We interview Titus Gebel, the Founder, President and CEO of Free Private Cities Inc.
Free Private Cities is working towards building new, greenfield cities using a model of individual bilateral contracts between each citizen and the city owner/operator.
In his book, "Free Private Cities: Making Governments Compete for You," Titus describes why and how Free Private Cities should be developed.
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View full show notes at http://anarchitecturepodcast.com/ana025.
- The Free Private Cities Concept
- Individual contracts
- A simple idea, with profound consequences
- Autonomy from the host nation
- Real World prototypes: Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Singapore
- Unique forms of urban development
- Patrik Schumacher - Market Based Urban Order
- Open to market experimentation
- Competing service provider models
- Incentives to cover maintenance costs
- Book: Free Private Cities: Making Governments Compete for You by Titus Gebel
- What is a Free Private City (FPC)?
- A concept to make governments compete for you
- Rights and obligations of citizen and service provider are captured in an individual contract
- A contract should not be changed by only one party
- The Monaco realization - good governance makes political action unnecessary
- Location location location!
- Is a weak or friendly sponsor government a geographical feature?
- Location factors -
- proximity to infrastructure
- access to trade
- technology can improve desirability of remote locations and seasteads
- How does the process get started?
- Spread the idea
- Proposals from candidate countries
- Legal autonomy is the hardest part
- The sales pitch - Special Economic Zones
- Seeking finance: $100m opens a lot of doors
- At some point, they will hopefully compete for us
- Examples - Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Macao
- More than 4,000 Special Economic Zones (SEZ's) and Special Administrative Regions (SAR's) already exist
- SEZ's create wealth for the surrounding regions
- How do you integrate existing occupants?
- Concept is based on 100% voluntary participation
- Ideal is to start on uninhabited territory
- Existing occupants
- Referendum to join city
- Offer free/discounted citizenship
- Compensation for displacement
- How does property ownership work?
- Everything is conceivable
- City operator is a for-profit entity
- Operator would likely own the land, sell parcels to raise funds
- Option agreements or partnerships with existing landowners
- Lease model - less likely but also possible
- User fees alone may not be sufficient
- Push vs. Pull development
- Start small, organic growth
- Some master planning is needed for easements, etc.
- Patrik Schumacher - zoning for aesthetics in city center
- "The Freak Zone" in outer areas - little or no zoning
- Lighter touch, use based zoning
- Height and noise restrictions alone can determine uses
- Opportunities for more unique urban forms
- Disneyland as a SEZ
- Patrik Schumacher - Market Based Urban Order
- We don't know, so we want to try it out
- Different districts with different rules
- How do you manage change?
- Noise threshold and other development rights can be sold
- Multiple competing operators / providers within one city?
- This is possible for certain services
- Provision of security should be a monopoly
- Transaction costs too high
- "I'm happy if people can prove me wrong"
- Competing security within subdevelopments, with subsidiarity to the operator
- San Francisco private police force
- City operator as an intermediary
- "Social contract" is a contract between each individual and every other individual
- People think they own city assets because they pay taxes
- The FPC contract model clarifies the relationship
- In a FPC, other citizens can't interfere with your contract with the operator
- Much better protection for individual liberties
- Representative systems are susceptible to lobbying, cronyism, power plays
- Taxes don't entitle you to any services
- FPC operator is liable for malperformance of contract - compensation for poor security performance
- Joe's house was broken into
- Only role of the police was an official report for the insurance claim
- Monaco car vandalism - direct access to the minister
- More cameras, and more screening of immigrants
- "If you are not punishing people for doing bad things, they will do it again"
- Cameras and police presence in an FPC - not as creepy as when a government does it - is it a surveillance state if there is no state?
- There are always trade offs
- If you are not providing effective security, you will go out of business
- People come to Monaco because the cameras are there, keeping them safe
- A cruise ship captain can legally abuse his passengers - but he treats them like customers
- How would disputes between a citizen and the operator be adjudicated?
- Third party arbitration, special courts
- No different than any major construction contract
- Minimum payment to arbitrators is $1,200 - not feasible for small claims
- Small claims tribunals a potential solution
- Easier in theory than in practice
- Other means of citizen involvement in city management
- It's not so important who owns the city operator, as long as the contracts are enforced
- Some cities might require citizens to purchase a share of ownership
- Cooperatives are possible
- Various councils can be formed, but cannot violate citizen contracts or force changes to the contract
- Public space is one service offered by the operator
- Kicking someone out of a city means preventing them from using public space.
- Cities who expel criminals from public and private spaces will end up looking less like a police state
- Restitution to victims
- Operator makes citizen whole, criminal owes the operator compensation
- Keep punishment/imprisonment to a minimum, prefer expulsion and compensation to victims
- Multiple laboratories to see what really works
- Projects on the horizon
- Subscribe to FPC newsletter for updates
- Buy the book (link below)
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