Tel Aviv - Yafo Mayor Ron Huldai famously said several years ago that there is no parking problem in Tel Aviv because there is no parking. Now it seems that the few places that there are will be reduced. The city had 80,000 street parking spaces in 2019, which will be cut by 10,000 in the coming few years because of the construction of infrastructure for public transport projects, it was revealed in a webinar on parking in the city organized by the Gazit-Globe Real estate Research Center at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), Herzliya.
Tel Aviv Deputy Mayor for transportation Meital Lahavi told the webinar, "Parking is a resource in short supply and demand exceeds supply, especially due new building and population density. Parking regulations for housing is a component of the ways of working that we are examining in order to cope, for example, with reduced parking on the streets. Another option on the agenda is restricting the number of (street parking) residential permits per household, setting differential tariffs for parking in different areas of demand, making street parking more expensive etc."
The reduction in street parking comes closely on the heels of the decision several months ago by the Tel Aviv Local Planning and Building Committee to permit housing construction in central Tel Aviv, which allows developers to build just half a parking space for each housing unit, down from one parking space per housing unit. In the north and south of the city, the requirement was reduced to 0.8 parking spaces per housing unit.
At the webinar Lahavi stressed, "The need for parking won't disappear, and therefore our role is to find and provide creative solutions such as calculating an average district regulation rather than for each building."
Lahavi explained the available parking in Tel Aviv was being reduced both because of a change in the municipality's policy and other changes like work on the light rail. Arlozorov Street for example has become a building site for the light rail with all its parking places disappearing.
But even though the city has undergone transport changes in the past few years with bicycle paths built, the proliferation of electric bikes and scooters, more lanes allocated for public transport and the expansion of the Autotel shared car project, the car is still king in the city and dominates much of travel around Tel Aviv.
Tel Aviv Municipality Strategic Planning Department head Hagit Naaly-Yosef said, "56% of journeys in the city are undertaken in cars. We hope to increase the proportion of bicycle and public transport users and of course pedestrians. Our urban targets require us to make changes on the issue of parking."
She added, "In the reality in which we find ourselves 67% of employees and students in the city use their own cars." She adds that 43% of residents have parking at home and 48% have parking at work. "There is a clear correlation between a parking place at home and a parking place at work," she says, encouraging people to use their own cars.
The Tel Aviv Municipality is hoping that the light rail will change this picture of congestion and jams and the way people travel in the city. Naaly-Yosef said, "Along the route of the Red Line and other lines that are being built, the maximum allocation of parking per housing unit will be 0.6."
Of the 340,000 parking spaces in the city, Naaly-Yosef says that 24% (80,000) are on the street, 130,000 are in private apartments and housing, 110,000 in places of employment and car parks and 20,000 belonging to the Ahuzat Hof parking company. 67% of street parking is reserved for residents at night.
Tel Aviv municipal engineer Udi Carmeli insists that in big cities the car is a thing of the past. "We are adding huge numbers of parking spaces to the city and we will continue to add them. Today it is rare to find a new apartment without a parking space. But does every tenant need a parking space. The answer is clearly no.
He explains that today when he leaves his apartment the number of transport alternatives has risen dramatically in recent years. "There are six or seven different options. Autotel, bicycles, scooters for rent, taxis and more. For managing an inter-city life the car is yesterday's thing.
But many residents and building developers object to this approach. Saliah Rothschild building company CEO Tomer Saliah said, "There is a feeling that the municipality thinks it has found a short cut. Instead of investing to make a long road, we'll shorten the road and reduce parking requirements and in that way they'll be less cars."
But Saliah insists that there are not enough alternatives to the car in the city and the fact is that people are prepared to pay an extra NIS 350,000 for a home that has its own parking.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on January 4, 2021
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