“The Only Thing Lacking for Security is Political Will”

Architect Giovanni Leone: “Brugnaro has demonstrated his inability to govern or plan. The issue cannot only be addressed with tools of law enforcement and repression”

4 December 2022

By Mitia Chiarin

Mestre is facing a big security emergency. For architect Giovanni Leone of the Venetian association DO.VE., the issue is not only confined to the area around the station in Mestre, but concerns all of Venice.

“Security cannot be addressed only as a question of law enforcement and repression. The Questore (police chief) has said so many times, and he is an expert on the matter. I work as an architect and I well know that to be effective, countermeasures must be a shared practice. Therefore, we must act on the social level, restoring public services that have suffered a drastic reduction, and then strengthening the neighborhood dimension. If people live in the spaces and preside over them this creates more security, and so we need to encourage the use of public space, to involve and entrust them to the citizens – not to make them sheriffs, but to allow them to live in the public spaces, rather than removing benches and prohibiting sitting outside one’s home with a table to play cards. Another measure could be the establishment of neighborhood watches”.

The Mayor of Venice was against the referendum for separation [of Venice and Mestre], but the impression one gets from the relations between insular Venice and the mainland is one of cultural separation.

“When the Mayor was elected, he railed against the residents of the insular city who did not give him the plebiscite that he wanted across the whole municipal territory. He promised that there would be consequences and that’s what has happened. He prefers the control room to Ca’ Farsetti, which is the city’s palazzo. We continue to talk about just Mestre, when there are various cities on the mainland, each one different, with their own characteristics. In addition to Mestre there are Marghera, Favaro, and Zelarino, which need to be reinforced as poles of a polycentric city, which should be expanded to the Metropolitan city, which today is only an administrative shell, an unkept promise. It has been reduced to a sort of conference of services between cities competing for resources. There is no strategy. The cities call for urgent reforms but the Mayor is occupied with totally different matters”.

So what is really missing in order to act?

“Political will. The nightlife in Venice and crime in Mestre are the demonstration of an inability to govern and to plan for a city that should be considered as a whole, distributing complementary spaces and services. Young people from Venice might want to go to Favaro or to Zelarino if there were gathering spaces there, diversified social magnets. The young have the right to cultivate more than frustration, and to have their own spaces. People can criticize the social centers as much as they want to, but they have at least compensated for this lack of public interpretation of the needs of the citizens, all the citizens. I repeat: we need a polycentric city that is centered on the neighborhood dimension in the framework of large metropolitan context, enlivened by a mobility that is worthy of that name both on the local and regional scale”.

Meanwhile issues like the contributo d’accesso and short-term rentals seem to be exclusive to Venice.

“The regulation for the contributo d’accesso is an unfair provision, incapable of managing the flow of tourists. Its only purpose is to bring in money. Residents of the mainland of the territory are exempt… but not their friends who come to visit. Even just to go and have a coffee in Venice they would have to pay the ticket. Regarding short-term rentals, the phenomenon affects Venice and everywhere around it. The issues should not be addressed separately. I urge a systematic approach and vision for the city. Instead, they have not updated tools for planning and proceed with piecemeal measures and exceptions that make all urban design pointless.”

Source: La Nuova di Venezia e Mestre


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