Tel Aviv starts ticketing for overnight sidewalk parking

Thought you could beat the Tel Aviv parking laws by waiting until nightfall before finding an illegal spot for your car? No more.

The city has begun ticketing drivers who park on the sidewalks of main thoroughfares at night, part of a municipal push for stricter enforcement of parking laws, making it even tougher to find a place to park.

Tel Avivians have been waiting up to an hour for a spot in municipal parking lots, where residents are allowed to park overnight for free, as tickets are being issued on streets including Frischman, Arlosoroff, Jabotinsky and Nordau.

City hall has been flooded with complaints in recent days from people who were ticketed for parking on the sidewalks, with several claiming that the city never warned of a change in policy.

“You can’t know what’s allowed and what’s not,” said one resident. “They change the rules when they feel like it, don’t publicize it, and in the end the residents lose out.”

The municipality is taking a harder line in response to complaints that residents can no longer walk on the sidewalks because they are chockablock with cars.

Over the past several years, the municipality had refrained from ticketing cars that parked on the sidewalks in central Tel Aviv between 7 P.M. and 9 A.M., as long as they didn’t make the sidewalk impassable or disrupt traffic. No signs were ever posted permitting such parking nor were there any official announcements to this effect, but the arrangement was made known by word of mouth, and parking inspectors and the municipal hotline assured those inquiring that overnight sidewalk parking was okay.

The city did not publicize a change in parking enforcement. Instead, inspectors issued warnings in the targeted areas for a few days before starting to hand out tickets.

Even the Facebook group “Taking Back Tel Aviv’s Sidewalks for Pedestrians,” which had been leading the struggle against parked cars blocking the sidewalks, wasn’t pleased with the way the city was handling things.

“It’s time to set a clear and consistent policy that won’t confuse city residents, that isn’t set by knee-jerk reactions based on someone’s mood, pressures, or political considerations,” the page owners wrote Tuesday. “The increased enforcement recently on the main streets has simply sent drivers to the side streets, which are now totally blocked.”

At a meeting this week at city hall, Mayor Ron Huldai suggested the possibility of voiding the recent parking tickets and letting them serve as warnings. However, the municipality is not backing down from its new enforcement plan.

Tel Aviv Deputy Mayor Meital Lahavi, who holds the city’s transportation portfolio, said the city’s policy hasn’t technically changed.

“The change is in the sending of inspectors to an area where many complaints were received about blocked sidewalks,” she said. “Now we’re hearing the cries of those who got tickets. Two months ago we heard the cries of parents demanding to ‘let us pass.’ We have a space in which we have to learn to coexist in some fashion. When the violations get blatant then there’s no choice to start enforcement, and I can’t be selective.”

Lahavi said she is well aware of the parking problems in the downtown area.

“No one is arguing that point, especially when Tel Aviv’s public transportation is still not efficient enough to encourage people to give up their cars,” she said. “Because we are aware of this and because we want to make it easier for residents, wherever it’s possible there’s blue-and-white [curb parking] and we open the Ahuzot Hahof [municipal] parking lots where we can, but we will never be able to satisfy all the parking needs.”


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