Reporters on the Job

All Permits Are Not Created Equal: Booming property values often encourage investors to buy now, ask questions later. But that's creating some acrimony in Dubrovnik, Croatia (see story), where officials are trying to protect their medieval seaside town from helter-skelter construction - going so far as to bulldoze unpermitted structures slapped up after the war ended a decade ago.

But even with a system for permits now in place, some funny things can happen. "The town is protected by all sorts of codes," says correspondent Beth Kampschror. But walk down the main street, she says, and you'll quickly note a 21st-century anomaly.

Unlike the neighboring houses, whose third floors are all neatly decked out with green wooden shutters, one home has a protruding window that holds a small greenhouse. "It really stands out on this ancient street. The owner wasn't in violation of any code - she has all the permits. But what it means is that she also has very good political connections - and that it's going to be hard for the officials who gave her the permit in the first place to respond to residents who are angry about the renovation and want it removed," Beth says.

Pay-per-drive: Driving in London is not for the fainthearted, but it has undoubtedly become easier - if more expensive - since the city introduced its congestion charge two years ago, correspondent Mark Rice-Oxley reports (see story). Traffic seems to melt away at the entrance to the zone, the road opens up, and traffic jams are rare. But don't forget to pay. "I texted the wrong number one time," says Mark, who pays by cellphone text messaging. "Thought nothing more about it. Three days later, I got the $150 fine in the post."

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

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