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Sun Setting Over the Best Western Kuta

Badung Legislative Committee Declare as 'Impossible' to Grant Zoning Variance to illegal Best Western Kuta, Bali; Insisting Hotel Should be Torn Down.

(5/27/2011) An exchange of views conducted by Commission A of the Badung House of Representatives (DPRD-Badung), involving seven local government divisions, held on Monday, May 23, 2011, discussed the continuing case of the Best Western Kuta (Sapta Petala).

Commission A members asked what should be the next step that needs to be taken by the Badung regency in the case? it was the general consensus of the meeting that that the current zoning restriction forbidding anything but single residence construction in the area occupied by the Best Western were impossible to change. Commission members concluded therefore that it would eventually be necessary to tear down the 111-room property which opened illegally in late 2010.

As reported by Bali Post, the Badung legislators are voicing support for the Badung administration’s efforts to enforce zoning and business registration laws in the Best Western case, while asking, at the same time, what possible channels might still be available to legalize the hotel’s existence. I Made Dharma and IGN Mambal Assak of Commission A, reminded that the regency had a social responsibility to the employees of the Best Western in arriving at any final resolution of the case.

The chairman of Commission A, I Nyoman Satria, echoed similar sentiments. He also expressed the concern that whatever decision is made in the case will have large implications for other companies in Bali who are violating local regulations. On the other hand, if the Best Western escapes sanctions he feels that other investors will see that as a green light to follow suit. For this reason, he called on the Badung regency to come to a final and absolute resolution in the Best Western imbroglio.

In discussing the possibility of allowing zoning variances to the Best Western Kuta, the head of the Zoning and Planning Division of the Badung Government (Bappeda dan Litbang), Agus Hariawan, pointed to several important aspects that must first  be considered. Among those factor are zoning usage, building codes, environmental rules and infrastructure issues. He acknowledged that usage and zoning laws delineating specific areas for commercial or residential usage were dynamic and, as such, were sometimes subject to change.

However, in the case of the Best Western Kuta, he pointed out that it would be nearly impossible to change the current zoning from residential to commercial in order to allow tourist accommodation. He said the zoning rules should not be changed to match the buildings, but that buildings should be built to match the  zoning laws. He also said it was also basically bad policy to grant exceptions for single cases.

Upon hearing this explanation, Satria, chairman of the Commission warned that certain parties should not be lobbying to change the zoning law (RTRW) in favor of the Best Western Kuta. Because a change in the rules appears to be impossible, the law must be enforced, whatever the consequences.

The legislators also called on the Regent of Badung to write a letter to the Best Western Hotels headquarters in the U.S.A. informing them of the hotel’s closure. A call to to post a similar notice on the website of the Badung Regency declaring the Best Western Kuta as illegal business was also put forth by the lawmakers.