Tel Aviv's boardwalk - today (left) and as envisioned by city planners (right).
Everyone loves the beach, and everyone loves walking on the boardwalk next to the sea. So what happens when the city comes up with plans to expand the boardwalk - at the expense of the beach? The residents panic. At least, that is what happened last week at planning hearing in Tel Aviv.Tel Aviv's boardwalk is a piece of the city's history and a major landmark. Israelis from all walks of life and all over the country descend on the city's beaches and boardwalk in their masses during the summertime, especially on weekends. Sometimes it seems like the beach in Tel Aviv is the most crowded spot in an extremely crowded country - and the restaurants, table, lounge chairs and umbrellas scattered around the sand only add to the sardine-can feeling.
The beach in Tel Aviv: anyone see a good spot?!
So imagine the outrage when the city tried to approve a plan to shrink the sandy beach by expanding the boardwalk towards the sea, and allow more construction of "services for visitors" in that same shrunken area. Although city officials hid behind vague denials and technocratic jargon, the city's plans were clearly illustrated by artists' renderings of the new boardwalk, which appeared to eat up almost half of the beach.
One after another, angry residents and activists took the microphone one after another to assail the plan. City officials, not too impressed with the negative response to their plan, asserted that the drawings were nothing but "food for thought" and had nothing to do with actual building plans. The final decision, however, reflected the public pressure on decision-makers: a steering committee, with the participation of green groups, will draw up a new conceptual plan for the boardwalk, which will then be presented to the public for its comment and input.