• 27 Dec 16
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“Iare Pekhit” responds to Tbilisi City Hall’s decision regarding the regulation of public space use by outdoor cafes in the historic districts of Tbilisi

Iare Pekhit welcomes the decision of the Tbilisi City Hall regarding the enforcement of regulations on illegal public space use by outdoor cafes in the historic districts of Tbilisi, specifically on Shardeni and its surrounding streets. Outdoor cafes have been popping-up all over the pedestrianized streets of Shardeni, Bambis Rigi, Rkinis Rigi, Erekle II demonstrating that walkable neighborhoods are attractive for small and medium-sized businesses, social interaction and tourism.

However, cafés have been expanding their terraces to the degree that it became nearly impossible to freely walk through the narrow footpaths they had left for pedestrian traffic. Such abuse of public space only seeking economic profit was the result of the absence of regulations and/or weak monitoring and executive mechanisms from the local authorities.

Iare Pekhit has been actively promoting the idea of returning the streets and public spaces to its rightful owners, pedestrians, over the last few years. Just recently, together with its Membership Association, Iare Pekhit launched a series of Ugly Walks, an educational walking tours through the different parts of the city which suffered most from the uncontrolled urban development in Tbilisi since the 90s, endangering the city’s identity, cultural heritage and ignoring public interest. One of the issues covered by the recent Ugly Walk in October, 2016 was the loss of public spaces and the illegal appropriation of the pedestrianized streets in Old Tbilisi by the private sector.

Therefore, Iare Pekhit expresses its support to the decision of the Tbilisi City Hall to regulate the outdoor cafés’ activities and the establishment of the terms of use of the public space. This can be seen as an important step towards the overall mission of changing urban spaces in favor of the people living there. Iare Pekhit with its Membership Association hopes to work closely with the municipality in order to make it happen and calls to impose similar measures in Tbilisi's other pedestrianized streets e.g. Tabidze.