Residents resist changes to Plaka

Residents of Athens’s historic district of Plaka said yesterday that they are opposed to a move by the government to allow restaurants and bars to operate on the second floor of listed buildings in the area. The Public Works and Environment Ministry has proposed that a law which only allows establishments to operate on the ground floors of buildings be altered. Under the ministry’s new proposals, the bars and tavernas would also be allowed to put tables and chairs out on neighboring plots of land if they are empty. The ministry says that it wants to overhaul the law in a bid to prevent the second floors of old buildings in Plaka from becoming haunts for homeless people or drug addicts. However, the residents of the area situated beneath the Acropolis are not convinced by this explanation. «We believe that this decision effectively serves the motives of particular interests,» Giorgos Kandaletas, the secretary of the Plaka Residents’ Committee, told Kathimerini. The ministry decided to propose a change to the law after suggestions by a local business owner, as well as another residents’ association, who believe that Plaka should regain some of its old color when it was more an entertainment district than the quiet neighborhood tourists and locals like to stroll through nowadays. «You can understand what will happen if every terrace is turned into a bouzouki club,» said Kandaletas. The residents group is calling on the Culture Ministry, the City of Athens, political parties and intellectuals to work together in an attempt to stop the law from changing, as the association believes that it would ruin the character of the neighborhood, which has been rebuilt over the last couple of decades, thanks to pedestrianization and the renovation of many dilapidated buildings. «We are stunned by the disposition to wreck everything that the state has built through many years of effort,» the group said in a statement.