Discover more from 20 Percent Berlin
#191: More €€€ for districts, citizenship office, drug checks popular
Demand for commercial office space is dropping
Hey 20 Percent!
Let this serve as either inspiration or a warning to you: A little over 20 years ago I accidentally emigrated to Germany. I was just going to stay for two or three years, improve my German and beef up my resume. It looked like a good plan.
Then I got a distracted with a transforming Berlin and met a cool woman and now, in a few short hours, I’ll be going to the graduation of my youngest child. They’ll likely be going to a distant college this summer — their sibling moved out last summer — leaving me to compare what happened with what my original plan was (ist und soll, as the Germans say).
It probably turned out pretty well.
May your own Berlin adventure prove as fruitful — and as long or short as it needs to be.
PS: If you’d like to help finance my (and my business partner’s) Berlin adventures, feel free to contribute on the 20 Percent Patreon or buy a coffee mug. And, please support this issue’s sponsor, OSTROM. I switched and am happy I did.
New citizenship office now legit
It’s now official: The Berlin Senat Thursday passed the law that will centralize citizenship applications in a new office near the Ausländerbehörde after districts this year all but gave up processing applications in anticipation of the new office. Wait times of up to two years have pushed more people than ever to sue Berlin for Untätigkeit (inaction) on their applications, according to Tagesspiegel. 58 such suits have already been filed this year, up from 31 last year and a single Untätigkeitsklage in 2021. You have to pay your lawyer several hundred euros up front for such a suit and, if the court agrees that bureaucrats are just being lazy or are understaffed, the city-state refunds your money and accelerates your case. Officials are already warning of continued bottlenecks as the new office gets up to speed and Germany loosens the requirements on dual citizenship, likely sparking even more suits and costing Berlin even more money it doesn’t have.
New budget not quite yet legit
Oh, speaking of lacking cash: Berlin districts still have to significantly tighten their belts but Berlin’s new finance chief, Stefan Evers (CDU), will provide €100 million more to the districts than previously planned, according to the Morgenpost. Neukölln mayor Martin Hikel (SPD) this week raised eyebrows when he released a list of services that would have to be eliminated under our new government’s previous proposed budget for 2024 and 2025: the Alt-Rixdorf Christmas market, security at Neukölln schools and even regular trash collection in borough parks. Hikel likely picked the list to create the biggest headlines (it worked) but at least some of the services will probably be eliminated regardless — Berlin’s new government wants to get Germany’s capital back in the black after it borrowed heavily to keep us all afloat during the pandemic and energy crisis. The extra cash will help get the new budget passed in July.
Drug checking a little too legit
You know who else doesn’t have enough cash? Berlin’s new drug-checking program, which allows addicts and partiers to submit illicit drugs for anonymous purity testing. It’s far more popular than expected — only one-third of the submitted drugs have been tested, according to T-Online. The death of two Brandenburg teenagers after consuming “Blue Punisher” ecstasy pills earlier this month has heightened interest in the program — the pills contain far too much MDMA and, according to media reports, are still in circulation and have even surfaced at this week’s Fusion Festival about two hours north of Berlin. The program publishes warnings related to submitted narcotics here. Those submitting drugs have to chat with workers about the risks of the submitted drug but face no risk of prosecution. Be safe!
Commercial real estate very not legit
But here’s one cash shortfall you don’t have to lose any sleep over: Berlin companies are expected to rent, at most, 570,000 new square meters of commercial space this year, according to the Morgenpost (paywall). Property consultant Colliers cut its 2023 outlook from 850,000 sqm as companies continue to digest the popularity of remote work. In pre-pandemic 2019, companies signed leases for 1.03 million sqm of space, showing the drastic drop in demand for commercial Berlin real estate. The good news: some developers have begun rejigging office space as new flats.
The first wild preying mantis was discovered in Berlin in 1998 (in an abandoned Schöneberg industrial site). The once non-native insect is pushing northward through Brandenburg as climate change warms our area, according to environmentalist do-gooders NABU.
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