Real Estate Development and the Dunes of Todos Santos, BCS

  • jim.pickell
  • | July 4th, 2009 | 11:04 am
2616062423 e8b720dccc o 300x199 Real Estate Development and the Dunes of Todos Santos, BCS

Picturesque and Fragile Dunes in Todos Santos

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 take all information as hearsay and take it with a grain of salt, unfortunately some brokers have been accused of selling property without disclosing all the facts to buyers unfamiliar with all of the local laws, customs etc. Although arguably falling short of what we think of as ‘fraud” in the US, you may not end up with what you bargain for and full disclosure is a legal requirement in the US. Issues of inadequate information range from lack of adequate water, title issues, historic legal conflicts not reported, conflicting easements, or, the subject of this post, lots being sold in environmentally sensitive areas. I can tell you with confidence, if you buy and build on the dunes, beyond any legal or structural repurcussion you may have, 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 interaction. 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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BAJA CALIFORNIA SUR REMAINS FREE OF INFLUENZA

  • jim.pickell
  • | May 3rd, 2009 | 11:12 am

BAJA CALIFORNIA SUR REMAINS FREE OF INFLUENZA. THERE IS NO RECORD OF CONFIRMED CASES, AND NOT EVEN THE SLIGHTEST SUSPICION OF THE PRESENCE OF THIS VIRUS. The Secretary of Tourism in Baja California Sur, Alberto Treviño Angulo, informed that the State is free from this virus. Baja California Sur is free from the swine flu virus; to this date there are no records whatsoever of confirmed cases, and not even the slightest suspicion of the presence of the virus in this State. The Secretary of Tourism in Baja California Sur, Alberto Treviño Angulo, added that local residents, as well as all national and international visitors, may remain in and travel to the tourism centers in the State with the assurance that there are no influenza cases in this area. He stated that those tourists who are planning to visit our resort destinations may do so with the complete certainty that in Baja California Sur there are no cases of swine flu that may pose a risk to their health, and that the health authorities are working to keep this situation under control. During the Tourism Expo held here, Alberto Treviño informed that the tourism sector in Baja California is working with the certainty that there is no record whatsoever of the presence of this virus in the State: from Guerrero Negro to Ciudad Constitución; from La Paz to Todos Santos and from Los Barriles to Cabo San Lucas. Treviño Angulo added that the tourism industry in Baja California Sur undoubtedly represents one of the main engines of the economy in the State, and this is in great part the result of the joint efforts of businessmen in the field, the society in general, and the government. In consequence, today more than ever, in Baja California Sur we are all working together, and will continue to do so in a responsible manner in furtherance of a better tourism development in our State. The Secretary of Tourism reiterated that in the State of Baja California Sur there is not even the slightest suspicion of the presence of this virus, and added that the health authorities actually sent ten samples of patients undergoing a common cold to laboratories in Mexico City for their respective analysis, and in every one of said cases the results were negative. However, Alberto Treviño explained that general precautions are being taken as a preventive measure, this being the reason why there are preventive supervision activities in the maritime, terrestrial and airport terminals. In addition, activities have been suspended in all private and public schools, and it is recommended to avoid attending massive events in enclosed places. Alberto Treviño commented that as a precaution measure, the health sector has sufficient medication to cure this disease and 120 special reagents in health centers and hospitals in Baja California Sur, and reiterated that the State of Baja California is free from the virus.

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Mexican drug lord orders deadly force

  • jim.pickell
  • | May 2nd, 2009 | 11:39 am

By Josh Meyer |Tribune Newspapers - May 3, 2009

The reputed head of Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel has instructed his army of associates to use deadly force if necessary to protect their increasingly contested trafficking operations, even against U.S. law enforcement, according to authorities here and in Washington.

The threatened offensive by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, Mexico’s most-wanted man, was described by U.S. officials as being highly unusual, given that his associates have avoided violent confrontations with American law enforcement officers, and have kept their blood feuds with fellow traffickers largely south of the border.

Guzman is believed to have delivered the message personally in early March, during a three-day gathering of his associates in Sonoita, a small Mexican town just a few miles south of the Arizona border, according to U.S. intelligence bulletins sent to several state and federal law enforcement officials.

The Sonoita meeting is one of many indications that Mexico’s most-wanted man is becoming more brazen even in the face of a massive Mexican government crackdown on his activities and deadly turf rivalries with other traffickers.

