Activists fighting planned 'hi-tech neighborhood'

"Why shouldn't I, a social worker, and my husband - who works in theater - be able to buy an apartment [in the project]? Are hi-tech people better than me?"

By NOGA MARTIN (TRANSLATED)
June 26, 2008 13:27
1 minute read.

Environmental and social organizations in Tel Aviv are gearing up to fight the planned construction of a block of apartments near the open market that would be sold exclusively to employees in the hi-tech and financial fields. Last week, a small group of protesters from the City For All of Us movement crashed an event at the Ronit ranch attended by thousands of potential buyers. Long-time social activist Rachel (Ruhik) Gilad Welner, who organized the protest at the ranch, told Yediot Tel Aviv that "in order to sign up [for an apartment in] the project, you have to state what your hobbies are and what your partner's hobbies are." "Why shouldn't I, a social worker, and my husband - who works in theater - be able to buy an apartment [in the project]? Are hi-tech people better than me?" she asked. When asked whether opponents of the exclusive project had plans for more protests, Welner said activists planned to be in the field "all the time" in an effort to alert as many Tel Aviv residents as possible to the apartment project's requirements for potential buyers. She said that plans were in the works for a "very wide coalition of green and social groups." "This is almost the only public land in the heart of the city, and a quarter of it belongs to the municipality, which must earmark part of it for housing that will be available to all residents of the city," Welner added. MK Dov Henin (Hadash) decried the selective selling policy. "You can't create ghettos of poverty across from forts of wealth. Pluralism is very important to the quality of life in the city. What's happening in the market [area] is the surest way to kill everything that's vibrant in the city today," he said. Henin called the for-hi-tech-only decision "political" and told Yediot Tel Aviv he intended to do everything in his power to fight the plan. Yoav Goldring, coordinator of City for All of Us's housing forum and a member of the city's rent control board, agrees that the municipality must concern itself with affordable housing. He said that the city needed to play a part in the construction and renting process, and when it did, the housing situation would change. Goldring also said that from what he understood, moderate voices in the municipality opposed the idea of a "hi-tech neighborhood."


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