Urban re-scaling: a post-crisis scenario for a Spanish city. Valencia and its megaregion
Libro: Cities in Crisis Socio-spatial impacts of the economic crisis in Southern European cities
Last page: 295
Keywords: Regional Development, Economic Geography, Urban Studies, Industrial Economics, Urban Politics, Political Geography, Urban Theory
The present economic crisis, experienced during the first decade of the twenty-first century, encompasses three different dimensions in Spain: an economicdimension linked to the explosion of the construction bubble, a social dimension represented by the loss of confidence in public institutions and in traditional political parties, and a third dimension that questions the territorial model of governance. Spanish cities have already initiated processes of reorientation, but those processes appear almost exclusively in terms of economic orientation towards post-industrial and post-real estate models, but do not show any significant change in spatial governance. Since the economic crisis has been reinforced by the governance framework, any institutional post-crisis scenario should consider not only the reorientation of the economy but should also rethink how the urban, regional, and national spaces are governed.
Spanish cities and regions should tackle what Neil Brennerhas defined as urban and regional rescaling, following examples of regions and countries that have already responded to this process in terms of institutional reforms (the UK, Germany, the United States). A new territorial vision of the role of cities, Metropolitan Areas and regions appears as a key issue, because, as already mentioned, the urban crisis in Spain is not only an economic crisis but also a crisis of territorial governance.
The need for reforms in terms of territorial governance in Spain will be linked in this study to Neil Brenner’s theoretical framework of urban rescaling. Spanish cities have not tested so far, with a few exemptions, metropolitan agreements or implemented multilevel governments. Local governments are seated at the administrative boundaries of municipalities.
The Valencian region and its capital are an appropriate example of the need for rescaling governance. It is the third biggest Spanish city, it has one of the most dynamic ports in the Mediterranean, and it is part of the economic and cultural megaregion called the Mediterranean Axis or Mediterranean Arch, defined empirically as a megaregion and recognised by the European Union as a priority area in the Trans European Transport Network TEN-T.
As rescaling is already taking place as a change in territorial and economic dynamics, the lack of institutional response to the phenomenon has reinforced the effects of the crisis. In this chapter it will be shown that the new post-crisis scenario in Spanish cities, specifically in the case of Valencia, should involve not only an economic reorientation to overcome the real estate bubble but also a reorientation of territorial and urban governance. It will be demonstrated that the interaction of scales and multilevel governance is so far an unresolved matter. It will be asserted that Valencia and its region already manifest some of the preconditions that are necessary to finally initiate a process of re-territorialisation of urban, metropolitan, and regional governance. The proposal discussed is that the present crisis can create momentum for an urban transformation with new premises, which make it necessary to rethink and assess urban policies in a framework that includes different mechanisms of territorial intervention at supra- local and multilevel scales, so far not really developed in Spain.
This chapter will be structured as follows. In the second section the territorial dimension of the crisis in Spanish cities is assessed. In the third section the changes already happening in several Spanish cities, focusing on economic reorientation, are discussed. In the fourth section the theories of territorial rescaling mainly by Neil Brenner are evaluated. In the fifth section the case of Valencia and the potential to initiate a process of governance rescaling in the megaregion of the Mediterranean Axis is studied. The chapter ends by concluding that public policy must adapt to the new territorial dynamics.