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For those who are interested enough to know more about money, greed and development as it has reared its ugly head in Todos Santos, BCS, Mexico, please read the following. You will see first the claims and promises of the developers and second the reply of community representatives with a different perspective.

Truth Santos, B.C.S.

FAQ’s

TRES SANTOS FAQs with some REAL answers:

The following are questions that Tres Santos has included in their marketing web site and sales literature with their version of the community response and their view on the development.  We have included their responses and ours. We invite Tres Santos to respond.

 WHERE WILL THE ENERGY AND WATER RESOURCES COME FROM?

Tres Santos Version:  The Beach village at Tres Santos will be completely self-sustaining with its own desalination plant and waste water treatment plant. Town Farm at Tres Santos has purchased additional municipal water to be added to the current municipal water system. Tres Santos will not utilize any of the current municipal water supply in Todos Santos.

Our commitment to sustainability and our deep connection to the land are guiding principles. For 250 years, Todos Santos has been interwoven with nature, and so we bear—and welcome—the responsibility of helping to protect and support this relationship as our plans for Todos Santos unfold.

Truth Santos:  Despite saying that Tres Santos “will not utilize any of the current municipal water supply in Todos Santos”, Tres Santos recently applied for and received enough water concessions for the first 66 homes. Water is always in short supply for the current residents and many parts of town do not have water at all. How was Tres Santos able to obtain this water?

Despite any language about ‘sustainability’ it is not sustainable to build 4,472 new units beside a small community that already has water issues. BAJA IS A DESERT. It does not make sense to add eleven thousand plus new residents and potentially 77,000 workers to a community that has about 5,500+ residents currently and that does not have enough water as it is. 

There are no permits approved for a desalination plant (as yet) and deep concerns about the impact on the fish and marine life if one is built. Desalination plants return brine (salt) in large quantities back to the sea, which often damages the sea bed and kills smaller fish, like sardines, that larger fish feed on. Ironically, they also use huge quantities of water and electricity. There is currently no electricity at Punta Lobos.

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WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO REACH OUT TO THE LOCAL COMMUNITY?

Tres Santos:  The best thing about Tres Santos is the community of Todos Santos. Therefore, we have instituted an “open door policy” at the Tres Santos office to encourage local community members to meet with our team, see our plans and discuss their ideas and concerns about Tres Santos. We have hosted several community outreach meetings to hear questions and concerns among the local community, regarding both Tres Santos and the town at large. We plan to continue hosting these meetings. Please visit the our Facebook page for current information on events and meetings. You also can find an overview of local programs and partnerships here.

Truth Santos:

 There has only been one community meeting in July 2013, to the best of our knowledge, and that was called by the concerned residents of Todos Santos and not by Tres Santos. There was very limited Q&A. There has been nothing since then.  At a recent Todos Santos Community Association meeting, Ernie Glasner presented a few recent developments but did not allow for any questions.

Ernie’s standard reply is that there is an “open door policy” but many attempts have been made by several members of the community to meet with Ernie with no luck. He is never in the office and there is no one there to schedule meetings.

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Tres Santos: Todos Santos may benefit from the following infrastructure:

  • MIRA has built a medium-tension power line to Todos Santos that has spare capacity
  • MIRA is supporting Todos Santos’ first recycling program
  • MIRA is analyzing municipal waste treatment and potential for improvement
  • La Paz municipal authorities reportedly see Tres Santos as a potential example for future zoning regulations
  • MIRA plans to build miles of publicly accessible paved roads and unpaved trails
  • MIRA-donated land and engineering expertise to build the Todos Santos bypass and the new road into town
  • Tres Santos expects to create an increased tax base to benefit the entire community

Truth Santos:

The FAQs were written in 2013, but in the two years since there have been no waste treatment programs, no publicly accessible unpaved roads and residents of Tres Santos will not be paying taxes, since most will not be full time Mexican residents.

The recycling program is an ‘eye sore’ at the entrance to Todos Santos from Cabo, just as you drive into town. The idea is good, but in practice garbage has been piling up on the edge of town with no evident way to disperse it.  Todos Santos needs a real recycling centre, but this one charges money to take plastic and cardboard. Many locals are not willing to pay.  The space was ‘leased’ by Tres Santos, not given. It will be a business ‘for profit’. (Photos) There was an existing recycle program, Tres Santos was not the first, as stated above.

The bypass road is controversial. It was not really needed as the government had just paved a truck route along the outside edge of the town. There is controvery also because construction workers drilled into one the towns underground aquifirs and then filled parts with concrete so that the water is diverted to the Tres Santos project! There is an investigation into how that happened and possible wrong doing. Meanwhile, the town has much less water available for residents as a result.

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 WILL YOU EMBRACE LOCAL FISHERMEN AT PUNTA LOBOS AND THE YEARS OF HERITAGE AND TRADITION? WILL THEIR LIVELIHOOD BE IMPACTED BY YOUR DEVELOPMENT?

Tres Santos: We consider their presence and livelihood a crucial part of not only the heritage but the food supply of the Todos Santos community, and welcome and celebrate their work. We plan to build facilities at Punta Lobos to support the local Punta Lobos fishermen’s livelihood. This includes a fish-cleaning area, sanitary facilities, and new shops to feature their catch. We intend to dedicate an area of our beach development for work areas for the fishermen, complete with parking and boat access.

Because of our appreciation for the fishermens’ work, we have acknowledged it will not block the fishermen’s access to the beach in a notarized letter.

Truth Santos:

This notarized letter was written in July 2013 and the head of the fishermen’s ejidal (cooperative) is no longer there and has since died. In almost two years none of the promises made in the letter have been kept and the fishermen have been confined to just 100 meters of the beach. They have only one access road that floods when it rains and constant inspections and demands for additional paperwork make them feel that they are being pushed off the only beach that is accessible for their boats. See video interview with the fishermen for their real feelings.

 web3018438  WHAT DO YOU PLAN DO TO ABOUT THE HISTORIC FISHING CANNERIES?

