Friday, February 2, 2018

Garden City Movement

Shaya Rosenblum

The area of a city that is devoted to parks, gardens, and inviting spaces where people can sit is an indicator of the extent of municipal investment in the quality of life of the residents of the city. For the most part, residents prefer to live close to green areas where they can walk around, sit down, and enjoy recreational activities with their families and friends. In this column I will review the size (area) of the green space (that the municipality actively maintains) in relation to the total number of residents.

First of all, relative to the cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa, Jerusalem lags far behind. According to the data from the Jerusalem Municipality, there are 2,820 dunams (1 dunam = 1/4 acre) of green space for which it is responsible (not including passageways and green areas that form barriers between lanes of a road), which constitute 3.84 square meters per resident. In Tel Aviv there are 2,600 dunams of green space, which constitute 6.21 square meters per resident, and in Haifa the situation in this respect is the best of all, with 2,390 dunams, which constitute 8.76 square meters of green space per resident (the data for Tel Aviv and Haifa was culled from the cities' yearbooks).

When examining the data for Jerusalem at the neighborhood level, it is immediately apparent that there are barely any green spaces in the Arab neighborhoods. The Wadi Al-Joz and Sheikh Jarrah neighborhoods have the largest amount of green space per resident among the Arab neighborhoods – 2.09 square meters per resident – while in the neighborhoods of Kafr 'Aqb, Beit Hanina, Sur Baher and Um Tuba there are no parks, pedestrian walkways, gardens, inviting areas to sit, or decorative nooks at all, that are maintained by the municipality.

In general, one can see the difference between the older neighborhoods in Jerusalem, which are urban and more crowded, so that there is less public area available for parks, and the new neighborhoods beyond the center of the city where the area of green space per resident is greater. Thus, in the older neighborhoods, the green space is somewhere between 0.2 and 1.1 square meters per resident, as opposed to in the newer neighborhoods, where it is between 5.6 and 7.8 square meters per resident. One example is the Bayit Vegan neighborhood (0.49 square meters per resident). This neighborhood is located outside the city center, and was established in the 1930s on private land, as a "garden city." Every plot contained a house and a private garden, and none of the land was allocated for public parks. Over the years, the original houses were torn down and larger buildings were constructed in their place. However, it was not possible to allocate land for public green spaces, since the plots were privately owned.

Until the early 1990s, there was no adherence to any kind of policy that would ensure allocation of a satisfactory ratio of green space to each resident. In neighborhoods where the contractors' assessment was that there wasn't much demand for green space, such as in the Har Nof neighborhood (1.77 square meters per resident), only small areas were allocated for public green space. Only in the neighborhoods that were built in the 1990s did the planners ensure that the amount of green space per resident would be at least 5 square meters. 

Translation: Gilah Kahn

Friday, January 19, 2018


Dafna Shemer

Among both Jews and Arabs, the influence of education on employment is clearly evident. According to the Labor Force Survey conducted for the year 2016 by the Central Bureau of Statistics, the rate of those employed among Jews at the predominant working ages (25-64) in Israel is 82%, while the rate of employment among Jews who hold a BA degree is 89%, rising to 91% among those who have an MA degree, and to 92% for those who have a PhD. Among Jews who possess a matriculation certificate (who did not continue on to higher education), the rate of employment is 81%. Among the Arab population, the total rate of employment is only 53%, a similar percentage to those among the Arab population who hold a matriculation certificate (54%), while among Arabs who have a BA, the rate of employment reaches 77%.

The ratio between education and the rate of employment among Jewish men and women is similar, while among the Arabs there are wide gaps between the men and women. Among Arab men, the rate of employment is 75%. The rate of employment among Arab men who have a matriculation certificate is 82%, and the rate of employment among Arab men who have a BA degree is 88%. Among Arab women the rate of employment is lower – only 32%. Among Arab women who have a matriculation certificate the rate of employment is 30%, while for those who have a BA degree the rate is 68%. The chances that an Arab woman who holds an MA will be employed are 82%.
While the rates of employment in Jerusalem are lower than those in the rest of the country, the trends are similar. Among Arabs, the rate of those at the predominant working ages who are employed is 49%, whereas the rate among Arab men is 80%, with the rate among Arab men who hold a BA reaching 86%, while 83% of those who have a matriculation certificate are employed. Among Arab women in Jerusalem the rate of employment is only 20% in general, 12% for those who have a matriculation certificate, and 43% for those who have a BA.

The Council for Higher Education in Israel claims that the market for higher education has reached its limit with respect to the number of students enrolled. In an attempt to assess the extent of enrollment among the different populations in institutions for higher learning, we compared three age cohorts (ages 20 to 22) with the number of students studying for a first degree at local universities and colleges. We found that about 60% of non-Ultra-Orthodox Jews ages 20 to 22 are studying at institutions of higher learning, as compared to 23% of Arabs at the same ages.

It appears that the Arabs lag behind the Jews when it comes to embracing higher education. The percentage of Arab women who hold academic positions is high (35%) relative to those in other positions, and similar to that of Jewish women (33%). In other words, education is a key to employment for Arab women, so that encouraging Arab women to continue their studies at institutions of higher education may yield high returns with respect to their rate of employment.

