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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

In response to Council's plea sent to 8500 to rent your holiday house

The Beagle editor, Your readers might be interested in my recent communication to Eurobodalla Council. Dear Council,

Thank you for the letter regarding my home in the Eurobodalla. Your letter indicates that your records suggest it is a “second residence or holiday house”. Please correct your records. While it is not legally my “primary residence” it is my residence and defiantly not a “holiday house” but my home.

The subject of a local housing crisis which is at the heart of your appeal is very complex with the overtones of people sleeping rough or in their cars due to either a shortage of space or a place at a affordable rate. The core issue is that demand outstrips supply. We all have, here in Australia, a desire to have a permanent roof over our heads, clean cheap drinking water and some food in our belly but the desire for more, or bigger, which seems to be the Australian norm, takes more than a desire but luck, planning, hard work and a strategy to achieve these goals. Affordability, desires and needs are all components which appear to have got out of hand.

Council plays an important part in addressing this subject just as the State and Federal Governments do. Council sets our rates, determines the cost of our water and approves developments for new estates and houses. This is where the rubber hits the road. Therefore action by Council both in the short term and longer term would go a long way to solve the local problem.

Why do we have such a high demand for accommodation here on the South Coast? The obvious superficial answer is the fires. Well, Council would know how many people (very few I would suggest) are still in temporary accommodation waiting for the bureaucratic process to be completed before they can move into their rebuilt home. Council can assist and speed that up – one step closer.

Secondly there is a high demand for medium term rentals from all the tradies working on infrastructure projects up and down the Shire. John Holland tried to address this by purchasing the motel on the north shore but the employees wanted better accommodation for their family and children so they just increased housing demand. Now that project has ended- have they (from project manager to the carpenter) given up their house – I doubt it. They have found alternate work or rented their place out as they either move to Canberra or up the coast to a new project.

But still there are more tradies who have heard about the quick buck that can be made on the south coast and either taken on a project or set up their trailer to reap the rewards of over priced local projects – extensions, a new patio or electrical switchboard, a replacement fence, all at top rates. But Council cant do anything about this side of demand, acknowledging that it will just get worse as people flow south out of the flood plains and cities to our north and south.

Thirdly and this is where Council can have a real impact. Look to Council managed land – either crown land or areas that they manage either directly or via some lease arrangement as they do with caravan parks, sports fields, waterways and community centres. These could be managed in such a way to free up space for medium term renters to find a patch in the sun at an affordable rate. Tiny houses, caravans, house boats or tents. There is no silver bullet and one solution does not apply to all but that is where a taskforce should start to apply the pressure to solve the problem. If only there was a task force - which there isn't.

Fourthly, I understand Council has to approve most developments on new released land which has to meet certain standards. Lets introduce a requirement on all DA approvals to have affordable rental accommodation and low cost houses as a requirement of any development over a certain size. While that may reduce the attractiveness of developments here on the coast it would, in the medium term, solve the current housing crisis. As they say to build a cathedral you have to lay at least two stones (bricks in our case).

Lastly the subject of the letter sent to ratepayers. The idea that these residences are empty is incorrect. Most are used either as second homes, holiday houses or retreats as mental health places or to enjoy a pastime or change of pace. Each has a special place in the families well being. To ask them to give this up will, I suggest, just move the current problem down the road. But more importantly the economics just does not stack up with the increase in insurance, storage of removed furniture, agents fees, wear and tear and the potential to not be able to return because of tenants refusal to move is just not worth the risk BUT here Council could play a major role.

Council could waiver all rates and taxes, make drinking water free and subsidise all the other costs associated with any rental longer than six months. This would show that Council actively puts this monkey on their back and not asks those that may have worked very hard for many years to take on this issue and attempt to solve the short term problem. After the fires was different and we all pitched in to help. Imagine the housing problem as a result of the current floods in NSW.

Affordable housing and rental properties is a medium term issue but if we look back at the decisions Council has taken regarding the aspects they control the chicken has defiantly come home to roost. So, develop a robust strategy that starts with granny flats, onsite caravans and ends with large development approvals. Work with all Departments of the State Government. Your 8 points on the reverse of the letter is a start and you should be commended but the majority depend on others to provide a solution. This will cost Council money but you will not be shifting the issue to hardworking ratepayers inappropriately targeted.


Malua Bay Resident

Harry Watson Smith

NOTE: Comments were TRIALED - in the end it failed as humans will be humans and it turned into a pile of merde; only contributed to by just a handful who did little to add to the conversation of the issue at hand. Anyone who would like to contribute an opinion are encouraged to send in a Letter to the Editor where it might be considered for publication

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