How many of you remember the “Seinfeld” episode in which George is fighting over a parking spot in front of Jerry’s building? That may become a common scene in many large Israeli cities. It is already hard enough to find parking space, but now it may become even harder.
A recent change in regulations approved by the Ministry of Interior will drastically reduce the number of parking spaces allowed to be built in new office and apartment buildings. The idea is to encourage people to travel more by public transportation and less in private cars thus reducing traffic jams, air pollution and the number of road accidents.
This would be good if Israel’s public transportation system was as efficient as those in much of the world. But it is not. Whereas most major cities around the world boast a subway or tram system with frequently and efficient trains, Israel does not have any subway system. Of our two largest cities, Tel Aviv has only recently begun considering a tram, and the recently initiated light rail system in Jerusalem, by all reports, fails to solve the city’s transportation problem.
This creates serious difficulties for contractors who are now planning and constructing office buildings in areas where a tram will pass. How many parking spaces should they build now? If they build fewer parking spaces as per the new regulations, where will people park until public transportation catches up? Will they be able to sell or lease these properties if they do not currently have sufficient parking? This could lead to a decrease in land value purchased by contractors for office buildings. It is very possible that many contractors will reconsider their projects and abandon their plans to build.
Currently there is such a high demand for parking spaces that the cost to rent and buy these spaces has risen significantly. Now they stand to rise even higher.