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More short-stay abuse - with no recourse for residents

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Abby's Angle

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Letters to the Editor - February 2016

04 Feb 2016

Tower 4 cheer

At Tower 4 of Yarra’s Edge, 80 Lorimer St, we have been having two socials a year for at least a decade – in July and December.

We always have a good turn out of between 40 and 70 people. We meet in the lobby, bringing all sorts of drinks to share and having yummy catered finger food.

We provide labels for name tags to help us remember our neighbours’ names.

Decorations have varied from multiple balloons to flowers to candles to wall banners. We have played games and listened to poetry, usually read by our building’s poet laureate, Dally Messenger.

Now at holiday time, we have a beautiful Christmas tree decorated by Carol and Emilio Bortignon.

Our owners’ corp committee led by Helina Marshall has recently added singing to the party agenda.

Peter Knol, our building manager, has become our not-so-secret Santa to everyone’s delight.  

No one is ever coerced to participate so you can sit back and watch or jump into the fun.

Two years ago, another tradition seemed to take hold with great enthusiasm – residents leaving wrapped presents under the tree to be donated to children of struggling families.

This year exceeded expectations. All in all, 153 gifts were put under the tree, marked with age and whether for a boy or a girl or both. What an open-hearted response!

The gifts were delivered by Peter Knol and members of the committee, to the Salvation Army’s Kids In Crisis Centre in St.Kilda.

Each building is like a neighbourhood.  Perhaps other buildings might take up this tradition of donations. (Maybe some already do?) It adds a dimension of good feeling and a generosity of spirit to the clamorous activities of our December lives and seems even to add to the community spirit all year round.

Remi Messenger

Fix Harbour Esplanade now

Harbour Esplanade and Central Pier, two defining elements of Docklands that should be the main draw-cards, are the very two things that pull the area down. Harbour Esplanade, the main link between the developing precincts of Victoria Harbour and NewQuay, is an ugly eyesore of redundant tram tracks and crumbling mismatched surfaces.

Central Pier, with a few “heritage” sheds of no architectural significance that provide no tangible link to the maritime past, seems to exist primarily to house noisy parties and scar the beauty of the harbour with the stained concrete car park at its western extremity.

If these third-rate places are the main event, it’s little wonder that Docklands residents and estate agents are constantly having to talk the area up.

I know that after many years of dithering by Places Victoria and the City of Melbourne, a master plan has been developed. But it’s going to take 10 to 15 years to implement! That is ridiculous.

It’s necessary to start the work immediately, because without that essential piece of infrastructure in place, the future of the quality of development in the area is in jeopardy. Nobody is going to build a palace in a pig-sty.

If a person unfamiliar to Melbourne looked at the map of the inner city I’m sure he or she would look at the location of Docklands and assume that this must be the best bit of real estate in Victoria.

I don’t regard Docklands as a suburb, I see it it as the western edge of the CBD. The part of the CBD that sits on the harbour. How good is that?

I think the stranger would be very disappointed, however, on seeing the reality of the area’s main spine.

Seeing the mistakes of the past laid out before them, the hideous multi-coloured paving in all its garish glory crudely patched with bitumen. The incongruous 3D yellow numerals, the abandoned tram tracks and the rotting white-capped piles that are the remnants of the old wharfs. Too many decaying hard surfaces and too little greenery. And too few people walking because it’s desolate and not a very pleasant place to walk.

Docklands has an enormous potential. That’s why I chose to move here two years ago. Victoria Harbour and NewQuay are developing very nicely. The quality of architecture is very high and the landscaping on both sides of the harbour is exceptional but Harbour Esplanade and Central Pier are pulling the whole Docklands area down.

It doesn’t need to be like this. Approval for new buildings in the area could be made dependent on paying towards improving the infrastructure. The present hotch-potch of paving and tram tracks could be torn up and turfed over in the short-term and the works required for completing the master plan could be started as soon as possible.

What should be the jewel in Melbourne’s crown is in desperate need of repair.

Cliff and Penny Steele

Out-of-hours ruckus

I have lived above the Harbour Town Shopping Centre for the past two-and-a-half years and there seems to be a reoccurring problem that is overlooked.

I’m talking about the incessant out-of-regulatory-hours music, construction and cleaning works that goes on here.

I don’t know how many times I’ve tossed and turned or woken to these sounds in the night AND morning. I have lost count of how many times I’ve had to reluctantly call the police to have to physically come down here to make it stop. This is such a waste of police time and I’m sure others will agree with me.

In the past, prior to calling police, I would try to speak to the workers and their managers to try and break the cycle but to no avail.

I’ve had the owners of these companies laugh at me, tell me where to go or that I should even move home. But, hang on a second –  what happened to the law here?

It seems that the police and I are powerless to do anything. I’m writing to Docklands News to inform others and plea for help so that we can shut down this out-of-hours ruckus once and for all.

Mat Oliver

Dear Ms Scott

In response to your letter accusing the OC of a building in Docklands leading a vendetta against short-stay accommodation, I think you are missing a few important points.

Buildings are classified as residential and have been sold as such and not as “hotel apartment”.  So, in my opinion, it is breaking the contract to use them as a hotel-type, short-stay business.

We all know the negative impacts of renting out short-term. It is clearly more difficult to control the security, safety and behaviour in a building with a bigger turnover of people – not to mention the added wear and tear of the building and its amenities, which owners have to pay for as well.

Everyone knows owners take more pride and care in their home, I am sure you would agree. We had friends staying in short-stay accommodation in Docklands recently, giving us their remark: “they would never rent there again. It was noisy and too much partying going on”.

I agree you can have long-term renters causing trouble too, but it would be much easier to control problems, as anyone wanting to stay longer would be more careful not to misbehave.

Now, to some of your remarks.

The cases against short-stay accommodation being taken to the BAB and the Supreme Court were not by the OC but by the City of Melbourne.

Watergate OC took the case to VCAT and the Member dismissed the case, claiming that the OC did not have the power to set a 30-day minimum stay.

The Member was not correct with that judgement, as the OC had not set that timing originally, it was set by the developer.

The OC is elected by the owners of a building at an AGM. Their job is to represent the owners, make sure that everything is running to schedule and create a budget, which needs to be approved.

In cases like the one you are referring to, a special resolution form was sent to the owners, a special owners meeting was held and a very large number of owners attended and your informant was outvoted substantively.

I hope this gives a much clearer picture of what happened and why owners, not only at Watergate but in other buildings as well, are totally dissatisfied with the current situation. We all hope that the State Government will soon handle this situation with satisfactory legislation.

K. Berberich

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