Landscape and Ocean View Protection

By Jorge M. Conde, Esq.

The Municipality of Los Cabos has an extension of 119 miles of coastline between the Migriño area (at the Pacific Ocean) and the Buena Vista area (at the Gulf of California).

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With approximately 15,000 hotel rooms and 2,500 more currently under development, Los Cabos is one of the tourist sites most preferred by visitors to Mexico by foreign tourist and also at the national level. This nature sanctuary has stunning natural landscapes and impressive biodiversity that combines the ocean and the desert like few places in the world, as well as offering unsurpassed weather conditions irresistible to the visitors.

Despite the benefits that provide the protection of landscape in environmental, social and economic levels, the growth of the local economy is accelerating the transformation of various landscapes, in some cases degrading, with the corresponding consequences to the community. Therefore, the landscape has become an important element of protection embraced in the human right to a healthy environment, health, culture and identity.

The landscape value is set from consideration of different features, such as the visibility or territory that can be seen from a particular point or area; the quality of landscape (morphology, vegetation, ocean view); the visual quality of the immediate environment; the quality of scenic background; the fragility or capacity of the landscape to absorb the changes that occur in it; and the human presence that affects the quality of the landscape.

From a social perspective, the landscape is contributor of territorial identity; is basic for the management of activities related to sustainable tourism and, is variable in determining the value of land.

If you are considering buying a real estate property in Los Cabos, here is some valuable information that will help you get the most from your investment, in terms of ocean view and landscape protection.

Most of the big developments in Los Cabos have their own construction guidelines managed by the homeowners associations, related to the height, color, architectural design, technical specifications, etc. of the units, to ensure ocean views and landscape protection.

Outside of the big developments what is left are the City rules, specially the “Urban Development Plan”. The Urban Development Plan is a local law instrument that allows the City authorities to strategically manage the use of soil based on the needs of the population and the care for the environment.

The Urban Development Plan has height and occupancy limitations for each piece of land within the Los Cabos area. So if you plan to buy a lot or house outside a development, you may want to review the building limitations that apply for the surrounding area. This will prevent any future disputes with neighbors blocking your ocean view or negatively affecting the value of your property.

Only the state of Guerrero, in Mexico, has view easement provisions to preserve natural landscapes (mainly ocean views) in the Civil law. The view easement provisions allow homeowners to enforce the right to ocean view against third parties; however, such provisions are not effective in the state of Baja California Sur.

Therefore, to preserve the value of your investment in a growing local economy such as Los Cabos, it is important to review the height limitations and use of soil rules that apply for real estate. Keep in mind that there is always the possibility to agree on a view easement with neighbors (in writing), to ensure ocean views and landscape restrictions to benefit single owners or an entire community.

Jorge M. Conde, licensed real estate attorney. jcb@condeatlaw.com. Conde & Asociados, Attorneys at Law. www.condeatlaw.com. Cel. (624) 355-7803

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