Sunday, February 12, 2012

New parking regulations coming to Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv residents will be able to park anywhere in the city for free, while non-residents will be paying the maximum allowed by law, under a new plan the Tel Aviv Municipality unveiled earlier this month.The plan's goal is to alleviate parking congestion and free up spots for residents. It still needs approval from the city council, the Interior Ministry and the Transportation Ministry. Residents will also be paying less to park in 62 lots operated by municipal company Ahuzat Hahof, the municipality said. Going forward, they'll be getting a 75% discount, up from the current 50%. The discount will not apply at lots outside courthouses and cultural institutions.

The plan gives clear preference to residents and its impact should be felt, even if it does not solve all the city's parking woes, said Tel Aviv Municipality Director General Menachem Leiba. The change was initiated by Mayor Ron Huldai and his deputy Assaf Zamir. "The parking problem will not be solved, but residents' quality of life will improve considerably," Leiba declared at a press conference Tuesday.

Due to a lack of proper public transportation, many residents resort to cars, he noted. Only better public transport can solve the city's parking woes, and that's something that needs to come from the central government, not the municipality, he explained. Last summer's Gush Dan public transportation reform improved matters to some degree for non-residents who commute daily into Tel Aviv, but it also damaged city residents' quality of life, he said. The city had tried to raise parking fees for non-residents in blue-and-white zones in the past, but the Transportation Ministry wouldn't let it, said Leiba.

"As far as we're concerned, non-residents ought to use public transportation," he said. "Non-residents should pay high parking fees, both in our lots and in the blue-and-white zones. If they could be charged more than NIS 5, we would do so," he said.Leiba promised that the municipality would continue to seek parking solutions for residents, hinting that the city would turn a blind eye to nighttime parking infractions that do not disturb the flow of traffic. The municipality is trying to increase the number of parking lots and spaces in the city center, and has plans to build new lots there, he said. One example is a pilot to build an underground parking lot under Sokolow Street, he said.

Cutting or eliminating residents' parking fees in blue-and-white zones requires the approval of the city council, followed by the interior and transportation ministries. Municipality officials hope that approval will come through within a few months. The other aspects of the parking reform will take effect on March 1. Municipality officials estimate that the reform will reduce city revenue by a significant NIS 35 million a year.

Source Haaretz

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