In the debate, attended by Minister of the Interior MK Gideon Sa`ar, the principles of amendment No. 102 to the Planning and Building Law, which will enact major reforms in the area of licensing and planning, were presented.
The Internal Affairs and Environment Committee, under the auspices of MK Miri Regev, held a special debate to present the principles of the Planning and Building Law reforms.
To open the debate, the Chair of the Committee, MK Miri Regev said that the law will create a major change in everything relating to planning and building and the Committee will discuss these along with the National Housing Committees Law. She said that the two laws are related and will bring an essential and necessary change to the housing market. She explained that the goal is to increase the number of houses on the market and thereby lower prices. The reform will be enacted upon both the planning and licensing stages of building. MK Regev said that during the recess she studied the law thoroughly. The law will also help to reduce the current licensing bureaucracy and prevent plans from getting stuck for years in committees. She also said that as an MK and the Chair of the Affordable Housing Lobby that she does not intend to give up the implementation of various social issues in the law. The law covers cheaper renting and buying, better oversight of rent and a demand that both large and small apartments be planned. ”It is the State`s obligation to make housing affordable for every citizen,” Regev said. She also mentioned that she intends to pass the law during the current session and that the committee will discuss the law quickly and to the point. She explained that she will allow any group who wants to express their opinions regarding the law to do so. Lawyer Tamar Rozner, legal advisor to the Committee, explained that the debates on the law will be held on Tuesdays for 5 hours each. In light of the debates, the Committee will open a special website that will be linked to from the Committee`s website to display the law. Before every debate, the text of the sections being debated will be presented together with the notes of the professional staff of the committee. Every organization or interested body who wants to will be able to send their notes beforehand, which will also be publicized on the website. Regev added that the first two debates will regard the principles; however a detailed debate will happen afterwards on each section of the law.
Minister of Internal Affairs, MK Gideon Sa`ar, said that the law would expand the amount of apartments being planned and will then raise the amount of apartments in the market, thereby making prices drop. ”There is a blight in Israel called bureaucracy. We sanctify procedure, take our time and forget the citizens. The cries of the citizens have reached the heavens. Every plan takes years to see through.” He also said that the concentration of resources in the planning system caused ”jams” in the district committees and large scale plans get stuck because of this. For these reasons, the reform will work to fix the licensing process to make it more efficient and will give more power to the local authorities in order to ”free up the technical jams”. Regarding the licensing process he said that there will be many different ways to receive a license: an exemption from an allowance (e.g. small projects like a gazebos), a short allowance (a project that must be finished within 45 days) and a full licensing process. He added that instead of a citizen needing to go between different offices (fire safety, home front command, environmental protection) control centers will be established, making all of the necessary functions present under one roof. He intends for the planning process to go from three years to only one. The Minister of the Interior added that the process of strengthening the local authorities will be spurred by a dedicated training system for which 10 million NIS has already been allocated. He also said that it will be possible to submit plans online.
MK Dov Khenin responded to the minister saying ”It`s good that the current reform is focused. The previous reform was problematic.” He also said that the debate on the previous version was useful and that it would be a shame to totally ignore it, especially those parts that regarded affordable housing. Khenin said the principle of affordable housing is not complicated and allows weaker groups to attain housing while not spending more than 30% of their income on housing. He declared that he shares the principles presented by MK Miri Regev, which show that planning is a social issue of extreme importance. He voiced suspicion that an inappropriate amount of focus on the local councils in the periphery could create a ”first Israel” and a ”second Israel” that could not deal with the burdens placed upon the local authority. Similarly, he referred to the environmental aspect of the debate and said that he is for shortening the licensing process but a shortening of the planning process, specifically as relates to infrastructure, could create a situation in which the licensing process for power plants is shortened, which could be problematic. He also said that he mistrusts the privatization of the control centers.