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Areas Urbanism & territory, Tourism and Economic activities Urbanism and Territory planning

Council reaches out to community members once again for debate on tourism zoning

foto-segona-sessio-2018On Wednesday the Formentera Council convened the economy, neighbourhood, tourism and environment sections of the island's coalition of community leaders, the Consell d'Entitats, to continue discussion of a zoning proposal that involves limits on tourism. Approximately thirty representatives of the local community and civil society turned up at the gathering.

Land councillor Alejandra Ferrer spoke about the eight proposals which had been put forth and parsed the pros and cons. Of the eight, three will ultimately be added to the initial while the remaining five were disqualified for a variety of reasons.

Ferrer outlined the conclusions of the proposal. The ordinance would ban commercial activity like vacation rentals at homes constructed after the adoption in 2010 of a municipal standards code (known as “Subsidiary Guidelines”, or Normes Subsidiàries) and a strategy to regulate land-use (the Pla Territorial). The proposed changes would mean creation of a legal status for up to 50% more dwellings than those currently allowed by law, limits on the number of beds at hotels to ensure economic diversification, and targetted expansion of vacation rental permits for single-family homes to guarantee protections for Formentera's rural landscape and, at the same time, high quality, diverse rental properties for visiting tourists.

The plan would throw up roadblocks for islanders seeking to rent properties in traditionally residential areas like Sant Francesc, Sant Ferran and el Pilar de la Mola to protect the local character of such areas and the rights of locals. Likewise, to ensure fair competition, quality-control plans would be introduced for those single-family homes that are licensed for rental.

Some of the measures being considered are aimed at fomenting neighbourliness between locals and tourists living in the same buildings, while other environmental measures are intended to offset the negative impact of rezoning homes as rental properties. Other measures are envisioned as well, from creating quality standards in tourism to ensuring homeowners are held to account with respect to the objectives, like with checks every five years.

A Q&A session followed during which the ins and outs of the proposed measures were clarified.

The proposed rules change will now be reviewed and voted in plenary, with an ensuing period to make comments, before the proposals are once again weighed by the Consell d'Entitats.

New by-law on outdoor patios

Ocupacio via publica reduxThe Formentera Council's land and tourism offices report that today, Tuesday, January 30, marks the start of a new ordinance, adopted by Formentera's plenary assembly December 22 of last year, to regulate terraces and other installations that occupy the public right of way.

With definitive approval for the change already secured, occupancy permits issued under the previous ordinance will no longer be valid. Hence, interested businesses must once again request authorisation by providing the supporting documentation persuant to article 10.

Permits should be requested at least one month before the plans to occupy public land and start business activity. More information is available on the Council's website (https://goo.gl/A4yjyt).

To ensure quality service and create incentives for businesses which open more than six months a year, permits will not be granted to establishments that fail to guarantee business activity between May 15 and October 15.

Deadline on estate tax rebate requests: next week

Foto casa pagesa formenteraThe Formentera Council reports that next Friday, March 31, is the last day for large families and owners of properties with grade B protection to request rebates on the so-called “IBI”, or estate tax.

Large families receive a 50 per cent rebate provided their home is valued at less than €120,000 and constitutes the family's habitual place of residence.

Likewise, owners of properties with protection grade B on Formentera's cultural heritage catalogue can apply to have 75 per cent of their tax payment returned. Properties used for commercial purposes are ineligible for the discount.

Rebate requests can be made at the Citizen's Information Office (OAC) during the first quarter of the year.

Council charges 15 cases of unauthorised tourist rentals

MIRADOR PREMSAThe Formentera Council's Office of Land has announced its intent to pursue legal action for 15 violations of tourism and land use codes. The move, explained land and tourism councillor Alejandra Ferrer, is a way to protect law-abiding and tax-paying businesses from unfair competition. She voiced the Council's hope that a portion of the illegal rentals join Formentera's offer for long-term tenants, mitigating the housing crunch.

Legal action will be pursued with 14 apartments in multifamily buildings and one house on rural land where owners failed to declare rental activity. In a bid to regulate tourism, Balearic law 8/2012 (July 19) established penalties for illegal rentals of €4,000 and up.

“Formentera has got a lot riding on our visitors' satisfaction,” said Ferrer, “and accommodation looms large when that's rated”. The councillor said that fact explained periodic sweeps by the Council flagging rentals where owners lack the required credentials—“accreditation and controls,” Ferrer pointed out, “that can ensure minimum quality standards.”

New survey seeks clearer picture of Formentera's housing crunch

Simulacio final obra HPOThe Formentera Council's land office is engaging directly with IBAVI, the Balearic Islands' housing institute, on a survey to improve understanding of the housing demand on the island. Survey respondents will also be added to a register of potential renters, updating the waiting list for IBAVI's low-cost housing currently under construction in Sant Ferran.

In March, the Council has created an information corner at the Citizen Information Office (OAC) where home-hunters can register. It is open Monday through Friday, 9.00am to 2.00pm and interested parties can also visit IBAVI's Formentera office next to SOIB, Mondays 9.30am to 1.00pm and Thursdays 11.00am to 1.30pm.

According to land councillor Alejandra Ferrer, the two groups' decision to team up can be traced back to the need for “clearer data on Formentera's housing crunch”. Equipped with the information, she said, the Council and Govern foresee carrying forward pointed efforts to tackle the problem.

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