Incident in Cala Ratjada.


House prices increase in Mallorca while they fall in much of Spain

Tinsa is a highly reputable valuation company whose research is one of the key sources of information regarding the property market. According to its latest report, house prices in the Balearics rose by just over two per cent in the first quarter of 2024 compared with the October to December period of 2023. Nationwide the increase was just 0.1%; many regions registered a decrease.

The Canaries and Valencia were two other regions where there were increases similar to that in the Balearics, Tinsa noting that while there has been a slowdown in the market, this slowdown has been "slower" in certain regions closely linked to tourism. "This is consistent with a profile of second home buyers with greater purchasing power," observed the director of research, Cristina Arias. "The shortage of supply in areas where demand is concentrated will continue to support prices."

Expropriating coastal properties

Might it be that there will be a further shortage in Mallorca on account of climate change? If so, this won't come about for decades, but Spain's ministry for ecological transition has signalled a warning regarding the impact of a rising sea level. This has to do with where coastal demarcation may have to be set in the future. The demarcation refers to what is public-maritime domain, the property of the state. In the future, the rising sea level will mean that the demarcation for this public domain will have to be further inland. This in turn raises the prospect of expropriation, be this of homes, hotels, beach bars, beach clubs, or whatever the structure might be. 'Paseos marítimos' (promenades) would also be affected.

Amendment to current regulations under the Coasts Law is said to contemplate expropriation in exchange for granting owners the use of properties for thirty years and with a possible extension of another thirty years. Owners would in effect be given concessions for use of properties, but they would face issues in respect of, for example, renovation. They would have to get permission from the Spanish government.

Motorhomes and the homeless

The housing shortage, in particular that of affordable housing, is a reason why some people have felt they have no other alternative than to live in motorhomes. In Palma, so-called settlements of motorhomes, caravans and camper vans have been established. The town hall is determined to do something about them. It will be introducing new regulations, one of which will require the moving of a vehicle that has been parked for ten days; it will be necessary to display the time and the day when the vehicle was first parked. Breaches of these regulations could incur fines of up to 1,500 euros.

Caravan associations support the town hall in this regard but they are conscious of other issues - the fact that people have been driven to live in motorhomes and the lack of designated areas with adequate services. Opposition parties are critical of the ruling administration, saying that it is dealing with the matter through financial penalties rather than focusing on the provision of affordable homes.

There are homeless people who certainly don't have the means for owning a motorhome. A solution that some have come up with is to bed down in Son Espases Hospital overnight. The emergencies unit is the favoured area, but there have been occasions when restricted areas have been entered. This was the case last Sunday. A homeless person was in the maternity unit.

Hospital security is to establish new measures and procedures for controlling access to emergencies and for accompanying individuals who claim to need emergency treatment. They will not be allowed to take their belongings into the hospital, and the police will carry out checks.

From superyachts to drugs boats

Owners of superyachts have no worries about homes. They occupy a totally different world to the homeless and indeed to the overwhelming majority. Lady Moura was bought by a Mexican businessman for 125 million US dollars in 2021. The yacht was in Palma before moving to Ibiza on Thursday last week. The arrival of the yacht prompted another protest targeting a rich elite. An Extinction Rebellion banner slogan read: "You are kicking us off the island. Your luxury is our crisis." A statement on social media said: "The elite of the mega-rich constitute a real danger to all humanity."

Less lavish vessels have been in the news for unfortunate reasons. Last Sunday, a boat capsized in rough seas off Menorca. One person died and six others needed treatment for hypothermia. The ages of those on board ranged from eleven to sixty.

On Saturday morning, a Maritime Safety Agency boat located a twelve-metre boat that was drifting off the coast of Canyamel. The Guardia Civil concluded that it was a drugs boat which had been affected by the conditions. As well as searching for whoever had been on board, the Guardia were looking for possible bundles of drugs. In October last year, bundles started to be discovered in Santa Ponsa. These, it was presumed, had gone overboard from a drugs boat during a storm. More than twenty were eventually found.

Drugs supermarket and Easter police

The Son Banya shanty town in Palma is known as Mallorca's drugs supermarket - and with good reason. A few years ago, the decision was taken to demolish all the shanties. Some have been demolished, but it is evident that they have been replaced by some new ones. In addition, residents - many of whom are members of drugs clans - have installed what has been described as "fortification". This comprises a metal perimeter fence and wooden panels and is designed, so it is said, to make it easier for people to purchase drugs. The town hall insists that it will demolish this fortification.

The National Police, regular visitors to Son Banya, have to contend with drugs offences on a lower scale in Playa de Palma as well. A stronger police presence this season has been promised by the town hall, and businesses say that this was the case over Easter. "For the first time in history they have listened to us and brought forward the police reinforcement to March," observed Juan Miguel Ferrer, president of the Palma Beach association.

While the businesses were content with the policing, they were less so with Easter trading. The weather and flights were factors. Of the flights, it was odd that businesses seemed to be caught on the hop by the lower number of Easter flights. It's the same every year regardless of when Easter falls - airlines' summer schedules only kick in from the start of April.

Trouble in Cala Ratjada

The National Police in Playa de Palma were part of a deployment of extra officers for Operation Easter Week. These officers were in Palma, but reports of trouble over the weekend came from the other side of the island - Cala Ratjada. One of these reports suggested that Cala Ratjada has become lawless, a description that Capdepera Police and the Guardia Civil would doubtless take exception to. As it was, there were four violent incidents between Saturday and Monday in the nightlife zone.

These incidents aren't welcome but they can be overstated. Cala Ratjada, like other coastal places (Puerto Alcudia, Puerto Andratx, for instance), does have its moments, but a sense of proportion should be kept. It should be noted that the incidents in Cala Ratjada did not involve tourists.

Palma vehicles and total confusion

For the traffic cops in Palma, there are apparently fewer vehicles for them to worry about. According to town hall figures, there were 13,475 vehicles per day in February on the main municipal roads, e.g. the Avenidas, but not, for example, the Via Cintura, which is a Council of Mallorca road. In February 2019, there were 14,596.

The mobility councillor attributes the decrease, which was also evident last February, to the price of fuel and difficulties with parking and not to free transport. He didn't mention the work on the Paseo Marítimo, which might just have been deterring some drivers. Despite the reduction, he accepted that the people of Palma "do not perceive that the city's traffic is any less saturated".

Wasn't the high-occupancy vehicle lane (HOV) from the airport to the city supposed to have had a role in addressing this saturation? It's now hard to remember precisely what the thinking was, political change at the Council of Mallorca having brought about a demand for the HOV lane to be eliminated. The traffic directorate refuses to do so and instead has come up with a compromise solution based on day of the week, time of the day and type of vehicle. Even before the Council responded to these proposals by saying that they were confusing and liable to create chaos, everyone else had arrived at the same conclusion.