New exhibit gives Prague 1 residents a voice: "Our children have to maneuver around drunk people"

Short-term accommodation has caused long-term headaches for city center residents who are going public with their complaints

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 09.09.2020 11:01 (updated on 09.09.2020)

Prague’s city center has problems with night noise and messes from tourists using short-term accommodations in residential buildings. The Prague 1 Town Hall is hoping to resolve this problem, and has put a temporary exhibit up in náměstí Republiky to highlight some of the issues. The exhibit, called “I Want a Quiet Night’s Sleep” will be up until September 14, but the campaign will continue online and via brochures.

Seven signboards use quotes from local residents and state the campaign’s goals for a more livable city center.

One resident whose family has lived in the same building for four generations pointed out that her neighbors have moved away, and the other flats now were rented out short-term to eight people each, and some 80 people gather in the courtyard for nightly parties. “Unfortunately, our children have to maneuver around drunk people. We can’t get any sleep,” she said.

“Noise, loss of privacy and security, a loss of the neighborhood community. The mess and the thoughtlessness of the apartment hosts have led me to think: Should I leave Prague and move somewhere else like my neighbors have?” she asked.

Photo by Jason Pirodsky

Another person complains that he used ot see his neighbors but now sees different strangers, and doesn’t know if they can be trusted. “Sometimes I feel like I am a receptionist here. I really don’t feel like telling you where you’re supposed to stay and what you’re supposed to do, where your keys are or that you can’t urinate in the bins. Sorry but I do that all the time and I’ve got other things to do. I just want a little privacy and some peace and quiet in our building,” that person said.

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The loss of shops and services for residents is also a problem. “I want to go and buy some bread rolls, but there is an alcohol shop where the bakery used to be. I’ve lost friends who couldn’t take it anymore and moved out. We’re losing out neighbors. The city is being depopulated before our eyes,” one resident said.

The garbage, cigarette butts, and beer cans were noted. “Beer cans roll down the hallways and there are boxed of half-eaten pizza. We have to clean up after you. Your wheels suitcases have ruined our walls,” another resident said.

The signs were made in cooperation with the Committee against the Depopulation of the Center and for the Support of Community Life, which was established in Prague 1. It is an advisory body of the Prague 1 City Council, headed by Chairwoman Bronislava Sitár Baboráková. She is behind the exhibition.

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“We have also prepared a brochure on this topic, which the inhabitants of Prague 1 should find in their mailboxes. We are also preparing the website www.chcisevkliduvyspat.cz and manuals, which I hope will help locals defend themselves within the current limits of the law. The members of the committee also cooperate with the capital and legislators in the creation of new legislation,” Bronislava Sitár Baboráková said.

Photo by Jason Pirodsky

The exhibition is held with the support of Prague 1 Mayor Petr Hejma. “We receive a number of complaints every day, so with this exhibition we also want to warn foreigners in the city center that many residents of Prague 1 have not slept properly for a long time. Prague mainly needs to get a quality tourist clientele who are more interested in sights than cheap alcohol. We have to solve the topic across the political spectrum, we all have to cooperate and look for a legislative way to deal with this problem,” Hejma said.

While the exhibition does not mention any of the platforms that provide short-term accommodation, one of the leading ones is Airbnb. Prague City Hall has long been seeking ways to limit the impact of the service on the city, and also ensure that the city receives the tourist taxes and fees that it is legally entitled to.