For over a century, communities alongside the San Juan waterway have survived despite sub-human conditions and government neglect. On the fringe of Puerto Rico’s banking district, just minutes from premium tourist and residential areas, eight communities (about 27,000 residents) along the Caño Martín Peña struggle to wrap their minds around the latest news impacting their hopes and dreams.
Since 2002, community leaders have organized, built capacity and have worked diligently on developing solutions to transform their forgotten district. Two milestones on their journey of empowerment are now vulnerable to the changes in local politics: 1) the Special Planning District, which won the American Planning Association’s Paul Davidoff National Award for Social Change and Diversity for demonstrating a sustained social commitment to advocacy and 2) Law 489 which created a Community Land Trust (CLT) so that residents in collectively own the land, and individually have property rights on the use of the land and on their structures and avert gentrification.
Two legislative bills threaten Law 489 and the Community Land Trust: Senate Bill 365 passed without public hearings; House version 1403 passed, was approved by Senate now goes back to the House for approval, and to the Governor (who made strong statements in support of the CLT during the electoral period).
The Group of Eight Communities (G-8) advocate for the land trust and the implementation of their proposed plan to integrate the community with the larger San Juan area by boosting local economic development, cleaning up the environment, and increasing educational opportunities for residents.
So will the Governor of Puerto Rico empower or leave these communities disempowered? Let him know how you feel.
You could join the facebook group Abraza el Caño de Martín Peña.. (via Pedro Cardona)
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