Theses Master's

Municipal Services and Urban Planning in the Context of Puerto Rico Addressing the Impact of Austerity Measures at a Local Level

Calvesbert Rivera, Tyrene N.

The research studies how austerity frameworks affect the local scale of municipal public services in Puerto Rico. This thesis stems on one side from the passing of Hurricanes Irma and María in 2017 which further revealed the vulnerability of the Puerto Rican archipelago and its people, and present the islands-territory as a particular case study. Puerto Rico’s current status is framed by a persistent lack of economic development, unfolding financial decline and fiscal debt, a newly imposing oversight and management intervention by the United States, and an urgent need of post-disaster reconstruction–the question of public services becomes critical. The thesis formally asks, to what extent austerity impact public services delivery at a municipal level in Puerto Rico?

The research argues that austerity strategies have translated to the municipal local level as fiscal discipline complicating the already intricate relation between central and local governments, as well as central and federal governments, exposing public and essential services to high uncertainty. There’s no evidence to protect and support municipal public services at any scale. The thesis argues that the body–and scale of local governance may be in the correct position to explore and foster planning practices that promote collaboration between the local and the central scale. The planning field largely allows for the articulation of public concerns, monitor metrics, mobilize discourses, and bridge a growing spatial inequality. The local scale delivery of public services– I would argue, can help guide the multiple agents–historical and present, to counter the impact of austerity.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
O'Neill-Hutson, Moira K.
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
June 25, 2019