This week in Jerusalem - Pooch Paradise

Peggy Cidor's round up of city affairs

The urban project of bicycles for rent in the city centre is back in business. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
The urban project of bicycles for rent in the city centre is back in business.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Hurry up
In what could be considered urgent steps to create hasty facts on the ground before the next American president takes office, 30 families were evacuated from their caravans in Givat Hamatos last week.
The plan to construct 2,600 housing units (1,200 of them for the Arab population) is one of the most controversial facing the incoming new administration at the White House; President-elect Joe Biden was already against the plan when he served a vice president. The housing project for the Arab population is planned to become part of the Beit Safafa neighborhood, which suffers from a dramatic shortage of housing solutions for the young generation.
Officially, and for the past four years, the project – which was already approved at all levels (local and district planning and construction committees) – has been removed from these committees’ agendas for the required tender procedures because it was considered as problematic vis à vis the White House, even during the Trump administration. Deputy Mayor Arieh King has repeatedly accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of being the lone figure behind the repeated freeze of the project. However, now that the next president is not one who will agree to this construction, it seems that hurrying up to create as many possible facts on the ground is the new order of the hour.
As a preliminary step, the 30 families and individuals living there in caravans – all dependent on the government for any social housing solution –have been notified that they have to pack and leave. The problem is that nobody informed them of any alternative housing solution, and they threaten to fortify themselves inside the caravans if the police arrive to evacuate them.
Although all of them are Jerusalemites, the care for their needs is under Housing Ministry auspices. If a decision to provide them with social housing is taken, it will be done through the municipality.

Pooch paradise
Jerusalemites residing in the city center and Nahlaot will be happy to hear that a brand new dog park will open soon inside Sacher Park with many facilities to turn it into a canine Eden. The planned 1,000-sq.m. park will be enclosed by a planted fence. The plot will have lots of trees, lighting, water fountains, shade for summertime and even some exercise and training equipment for dogs.
The project was submitted by the Lev Ha’ir local council, and was promoted by the municipality after the project was given priority within the framework of renovations for Sacher Park. Inauguration is expected within a few weeks.

Game over for bank
Forty years in business for the Palmah Street branch of Bank Hapoalim have reached an end. On December 23, a public tender for acquiring the 227-sq.m. property will be issued, open for any project. During recent years, all banks have reduced their personnel staff and have even closed and merged a number of branches. The banks are moving to more digital use of their services and selling their real estate properties everywhere.
For those who still desire human contact with a teller, the bank’s Rehavia branch will be their address as of now. The ATM will continue to work from the same location on Palmah Street.

Get ready for a ride
After a three-year delay, the urban project of bicycle rentals in the city center is back in business. Frozen because haredi representatives at city council refused to approve it due to possible Shabbat violation, it seems a solution has been found. Two-hundred bicycles will be on available at 25 spots across Jerusalem, mainly in the city center, as of March 2021. The project will include 120 electric and 80 regular bikes.
A pilot rental spot launched last week at Safra Square and the municipality has signed an agreement with the FSM company, which has been running the rent-a-bike project in Tel Aviv for the past few years. Customers will have the choice of a single-ride rental or monthly subscription.
The municipality encourages the use of bicycles inside the city, first for environmental reasons but also to emphasize good health and sport. In another project, the municipality is working on developing a 200-km. bike path.

TikTak and you’re there
They travel across the city, in small- and medium-sized vans, with large inscriptions announcing that “TikTak Egged will take you there… ” – and it seems to be working. For now only in Jerusalem and Haifa, this new transportation service provided by Egged takes you quickly and easily to your destination.
On the basis of specific neighborhoods – new ones are added to the list almost every week – passengers book in advance through a smartphone app for single or multiple rides. The price is around NIS 10, but can rise at congested rush hours or fall during light traffic. The idea is to keep the passengers in the Egged transportation system but also offer an alternative to the overloaded – and slow – services of the regular bus.
More details can be found at bit.ly/3c1qdZP, or follow on Facebook at @EggedTikTak. Bon voyage!

Enough is enough
The municipality – more specifically the legal bureau of the legal adviser to the mayor at Safra Square – has decided enough is enough. While transparency and participation in municipal projects are good things, in at least one case, things have gone too far. For about a year now, a member of the Eda Haredit (Neturei Karta) has been submitting countless objections and appeals regarding infrastructure work in the city, often leading to costly work stoppages.
The man, Nathan Kremer, acts with the authorization and blessing of rabbis of the radical sect in trying to stop work on the light rail, among other projects. Most of the work he challenges has already been approved by the local planning and construction committee, which is presided over by a haredi representative.
Kremer works in the interests of the sect, which does not collaborate officially with any Israeli authority, including the municipality. But that does not stop him from using all legal means – including appealing to the courts – to delay or totally prevent projects that might somehow impinge on the customs of radicals in Mea She’arim – though Kremer himself does not live in the neighborhood.
Earlier this week, a municipal legal adviser concluded that focusing on Kremer’s complaints and answering his appeals in court was jamming up city hall's legal team, and decided to hire a private law firm to handle Kremer’s objections and actions. Sources in Safra Square have suggested that the idea of hiring an external firm to face Kremer might have come from haredi members of Mayor Moshe Lion’s coalition – who, since they collaborate with the “Zionist entity” of the municipality, are not particularly respected by the radical sect.