First Class U-Bahns

Recorded remotely from Kreuzberg, Neukölln, Rome and England. New Year’s Eve is effectively cancelled, with limits of 200 people for indoor events and a ban on dancing in clubs. Much like last year, fireworks have been restricted but not banned outright. Sales are highly restricted and around 50 areas have been declared fireworks free, such as main squares and big streets. Jöran would prefer an outright ban as he now has a dog who will be terrified by the noise.

Berlin’s new double-decker buses have gone into service. The top deck is slightly higher, they also have wifi, and USB ports. The BVG has been outfitting older buses with USB as well, noting a reduction in vandalism which according to a BVG spokesman is because “The youth are so busy with their phones, that they hardly get any other ideas.” Unfortunately the new buses are diesel powered, an anachronistic choice the BVG blames on the unavailability of double-storey electric buses.

A recent study published by the World Economic Forum, the Boston Consulting Group and Switzerland’s University of St Gallen suggests the implementation of a “first class” option for Berlin’s public transportation system. According to their models wealthy Berliners currently commuting from low density outlying areas via car would switch to public transportation by €10 bookable seats featuring such luxuries as comfortable seats and reliable internet. We have our doubts.

A property located on Habersaathstraße in Mitte with 100 apartments has been left mostly vacant for years. The owner is Arcadia Estates, a company which has applied to demolish the building, but the city council has resisted, arguing that it should be used as is. This month a group of 30 people without permanent homes squatted the property. Mitte Mayor Stephan von Dassel of the Green party intervened and announced the squatters would be allowed to stay. Celebrations were short lived. City authorities later declared no one could stay there because there were no smoke alarms or fire extinguishers. A donation drive was organized and fire safety equipment was ready to be installed, but that wasn’t accepted. Everyone was evicted, in sub-zero temperatures. The Green party mayor stated that places had been found for them in other shelters.

The SPD’s Fraziska Giffey is Berlin’s new mayor. Giffey is reunified Berlin’s first elected woman mayor, but not the first woman to run the city. Louise Schroeder ran the city from 1947 to 48, though she was appointed rather than elected. And East Berlin also had a woman leader, Ingrid Pankraz, for a few days in 1990. These women have been ignored by most media covering Giffey’s election.

More than half of BER airport’s “travelators” aka moving sidewalks are out of action. ​​Most of the travelators and escalators were installed in 2011 and sat unused for almost a decade. The hardware deteriorated, making them unusable. Now they have to be replaced.

Thank you to everyone who listens. We appreciate the audience and the community. If you would like to help keep this project viable we appreciate financial support. Become a monthly supporter or make a one time donation at https://www.radiospaetkauf.com/donate/

This episode was written produced and recorded by Joel Dullroy, Jöran Mandik, Daniel Stern, Izzy Choksey and Matilde Keizer.

Two Ways to Steal A House | Guest: James Jackson

Confusion in the club queues as new 2G+ rules start. Does the plus mean mask, test or both? The short answer is always check ahead. We’re back to the bad old days of finding vaccine appointments by word of mouth. The website wirhelfenberlin.de can help you find an available vaccination center.

Christmas markets are open for now. Izzy recommends the Nollendorfplatz Christmas Avenue LGBTIQ* Weihnachtsmarkt, with performances at 19:30 each night.

We meet Berlin’s most prolific Twitter curator, James Jackson. He explains his annoyance at Germany’s obsession with homeopathy and plant-based medicine. Follow him here: https://twitter.com/derJamesJackson

How do you steal an entire apartment block in Berlin? You can fake paperwork, like a group of fraudsters did, or you can use the courts to kill off the government’s Vorkaufsrecht, or right of first purchase, as some greedy investors have just done. Both cases show how Germany’s property market is thoroughly corrupted.

Berlin’s new Red-Green-Red coalition has presented some of their planned policies for the next five years. They plan to reduce Berlin’s fossil fuel use – but not fast enough, says Izzy. The new federal government plans to legalize marijuana. Will it take away income from people who can’t get working permits?

This episode presented by Izzy Choksey, Matilde Keizer, Joran Mandik, Joel Dullroy and Daniel Stern. Thanks to all our supporters! You can donate to keep us going here: http://www.radiospaetkauf.com/donate

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RS Podfest: Destroy This Company

BER turned to chaos over the October holidays, with huge queues and many missed flights. Airlines advised travellers to come four hours early. The airport is only handling half the pre-pandemic passenger numbers. Who saw this coming?

Should we use Gorillas or boycott? We meet three members of the Gorillas Riders Collective, who are suing the 10-minute-delivery company, and being sued, as they fight for on-time pay, non-faulty bikes, lighter loads and real contracts. They say users should think before ordering butter in bad weather, and at least give a tip. Gorillas is supposedly worth almost €3 billion, but they aren’t spending that money on maintaining bikes.

