#65: Becoming German, RAW, housing referendum
And why Brandenburg could begin water rationing
Happy Easter 20 Percent!
I have my very own Easter ritual: Googling to see what exactly Easter is and why Maundy Thursday is called Maundy Thursday (something about ‘maund’ being Latin for ‘command’ and Jesus giving us some command, which seems so rude so close to a holiday). But it’s one of the best times of year in Germany. Not because the weather is getting nicer and fewer clothes are needed. No. Because we seem to get a day off any time that ancient carpenter did anything deemed to be important.
In my second year in Germany I once combined comp days with the Jesus holidays to get three weeks off (or was it just two?). Retelling that story is also part of my Jesus ritual.
But not everything is great around this time of year: Dancing is illegal today, or at least sort of. It’s forbidden from 4am to 9pm, which is only limiting to those who went out last night. After all, 9pm is well before Berlin clubs open and even weller before any self-respecting Berliner goes clubbing. Newswire dpa looked into whether anyone enforces the dancing ban and discovered: Not really.
Have a good holiday weekend!
The Berlin corona stats for Friday, April 15
Received booster: 60.1% (60% Tuesday)
New cases in one day: 3,918 (4,545 Tuesday)
Total deaths: 4,427 (+15 over Tuesday)
🔴 7-day Covid-19 incidence (cases per 100,000): 578.2 (659 Tuesday)
🔴 7-day hospitalization incidence (also per 100,000): 14.7 (15.7 Tuesday)
🟡 Covid-19 ICU patient occupancy: 7.9% (8.4% Tuesday)
Source: Berlin’s corona page
A single office for becoming German?
Mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) is irked by the inefficient and opaque naturalization process in Berlin and wants to unify and streamline the process by folding it into one of the most notoriously inefficient and opaque offices in Berlin — the Ausländerbehörde, officially known as the Landesamt für Einwanderung (immigration office), according to Tagesspiegel. The mayor wants to form a special office there by 2023 that would then alone be responsible for naturalizations in the capital and help the politician meet a campaign promise of 20,000 new citizens in Berlin annually, up from a reported 7,000 currently. Naturalizations are currently the purview of the 12 district offices as well as the city-state’s interior department, subjecting them to the delays and inexplicable caprice of Berlin bureaucrats. Germany’s current traffic-light coalition has promised to lower the hurdles to becoming a Kraut, though little has been said of the promise since the September election.
The fight to implement that housing referendum
Berlin justice minister Lena Kreck (Die Linke) Monday said she would “fervently” pursue the implementation of a 2021 referendum that would limit corporate landlords to just 3,000 apartments and force them to sell any excess to the city-state, according to Tagesspiegel. And housing official Ülker Radziwill (SPD) defended her party, saying that although they may not agree with the Deutsche Wohnen & Co. Enteignen referendum, they respected the vote and would support its implementation. A 13-member expert commission, which includes opponents of the referendum, will give a recommendation early next year on how best to implement the referendum result and get it past Germany’s courts, which just last year struck down an attempt by Berlin to limit skyrocketing rents. The law would be the first to invoke the 15th amendment of the German constitution, which specifically allows the government to snatch property for the greater good.
RAW to become less so
We may not yet know what it will really look like but we probably won’t recognize the RAW party (and culture) area in Friedrichshain in a couple of years. But don’t fret, it sounds like the mucky-mucks get what we like about the place. The Astra concert venue, the Cassiopeia garden, the Haubentaucher pool club and East German railroad tracks (among other sites) will still be around. Zürich-Berlin architects Holzer Kobler have developed a master plan that divvies up the site and incorporates empty spaces to allow for the construction of a small skyscraper as well as updates to current cultural venues. Haubentaucher, for example, is to be incorporated into a planned market hall, according to Morgenpost (paywall). The landscape architects working on the plan (Loidl) also had a hand in the trendy Gleisdreieck park refurbishment, which seems reassuring.
20 Percent Berlin is made by real-life humans who have to eat! Here’s where you can help.
Water rationing in Berlin?
A water association in Brandenburg has begun including water rationing in contracts with new residential customers in case — as experts fear — water becomes scarce in the region, raising the spectre of water rationing in neighboring Berlin. Customers would be limited to about 100 liters of water per day, below the national average according to the government statistics office of 128 liters per day, but below the 175 liters its customers are currently using, according to RBB. The association, the Wasserverband Strausberg-Erkner, or WSE, wouldn’t actually stop delivering water, users could just face fines for using excess water. Berlin isn’t yet in danger of water rationing because growth isn’t as strong in the city as in southeastern Brandenburg (think Tesla) and fewer people have gardens to water, a spokesman for the state-owned water utility told Tagesspiegel. Two-thirds of our water reportedly originates from the Spree and Havel rivers, which feed underground aquifers. Us Berliners average 100 and 115 liters per day.
Leafy Brandenburg (the picturesque state that entirely surrounds Berlin but few inside the ring dare to visit) is home to just 6 wild bunnies per square kilometer, below the national average of 16, according to Berliner Zeitung. Why? Blame East Germany — the former state created massive agricultural fields because they were more efficient to farm and the resulting monoculture isn’t to leporine (the Angeber word for bunnies) tastes, resulting in fewer of the cute, randy beasts.