Monday, August 8

Barcelona 2021: when the city invites you to leave

Overwhelmed by the effects of the pandemic crisis, the people of Barcelona today are no longer the proud citizens of yesteryear. Little remains of the Olympic euphoria and that excessive optimism that took over its residents convinced that theirs were the best games in history and their homeland, the envy of the world. Now there is talk of lethargy and paralysis. From a decadent, degraded and dehumanized city. And expensive. There is no neighborhood life or local commerce, many say. Neither neighbor stairs, in the opinion of a few others, because who else who least has a tourist partying in his building. Neither places for the leisurely walk. There they are to blame the unbelievers of the scooter and the bicycle, that they are not all those who go on two wheels, only those who circulate where they should not. Negativity has settled in the neighborhood. Perhaps rightly, or perhaps because the city, cyclically, abhors its mayors, everyone except, with nuances, Pasqual Maragall.

The full glass

Thus, Rebeca Santos is clear: “If nothing changes, I have no problem moving to Zaragoza or Alicante.” Also José A. Guerrero: “I hope to retire in eight years and leave. I’ll go for sure ”. Both neighbors have been living in the city for years, the first lives in the Eixample; the second, in the Poble-sec. They share future intentions and a negative but not guilty diagnosis. Guerrero points directly to the city council: “To his nepotism and lack of sensitivity to citizens and businesses.” An active member of the community and founder of the association of bars and restaurants in Carrer de Blai, affirms that “whenever we have complained to the Consell de Barri about problems or tried to solve conflicts with neighbors, we have found ourselves in the district of front”.

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The problems look like dirt and sloppiness: “In the Calle de Blai, the dirt accumulates, there are more than 1,500 broken tiles, the tree pits are rotten and there are roaches. And Montjuïc is infested with rats ”. The frictions with the neighbors are linked to the restorative facet of Guerrero. He assures that the city council has never had the will to dialogue to solve the issue of schedules and terraces: “Always with the attitude of ‘all this is mine and if not, it seems it’. There is a strong harassment on their part “. And he continues: “The inspections are only aimed at being a stick for restaurateurs.” As an example, he explains two anecdotes: a fine for having two more chairs on the terrace for 20 minutes to temporarily accommodate two grandparents visiting family diners. And another for obstruction of the inspection work because his daughter could not find the documentation of the establishment and he took seven minutes to arrive. “There are many things, details, details, details, details and the glass fills up.”

Unbearable noise

Santos, for his part, shoots everywhere: “Not everything is Colau’s fault, the ‘procés’ hasn’t helped either. It has become impossible to live here. I love Barcelona but it has become inhuman ”. The catalog of grievances is long: dirt, noise, bottles and fear of “scooters, bicycles and ‘riders’ that circulate on the sidewalks at all hours”. And the icing: the prices. “It has become a provincial city but with prices of European capital. Something does not work well when in Madrid you pay for a single bus ticket 1.60 euros and here 2.20 euros ”. That prices have multiplied in Barcelona it is something that nobody doubts. And that is why Montse Ortega has in mind to leave: “Barcelona is fine if you have a good salary but if you don’t have a good retirement, the city expels you”. This neighbor of Sant Andreu recognizes things well done: such as public mobility that “allows you to get everywhere”, but it is also critical: with the unique platform on Gran de Sant Andreu street – “they have made it pedestrianized but cars and as there is no sidewalk it has become dangerous ”- and, of course, with the new way of collecting garbage in the neighborhood established (and since Friday fallow) by the town hall -“ at night labeled garbage bags accumulate that they have not been collected ”.

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The system is called “horrible” and “obsolete” by another neighbor of the neighborhood, Jordi Jorcano. He claims that the noise made by garbage trucks passing by at different times is “unbearable.” “Since the implementation of the new waste collection I have been sleeping with caps and even so it is impossible to sleep.” Nor does he like the new landscape “with the garbage bags in full view of the world.” And he extends the criticism to the entire city: “Barcelona is very dirty wherever you go. It is the same in Sarrià, Diagonal or Passeig de Gràcia as in San Andreu. Visually, it’s gross. ” Point. Nor does he sleep because of the noise – “not even with everything closed and double glass” – José Manuel Fernández Arroyo, in this case residing in Eixample: “The noise is unbearable, both for the festivities on the tourist floors and for the garbage trucks, which pass by at all hours, as well as for the motorcycles, which seem to be on a circuit. Does the council plan to take measures to respect the rest and mental health of its neighbors? ”.

Past times

He fears the reopening of nightlife because his area is a zone of bars and discos. “There are always fights and people shouting, I don’t know how it is allowed and if you call the Urban Guard it is useless. Does not appear”. And the turnaround that Barcelona has made hurts him: “Everything has changed, commerce is no longer the same as before, neither my stairway, when I arrived we all knew each other and now there are three tourist apartments ”. Marchar affirms that he would leave but it is difficult for him to make a move, but adds that “living in Barcelona is tiring, before I was much more comfortable”. Sonia Moreno also speaks of past times, remember that before the clientele of his business in Ciutat Vella were neighbors or good tourism. The former have moved to other neighborhoods; the seconds have stopped coming.

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He dislikes the dirtiness of the city – “she’s dirty” – but affirms that “the worst thing is the incivism”: “The center of Barcelona is like a wild jungle. During the day you can still go for a walk, but in the afternoon and at night, among ‘skaters’, scooters and bicycles you have to be careful not to get run over. And don’t complain, they scold you or even attack you ”. Nor is the Tibidabo, where he lives, there the problem is called a bottle. He affirms that it is the neighbors who end up dissolving the concentrations of young people with alcohol: “The Urban Den up here does not arrive, what is it! And he mentions, longed for, the ‘momentum’ of the city: “I am outraged that the Barcelona of ’92 has not been maintained. We have gotten worse and it will continue to get worse.”

He wants to leave, like the rest, but for now nobody is leaving.

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