TALK OF THE TOWN: Select Real Estate owner and meeting organiser Greg Smith addresses the 80-strong audience at Wednesday night's meeting.
TALK OF THE TOWN: Select Real Estate owner and meeting organiser Greg Smith addresses the 80-strong audience at Wednesday night's meeting. Alan Lander

'Zoning will not work'

PICTURE this: six young people walk into a Noosa property in an expensive residential area to spend a few days of celebration.

It's cost them a lot, so they intend to maximise it.

They've driven their own cars, because they're relatively local - the "day tripper” market - but the property only has parking for two.

There's a pool, sound system, big bar fridge and open balconies - so why not use them, no matter what time of night?

And why worry about cleaning up waste, when they won't be back - and there's no one there to supervise anyway?

It's a core problem for many long-suffering residents of coastal Noosa and towns and cities across the nation and world, particularly so for tourism-dependent ones.

Noosa's council and many others are grappling with the issue where such accommodation is now rife in residential areas - council figures show there are more than 500 in Sunshine Beach alone - and councils are restricted to making laws based on land use alone through the town plan. They are not police.

Community sentiment was evident at last Wednesday night's meeting at the Tigers AFL ground, where about 80 people heard a list of 33 questions concerning the draft Noosa Plan and answers supplied by council representatives including chief executive Brett de Chastel, planning director Kim Rawlings and a senior assessment officer.

The questions covered a range of topics including short-term accommodation and the council's plan to zone their eligibility but a 90-minute limit on the meeting was never going tobe enough to cover them all.

The accommodation questions dominated, with general agreement that resort/B&B owners and real estate agency rentals were not the source of short-term noise and behaviour problems.

While some property owners welcomed the variety of visitors the system engendered and many voiced concern that restrictions could negatively impact Noosa's tourism reputation, others were concerned about residents' enjoyment of their homes and privacy.

A hospital doctor, whose 30-year quiet Sunshine Beach residency has been devastated by a neighbour's weekly short-term rental of his property in the last year, evocatively pleaded to again get some sleep so he could remain in the business of saving lives.

What emerged was strong community objection to the proposed zonings, a desire to introduce a code of conduct for all accommodation providers and a request for a better policing mechanism.

The council also made clear that zoning and other short-term accommodation rulings would apply only to "unmanaged” owner-absent residences, not residents renting out a room or part-house.

While one brave woman in the audience suggested one could visit the offending, possibly alcohol-charged revellers and simply ask them to turn the noise down, others despaired at the lack of reliability from police in handling complaints in a timely way.

Mayor Tony Wellington said state-based solutions following numerous stakeholder meetings nine months ago had not resulted in any suggestions, saying "they've been sitting on their hands ever since”.

What was missing at the meeting were representatives of four significant stakeholders: absentee landlords, online accommodations reps, the State Government and police.

Mr de Chastel yesterday said 400 submissions had already been received "and we expect another 200 or so before Monday's (May 20) deadline”.

"Noosa people are passionate - that's the sign of a healthy community,” he said.

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