#186: Bad U2 news, protest crackdown, tenant protection, FC Union
A queer film festival
Dear 20 Percent!
I know, it’s a typical expat gripe, but queuing in Germany gets my goat. Not just the shameless line-jumping in supermarkets. Also the inefficiency that causes queues in the first place.
On the train from Hamburg, my toddler and I were waiting in line for his complimentary Deutsche Bahn toy train and magazine which you pick up at the train “bistro”. There were only 8 people in front of us but the bistro's card reader crashed with every customer so we waited 20 minutes. Germany 2023: where card payments are slower than cash.
More seriously, I can't get an appointment at the Bürgeramt. There are zero appointments available. Even with All About Berlin’s handy auto-refreshing appointment-finder. And so I am unable to join the queue even though I have urgent administrative business to take care of. Even though ALL cities in Germany were required by the Onlinezugangsgesetz to offer ALL services online by … the end of 2022.
At least we get thrown this bone: people who buy their ticket online or hold season passes can now skip the queue at Berlin’s outdoor swimming pools. A tiny concession but I'll take it.
More news below!
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Climate-gluers in court
Berlin courts are sending mixed signals about the climate protesters glueing themselves to streets and autobahns. In one case, a judge ruled the protests did not constitute “duress” because drivers had the option of avoiding blockades by using public transport. On Monday, however, another court found an activist guilty of duress because the action she participated in hindered a heavily pregnant woman from reaching the hospital. That protester was fined €1,050. Meanwhile, Berlin’s CDU-SPD coalition is split over whether it is okay to put climate activists in “preventative custody”. The CDU wants to, naturally, while the SPD wants to reserve the practice for potential terrorists. On Monday, an activist was detained by Bavarian police at his house without charges to prevent him from taking part in a climate protest in Regensburg.
Some tenant protection
The Berlin government is extending protection from contract termination for tenants of rental flats that were sold to owners who wish to occupy the flats for their own use. Under the rule, which was due to expire in September, the first private owner is forbidden from terminating a tenancy until 10 years after a tenement flat has been reclassified as a privately owned condominium. Between 2011 and 2020, 124,421 apartments were converted into condominiums in the city.
Berlin loves a pilot project but never gets around to solving actual problems. Here the problem is the shortage of free public toilets and the fact that usually the urinals are free but the sit-down toilets are not. While in some areas sit-down toilets have been made free to prevent break-ins, some free-of-charge, ecological and gender-fair composting toilets which include a “stand-up urinal” and a “squat urinal” has been installed in Mitte’s Invalidenpark, taz writes. As we’ve written before, twenty-four units are planned for parks across town. That sounds great but instead of setting up grimy festival-style loos, wouldn’t it be wiser to use the €1.7 million earmarked for the project on making the 418 existing toilets free and keeping them clean?
If you don’t already subscribe, you should — regardless of what kind of loo we’re reading this in.
The next chapter of the U2/French developer saga
The annoying single-line U2 U-Bahn between stations Klosterstr. and Senefelder Platz may be with us for awhile — although French property developer Covivio told Tagesspiegel it was nearing a successful end to its repair job on the U2 tunnel under Alex (they’re building a skyscraper and caused the tunnel to drop nearly 4cm), experts have noticed water seeping into the nearby U5 tunnel. The water may be the result of the repairs to the U2 tunnel and fussing with the century-old U2 tunnel to fix the water problem could lead to severe cracks, because it’s not reinforced with steel. That would mean part of the tunnel would have to be rebuilt. But we’ve all learned to avoid that stretch of the U2 anyway.
Millions more for solar unicorn
Berlin renewable energy unicorn Enpal has attracted €430 million in new funding, according to Tagesspiegel. The firm rents solar systems and electric car charging stations to households — and is now ramping up to get in on the heat-pump frenzy triggered by the government’s plan to get millions of homes to switch to renewable heating.
Xposed Queer Film Fest
The 17th edition of Xposed runs Thursday-Sunday with a smorgasbord of international queer features, docs and shorts — ranging from more conventional narrative fiction to experimental flicks that rarely make it to the big screen. Takes place at Moviemento, Wolf and Il Kino. Very English-friendly. The info.
A couple of weeks ago, erstwhile Berlin footie underdogs 1. FC Union made history by entering the Europe-wide Champions League. The team’s stadium, Alte Försterei, only has space for 22,000 fans, so Union will play their Champions League matches at the Olympic Stadium, home of its poorly performing crosstown rivals, Hertha (they slipped to the less important 2. Liga this year). And that’s likely just foreshadowing: Union also wants to play in Berlin’s legendary stadium during the 25/26 pro season as they update the Alte Försterei so it can seat 37,700.
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