Monday, October 2, 2017

Safe Travels

Lior Regev

Israel’s roads are the most congested among all OECD countries. Residents of and visitors to Israel’s major cities are well aware of this congestion: every morning long lines of cars grace each junction and interchange in and around the city. Experts in the field have increasingly promoted public transportation as the best solution to the city’s traffic problems, and in recent years the government has invested heavily in this area. The question is whether the residents of Israel’s cities feel the impact of these investments.

The findings of the Central Bureau of Statistics’ Social Survey (average for 2014-15) indicate that 66% of Israel’s residents aged 20 and above commute to work primarily by private vehicle, motorcycle, or carpool. For about 20%, the main mode of transportation is a train or bus, and 10% ride a bicycle or walk to work (the remainder work from home or commute by unknown means).
There are interesting differences between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in this regard. While the proportion of those who commute by vehicle or carpool is comparable in both cities (50% and 51%, respectively), the use of public transportation is much more prevalent in Jerusalem: 33% of Jerusalem’s residents rode the train or a bus to work, compared with only 26% in Tel Aviv. Biking and walking are more prevalent in Tel Aviv, where 17% of the residents commute to work by bicycle or foot.

The differences stem, evidently, from Tel Aviv’s more manageable topography and convenient concentration of workplaces. Jerusalem, by contrast, is hilly and spread out, and the distance between its residential and business zones might explain its residents’ preference for public transportation. The low rate of car ownership among the Haredi population is also, presumably, a contributing factor.

The use of public transportation in Jerusalem is in fact the highest among Israel's large cities. Among the other major cities, the rate varies from 22% (in Be’er Sheva) to 29% (in Netanya). Jerusalem is the only city where the rate exceeds 30%.
The frequency of use of public transportation is also higher in Jerusalem. In 2015, about 19% of Israel’s residents reported that they ride a bus on a daily basis; that is, buses were their main means of transport. This rate is higher in the major cities than in the suburban and rural areas: in Haifa it stood at 26%, in Rishon LeZion at 25%, in Tel Aviv at 23%, and in Jerusalem the rate was 32%.


Translation: Merav Datan

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Households

Yair Assaf-Shapira

At the end of 2016, some 2.5 million households lived in Israel. A household is defined as a group of people (or one person) who live in an apartment, and have a common expense budget for food. For example, a family can form a household, but flatmates who share the food budget will also be defined as such.

What is the number of persons in your household? The average HH size in Israel is 3.3 persons, but among the various population groups there is a difference in the sizes of HHs. For example, among the Jewish population, the average number of persons in a HH is 3.1, and among the Arab population it is 4.5. In Jerusalem, the average household size is 3.9, and among the Jewish population in the city it stands at 3.4.

The average, however, does not indicate the distribution. Households usually begin their lives small, as one or two people units, grow, and then split up and shrink, as a new cycle begins. A large part of a person’s life span is spent in a small household, and therefore a large proportion – almost half (43%) of the households are small, and include one or two people. Among the Jewish population in Israel, smaller households are more common (47%), and in Tel Aviv and Haifa they constitute the large majority (70% and 63% respectively) of the households. Among the Jewish population in Jerusalem, the share of small households is similar to that in Israel at 47%.

Among the Arab population in Israel, small households are much less common, and their share stands at 19%. In Jerusalem, the proportion of small households among the Arab population is only 15%.

Small HHs have different needs and consume different services, a notable example is apartment size. The share of small apartments (up to 3 rooms) in new construction in Israel is relatively small (9.5%), and according to the data, maybe it should be enlarged.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Business Arnona

Lior Regev

Arnona (municipal tax) is the main source of regular income for Israel’s local authorities, including the Jerusalem Municipality. Residential Arnona, however, does not typically cover the cost of the municipal services provided to residents. The rate for non-residential properties differs from the rate for residential homes. For this reason, local authorities compete for Arnona from businesses: businesses pay more and use relatively few municipal services.

Which part of the city generates the most Arnona for the Municipality of Jerusalem?

