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The Bali Zoning Debate

Bali Tries to Find a Balance Between Profit, Development and Cultural Preservation in Debating Island-Wide Zoning Regulation.


Bali News: The Bali Zoning Debate
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(2/14/2011)

A leading Balinese voice on environmental and legal issues, Professor Sr. I.G.N. Wairocana, questions the sincerity of Balinese officials efforts to save Bali's natural environment. He sees the policies implemented by local office holders as more concerned with their own narrow local and regional interests, rather than with the wider concern for saving Bali.

Quoted in Bali Post, Dr. Wairocana said: "Bali is very small. If all the officials only prioritize the interest of their own districts without considering the interests of other districts, then clearly Bali will become off-balance. This imbalance will mean there is no longer a sense of pride that can be presented to foreign tourists."

Wairocana, the dean of the law faculty at the Udayana University in Bali, condemns the misguided thinking of policy makers who favor only their own home districts with little or no regard for the wider interests of Bali as a whole. Law no. 32 of 2004 on regional administration, he insists, is clear on the respective powers held by regional and provincial governments. That regulation stipulates that the regencies (kabupaten) do not enjoy an absolute right to govern, requiring that they always coordinate their actions with the provincial administration. "The law is clear: there is no power that stands alone," he explained.

Focusing on the efforts of various regencies in Bali to give special permission for the construction of new hotels when, in fact, the area is already adequately served by its existing hotels, Wairocana said there is a need for clearer thinking as to whether or not a new hotel or new attractions would better serve Bali by being located in another regency. He continued, saying hotels should not be allowed to over-accumulate in Badung, the city of Denpasar and Gianyar, but should be built in new areas such as Jembrana, Buleleng, Tabanan, Bangli, Karangasem and Klungkung – areas that do not yet enjoy their fair share of Bali's tourism success.

The expert on law believes a more even distribution of tourism businesses across the island will bring the added benefit of reducing the share of hotel and restaurant taxes from regencies located in the south of Bali that must be "shared" to the remaining regencies on the island.

When asked about how to handle the existence of illegal or unlicensed hotels in some locations in Bali, Wairocana said the first step is to examine the state of the subject hotels' licenses and permits. If the licenses and permits are in order, then the hotels in question are not in violation of the laws. He explained that even if a licensed hotel is standing in a forbidden area under a new regulation, it cannot have its business disrupted because new laws cannot be brought to bear on actions that predate their introduction.

Badung Regency on the Opposition

Wairocana then shifted his comments to address the current polemic surrounding the issuance of a letter by Bali's governor demanding Badung strictly implement the 2009 zoning law (RTRW). The Badung administration has responded to the governor's command, criticizing and rejecting the RTRW's enforcement.

The governor's written instructions to the Badung regency calls for the enforcement of the zoning law on at least 25 villas and hotels standing within a 5 kilometer radius of the Uluwatu sacred temple, including two structures that are also in violation of set-back rules from the ocean's high-water mark.

In an official response from the Badung House of Representatives (DPRD-Badung), the regency's law makers have formally refused to implement the controversial 2009 zoning law. Complaining that the law is not being applied in a comprehensive and island-wide manner, they say the new zoning law also fails to pay heed to the specific needs and situation of the regency of Badung.

Similarly, the regent of Badung, A. A. Gde Agung, has written to the governor rejecting the order to implement the 2009 zoning law, citing the laws negative impact on the lives of the people of his region.

The Badung regency spokesman, Wayan Weda Dharmaja, told the press that the 2009 RTRW cannot be implemented as the process of synchronizing the regency's RTRW with the provincial RTRW is still underway.

Of the 25 illegal villas and hotels surrounding Uluwatu temple in violation of the 5 kilometer no-build provision of the 2009 zoning law, the Badung regency says only three of the structures represent commercial investments. Moreover, the regency insists the three investments are legally licensed business.


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