Tehran, the capital of Iran, is a megacity replete with major problems, including air pollution, water pollution, regional imbalance, traffic jam, inequality or even lack of urban services, and a paucity of attention to the worn-out texture. It would be thus wise to approach these problems in a timely fashion before the damage becomes irreversible.
Regarding large-scale projects in Tehran, mass construction has almost witnessed a failure; rather, small-scale and localized projects are thought to result in better urban development. Localization of urban projects, indeed, would aid us in overcoming the aforementioned problems to a certain degree, but, simultaneously, public participation is a necessary precondition so as to increase the quality of life in the city.
Turning to the main source of revenue for Tehran Municipality, it has always been on the basis of increased construction which has a detrimental effect to the capital. To tackle this issue, Pirouz Hanachi, the mayor of Tehran, took advantage of a culture-based economy which causes the least damage to the city.
This means that Hanachi intended not to follow the approach of Tehran’s ex-mayors who placed emphasis on large-scale projects as well as mass construction of buildings and highways. Rather, he regarded human needs, public services, and small-scale project as the key to the success of urban life within Tehran.
Hence, in the course of two nominations for Tehran Municipality, he referred to two issues in urban management that need to be tackled in order to remedy the situation of Tehran city: The capital city being turned into the largest construction site; and the city of drivers.
In his approach, unnecessary constructions should be halted to turn the metropolis of Tehran and its urban space into a halcyon and peaceful place for its citizens. The focus was on small-scale and local projects which are highly influential and could enhance the quality of life leading to the satisfaction of the citizens.
The results of the latest public polls in Tehran showed that public concerns were completely in line with the new urban development approach emphasizing the necessity of localization and neighborhoods as the smallest units of urban planning and management.
Today, especially with the expansion of urbanization and the impossibility of comprehensiveness to sustainably solve problems, the attention and emphasis of urban management have been directed toward localization. In many developed countries, urban management is planning and striving for a fairer organization of urban services according to the concept of localization.
To this end, Hanachi had unveiled several of these localized projects to grab public attention and to gain satisfaction. At the same time, Tehran Municipality allocated a large amount of budget to local projects of 354 neighborhoods of the 22 central districts of Tehran for the current Iranian year (starting March 20, 2020).
Another pivotal approach in the capital has been to motivate people to walk in the streets and end the domination of drivers over pedestrians. For this purpose, creation of walking and cycling spaces has also been added to the capital’s Municipality agenda.
To achieve this purpose, pedestrian walkways have been created in several neighborhoods, including from Enqelab Square up to the intersection of Valiasr-Enqelab Street and then to Haft-e Tir Street in central Tehran. Night-time businesses have also been supported along these pedestrian trails.
A further human-centered manifestation of the Tehran Municipality is creating ‘Complete Street’ or ‘Street for everyone’, which was first used by the League of American Bicyclist, prioritizing pedestrian and public transit rather than using private cars.
It was planned in the Third Five-Year Development Plan of the country that Tehran Municipality should create one complete street per annum. Tehran has never seen such a street until the first one was constructed in Shahr-e Rey, in the municipal district 20 of Tehran. Pavements were widened, bicycle lanes were marked, and drivers were in charge of transportation.
Hanachi presented the slogan of ‘A City for All’ to the City Council and believes that taking his suggested measures will sustain 10 key policies of biodiversity, reducing pollution and removing unstable urban areas, creating justice and access to services, and reducing traffic jam and the like.
More important than these policies were the capital’s acute problems which needed urgent actions. The Municipality categorized them into eight major sections including the completion of Lines 6 and 7 of the subway. According to Mohsen Hashemi, the chairman of Tehran City Council, the effort which has been put with respect to Tehran Municipality in development of Line 7 of Tehran’s subway system is highly applauded.
Line 7 of the capital’s subway was partially opened in June 2017 by Tehran’s former mayor, Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, during his 2017 presidential election campaign but it was left incomplete. The capital’s subway network stretches over 220 kilometers and comprises seven lines (1 to 7) with nearly 120 stations.
Another introduced policy was taking full account of Tehran residents’ views before making further decisions. The Municipality designed a website on which the residents can leave their comments and recommendations about urban projects after they register with their national identification number.
Furthermore, to receive public trust, information transparency has been the centerpiece of the capital city’s ordinance. Research conducted by the Municipality has been made available to the public. All stages of securing construction permits have been conducted online.
What is more, the negative and positive effects of urban projects in short-, medium- , and long-term would be fleshed out for people under the tag of “Future Appendix”.
The Municipality unveiled a first-of-its-kind website in 2017, shafaf.tehran.ir, which offered viewers a full overview of its major contracts and the details of the city’s current fiscal spending package.
The website also features information on the Municipality’s executives, including their education and experience, academic degrees, alma mater, their previous position and the type of their employment contracts.