Thursday, September 22, 2016

Riga 94 Epic Story

If you live around Berlin, and hear the term "Riga-94" mentioned.....most Berliners will have an opinion. It goes from one side of the spectrum to the other.

I've blogged the house on Riga Strasse.....number 94....before.  So I won't go into a long detailed description of the mess.

What you have is an old building on Riga Strasse....on the far east side of town....which squatters took over several decades ago.  Off and on....ownership has been called into question.  Squatters refuse to leave.  What you have are a number of oddball characters which make up some hippy-type commune who have resorted to violence and cops have responded with their form of violence.   Neighbors take an uneasy view of the house and the "guests" that stay there.  For the past five years....with a CDU senator in charge of the police force....it's been tense at times with some riots.

I noted in the Berlin news today that the Green Party and SPD Party (likely part of a new coalition in the state of Berlin) are talking about this new idea of handling Riga-94.  They want the city to buy the property via the city's municipal housing authority.  The house would then be city property and that would "fix" everything.

I sat there for five minutes after reading short article.  It was written up by BR (the state-run Berlin regional network) by someone who just wanted to report the thing and be done with it.  No analysis....no pondering....nothing.

Right now today....the property is owned by someone, who basically can't get the squatters to move on, and can't really modernize or improve the building because the squatters refuse to leave or allow any real significant changes.  So you start to wonder.

Let's say the property changes hands tomorrow.....for 10,000 Euro.  To be honest, it's bad shape and looks like some 3rd world apartment building.  I would question any idiot paying more than 100,000 Euro at the very most. If the city did pay more.....I'd suggest corruption involved and have a complete audit of the people doing the deal.

So, we move on.  The true owner at this point is the Berlin city municipal housing authority.  My guess is that they own at least 200 similar structures around the city and have a basic code on who lives there, what they pay, and the safety/appearance of the facility does matter.  So an inspector will arrive and note the upgrades required.

Will the squatters allow the upgrades?  I doubt it.

Will the squatters agree to some kind of compensation or rent?  I have my doubts.

Will the squatters agree to the city exercising their authority over the building?  I doubt it.

After about a year of trying to take control and exercise normal authority (like the other 200-odd buildings).....some guy in the housing authority management group will have a chat with the mayor.  He'll suggest that there's nothing being paid by the squatters on rent, and that they won't accept the authority's simplistic rules or code of conduct.  The mayor will grin and say....yeah, that's for sure.  After a while, the neighbors will finally have enough and go to a lawyer to sue the city because they won't resolve the condition of the building or kick the squatters out.  The judge will look at the city and the municipal housing authority and ask what the heck is going on.

Basically, "nothing" will be the answer.

The positive is that the Greens and SPD will have wasted three years.....doing mostly nothing, spent at least 10,000 Euro to buy the  building, and focused everyone on some resolution which really didn't fix anything in the end.

It's an odd political mess......actually worthy of a movie, if you ask me.

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