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Bali New Zoning Laws in a Sate of Confusion

Bali's Regencies Resist Governor's Efforts to Bring Order and Regulation to the Island's Zoning Practice.

(6/2/2010) Although Bali has approved a new and comprehensive Provincial Zoning Plan (RTRWP), violations of the new rules are rife due to resistance by island officials to relinquish their personal power to grant exemptions or, at the very least, ensure the stated rules are selectively enforced.

Bali Post reports that the current sorry state of zoning affairs was recently tabled by a member of Karangasem regency's House of Representatives (DPRD), I Nyoman Sadra, who pointed to the refusal of Bali's Bupatis (Regents) and Mayors to submit to the new rules, preferring instead to work with the less specific status quo in which developers demands are more easily facilitated.

Sadra, a well-known community leader and environmental activist, cited the many violations in his home regency of Karangasem where a non-confirming hotel built at Bukit Mimba is threatened with non-completion. Other violations have occurred at Bukit Guman in the village of BugBug. According to Sandra, in the case of the large hotel project at Bukit Mimba, it appears that the regency's government has violated the local zoning laws by allowing the project to be built in a protected zone.

The recently approved RTRWP for Bali has made tourism development in Karangasem even more problematic. The implementation of the new rules is being resisted by the Regent. If the new zoning laws are, in the end, enforced, how will thee new rules address prohibitions against commercial structures within 2.5 kilometers of sacred temple sites? The new rules would also require the demolition of a large number of existing restaurants and hotels.

Some local administrators argue the 2.5 kilometer no build zone around religious temples and the 100 meter set back from the ocean's edge will leave Karangasem with little land with which to lure tourism investors.

The solution, according to Sadra, is for a complete halt to the building of hotels and restaurants in Karangasem. At the same time, the actual number of hotels and the number of tourist quests served by those hotels could to be accurately counted. If such a survey showed that demand is adequately served by the current supply of rooms, the local legislator thinks it's better to prevent any new projects from being built.

Sadra said it is mistaken to assume that every new hotel in Karangasem automatically results in an increase in the regency's tax revenues. Warned Sadra: "If the attractiveness of the regency has been destroyed through environmental degradation, the tourists will have gone."