A HIGH-RANKING Arona Council official has launched a scathing attack on squatters, who, for nearly two years, have inhabited the abandoned Paseo de Los Tarajales commercial centre, on the Los Cristianos beachfront.
The Spanish Govern-ment’s recent warning, about prompt evictions for free-loaders, has been taken to heart by Luis Garcia, Arona’s Town Planning Councillor.
Hoteliers and business owners in this tourist sector of Los Cristianos, who have complained, regularly, about the daily sight facing the passers-by, stress that the unsightly image is lowering the tone of the area.
And they appear to have found a champion in Cllr Garcia, who said this week: “The squatters, living in this private property, are seriously damaging the image of the municipality, and we are demanding a speedy eviction.
“They are harming the quality of life for our neighbours, and tourists who visit us, while affecting the area’s employers, who create wealth and jobs.”
He added: “It presents a gruesome image, and it is not acceptable, which is why I am seeking swift justice now.”
However, the situation appears to be getting even worse. Some three years ago, just three to four three people were living rough in the building. But sources now believe there are at least 50 squatters occupying the abandoned premises.
It has led to managers from hotels and apartments in the vicinity receiving complaints galore from customers, who pay top dollar to stay at these beach-view establishments.
They complain about the smell and the dirt, as well as the abusive comments thrown at them by squatters, as they pass by.
A hotel manager recalled one of his customers expressing his disgust at seeing someone leaving the premises with a large water bottle, containing what appeared to be urine.
But the squatter didn’t seem to have a care in the world, as he was seen tipping the contents into the sea.
At one time, the abandoned building was closed off with metal fencing, and the few squatters disappeared.
Now, however, most of the squatters there, seen coming and going, are young foreigners, and rumours abound that an organisation is now renting out space on the premises.
Locals have spotted several people, some couples and others comprising small families with cases and rucksacks, who are obviously living there.
The building was abandoned at the outcome of the recession, and Cllr Garcia admitted: “The owners of the property have had a long, legal dispute between themselves, and its legality is in the hands of the courts.”
The land on which the premises were built, as well as the building, are pending judicial litigation.
Arona Mayor José Julián Mena, who has met the parties concerned, said: “A solution was not reached, but we need a decision, once and for all, about the squatters, because we need to normalise an area, which is one of the windows of Arona.”
He added: “If a compromise can be reached, we will join forces with the Cabildo to begin working on an integral renovation of the area, which will lead to an in-depth change there.
“We are working to make Arona advance on all fronts, but we find ourselves entrenched in situations, such as this one.
“Of course, we will discuss the position, but we are also urging justice.”