If we hear Chihuahua, we immediately think about maquiladora and manufacturer industry, because it is highly linked to the State. In fact, for this industry the State counts on roughly 425 installed plants in almost 25 industrial parks; this quantity represents the 12.47% of the maquiladora plants in Mexico. The manufacturer industry has got nine thousand 917 economic units. In spite of this development, sustainability is a topic present in the agenda of the State and then, government and private initiative are taking part in it. Integrated Sustainable Urban Developments –DUIS in Spanish- are including in these initiatives.
Integrated Sustainable Urban Developments –DUIS are essential for Chihuahua. The government, in fact, wants to help the initiatives pointing to them. “It is a way to correct mistakes made in the past concerning the housing model and cities development”, says Alberto Chretin- Secretary of Economy, Chihuahua. For real estate developers in Mexico, it represents a big responsibility because the actions and good practices results impact the people’s quality of life; therefore, incorporating environmental measures in the new developments and constructions remains a priority. “I am convenced that lots of the problems we have nowadays are a consequence of mistakes committed by government and businessmen, and I consider UDIS an excellent opportunity.”
Rafael Servando, Secretary of Urban Development and Ecology, talked about the importance of creating activities for coexistence and community life. “I agree the development model followed during the last years has been wrong. We have some areas in urban misfortune, so I think we must thoroughly verify the model, however, we have DUIS models in cities like San Agustin, San Jeronimo and San Jose del Sol that will give another aspect to it. In fact, the State Governor has let me know we can change the reserve in Juarez, San Isidro, into a DUIS.”
To finish, Rafael Servando said in the Secretariat they are willing to work jointly to the private initiative to support the DUIS projects in the State.
The private initiative takes part in the DUIS According to Enrique Terrazas, the most important is efficiency in the projects development. It is surprising, for instance, that some programs like the Mobility one (Movilidad), announced by the Urban Development Secretariat since several years ago, have not been executed. “Without a doubt, the biggest problem we currently have in Chihuahua is security. It is really complicated to invite investors to the State when media talk about that every day all day long; in addition, procedures for housing development are really complicated, either land use, construction permits, infrastructure or any other, time goes on for authorizations. I insist, the Mobility Plan is not clear yet”, comments the businessman.
The Secretary of Urban Development and Ecology, Rafael Servando Portillo, commented about that: “The Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan in Chihuahua is a fact; there will be seven stretches with tripartite investment. The Governor, Cesar Duarte, has got the resources released by 227.9 million pesos by FONADIN; on its hand, the municipality will grant another amount, and so will do the state government; and the dealers will grant the material. The work will start the first two weeks in March.”
Ricardo Yáñez, Chihuahua Housing Institute Director, added: “During several years we have been focused on the demand relating to the number of houses. During all that time there was not much attention to the quality of life.
Due to a Chihuahua’s promotion campaign, the work centers were concentrated in industrial parks. Ciudad Juarez became then, a municipality generating wealth, but most of the people were factory workers, and there was not a limit to build, causing at the same time overcrowding, promiscuity and violence. Now, we are living an abandoned homes crisis. Therefore, adopting the UDIS concept taking into account the population of Chihuahua and Ciudad Juarez, and also the abandoned buildings versus the authorized ones is necessary to acquire a responsibility and vision criterion, pointing to value how convenient is to build houses in big quantities, or even adopt DUIS development by renovating the houses already built. We have to buy those buildings, pull them down, place infrastructure and then, build new cities. Offering quality of life is necessary today.”
DUIS concept is positive if we take into account that the main goal is generating sustainability in development areas, says Jose Antonio Ruiz Galindo of IGS. “It can be applied everywhere, and a norm has to exist there. DUIS must be able to build workforces, educational and recreation centers, and it is also important to emphasize that the UDIS process has become totally bureaucratic, so it is required to speed up the qualification and procedures of this kind of developments.”
On the other hand, according to the executive of IGS, sustainable infrastructure has also a cost, which has to be balanced, because houses prices cannot be impacted; so federal and state governments have to be coordinated with the private enterprise. The challenge will be how to make it happen. Everyone must participate in this initiative, by opinion of the Urban Land Institute, which was represented in the table by Blanca Rodriguez.
“For the ULI, an integral vision of development is preponderant to achieve all the conditions, and regenerate some of these towns to make them viable in long term.”
“As capital fund or bank, we are concernid about the big neglect the north of the country knows, talking about housing projects. Although we are not able to affirm this neglect is due to insecurity or to some aspects related to the projects; however, institutions have to lend resources to the States, because it is restraining us”, Jorge Ávalos of INVEX said.
“9 thousand soldiers and 5 thousand policemen are not the solution”
The Director of the Housing Institute of Chihuahua, Ricardo Yáñez, exposed some argumentsstrong, by the way- to explain such violence in Juarez and Chihuahua.
“Not to build more houses is a terrible problem, since we could offer a work to lots of people with an elementary school certificate, equivalent to the 47% economically active population, the same percentage of population is unemployed in Chihuahua today, and those people have been engaged by 78 pesos a day in some industries like the aerospace one.”
