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Does the Sheriff Always Win at the Best Westerns?

Two New Best Western Projects in Bali Scrutinized for Breaking Zoning Rules.

(8/3/2009) Nusa Bali reports that the new Best Western Condotel in Kedonganan has apparently failed to modify its top floor to make the building compliant with zoning height regulations.

According to the newspaper's reporters, the building still stands a full 17 meters, 2 meters higher than allowed under the law, despite initial furtive attempts by the managers of the condominium hotel to modify the uppermost level. Local enforcement officials, however, claim that the owners have taken the necessary steps to bring the building into compliance with height rules.

When challenged by reporters, the Head of the Regency's Enforcement Agency (Pamong Praja Badung), I Wayan Adi Arnawa, promised he would recheck the condotel to ensure the removal of the offending two meters has taken place.

Nusa Bali says that local observers claim that the owners only dispatched construction workers to create the impression that the building was being modified, and that workers were sent away and the modifications stopped when local officials ended their supervision of the process.

Commission A of the Badung House of Representatives (DPRD Badung) has criticized what they see at a lack of commitment by the regency's executive in the enforcement of established rules. Citing the Best Western Condotel in Kedonganan and another Best Western Hotel, the Sapta Patala on Jalan Kubu Anyar local legislators are questioning the lack of resolve by regency officials in enforcing the rules.

According to local press reports, The Best Western Sapta Patala was constructed without the required permits in an area where zoning rules specifically forbid the construction of large-scale hotels or apartment complexes.

Committed to preventing The Best Western Sapta Patala from opening its doors, a local community group calling itself the "Organization for the People's Aspirations (BAR)" have pledged to file suit in local administrative courts in the Hotel is eventually given an operating permit.

This threat follows comments from a member of the DPRD Badung who also serves as Chairman of BAR, IGN Citra Umbara, claiming local tourism officials and the hotels owners are colluding to find a way of issuing the necessary operating licenses.

Citra said that if permits are issued to The Best Western Sapta Patala such a step will represent an insult to the Regency as the building stands in flagrant disregard for existing zoning rules.

Tensions over the issue have been further fueled by reports that work continues at the hotel towards an eventual opening with recruitment efforts for new staff now underway.

Citra said: "There's no operational license, but the operational management of the hotel has commenced? If the government is bold enough to issue licenses, we will bring this case to the courts." Citra termed the government's behavior as "plin-plan" and "strange." He added that the zoning for the area in which the Satpa Patala stands forbids the construction of hotels, while the hotel in question has managed to be built and is now being claimed to be an apartment complex.

Citra denies claims by the owners that the 110 unit building is an apartment and not a hotel. Emphasizing that his group is not against business investment, but, at the same time, insists that the law must be obeyed by investors.

The Head of the Tourism Office for Badung, Made Subawa, denies that his office has issued permits or licenses for the Satpa Patala Hotel, adding that it may be impossible to do so given the violation of local zoning laws.