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#144005 - 05/24/02 02:13 PM goverment housing
bywarren Offline
This opinion is in response to truebelize's position as stated under the topic "relocating" concerning the goverment financed housing project on Ambergris Cay.
This to me is a good example of "more is not better" and how "greed" will change and possibly destroy what so many of us love about Ambergris Cay. AC is part of a marine eco-sytem. This eco-system, like all others, will only take so much abuse before it becomes irrevocalby altered. There is a limit on how much development AC can handle and I am worried that those who promote this development are not giving sufficient thought and planing to this. The houses built were built because of the need for additional housing on the island. That need was created due to the explosive number of workers living here now to work on construction and servicing the tourist industry. Most all of those workers are not from San Pedro and not even from Belize. Most come from other parts of Central America. The land for the building the houses was created by dredging and filling low lying areas. In effect what we have done to the eco-system is take away from the marine part to create more land. And the only thing we will be giving back to the marine part is sewage. When the Belize Tourist Board creates the demand for more tourists, they are in effect creating the demand for more toilets. aka the Belize Toilet Board. Goverment has created a housing project. In many other cities and towns it is refered to as slums. Am I the only one that when I fly into San Pedro and see that, I look down and see a very unatractive sight. We sometimes like to live in the past and appreciate how thing used to be. I fondly remember San Pedro when I stayed at locally owned hotels and dove and fished with San Pedranos who grew up on the island. I do not like seeing what I consider over development and the need to provide housing where nature never intended housing to be. This is done only for greed. I guess you could say I am selfish about AC. I want to live here and enjoy it more the way it used to be. I just wish those who want more development would be a little more selfish and a little less greedy. There can be development and growth. But, those must be within what the inviornment can handle. I have addressed why I feel there should not even be a need for the "slum project". The raping of the Belize Social Security Fund for the building of the slums and the attempt to sell the houses at prices far above their value due to this corruption is subject for another topic. This is where we once again differ truebelize. I do not think the goverment is doing the people of Belize and specifically San Pedro any favors in providing slums and futhering over development.

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#144006 - 05/24/02 02:50 PM Re: goverment housing
GAY AND DAVID Offline
these homes are now being offered to any and all interested in purchasing (not just belizeans). does anyone out there know of anyone that has purchased either way - as a citizen or otherwise?
gay

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#144007 - 05/24/02 03:52 PM Re: goverment housing
truebelize Offline
As you sit in your luxury concrete and steel condominium, bywarren, are you sure you want to live in the San Pedro of old? Wouldn't you be living in a thatched hut spearing fish for food or something? Do you now own a golf cart? Is that how people here got around 20 years ago? Shouldn't you be....perish the thought.....WALKING?

Forgive my little outburst. I do see your point about development without destroying the ecosystem, but isn't anyone who relocates here part of root of the problem? As long as there is the need (or want) for new condos, new homes, new shops, roads, more electricity, more services, more of everything, there will be a problem with development that outpaces environmental protection. Bear in mind that the new housing project is there because wealthy people want to live here on the beach and it's cheaper to hire less wealthy people to build for them. Land market values on AC (which are set by the wealthy folk who buy it) far outstrip what working class people here can afford, so the government has put together a housing project to give working people a chance to own their own home relatively cheaply and easily.

I've said before that the new housing project has its faults, (the land desperately needing more fill being the most pressing) but when there is no alternative for poorer people (and there isn't) isn't it best to make the best of what there is? Provided each home is insured against hurricane and fire (which is the case) isn't it a better home than what a lot of them are living in now? Go and see where some of them are living right now....it isn't pretty.

Of course, bywarren, you're welcome to buy up some land here and see if you can build semi-decent housing that poorer people can own for under 45,000US per 900sq ft home (land included) and accept payment over 25 years with no deposit.

Or, we could knock your and all the other condos, hotels, concrete houses etc. down and turn the clock back....trouble is we'd have to hire workers to do that as well.

I see your point about environment, but, just like many other things in this world, it's no good looking back for blame, we have to look forward to making the best of this project. If the new owners work together to make the area beautiful and if the government FILLS the land properly it will be something better than many could have hoped for. And the monthly payments for something they can OWN are completely reasonable and fair.

FYI, DFC are here on the island, people are looking at the new homes which are now almost finished, and THEY ARE SELLING LIKE HOTCAKES. The DFC salesman sold 5 in one day last week. I only hope that it is real working people who want to live in them who get them and not relatively wealthy local people looking for a 3rd home to rent out....to working people.



[This message has been edited by truebelize (edited 05-24-2002).]

