Real Estate Development and the Dunes of Todos Santos, BCS

July 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog


Picturesque and Fragile Dunes

If you are interested in buying a house or raw land in Todos Santos, do your homework and chose your agent carefully. Ricardo Amigo, AmeriMex, A. Paraiso Realty, Coldwell Banker, Encanto, and Milagro are the most well known real estate agencies operating in Todos Santos. There’s no licensing required for real estate brokers in Baja and little regulatory framework. Reputation is important (and whether the person giving the referral receives any benefit, direct or indirect). Like in any small town, all of the “locals” have strong opinions about everything, with respect to brokers this is typically shaped by their personal experiences and, whether rightfully or wrongfully gained, the individual’s reputation.

While you should digest all information your receive as locals with a grain of salt and reach your own conclusions, unfortunately there are some horros stroies. Brokers  Baja have been accused of selling property without disclosing all the facts to buyers unfamiliar with the local laws, customs etc. Although arguably falling short of what we may think of as ‘fraud” in the US (or not?), people don’t always end up with what they bargain for. Full disclosure is a legal requirement in the US but the standard (by law and by custom) is quite a bit lower in Mexico. Issues of inadequate information range from issues with water, title, legal conflicts, easements, or, the subject of this post, lots being sold in environmentally sensitive areas to people who have absolutely no clue what mess are stepping into. I can tell you with confidence, if you intend to build on the dunes, beyond any legal or structural repurcussions, you will not be popular in the community of Todos Santos. Although you can buy oceanfront property, the vast majority of the community in Todos Santos strongly opposes building on the dunes. The owner of one such ocean front lot has the privilege of introducing himself as “I am the guy that everyone in town hates.” And this is a small town where it’s difficult to avoid eye contact. Why would you want to with such an incredibly diverse and eclectic group of people?

Todos Santos has some of the most beautiful and pristine sand dunes you could find in such proximity to a developed area. Not only they make you feel like you stepped back in time when you stroll on the long sandy beaches, they are also a critical habitat for certain species, most notoriously they serve as nesting grounds for some endangered sea turtle species. Additionally, the dunes serve the purpose of protecting the land against potential ravages by storm waves from the sea during major storms and hurricanes. Building on the dunes not only puts the community at risk, but disrupts the normal nesting habits of endangered Olive Ridley and Leatherback turtles that nest on our beaches. Losing a house built on the dunes is also a very real risk when building in such close proximity to the ocean on unstable ground. The storms and hurricanes can cause huge waves and very strong winds to hit the coast. Beware of real estate agents who will try to minimize the impact and dangers of building on the dunes. In 2005 a group of committed citizens in Todos Santos were already working to prevent a major development project from destroying the dunes.

Below is a report they submitted to then Mexican president Fox.

The Impact of Proposed Housing Development On The Barrier Dunes of Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico (this was written by the Todos Santos Stop Dune Development Committee)

The Ecological Impact
– Destruction of the dunes
– Erosion of the beach
– Potential flooding of land now protected by dunes
– Destruction of turtle habitat (endangered leather back)
– Development proposed despite world-wide restrictions on building on dunes
– Buildings exacerbate wind erosion by raising the dune profile
– Could lead to removal of the foliage in the huerta
– Existing environmental standards are seldom enforced due to under funding
for environmental personnel

The Impact on the Unique Natural Beauty of Todos Santos
– Natural beauty and uniqueness of Todos Santos would be destroyed
– Approval of this proposed development would lead to explosive development
on all the dunes fronting Todos Santos
– Todos Santos would resemble Cabo San Lucas
– Lack of architectural standards and effective controls would mean anything
could be built, including buildings of three stories

The Impact on Infrastructure
– Water
– Sewage
– Roads
– Schools
– Social Problems
– Bomberos
– Dunes development will proceed faster than traditional development and
therefore have a greater impact

The Economic Impact
– Very few if any new construction jobs for local population
– The only long term job development would be for service sector jobs
– Destruction of our uniqueness would result in fewer tourists and the departure
of those who came here because of the unique natural beauty
– The local economy will be damaged
– For good reason Fonatur designated Todos Santos as an art colony, not a
destination resort like Cabo San Lucas

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Welcome to the website for CalyCanto, offering Todos Santos vacation rentals and information about the area. We operate a boutique community, currently consisting of 3 casitas in Todos Santos, each with ocean views, about 2.5 miles from the town center, on the way La Pastura, a world class surf break. We at CalyCanto are passionate about eco-friendly travel that provides us with succulent surfing, pristine beach combing, intimate restaurants, exotic bird watching, super special sunsets, horseback riding on the beach, local tours and activities that support the local community. We believe in causing the least harm (approaching zero) while doing business. Environmentalism, sustainability and a commitment to protecting the natural environment through activism are part of our mission as we work to continually reduce our carbon footprint. We hope you'll follow our adventure here, on Twitter and on Facebook while you enjoy your coffee (or tea) or drink a Pacifico (if you've already made it here). If the tequila gets passed around the table too much, gringos might try and spell CalyCanto like calicanto, calecanto, or cal y canto. However you spell it, you are always welcome at Calycanto Casitas. Thank you for visiting.