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Go Directly to Jail

Imminent Implementation of Baliís 2009 Zoning Law Poses Threat to Leading Hotels and Villas and Possible Jail Time to Regents Who Granted Easements for Now Illegal Structures

(3/2/2012) Radar Bali has begun to appraise the potentially far-reaching implications of the implementation of the 2009 Zoning Law for the Province of Bali (RTRWP) that, now freed of further bureaucratic delay, threatens to drag several Bali regents and a mayor into legal difficulties.

This possibility was foreshadowed by the chairman of the legislative council of the Bali House of Representatives (DPRD-Bali), I Made Sudana, who warned, “many regents will be imprisoned in the course of enacting the RTRW Bali.”

Sudana’s dire warning is not without legal basis. One of the boldest parts of Provincial Law No. 16 of 2009 on zoning for Bali demands prison terms for officials who give permission to build projects outside the limits imposed by the new zoning law. Regents who have granted llegal permits after the law’s introduction in 2009, posibly on the mistaken assumption that they would be able to subsequently negotiate the law’s final implementation and interpretation, may now be dragged before the courts on criminal charges. 

After a long and very public debate, all efforts to amend the RTRWP by Bali's regents have been roundly rejected, a resistance buoyed by traditional elements of Bali society who see the new zoning laws stipulations on mandatory set backs from shorelines and no-build area around sacred sites as fundamental to protecting Bali’s culture. The laws provides for both fines and prison terms for regency and municipal officials who grant building permissions that violate the new zoning rules.

According to Radar Bali, since 2009 there are a number of projects that were given permits outside the strict stipulations of the RTRWP that now expose both those who received the permits and the regents who granted them to possible imprisonment.

Hotels and villas built since 2009 that are in violation of the law are also subject to demolishment under the new zoning law.

Radar Bali reports a number of hotels in the Uluwatu area are now under threat of demolishment. The Secretary of Commission I of the DPRD-Bali, Dewa Nyoman Rai Adi, in commenting on Uluwatu hotels affected by the 2009 Zoning Law prohibiting structures in close proximity to major temples said; “this includes the luxurious Bulgari Hotel in Pecatu which may be removed. In fact, the Bulgari is very prestigious. In the entire world there is only a Bulgari located in Italy and Bali. America and English invited the brand to their countries, but Bulgari was not interested.”

Sudana predicts that there will be a fierce polemic resulting if the 2009 zoning law is fully implemented. Sudana said there would be people losing their employment and conflicts arising between the affected building owners and those ordered to demolish the structures. He said that because of this the Governor has been reluctant to implement the new law over the past three years.

Sudana continued that there has been no implementation of the 2009 RTRWP due to the potential this would breed for open conflict between the governor, the public, regents and municipal mayor.

Further emphasizing the problematic nature of implementing the zoning law, Wayan Lanang Sudira, another DPRD member, told the press that a private villas on Cucukan beach in Gianyar, owned by former President Megawati Soekarnoputri, also violates set back rules from the seashore and would therefore have to be demolished under strict enforcement of the new zoning law.

“The rule is 100 meters from the high water mark. The villa of Ibu Megawati in Cucukan is located too close to the ocean, even if we measure from the low water mark. It’s right on the beaches’ edge,” explained Sudira.

In other words, Sudira explained that that a strict application of the RTRWP would mean that the villa of the former president was illegally erected and should therefore be demolished under any retroactive enforcement of the zoning law.

This fact sits in interesting juxtaposition with a recent speech by Megawati in Bali in which she implored the members of her Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) not to try to change or modify the new zoning law that now threatens the future of her Balinese home.