Mayor and planning director of Bogotá meet with students

The planning director and mayor of the city of Bogotá, Columbia, sat down for lunch and discussion with members of the GSD community on November 7. Co-sponsored by the Harvard Urban Planning Organization, the lunch was part of a series of events coinciding with Mayor Gustavo Petro’s visit to Harvard, including a campus tour and a November 6 lecture by Petro titled “The Political Struggle for a Sustainable and Inclusive City.”

The lunch with Petro and Gerardo Ardila Calderón, Bogotá’s secretary of planning, was an opportunity for some 40 students and guests to question the two officials about some of the innovative and controversial planning issues at play in Colombia’s capital city. Raven Anderson (MUP ’14) said he was fascinated by the context of the meeting. “Petro was a very popular opposition politician as a senator, but as mayor he has encountered issues and opposition that have damaged his reputation and popularity,” he said. “Incredibly for planners, most of these issues are standard planning items such as a new land use plan that includes exactions . . . from developers above certain FAR thresholds.”

Mariana Barrera (MUP ’14) of Argentina appreciated the opportunity to get a better understanding of what is happening in the region. “It’s okay to read the newspapers, but it’s better to have these people here to give a more realistic perspective of what’s happening,” she said.