marco in a new home that extends between the Napoleon Hall and part of the New Procuatory. Together with the Doge’s Palace it constitutes (or should constitute) the main exhibition of works of art and historical collections that recall the history and culture of La Serenissima. Unfortunately the radical changes of the past years show that renovations and repairs, while correct from a formal point of view, can alter the aims and characteristics of an institution.

The citizens have the sense that the value of the more original and fundamental aspects of the history and culture of Venice has been lost sight of in favor of other, more historically marginal subjects.

To the Foundation of Civic Museums we therefore ask:

To return to the spirit and the logics  that are at the heart of the origin of the collections of the Museo Correr, recalling also that the recovery of dignity and of understanding of the city comes not only from a greater attention to its history and to its people and culture, but also from a use that is not only for tourists and commercialization of its symbolic monuments, and underlining  how a  ‘quality tourism’, that it is said is desired to be cultivated, in reality involves  understanding the history and the specific characteristics  of a maritime Republic unique in the world, more than finding the types of things one can find in any other museum also here.

N as in Negozio (Stores: local businesses and artisan shops)

Adoption of a city Regulation that, as the City of Florence has already done, fixes a limit on the proliferation of commercial activity incompatible with the protection of the city’s heritage, both physical and non-material (local artisans), taking advantage of provisions of law recently adopted at the national level with the objective of prioritizing local stores and artisanal activity; for such activity we further ask to identify methods of financial aids and incentives compatible with the rule “di minimis” (within the threshold of 200,000 euro per capita, which avoids the obligation of notification to the European Commission).

O as in Ospedale (Hosptial)

An innovative and promising proposal that we have received is that of connecting our hospital with the University of Padova and to bring to Venice trainees and doctoral students. Developing this pairing with the University of Padova, Venice could become a site of advanced medical research, setting up in the large and free spaces of the Convent of the Domenicani (now the Civic Hospital) a world class center of health studies, as has already been done at Trieste with SISSA.

In the way the almost spaces of San Domenico would be put to better use, and would avoid speculative works related to tourism. In these locations one could develop clinical work and research, for innovative cures of absolute excellence. This would make our Hospital a point of attraction and would revitalize all the surrounding area.

To the Minister of Health we ask:

The maintenance of the neonatal unit in the Civic Hospital of Venice, in exception of the limit of 500 births per year, in consideration of the travel times and modes of transport available in the Lagoon city, as has already been requested of the Region.

P as in Posts for Boat Moorings

Of the Mayor of Venice we ask:

To release the announcement to assign the empty boat mooring spaces in the sestieri and the islands, that the city offices prepared over a year ago for then Commissioner Zappalorto and is now an obligation that has been ignored by the current Administration, given that the applicable city ordinance calls for this announcement every 2 years.

Q as in Quality of Air

Of the Veneto Region we ask:

Immediate action regarding the Regional Agency for the Environment (ARPAV) in order that they finally install an air quality monitoring station in the sestieri, considering that the only sampling point present in the Lagoon was located at Sacca Fisola long ago when the circumstances were different than at present, it is not representative of the real exposure of the resident population such that it is classified as a ‘background station’ and does not measure the impact of local sources of pollution, such as water traffic.

A plan for the fixing or scrapping of the most polluting marine engines, making use of ‘structural’ European Union funding for regional projects, or EU funds such as Life+.

R as in Refuse

Of the City Council of Venice we ask:

Reform of the city taxes such as TARI (Tax on Urban Waste) with a reduction to zero for the first house and a reduced rate for general domestic use; in the short term, immediately revoke the rate increases approved by the City Council for 2016, and finance with a rate increase applied to hotels and other tourism related buildings.

S as in Schools

Of the Mayor and City Council of Venice we ask:

A renewed support for the development of nursery schools and kindergartens, which represent a fundamental service for the citizens and that have always been the pride of the City of Venice. This means strategic activity aimed at providing an excellent level of education for children and providing important support, especially for those families in which both parents work. It seems logical to ask that, also for the future, the City commits to guaranteeing an adequate quality of life and security for children and their families, as well as to those who work in the sector.

T as in Traffic (on the water)

Of the Mayor and City Council of Venice we ask:

Elaboration and activation of a plan for the reorganization of water traffic that puts as primary objectives: the safeguarding of the heritage of buildings public and private against the effects of motorboat waves; monitoring of atmospheric pollution; monitoring of sound pollution; the security of navigation of public scheduled transports, including gondolas and ferries; the right of residents to circulate with their own boats in the internal canals and a more rational approach to the transport of merchandise which is actually characterized by iron boats that are disproportionate to both the need and to the internal canals themselves.

U as in ‘Ultima Spiaggia’ (Last Chance)

In the absence of an immediate, drastic remedy on the dual fronts of housing and work, the demographic curve in the sestieri is such that the ‘surviving’ residents of Venice are condemned to irrelevance by a cynical and myopic political class (to say the least) that reasons only with numbers and ‘how many votes gained’ from this or that community, not only at the regional level (in fact there is no regional council) but also in our own city: from the Administration in power the accumulated signs in this sense are already too great to ignore.

Of the Veneto Region we ask:

Call a referendum of popular initiative for the re-establishment of two autonomous cities (Venice and Mestre) for which 9,000 signatures have already been gathered, in such a way that the population can express themselves on the merit of the question, that the institution of the Metropolitan City of Venice permits to be addressed in a way different than in the past and considering that the current Mayor has recalled the delegates from the Municipalities, and in doing so has weakened the already feeble appearance of administrative decentralization.

Considering the imminent call for a referendum on regional autonomy, the pairing of the two referendums would allow overcoming the objections relative to the costs of a referendum that regards the territory of the City of Venice.

Of the Italian Authorities we ask:

The recognition of a Special Status for Venice, which permits the city to: A) keep a portion of the revenue generated, rather than begging for money periodically, and which is in reality owed to the city if one considers the accumulated fiscal residuals (the difference between taxes collected in the territory and the sum of transfers and services received by the State); B) decide autonomously what the priorities for action are in the territory, without being sacrificed on the altar of electoral numbers that do not take in to account the universal value of Venice, its special traits which are unique to the world, and its status as World Heritage.

V as in Venice – in the open

Among the requests that we have collected in the sestieri are also:

  1. Bring back the open air cinema at Campo San Polo.
  2. Double the frequency of the Santa Marta Flea Market, which is particularly valued by residents.
  3. The restoration of the antique and collectible stores, denoted as “Mercantini dei Miracoli’, eliminating the tariff of 50% for professional vendors which has been responsible for their disappearance.
  4. Maintenance and repair for public fountains and more generally to all the things that are city property in public spaces (benches, fountains and signs) that at times are found in a state of incomprehensible abandonment.
  5. Facilities for sports and athletic activities are scarce; we lack, for example, a facility for promoting youth athletics. We ask the City to guarantee a complete offering of sports activities, starting with better use of existing facilities.

This document will be sent to mass media and to the participants at the public meeting on Jan. 20, and will then be published on the Veneziamiofuturo Facebook page and on the web page

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