CostaBaja: A Model of Ecological Development in La Paz, BCS


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La Paz is a special place. It is blessed with a wonderful climate most of the year, is kissed by jewel-toned waters, and is home to some of the biggest and oldest cacti on earth, the cardon. These big boys are ancient, almost akin to the California redwoods in age and reverence. They are federally protected, and oft times inconveniently located for construction, whether it is a single home, a new swimming pool, or a major development like CostaBaja.
In a delicate ecosystem like ours, sustainable development is problematic. Keeping environmentalists happy and making sure investors are being served is a full time job.
At CostaBaja, protecting the environment is and was job one. When asked about the transplanting of the cardon to make way for construction at CostaBaja, Alejandro C. Yberri III, C.E.O. explained that when transplanting cardon, GPS was used so that the cactus will be oriented to the sun exactly as they were in their original locations. Because of this care, very few transplanted cardon died. Every plant moved and then some were re-planted on the grounds of the development.
PROFEPA recently awarded CostaBaja a “Certificate of Environmental Quality”. This means that the development was built according to its permits and proved to PROFEPA that they complied. Yberri outlined the process this way.
“We received one audit during the construction period, one for the fuel station, another for the marina, and a fourth for everything we are operating presently—the beach club, the de-sal plants, and the sewage treatment system.” This was a voluntary audit process. The developer gets an initial permit, and upon completion, they ask PROFEPA to come back and inspect to ensure that they actually did what they claimed.
When asked how they escaped the hue and cry of the public and the complaints of environmental groups, Yberri said that they had several public meetings, and they sat down with the environmental groups and discussed what they would do. And he credits these activities with keeping CostaBaja on track environmentally and for keeping them free of controversy.
We could not ignore two big elephants in the room: the recent problems of Paraiso del Mar and the survey by the International Community Foundation (ICF). Yberri had this to say: “…about Paraiso del Mar, I just don’t have all of the information. There is something wrong, but I cannot say what that is.” Regarding the ICF survey of ex-pats and their desires for beachcombing and other activities, with golf courses coming in sixth on the list, Yberri said “We are aware of that, and we are big promoters of the Sea of Cortez and conserving the environment. The golf course is secondary to this. But we do use treated water to irrigate the golf course and we buy treated water from the city, so everyone wins here.”
In addition to the protection of the environment and scrupulously living up to the permits granted by SEMARNAT, Yberri said that CostaBaja recycles their waste and encourages the owners and the businesses to do the same.
This is a huge project, with at least ten years more for the build out, and Yberri says they will continue to work within the constraints of protecting the environment. He is very proud of the certification they have received.
If you haven’t visited, take a drive out past La Concha and follow the signs. Visit the shell museum and the model boat museum, have a lunch or dinner, and marvel at the engineering feat of turning a very ugly, flat beach into something that is an asset to the community.
Susan Fogel is the broker/owner of PrestigePropetyGroupLaPaz.com. You can follow her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/susan.a.fogel, Twitter @bajasusana, or send her an email at: susan@prestigepropertygrouplapaz.com

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