Letters to the Editor - August 2012
01 Aug 2012
It’s money versus lifestyle
The article by Melissa Chen in your 77th issue dealing with the short-term accommodation was balanced.
While there are sound legal arguments on each side of this debate, it really comes down to an argument between money and lifestyle.
The reality is that those who supply or manage short-term accommodation are bound to only argue with commercial interests in mind. Those of us who reside in these towers constantly live in our homes with the uncertainty of what each weekend will hold, particularly around the time of major events in the precinct. It is often forgotten by the supporters of short-term accommodation that their business is impacting on our homes.
My wife and I moved into a NewQuay tower a little over a year and a half ago. We were very unaware of the short-term accommodation issue, having moved into the city from the outer suburbs for lifestyle and employment reasons.
In the main our experiences have been positive. The only negative that is worthy of mention is the short-term accommodation issue.
All too often the debate is simplified to be about noise and damage to property. There is rarely a mention about the intimidation, threatening behaviour, obscene language and wilful disregard to the rules put in place to ensure that people in close-quarter accommodation can co-exist in peace.
Mr Salter’s comments amuse me. Short-term tenants are very different from long-term tenants. They are certainly different from owner-occupiers.
In our time living in this apartment my wife and I have not had noise or disturbance issues with any owner/occupier. As for long-term tenants, the one or two issues we did have were quickly resolved in the interest of harmonious living. Short-term tenants don’t care about harmony in our building as they will be back in their homes in a day or two, having disrupted our home.
While short-term accommodation operators may not condone parties with high levels of disturbance, they cannot prevent them. Mr Salter must be joking about there being only two instances of such parties during his five or six years. In our one-and-half years my wife and I have endured three highly-offensive parties.
The offensiveness included very obscene language usually describing their sexual exploits, incessant yelling and screaming from the balcony, throwing items from the balcony and constant thumping on the floor consistent with a ball game being played indoors. That is what has affected us as an occurrence in the one apartment immediately above us. What happens in other areas of the building can only be guessed at. So Mr Salter, two or three; really?
Parties in long-term accommodation can be dealt with more effectively than the short-term apartments.
Most long-term residents utilise the restaurant facilities and are answerable to the body corporate and building manager. And they have to co-exist with their neighbours.
Other issues which impact on the liveability of our home include threatening behaviour by short-term renters, spill-over of loud and offensive people into the corridors and a blatant disregard of the rules for common areas.
Apparently the lap pool we use for exercise is considered to be a party venue for short-term renters who play boisterous ball games, utilise all lanes without ever swimming a stroke and drink from stubbies in the pool and around the edge.
We have, on more than one occasion, not entered a lift because of the drunken and loud young males and females that use it as a ride for both them and their open bottles/cans of alcohol.
On weekends our homes become a receptacle for people with suitcases in the lobby looking for a non-existent reception. They think our home is a commercially operated hotel.
Most weekends our car park becomes landfill complete with empty bottles, cans and fast food wrappers all diluted with vomit and urine.
Yes, these matters can be reported and they can be resolved, but this week’s resolution is next week’s problem because those that were dealt with last weekend have been replaced by a new set of non-caring, short-term holiday makers and rabblerousers.
Often they are groups of young men looking to “party” in a city apartment.
The solution is simple. If short-term renting is so viable then build purpose-built short-term serviced apartment buildings and sell them for what they are.
Leave our homes for permanent residents and long-term renters who, by and large, respect the rights and privacy of others. All the controls in the world will not stop the gangs of youths who invade the short-term rental market.
Has the publicity around this issue and the actuality of this issue reduced the value of my property? I suspect so.
What I find insulting is the much-vaunted threat of a negative impact on tourism and the demise of local businesses.
There are ways of resolving this and this resolution should not impact on the appeal of permanent or long-term residency. Serviced apartments have their place and should exist to support tourism and local businesses; just not in residential towers that are our homes.
Growth should be in Docklands
It seems that in the same breath that urban planners are talking about urban consolidation they are also advocating for urban expansion.
A new report from the Monash University Centre for population and urban research has indicated that the legislated Melbourne 2030 plans have been soft in directing development into areas of established infrastructure, business and retail centres.
What has been seen rather is an increase to urban expansion outside of established urban boundaries, as exemplified by the Government’s announcement this year to create six new suburbs in Melbourne’s outer urban fringe.
While the Government is keen to allow for the provision of new suburbs, it is also working with developers to renew existing urban space such as the Docklands. However they are walking a very tight rope to balance the pursuit of both of these objectives.
What is being seen is that as these developments are finished and put to the public, often they are not being sold in each category.
The 2011 census reveals the scope of this problem by revealing that under two thirds of new urban development within the Docklands is occupied.
Compare this to results released by The Age this month, which shows that 60 per cent of homes not being sold reside in Melbourne’s newest suburbs on the outer fringe.
It is clear that there is a market glut across the board, but it also indicates that the Government’s pursuit of urban consolidation, namely in Docklands, is not working alongside plans to expand.
Melbourne needs to adopt one urban strategy and stick with it.
Melbourne 2030, which was legislated in 2002 is a good plan and should be strongly enforced by the Government for new development.
Following the advent of the Docklands community garden and other new community initiatives, Docklands is poised to become a vibrant community, serviced by access to major infrastructure, retail and the CBD.
Understandably, apartment living is not for everyone, but urban consolidation is the way of the future. Do not be surprised when roads connecting the city are taxed with congestion tolls, as is the case in many European cities.
It is cheaper and more convenient to live in the city than in the outer suburbs.
Firstly, apartments are cheaper and quicker to care for than the average urban dwelling.
Secondly, there is less cost to operate the car, as kilometres traveled are significantly diminished by proximity to the city.
Lastly, the city is home to free entertainment.
Entertainment in the suburbs is a lot more expensive than entertainment in the city.
Living in Docklands is never bland and compared to neighboring established suburbs like South Yarra and South Melbourne, it is a cheaper and more spacious entry point for home buyers.
School of Geography and Environmental Science
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