Swapping is the new shopping. Hundreds of Berliners have joined a movement to trade their clothes instead of buying unsustainably produced fashion. They get together for meet-ups to exchange their items. Founder of Berlin Clothing swap Jenna Stein joins us.

How does it feel to win the battle, but maybe lose the war? Wouter from Deutsche Wohnen und Co Enteignung tells us what the housing activists plan to do to force politicians to respect the referendum result.

Berlin is on track to get a red-green-red coalition after local SPD branches rebelled against Franziska Giffey’s attempts to partner with conservative parties. Was it a tactical ploy, or a sign of weak leadership?

This episode was presented by Izzy Choksey, Matilde Keizer, Joran Mandik and Joel Dullroy. It was recorded live at Podfest Berlin, an event supported by Patreon and organized by our own Dan Stern.

RS Election Special: Yes But No

Berliner voters wants more left-green politics and a radical state take-over of property – but the new mayor may ignore those demands.

At Sunday’s city-state elections, a majority (54.3%) voted for the R2G parties, showing the citizens want the current coalition to continue. Another majority (56.7%) voted ‘yes’ in the Deutsche Wohnung & Co. Enteignen referendum, instructing the city to forcibly buy houses from big corporate property investors.

However it will be up to the SPD to decide if those things happen. The SPD won the most votes (21.4%) and can pick who to team up with – and they don’t like Die Linke, and have clashed with the Greens.

The referendum result is non-binding, and the SPD’s lead candidate (and likely mayor) Franziska Giffey is opposed to it (although many party members support it).

Will Giffey’s SPD really ignore the wishes of a majority of Berliners? Join us for this quick take on Berlin’s 2021 election results.

With Izzy Choksey, Joel Dullroy, Jöran Mandik and Daniel Stern.

RS Live: 2G or Not To Be

The Berlin election results could deliver a shock result: instead of the current green-left coalition, we could end up with conservatives who want to build on Tempelhof, expand highways and stop rental reforms. We’ll terrify you with the worst-case scenario.

Instead of finishing the A100 autobahn, let’s turn it into a giant urban farm. That’s the latest mad idea from Paper Planes e.V., the dream team behind the Radbahn project. We talk to Perttu Ratilainen about how we could grow veggies on the highway. More at: https://www.morgenfarm.berlin

Not vaccinated yet? Now you can’t eat at many restaurants or go to events. The 3G rule has been tightened to 2G – only immunized people can enter many places. Tests are fast becoming obsolete.

The Humboldt Forum is about to open a new exhibition of artefacts stolen by German explorers and colonialists. We meet Virgil Taylor from the Coalition of Cultural Workers Against the Humboldt Forum (CCWAH). He explains what’s wrong with the reconstructed city palace, outside and in. More at: https://ccwah.info

The Berlin Podfest is on October 23-25, organized by our own Daniel Stern. Attend, participate or just listen: https://www.sterndaniel.com/podfestberlin

This episode was hosted by Matilde Keizer, Jöran Mandik, Joel Dullroy and Daniel Stern.

Thanks to all our supporters! You can donate to keep us going here: http://www.radiospaetkauf.com/donate

RS Live: Cars Don’t Vote

Berlin is weeks away from its state election and a referendum on housing. We analyse the campaign posters with Konrad Werner, columnist for Exberliner, and host of the weekly German news show Megan’s Megacan: https://anchor.fm/megans-megacan

The AFD has moved from anti-migrant to anti-Green issues, declaring “Your car would vote for us”. The CDU are trying to convince Berliners they’d do a better job than the R2G coalition. The SPD is sticking with mayoral candidate Franziska Giffey, despite more plagiarism problems. She’s also effectively ruled out a new coalition with Die Linke and possibly the Greens, meaning a return to a conservative coalition in Berlin. And there’s lots of small parties with interesting ideas and terrible graphic design. Izzy’s volunteering to campaign for Klimaliste, who have a detailed plan on how to mitigate climate change, and say the Greens aren’t doing enough.

What happens if you paint the city streets with DIY safety markings and bike lanes? We meet a group who are being prosecuted for taking traffic control into their own hands. Jon from the group Vineta Kiezblock tells us how his group painted road safety marks. The Ordnungsamt painted them black. Follow here: https://twitter.com/VKiezblock

No more free coronavirus tests. Germany has decided to stop paying for your tests as of October 11. Expect a lot of empty shops and second-hand lab coats for sale online. The end of the tests means the end of income for some small shops.

The BVG is rolling out its new station announcement audio to more U-Bahn lines. The five-tone marimba alert is very tropical, but not very Berlin.

