WHAT IS SAJEP?
We are an apolitical, voluntary, non-profit neighbourhood group in existence since 1967 and committed to the cause of preserving the strictly residential characteristics of four adjacent areas in Southwest São Paulo, Brazil; namely, Jardim América, Jardim Europa, Jardim Paulista and Jardim Paulistano.
Jardim América is an original development of the early 1920s by English architects Barry Parker and Raymond Unwin, along the lines of Ebenezer Howard's earlier "Garden City" experiment at Letchworth, England, a concept better described in his "Garden Cities of Tomorrow" book - a milestone in urban planning later applied in his own country at Milton Keynes and Welwyn Garden City.
Jardim Europa is a later development with somewhat smaller lots, whereas Jardim Paulista and Jardim Paulistano follow a more grid-like street layout.
All four share the leafy, low-rise, low-density characteristics of that novel concept of urban planning which eventually spread to other areas in the city as amenable places to live, closer to nature and away from crowded, cluttered and built-up downtown São Paulo.
OUR ACTIVITIES IN A HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT
São Paulo's totally uncontrolled and unplanned growth in the last 30 years or so, with continuous ducking by consecutive municipal governments of long-term planning on the expansion and improvement of public transport, and their electoral-biased promotion of under-engineered and overpriced road schemes as the sole way to go for land communication, have led to an explosive rise in the use of motor-cars and diesel buses as the main means of transportation in the city.
This decades-long negligence means that present-day São Paulo is virtually gridlocked with tire-borne vehicles (and their emissions), whose desperate need for rolling ground has turned local streets into through roads, with the consequent degradation of previously quiet neighbourhoods and the relentless assault on these by commercial ventures, often in contempt of zoning laws but tolerated by local authority corruption. This corruption, once thought of as traditional and officer-centered, has been exposed in the press as a large-scale racket geared to feeding the electoral purse of situationist city councillors, who took over the local enforcing offices as their own "fiefdoms" and held the power to appoint senior officers. The widespread scandal showed the system needed a change, which is expected after the opposition's victory at the November, 2000 municipal elections, when a majority of councillors said to be involved in the racket were replaced.
Within this chaos, SAJEP repeatedly filed complaints, as we continue to this day, at the local municipal office against illegal usage of property or violations to the building code or to zoning and municipal laws, including the blatant appropriation by individuals of greens and other public land where there's a pedestrian right of way. When such complaints fail, we enter requests to the State of São Paulo's Public Prosecution Services to take legal action for negligence against the Municipal Government.
We also lobby public authorities for preventative measures. In 1986, as a result of our efforts, the Council for the Defence of Historical, Artistic and Cultural Assets (CONDEPHAAT), a State of São Paulo authority, granted Jardim América, Jardim Europa, Jardim Paulista and part of Jardim Paulistano listed status. Listing extension to the remainder of Jardim Paulistano is currently pending and expected at any time.
WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS
Before large-scale corruption in local offices was brought to light, throwing the City Council in turmoil, discussions were on about a new Plan of Directives for São Paulo, the last of which dates from 1972, when zoning laws were first introduced. It is expected that local communities will have a say when discussions restart and that the new Plan will have been duly appreciated by all segments of society before being put into action. It is mainly expected that the citizens' interests will this time be able to override the insatiable greed of private interests who have milked from this city's doom perhaps for too long.