Store owners plan tax rebellion

Traders have been growing increasingly frustrated with the city over its long-running renovations of the street.

Store owners on Ra'anana's main street, Ahuza, are threatening mass action to withhold their municipal taxes, saying that customers are staying away and earnings are dropping because the city has removed parking spaces, reports the Hebrew weekly Yediot Hasharon. Some 20 store owners met last week to discuss concerted action and to plan their "rebellion" against the city. According to the report, the traders have been growing increasingly frustrated with the city over its long-running renovations to the street, which have widened the sidewalk and removed parking spaces. One store owner said the main problem was that residents and employees arriving for work in the area would park their cars in the streets around Ahuza and would leave them there all day, preventing shoppers from finding parking spaces and deterring them from coming to the street. The traders say their earnings have dropped significantly and they have asked the city to introduce paid parking in the streets around Ahuza to encourage people to park for shorter periods, but their pleas have reportedly fallen on deaf ears. "Rehov Ahuza is being buried in a terrible way," one store owner said. "In the afternoons work has dropped off drastically for us. There isn't a living soul here." Store owners in Ahuza currently pay municipal taxes of about NIS 800 per month for a standard shop of 35 to 40 square meters. Most of the store owners at last week's meeting expressed support for the idea of withholding their taxes as a means of forcing the city to heed their concerns. A municipal spokesman said the city had added parking spaces in the central city car park, but there was a known parking "crisis" in the area. The spokesman said the city had hired a company to come up with a transport master plan, and added that introducing paid parking into areas that until now had been free for all residents was "a decision with many consequences that cannot be made in one day." The spokesman also said he believed that while some traders were unhappy with the renovations, there were "many" who were satisfied with them.