LETTER: Council letting policies are part of the homeless problem in Byron shire.
I refer to Editorial published on page 10 of the Byron Shire News on April 28, 2016:
Thank you to the editor for dedicating his editorial to “The conversation we have to have” - highlighting the plight of the homeless in Byron Shire, including the violent bullying to which some homeless (houseless) residents have been subjected.
Whilst I agree with Mayor Richardson that “homelessness in our shire was “not a problem we could wish away”, I do not agree with the Mayor’s declaration: “or fine our way out of”.
Whilst eradicating homelessness entirely is not a reasonable expectation, fining persons who are using residential premises for commercial purposes- “tourist and visitor accommodation” of a type that is is prohibited in residential zones- would not only “fine our way out of” the greater percentage of homelessness, the Judiciary (acting upon legal action filed by Byron Shire Council) could “fine out way out of” lack of affordable residential rental properties; and the fines could fill the coffers of Byron Shire Council- thus enable the construction of Byron Shire Council Trust (to protect the Council residential properties from being claimed by State government- as occurred in Sydney during the 1980s) public housing on land owned by Byron Shire Council (e.g. Station Street, Mullumbimby).
In Byron Bay, there are an estimated 10 times the number of bedrooms located upon land zoned Residential than permanent residents (including the homeless). However, consequent of Byron Shire Council’s failure to uphold zoning regulations, the majority of those bedrooms located upon land zoned Residential are occupied by “tourists and visitors”. Example: Shirley Street North - 40,000 square metres of land zoned Residential - previously 2A - low density; belatedly rezoned 3R - medium density Residential in an attempt to legitimise the “tourist and visitor accommodation” (of a kind prohibited from Residential zones - backpacker hostel, tourist resort, tourist serviced apartments, hotel, motel, non-resident operated “bed and breakfast” and/or “bed and breakfast” that is really six tourist “luxury villas”) that unlawfully occupies that 40,000 square metres of land zoned Residential with the blessing of successive Byron Shire Councils. Note the fact that no permanent residents living within the Shirley Street North residential zone means no residential voters to vote against the candidate of choice of non-residential property owners in Local Government Elections.
The terminology “Holiday Letting” relates only to the practice of a person renting his/her home (primary place of residence) for no more than 90 days per year. The terminology is incorrectly applied- by Byron Shire Council, offending residential property owners (or lease holders) and complicit real estate agents- to the unlawful practice of using residential properties for commercial purposes that are prohibited within Residential zones; i.e. a person who is not a permanent resident of the residential premises renting the residential premises as “tourist and visitor accommodation”- thus depriving local residents of access to residential premises need to be used as a home.
Lawful “bed and breakfast” relates only to the practice of a resident operating a home business from their permanent place of residence. However, the terminology “bed and breakfast” is incorrectly applied to commercial “tourist and visitor accommodation” that is not a registered and Council approved home business operated by a permanent resident of the residential premises.
Given the impact of unlawfully using residential premises for “tourist and visitor accommodation” of a type that is prohibited within residential zones- including upon election results- i.e. the number of non-resident voters (property owners) in Local Government Elections can over-ride the votes of the few remaining local residents- unlawfully using residential premises for commercial “tourist and visitor accommodation” should be included in the Criminal Code. I would argue that the practice is already a breach of the Criminal Code- Criminal Negligence (foreseeable consequence to those effected); Treason (due to manipulation of the outcome of Local Government elections) and a Crime Against Humanity- Making yourself rich via making others homeless is also immoral.
“The Mayor suggests that as part of a mature conversation about the problem” - of homelessness caused by the policies and practices of Byron Shire Council- “we could look at providing some primitive camping facilities at Butler St”. If Byron Shire Council has not unlawfully (without required referendum) and Negligently (foreseeable that the practice would deprive locals of affordable alternate accommodation- thus cause homelessness) morphed all coastal caravan parks located upon communal Crown Land Rest and Recreation Reserves within Byron Shire into “operational” - then leased the Council managed Crown Land caravan parks to private enterprise (North Coast Holiday Parks)- who increased the previously affordable site fees to more than 100% of Centrelink benefits and limit stay times to 12 weeks for caravan/campervan and only 3 weeks for tent (noting that, if the private operators know you are a local, they use all manner of dirty tactics to refuse locals even a 3 week stay), it would not be necessary to have such a “conversation” nor for rate payers to ‘foot the bill’ for “primitive camping”, nor for local residents to be subjected to “primitive camping” rather than the camping previously provided at First Sun Caravan Park, Clarkes Beach caravan park and the three Crown Land caravan parks at Brunswick Heads.
The “conversation” about homelessness within Byron Shire should include a confession from Byron Shire Council (including Mayor Richardson) that the policies and practice of Byron Shire Council are the primary cause of homelessness within Byron Shire.