By Breanna Inferrera
A GOOSEBERRY Hill resident says he may sue the City of Kalamunda and Airbnb, with a decision from council on a draft un-hosted holiday houses policy just around the corner.
At the City’s ordinary council meeting (OCM) next Tuesday, council will vote on an officer’s recommendation to adopt the Draft Local Planning Policy 29 – Un-hosted Holiday Houses (LPP29) for final approval.
According to the officer’s report, LPP29 will ensure un-hosted holiday houses maintain the amenity and character of the area, while providing an opportunity for landowners to use residential properties for short-term accommodation.
Gooseberry Hill resident Trevor Cunningham, who lives next door to a property listed on Airbnb, spoke heavily against LPP29 at the City’s public agenda briefing forum (PABF) last Tuesday.
“This next door is a commercial hotel with no supervision,” Mr Cunningham told Echo News.
“I’ve seen parties there with 30 people starting at 10am to 10pm.
“I’ve had people setting up giant catapults in the trees firing waterbombs into the house.”
Mr Cunningham said he first complained to the City on May 17, 2019 and did not receive a response until November 25, 2019.
“I kept records for a full year before I complained,” he said.
“This is a complete impost, this is putting all of the responsibility on me and there’s no profit for me.
“The only reason these Airbnb’s are viable, is because there’s no cost.
“They’re stealing my human rights.”
Contrary to Mr Cunningham’s stance, a High Wycombe resident – also a neighbour of a property listed on Airbnb – made a submission to the City in favour of LPP29 during the consultation period.
At the PABF, City director development services Peter Varelis said the consequences of not regulating un-hosted holiday houses would mean the properties that are operating Airbnb without planning approvals would be breaching the local planning scheme.
“The City would have to follow up through a compliance process and follow the relevant procedures in relation to that,” he said.
“However, the City does have an adopted tourism strategy that does talk to the City accommodating tourism needs and that is relevant to this particular matter.
“The prevalence of the share economy, be it Uber, Airbnb or Stayz, it’s continuing to grow and evolve.
“There are situations where local governments have to regulate and put policies in place to manage that change and manage that disruption to the industry and to what that change is being put about through the broader community.
“This policy is looking to mitigate and manage a lot of the amenity concerns Mr Cunningham has raised.”
Mr Cunningham said he may sue the City and Airbnb.
“I don’t want to do this, but at the end of the day, it’s wrong,” he said.
“I don’t care it’s going on around the world, that’s not the starting point.
“The starting point is, this is a residential area.
“I might just build a 10-storey building.
“Where does it stop?”
He said he does not want to give a deputation at next Tuesday’s OCM, but probably will.
“I said I wouldn’t be able to lie straight in bed if I didn’t give it a go,” he said.
Echo News understands the property listed on Airbnb next door to Mr Cunningham was damaged from the last two guests and is currently unavailable.
However, the property is still listed on Airbnb.
Airbnb head of public policy for Australia Derek Nolan said while negative incidents are extremely rare, Airbnb has zero tolerance for anti-social and disruptive behaviour.
“The overwhelming majority of hosts and guests are good neighbours and respectful travellers,” he said.
“Hosts are expected to comply with local laws and are strongly encouraged to ask appropriate screening questions of guests and ensure they reinforce Airbnb’s requirement for guests to behave in a manner that’s respectful of neighbours and the wider community.”
In February this year, the State Government announced it would adopt almost all recommendations from a parliamentary inquiry, led by Swan Hills MLA Jessica Shaw, into short-stay accommodation.