Short-term rentals pose problem

THE future of short term rental accommodation in Shellharbour City remains uncertain after the matter was deferred last week.

Councillors considered whether to prepare a planning proposal to enable STRAs to operate without consent - they are currently illegal in residential zones.

Barrack Point resident Kylie Dennis lives next door to a former STRA - the business stopped after she and her husband, Michael, took the matter to the Land and Environment Court last year.

The mother of two told of disturbances her family had experienced.

"During the past five years, we have endured bucks parties, strippers, prostitutes, sex acts on the front lawn, nudity, foul and vile language, sporting parties, schoolies, birthday parties, and the list goes on," she said.

"They don't support tourism - [occupants] tend to stay in their homes and party."

She said STRAs also risked a loss of full-time residents.

"There is no community without residents and no permanence of community if solely supported by tourists," she said.

"Without permanent residents, there will be limited availability of services and facilities, schooling or otherwise - [amending the LEP] will drive out permanent residents and the attractiveness of the same."

The former STRA operator, John Cuciti, also addressed the council to detail his loss of income after the closure.

"I feel the adverse economic impact if holiday homes like my own were to cease operation would result in losses of income to the community that would amount to millions of dollars annually," he said.

"My property alone accommodated in the order of . . . 160 people last calendar year - I estimate that it alone generated a combined income to local businesses of somewhere in the order of $200,000 to $300,000."

Both speakers agreed a code of conduct should be implemented - Mrs Dennis believed the owner should be held responsible for breaches, while Mr Cuciti believed occupants should face prompt eviction for disruption.

According to Shellharbour Tourism, overnight stays across all accommodation types contribute $35 million to the Shellharbour economy a year, while the entire tourism sector contributes $59 million annually.

Shellharbour Mayor Marianne Saliba moved for the item to be deferred pending further investigations into other councils' systems.

Councillor Peter Moran felt a 24-hour hotline should be available to residents with complaints about anti-social behaviour because four to six-hour waits for the police were not unknown.

"Long-term residents [shouldn't] necessarily have to put up with anti-social behaviour of that type, especially if at the time police arrive, there's no anti-social behaviour occurring," he said. "The police's hands are fairly well tied."

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