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#144008 - 05/24/02 06:43 PM Re: goverment housing
bywarren Offline
It's good to be back on your bad side, truebelize, where you choose to attack me personally as opposed to debating the issues. I do not accept your premise that because there is a demand for development it must automaticaly proceed in ways that harm the environment. It is my contention that the "slum project" the goverment built, at some expense to the marine eco-system, might not be necessary if people in charge of planing the long range future of AC took into consideration how much population density the island can handle before the short term gain is off set by the long term damage. I do not represent myself as an authority on this. But, I would hope someone with knowlegde of this takes these factors into consideration. I grew up on the Mississipi river where, in our great wisdom, we treated our sewage with chemicals and dumped it into the river and then took it back out and treated it with more chemicals so we could drink it and ended up with one of the nations highest rates of cancer. I submit my thoughts on this because I feel the island is being over developed and I hope by talking about it, it might get others to question the wisdom of this over development, if in fact it is being over developed. Now about me personally, if wanting to live here and try to keep some of the qualities and charm of this island and people that originally brought me here makes me part of the problem, then I must plead guilty. And do not take this as a "holier than thou" statement, because I have no problem with people moving here and trying to earn a living as long as it is in an environmentaly safe way. But I feel quite comfortable living here and spending my money here without having succommed to greed that would temp me to make money at the expense of the long range well being of the island. I guess we all can be accused of being part of the problem. I would hope a greater percentage would want to also be part of the solutions.

[This message has been edited by bywarren (edited 05-24-2002).]

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#144009 - 05/24/02 08:25 PM Re: goverment housing
Laguna Punta Offline
I really believe that truebelizer has stumbled upon the solution. Hire only wealthy people to work in the hot Belizian sun. Growth will definately slow down. All kidding aside, I apprehiate both sides of this coin. I would only hope that such healthy debate took place in decision making assemblies. Thanks for the thoughtful debate.
_________________________
Gone fishing!!

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#144010 - 05/24/02 11:47 PM Re: goverment housing
bywarren Offline
As to the cost of these homes, any Belizean that purchases one is getting screwed at least twice by his goverment. Once out of the social security funds that paid $14 Million dollars to purchase the property from Glen Goddfrey, whose was in charge of the committee that oversees this. That equates to over $46,000 per lot for a house and lot selling for $49,500. Show me anywhere else where the land cost is 93% of the value of the property. And secondly by paying the $49,500 to buy the piece of s**t. Remember where the sewage is going.

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#144011 - 05/25/02 12:55 AM Re: goverment housing
susangg Offline
After reading and thinking about all the info about these land deals, the get out of jail free cards, the sale of national assets to secret consortiums who may or may not include government big shots and/or their relatives, I really must conclude that the absence of a democratic political system is becoming awfully expensive for the Belizean people.
What will the government do when it has nothing left to sell? Will it start looking for other people's land to sell? (like the citizens who thought they had bought those 82 lots only to find themselves being evicted as "squatters" (see the latest edition of Ambergris Today on this web site).
I have to wonder whether any of our businesses or properties -- Belizean or investor or immigrant or guest -- are safe from confiscation when the kitty runs dry but the honchos won't stop borrowing and making gifts of the public funds to themselves and their friends?
Is there really any security in your land title or business license in Belize....when any constitutional or statutory protection written in "the law" is subject to that last little line of fine print called "Minister's Discretion?"
Seems to me that if the Belizean people are at risk, so is everybody else who has a business or property in Belize.
Something to think about: Lack of democracy may seem convenient at times if you are among the (relatively speaking) economic elite, but it swings both ways: If struggling Belizeans aren't safe from de facto or de jure confiscation, neither are you! Or I!
In other words: we sink or swim together.
_________________________
Susan Guberman-Garcia, Attorney at Law. Phone: 510-792-2639
Fax/Voicemail:: 510-405-2016 Email: susangg@garcia.mpowermail.com

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#144012 - 05/25/02 02:31 AM Re: goverment housing
Anonymous
Nice article along the same lines in the Caye Caulker Conch Chronicle.

THE VILLAGE COUNCIL AND THE LAW

May 24, 2002

This morning in a pre-dawn sweep at 5:30 a.m., the Caye Caulker Village
Council together with the Corporal and the Sergeant on duty, under the
instructions of the Hon. Patty Arceo (we understand) and Chairman Marin,
went out and took into police custody the tables, chairs, glass display case
and other items belonging to islander, Traci Meighan. Traci, you see, is a
street vendor who sets up shop on the beach daily. In Caye Caulker, there
are quite a number of people like her who make a living hawking their
merchandise to passers-by.

Traci is a single mom with two children. There is Miss Rose, who sets up
her rice and beans stand in front of the Oceanside Bar on weekend nights.
There is Ms. Carolyn who also sets up her hot dog stand in front of
Oceanside on a nightly basis. There is Ms. Paula who sells souvenirs street
side to tourists to support her toddler. There is Ms. Marla who sells
barbecue on weekends to support her children, and the list goes on…

Each of these people does so to put food on the table of their families.
They are trying to make a living in a decent way.

For months and months the Village Council has been harassing the local
street vendors in an unsuccessful attempt to get them off the streets and
beach areas. What they have against the street vendors is anybody’s guess,
as the drug dealers camp out street side day and night, ply their trade with
reckless abandon, and it appears that no one notices THEM. (Except maybe,
ME?)

In many countries of the world, a flea market type atmosphere is what
attracts visitors. Just ask any Belizean that has been to the U.S. and I am
positive any single one will tell you that they have visited a flea market
at least once. In fact, the Camden Market in London is so popular, the real
estate there has become prime property. This type of atmosphere adds to a
casual and bohemian aura which goes hand in hand with our island life and
what the village stands for, I believe.

