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Swiss want to see fewer second homes

Mar 21, 2012 / alpMedia
Most Swiss people have approved the "Stop the never-ending building of second homes" initiative, providing mountain communities with more protection for landscapes. But the building moratorium is not universally popular.
Image caption:
Rarely used second homes: low tourist added value while placing a major burden on the landscape. © Frank Schultze - Zeitenspiegel
On 11 March, 50.6% of the Swiss voted "yes" to the second homes initiative. They demanded an upper limit on the number of dwellings that are used for only a few weeks each year. If the number of second homes in a municipality exceeds 20%, a ban on such residences will immediately come into effect. The initiative above all affects regions that live on tourism. In the canton of Graubünden/Grisons, 135 of the 176 municipalities are affected by the building ban. Most communities in the Valais, Ticino, Uri and the Bernese Oberland have also said no to the building of unoccupied second homes.
The Swiss Working Group for the Mountain Areas complained that the mountain cantons had largely rejected the initiative, and that the urban majority had decided on matters affecting rural areas. Environmental bodies such as Pro Natura see things differently: the decision opens the door for tourist regions to implement modern housing policies that will avoid wasted resources, excessive land use and ruined landscapes.
Popular initiatives are rarely approved in Switzerland. Moreover, by voting for the second homes initiative, electors have rejected the proposal made by the government and parliament.

Source and further information: (d), (d), (d), (d), (d)