The Association announced its support of the administrative petition filed by the private landowners in the Sde Dov Quarter, against the Tel Aviv District Committee’s decision to allocate 2,400 residential units in the compound for affordable apartments that will be ‘owned by the Tel Aviv Municipality’ – Haim Feiglin: “This is a dangerous precedent.”

05.04.2021 | Guy Nardi

The Israel Builders’ Association announced its support of the administrative petition filed by private landowners in the Sde Dov Quarter, the against the Tel Aviv District Committee’s decision to allocate 2,400 residential units in the compound for affordable apartments that will be owned by the Tel Aviv Municipality.  This is a quantity that is an addition to the allocation of public spaces that is required of every plan.

The petition of the private landowners against the decision to expropriate income-producing land from them, beyond the accepted public spaces allocation, for no consideration.  The Association has asked to join the proceeding as an Amicus Curiae, and alternatively, as a respondent.  In other words, the Association is expressing its complete support of the petition even if it is not a part in the proceeding.     

The scope of the Gush Hagadol area spans 1,450 dunams, located between Propas Street from the north, Derech Namir Road from the east, Shay Agnon Street from the south and the sea from the west.  Ownership of the land is divided among hundreds of private owners, the Israel Land Authority, the Tel Aviv Municipality and others.

The outline plan for the Sde Dov Quarter, which was approved in July 2020, includes 16 thousand residential units, of which 2,400 are residential units allocated for affordable housing and 4,500 with a special designation (student dormitories, assisted living facilities, senior residences, rental  housing, etc.).

The plan also includes 500 thousand square meters for public buildings, some 125 thousand square meters for commercial use, 330 thousand square meters of employment space, 125 thousand square meters for hotels and 365 dunams of parks and public gardens.

Those 2,400 affordable residential units out of the 16 thousand residential units included in the plan are being granted to the Municipality beyond the allocation it receives according to the repartition tables for its relative stake in the plan, without the Municipality having paid anything in consideration, neither payment from its rights to the land or compensation to the landowners in the plan.

“The Definition of Affordable Housing is Not Unequivocal” 

Haim Feiglin, Vice President of the Israel Builders’ Association has asked to clarify that the Association is in favor of affordable housing - however, not at the expense of the private landowners.  According to Feiglin: “The definition of affordable housing is not unequivocal.  There are many types of affordable housing.  Let’s assume we are referring to small apartments for rental.  This is a completely tradable product, for which there is no reason to expropriate the rights of the private landowners.  We have no problem if you wish to create affordable housing on the Municipality’s or Government’s land, but to expropriate land from the private landowners is a dangerous precedent.”

Together with Adv. Naomi Schiff from Shoob & Co. law firm, Adv. Shmuel Shoob was the one who drew up one of the landowners’ petitions that was filed in Court in October of 2020.  According to Shoob:  “What they meant when they said that you must hand over public buildings for no consideration to the Authority, they meant for preschools, schools or parks.  What will the Municipality do?  It will publish a tender, receive payments and they will enter its coffers.  There are already municipalities that take public land, sell it to developers and build rental housing on it.  This tool has been used to make money.  The Israel Builders’ Association is concerned that this will spread further.”

Another petition was filed by Adv. Miriam Donin Shoob and Adv. Haim Weintraub, partners in Hamburger Evron & Co. law firm.  According to them, the granting of residential units outside the table constitutes the breaking of the rules of the game.  According to Adv. Weintraub:  “These units all have a financial value and should not be allocated to the Municipality, ‘under’ the allocation tables, without their value (and even its decreased value) being taken into account when allocating rights to all the landowners in the plan, including the Municipality.”

Adv. Eyal Mamo, who represents the Israel Builders’ Association in this matter thinks that under the guise of allocations for public needs, the Municipality is doing business here.  According to Mamo, they have brought the custom of allocations to the local authority - that is not anchored in any law - to a climax, in that they have deviated from the classic public needs and are allocating clearly commercial areas, income yielding areas this time.  Naturally, this was not the intention of the repartition tables.  This is new and constitutes a dangerous precedent.”

Adv. Ami Ben Yaakov, from the Ben Yaakov Law Firm, which represents some of the landowners of the Gush Hagadol, wishes to add:  “Beyond the absurd situation in which the Municipality is reaping a financial benefit, with no legal basis, of commercial areas at the expense of the landowners – the problem began when the State of Israel initiated and promoted the subject of affordable housing, with ambiguous and undefined parameters.  The result is that every local committee decides who, how much and where, at its own discretion and leaves the developers and landowners to deal with the consequences.  In actuality, the entire project has been delayed, just as the one in Holon – BH 500, in Rishon L’Zion and in other places.  It cannot be that every time the local authority wants to look good in light of public demand – they do this at the expense of the landowners and developers.”

The Tel Aviv Jaffa Municipality responded: “First of all, we’d like to emphasize that the Sde Dov Plan is an authorized plan, and the Municipality attributes great importance to the construction of 2,400 affordable residential units in the compound for a public purpose, and which will also promote the commercial areas.  In any event, the Israel Builders’ Association’s request has been received and the Municipality will respond to it as part of the legal proceeding.”