Corridors of Power: Built to order

The city attorney’s proposal to legalize unauthorized construction has not worked out as he planned.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, says the popular proverb. This may be the appropriate description for the situation that developed here following a decision of the municipal attorney to allow construction permits retroactively.
About three years ago, during mayor Uri Lupolianski’s days, municipal attorney Yossi Havilio presented the following proposal: All illegal construction in the city – east and west – would be given a chance to be legalized in order to avoid, as much as possible, the hazards of unsupervised construction and, at the same time, make it easier for residents who had purchased that property in good faith. The main idea was that buildings that had been registered as illegal (as well as added structures to existing buildings) would be submitted by a request to be checked by the legal department of the municipality and then forwarded to the Planning and Construction Committee to be legitimized (including payment of due taxes).
All parties involved – residents, entrepreneurs and elected members ofthe city council – welcomed the proposal. What Havilio had in mind wasan acceptable choice between two impossible options: going on withillegal constructions or forcing unpopular demolitions (and not only ineast Jerusalem).
Now Havilio is outraged and frustrated. So much so that last week, hesent the Planning Committee a letter, instructing them not to deal withsome of the requests submitted, which  had not been submitted to hisdepartment for examination first, as they should have been. 
“What Havilio has found out over the last few months,” explained asource close to the committee, “was that quite a few of those involvedturned the whole process into a farce. It was as if everything wasapproved in advance, and the only thing left was a simple formality,far from what Havilio had in mind.” 
In other words, the opportunity the attorney wanted to grant people whoadmitted they had broken the law and genuinely wanted to correct thesituation  was reduced to a token formality. Instead of presenting thecommittee with a detailed file of the illegal aspects and steps, peoplejust build openly without the required permits and then submit papersto obtain, almost automatically,  the a posteriori authorization stamp,“a kind of winking at the law,” continued the source.
As a result, last week a list of seven cases of illegal construction,which had not been submitted first for approval by the legaldepartment, were rejected from the committee’s agenda.