The amount generated depends on the types and sizes of properties in each part of the city. For example, places of religious worship pay the low rate of NIS 63 per square meter, while offices and commercial businesses larger than 150 square meters pay the high rate of NIS 334 per square meter. Because the amount due is determined by square meters, the larger the property, the higher the Arnona. In some cases, the rate is further affected by the size of the property: if it is beyond a certain threshold, the cost per meter rises. And in some cases, the location can also affect the rate.

By cross-referencing the number of properties and the Arnona revenues they generated in 2016, we can identify several phenomena. The revenues from the Mahane Yehuda market and Malha mall areas are comparable, at NIS 25 and 28 million, respectively, before discounts. Yet the number of non-residential properties in the Mahane Yehuda area stands at 1,600, compared with only 300 in the Malha mall area – a five-fold difference (!). The reason apparently lies in the large number of small businesses in the market area, in contrast to the mix of businesses in the mall, which has many regional or national commercial franchises.

Moreover, the rumors about the death of the City Center evidently overstated the situation. About 1,670 businesses operate in the triangle formed by the Ben-Yehuda Street, Jaffa Road, and King George Street, generating some NIS 44 million for the city, before discounts.

The largest Arnona-generating areas are the industrial and commercial zones of Talpiot and Giv’at Sha’ul. In recent years the mix of properties in both zones has been continuously diversifying. Today they house auto-repair shops, stores and places of commerce, business offices, some remaining traditional industries, and the beginnings of knowledge-intensive industries. Interestingly, the number of non-residential properties in Talpiot is larger than the number in Giv’at Sha’ul by nearly 1,000 (2,518 compared with 1,548), yet the difference in income generated amounts to only NIS 7 million (105 compared with 98 million, before discounts).



Translation: Merav Datan

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Kibbutz in the heart (of the city)

Dafna Shemer

The borders of the city of Jerusalem underwent a significant change 50 years ago, in June 1967. Much has been written about that change, which led to additional population, territory, and numerous questions of legality and sovereignty being encompassed within the city limits.

However, a number of additional minor changes have been made to Jerusalem's boundaries over the years, the most recent of which was approved in September, 2016, by Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, when a change was made in the border between Kibbutz Ramat Rachel and Jerusalem. The minister has the authority to alter the boundaries between local authorities, in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee for Jurisdictional Boundaries.

This change included the transfer of about 69 acres (280 dunam) of Ramat Rachel's orchards to Jerusalem, and was effected despite the combined opposition of Kibbutz Ramat Rachel, the Mateh Yehuda Regional Council (within which Ramat Rachel is located), and the Ministry of Agriculture (because of the agricultural crops in this area). Those who didn't number among the opponents to the change were the green organizations: The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, and the Sustainable Jerusalem coalition. Although the source of the reasons for which the green organizations chose not to oppose the change is related to the Safdie Plan, the role of the Safdie Plan in this story is not only played out in the position taken by those organizations.

The Safdie Plan was created in response to Jerusalem's demographic needs. As part of the efforts to promote the plan and in order to meet the quota of missing land reserves, in 1993 the then Interior Minister (who was Aryeh Deri at that time as well), at the recommendation of the Committee for Jurisdictional Boundaries, decided to add territory to the city from the west: The Lavan Ridge, the Arazim Valley, and Mt. Herat. Included in this agreement were also the 79 acres (320 dunams) from Kibbutz Ramat Rachel. This area is to the east of the Talpiot neighborhood and to the west of East Talpiot.

Over the years, Kibbutz Ramat Rachel benefited from this decision, since the land is still owned by the kibbutz (under lease), so a situation was created in which the area was transferred to the municipality of Jerusalem, but ownership remained with the kibbutz. As a result the kibbutz made handsome profits from the sale and rental of the housing units built in this area.
As time passed, the green organizations altered their strategy in their efforts to protect open spaces, and focused on protecting areas that are not located on an urban continuum but have value as natural sites.

While in 1993 it was agreed that there would be no further changes in the borders around Ramat Rachel, today, from an urban perspective, sectioning off additional parts of the kibbutz seems like a more logical option than other alternatives, and therefore the green organizations did not express opposition.

Ramat Rachel is an enclave within the Jerusalem city limits that were created in 1967. It is a kibbutz in an urban environment. As we have shown in this short review, this position has both positive and negative ramifications.


Translation: Gilah Kahn