#78: New rent control idea, syringe spiking, Friedrichstrasse, €9 tix
And how all regional trains are not really regional trains.
Hello 20 Percent,
At my very first job in Berlin I worked for a Financial Times joint venture in an office in Friedrichstraße, the part that has been closed to traffic since fall 2020 and is the subject of tiresome controversy. I say ‘tiresome’ because I can’t think of a more uninteresting stretch of asphalt in Berlin (and I’m including Spandau in this assessment), especially after spending so much time there. Despite that part of Friedrichstraße being close to so much there is, as Gertrude Stein once said, no there there.
Why top traffic politician Bettina Jarasch (Die Grüne) is so set on battling to keep that corner of Berlin car-free is beyond me. We’re wasting too much time, energy and even cash (her pet project will cost €200,000 this year we learned recently, including €36,000 for landscaping and €56,300 for seating) on a street that benefits so few. I’m not pro-car here — I think we should have 10 times that many car-free experiments but on streets that actually matter.
If you want to stay in that neighborhood, for example, Markgrafenstrasse alongside Gendarmenmarkt would have been a wonderful choice. The cafes and restaurants there could then stop shuttling their wares across an active street to the square and residents would suddenly have (asphalted) front yards to play, drink and complain in. And if you transfer that concept into other boroughs — the possibilities are the thing of daydreams and Jarasch would have a lot more allies (and we’d have some nice new public spaces worth fighting for).
I’ll stop my rant there. Now have a good week (and feel free to join our Patreon, we appreciate the occasional euro to keep this thing afloat)!
The Berlin corona stats for Tuesday, May 31
Received booster: 61.1% (61.1% Friday)
New cases in one day: 1,900 (25 Friday)
Total deaths: 4,612 (+4 over Friday)
🔴 7-day Covid-19 incidence (cases per 100,000): 189.2 (202.2 Friday)
🟡 7-day hospitalization incidence (also per 100,000): 4.5 (4.3 Friday)
🟢Covid-19 ICU patient occupancy: 3.6% (3.6% Friday)
Source: Berlin’s corona page
The latest idea to keep rents down
In a Saturday Tagesspiegel interview, Mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) floated the idea of prohibiting landlords from charging more than 30 percent of their renters’ incomes for rent, though she was very vague on how her plan could be implemented — some as-yet non-existent commission would review your rent and income, confirm if the rent is too high and then someone else would do something about it. She also said she doesn’t like the idea of government snatching apartments from massive corporate landlords because it sends potential investors a signal of “confrontation” rather than “cooperation”. She is also the second top-level politician from Berlin’s new coalition government to admit they won’t be building 20,000 new apartments this year as promised (construction boss Andreas Geisel (also SPD) was the first last week)).
Is a syringe spike at Berghain the start of a trend?
Australian Berliner Alison Lewis took to Instagram early this week to report what police said was the first known case of needle spiking in Berlin, according to Berliner Zeitung. Lewis (stage name: Zoé Zanias) said she was dancing in Berghain Sunday when she suddenly collapsed and began hallucinating. Medical personnel helped her get back on her feet before bouncers ushered her out of the club. A doctor later found an injection site on her arm and a drugs expert told the paper she was likely spiked with Ketamine. Lewis didn’t take a drug test and the cops said she hasn’t filed any charges. A good reminder to be alert, and she has some advice if you fear you’ve also been a spiking victim.
You can’t take every regional train this summer
Remember when you thought Germany was a country that religiously followed every rule and “exception” was not a word in the German language? Ah, those halcyon days before you learned of bureaucratic capriciousness. Despite being promised you can take any regional train with your €9 (per month) tickets (which are valid from tomorrow!) this summer, there are a handful of regional trains you can’t. It’s because, despite being called regional trains, they are actually Intercitys (which aren’t included in the ticket). In our area these ICs-in-regional-clothing are the RE 56 (Potsdam-Berlin-Cottbus), the RE 17 (Elsterwerda-Berlin) and the RE 28 (Berlin-Eberswalde-Prenzlau). Although you can’t take those trains, you can take REs 1 and 2 between Potsdam and Berlin, RE 5 to Elsterwerda and the RE 3 to Prenzlau. BTW: The semester and annual tickets for Berlin university students and schoolkids are considered equivalent with the €9 tickets and are valid nationwide and in regional trains. Universities are still working out how to refund part of the costs for the semester tickets.
Berlin’s first-ever subway started service on May 31 in 1897 in Germany’s first-ever subway tunnel in Gesundbrunnen. Industrial company AEG built the line to shuttle employees and equipment around its massive factory (Deutsche Welle’s Berlin studios are on the site and Berliner Unterwelten offer tours through the tunnel).