Project Updates

Jimbaran Redevelopment by John Everingham
05/08/2006


Jimbaran Beach
Community Asset Redeveloped to Everyone’s Advantage?
 
By John Everingham / Tropical Homes SEA
 
With the redevelopment plan, local people will regain control of their beach, which will be converted into a promenade. The cluttered row of shop-houses will be divided into six blocks, each with four clean restaurants, making the beach visible again. Above, a model Liv Bali villa at Jimbaran Beach and the master plan for the development.

 
The model Liv Bali villa at Jimbaran Beach is modern tropical with a quality finish. But it’s the developer’s vocabulary that is truly cutting edge. It overflows with the latest in new-ear catchwords: socially responsible, environmental improvement working hand-in-hand with the local community, sustainable environment. 
 
Persuasive, welcome word for this modern world of Bali 2006. But they send me flashing back to the big modern development on a hillside overlooking this very beach. That hill-clinging villa complex was launched with sales materials extolling itself as the greenest project ever seen on Bali. I took the tour, as well, and heard a sales pitch lush with green and environmental firsts. We even ran a brief in this magazine, extolling the rise of these fine environmental ideals. But today? Let’s just say the only green in that treeless expanse of concrete and glass lay in the sales talk.
 
So I’m wary of this latest pitch, but listen on. We want to develop beyond our own boundaries. We can help improve this whole area, while also adding value to our own project. We engaged an architect, drew up a beach redevelopment plan for Jimbaran, and presented it to the local banjar village council. Our business plan showed the real numbers, and the locals realized how much was being taken away by outsiders. They realized how they could manage their own beach and make money for their own community.… 
 
There will also be a beach promenade and, later, a cultural centre. The existing open-air market is part of the scenery, and will remain. The view from the local temple to the ocean will be opened again. … 
 
The local people will regain control of their own beach. The current restaurants will be bulldozed and replaced with six blocks, each with four clean restaurants. There will be proper waste disposal systems. With space between these blocks, the beach will again become visible.” These words were from Allan Dijaya Keller, a 20-year resident of Bali, and clearly one who is passionate about both his adopted island, his new villa development and the community plan he initiated. The plan, my Canadian host tells me, was drawn up by his Liv Bali team, in consultation with village officials of the six banjars. And we are also injecting cash into the plan.
 
This was without doubt the best we will help the local community speech I had ever heard from a developer introducing modern lifestyles into a traditional community. 

 
Finding a local community so enthused about a foreign villa development in their midst came as something of a surprise. Here was the result of a developer seriously exploring the locals’ needs, and using its resources to help them improve their lives 
 
It was time to meet the locals. 
The next meeting is back in Jimbaran, and I’m sitting with two proud-looking gentlemen, elegant in their traditional Balinese attire. A real sense of purpose distinguishes these slightly taught community officials from the pompous but inactive creatures we often have to deal with in central government offices. 
 
Wayan Sada, security chief of the Kedonganan desa, or town council, measures his words carefully, as he sees them being recorded: “Before, our people used to sit around and watch outsiders take the jobs here. Then we realized the cafés are out of control, and dirty. It was time for us to take control and manage our beach ourselves, and give the work to the locals. 
 
Now there are 57 restaurants, with just 22 run by locals. In future there will only by 24, all run by locals. There are a lot of benefits in this new plan. This will become a working area for our people, a means for us to develop ourselves. And the money will stay in our community.
 
The area he’s talking about reclaiming is one of Bali’s most famous — the long, grubby line of shanty restaurants at the northern end of Jimbaran Beach. Tourists flock here at sunset each day to eat seafood on the sand, often watching the fleet of quaint and colorful fishing craft on the horizon or beaching with their catch. (It’s also infamous as the scene of a suicide bombing in November of 2005.) The entire northern end of Jimbaran Beach is to be redeveloped in a planned, tropical style and thoroughly cleaned, improving the environment for villagers, new villa owners and restaurant guests. 
 
The people here are happy to have foreigners in their commu¬nity,” says Made Widiana, secretary general of the local desa. “They will bring work for the local people. But we want to work with the develop¬ers. There are already two hotels in this area, and they have worked well with the banjars.
 
Liv Bali is building modern, low-rise villas near the beach, adjacent to the local temple and at the very heart of a traditional community. Working this closely with the grassroots has its rewards for the developer, as well. The beach area in front of the villas will be left open, and Liv Bali expects to be awarded space among the new restaurants for a beach club. The village temple, which provides a wide-open space between villas and beach, will regain its sea view and hold off other construction. 
 
But will Jimbaran come to resemble Kuta in 10 years? “No!” Made reacts sharply. The members of the desa have discussed this long ago — we will never follow Kuta. We will be very selective about which developments come in. The villas of Liv Bali have the atmosphere of Bali, unlike big hotels. We like that.
 
But big hotels will bring you more visitors. Won’t some local people want that? There is not enough land here for major developments,” Made replies. The locals live on most of the land, and in these banjars the villagers have agreed to stay, not to sell their land. So only vacant land can be used for new developments and that is limited here. 
 
Yes, it was the Liv Bali plan that got this moving. We had ideas to take the beach back long ago, but no one had done a thing. Allan’s plan showed how we could redevelop and invest, make money and give the work to the local people.
 
Such a resurgence of local power at one end of a single beach might be a quiet local affair causing nothing more than a ripple in Bali. But it might also be historic. All of Asia’s new tourism meccas have witnessed a tidal wave in the opposite direction, as surges of money and power from the capital cities swept away the original landowners to reap the long-term benefits for outside investors. 
 
Finally, it seems, I had found a villa development where the smooth talk of a great sales pitch is all, or even more, that it claims. 
 
 

Asia-Pacific TROPICAL HOMES – April-June 2006
 
http://trophomes.com/Vol3.2/pdf/54.pdf

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