This Wednesday, D66 member Reinier van Dantzig called the program that his party presented in Amsterdam together with PvdA and GroenLinks a “kneiterprogressive agreement”. A nod to the previous college, which was invariably labeled as “kneiterlinks” by the right-wing opposition. But Van Dantzig also adequately summarized the agreement. The new coalition – a continuation of the previous one, minus the SP – again has many left-wing plans in the field of housing, sustainability and equality of opportunity.
There is one big difference with four years ago: this time there is hardly any money. Due to the corona crisis, inflation, rising interest rates and the war in Ukraine, the Amsterdam treasury is virtually empty. In the council agreement, which was presented at a primary school in the Nieuw-West district, PvdA, GroenLinks and D66 write: “Amsterdam is facing uncertain and difficult years, both socially and financially.” In order to pay for the plans of the new council, the costs for many Amsterdammers will increase, among other things due to the expansion of paid parking and an increase in the tax for home owners.
Money for vulnerable districts
The new council, which has a narrow majority in the council, wants to “invest unequally for equal opportunities”. That is the motto of PvdA alderman Marjolein Moorman, under whose leadership the PvdA became the largest party on the council again in March after eight years. Extra money goes to education and there are no cuts in poverty policy. The city is also investing 60 million euros in three ‘master plans’ for the vulnerable districts of Noord, Zuidoost and Nieuw-West. On reflection, the controversial new ‘digital library’ OBA Next will not be located in the Zuidas but in Amsterdam Zuidoost.
In order to tackle the housing crisis, the new council wants to continue to build 7,500 homes per year, of which forty percent is social rent. Whether that will succeed is highly questionable: D66’er Van Dantzig, the new housing councilor, immediately said on Wednesday that it will be “a major challenge” to achieve those objectives, partly because of rising construction costs and upcoming cutbacks from the government. The coalition wants to build more ‘circular flexible housing’ to meet the worst needs and comes with a ‘return guarantee’ for residents whose homes are being demolished to make way for new construction.
Also read: The PvdA is dominant in Amsterdam, but not as dominant as it used to be
Little about mass tourism
The new council continues the existing ambitious plans for sustainability and energy, including the construction of seventeen new wind turbines within the municipal boundaries – against which there has been much protest in recent years. There will also be a major ‘insulation offensive’ for poorly insulated homes. The city continues to strive for a CO2 reduction of 60 percent by 2030.
The agreement says little about mass tourism in the city centre, an issue that has become even more pressing since this spring. The new council expresses its support for Mayor Femke Halsema’s plan to move prostitution windows from the Red Light District to an ‘erotic center’ outside the center.
There is not a word in the agreement about another plan by Halsema against low-quality tourism, to ban foreign smokers from Amsterdam coffee shops. The implicit message: Halsema herself must convince the municipal council of the usefulness of her plan – which she has not been able to do so far. However, the council is investing extra money in safety and enforcement in the city – and in the fight against organized drug crime and subversion.
In order to be able to pay for all these plans, the new council is raising the property tax (ozb) for homeowners considerably. In defense, the three parties point out that the property tax in Amsterdam is below the national average, and that the waste levy is actually going down. Money is also being raised by expanding paid parking to areas in Nieuw-West and Zuidoost. The rates are going up and in the center, where parking now costs 7.50 euros per hour, car owners will have to pay 24 hours a day.
The lack of money will inevitably lead to a number of large infrastructure projects being shelved or even scrapped, the three parties warn. In the coming years, Amsterdam wants to build a large new neighborhood in the port area and build two bridges across the IJ – the question is whether they will actually come to fruition. Restoring the crumbling quays and bridges – a mega project that will take years to come – will also involve taking “cost-saving measures” – such as closing bridges or entire waterways more often.
Aldermen: two thirds women
The new Amsterdam council has nine aldermen, three for each party – and one more than in the previous council with the SP. Two-thirds of the aldermen are women. The most striking newcomer is former NPO chairman Shula Rijxman, who will become alderman for D66 and for D66. The Sustainability portfolio will once again be in the hands of GroenLinks, which will be put forward by the Noord-Holland deputy Zita Pels. The current aldermen Marjolein Moorman (Education, PvdA) and Rutger Groot Wassink (Social Affairs, GroenLinks) will remain in their posts.
Also read this profile of Shula Rijxman from 2016: This is the woman who leads public broadcasting into the future
#city #council #Amsterdam #leftwing #money