Who owns a public space?
3.09.2007 by hillevi

Before summer started, I had a meeting with the municipalities in Gamle Oslo. I was happy to have arranged a meeting that early, and imagined having all the public sites confirmed before I had my rainy and cold vacation. Not so. I should have known that the districts are administrative units. Most of (but not all) of the green areas and the biggest squares are owned by Friluftsetaten, a separate municipal department. The light poles on and around the squares, however, is owned by a private company, Hafslund. The roads are owned by The Norwegian Public Roads Administration, Statens Vegvesen.

I tracked down the person in Friluftsetaten responsible for Vaterlandsparken. We agreed to meet to discuss the exact location on the square. Then I wrote an application to the administration at Friluftsetaten, refering to this meeting. After a week, I received the permit to use the square - but only when the police had given their approval.

I had sent an application to the police two months earlier, without receiving any reply. I called the police and asked to talk to the Plankontor. The person on the phone asked me which plankontor in which department I was looking for. I had been given a fax number for my application, but she did not recognize it. She wanted to connect me with the Stovner Police Departement, a departement in the outskirts of the city, since it had the most similar number. As this exhibition is in the very center of the city, I hesitated - could she not connect me with the central department? She could, but there was nobody there that could help me that day.

I had sent an e-mail to Hafslund to ask for a permit to use the light poles two weeks earlier, and not heard anything from them either. I called them to request a reply. They could not find my e-mail, so I had to re-send it.

Hopefully, my application to both the police and Hafslund has now reached the right department and person!

We are lucky to have Deichmanske Bibliotek avd Gamle Oslo, the municipal library, as a host for one of the Telart automats. Their enthusiasm and interest has been amazing. Without their effort, I would not have been able to track down all the involved; Deichmanske rents the space at Tøyen. A private owner owns the wall, another owns the specks of grass outside the library, and the municipality owns the path leading up to the library.

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