Mail from Maisie! She’s in Brighton, or “Kotti Am See”. She misses affordable bio food, rubbish recycling and Brandenburg lakes. But at least it’s multicultural, and free of scooters on sidewalks.

Guest host Izzy Choksey from the podcast @Sistrionics joins Joel and Dan for a live recording in front of a small safe audience at the Comedy Cafe Berlin.

Dan’s got a show coming up on August 28 at CCB. Come! Tickets here: https://www.comedycafeberlin.com/event/toby-dan-3/

Thanks to all our supporters! You can donate to keep us going here: http://www.radiospaetkauf.com/donate

RS Live: Deutschrap Iced Tea

What does Deutschrap have to do with the boom in bling-decorated iced tea? Maisie Hitchcock delves into her considerable knowledge of the genre to explain.

Want a hot investment tip? Get into chili farming. Berlin’s chili expert Neil Numb tells us how the city’s hot sauce boom needs more suppliers. Start growing on your balcony. Visit this weekend’s Berlin Chilli Fest at the new Reviere Südost: http://www.berlinchilifest.com

Gorillas riders are holding rolling strikes at depots around the city. They’re protesting the summary firing of a worker who came late to a shift. Riders have formed a workers’ council, but say management are pressuring staff not to join. The billion-euro startup boss says “Gorillas are about cycling, not politics.” Seems he’s wrong about that. Should you shop from them? Dan says riders are just the most visible part of exploitation in your supply chain.

Tiny igloo-shaped cars are the latest shared mobility object to appear in Berlin. The Swiss company Enuu says their electric cars don’t take up as much road space. But they’re frequently parked on the footpath, and some drivers drive them in bike lanes illegally.

Urban Jungle is being retired. Urban Jungle is the name of the design on most BVG seats – that mess of red, blue, black and white squiggles. It was introduced in the 90s to hide graffiti tags. But the BVG’s new boss isn’t a fan and has ordered it to be phased out, replaced by a black and grey pattern. Get to a BVG shop and buy any remaining Urban Jungle merchandise.

Today’s episode of Radio Spaetkauf was made with support from Wander. Wander offers immersive audio experiences in locations all over the city. Visit places you always wanted to go and others you didn’t even know existed. Guides such as Daniel Ryan Spaulding will help you discover hidden corners of the city. Listen now for free at https://www.getwander.app/
Find them on Insta at https://www.instagram.com/getwander.app/
Apple Podcasts at https://podcasts.apple.com/de/podcast/wander/id1545586440?l=en
And Spotify at https://open.spotify.com/show/6JLLnFuFwYLEtWYXsp3veI?si=FGr5XzAqS6aN8gCXWKzHUw&nd=1

RS Open Air: Ban Cars & Racist Chocolates

Everything is reopening. We’re shooting up on vaccines, getting nose-gouged in strange places – and loving it. And best of all – Maisie is back! We’re recording in a garden in Kreuzberg, accompanied by the birds and the breeze.

Coronavirus testing centers are popping up faster than bubble tea shops. There are more than 1000 stations in the strangest locations – converted restaurants, bikes, basements. Is this creative capitalism, or a state-funded stimulus? The government is paying €12 per test. Some of that money is going amiss. Joel witnessed some test centers sending results without actually performing the tests, and others using incorrect personal data.

Our guest Nik Kaestner, a spokesman for Volksentscheid Berlin Autofrei presents their goal of removing cars from within Berlin’s S-bahn Ring. This would create the world’s largest car-free zone. The idea has gained a great deal of support from cyclists and pedestrians. Nik says even the 1.3 million car owners will be happy when they see the improvement. The initiative’s website’s English language version is here: http://volksentscheid-berlin-autofrei.de/index.php?lang=en

It’s time to ban schokoküsse, the chocolate marshmallows with a racist former name. Their continued existence allows racists to use them as a vehicle to attack Black people. A man attacked in the chocolate aisle in Aldi on Grenzallee in Neukölln by a white man, who used a box of chocolate kisses as a pretext for racial abuse. Changing the name (only in 2005) wasn’t enough: choco kisses have to go.

Berlin voters are being asked by the SPD to elect a mayor who has resigned as a federal government minister over a PhD plagiarism scandal: Franziska Giffey. She has quit the federal cabinet in anticipation of losing her degree. But she’s still the SPD’s mayoral candidate for the upcoming election.

Local sports: Berlin’s two football teams had very different Bundesliga season campaigns. Hertha played a terrible season, narrowly escaped dropping out of the Bundesliga, and fired some staff over racist comments. Union Berlin, however, had a fantastic year, finishing 7th overall.

