Netanya cracks down on illegal buildings

The city of Netanya has begun toughening up on illegally built structures, working with police in "problematic" cases to pull down illegal homes or extensions, reports The city has dozens of illegal structures listed for destruction. According to the report, Netanya was long known as a haven for building-law breaches, where even if a court order to tear down an illegal structure was obtained, it remained unenforced and was seen as a "recommendation" only. But over the past two years, the city has begun cracking down on illegal structures, pulling down about 70 so far. Dozens more are listed for destruction in the future, most of them illegal extensions or residential units built in the yards of homes, but also including one horse farm built on public land. Last week, for the first time ever in the city, a resident destroyed his own illegal extension to his ground-floor apartment after being persuaded that he would not only lose the city's court proceedings against him, but would be forced to pay all associated costs. The report said that municipal officials had prepared a list of about 25 illegal structures that are considered "problematic" after their owners threatened or attacked building inspectors. In those cases, police will oversee the tearing down of the illegal structures. A local police official said that cooperation between police and the city over the destruction of illegal structures had improved greatly over the past year, and that as well as accompanying the workers carrying out the destruction orders in the problematic cases, police would also carry out "additional activities" with regard to difficult property owners.