Reports of Guzman’s recent activities, gathered through U.S. informants, wiretaps and other means, have prompted a flurry of warnings to local, state and federal authorities in border states. They said they have been instructed to use extreme caution when confronting people suspected of smuggling drugs and illegal aliens north from Mexico, or ferrying weapons and cash south from the United States, officials familiar with those warnings said.

Some of the U.S. intelligence suggests that Guzman, the leader of the Sinaloa cartel, is on the defensive due to enforcement efforts in Mexico and the U.S., and no longer can afford to ditch valuable cargoes if rival traffickers or authorities interdict them as they make their way north. Thomas M. Harrigan, the chief of operations in the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said virtually all of the violence remains in Mexico, but that U.S. authorities are alarmed that attacks on police, soldiers, government officials, journalists and other potential opponents have intensified near the border.

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Cal y Canto Casitas Coming to Life

  • jim.pickell
  • | April 20th, 2009 | 12:29 pm

befunky casita 300x199 Cal y Canto Casitas Coming to LifeCheck out the project’s progress at www.CalyCanto.com.

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Rosetta Stone IPO Prices Above Estimate Range

  • jim.pickell
  • | April 16th, 2009 | 6:36 am

Published: April 16, 2009

reuters sidebar Rosetta Stone IPO Prices Above Estimate Range NEW YORK (Reuters) – Rosetta Stone Inc <RST.N> shares priced at $18 in the company’s initial public offering, above the estimate range, a source with direct knowledge of the deal said on Wednesday, making it the fourth IPO on a U.S. exchange in 2009 as equities markets struggle to stabilize.

Rosetta Stone sold 6.25 million shares, raising $112.5 million, after shares priced above the estimated $15 to $17 range, the first IPO to do so since pumpmaker Colfax Corp’s <CFX.N> deal in May 2008.

Investors’ embrace of Rosetta Stone stands in contrast to the reception given Tuesday to college operator Bridgepoint Education Inc <BPI.N>. which had to shave 30 percent off its estimated price to get its IPO to the market.

Analysts believed that Rosetta’s success was due to a lack of publicly held competitors.

“They have brand strength — nothing compares to Rosetta Stone, everyone has seen their ads,” said Ben Holmes, publisher of research and analytics firm Morningnotes.com.

“The college space is becoming very competitive, but Rosetta Stone is in a very uncrowded space,” Holmes said.

Rosetta Stone’s chief rival, Berlitz, is privately held.

The relatively small size of the deal’s “float”, or the number of shares sold, helped Rosetta Stone command a strong price, though analysts said the company could have raised far more money in the oversubscribed deal.

“They left money on the table, but institutions and its retail clientele will remember that, and when Rosetta Stone comes back for a follow-on, they’ll be amenable,” said Scott Sweet, senior managing director of research firm IPO Boutique.

EFFECTIVE ADS

Rosetta Stone, which provides language instruction services to individuals, companies and schools primarily through CD-ROMs, has attracted attention through an advertising campaign that has featured U.S. Olympic swimming gold medal swimmer Michael Phelps.

Another ad shows a farmer wanting to learn Italian in an effort to woo a supermodel.

The Arlington, Virginia-based company offers language instruction products in 31 languages, with its beginners’ French package, for example, selling for $259, according to its Website.

But Rosetta Stone has ramped up efforts to limit exposure to cash-strapped consumers by focusing on sales to corporations and the U.S. government. It plans to develop an Arabic learning product for the U.S. Army.

Rosetta Stone’s main shareholders are ABS Capital Partners, whose shares prior to the IPO gave it 44 percent of votes and Norwest Equity Partners with a stake of 29 percent of votes, according to a regulatory filing. Following the IPO, those stakes will fall to 28 percent and 18 percent, respectively.

Half of the shares offered are being sold by selling stockholders.

In 2008, Rosetta Stone’s revenue rose 52 percent to $209.4 million from 2007, with net income of $13.9 million, according to a regulatory filing.

The IPO’s underwriters, led by Morgan Stanley <MS.N> and William Blair & Co, have the right to purchase up to an additional 937,500 shares of common stock to cover over allotments.

Rosetta Stone’s IPO is the third in the United States in April, following Bridgepoint and Chinese video game maker Changyou.com Ltd <CYOU.O>, making it the busiest month since July 2008.

Rosetta Stone has been approved to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “RST” and is set to begin trading on Thursday.

(Reporting by Phil Wahba; Editing by Andre Grenon, Bernard Orr)

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