Tel Aviv parking lot
A parking lot in Tel Aviv. Photo by Dan Keinan
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Tel Aviv and other cities in the Dan region will no longer be allowed to build parking lots under parks, green areas and sidewalks, as part of a move to improve the quality of life in cities, the local planning and building committee decided yesterday.

Instead, parking lots will be built under public buildings, squares and streets, as is done in numerous cities worldwide.

An architectural team yesterday submitted a guide it prepared for the Interior Ministry to the Tel Aviv District Planning and Building Committee, outlining guidelines for building parking lots to replace current parking spaces on streets. Removing parking spaces from streets will provide more space for public areas and for planting trees.

The team, headed by architect Naama Malis, found that an important factor in improving quality of life in the city is refraining from building parking lots under urban parks. Apparently certain trees cannot develop properly in the thin soil layer between the parking-lot roof and the park above.

"It also turned out that in these cases the parks had to be watered all the time and be fertilized with chemicals that harm the environment," Malis said.

The need to protect parks stems among other things from a lack of green space around Tel Aviv. In Bat Yam and Ramat Gan the green space per person is less than half of the Housing Ministry's recommended quota, she said.

"Urban gardens have suffered every time they wanted to build another underground parking lot in recent years," district planner Naomi Angel said in the committee's meeting yesterday. "We want to stop that."

The committee decided not to build parking lots under green areas as much as possible. It checked various alternatives and found underground parking lots could be built under plazas and roads but not under sidewalks so as not to harm vegetation.

One of the preferred options is to build underground parking lots while renovating educational institutions. From now on renovating a school will include building a parking lot beneath it.

The committee also recommends putting parks on former surface lots.

This policy will apply to all Dan region authorities. Each authority will be able to choose how to apply the policy and decide whether residents will park underground with a regional sticker or for a monthly payment.