UNESCO to Venice: stop the exodus of residents

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The organization also criticizes the sale of public buildings by the City without restrictions on type of use.

By Enrico Tantucci

24 August 2020

VENEZIA. Stop the exodus and increase the number of residents in Venice, with new policies to facilitate acquiring housing and a job that is outside the tourism sector.

Among the fifty recommendations in the UNESCO report on Venice and its lagoon – recently submitted and now awaiting a response from the Italian government and the City of Venice – one of the central points is the revival of residency in Venice.

According to the UNESCO report, the high cost of living and difficulty in buying or renting a home at “human” prices, as well as the difficulty finding a job that isn’t in the tourism sector, are the root of the loss of population.

It is precisely this consideration – beyond that of improved management of the flow of tourists, limiting the number of arrivals – that is also connected to the recommendation calling for a stop to the creation of new hotels and also a substantial halt to tourist rentals and B & Bs which would harm those who want to come and live permanently in Venice, but cannot find anything available at accessible prices.

The report also does not lack criticisms of the local administrations for having over the years sold, for example, many public buildings to the Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (a government investment bank) – citing among others Palazzo Manfrin, Palazzo Ziani, Palazzo Gradenigo, Palazzo Diedo, and Palazzo Balbi – without any restriction on their eventual use.

For UNESCO maintaining the residential population is closely linked to the city’s remaining among the World Heritage sites, beyond the value of its monuments or environment. Among the measures suggested for growing the number of inhabitants is the concept of giving public contributions to private parties to restore homes, on the condition that they are eventually used as housing and not for tourists. Other recommendations are a policy of acquiring real estate by the City for the purposes of creating residences, which are then made available at acceptable prices to those who want to come live in Venice; and the creation of cooperatives that work on building new homes or even public support for them.

Once again, there is the idea of adopting the principle that all sales of public buildings should be subject to contractual obligations that call for the creation of apartments and the maintenance and creation of skilled jobs. For example, it would no longer be possible for the City of Venice to sell Palazzo Poerio Papadopoli – the current headquarters of the city police until their expected move to Tronchetto – with a change of zoning to allow the construction of a new hotel, as recently happened with Singapore real estate magnate Kwong Ching Chiat.

With the election campaign in full swing, UNESCO’s invitation to protect and grow the number of inhabitants in Venice thus becomes a new subject for debate among the candidates to lead the city.

Source: La Nuova Venezia


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