City council scores with car park recovery

By Steve Hide December 5, 2018
Campín car park

After a 26-year legal kickabout, city authorities have got their car park back. Photo: Sarah Lapidus

After decades of wrangling, the city finally regains control of Campín car park, with revenues of up to 30 million pesos on big match days.

Getting entry to their own car park might not seem like the best brag in town. For Bogotá city officials though, regaining possession of El Campín Football Stadium’s parqueaderos last month must have felt like a winning goal.

The vast stadium car parks were returned to public control after decades of court wrangling during which private contractors effectively locked district authorities out of the 2,500 spaces that could generate up to COP$30 million on busy match days.

The tussle over the car parks dates back to 1992 when the district council outsourced site management. But they repeatedly failed to kick out the private companies after they started pocketing the proceeds in 1994.

During the ensuing 24 years of legal claims and counter-claims, the rightful owners Instituto Distrital de Recreación y Deporte (IDRD) lost around COP$14 billion in parking fees that could have benefitted sports programs in the city, claimed city councillors who welcomed an end to the ‘absurd situation’.

For years, citizens have demanded an end to the dodgy practices whereby rights to public-owned parking sites have been dished out to private companies for peppercorn rents. To everyone’s frustration, authorities have seemed powerless to claw back these income-generating assets.

Tackling the El Campín car park problem was a ‘triumph over wide-boy practices’ tweeted Bogotá’s mayor Enrique Peñalosa soon after the recovery operation. In the end it took a combined team of 12 government and council departments to get control.

The mayor’s team now has its sights on several other district-owned car parks in the city that have been taken over by private companies.