#201: Memorial repairs, Görli fence, few babies
And that annoying helicopter
Dear 20 Percent!
It took about a month to get a new parking permit for my car. I did the paperwork online (and paid through some sketchy third-party payment site) and then the wait began. Eventually it showed up, all filled out by hand. In 2023.
I should just be able to do it online and it’s valid immediately because, like in more civilized places like Amsterdam, the city’s parking authorities just read license plates and a computer tells them I’m legit. In milliseconds.
But no, this is Germany and we still do things like it’s 1973. Just because.
And it’s not going to get better any time soon. The stuffy FAZ newspaper this week learned that the federal government wants to slash its budget for moving services online to €3 million next year from €377 million in 2022. That’s more an annihilation than a slash.
The SPD controls the interior ministry overseeing the digitalization and shot back that in fact all is not lost — the ministry has €300 million in unspent funds for 2024 (Der Spiegel paywall), which means they haven’t even been using the money they’ve had available.
No wonder we’re in the paper-laden mess we’re in.
Here’s to a good, paperwork-free weekend!
PS: If you’d like to help finance my bureaucratic hassles (and my business partner’s), feel free to contribute on the 20 Percent Patreon or buy a coffee mug. And, if you want to prove you’re integrated in Germany, you’re going to need insurance. Lots of insurance. This issue’s sponsor, insurer Getsafe, can help.
Boosting security in Görli
Görlitzer Park is about to get a fence around the entire park as well as closing hours. Members of our ruling CDU-SPD coalition contacted several media outlets to say they wanted to take the steps following the group-rape of a woman as well as the assault of her boyfriend on June 21, says Tagesspiegel. The politicians say the measures will increase security in the park, which is known around the world as a drugs supermarket. Kreuzberg mayor Clara Herrmann (Grüne) says a fence alone would do little and senior Grüne politician Bettina Jarasch instead wants €10 million to redesign the park. Meanwhile the police Thursday said they had arrested a third suspect in the brutal attack.
Holocaust memorial needs work, lots of work
Not even key Berlin memorials are immune from the Hauptstadt-plague of endless construction sites where very little seems to happen. A plan to restore the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe will be complete by October at the latest, according to newswire dpa. At least 40 of the site’s 2,700 concrete pillars have split and lighting in three sections has been inoperable since as far back as 2006. No word on when the work will be complete but Twitter is full of outrage over the cumbersome construction sites at the memorial as well as the steel bands now keeping some of the pillars together. Part of the problem is a decades-old legal battle on who is responsible for the defective pillars.
… as does the residential real estate market
Did you say construction? Mayor Kai Wegner (CDU) Friday told a radio station his government would this year introduce legislation to accelerate construction permits to ultimately cut rent prices, according to the Morgenpost. Wegner wants to simplify the planning process and make it not only easier to start new construction but also add extra floorsõ onto existing buildings (ergo: expensive rooftop apartments). Of course, the law first has to get discussed and approved and then implemented. Maybe our children will enjoy lower rent prices.
Not many new Berliners
Berlin had the lowest birthrate of Germany’s 16 federal states last year, according to the German statistics office, at 1.25 babies per woman, below the national average of 1.46. Mathematically countries have to have a birthrate of 2.1 babies per woman per year to maintain the population without immigration. Seven percent fewer babies were born in Germany in 2022 than in 2021, easily explained by the pandemic boom in 2021 because people were home doing home office and … other things. The statistic is surprising because just over a decade ago Berlin — and specifically Prenzlauer Berg — were known as Germany’s birth hotspot (it wasn’t actually true, tho).
One of the most common questions we get is: Why was the police helicopter hovering over my neighborhood at 4 in the morning? Our answer is almost always the same: We don’t know and we have no way of knowing. But it’s not just us: leftist newspaper taz said the familiar helicopter, an EC135 T2 Eurocopter that’s shared with the federal police, has already flown 163 missions in and around Berlin this year — and flew 389 last year. But the cops keep no statistics on why. Anecdotally the paper said it in April successfully chased a speeding motorcycle but in June also unsuccessfully looked for an armed man in Schöneberg. Our new government wants the fuzz to get a second whirlybird — the aircraft burn about 240 liters of Kerosene per hour, or about €220.
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