Development in the upscale San José suburb of Escazú is out of control and jeopardizing quality of life, according to residents, who last week asked the town’s mayor and Municipal Council to declare a moratorium on new construction permits in the region.
It is the second such proposal since 2004, when 400 residents signed and presented a petition to the Municipal Council asking for a halt on growth until the 2005 zoning plan was put into effect (TT, July 16, 2004).
In front of a packed house of officials and local residents, Carlos Ramírez, a lawyer from San Rafael de Escazú, said that the recent building boom has helped developers, but has left townspeople desperate and frustrated.
“What has happened to the common interest in this town? We’re not against development, but we do want to see the laws obeyed,” said Ramírez, who believes ill-informed officials have allowed continued, uncontrolled development despite the canton’s highly visible problems with traffic, sewage and water shortages.
Ramírez said a moratorium of up to one year is necessary to bring order to development, and to revise the canton’s zoning plan, which he said has done little to help the situation.
“The zoning plan exists to protect the rights of developers,” he said. “Simply to attract more money and investment.”
Ricardo Marín, a representative of the municipality, said he understands the residents’ concerns.
“We have the richest, and the poorest, people in Costa Rica in this town. We cannot continue along this path. We must ask, what will Escazú of 2025 look like if we don’t change,” he said.
While most who attended the meeting agreed on the problem, not everyone agreed the moratorium to be the solution. Some questioned its legality.
The town’s urban development commission will present a feasibility study for the proposal by next week, according to Marín.