Tres Santos:  We currently are restoring the historic fishing canneries and creating access. Our goal is for it to be used as a venue for community functions such as farmers markets, wedding celebrations, art festivals, etc.

Truth Santos:   The ‘historic fishing canneries’ are some small brick buildings on the edge of the fishing beach that have not been used in decades. The fishermen would rather they were able to fish as they have done for the last one hundred years than to host weddings.

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 HOW WILL THE CONSTRUCTION IMPACTS BE MANAGED? CAN LOCALS RENT RETAIL SPACE IN TRES SANTOS?

Tres Santos:  We have planned carefully to minimize impact of construction workers in the Tres Santos community. We already have begun an advertising campaign to find local workers, and have established regular times for interested candidates to visit and learn more. We are gathering their names in a database that we are supplying to our contractors. We consider hiring locals to be the first and best option.

As reasonably possible and feasible, we plan to distribute any non-local workers among private homes and existing rental properties throughout Todos Santos. This is expected to minimize disturbance. For increased worker needs at peak construction times, MIRA has been discussing with regional bus companies the possibility of bringing workers to Todos Santos from Cabo and/or La Paz, and taking them back home in the evening. Another option we are exploring is the creation of an area outside of Cabo for workers to live. MIRA is and will continue to encourage local entrepreneurs and developers to build affordable housing in and around Todos Santos.

Truth Santos:

According to government figures, there are seven workers needed for every room built. Tres Santos has applied to build 4,472 homes, as well as two boutique hotels with 150 rooms each. With the potential for 11,000 new residents that is 77,000 new workers. There are very few rentals in Todos Santos and none that would be affordable for workers. Where will they all be housed? There is one garbage truck in town. Four police cars, with often only one working. Two small schools. How are all of these people to be accommodated?  Loreto Bay was a similar project some people from this company were involved in, one that caused much hardship for the town .

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HOW WILL YOUR AGRICULTURAL FOCUS HELP LOCAL FARMERS?

Tres Santos:  We are excited to help stabilize and even expand the agricultural sector in Todos Santos. Colorado State University plans to continue operating their regular farm advisory board meetings, which offer an opportunity for CSU to better understand and help resolve the issues and challenges facing local farmers. In addition, our planned farmer’s market is expected to be a great way for local farmers to sell their wares.

Truth Santos:  Todos Santos is famous for the growth of organic fruit and vegetables but the water supply has been so low recently that the largest grower almost did not plant this year, and yet another has left town altogether. The town does not need more farms. This has been a farming community for over a hundred years and water has been carefully managed, and is always an issue. There needs to be less farming, not more because of lack of water .

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 WILL YOU AFFECT THE RETAIL TRAFFIC IN TOWN?

Tres Santos:  We anticipate that Tres Santos will increase the numbers of visitors to Todos Santos, and we expect that a thriving Tres Santos will help existing local businesses.

Truth Santos:  Until there is more infra-structure in town – places to park, public lavatories, places to visit, etc – Todos Santos can barely accommodate the current supply of visitors. This is a small town that cannot afford to grow too rapidly and does not want to.

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 HOW WILL YOUR DEVELOPMENT BENEFIT THE LOCAL COMMUNITY?

Tres Santos: We plan for the villages of Tres Santos, as well as the roads, gardens, and trails to be open to the entire Todos Santos community. Perhaps most exciting is that Tres Santos will provide the first direct connection, in the 250-year history of the town, between Todos Santos and the beach. In addition to the 3.5-mile Town-to-Beach trail, key project features currently are expected to include:

  • public gathering space in the Town Farm and at the Beach
  • Todos Santos’ first full time dedicated farmer’s market
  • 30+ miles of biking trails
  • cleaned-up Punta Lobos beach and boardwalk with beachgoer services including bathrooms, snacks, umbrellas, board rental, etc.
  • bike rental and activity booking center
  • a non-denominational Chapel in the Beach area
  • over 30,000 square feet of retail, including restaurants, shops, and services (many of these businesses are expected to be owned and operated by local residents)

Plans subject to change

Truth Santos:  

Did anyone ask the community if they want all of these things? The people of Todos Santos have always had access to the beach on the Pacific side and by car to the Sea of Cortes side. They have not asked for, nor do they need, a walkway to take them there. They already have public gathering spaces, farmer’s markets and bike trails and they have enjoyed the Punta Lobos Beach as it is for hundreds of years. None of the local businesses have signed up for the retail spaces and this has not been offered to them. There have been no meetings with the community on this issue.

It is also unlikely that local businesses would want to set up a second business at Punta Lobos, and manage two disparate locations. It is far more likely that these businesses will come from out of town and will then in fact compete with local restaurants and shops.

Tres Santos have also made it clear that residents will have all that they need at Punta Lobos so in fact residents there will have no need to come into Todos Santos and frequent the local businesses. Tres Santos likes to say that this is not a ‘gated community’ but it will effectively operate like one.

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 I HAVE OTHER QUESTIONS ABOUT THE COMMUNITY. HOW CAN I SHARE THEM WITH YOU?

Tres Santos Version:  Wonderful! We are proud of our open-door policy. Please come to our regular community meetings. Contact us for more information about when and where these are held at info@TresSantosBaja.com.

Truth Santos:  There has been no open door policy, no community meetings since July 2013 and a general stone-walling and vaguness on any conversation. If the people of Tres Santos are so proud of this development, why are they avoiding the very community they propose to be part of? We, the residents of Todos Santos, object.

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