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Formentera unveils 2018 participatory spending

foto pressupostos participatius 018 1The Formentera Council held a town hall-style gathering Wednesday evening for the presentation and review of participatory budgeting for 2018.

Chaired by two CiF secretaries—Sònia Cardona, of citizen participation, and Rafael González, of the infrastructure and mobility departments— the session got started with a progress report on participatory budgeting projects from last year.

Of the 2017 initiatives, the planned children's park in Sant Ferran is on track for completion in summer of next year, while plans to equip the town with a fitness circuit are facing delays due to multiple land transfers required to move forward. Work will continue on both projects, which will be rolled over into the 2019 budget.

The ensuing presentation featured a round-up of the 26 initiatives from last spring, most of which fell into the categories of sport (30%), youth and social services (30%) and environment (21%).

The various projects, brought last year by roughly a dozen local groups, included road improvements in Es Caló and on the stretch of road connecting Sant Ferran and Es Pujols; a skate park in Sant Francesc; water fountains in public schools; a climbing wall in the Marc Ferrer high school's sports structure; a children's park in La Mola; wastebins equipped for recycling; crosswalks with enhanced safety features; and a unification —by installing metal gates to block vehicle traffic—of the distinct buildings of Mestre Lluís Andreu primary school.

Projects considered viable (approximately half of all those presented) will be passed along to the Consell d'Entitats, or Council of Entities, for review and ranking. Member groups have until December 10 to vote on projects and decide which make the final cut.

Consell d'Entitats meets with proposals on rezoning, 'tourism ceiling'

foto CdE 2018 1Yesterday in the conference hall of the island's dependent care centre, the Formentera Council called together the economic, neighbourhood, tourism and environment sections of the local league of community leaders to debate a liminal version of a measure to reshape zoning and create what is being called Formentera's “ceiling on tourism”. Attendees at the encounter represented a wide slice of local social and associative strata.

Findings of recent research were communicated to Consell d'Entitats attendees by land secretary Alejandra Ferrer. The figures provided insight as to what portion of Formentera's population could be considered actual “residents” (13,345, according to the municipal register) and where to position the island's populational tipping point (between thirty-eight and forty-two thousand inhabitants during three to four months) when short-term and long-term residents are counted together. Approximately 14,500 beds have been green-lighted for rental using the established legal channels, while estimates suggest another ten to twelve thousand might exist.

Based on those figures, and as part of a two-pronged effort, not only to place limits on lodging for vacationers so that year-round residents can be guaranteed housing themselves, but also to ease the strain that the island's summer boom places on people and resources, the Council proposes licencing five thousand beds of the twelve thousand today commercialised without permits, effectively drawing a line in the sand for tourist-use beds at 20,000. Council officials say the permits would be distributed across multifamily residential buildings in es Pujols, la Savina, es Caló, es Ca Marí and rural areas.

According to Ferrer, the additional five to six thousand permits would mean “regulation of 50% of the rentals which are currently off the books”. The proposal hinges on the notion that certain traditionally residential neighbourhoods—Sant Francesc, ses Bardetes, Sant Ferran and la Mola, for instance—would stay residential. This is all the more significant because, in the secretary's words, the neighbourhoods in question tick all the boxes for family housing, “not to mention represent important avatars of local identity”. “What this really is,” Ferrer confided, “is a model that will let Formentera re-establish a balance between economic activity which is necessary and our residents' quality of life”.

The proposal was discussed at length. While various concerns were voiced, there was general consent surrounding the need to cap tourist-use rentals if Formentera is to maintain its status as a quality destination.

At the close of the session, secretary of community participation Sònia Cardona indicated local groups would soon have access to the abovementioned research data in its entirety, enabling people to draw their own conclusions. Ensuing proposals will be considered in forthcoming sessions of the tourism planning commission. Those proposals, in turn, will feed into a final proposal, presented and debated at the Consell d'Entitats' plenary assembly.

Formentera puts tourism zoning proposal to community

CdE 2018The Formentera Council will convene the economic, neighbourhood, tourism and environment sections of the island's league of community leaders on Monday, May 14. During two evening sessions at 8.00pm and 8.30pm, sectorial groups within the Consell d'Entitats will be brought up to speed on the raw data and conclusions behind the administration's planned tourism zoning project.

The initiative stems from the July retooling of regional legislation on tourism, which lets the island councils set their own “tourism ceilings” (sostres turístics) fixing the maximum number of overnight stays allocated for holidaymakers. The law also gives local administrations a say defining where multi-family tourist rentals are permitted and where they are not.

The Council's committee on tourist zoning, or COT, announced the news today. Issues and proposals that arise from the sectorial gatherings will be picked up at future COT meetings. Ultimately, the full Consell d'Entitats assembly will convene to review and debate a final proposal.

