Breaching Public Beaches in Bali

NusaBali reports that the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Nusa Dua – Bali, the Indonesian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC), the Village Chief (Lurah) of Benoa, and the Sub-District Chief (Camat) of South Kuta convened a coordinating meeting on Tuesday, August 23, 2016, to discuss the shoreline at Nusa Dua and hotels’ rights to restrict public use to the beach.

Zoning laws in Bali stipulate that the space between the high water mark and 100-meters inland must be kept clear of permanent structures to allow free and unimpeded access by the public. The Lurah of Benoa, Wayan Solo, said the meeting on Tuesday determined that the authority of hotels over their lots ends at the edge of the beach long boardwalk on Nusa Dua. At the same time, hotels are permitted to place assets between the boardwalk and the ocean, such as beach chairs and chaise lounges.

Solo continued: “It’s like this, the authority of the hotels over their property (at Nusa Dua) extends only to the edge of the boardwalk. The hotels can place their assets outside this boundary as facilities – such as lounge chairs, umbrellas and similar items that are portable and not permanent. This is done for the good name of Bali. We know how international visitors like to sunbathe. Let these tourists return home and share good stories from Bali.”

A controversy emerged on Social Media and in the local press in Bali when a local tourist, Annabelle, posted on Facebook on August 20, 2016, complaining bitterly of being harassed by a rude, abusive and threatening security guard who scolded her for relaxing on the beach in from the Grand Hyatt Hotel at Nusa Dua on August 16, 2016. Annabelle claimed that the Hotel’s guard at one point threatened to slap her face if she continued to argue the point.

Solo blamed the incident on a lack understanding given to the hotel’s security team. Apparently the individual complaining online was relaxing between the boardwalk and the ocean’s edge when the altercation occured.

Solo said that while the security staffs have the right to protect their employer’s property, they must also employ a strong sense of logic and ethics when trying to impose rules on the public using public land.

Solo told the press that he plans to soon convene all the hotels in his areas and make sure they understand the right of public access to all beach areas.

The traditional chief (Bendesa Adat) of the village of Bualu, Wayan Wita, said that it was clear that the beach belongs to the public and cannot be claimed exclusively by any company or individual.

The RTRWP 2009 Zoning Law stipulates that the area 100 meters from the high water mark is for unimpeded public use. At Nusa Dua this space is demarcated at a distance that is  sometimes considerably less marked by the edge of the public boardwalk. The right-of-way has, in some cases, moved further in land due to rising water levels along the entire beachfront.

Trouble Ahead?

In practical and legal terms –  hotels, restaurant and private villas who build any structures of a permanent or temporary nature within the 100-meter set back zone are in violation of the law and would have no basis to scold or oust tourists or locals who decided to spontaneously “set up camp” to hold a picnic, practice yoga or perform ritual prayers inside illegal structures sitting on a public right-of-way.

Business operators who claim the right to use these spaces on the basis of “prior understandings” with local villages are, in fact, making a specious argument. The 100-meter swath on every beach belongs to the general public and cannot, in fact, be assigned for exclusive use to a third party by any local community.