Application of the “ladder of citizen participation” to the analysis of the São Paulo Master Plan revision process

Rafael Barreto Castelo da Cruz

Flavia Mendes de Almeida Collaço

Karin Regina de Casas Marins

ABSTRACT: Urban planning promoted in Brazil by the “Estatuto da Cidade” (City Statute) establishes the Participatory Master Plan as the primary tool for urban policy, citing citizen participation as a way of guiding urban development and planned occupation. There is an assumption that participatory processes must include the preparation of studies and the conducting of analyses, as well as the receipt and sharing of knowledge by society. These processes must enable all stakeholders to participate closely in defining the list of priorities, and must allow the contributions to in turn become planning inputs. The aim of this study is to characterize the participatory process applied to the development of the São Paulo Strategic Master Plan (SMP) in 2013-2014. The scope of the analysis covers only the first phase of the process (6 workshops, which involved 1804 participants and received 1846 contributions). The analysis used the “ladder of citizen participation” method, which classifies the participatory processes into degrees of openness available to different stakeholders, in addition to the characteristics of participatory spaces and decision-making bodies. The analysis showed that development of the SMP involved government efforts to improve communication with the public. Reports and documents made available by the institution increased transparency and access to information regarding the process. However, although policy bases and participatory urban management have been installed in São Paulo, this has not guaranteed classification of the process as “Participatory” according to the adopted method of analysis.

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