Translation: Gilah Kahn

Friday, January 5, 2018

NMP38 -- The TAMA

Yair Assaf-Shapira

National Masterplan 38 (NMP38, or TAMA38) is a national plan with a double purpose – to reinforce old buildings and ensure their earthquake preparedness; and to contribute to urban renewal, by adding new apartments in built-up areas. The NMP38 allows for the possibility of constructing additional apartments, the sale of which finances the reinforcement of the building, the expansion of the existing apartments, and often the addition of an elevator and other improvements. When you visit Jerusalem neighborhoods, you may see projects being executed in the framework of NMP38, but not many of them. For instance, on the street where I live there is one completed NMP38 project, and on my way to the Jerusalem Institute I pass by two additional projects. Is the NMP38 in Jerusalem proceeding at a relatively slow rate? Not necessarily.

Extensive planning processes take long years to complete, and not only due to bureaucratic procedures and processes. In the case of NMP38, and especially in Jerusalem, it takes time until both home-owners and entrepreneurs are convinced that they are embarking on a worthwhile investment. Are the tenants and entrepreneurs convinced? What does the future hold for NMP38?

The Jerusalem Municipality publicizes urban renewal projects, among them NMP38 projects, on the municipal Geographic Information System (GIS) website. Among all the projects that received building permits – in other words, projects where construction has already begun, will begin soon, or has been completed – 75 projects were identified across the city, comprising the expansion of 720 existing apartments, which includes the addition of 510 apartments, in the framework of NMP38.

These projects were approved starting from the middle of 2011, which means they have been in progress for the past 6.3 years. Hence, every year, on average, about 81 apartments have been added via NMP38. And it is very likely that the pace will accelerate, for today there are 410 projects, at various stages of planning (they have yet to receive building permits), which include the addition of 3,550 new apartments. It turns out that on the street where I live five additional projects are planned, and that on my way to work I pass by another eight projects that are in different stages of planning.

NMP38 has one track for the reinforcement of existing buildings, and another track for demolishing and re-building. It is interesting to learn that about 51% of the additional apartments in the new projects (those in the initial planning stages) are now on the demolish-and-re-build track, as opposed to 30% of the apartments that have received building permits over the years. It appears that NMP38 in general, and the demolish-and-rebuild track in particular, have won over the tenants and the entrepreneurs.

The highest prevalence of the NMP38 project is in the Rehavia neighborhood (33 projects of which 16 are in the initial planning stages). This fact provides food for thought, for it is in this neighborhood, where a detailed and up-to-date Master Plan exists, where the behavior of the public clearly demonstrates a preference is for NMP38, which by its nature does not include comprehensive neighborhood thinking, but focuses solely on the individual building.

UPDATE: According to data received from Moria, as of the beginning of January 2018, the up-to-date data is as follows: So far, 101 building permits have been issued in the framework or NMP38, adding 832 apartments. During the year 2017 alone, 38 permits have been issued, adding as many as 426 apartments. This means that more than half of the apartments added in Jerusalem by NMP38, were added in 2017.

Translation: Gilah Kahn

Friday, December 22, 2017

A Secondhand Car from Jerusalem?

Lior Regev

According to data from the Israel Vehicle Importers Association, the year 2016 saw a record high in the delivery of vehicles in Israel. The purchase of new vehicles contributes to the replenishing of the stock of vehicles that travel on Israel's roads: new vehicles equipped with sophisticated safety systems, which emit lower levels of pollution, and are quieter and more economical. However, as long as the purchase of new vehicles is not balanced out by old vehicles being taken off the roads, this isn't necessarily good news. The general rise in the number of vehicles leads to increased congestion on the roads, which in turn leads to an increase in the transportation burden and emissions of pollutants, and further irritates the already frayed nerves of the Israeli driver.

In light of these implications, it is interesting to see where car inventory is renewed and where it lags behind with aging vehicles. With respect to the big cities, the answer seems clear – according to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, in 2016, about 40% of the cars whose owners live in Jerusalem were a decade old or older. That is in comparison with 25% of the vehicles in the entire country, 21% in Haifa, 15% in Tel Aviv, and 14% in Rishon Lezion.

The aging of the vehicle inventory in Jerusalem also stands out in terms of the average ages of the vehicles: In Jerusalem the figure stands at 8.6 years. The average in the country is 6.5, with the figure standing at 5.9 in Haifa, 4.8 in Tel Aviv, and 4.6 in Rishon Lezion.

When we examine the annual purchasing trends, dramatic gaps are revealed between Jerusalem and the other large cities. It seems that the newest vehicles of all are driven on the roads of Rishon Lezion: Nearly half (47%) of all the vehicles in the city reached the road between 2014 and 2016, as compared to 43% of the vehicles in Tel Aviv, and a third (33%)of the vehicles in Haifa. The parallel figure in Jerusalem stands at 16%. A review of the previous year reveals that 18% of the vehicles in Rishon Lezion reached the road in 2016, as opposed to 16% in Tel Aviv, 12% in Haifa, and 6% in Jerusalem.

We tried to find various explanations for this phenomenon. Maybe it's the leasing companies that are registered in the center of the country and work tirelessly to renew their inventory; or it might be the result of the generous credit loans and the low interest rates that the banks offered the buyers (the ones that Avi Bar-Eli and Oren Dori wrote about in January 2017 in an article in TheMarker). It may be that unlike the benefits granted in personal contracts from private companies in the central part of the country that encourage the purchase of a new car, the tax benefits in the public sector in Jerusalem and the weak buying power of the residents, encourage people to hold onto their old cars.

Or maybe it's just the Jerusalem nostalgia, the difficulty to disconnect from the past and to embrace change – as embodied in the renowned pun and prohibition against any change to customary Orthodox practice, that "new is forbidden by the Torah," written by the Chatam Sofer in the 1800s – or the innate modesty, and the god-fearing nature of Jerusalemites, that cause its residents to cling to a 1989 Subaru. Perhaps.

Translation: Gilah Kahn