Urban Development Plan

Urban Development Plan (PDU) 2040 Los Cabos; direction, social, economic and environmental sense

Its elaboration and vision in terms of economic sustainability, where negative effects and impacts can be perceived in different facets

Latest workshops on updates focus on mobility, and densities in sectors

“Health today is an expression of a complex network of new interactions that include individual factors” *


The theme of urban planning and sustainable development in Los Cabos has been a constant in speeches, political campaigns and interminable meetings of various sectors, mainly social and tourism real estate developers, as well as the creation of plans around this theme. It has been echoed from the first Municipal Development Plan in 1981 – the first Municipal Council of Los Cabos – created by Fonatur, until today, with the Urban Development Plan 2040 (PDU 2040), and the Municipal Planning Institute (Implan) created 8 years ago. However, it is a fact that the plans proposed and developed are not concatenated between theory and practice and the negative impacts of development become apparent.

During the workshops, forums and roundtables for the updating and adaptation of the PDU 2040, there is no mention of environmental issues, of the urban and rural environment, nor the undeniable existence of settlements that are not only irregular, but also located in areas of high risk. The priorities that are proposed and occupy the greatest interest of authorities and entrepreneurs are viewed as important depending only on the sustainable development in the economic sense, and the social and environmental impacts pass to third and second place respectively. Although, in the last meetings there have been proposals for adjustments in terms of mobility, densities in the tourist areas and in the urban areas.

According to the vision of the PDU 2040 Implan 2014, Los Cabos will reach a permanent population of 606,000 inhabitants. In terms of the environment, it says, “Anarchic growth, will cause the loss of large areas of environmental value, pollution of aquifers and the sea, construction of new developments will continue to block the natural landscape, causing a loss in terms of scenery and natural beauty. The high contamination of the estuary of San Jose will cause the loss of endemic species and other irreversible damages in flora and fauna of the area”.

In spite of the above, a concept which has already been in existence for more than five years, the growth in large-scale tourist infrastructure has continued, without considering the carrying capacity of each area. The proposals revolve around the luxury tourist developments that are competitive on an international level, without considering as a priority the aspects with negative social and environmental impact.

Several studies in different countries summarize the negative impacts of development: degradation of land, water systems and ecosystems, which lead to problems with water resources; also occupancy of hazardous areas and loss of cultural property. Among the most frequent urban problems found are: informal settlements and slums that translate into belts of misery; high density housing and congestion and therefore traffic congestion; noise, atmospheric, water and visual contamination; urban macrocephaly; urban obsolescence and segregation; emptiness and urban violence. There are already worrying signs in Los Cabos, which has only reached half of the estimated population in 23 years.

Three institutions, Junta de Andalucia, the European Union and the Health and Environment Observatory of Andalusia, published a study entitled “Urbanism, Environment and Health”, where interesting points about mental health in some urban areas are presented, as well as the concept of social networks – not online networks – about the real interaction of neighbors in a city, subdivision, neighborhood, etc. These are issues that have not been addressed in PDU 2040, among other aspects of great interest, both for the local communities and for investors, since in one way or another, what affects the community directly and proportionately reflects on the destination.

The National Institute of Ecology (INE) was derived from the 2000 National Meeting of Tourism. The 2020 perspective, published together with the then Semarnat in September of the same year, notes in its corollary, among other notes, “a growing unregulated environmental deterioration produced by tourist megaprojects, and negative reactions from environmentalist groups, causing risk from the operation of the projects [and a] bad international image of Mexico due to its ecological disregard.”

As a corollary to this text, I share a segment quoting what I found at wikiboocks.org environmental impacts/tourism development: “Often tourism projects are comparatively small and, when examined for their potential environmental impacts, often are placed in Category B. However, they deserve attention in the consultation book, first, because of the close relationship between tourism and the quality of the environment, and second, because of the many links between tourism development and other sectors in the same region. The aspects of the natural and socio-cultural environment that constitute important tourist resources attract people for their aesthetic, recreational or educational/scientific value. However, many of the same aspects are particularly sensitive to alteration due to human activities. The negative impacts resulting from improperly planned and uncontrolled tourism development can easily damage the very environments on which the success of the projects depend…” (Muhammad Yunus)

* Urbanism, Environment and Health

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