El Cabanyal is a bastion of the city that is proof against any municipal administration whatever its political sign. In spite of the wear and tear, it manages to preserve part of its essence as a fishing neighbourhood, of neighbours born and raised in those same streets, of shops that have even survived a pandemic, of houses that never pretended to look at the sea and are content to remain standing. It is a neighborhood shaken by successive municipal governments, which is resisting blow by blow. In recent years, the Rialto has given him a remarkable faceliftdressing their sidewalks in white, but letting the procession go on inside. His recipe, his investment and the object to which the arrangement has been directed, has been quite superficial. The government team forgets the bulk of the problems that affect the interior of many homes.
Neighbors continue to demand that the investment be directed towards social assistance and citizen regeneration. But it’s just those demands that have been left behind by the City Council. Nearly thirty projects are pending, and most of them are of a social nature. Almost all of them are integrated in the Urban Development Strategy or EDUSI funds, which come from Europe. Only 4% has been executed in five yearsThis is despite the fact that, according to the requirements set by the European Union, at least 30% of these funds should have been implemented by the municipalities by the end of 2019. Among all these pending projects are a training school, a day centre for the elderly, a primary school, the implementation of a programme for digital training or the reconstruction of the headquarters of the civic centre. Everything is still not started or is in the pipeline.
It is not surprising that the neighborhood continues to lose population, or is among those with the highest unemployment rate in the city. In this time, the decisions of the municipal government have only made the social problem that El Cabanyal has been dragging on for decades. “There is no news or change, they don’t know how to deal with the problems below. It is something uncomfortable, so they let them be and there continues to be drug selling as well as behavior that creates tension and bad coexistence. It’s not a question of police pressure, what we want is to deal with Social Services because they are the ones who have to solve this by educating people to live together. What’s more, they are left in ghettos, segregated, and that’s perpetuating the problem in the neighborhood forever,” explains the spokesperson for the Zero Incívics neighborhood platform.
The neighbourhood rejects the 15-storey hotel planned by the City Council when the tourist apartments already overtake the area
The municipal opposition has been attacking for some time in this same direction; the popular spokesperson, Maria José Catalàm, declares that “the situation of abandonment in which El Cabanyal finds itself is evident in the very low state of execution of the planned investments which, linked to the lack of investment in social matters, has increased the problems of coexistence and cleanliness”.
Housing is another latent problem, closely linked to the social one. The empty spaces in Cabanyal are almost 3.000 according to the data of the Town Hall and the prices do not stop rising. While the City Council is promoting new construction, it has 207 pending awards for the public park, and more than half, 155, are in the neighborhood.
And what the face-lifting has done is to revalue the price of the apartments, which has risen 6% since 2019 and the rent has shot up: 5% more than last year, reaching a historic record in 2020. This is confirmed by the Official Association of Real Estate Agents. His secretary, Laura Greses, explains that “it is an area that has become fashionable since it has begun to improve, restaurants have arrived and is an area in high demand by tourists. But there are also many houses and municipal plots for those of a social nature and no action has been taken, nothing has been done or the procedures accumulate a lot of delay and some houses are in danger of being demolished”.
The proliferation of tourist apartments is evident. There are more places for tourist apartments in the neighbourhood than all the places in hotels, hostels and guesthouses put together, and it is the area of the city that concentrates this type of accommodation most after Ciutat Vella. Not even the Plan del Cabanyal (PEC) can contain it. “It already exceeds the percentage established by the PEC around the limit of apartments because the morphology of the neighbourhood has not been taken into account to limit them, because in El Cabanyal there are many houses one height and ground floors with housing use”, comments the spokesperson of the association Espai Veinal, entity that for years has been denouncing the drift that the neighbourhood is taking. Even so, the Town Hall is continuing with the PEC, and a 15-storey hotel will be the neighbourhood’s letter of introduction.
THE CABANYAL IN FIGURES
Loss of neighbours and high unemployment The population has stagnated, rising from 20,580 in 2014 to 19,300 in 2020. The accumulated unemployment rate is 4%, mostly long-term.
The price of housing has risen by 6% since 2019 and the price of rent has shot up: at 10 euros per square metre, it has increased by 5% in one year, reaching an all-time record.
There are about thirty projects to be implemented, 18 of which are dependent on European funds, some of which include a training school, a day centre for the elderly, a nursery school, a digital training programme and the rebuilding of the civic centre. In addition, there are seven within the framework of the Urban Regeneration and Rehabilitation Areas (ARRU) and two of the Trust Plans (PIP) initiatives.
El Cabanyal has more places for tourist apartments than all of its hotels, hostels and pensions. According to municipal data there are 937 apartments with 4,478 beds, being the area of the city that concentrates more this type of accommodation after Ciutat Vella.
Coexistence and the sale of drugs In the neighbourhood they continue to suffer the consequences of the degradation; in the so-called zero zone, in Pescadores or Amparo Guillem streets, the neighbours denounce the sale of drugs almost every hour.