Posted by carol on February 28, 2007, 11:16 am, in reply to "HELP SAVE LA MANZANILLA BEACH & MANGROVE "
There appears to be a preference in the petition for single family residences of limited height – a preference based in part on aesthetics, current law, and perhaps also a mistaken belief that limiting the size of single family residences (perhaps by forcing a definition that limits the number of stories and the square meters) is better for the environment than large developments.|
Unfortunately, this may not be the case. In case studies carried out throughout the world, single family homes of limited size, may be the most destructive of coastal and riparian environments. Density, created either by height and limited footprints, can be shown to be much less destructive than the same number of housing “units” spread out as single family residences by small land owners or in planned developments. There are exceptions to this, of course, when shade is created in estuaries or on shorelines where the ecosystem is negatively impacted by shade.
There are numerous reasons why single family residences are more destructive than creation of an equal number of housing units in widely spaced dense developments. In some areas the reason is because large developers can spread the cost of environmentally sound infrastructure in a way that single family builders cannot. I.e., forty septic systems may cost as much as appropriate waste treatment, but the single family builder cannot be forced to build the treatment center. Here, at least, there is no system for remedying this situation. The appropriate taxation instruments simply do not exist. For example, there is no system for tax increment financing (bonding development of appropriate infrastructure and then repaying the bonds out of either a percentage of appreciated value on sales or transfer or immediate payment of proportional fees).
In other areas, the way property is held, creates problems. I.e. Devolution of communal holding to individual ejido land owners or each concession is of limited size due to historical instruments of law ownership/leasehold. And, of course, there is always the political dimension, with certain land transfers.
I do not particularly like the aesthetics of large dense development on small footprints, but the need for large undeveloped areas to sustain ecosystems is irrefutable…if the concern is preservation of viable ecosystems where water tables recharge and mangroves filter.
Ultimately, though, the decision has to be for the Mexican people. One set of issues, and unfortunately it is often the major consideration, are the short term impacts on the local economy. Sales of single family lots are a relatively simple and immediate way of transferring money. Single family development, especially development on small footprints with limited stories, make use of current skills.
On the other hand, short term economic benefits, will be just that if the environment is not preserved.
I don’t know if it would be useful but I would be more than happy to volunteer some time to discuss my experiences in fast evolving areas throughout the world, if there is any interest.
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