Still, I do realize my views are just that – my own. The fact that I look
at the street vendor atmosphere as contributing to the carnival atmosphere
of island life does not necessarily mean that everyone else does too.

Obviously the Village Council and the Hon. Patty Arceo do NOT think it is
attractive, hence their continued harassment of these people who are simply
trying to make a living.

So… what can we do if some of us villagers like the atmosphere, and some of
us don’t? What happens if the Village Council does NOT like that type of
atmosphere (and it is obviously they don’t)?

The Village Council Act states specifically what the Village Council can and
cannot do. There are many things that the Village Council CAN do, but one
of those things it SHOULD NOT do is to break the law. It is not a law unto
itself, but must follow the law just like any one of us. Even if all seven
members of the village council together decided they did not like the street
vendors, and agreed together that they would like to abolish street vending,
this does not make it law. A law is not made by decree by the Village
Council. Just because the Village Council decides on a certain course of
action does not make that course of action mandatory or even the law. They
would still need to follow certain guidelines.

Obviously the Caye Caulker Village Council needs to brush up on their
obligations to this village. They need to take a moment to find out exactly
what powers the Village Council Act gives to them. The Village Council Act
certainly does NOT give powers to the Village Council chairman to rule by
dictatorship, nor does it give the Chairman the power to rule by decree, nor
does it give Mr. Marin the power to be a one-man Village Council. The law
is very specific.

The Caye Caulker Village Council today became the laughing stock of the
island once again (I say once again, as this same type of scenario seems to
repeat itself fairly often) when moments after arresting Ms. Meighan’s
personal effects, toting the items down the street in the back of the
village fire truck to the Police Station like a 5:30 a.m. street parade,
they had to return her items to her. I felt embarrassed for them, but their
incessant and increasing spitefulness inevitably steers them down that
route.

The Village Council Act under Part IV (Powers and Duties of Village
Councils) clearly states:

23. (1) A Council may from time to time make by-laws for the rule and good
government of its village generally, and in particular in respect of all or
any of the following matters :- (it proceeds to list the matters which are
included).

(2) Before submitting the proposed by-laws to the House … the council
shall call a general meeting of the village, and present the by-laws to the
consideration of the villagers. No by-laws shall be presented to the House
unless they have been approved by a majority of those present at such
meeting.

What this means, villagers, is that Mr. Fermin Marin, Ms. Patty Arceo, and
the Village Council can TRY to dictate all they like about the number of
bridges they will allow on the front of the island, or whether or not the
fishermen can haul up their lobster traps on the beach, or whether the
street vendors can set up shop on the streets and beaches, or whether people
can haul up their boats on the beach to repair them, but we have no
obligation to listen to their decrees. To make any of these rules law, they
MUST FIRST hold a public meeting where WE the VILLAGERS vote as a majority
to make it so. Even then, EVEN if we villagers agree on something, it still
has to go to the House of Representative for approval by a majority there
before it is put to law.

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#144013 - 05/25/02 03:47 AM Re: goverment housing
JmHanna Offline
Let the developers spend all they want. Let them dredge all they want. Mother nature will decide which project is successful.
_________________________
Jim

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#144014 - 05/25/02 06:02 AM Re: goverment housing
ljacks Offline
The housing project on San Pedro is really something else.
Hard to believe that any government agency would admit to having anything to do with such a poorly built and poorly planned subdivision.
All those homes were built even before any infrastructure was put in place.
.I looked at those houses. Wooden poles were pounded in the ground, On top of those poles workers placed the floor. They then used thin metal plumbers strap to hold the floor onto the poles. Not even stainless steel screws were use as I notice that they are already rusting.
That, it would seem, would leave the house sitting on the poles by gravity alone.
This is just one example of the extreme poor quality of the homes. There is much more…. Insurance or no, these poor people will loose a lot in a storm, if not their lives. If it cost $10,000BZ to build each one of these ......'homes' I would be surprised. What a very healthy profit to be made off the poor people by .... 'someone' Not even a proper foundation was put in.

I noticed recently the full page add in the paper by DFC advertising that the houses are built to Florida Hurricane standards!?.
Another issue of major importance is that all these homes, very close together, (over 300) were built on the lagoon are inches above the water table and are now going on septic systems. That means that all this gray water and black water will leech directly into the lagoon. This looks like an environmental disaster in the making. The only good thing that I can see is that the predominant breeze is from the east. I went back there recently after a rain and saw that the sand, that was dredged up and placed under the houses to keep the ocean from under them, was being washed away by the rivers that were forming with the rain. It was a big mess.
If they built half the homes and built each one twice as good, installed proper sewage pipes, then the whole thing would make some kind of sense.
Truebelize ..You say that they are not perfect, You are certainly right about that. The high cost, the poor quality, the density. What has been created is a slum and the units are being sold to the poor at high cost. This is the strong, praying on the weak, … to the extreme. Hard to believe that it is a government project.


[This message has been edited by ljacks (edited 05-24-2002).]

[This message has been edited by ljacks (edited 05-24-2002).]

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