Mayor Nir Barkat had multiple solutions for the housing crisis during a lecture to English speakers last week. His speech was part of the OU Israel Center's series on the October 22nd elections for mayor and city council. Many in the audience questioned the mayor, now running for a second term, about the sky-rocketing housing costs.
Mayor Barkat proposed many solutions also voiced by his opponent Moshe Lion, formerly of the Jerusalem Development Authority. He also discussed some unique new concepts for what may be a radically different Jerusalem in the future. Both Barkat and Lion advocated using the Tama 38 earthquake reinforcement plan to build extra floors onto existing structures. They also both agreed that building more units would increase the supply to match the ever-increasing demand as the city grows. However
Mayor Barkat also briefly discussed a plan to force businesses out of residential areas. He described new high rise complexes, specifically in the area near the Central Bus Station. His concept would force small businesses from older converted living quarters thus freeing them for residential use and incentivizing their move to the new proposed new business quarter.
He also requested that apartment owners that live abroad rent out their vacation apartments or investment homes to students and young couples. He backed the new laws that now double the property tax for apartments that are not occupied for the majority of the year.