The Here and
Now.

An Open Letter to the Residents of Todos Santos

December 9, 2015

Now that the first phase of Tres Santos is underway, we want to underscore the benefits that the development will bring to Todos Santos and alleviate the anxieties that have arisen about the project in some quarters.

Change is never easy, especially in remote places. Above all, Tres Santos wants to be a good citizen of Todos Santos, a community we have come to love. So we respect the concerns (even though often founded on misinformation) that the development has caused.

Tres Santos is going to bring a lot of good to Todos Santos, and being part of Todos Santos is going to bring a lot of good to Tres Santos.

We have designed Tres Santos to minimize the environmental impact on the community.
Tres Santos is being built in phases. It has been designed to grow organically and to be absorbed gradually into Todos Santos. We are not building 4,472 homes on the fishermen’s beach, as some online sites have asserted. For starters, that’s impossible: The beach isn’t big enough.

But we would never want to build at such a density. Here’s proof: The zoning at Tres Santos allows for a larger number of homes than we ever intend to build. And those homes will be modest homes (1,500 sq. ft.) in the beach community. Right now, only 40 homes are being constructed behind, not on, the beach, as well as the 32-room beach hotel.

In the future, new homes will be built in clusters, as they are sold, in the three communities that will compose Tres Santos. That’s intentional: It ensures that Tres Santos grows organically, not scattershot, that it is a viable community. Which in turn reflects our long-term commitment to the region. We are not spec. developers.

The proof: We supported rezoning the beach to protect it from high-rise-building development. That doesn’t belong in this 250-year-old town.

Tres Santos is creating its own water-supply infrastructure.
As property owners, we were given the right to use water directly from the municipal supply. We have declined, because we are keenly aware of the challenges the community faces from periodic drought and an aging water distribution system.

Instead Tres Santos is creating a land-based desalination system to satisfy the development’s long-term water requirements. The system has received environmental approval from SEMARNAT, Mexico’s Secretariat of Environmental and Natural Resources. The plant will be finished early next year and will guarantee that Tres Santos will never have to draw from the municipal water supply.

In the meantime, Tres Santos still won’t use the existing municipal water supply.
Tres Santos is paying the local water authority (OOMSAPAS) to bring in additional water earmarked for the development. All of the water that Tres Santos is currently using and will use prior to the inauguration of the desalination plant will be added to the existing municipal supply.

The desalination plant design minimizes its environmental impact.
There is considerable mis-information on this issue. The plant is land-based, meaning it won’t take water directly from the ocean. The plant will extract water from the salt-water aquifer, not the fresh-water one.

The salt-water aquifer has been created by eons of waves washing up on the beach and seeping down into the sand. The salt-water aquifer lies 30 meters under the beach, adjacent to the Tres Santos property.

The desalination plant will not pollute.
Critics have said that the desalination plant will release brine, the by-product of desalination, and other chemicals back into the ocean.

But that’s not true.

The Tres Santos plant will pump the brine back into the ground below the salt-water aquifer. The desalination process will not touch the fresh-water aquifer at all. Moreover, the plant doesn’t use chemicals. It uses a process called ‘reverse osmosis’ to squeeze the water through filters under pressure to remove the salt.

If that sounds suspicious to you, consider this: A lot of very good wineries use the same technique to improve their wines. As do many municipal water treatment plants. Far from being threatening, the plant employs techniques that are time-tested.

Oh, and one more thing: The desalination plant will be supplemented by solar energy.

Tres Santos will bequeath the community more water-efficient farming techniques.
Tres Santos has partnered with Colorado State University Center (CSU), an independent research institute that we have brought to The Farm to develop water-efficient farming techniques and drought-resistant crops that we will share with the community. The importance of water to the community is the reason the CSU Campus was one of the first things built at Tres Santos.

The Tres Santos beach community will not infringe on the fishermen’s beach concession.
We have committed to this in word and writing. Period.

“We want the fisherman there,” says Ernie Glesner, Project Director for Tres Santos.

In fact, Tres Santos will directly benefit the fishermen.
We are improving the beach facilities, building dedicated parking, boat access, sanitary fish-cleaning stations, and additional bathrooms. We are also restoring the fish cannery, intending to open it as a historic venue for the community. We have also talked with the fishermen about expanding their income by using their boats for sport fishing and whale-watching tours.

Tres Santos will expand the fishermen’s market.
The presence of the community will bring a new group of customers to Todos Santos, many of whom consume fish as part of a healthy lifestyle. As part of its efforts to reinforce the local fishing community, Tres Santos is building an open-air market and retail fish store at the beach where both locals and residents can buy the day’s catch.

Tres Santos will also start a small, but significant, initiative on the beach.
Until now, fish waste has been thrown away. Tres Santos is taking all of the waste to use as compost at Town Farm. It shows our commitment to have a positive, not just a neutral, footprint in Todos Santos.

Tres Santos wants to offer residents of Todos Santos retail opportunities.
We’re counting on it! Please come into our office at the corner of Juarez and Márquez de León or contact us at info@TresSantosBaja.com.

Tres Santos has shown its commitment to protecting the beach from erosion.
We have built a sea wall at Punta Lobos, designed by coastal engineers. The swells thrown off by Tropical Storm Linda resulted in erosion, but this is normal, not a sign of the wall’s ineffectiveness, as was asserted online. In fact, the sand has started coming came back, just as our engineers predicted.

Tres Santos is and will be a good steward of the area’s mangrove species.
The grading that occurred above Punta Lobos prior to construction removed Maytenus phyllanthoides (Sweet Mangrove), which is not one of the protected species and in fact is quite common in Baja. The protected species of mangroves—Red Mangrove, White Mangrove, Black Mangrove, and Mangle botoncillo—were not touched. Inspectors from SEMARNAT confirmed the plan on-site before the grading began.

The confusion arose from a photograph published online that showed Tres Santos earth-moving equipment and alleged that the machines were removing endangered mangrove species.

Not true.

The picture actually shows Tres Santos’ equipment pitching in to remove mud from Topete, the main and only artery connecting the old town with the “otro lado,” where more than half the townspeople live. Tres Santos responded to a request from the BCS Ministry of Finance local office, and for our response, we received official recognition from the Mayor of La Paz, who cited our mobilization of resources for the massive cleanup effort after Hurricane Odile in the fall 2014.

Tres Santos is dedicated to the preservation of Todos Santos. The community is why we’re here.
Change was inevitable once the Mexican government built the new highway and opened the area for development. Then the question became, what kind of development?

We chose Todos Santos as the site of our project because of its rich history, culture, and natural beauty. We respect and honor its status as a Pueblo Magico, and we hope to increase its sustainability through support of fishing and agriculture. We will build Tres Santos in a way that does not harm the environment or the residents of Todos Santos.

We stand for good stewardship, intelligent economic growth, and principled change.

We will be a good partner to Todos Santos. That’s why our office is located in the middle of town at the corner of Juarez and Márquez de León. We’re open six days a week (except holidays) and are available to answer questions about the vision and progress of Tres Santos and allay concerns.

For further information, please visit http://community.tressantosbaja.com/

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