CiF land, tourism and trade secretary Alejandra Ferrer and Sònia Cardona, her counterpart in citizen participation, called the plan “strategic”. Citing the potential of changes to impact the immediate future of the entire island, the two women called for “cool-headed reflection among the most possible stakeholders” and encouraged members of the associated sub-groups to “come get a first look at the Council's earliest proposals and the reasons behind them”.

Council of Entities green-lights plan to regulate vehicle ingress on Formentera from 2019

Foto Consell dEntitats 2Last night, the Council of Entities heard from two regional officials —Govern balear president Francina Armengol and minister of land, energy and mobility Marc Pons— on a proposal to regulate vehicles that enter the island. It was a gathering attended by a triad of officials from the local administration as well — President Jaume Ferrer and Councillors Sònia Cardona and Rafael González, of the departments of public participation and mobility.

Held in the plenary hall of Formentera's adult care centre, the gathering was attended by roughly twenty representatives of local island groups.

The event was a sounding board for the Govern's plan to move forward with a draft bill on sustainability in environmental measures and tourism on Formentera. One hallmark of the project is the legal scaffolding it would create to give the Formentera Council leeway in deciding when to keep vehicles from entering the island.

Said Ferrer: “The cap on vehicles is a project that emerged here in the Council of Entities and we are here today to inform [the group] that plans are on track to make it a reality”. One reason it is so important, Formentera's president asserted, is that “the administration's top priority is dealing with the subjects most important to islanders”. Measures to ensure peace and quiet and safeguards on natural spaces are “key to tourists' sustained enthusiasm for Formentera”.

Armengol, the Balearic chief, traced efforts to jumpstart the proposed bill to the start of the current legislative session, highlighting a wealth of public debate, across-the-board political support, and a “robust social component” as having paved the way to the present situation. She also underscored the contrast between “sky-high vehicle figures” and “a local passion for sustainability, a size which makes such a venture feasible and the infrastructure required to get it off the ground”.

Mr Pons situated the measure's implementation in 2019, “to make sure there's time to reinforce local public transport so that Formentera's visitors have the ability to get around”.

Draft legislation on environmental and tourism sustainability on Formentera
The Govern de les Illes Balears would lead the effort to create legislation ensuring the legal mechanisms for such a move. The Council, for its part, would administer on-the-ground application of that legislation.

Participants of last night's gathering, while stopping short of evaluating exactly which measures could be employed —expected to take place in 2018 as the bill itself is being pushed forward— they did highlight the legislation's focal points:
Limiting vehicle ingress and travel based on environmental criteria. Establishing a maximum number of rental vehicles. Promoting electric and clean-running vehicles in the public and private sectors. Conducting projects to guarantee increased environmental sustainability.

Inspections and fines to enforce the measures would also be set up.

As for determined seasonal restrictions on entry and circulation of motor vehicles, numerous exceptions —for residents, people with reduced mobility, public utilities, tractors and transport lorries— are envisioned.

The legislation would take effect in summer 2019.

Formentera's survey of local roads (available on the administration's website from February 9) compares two snapshots of congestion on the island: one taken in August 2017 and another from 2009. Councillor González called the results a “clear indication that the argument in favour of proposed measures is well-founded”.

How exactly the law's final provisions are defined will depend on the conclusions of the Council's mobility strategy, currently in development.

Children, youth and social initiatives once again at heart of participatory budgeting

Foto consell entitats 7 11 2017Yesterday evening Formentera's coalition of island organisations met to discuss results of the vote on participatory budgeting in 2017. Online ballots were cast by representatives of 31 local associations, and yesterday assembled coalition members gave the go-ahead to allocate this year's €325,000 budget to the three most popular projects.

The top voted projects, according to community involvement councillor Sònia Cardona, start with a roughly €100,000 fitness circuit for the elderly in Sant Ferran, built along the town's ring road. Second in line is a youth park, budgeted for approximately €209,000 and slated for construction in a public-use area at the juncture of carrers Guillem de Montgrí and Major. Lastly, coalition reps green-lighted an initiative to purchase an accessible sailboat for €16,000.

Aside from the boat, which the Council has already bought, the projects will be carried out in 2018 “in order to ensure maximum impact,” explained Cardona. She stressed that the coalition's bottom line remains “children and youth, social programmes and the disabled”. In the words of Councillor Cardona, the show of commitment “gives cause for thought, and says a lot about where this coalition is at right now”. She pledged the results of the vote “wouldn't go unnoticed by the Council's cabinet”.

The first convocation to initiate the 2018 participatory budgeting process will be held in January.

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