Amsterdam pushes liveability for all; 7,500 new homes, car-free areas, regulated MDMA
The new Amsterdam coalition of PvdA, GroenLinks, and D66 presented its plans for the city in the coming years. The new coalition plans to invest in housing, create more space for events, and maybe regulate ecstasy. The parties said they reached the coalition agreement "in a good atmosphere" but had to make some "sharp choices," AT5 reports.
The coalition plans to build 7,500 new homes, including 3,000 social housing, 3,000 in the middle segment, and 1,500 for the free sector. They'll look into building more homes at and above public transit hubs and on the water where possible. The city leadership will also investigate building a floating park on a waterway. At least one canal, possibly the Herengracht, will be made car-free, and the roads there will be turned into green space.
Cafe terraces expanded during the coronavirus pandemic can remain as they are as long as they don't negatively impact the neighborhood. The coalition hopes that this will promote lively neighborhoods and outside areas. To encourage more arts and culture, Amsterdam will no longer require permits for smaller events. But event planners must still inform their neighbors.
"Tourism should not be at the expense of other economic sectors, and so we will fight monoculturalism," the city stated in its section on Balance and Tourism. The temporary stoppage on the contruction of new hotels will remain, and a prohibition on holiday rentals through platforms like AirBnB will be implemented where neighborhoods are under too much pressure and strain due to tourism levels. The new coalition also said it wants to push for fewer night-time flights at Schiphol, the elimination of more flights with a short duration to nearby destinations, and an increase in international train connections.
With the advance of electric bikes, the city may put a speed limit on bike paths. Parking fees will be collected 24 hours a day in the city center. According to the coalition, this is to combat foreign tourists sleeping in their cars to avoid high accommodation prices.
The political leaders also wants to try to regulate the distribution of the popular party drug MDMA, commonly known as Molly when sold as a powder, or ecstasy when sold as a pill and possibly mixed with other chemicals. "Amsterdam leads the way in the regulation of soft drugs by adopting an ambitious and flexible stance with regard to the scope for experimentation offered by the government," the parties stated in their agreement. They state that they are in favor of a pilot program to regulate the supply of MDMA, as regulation could "limit a large number of health and safety risks in Amsterdam."
The city will also continue its maintenance projects on quays and bridges but will focus more on cost-cutting measures.
To fund its plans, Amsterdam will increase property tax "towards the average of the four major cities." The agreement did not make clear what percentage property tax individual homeowners will pay, but the coalition expects the increased tax to raise 52.5 million euros extra per year from 2023. The city is also expanding the areas where parking has to be paid. The coalition did not name specific neighborhoods, only saying that paid parking would be implemented "where cares take up too much of the public space."
Amsterdam will have nine aldermen, three from each party. Newcomers include former NPO manager Shula Rijxman (D66) who will be alderman for public health, and Hester van Buren (PVDA), director of housing construction association Rochdale. She will be alderman of finance. The other aldermen are Reinier van Dantzig (D66), Melanie van der Horst (D66), Rutger Groot Wassink (GroenLinks), Touria Meliani (GroenLinks), Zita Pels (GroenLinks), Marjolein Moorman (PvdA), and Sofyan Mbarki (PvdA).
Additional points from the coalition agreement:
- Amsterdam plans to "actively frustrate drug dealing" on the streets, though it knows that a shortage of police officers and enforcers will hinder these plans.
- Single people, young people, and students will more often have to share housing facilities. But families will get sufficient space, the coalition said.
- Amsterdam will investigate whether it can tax people who have a second home in Amsterdam.
- Catering establishments will get more space to have "a band or DJ perform now and again."
- The city is looking into only allowing residents and entrepreneurs with a parking permit to park in the city center.