“Once the pandemic is over, I want to regain the peace of my street, the silence, and the places to park that have been greatly diminished. The premises are soundproof … the street, NO”. With this simple statement, a critical proposal with the municipal action to allow the hospitality industry to expand its space on the road has crept into Decide Madrid as the one most voted by citizens.
Living in the district of Madrid with more ‘Covid terraces’: “Now I have to avoid tables and drunk people”
Eliminate terraces in parking lots created by COVID It is the name of the citizen initiative that calls for a return to the previous situation and that has received more than a thousand supports so far. It is still far from reaching the minimum necessary to be taken into account (more than 27,000) but it is the proposal that has received the most votes in recent times, during a legislature in which this channel of citizen participation inherited from the mandate has not been promoted. scored by Manuela Carmena.
To the votes of the Madrilenians registered on the platform, more than 250 comments are added, most of them critical of the solution that the Vice Mayor’s Office – dependent on Begoña Villacís – devised in the spring of 2020 to offer hoteliers a mode of consumption safe against contagions, at the cost of subtracting parking space. A year later, permits had been granted to install more than 5,700 tables, half of them on parking lots.
“Without Covid terraces Madrid’s hospitality industry will once again be the flourishing Madrid hospitality industry. Please do not blackmail the City Council by claiming job losses and such and such, your businesses will return to where they were. And citizens will not suffer a Madrid that looks like the April fair x 12 “, says one of the most valued comments by users of this citizen platform.” You can not walk, or sleep, or park in Chamberí to benefit four large companies, “laments another neighbor.
The terrace extensions have been produced equally on sidewalks and on the road, although it seems that this last space is the one that has generated the most conflicts. Faced with the increasingly abundant complaints about the noise and the emergence of a neighborhood platform in Chamberí of pressure and protest, the City Council backed down and limited the operation of the covid terraces -the ones granted during the pandemic- at twelve o’clock at night, from Monday to Sunday. It is also pending to know if the special permits will be extended beyond December 31 of this year, as planned.
While the politicians decide, the Madrilenians enter the debate in this proposal from Decide Madrid, where a user, who identifies himself as a hotelier, affirms that the measure is a form of covert “massive speculation”: “The most hidden little places on the street that nobody wanted and were not worth anything have doubled in value in a few months because of these measures of the City Council, mysteriously all in rented, unfair competition and illegal terrace “.
“Let’s make Madrid a city for its neighbors, who walk around, want to live quietly and get up to work, who want to sit on a street bench to chat with neighbors, who want to be able to open their windows and balconies, who want to park their cars … let’s get back to normal “, writes another participant in the debate on the municipal website. “And the bars and their terraces in their proper measure, which is already quite generous. Let’s eliminate noise, recover the sidewalks and roads,” he adds.
Thousands of votes to reach the plenary session
According to the operating regulations of the Decide Madrid page, for a proposal to be taken into account by the Madrid City Council, it must garner at least 27,662 endorsements from registered users. From that moment on, its proponent may take it to the plenary session to be debated by the different political formations, who would decide whether or not to vote in favor.
No citizen has managed to reach this milestone through this participation tool. The one that got the most was the one that asked to plant more trees in Madrid, which in 2017 reached more than 20,000 supports. Proposals can only collect votes for six months. From that moment on, they are archived and, if someone from Madrid wants to launch a similar idea, they must start over.
While this initiative is reaping support from neighbors affected by the noise from the terraces, the City Council tries to stop it by bringing together all the parties and proposing measures that dampen noise, such as sound-absorbing or serene awnings that calm the spirits. Despite this, it has already received the first wake-up call from the Ombudsman, who has opened an investigation for the relaxation of municipal regulations with respect to watchmen in the streets.
This institution harshly criticizes the response offered by the City Council to the neighborhood associations in the face of this situation, caused by favoring “the impulse of economic activity” and excusing itself that “it is not easy to achieve an accommodation according to all the affected sectors”. The institution’s words are blunt and clearly criticize the actions of the Almeida corporation. “It seems to forget all those people who have the right to demand an adequate environment free of intolerable discomfort,” recalls the head of the office, Francisco Fernández Marugán, in a letter to the chamber association of El Organillo.
“You cannot prioritize the development of commercial activities, which have the duty to do so in accordance with the technical and legal conditions established in the regulations, to the detriment of those who suffer from noise pollution, who do not have the duty to bear,” he adds in the letter. .