Saturday, August 15, 2020



Imagine a village without any kind of centralized leadership, without a mayor! Now imagine that this episode is taking place at the early days of the arrival of electric lamps, everyone is enthusiastic about this revolutionary item and decide to put light fixtures facing the street, so that everyone would see the streets at night.

leia este artigo em português

We would have a problem here and there, because there are always those who want to benefit from the light without putting their hands in their pockets, or those who, for fun, like to throw stones to break the lamps, (so called urban vandals), but that are just isolated cases, and the society works quite well.

In this scenario, it is justified then to pay an IPTU (São Paulo Urban Land Tax) to the city hall, a centralized administration, to provide us with this basic and specific service, described by David Hume in 1734 to explain that, once collected, the city must be fully responsible for urban furniture for collective use - However, here in São Paulo, no mayor or voter since the 1950s has heard about him...

We are not even considering the possibility of replacing the existing sidewalks and fixtures, just mere maintenance would be enough, is it really that expensive?
Wouldn't it be better to have a sidewalk like that? the answer is YES - but here in São Paulo, public administrators are still in doubt
In 1927 São Paulo Tramway, Light and Power Company Ltda, simply called LIGHT by São Paulo citizens, signed a contract with the city and state government to renovation of the public lighting network in the city and beautiful new English styled light poles were implemented.

LIGHT's beautiful light fixtures are deteriorating at a rapid pace, and the question that everyone who walks through these streets asks is "is it true that the city does not have the money to maintain this basic point of the whole theory of tax collection?", the answer is "Yes, but much is lost in corruption and ineptitude".

These LIGHT lampposts, together with the beautiful pavements with tiles that form the border contour of the state of São Paulo, soon became icons of the city. However, an unusual law dictates that residents must be responsible for their sidewalks, causing very bad repercussions.

The residents individually decide how each sidewalk should be, transforming the city into an ugly patchwork. As if that were not enough, maintenance is not done; the holes and elevations caused by the roots of trees and plants creates a chaotic mosaics of cracks and rubble.

The order and beauty of streetlights, sidewalks and other urban elements have a role that goes beyond its main functional purpose; we should feel the pride of our urban symbols. But in the case of São Paulo, they represent the lack of care and absence of public administration. When a lightpole or a sidewalk is damaged, the citizen feels sorry for his own city, and this is really bad.
São Paulo LIGHT's street poles, unfortunately the beautiful light fixtures are deteriorating at a rapid pace

It is the so-called 'broken windows theory', a North American model of public security policy in the fight against crime, with the fundamental view of disorder as a factor in raising crime rates. In this sense, it proclaims such a theory that, if they are not repressed, small crimes or misdemeanors inevitably lead to more serious criminal conduct, in view of the state's neglect to punish those responsible for less serious crimes. It becomes necessary, then, the effective state action in the fight against crime, be it micro criminality or macro criminality.

When you see a well-preserved sidewalk, you feel supported and protected by your city, it inspires citizenship and respect. Someone of common sense and civility would never throw paper, cigarrette butt or a gum in such a nice sidewalk - at least the statistical probability of that happening would be very small. If we marry a policy of fines and small punishments, the situation would improve greatly.

On January 24, 2019, Mayor Bruno Covas enacted the Decree No. 58,611, which aims to standardize São Paulo's sidewalks, this initiative is on the right track, but continuing to hold the resident totally or partially responsible for its maintenance is still one of the worst mistakes that the city has been committing - transferring responsibility just because doesn’t have no money does not justify the violation of the main theory of collecting municipal tax x urban maintenance and improvements, postulated in 1735.

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