Today’s episode of Radio Spaetkauf was made with financial support from Wander. If you are looking to discover and explore the great places in Berlin check out Wander. Wander offers immersive audio experiences in locations all over the city. Visit places you always wanted to go and others you didn’t even know existed. Wander suggests their audio experiences at Teufeslberg or the Neukölln Wochenmarkt on Maybachufer. Listen now for free at https://www.getwander.app/

Cohost Daniel Stern has a show live online Friday night via Comedy Cafe Berlin. Tickets and info at https://www.comedycafeberlin.com/event/night-show-berlin-live-from-ccb/

Thank you again to https://www.getwander.app/ for their support. On Insta at https://www.instagram.com/getwander.app/ Apple Podcasts at https://podcasts.apple.com/de/podcast/wander/id1545586440?l=en
And Spotify at https://open.spotify.com/show/6JLLnFuFwYLEtWYXsp3veI?si=FGr5XzAqS6aN8gCXWKzHUw&nd=1

Rent Freeze #4: How To F#€k Up A Mietendeckel

Rent Freeze #4: How To Fuck Up A Mietendeckel

The Berlin Mietendeckel experiment is finished. The city’s revolutionary attempt to freeze rental prices for five years, and reduce overpriced leases, has been killed off by Germany’s highest court.

The decision has unleashed a political storm. Everyone is angry – but who will voters punish? The R2G parties who tried to regulate rents? Or their opponents, the CDU and FDP who successfully derailed the project? We make the case for why each side is to blame.

There’s a big bill to pay, as hundreds of thousands of Berliners now face back-payments, higher rents and permanent shadow contracts. We’ll run the numbers on the potential local economic crisis that could follow.

What hope is there left for affordable housing? And what can the rest of the world learn from Berlin’s short-lived rental revolution? The experiment is over. Now it’s time to analyze the results

The Challengers

The CDU and FDP took the Mietendeckel law to the constitutional court, where it was struck down. They perpetuated a false narrative – “build, don’t cap” – which claimed, incorrectly, that the Mietendeckel prevented new development (constructions from 2014 were specifically excluded from the law). The CDU was responsible for weakening federal rental regulations in the first place, enabling prices to skyrocket.

And then there’s political donations – or as Joel calls it, legalized corruption. Almost 80% of the CDU’s publicly-declared donations come from the real estate sector.

Joel interviews Berlin FDP leader Sebastian Czaja and challenges him on his false claim that the Mietendeckel prevented building, and on the FDP’s donations from real estate companies. Czaja says his party takes donations from all parts of society.

The Supporters

Are the parties who created the Mietendeckel culpable of incompetence? The governing coalition of the SPD, Die Linke and Die Grünen – or R2G – took a huge political and financial gamble, and lost.

The R2G promised renters a revolution, but delivered a regression. Many tenants must now make large back payments for which they have not saved. They went against the advice of many legal experts who warned their law was unconstitutional.

We speak to two of the Mietendeckel’s creators. Kilian Wegner is a law professor and SPD member who co-authored a policy paper which laid the groundwork for the Mietendeckel. He says the R2G was right in taking a chance on an uncertain law, due to out-of-control property prices.

Another lawyer, Professor Franz Mayer, wrote an expert opinion which argued Berlin had the constitutional right to create the Mietendeckel. He says there was a chance of success, and believes the court should have helped tenants by negating backpayments.

The Big Bill

How much will the Mietendeckel fiasco cost? We interview real estate researcher Christoph Trautvetter. He estimates the backpayments will cost renters between €100 to €300 million. Ongoing rent increases will cost around €500 million annually – that’s half a billion euros flowing from tenants to landlords, money not going into the local economy.

Daniel Halmer from Conny.Legal, formerly Wenigermieter, says tenants may be able to reduce backpayments and shaddow rents by using the Mietpreisebremse – the existing rental regulation that limits rent increases to 10% of local prices.

Time to Sieze Property?

An even more radical concept is now gaining support – the referendum initiative known as Deutsche Wohnen & Co Enteignen, who want to seize properties from big corporate landlords.

We speak to Wouter Bernhardt from the movement’s podcast Von Menschen und Mieten. He says expropriation would be a permanent solution to rising rental prices.

The End of the Experiment?

The Mietendeckel experiment ran too short to answer many questions, and the data was disrupted by the parallel pandemic. But we did learn a few things. If you want a minor reform, demand a revolution. If you get your revolution, prepare for reprisal. Tenants globally now know rent control is no longer excluded from the political discourse.

Rent Freeze is produced and presented by Joel Dullroy, Maisie Hitchcock, Jöran Mandik and Daniel Stern. Artwork by Jim Avignon. Music by Tom Evans and Ducks!

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