Monday, October 16, 2017

Rentals In Pollensa: Legality Full Stop

You do come across some strange snippets of suspect information. A recent example, in the form of a comment, said that a business owner with a large-scale apartment block (fully tourist) had told the person who left the comment that "responsibility for defining who can/cannot rent has been passed to the local mayor".

Firstly I wondered what this large-scale (fully tourist) apartment block could mean. One has to suppose that it is one of those buildings with a tourism ministry licence with an activity as tourist apartments - the AT designation. If so, then the rentals' legislation is irrelevant. But more importantly was the bit about the local mayor. Where does this stuff come from? A mayor, a town hall is in no position to make this definition. A mayor may be, will be consulted about provisions stemming from the holiday rentals' law, but it is the Council of Mallorca which defines where rentals will be (the zoning) and it is the tourism ministry which grants licences (or not).

If mayors really were in this position, then this week's meeting in Pollensa with Miquel Àngel March would have had a quite different outcome. The mayor and Tomeu Cifre Bennàsar (urban planning) met with the Puerto Pollensa and Cala San Vicente residents' associations, the Pollensa trade association, the Pollensa restaurants' association and the association for holiday villa businesses. The result of the meeting was a lemon. The mayor said that he believed that there will be few restrictions on holiday rentals in Pollensa, suggesting that Mercedes Garrido, the Council of Mallorca councillor with ultimate responsibility for zoning decisions, has intimated this. The mayor may be right, but he was making it clear - as if this were needed - that it isn't he who makes these decisions.

They got together presumably so they could lobby the mayor in making the strongest possible representations to the Council. The mayor, one assumes, is already fully aware that Pollensa's tourism economy has a high dependency on rentals. He would probably already have known, as the Cala San Vicente people pointed out, that this part of the municipality is particularly reliant. Rentals, the Cala San Vicente association said, are a question of "survival" for what is the "most depressed" area of Pollensa.

The mayor, it shouldn't be forgotten, is a former spokesperson for GOB, the environmentalists. They were the ones leading the "massification" demo in Palma last month. They are the ones who are agitating for limits. Rentals are intimately linked to the issues of massification and limits. But the mayor represents the whole of Pollensa, he is a guardian of municipal welfare, well-being and wealth. I wonder what he really thinks about rentals.

There won't be much zoning in Pollensa, said the mayor. Does he know this for certain? And the point with zoning is that even if there little of it, there is still the issue of the allocation of rentals' places. These have to be decided - almost 43,000 are available - for the whole of Mallorca: private accommodation and hotels. The amount is not great, if there is to be anything like some equality in distribution, while Pollensa - as we know - already has an exceptionally high number of legal rentals: the proportion is much greater than anywhere else.

It isn't just a fear that apartments won't be legalised in Pollensa. There is a further fear. It is raised by the following clause in the legislation: "It will not be possible to commercialise tourist stays in any dwelling for which a sanction has been imposed for a serious or very serious infraction of urban legality, so long as this legality remains unrestored." Has been imposed or could be imposed.

Pollensa, as well as being known for its high number or rental properties, is now just as well known for its urban planning infractions. The anti-corruption prosecution service demanded documentation from the town hall. It has been handed over. The Council of Mallorca's Agency for the Defence of Territory will be interested. We are talking here about villas, and it is a question not of holiday rental legality but of legality full stop. The tourism minister, Biel Barceló, when explaining that existing rentals will be unaffected by the legislation did provide a caveat: so long as the properties are themselves fully legal. 

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