How to build homes... and not ruin Jerusalem

The bad news is that the apartments are to be built on a beautiful part of the Jerusalem Hills, ruining the environment.

The water pools and flowery terraces of Reches Lavan are in danger. (photo credit: AVRAHAM SHAKED)
The water pools and flowery terraces of Reches Lavan are in danger.
(photo credit: AVRAHAM SHAKED)
There is good news and bad news. The good news is that the Jerusalem Regional Planning Committee is to consider a plan to build more than 5,000 apartments.
The bad news is that the apartments are to be built on a beautiful part of the Jerusalem Hills, ruining the environment.
The particular area is called Reches Lavan (the white ridge) above Ein Lavan, which is on the small road just past the zoo and aquarium, on Nahal Refaim. It is certainly worth going for a walk there to see its beauty, its water pools and its terraces, which at the moment are full of gorgeous wild flowers.
It is clear that Jerusalem needs more homes. The question is where to put them. Research carried out three years ago and updated recently, showed that there is space within the existing built up area of Jerusalem for approximately 100,000 new homes. Yet, developers want to build on the pristine and virgin green belt, which will also stop the ground water feeding the natural spring. Why?
The government gives the developers the green belt land because it seems less complicated than working in the inner city. This is a misconception. If there is a need to encourage the developers to build within the city, it should be through financial subsidy by the government.
For example in Talpiot and Givat Hamatos, there is space for at least 5,500 new homes. There are approved plans for more than 20,000 apartments around the City, as well as 50,000 in the planning stage. It is totally unnecessary to spoil the environment; instead we should build only where there is space inside the city. Such new homes need not be in tall tower blocks that also affect the city.
The population density of Jerusalem is less than Paris, which has lots of open spaces and parks.
The sale price of any apartments built in Reches Lavan will not be affordable to young families who are in need of housing. The cost of building there involves putting in costly new infrastructure for the utilities such as sewage, water, electricity and perhaps gas, as well as flattening the hills.
The objection to building in Reches Lavan is not to stop developers from making a profit. For the city of Jerusalem, according to economic research, it is more viable over a long period of time to advance urban renewal for affordable housing than ruin the environment by building in the Jerusalem Hills.
Furthermore, it is possible that some portion of these inner city blocks could be set aside as social housing by limiting the price per square meter at which the apartments could be sold and making sure that any sales are for people actually living in Israel and not for non-citizens’ second homes. That way the residents can contribute to city life.
It is possible to have a vibrant Jerusalem. Don’t let the Jerusalem Regional Planning Committee pass the plans for Reches Lavan.
Join the protest by objecting to the plans. Sign the objection at www.teva.org.il/lavan_objection before the deadline for submitting objections on February 26.


Tags homes