Finding street parking in Tel Aviv has for a long time been an almost impossible task. The smallest space marked in blue and white on the curbside gets quickly snapped up by a lucky driver, as soon as it becomes available.
One consolation for the city's frustrated drivers has been that Tel Aviv Municipality has 'turned a blind eye' to cars parked at night by red and white curbsides and even on the sidewalks of certain streets, providing they caused no obstruction to traffic and the sidewalk is still wide enough to let pedestrians, especially those in wheelchairs, get past.
But this week Tel Aviv residents have woken up to a new reality. For example, whoever parked overnight on the sidewalk of Shaul Hamelekh Boulevard, which is usually full of cars at night, found a ticket on their car this morning. The good news, however, was that it was not a ticket for NIS 500 - the usual fine for parking on a sidewalk - but a 'warning ticket,' explaining about the city's new parking enforcement policy.
Residents asked parking wardens who hand out the tickets what is going on and there were contradictory answers. One said that full fines would be handed out in a few days, another that full enforcement was still in the 'pilot' stage and that no permanent policy has yet been decided. the explanation of the first warden is nearer to the mark.
The following announcement appears on the Tel Aviv Municipality website. "The sidewalk is not the road! Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality is giving back the sidewalk to pedestrians and tightening up parking violations enforcement with an emphasis on prohibiting parking on sidewalks, as part of the municipality's policy of giving back sidewalks to pedestrians, due to the proliferation of those using them."
The municipality adds that the enforcement began on August 4 in central Tel Aviv and will be extended to other neighborhoods later in the year. In the first stage warning tickets will be handed out followed later by fines. Even though the municipality mentioned only sidewalks, cars parked alongside red and white curbsides have also received the warning tickets.
Residents are up in arms about the diminishing number of parking places in the city. In April 2018, more generous terms for handicapped residents were introduced with 3,500 roadside parking spaces allocated, reducing the minimum available public parking in the city. In addition, 500 street-side parking spaces were taken away from cars and allocated to Autotel, per-ride shared rental cars and other spaces have been allocated to motorbikes and other two wheeled vehicles. Parking areas have also been given to the shared electric scooter rental companies.
Tel Aviv Municipality said, "The municipality is investing major resources in order to make things easier for residents suffering problems over parking in the city. This includes the parking reform for free parking for residents by blue and white curbsides, doubling the number of 'close to home' car parks and increasing annual discounts for residents in car parks belonging to Ahuzat Hahof to 75%. In addition, reducing privately-owned cars and encouraging use of alternative transport such as Autotel (per ride rented cars) and Tel-O-Fun (per-ride rented bikes) promoting mass transit systems, and investment of tens of millions of shekels annually in expanding infrastructures and bicycle paths etc. The number of residents' parking permits remains unchanged."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on August 5, 2019
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