The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Geneva decides again on huge urban development project

In Geneva, the gigantic Praille-Acacias-Vernets (PAV) urban development project will be put to the ballot box again on March 3. Over the next few decades, a completely new district with around 12,000 new apartments is to be built on the 230-hectare site to the south-west of Geneva city center. While the centre-right want to increase the proportion of condominiums, the left is calling for sufficient rental apartments.

The conservative parties argue that a higher proportion of condominiums would make it easier for the middle classes to purchase residential property and promote a social mix in the development area. In the cantonal parliament, in which they have a majority, they were able to prevail with this argument. The left-wing parties and tenants' associations launched a referendum against two new legal provisions.

The first provision specifies the modalities of condominium ownership. The apartment must be occupied by the buyer and the building right is extended to 99 years. At the end of this period, the landowner must pay compensation corresponding to the market value of the condominium.

The second provision increases the minimum proportion of condominiums with building rights on public land to 24 percent. The current law provides for up to 12 percent. It also stipulates that you may not already be the owner in the canton, must live in the property yourself and may not sell it on during the ten-year period of state control. This would rule out any speculation, according to the conservatives.

According to the referendum committee, the two laws together would allow the construction of 36% owner-occupied apartments. However, more condominiums would mean fewer rental apartments, they say. This in turn would affect the middle class, only a minority of whom could expect to become owners and achieve significant increases in value once the control and building rights periods have expired. These properties must therefore remain in public hands, the opponents demand.

Halving the motor vehicle tax

Another issue on which the people of Geneva will vote on March 3 is motor vehicle tax. The SVP complains that private transport in Geneva is difficult. Together with the Mouvement Citoyens Genevois (MCG), it has launched an initiative calling for the motor vehicle tax to be halved.

The other parties and the cantonal government support the counter-proposal. This provides for a tax based on CO2 emissions to encourage the purchase of more environmentally friendly vehicles.

Geneva voters will also decide whether the number of signatures required for cantonal initiatives and referendums should be reduced. Geneva is the only canton in Switzerland that adjusts the number of signatures in line with population growth. Both the SVP and the MCG) and the left are in favor of the bill.

Anthem in the constitution

Geneva voters also decide on the SVP's proposal to enshrine the previously unofficial Geneva anthem "Cé qu'è lainô" in the cantonal constitution. Written in Franco-Provençal (Patois), the song with 68 verses tells the story of the Escalade, the attempted conquest of Geneva by the Savoys on December 12, 1602.

The left-wing parties in the Grand Council followed the cantonal government's proposal to include the anthem in the law on the coat of arms and colors of the state, arguing, among other things, "to avoid a costly vote". The SVP, FDP, Center and MCG, on the other hand, spoke out in favour of protecting the cultural heritage in the constitution, which is why the people must vote on it.

©Keystone/SDA

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