Saturday, January 27, 2018

Days Of Renting And Sewage

So then, just so everyone is clear ... Alcudia town, Pollensa town, El Vilà, La Font and Ullaró are saturated. Everywhere else isn't: Puerto Alcudia, Alcanada, Playa de Muro, Can Picafort, Son Serra, Muro, Santa Margalida, Sa Pobla, Búger, Campanet, Crestatx, Bonaire, Barcares, Puerto Pollensa, Formentor, Cala San Vicente.

How on earth do they arrive at such conclusions? No one really knows. They just do. And having arrived at these conclusions, the saturated areas can be eligible to no more than sixty days of holiday rental per annum, licences renewable every five years at the mere cost of 5,000 euros per accommodation place, assuming any licences are eventually forthcoming.

Licences being forthcoming is as much of the issue as all this daft zoning business. It isn't clear how they will be divvied out. I have seen a list per municipality of rental places, but as this list comes to over 100,000 places I have to assume that it is one that takes account of what is already legal (there are only some 30,000 new places on offer). If I'm reading this list correctly, in the case of Pollensa, as an example, there would be some 3,000 going spare. How many of these might end up being apartment places would be anyone's guess. There are hurdles to be overcome, such as communities' rights of veto.

Pollensa's mayor, Miquel Àngel March, has said that he's satisfied with the conclusions. Pollensa is saturated, thus there is the sixty-day restriction. But what was it that March said almost two years ago about problems of accommodation in Puerto Pollensa? I don't know that he is entirely satisfied. Alcudia's Toni Mir isn't satisfied, because the town is deemed to be saturated. The town hall will be letting the Council of Mallorca know what it thinks of this saturation. It won't get very far.

Elsewhere, Sa Pobla's Biel Ferragut is doubtless happy. The town hall has been betting on a favourable rentals outcome in order to boost the Sa Pobla tourism economy. Muro's Marti Fornés hasn't said anything; he's probably keeping his head down, given his historical links to the local hotel industry. Joan Monjo in Santa Margalida, an El Pi man like Mir, has no saturation concerns.

For now, though, it is all a bit of a waiting game. The Council of Mallorca still has its plan to tidy up, and the government has its moratorium to finish. Nothing, it seems to me, is likely to alter this summer. There are too many factors to take account of in facilitating licences, and they will take time to deal with.

While Santa Margalida town, Can Picafort and Son Serra have been given the blue or orange colour-coded all-clear for 365 days a year rental, the town hall is in the process of reclassifying land in Can Picafort in order that some new hotels can pop up. The timing of this, what with all the discussion of saturation (or not), might be considered a little unfortunate. And just as unfortunate is the ongoing row over the Son Baulo sewage and water treatment plant.

A reason why a new plant is needed is that the one in Albufera can't cope with all the additional demand placed on it by tourism. Increased numbers of tourists have meant increased strain on a plant that is considered to be obsolete. Adding more hotels in Can Picafort would simply create even greater problems. Yet Santa Margalida town hall continues to defy everyone and anyone when it comes to the Son Baulo plant.

Muro town hall is now taking the matter to court. Specifically, it wants a legal review of the Santa Margalida decision to unilaterally break an agreement for the Son Baulo plant that was signed in 2005. In a statement, Muro makes clear that at the turn of the century it was already understood that capacity at the Albufera plant was being exceeded. That was eighteen years ago, and nothing has happened.

Adding greater weight to the Muro court case is the decision of the government's Abaqua water agency (the successor to Ibasan, which was the agency that signed the 2005 agreement) to instruct the regional attorney to challenge the Santa Margalida decision. The agency points out that the Son Baulo plant was declared to be in the general interest in 2010, meaning that there isn't a legal obstacle blocking its construction. That's the theory anyway. In practice, eight more years have passed, and the courts are now involved.

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