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The Urbanist’s Lisbon: Talking Points

Want to rile up a resident? Broach one of these subjects.

Cais do Sodré pedestrian promenade.  

Restaurant Tax
In late 2011, the Portuguese government raised the restaurant tax from 13 to 23 percent—now one of the highest in Europe. As a result, Lisbon’s restaurateurs are hurting. Among the victims: Gemelli, one of the city’s oldest Italian restaurants. Others are simply restrategizing, opening lower-cost eateries to offset the losses at their high-end spots (to wit: José Avillez’s Pizzaria Lisboa).

Gay Adoption
In May, the Portuguese Parliament voted in favor of allowing a gay citizen who already has a child—adopted or from a previous heterosexual relationship—to have his or her partner co-adopt the child, therefore becoming a legal and equal guardian. A triumph, for sure, though some fear conservative president Aníbal Cavaco Silva may veto the bill before it is finalized.

Damn-High Rents
A late-2012 repeal of long-running rent-control laws by the center-right government has led to astronomical price increases. Practically overnight, old-timers paying as little as €40 a month were staring down €600 rents; subsequently, some 255,000 homes were affected. Rent-controlled commercial spaces downtown suffered even greater hikes.

Waterfront Construction
The battle for waterfront real estate is on. Among the buzzier public projects: a new Cais do Sodré pedestrian promenade and the conversion of the Campo das Cebolas parking lot into a tree-filled square. Preservationists are in a tizzy: Should the plans actually come to pass, they’ll involve the removal of historic cobblestone and streetlights, not to mention many trees.

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