Byron Shire has a bad case of ‘some people know best’ syndrome. The Council wants to broaden the range of the community consultation process. This follows on from the success of the citizen juries or the ‘Byron Model’ of deliberative democracy that was initiated in 2018 and continued last year. This year, the Council is establishing a Citizen Lottery for residents to be part of the deliberative democracy process. Everyone is invited to be part of it – in fact, the more people that sign up the better. If you register you have the chance to be randomly selected to participate, get involved and provide feedback on a range of topics and projects. Go to the sign-up page here.
Today is the first anniversary of the Haynes Royal Commission into Australia’s big four banks. As it was after the GFC in 2008, not one of the culprits involved or incriminated has been charged or is under investigation. If you steal a thousand dollars you go to jail if you steal a million dollars you are given time to pay it back, if you steal a billion dollars you are ‘too big to fail’.
Also today, the RBA decides whether to change the cash rate again to affect interest rates. Not to be, but in the wake of the coronavirus, expect another rate cut before June.
Green Homes Sell Well
Houses with a high energy efficiency fetch higher prices, according to a global research report. A team st the Sustainable Buildings Research Centre at the University of Wollongong, reviewed international research results. It found 23 of the 27 relevant studies revealed more energy-efficient homes fetch higher prices than less energy-efficient but otherwise comparable homes. Unfortunately, the only place in Australia keeping adequate data was the ACT. The full article was published in The Conversation and can be found here.
Let’s Plant Trees
One of the more positive environmental stories I read last year was the idea that if we planted 1.7 trillion trees, we would solve the C02 problem and pull back from the brink of climate change disaster. You may have seen the small huddle of fundraisers on the streets of Mullumbimby. Rainforest 4 is a Not-For-Profit that has evolved an interesting and innovative form of fundraising. It is the brainchild of long-term rainforest tree planter Kelvin Davies, formerly of Rainforest Rescue, which was responsible for privately purchasing many hectares of the Daintree region in Far North Queensland to regenerate native rainforest.
The street fundraisers are the foot soldiers in a two-pronged campaign. You can support Rainforest 4 by signing up on the street to donate a monthly amount towards its tree-planting programs. ($25/month minimum.) There is also second-tier fundraising for more cashed-up citizens to ‘invest’ capital ($5000 minimum) and receive a 5% return on their investment. This pays for the pavement fundraisers and admin costs, as well as their tree-planting programs. Paying fundraisers is the accepted norm these days, even if I think it should always remain under tight scrutiny and rigorous auditing. This energetic local organisation is also conducting an emergency appeal to get trees in the ground quickly after the devastating fires in Mt Nardi. Go here for more info.
Byron Bay Surf Festival
The BBSF is happening on the 14 – 16 of February. Not just surfing – Surf Art Markets, Sunset Cinema, Shaka Events, BBSF Artshow, the Freestyle & Stoke Surf Sessions and live music parties every night at the Byron Bay Brewery. There is an epic lineup of guests including Surf Legends, Filmmakers, Artists, Surfboard Shapers, Activists and Musicians.
Rusty is still guiding
Correction: The 2020 issue of Rusty’s Guide is not the last one. Rusty and Tricia will be publishing their iconic and must-read guide into the future. The last issue of this newsletter misinformed you all that this was the last issue and it was for sale. This issue, out in the streets now (FREE), is packed full of interesting informative articles by quality local writers – yours truly is just one of them.
Changes in Byron Bay CBD
There has been some argy-bargy in the never-ending three-ring circus of council, developers, and NIMBYs. The southern end of Jonson Street is due for some changes following the final approval of the bypass.
South End of Jonson Street
This three-story project includes a café and commercial as well as 28 apartments and is proposed for the eastern corner of Browning and Jonson. It created issues in Council as parts exceeded the height limit. But it was still essentially three stories. I believe that Council should trade exemptions for height limit extensions if the design and architecture align with Byron’s character. The bypass will see this end of Jonson Street become another CBD center. Ex-principal of Byron Property Sales, Graham Dunn is driving this development.
North End of Jonson Street
‘We will fight them on the beaches!’ Battle lines are also being drawn on how to handle what is known as the Jonson Street Protection Works. This is the north end of Jonson St at the pool and car park. This was engineered back when we used to hunt whales and apparently this huge lump of concrete is now falling apart. One team wants to have it barred from traffic and be a pedestrian-only precinct. The opposing team is serious about it remaining open for the drive-bys to go down and check the surf and park while they contemplate the sea and sand. This will be a thorny problem for the planners to solve and a hefty budget to find.
4 Marvel St Byron Bay
Approving appropriate architecture and design did not happen with this development. Not only have height limits been exceeded but from the look of the artist’s impression, it is bloody ugly. Council argued against the development in the Land and Environment Court but lost the case and has to pay all legal costs. Council rejected the development because of the height breaches partly out of concern these would create a new height precedent. Commissioner Duggan of the Land and Environment Court disagreed. We should be doing more negotiation and less paying out to lawyers.
Deposit Scheme for First Home Owners
The Australian Government has introduced the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme to help young people get a foot in the property market sooner. It is introducing a scheme for eligible first home buyers to purchase a home with a deposit of as little as 5 percent without needing to pay for lenders mortgage insurance.
The Scheme will support up to 10,000 guaranteed loans per financial year from 1 January 2020. Eligible borrowers can use the guarantee in conjunction with other government programs like the First Home Super Saver Scheme or state and territory First Homeowner grants and stamp duty concessions. The guarantee is not a cash payment or a deposit for your home loan. Eligible first home buyers are able to obtain a loan to purchase an approved property through a participating lender with up to 15 percent of the value of the property guaranteed by NHFIC. More info here.
Sri Lanka Architecture Tour
Although I dropped out of my architecture drafting course, I have maintained a keen interest in good architecture. My many visits to Sri Lanka bought me in contact with the architecture of Geoffrey Bawa. My other business, small group tours to Sri Lanka is planning a tour in July focusing on the architecture of the father of “Tropical Modernism”. I will be delivering a talk in the conference room at Habitat on February 26th, 5.30 in the conference room. All are welcome, even if you have no intention of joining the tour. More info here.