Higher taxes, greener Amsterdam in new coalition agreement

Amsterdam,_de_Stopera_foto8_2014-01-12_12.25
Amsterdam's city hall the Stopera (Photo: MichielverbeekNL/Wikimedia Commons). Amsterdam's city hall the Stopera (Photo: MichielverbeekNL/Wikimedia Commons)

The new Amsterdam city government of GroenLinks, D66, PvdA and SP presented its coalition agreement on Thursday. "The coalition agreement is ambitious and will change things in the city", GroenLinks leader Rutger Groot Wassink said, according to Het Parool. "I always said: the city must become more sustainable, more honest and more democratic, and this agreement does that."

Below are the main plans in the new coalition agreement, Het Parool reports:

Housing

Amsterdam will build 7,500 homes annually, 2,500 more than the ambition over the past period. 2,500 of the new homes will be social housing. The number of mid-income homes, with a maximum rent of 971 euros, will increase from 27,200 to 48 thousand by 2025. A total of 10,500 student homes will be built in and around Amsterdam in the coming four years. 

Half of the new homes in the free sector will go to Amsterdam residents leaving a home in Amsterdam. Teachers and nurses will be given priority more often. The Amsterdam college of mayor and aldermen will cut off investors by introducing a residence obligation - the person who buys a house must also live there. Homes may not be rented to tourists for more than 30 days per year. And home rentals to holidaymakers may be banned in busy neighborhoods.

Social Affairs and Education

Amsterdam is investing more money in education. In an effort to stop the emergence of categorical schools, the city will invest more into broad school communities that offer VMBO, HAVO and VWO education. 

Amsterdam residents on welfare will be able to earn extra money without this being at the expense of their welfare benefit. People who earn less than 130 percent of the social minimum income can claim poverty money, instead of the current 120 percent. 

The city is also strengthening its approach to combat loneliness. And a 24 hour shelter will open for failed asylum seekers

Traffic and Transport

The new coalition wants to make the Amsterdam city center as car-free as possible. Cars will no longer be allowed to park along the canals, and there will be less room for parked cars in the 'residential streets' in the rest of the city. By 2025 between 7 thousand and 10 thousand parking spaces must have disappeared. The parking rate on the street will rise to 7.50 euros per hour. Speed limits will be reduced to 30 kilometers per hour on residential streets, and 80 kilometers per hour on the A10 ring. 

Less concrete plans in the coalition agreement involve the new subway lines. The parties are investigating the Oost-West line, extending the Noord-Zuid line and closing the Ring line. Cyclists will get more space, both on the road and in terms of financing.

Local taxes

Amsterdam is increasing taxes. , but residents and businesses will also be affected. The property tax rate in the city is increasing for the first time in years - by 2 percent next year and then with inflation. The annual waste levy, and fees for municipal services and permits are also increasing. Advertising tax will be reintroduce.

On the positive side, leaseholders who switch to the new long-lease system before 2020 will get an additional 10 percent discount on top of the existing benefit schemes.

Sustainability

Amsterdam aims to be completely off natural gas by 2050 - ten years earlier than the rest of the Netherlands. The coalition is establishing a fund containing 150 million euros to help achieve this goal. The first three neighborhoods will be disconnected from the gas network in the coming years. 

The coalition agreement states that housing costs for low- and mid-income households will not rise due to the energy transition. Coal storage will disappear from the Port of Amsterdam by 2030. There will be a ban on the sale of fur, live lobsters and crabs. And a new hotline will be established, where rules that stand in the way of making the city greener can be reported. 

 

"I am happy and proud that this agreement is made", Rutger Groot Wassink, GroenLinks leader in Amsterdam, said in a press statement about the coalition agreement. "Now we can work together to make the city more sustainable and to become a green leader. We are countering the growing segregation and inequality and giving Amsterdammers more control over their neighborhood and in decision making."

"This is the greenest agreement ever made in Amsterdam", said D66 leader Reinier van Dantzig. "We are taking a big step towards leaving natural gas behind us. In addition, we are focusing on equality, education and we made strong agreements on making the housing policy fairer."

Marjolein Moorman, PvdA: "I am really proud of this agreement. It is an agreement for all Amsterdammers. An agreement that is based on fairness, equality and our shared love for Amsterdam. We are fully committed to equal opportunities to participate, in education, in the labor market. We look after those who need it. And if necessary, we are not afraid to intervene, for example when it comes to air quality, the boiling housing market or the increasing crowds in the city. I'm incredibly excited about getting started."

Laurens Ivens, SP: "Instead of letting big money and commerce go its own way, we opt for the interests of the Amsterdammers. Important SP results of the past four years are being continued in the coalition agreement, but we go further: the social housing stock is being expanded so that we can combat the shortage of affordable houses. We will prevent residents from being driven out of the city. In other areas too, we take over initiative from the market and therefore I am proud to participate in this coalition and to press a clear SP stamp on it."

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