Airbnb is still a sore point with Byron Shire Council.
Airbnb is still a sore point with Byron Shire Council. Contributed

The one point of great frustration with Airbnb

LIKE me, I am sure many Byron Shire residents are concerned about the NSW Government's announcement on short-term holiday letting. To say I am disappointed with its decision to allow short-term holiday letting in residential areas for more than 180 days a year - that's six months - is an understatement.

What the government is proposing will effectively take homes in our neighbourhoods and potentially transform them into revolving accommodation houses for visitors at the expense of our communities.

I can't say I was totally surprised by the news, but I do tend to be hopelessly optimistic. As a community and council, we need to come up with some solutions that work for us and push for the government to see Byron Shire as an exception to the rule when it comes to short-term holiday letting.

One point of great frustration is that, for a long time, the council has been working alongside the holiday-let industry and the community to find a way forward for everyone.

Holiday letting is an important part of the range of accommodation in the Byron Shire but it needs to be properly managed to work for everyone.

Sadly this work was ignored by the State Government and now we have a situation where residents are feeling under siege because of the number of visitors moving in and out of their streets. Legitimate holiday-let providers who have done the right things on compliance and safety are also worried.

The next weeks will see us trying to work out some ground rules to minimise the growth of holiday lets because the checking in and out of visitors means people no longer know their neighbours and houses are no longer homes. After all, isn't this one of the things we love about living in the Byron Shire - the fact we know our neighbours and look after each other?

I have written to the NSW Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation, Matt Kean, asking for a meeting to talk about the state of things in Byron Shire. In the meantime, the council will continue to look at things we can do at a local level.


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