In the past, new construction in Amapas had a sort of ‘anything goes’ quality, and savvy or well-connected Developers were adept at bending already loose Planning regulations, creating a crazy-quilt of view-blocking towers with no respect for their surroundings. Things began to change in September, 2012, when the City Council passed the Amapas Plan Parcial (Polígono de Desarrollo Controlado del sub-distrito 9-A) into law. The Plan Parcial provides special zoning rules for both Amapas and Conchas Chinas, and divides Amapas into 12 smaller sub-zones, each with its own different requirements and restrictions (density, height, off-street parking, setbacks from the street and from neighbors, etc.).
The two major areas are 1) the Residential Zone, to the east and uphill from the Carretera, allowing single-family homes, and both vertical and horizontal multi-family buildings; and 2) the Mixed Use Zone, west from the Carretera and downhill, all the way to the beach – containing private homes, condos, hotels and businesses. In the Residential Zone, new buildings can’t extend more than 9 meters above the highest point of raw land, must have a footprint covering no more than 0.4 to 0.8 of the property (depending on the sub-zone, and hopefully providing more green space), and must provide a minimum of 2 off-street parking places per housing unit. Because the Mixed Use area is more densely developed, height restrictions, setbacks and off-street parking requirements are more flexible and varied. But the residential area south of Los Muertos Beach has a 9 meter height limit.
(See the accompanying map and chart for more details.)
The new City Administration has been supportive of these new regulations, but many projects received permits under previous Administrations and old rules (a few on the eve of Plan Parcial passage). Additionally, aggressive Developers are always looking for loopholes, shortcuts, and ways to game the system. The Plan Parcial must be defended and enforced – not only by City Planning, but also by concerned and watchful neighbors.
AMAPAS JUNTA VECINAL
In May, 2013, the City approved the Amapas Junta Vecinal. With the same geographic boundaries and goals of neighborhood improvement as the ANA (and sharing many of the same officers), but representing all colonia residents, the Junta Vecinal is entitled to special recognition and cooperation with the City and its departments, which should help Amapas get official City attention and enter into public-private partnerships on things like landslide cleanup and street improvements.
Among other things, the Amapas Junta Vecinal has the right and obligation to approve or disapprove anything new or unusual in our colonia, like business licenses, special events, the display of advertising banners, etc. It’s a way to help ensure local control over local happenings.
Why two separate neighborhood organizations? The Junta has the official ‘juice’ to arrange City meetings and get things done, but no money; the ANA has the organization, communications, dedicated members…and annual membership dues & contributions to maintain the Amapas Patrol car, repair the streets, etc. Each organization, by itself, is pretty powerless. Together, they’re a powerhouse working to get things done for Amapas.