Loma Salitral, the Citizens of Costa Rica on High Alert to Avoid Uncon-trolled Arbitrary Construction Permits

The residents of the Desamparados Canton giving the fight to avoid unlawful destruction of their precious natural surroundings

Building permits can be positive if correctly handled with all the regulatory variables, but when something irregular is detected, the citizens can and must push back by means of suspension orders.

In August of this year 2019, it was known that the processing of construction permits barely increased in the first seven months. The Federated College of Engineers and Architects drew attention to this fact. In comparison with the year 2018, it represented a 19% growth in regards to public works the past year, while in the current one it has only a 5% growth. It should be noted that in 2018, the central canton of Alajuela ranked first with respect to the permitting process for constructions.

Now, what happened recently days with La Arboleda Residential Complex?

The construction of “Residencias La Arboleda” was suspended. Through a motion approved by the Desamparados Municipal Council, permits were suspended to the construction company of the La Arboleda, stating that the company intends to build a condominium of 800 units in the Loma Salitral. It should be noted that this site is considered of great ecological importance as it is the last premontane forest in the Central Valley.

A premontane forest has a climate that is comparable to the subtropical climate in terms of its temperature (annual average of 18 to 24ºC) but rainier. This type of climate is quite attractive for the development of sustainable agricultural activities due to the abundant rainfall and the prevailing high humidity rate. The motion presented by different citizen groups along with some local authorities produced that the municipal construction permits for La Arboleda to be suspended until the administrative contentious lawsuit filed in the courts on the cause of environmental viability be resolved.

According to sources, this case has already spent 15 years on the Desamparados Municipal Agenda. The Loma Salitral sector was declared a Special Forest Reserve and was included in the Special Zone of Protection of the Cerros de La Carpinteria in the Regulations of the Metropolitan Regional Plan, published in the Official Gazette No.119 of June 22, 1982, perhaps that is one of the reasons why residents of the Desamparados community have remained united since the beginning of the process, in a movement called “Salvemos La Loma Salitral” (Lets Save the Loma Salitral), to avoid the destructive over-urbanization of the zone. Many of the neighbors who make up this group highlight that the housing project violates various laws and statutes, which establish that Loma Salitral and its buffer zone, is a protected “green zone”, not allowed to be urbanized.

Let’s talk in detail about the Loma de Salitral

As we approach the canton of Desamparados, you can see a large hill to the southeast, between the districts of Desamparados, Damas, Las Gravilias and Patarrá. The hill is surrounded by great natural wonders, to the east, the Damas River, to the north, the Padre Gorge, to the west, the Chilamate Gorge and to the south the Cucubres River. It is worth mentioning that this protected zone is seven times larger than the La Sabana Metropolitan Park.

As we have mentioned here in The Costa Rica News (TCRN), Loma Salitral, is part of the last premontane humid forests of the Central Valley with more than 187 species of plants, of which five are endemic to Costa Rica. It also abounds in hot springs. Finally, an extremely important characteristic is that Loma Salitral prevents soil erosion and also prevents landslides and floods. So the alert must continue to avoid the destruction of this natural reserve.

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