Sat, 13 May 2000

More dwellings being used for commercial activities

JAKARTA (JP): The South Jakarta Building Supervision Office has listed at least 179 houses in the area as having violated building permits by being used for commercial activities, its head said on Thursday.

Head of the office, Irmawati, said businesses being run in the properties ranged from medical clinics, beauty parlors and cafes to law firms.

"Most of them are located in the elite area of Kebayoran Baru, such as on Jl. Wijaya, Jl. Barito and Jl. Hang Tuah," she said.

Irmawati added that her office had sent first warning letters to the owners of all the 179 houses to give them an opportunity to close their businesses.

"Property owners are only allowed to run businesses in their homes in residential areas if they are small-scale, with, say only five employees, and occupy no more than 35 percent of the total space of the building," she said, referring to City Bylaw No.7/1991 on building usage.

Irma said her office has been keeping records of defiant residents in South Jakarta since 1994.

"So far, we have only been able to seal 14 places, including the Tee Box Cafe and Millenia Boutique which were closed on Wednesday," she explained.

Officials from the South Jakarta mayoralty office, accompanied by local police, sealed off Tee Box Cafe on Jl. Wijaya II in Melawai subdistrict and the Millenia boutique on Jl. Gunawarman in Rawa Barat subdistrict on Wednesday morning for the same reason.

Both the cafe and the boutique occupied the whole of the buildings.

The City Tourism Agency issued a license for a beauty salon and a small cafeteria with five employees to the owner of the Tee Box Cafe, but the owner expanded the business into a cafe employing 135 workers, Irmawati said.

As for Millenia Boutique, no city agency has issued a license to its owners, she added.

The cafe owner, Irmawati said, has asked the city administration to reopen the cafe and proposed a review of the city's spatial planning rules, saying the cafe was located just in front of the Grand Wijaya office complex.

"Rules are rules. The building is a residential house in a housing area, where commercial activities are strictly prohibited," she said.

Irmawati, however, admitted that it would not be easy to immediately close the remaining 179 businesses as they were already well-established. Some of them employ more than 100 people, she said.

"It's the City Tourism Agency's fault for issuing business licenses to them without directly examining the exact location of their proposed businesses and without coordinating with other related offices and agencies first," Irmawati said.

But, she added, an exception had been made for the residential area of Kemang since the cafes and other establishments there had turned out to become tourist attractions. The governor has decided to promote the area as tourist destination, called Kampung Modern, she said.

Several years ago, many house owners in Kemang modified their buildings into commercial properties, such as cafes, restaurants, and art shops, which resulted in closure orders. (09)