A NEW MODEL CITY

Peru 2017 | ECONOMY | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Jorge Muñoz Wells, Mayor of Miraflores, on recent milestones, innovative ways of maintaining a low crime rate, and potential for investment.

What are some recent milestones that your office has achieved?

First of all, Miraflores is an attractive district to live and to do business in, and we have decided to work with that in two aspects—a kind of urban aspect to improve the area, and a human aspect to work with the population. In that sense, we have proposed utilities work, roads, sidewalks, and parks that can be shared by the people. We even have secure places in some parks because Lima is a seismically active zone. For the human aspect, we have developed a children's council; I meet with them and they provide a childhood perspective and suggest things. We took the idea from an Italian environmentalist teacher, Francesco Tonucci, who posited that cities that are good for its children are also good for its adults. We have three kinds of councils: children, youth, and adult. They often meet with me and tell me their opinions or their requests. In Miraflores there is a high population of seniors. We are building our third and largest senior housing facility. On Wednesdays, I open city hall for constituents to share their complaints, suggestions, and praise. This provides me with a connection to the citizenry that is valuable. We have also been highlighting the use of technology and telecommunications information, which allow for more participation, more connectedness, and more facilities for people. People can pay their taxes, inquire about dossiers, and follow the most important meetings all on the internet. We have an application simply called Miraflores that allows us to interact with the citizenry. What we look for is technology that will benefit the people. In November of last year I was in Barcelona, and I just came back from Pruebla, where I was invited to speak about Miraflores. In April, I am going to Bogotá. Miraflores is becoming an example of information technology worldwide.

Why do people feel secure in Miraflores?

El Comercio wrote an article about Miraflores, asking: “What the secret of Miraflores?" The answer is that we meet every Friday with a district committee on public safety, where we have involved the two commissioners, police from other metropolitan agencies, firefighters, peacekeepers, and the district attorney. There are in total 20 people who make up a platform that meets every Friday. We recently had meeting number 245, where we discussed an integral strategy called Miraflores 360° Todos juntos por la seguridad ciudana, or “Everyone together for a safe city." This means that, every day, we are involved in a comprehensive monitoring of the city. We have a central command where we can see what is going on. We also have a group of people checking integral statistics from the national police force and have created a real criminal map, so we know exactly where the most problematic areas of the city are, where the calmest are, where we have to put more emphasis, and what we need to do to be better. We have received awards and recognition for this, and I have always told people security is something done every day and we have to keep working to provide security to our citizens. The crime rate in Miraflores decreases every year, while the rate in the country increases. We are going against the current of what is happening nationwide.

Why is Miraflores a great place to invest?

Miraflores offers security in every sense of the word. We know that there are many aspects to consider regarding security, and that every leader has to offer social security, human security, legal security, citizen security, and so on. In Miraflores, we offer fair rules and, as a result, we have legal security. People know that they can come and establish themselves and that there are no risks to their investment. Moreover, we offer security on the streets, and as a result there is no theft; businesses can grow without collateral risk. We have put an emphasis on the care and use of public zones, because if they are secure and used, they will generate a positive cycle.

What projects are currently shaping Miraflores? How do you maintain your iconic image while maintaining a balance between modernity and tradition?

Maintaining balance is always complex, and we must have a balance. We have projects in the north close to San Isidro. One is designed by Jean Nouvel, which will gather business, homes, entertainment, and a five-star hotel all in one area where the San Martin Headquarters used to be. There is a project for a hotel in Costa Verda, too. While we have these projects in the germination state, there is also a commitment to conserve traditional areas by the town council, and that is where the balance is. In the traditional areas where there are old, big houses, what we look for is that the owners have a commitment to maintaining the house and we encourage them to preserve the buildings. We are elaborating on our urban development plan for the next 20 years and we take into consideration several elements, such as the kinds of citizens, the new socio-demographic conditions, how young people like to live, who will live in outlying areas, and who will live near Nouvel's project. We are listening to the entire population in order to improve the district in the following 20 years. Miraflores is a consolidated city but there are always developments underway, such as gentrification. The town council's commitment is to provide security and fair rules and to put into place elements for the good care of areas that will make the gentrification process happen not only in the center, but across the whole city. Some days ago, I read a report about Lima's districts; the best value per square meter is in Miraflores, and we have extended beyond our original district. This is something we are proud of. It is not that the grounds have become expensive, but it is an indicator of quality.