Friday, October 18, 2013

Sleepless in Freiburg

Remember the movie Sleepless in Seattle? This time the story plays in Freiburg but without any romance. Over the years parts of the city have become noisier during night hours with students drinking and partying well beyond midnight. Freiburg's trouble spots are the Bermuda Triangle, a block of buildings near the Martinstor in triangular shape where students get lost in countless pubs, and the Augustinerplatz, a vast sloping square located between Bertoldsbrunnen and Schwabentor where students sit on the cobblestones not just quietly during mild summer nights.

Mid summer at Augustinerplatz. Only 20 minutes talk and drink-up time are left (©BZ)
Residents of the neighborhoods do not get much sleep and had approached the City Council already five years ago to look into the matter. Following a lengthy debate in 2008 the City Council decided against a private security service like the one in the university city of Heidelberg where so-called black sheriffs assure law and order during night hours. Instead they spent 18,000 euros erecting an illuminated Säule der Toleranz (Column of Tolerance) showing the time and changing its color to red after 10 p.m., time to leave the square quietly. Needless to say, the City Council "had thrown the money out the window". Although the column had no effect on the noise level it nevertheless became a tourist attraction. A good friend from the States could not believe his eyes when we passed by at 21:09 hours so he chose to take a photo.

Column of Tolerance (©KSchneider)
This year the noise situation aggravated to the point that a citizen's group formed and became active. In protest they disfigured the fronts of historical buildings with bed sheets showing texts reading Schlaflos in Freiburg (see the title of this blog).

Schlaflos in Freiburg (©Stadtkurier)
or more subtly Der Stadtrat schläft, wir nicht (The City Council is sleeping we aren't) meaning that the City Council is not doing anything.

Der Gemeinderat schläft - wir nicht (©BZ)
The president of the citizen's group said that it does not help switching between roundtables, technical discussions, and another debate in the City Council actually scheduled for the end of November. He added that the texts on the sheets are harmless compared to what they still have planned as protest. We had to suffer from the loudest, dirtiest, and most difficult summer and we shall not live through another. The City Council strangely has no plan, no ideas, no courage to solve the noise problem.

It may not be strange at all. The inaction of the City Council is probably rooted in the fact that next year there will be municipal elections in Freiburg and no party wants to snub either the local residents or the students. The argument is not far-fetched. Today's Badische Zeitung reported that a disc jockey founded a  citizen's group Pro Nachtleben fighting for the interests of pubs and discos: We would like to preserve Freiburg's subculture.

Photoshopped: Pro Nightlife (©fudder/BZ)

1 comment:

  1. Many cities and Towns in Central and Southern Wisconsin have had problems with geese. They have taken over parks and other lake front areas. They have been obnoxious and leave quite a greasy mess behind. The solution that has worked here is by providing food in other locations that are as troublesome. It's nice to provide a nightlife but maybe it needs to be moved by another method. Maybe the introduction of classical music events starting at 21:00! ;)