Byron Bay residents take on mayor and council

Local ratepayers, families, and business owners have come together to fight the Byron Shire Council’s plan to limit short-term home rentals to 90 days a year.

Byron Bay spi

Tourism Research Australia’s national and international visitor survey shows that the 90-day limit would hurt the local economy by $267 million per year.

It’s been reported that this could put up to 1,448 direct jobs at risk and will hurt local businesses in all fields, all while having no positive effect on the number of homes or their prices in the area.

TripADeal co-founder Norm Black said: “Being one of the biggest employers in town, we have a clear perspective on this issue. We do not believe this council proposal will have a positive effect on housing availability or affordability.

“What it will do is have an adverse impact on tourism, which the town’s employment is built on.” 


Calling it a knee-jerk response, Mr Black asserted: “They won’t get the outcome they are seeking, but they will do a lot of damage to Byron Bay.”

The mayor is arguing that his proposal will return approximately 1,500 properties to the permanent rental pool immediately. According to research, there are less than 1,200 homes on STRA properties in Byron Shire, and less than 10 per cent of those homes are expected to enter the permanent housing market.

The spokesperson for Byron Deserves Better, Sarah Workman, has taken this policy line by line and demonstrated “how embarrassingly flawed” it is. She urges the community to see for themselves before it’s too late.

“We live here. We work in local businesses, employing other members of our community,” Ms Workman commented.

The owner and manager of a number of holiday cottages in the Byron area, Grant Moffitt, sees short-term lodging as important to the market and visitor economy.

“Byron Bay is built on the back of a strong tourism economy. That industry is reliant on having a diverse mix of private short-term accommodation options,” Mr Moffitt said.

The Byron Shire Council and the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment commissioned a report at a cost to taxpayers of $109,000 that strongly advocated against the 90-day cap due to the predictable, negative impact it would have on the community.

The report indicates that the mayor and Bryon Shire Council have opted to disregard their own findings and continue with this misguided policy.

Charles Montano, who owns Footwear Focus in Byron Bay, said he was very concerned about the impact on retail small businesses.

“The retail economy in Byron needs tourists. It’s very simple — when you are on holiday, you spend more. If the council takes away short-term rentals, tourism drops and retail suffers. This cannot be offset or avoided in a town like Byron Bay, where tourism is everything,” Mr Montano made clear.

Byron Bay Holiday Hire is a local family business founded in the 1990s that supplies linen and other essential holiday hire items to accommodation providers and tourists from Ballina to New Brighton. Owner Reid Campbell has concerns not only about their family business but also about the jobs of their employees if this policy is realised.

If the Byron Shire Council follows ahead with this, the region will be devastated. There are numerous vocations associated with lodging providers and their visitors. “The council should reconsider before it’s too late,” Mr Campbell concluded.

Individuals, family-owned businesses, and other businesses said they were fed up with a council that refuses to listen and is determined to impose its own agenda regardless of the consequences.

Any community representative showing common sense would scrap this process and start again, Ms Workman concluded.

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