The Urbanist’s Lisbon: Talking Points

Cais do Sodré pedestrian promenade.Photo: Atelier Projet Urbain 44

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.

The Urbanist’s Lisbon: Talking Points