The New Zoning Code, imposed under the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR), will impact citizens’ right to property, according to a journalist who spreads fake news and advocates conspiracy theories.
Andreea Crețulescu and Gheorghe Piperea, known advocates of false narratives, claims Romanians will lose their gardens
NEWS: “Hi! I’m back with a new piece of information regarding a draft law currently under Parliament: debate: PL-x 418/2023. What makes this law so important? Well, it literally tramples what we know as the guaranteed right to property? Why is that so? Because this law, this so-called Zoning Code, puts the state above our property, namely it gives the state control over everything you’ve saved n the last 33 years or before the revolution. Debates are scheduled to kick off in the administrative committee of the Chamber of Deputies. The Chamber of Deputies is the decision-making body in this matter, which means what the Commission says will remain in force over the coming years. So I suggest you mobilize, be watchful of the actions of those people you’ve elected to represented you in the Romanian Parliament, because unless they do away with the nonsense in the original version of the law, once it is adopted, since we are compelled under PNRR to come up with this new administrative code by November 15, if you don’t pay attention and you don’t put pressure, we might see the implementation of a law that virtually cancels the right to property in this country or makes it so insignificant, that you will be able to enjoy your houses and properties only to the extent the state dictates”.
NARRATIVE: Romanians will lose their right to property, and the state will be able to seize citizens’ assets as it sees fit.
BACKGROUND: Romania pledged to streamline and adapt its legislation in the field of territory management, zoning and constructions, under Element 5 – the Wave of Renovation and Element 10 – Local Fund in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan. To that end, Romania will have to implement several measures that should stimulate investments in green buildings and help cut back on the time and distance of commuting, by increasing citizens’ access to services of general interest and by implementing the “15-minute city” concept.
Nearly a year ago, Veridica debunked fears fueled by conspiracy theories on this topic, although it continues to be used by conspiracy mongers in order to justify their theories. Moreover, this means of manipulating public opinion has been used before also in the case of the draft law on sustainable urban mobility, when the same conspiracy theorists claimed Romanians’ freedom of movement would be restricted. Basically, their logic sees any new legislative initiative as potentially being part of an evil plan to enslave mankind, because for their most part, laws will also introduce elements referring to combating climate change and reducing pollution.
This is not the “first offense” from the journalist who launched this fake news, Andreea Crețulescu. Two years ago, she was given a warning by the National Audiovisual Council for making false statements during a TV show about the Government sending people to work abroad just as the Covid-19 pandemic had reached its peak. In actual fact, the journalist showed the audience a leaflet whereby the Government was warning people to be weary of where they seek employment. Andreea Crețulescu was also forced to pay reparations to a former police officer, whom she falsely associated with an alleged network of trafficking minors.
In the 1.46-minute video, Andreea Crețulescu doesn’t properly explain how exactly the new Zoning Code will affect Romanians’ right to own property. However, the idea was picked up and developed by the website stiripesurse.ro, which claims to have discussed to a lawyer, whose name it doesn’t reveal and who interpreted the legislative initiative as follows: “If own a house and your courtyard is listed as green area, you have a legal obligation to open it to public access, which is absurd”. The “discussion” also included a comment from Gheorghe Piperea, a known lawyer and conspiracy theorist who claims “the zoning law specifically refers to ’15-minute cities’, listing private vacant lands, courtyards and gardens as “green areas”, accessibly to anyone at any time”.
PURPOSE: To undermine societal trust in the authorities, to stir and amplify social unrest and validate self-endorsed conspiracy theories.
Fact: The law only addresses public spaces: no one will enter people’s courtyards.
WHY THE NARRATIVE IS FALSE: Under legal provisions in force, the following categories of land are listed as green areas:
- a) public green areas with unlimited access: parks, gardens, squares, planted strips;
- b) public green areas of specialized use:
- botanical and zoological gardens, open-air museums, exhibition parks, ambient and recreational areas for animals trained in circus performances;
- areas related to public facilities: nurseries, kindergartens, schools, health or social protection units, institutions, places of worship, cemeteries;
- sports facilities or parks for the practice of professional sports;
- c) green areas for leisure: leisure centers, sports centers and facilities;
- d) green areas for the protection of lakes and watercourses;
- e) color of protection from technical infrastructure;
- f) forests of recreational use.
There is no mention in the law about private courtyards and household gardens as being listed as green areas, which means declaring such categories of land as green area would be illegal and impossible from the very outset. Furthermore, Article 165 in the new Zoning Code differentiates between green areas and green spaces. Under Article 210, the Code specifies the authorities’ obligation to expand the surface of green areas in a settlement, also mentioning those places where this is possible: urban squares, pocket parks or gardens in residential areas, areas on school and hospital premises, sports grounds, community centers and playgrounds.
As regards the right to property, Article 178 in the Zoning Code states that, property owners are entitled to this right, along with the other fundamental rights, with the observance of regulations established by general, zoning and detail urban development plans (in Romania – PUG, PUZ and PUD). These plans and projects can indeed ban or restrict the use of certain categories of land, yet only as concerns the function the law allows the land to serve, the land-to-building ratio, what construction materials and colors are permitted or banned, etc. However, these schemes cannot alter the type of property in an arbitrary or abusive manner. In fact, these provisions. In fact, these provisions are already in force. The new law specifies (under Article 180) that, in the event the reason for introducing the said restrictions and limitations is terminated, the authorities are compelled to lift them.
Admittedly, in cases where public utility prevails, citizens can be disposed of certain properties or lands based on zoning and land management regulations, although such situations are already subject to very strict regulations and must be accompanied with a mandatory and fair compensation paid by the state, without revoking citizens’ original right to own the said property or land.