This week in Jerusalem: For the sake of Kiryat Hayovel

A round-up of city affairs.

Plans for the new park in Jerusalem's Kiryat Hayovel neighborhood. (photo credit: JERUSALEM DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY)
Plans for the new park in Jerusalem's Kiryat Hayovel neighborhood.

For the sake of Kiryat Hayovel, Part I

Over 100 residents of Kiryat Hayovel and Kiryat Menachem held a demonstration last Sunday in the area of the planned park in the 1950s-era historic transit camp complex.

The resident activists and local council administration welcome the initiative to build a park there, but are opposed to the municipality’s plan to build a road in the middle of the park, which would break up the area. Residents are also complaining that the road would prevent children from playing nearby without the close supervision of adults. 

Interestingly, in the initial planning, it was decided to close the existing road in a section close to the woodland garden along the planned park. But in the final detailed plan, presented only a few days ago, residents were surprised to find the road would not be canceled. 

The park is a present from the Jewish National Fund for the city, and NIS 70 million will be invested in its construction. At Kiryat Hayovel’s Yuvalim local council there is great suport for the planned park (a project personally led by Mayor Moshe Lion) but they are adamant that the road should be canceled. The municipality wants to maintain easy access to the park and education institutions in the vicinity, including access to public transportation for residents' benefit. 

For the sake of Kiryat Hayovel, Part 2

The municipality decided earlier this week to appoint an official appraiser to examine the costs of the Taylor House complex in Kiryat Hayovel, as part of a feasibility study for the expropriation of the property. Sources at Safra Square explained that if it is indeed decided to expropriate the property, then the continued operation of the Taylor House, including the sports fields and public pool, will be guaranteed for the well-being of residents and the fight against closing the place and promoting the present construction plan will be superfluous, and canceled.

Houses at the Arab village of Beit Zafafa next to Givat Hamatos neighborhood of Jerusalem on July 05, 2016. (credit: LIOR MIZRAHI/FLASH90)Houses at the Arab village of Beit Zafafa next to Givat Hamatos neighborhood of Jerusalem on July 05, 2016. (credit: LIOR MIZRAHI/FLASH90)

In parallel, the legal proceedings of the Yuvalim local council administration with Shikun & Binui, one of Israel's largest construction firms, which acquired the property. Municipal expropriation of the property, while providing adequate and agreed-upon compensation to the parties, will remove Shikun & Binui and return the complex to public ownership, whether directly by the municipality or through the community administration.

Since this plot is a public area, the costs of its removal from public domain should be cheaper than in the case of a residential or commercial area. It was Deputy Mayor Yossi Havilio, formerly the municipal legal adviser, who proposed the initiative to examine the expropriation procedure and is promoting it.

My beautiful city

The municipality has called for funding to upgrade the facades of city center businesses and to purchase street furniture to upgrade the visibility of public spaces there. This project will be implemented through Eden, the Jerusalem Economic Development Company, and the Business Promotion Division.

In addition, grants for winter enclosures for patios and outdoor seating have been increased and will amount to up to NIS 60,000 per business. Business owners are invited to submit grant applications, to be discussed by a special committee selecting recipients of the upgraded grant. It should be noted that the upgrade work will be carried out by the business owners who are entitled to the grant, subject to legally obtained permits.

This land is my land

The Israel Lands Authority and the Hebrew University have signed an agreement under which land currently belonging to HU will be handed over to the ILA for developing residential and commercial projects. This was made possible based on a recovery agreement signed in 2018 between the State of Israel and the university. Thus a total of 15 hectares (37 acres) located on Mount Scopus and in Givat Ram will be transferred to the ILA, which will promote the areas' planning and development and market them for residential projects, rental housing, sheltered housing, commerce and employment.

The land value is estimated at NIS 1.6 billion. In return, the ILA will transfer to HU a total of NIS 400 million as a first payment in favor of the university’s compliance with said obligation for the recovery plan. In addition, the university will receive a percentage of the marketing of the complexes from the authority. All financial proceeds will be used by HU for academic research and teaching.

In addition, the university is working to establish a new student dormitory complex on the Safra campus in Givat Ram, which will have about 900 rooms, along with a faculty housing complex of 90 apartments, for the use of young researchers working at the university in the coming years. Part of the funding for the construction of the dormitories will be from the Finance Ministry in accordance with the decision of the government, which undertook to grant the university NIS 100m. for the dormitory construction.

A house for all

A group of east Jerusalem Arab residents successfully petitioned against discriminatory policies at a subsidized housing project in Givat Hamatos, in which only citizens would be eligible to live there. According to the tender, 40% of the homes in the Givat Hamatos tender are allocated for a lottery-based government-subsidized housing scheme.

Since the majority of east Jerusalem Arab residents hold the status of “permanent residents,” this criterion excluded them from a significant percentage of available and affordable housing, which could potentially help alleviate the severe housing crisis in east Jerusalem.

The petition was submitted in January by 20 residents of Beit Safafa and Sur Bahir, backed by the Ir Amim NGO, challenging this discrimination, and the state recently announced it would extend eligibility for subsidized housing in Givat Hamatos, across Jerusalem and throughout Israel for all permanent residents. Ironically, Ir Amim has always been opposed to any Israeli construction plans in that area, seeing it as a major obstacle to the “two-state, two-capitals” framework in Jerusalem, as building this neighborhood would envelop the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Safafa with a built-up Israeli area.

Sources close to the residents who appealed said that the need for housing solutions among Arab residents is so urgent that it finally prevailed over what they see as Israel’s objective of expanding Israeli settlement (as a means to thwart any remaining prospect of a future Palestinian capital in the city). 

Park here

The municipality has opened a new parking lot in the Beit Hakerem neighborhood, located on Rachel Hameshoreret Street, which contains about 70 free parking spaces for the benefit of residents and visitors.  

The area was formerly used as an IEC transformation station that the municipality managed to obtain for the use of local residents. It was conducted entirely through a public participation process, carried out through the local council administration. All the work carried out to prepare the area, such as leveling it, placing safety fences and marking parking spaces was done through the Moriah Company, and lasted about a month and a half.

The word from the municipality is that while the city parking shortage is being addressed, it comes alongside a warm recommendation to residents to use public transportation as much as possible.