From: Alice Taylor
Tirana Mayor to ‘Acoustically Cleanse’ Tirana to Drive Up House Prices

Car washes, discos, and car service stations will no longer be allowed under apartment blocks and in residential areas, according to an announcement by the Mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj.

He made public the initiative during a meeting with the Minister of Environment and Tourism Mirela Kumbaro and representatives of institutions involved in drafting the Local Action Plan on Noise for the Municipality of Tirana to improve the quality of life in the capital.

“Six years ago, we did not think the day would come when we would talk about the topic of acoustic pollution, but when you hear we are talking about the same topics being discussed in Western countries, this is good news. The bad news is that we have an extreme tolerance for noise pollution. Sometimes we have dramatic behavior for this, like a lack of patience towards someone crossing the road or someone who blows the horn to move the car. This must change,” he said.

Veliaj said new permits would be issued to decide what kind of activities can take place in which areas. Under the new rules, Veliaj said that car washes, tire and car service shops, and nightclubs under homes would no longer be allowed. He didn’t explain what this means for long-established businesses already in those locations, other than mentioning “relocation”.

Additionally, Veliaj said the State and Municipal police would be empowered to deal with noise complaints from citizens. There will also be a special telephone number to report noise pollution.

A “quiet zones” map will be created, defining areas around schools, universities, and parks. Green walls, which Veliaj said will create “acoustic walls”, will also be created.

Kumbaro said this idea could be exported to other cities, especially tourists.

Veliaj concluded that house prices in Tirana have increased due to the “aesthetic cleansing” of the city, and now they will increase even more because of “acoustic cleansing”.

A 2021 survey from the Bank of Albania found that most Albanians do not have enough money to purchase property in Tirana. The average price at the time was around EUR 1,900 per square meter, rising to EUR 5,000 per square meter, making it one of the most expensive cities in the region and comparable to some Western European cities.

According to a report by the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime released in May, residential prices in Albania have almost doubled between 2017 and 2020. The report concluded that Albania’s construction boom and soaring housing prices are not fuelled by higher demand for housing or growth in formal revenue, or even “aesthetic cleansing”, but rather by “by cash from organized crime and corruption.”

Previously, Veliaj claimed the price increase was due to “embassies, foreigners, those from the Persian Gulf.”