Decreto 801: Under Review
There has been quite a bit of concern, on the part of beach property owners and prospective buyers, about the new restrictions on coastal development. Decreto 801 is now in review. While it is true that development should come no closer to the water line than 60 meters in order to protect the ecology, it is also true that some homes on western beaches are watching the Gulf of Mexico advance on them, while other homes on eastern beaches are watching the beach grow wider (45 m in 30 years!) – and the new ground gained (ejidal land) is being sold! This leaves former front row beach houses in the position of being at risk of becoming second row houses. In either case, whether beaches are losing or gaining ground, property values can be adversely affected.
According to Eduardo Batlon Sampedro, Yucatan’s Secretary of Ecology, everyone will be heard and, if necessary, a modification of parts 19 and 20 of Decreto 801 will be proposed to the Commission of Evaluation and Monitoring. Part 19 denies authorization for the building of hotels, condominiums, villas, homes, housing developments and urban development, pools, restaurants, businesses and services in general, marinas, docks and streets in a zone of 60 meters from the coastline. This does not apply to the installation of structures that do not require cementing and can be dismantled, but it does apply to permissions to add on, remodel, or rebuild structures that existed prior to the decree, which could seriously affect the ability of homeowners to recover after a big hurricane.
Part 20 specifies that in the case of buildings that "at the date of publication of the decree" (end of July 2007) did not have the dimensions indicated above, the builders could opt for elevated construction systems, such as having the buildings resting on pylons that maintain the dunes and vegetation.
In reality, maintaining the dunes and vegetation is the only way some of our beaches can be saved. Wave action, especially during hurricanes, at the base of either house foundations or concrete block fences only serves to magnify the problem and hasten the washing away of the beaches. Elevated beach home designs are available and some are truly magnificent! As with any design problem, working within the limitations of the situation can sometimes produce a spectacular design that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.
For now – current beach house owners are in a "wait and see" mode. That doesn’t mean they aren’t active in trying to find ways to remedy the situation. In the future, potential buyers should be aware of not only current beach construction and remodeling laws, but also whether the beach they want to live on is washing away or growing. Residents on growing beaches might want to support the efforts of Yucateco neighbors to have "the land gained from the sea" protected as turtle habitat. If that goes through, then the land will not be sold and their homes will remain as front row beach homes. Residents on beaches that are washing away should take heart. Every effort is being made to not only protect the beach as it is, but also to find ways to "grow" the beaches again. Your participation in these efforts is crucial to their success. We have plenty of retired engineers in Yucatan and we’re sure you all have a few great ideas for beach preservation. If any of you (here or anywhere in the world) have an idea for how to preserve and/or grow a beach, let us know! We will be more than happy to put you in touch with the folks who need your input.
A City of Education (Literally)
Many visitors think of Merida as "just Centro" or as a place to vacation and tour old churches or climb pyramids. Such is certainly not the case! Merida is not only a great vacation destination, but it is also an outstanding medical center, and a center for education and research. At the present time, the Periferico Norte connects ten centers of advanced education that offer at least 50 degrees and 25 advanced specialty degrees. Every single day, one 10 km stretch of the Periferico is traveled by approximately 8,000 students who attend classes at both the Institute of Social Sciences and the Technological Institute of Merida. A little remodeling of the Periferico Norte and the universities it serves will begin in March and will lead to an expanded campus of Social Sciences and Humanities. Ultimately the school will be a complete university city with six different schools, a branch of the Hideyo Noguchi Research Center, a macrolibrary and a sports complex. The sports complex will have a soccer field, a baseball field, ponds and a track. The Alianz campus will get a new gymnasium and a commercial plaza. This is all going to come about as an extension of the building of the new Universidad del Valle de Mexico. $250 million pesos (about $23 million USD) will start the university city project off in March, but the City Council of Merida isn’t stopping there. They are also looking at opening an elite prepatory school in Dzitya and a language school at UNAM in Santa Lucia. These, combined with the schools already here, will truly make Merida the center of intellectual achievement in all of southeastern Mexico and beyond. Schools already in the area of the proposed university city include the Inter-American University Center, the Latin Education Center, the Ibero School, the Agora, and the first stage of the Tec Milenio (prepatory in Dzitya), among others. With this type of educational advantage available only in Merida, our young people will be in a position to lead the state, the nation and the world into a very bright future.
Vaccinations Available from IMSS in Yucatan
Do health care workers go door to door in your state? Throughout the State of Yucatan, there is a huge push to vaccinate children against all of the diseases we are used to and then some. Polio vaccine is now available throughout the state and usually at multiple locations in each city. We all have Yucateco friends and neighbors, and they all have children or grandchildren. Check with everyone you know and make certain that the children in their families have had their vaccinations. This includes a measles shot for women of childbearing age. In outlying towns and villages, health care workers are actually going door to door in an effort to identify children who have not been vaccinated. There are some diseases we have to live with, but there is no reason for the children of Yucatan and their families to suffer with the effects or after-effects of preventable diseases. If you need a vaccination – maybe a tetnus or hepatitis shot? – Now is the time to get it.
The Expo Fair at Valladolid Gets New Fairgrounds
January’s Expo Fair at Valladolid just ended and plans are already underway for next year’s extravaganza. Those plans include a brand new fairground complex. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the different areas of Yucatan, Valladolid is located in cattle country, so this fair is a huge expo for both those in the cattle business and for artisans in the area. To give you an idea of how big this fair is, the new fairgrounds will have room for 24 restaurants (one large enough to hold 350 patrons) and 4 bars, as well as room for 2,200 vehicles, 10 buses and 15 taxis. There will be a 2.5 hectare mechanical game room, and an area designated for picnics (with plenty of new bathrooms). It has been our experience that Yucatan has taken up building fairgrounds that are tourist destinations in and of themselves, so mark your calendars and save your money. The Expo Fair at Valladolid will be the place to be in January of 2009!
It Feels ‘Meant to Be’
Karen Ferguson is a Californian interested in alternative medicine, and a writer for Nourished Magazine. Karen, along with her husband, is remodeling a home to be a rental in Merida. Karen has written some wonderful articles about her visits to Merida. They can be found on the Nourished Magazine blog under the heading of Food for Thought. We particularly enjoyed Mangos, Melons and Musica! and Another Culture… Merida Yucatan. We hope you enjoy them too, and we hope Karen looks us up next time she is in Yucatan! We would love to meet both she and her husband. He rescued a kitty from beneath a car in traffic! That makes them "our kind of folks," for sure!
From the Blog of The Yucatan Yodeler: Pictures and Thoughts
The Yucatan Yodeler, a Texan, is a Spanish major who spent last semester in Merida. His blog, The Yucatan Yodeler, has some of the prettiest pictures of Yucatan we have seen. We were especially touched by his last entry from Yucatan (Dec. 19, 2007). We cannot imagine what it must feel like to have to leave Yucatan, but Craig captures the heart of the experience so well that we thought our readers should have the opportunity to read it. So many of us think of gringos in Yucatan as being older folks who came here to retire, but more and more young people are traveling and living here. We are willing to bet that Craig (the Yucatan Yodeler), and many more of our gringo students, will be back in Yucatan to spend significant portions of their lives. Everything may be bigger in Texas, but there can be no doubt that everything is BETTER in Yucatan! We hope you enjoy Craig’s pictures and comments as much as we did.
Price of Ice Cream in U.S. Is Going Up
This alert just in: The decline of bee colonies in the U.S. is expected to result in an increase in the price of ice cream. Our take on it: Evidently, whoever has the most bees wins – and guess who that is? Yucatan wins again! We’ve got plenty of ice cream, so come on down!