“Although we had an over-employment in the period 1998-2001, people from several states came here to work; and once employments had finished, they came back to their hometowns, leaving their houses empty. In the north and Chihuahua, the maquila project, started 40 years ago, left the families without an education base or a Mexican culture: the mother, the person who establishes order in the family”, says Yáñez. “Giving a work to women seemed to be good, but we never thought about society’s sustainability; we forgot the child would be alone. Today, the State has the highest numbers relating to diabetes, obesity and hypertension, as a consequence of this slip. From every ten married couples in Chihuahua, five are divorced and live in 33 or 35 square meter-houses, in overcrowding families formed by children of different fathers. Nowadays, the 30% of the pregnancies in the State occurred at 13 or 17 years old. We can also mention that the urban development of Ciudad Juarezwhere more of the working people live- is 53 kmfar from Sacramento, one of the employment areas, because of that urban sustainability does not appear. The journeys to the workplaces take four hours; the children, who are alone, cannot go to school because there is not infrastructure or an efficient transport system, so we can see the consequences now. We have 95 children belonging to a gang. The challenge, more than thinking about what to do, is correcting these problems. We may build, in those houses so small, a second bedroom to correct the overcrowding. There are 250 thousand houses, but only a 5% has been enlarged”, says Ricardo Yáñez.
To finish his speech the Director of the Housing Institute assured if the main problems are well dealt, the violence could be reverted in 10 years, “this problem is not only present in Chihuahua, but in different states of the Mexican Republic. However and in spite of the violence, there are still investments in the state.”
Enrique Terrazas, a developer businessman in Chihuahua, says that the diagnosis has been large, but with a few projects developed. “In Ciudad Juarez we have started to build private roads, and we have tried to bring people back to the life in community; it is true, to achieve our goal we have to help the population of these complexes, granting them resources like recreation centers, parks and daycare for the children of those single women, among other things.”
According to Eduardo Yáñez, the city needs planning. As Director of the Housing Institute of the State and as a knower of the situation, he adds: “The developments keep growing. We are still building “little houses”. We continue with the massive construction, leaving quality aside. The boom of this kind of houses occurred 13 years ago, the age of the hired killers in the area; those abandoned children with no attention, who were provided of only four walls, because we thought it was the only solution.
The governments have to be more creative, they need to get more resources through unclaimed funds for infrastructure construction, and then, grant lots with basic services to those people to build a decent home, among other sustainable actions.”
During her turn, Claudia Pérezsalas’ affirmed: “In this problem there is co-responsibility between government and private investment, specifically of developers, because they should not build 25 square meter-houses, because it is simply inhuman; the authorities must regulate and they do not have to permit again to build this kind of houses.”
“We need to increase population once again in Juarez and get back the urban sprawl to grow vertically. We must analyze data like Houston’s – a city with a very horizontal growth-, where the registered oil use is 58 thousand liters a year per capita; but on the contrary, Vienna – a compact city- uses 7 thousand liters. Just imagine the cost of pollution: we do not have to continue thinking the city can only grow that way.
An average family in Chihuahua earns, between father and mother, five minimum wages, and they spend 1.8 wages on public transport. So, the question here is: Counting on 3.2 minimum wages we want that family to send the children to school, to eat well, and also to pay their house monthly?”, says Enrique Baeza.
The cost of carrying infrastructure to horizontal cities is really high; all the approved UDIS in the country are out the urban sprawl, adds Jose Antonio Ruiz Galindo, General Director of IGS.
Education is first and then, infrastructure Jorge Girault of AMB: “If we compare ourselves with India, we have a better infrastructure; but in India, they export brand with a high education, something they put in first place, even over infrastructure.” The panelists comment we have to follow the same strategy. Wages rise through education and, as a consequence, the quality of life. “30 years ago, some countries like Malaysia, Finland and Singapore had the 20% of Mexico related to Gross Domestic Product; today all of them are solid economies, because they place education in first place”, points Girault.
“We must unify criterions about sustainability and take into account that every area is unique. In fact, there are three platforms when we talk about sustainability: economic, social and environmental development. As for the social development, and if we add what is happening in Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua, we need to invite experts on the violence phenomenon in these cities, because it is not convenient to apply standard measures, even if these measures have worked in other places”, adds Roberto Palazuelos of IGS.
At CTS Mexico, they have always been conscious about the importance of integrating mobility and transport topic in sustainability. They support in the making projects to be sustainable, and those ones already developed to become kind with the environment through the sustainability’s principles. “We recently worked on a project in Aguascalientes, the plan was to build 10 thousand houses, so the government had to adjust and made some changes in goals and rules, getting the following ones: reduce the traffic in 34%, increase the public transport 60%, the bicycle use in 50%, walking 40% and increase green areas a 30%, everything by keeping the development’s cost. To achieve that project, a jointly work between government and developer becomes necessary”, says Rolando Nunez.
Jose Herrera of the Environment Institute gave his opinion, too: “It is evident that DUIS generate a benefit for the final user, something that we forgot in last developments, based on the conventional models, but we need more concrete benefits; so, the federal, state and municipal governments must agree with the same idea referring to sustainable development.”
“On the other hand, we need a new housing law in Chihuahua, in accordance with the current needs. It is also important to develop a better infrastructure. In the past there was no planning, we have to place the employment resources close to the people, so they do not have to travel long distances to go working”, comments Enrique Terrazas.
“At Fidelity, we are working on a program in search of collecting contributions or taxes to leave this extra reserve for the joint-owners. In big DUIS cities-20 thousand houses- managing this fund makes sense. All these abandoned assets can be regenerated by planning a way to build vertical developments.
Measures for the future
To finish, some panelists contributed with these ideas and suggestions to implant some measures to help the welfare in the State: “We must analyze the DUIS concept. Yes, we did bad things, but we are conscious we can do different actions to correct what we have today.” Alberto Chretin- Secretary of Economy, Chihuahua “We must increase population in the urban sprawls. In Ciudad Juarez there are 470 thousand houses, which roughly 76 thousand are abandoned. What we are doing nowadays, since the results from a diagnosis of urban sprawls, is to determine where the lacks are. In some places, investment can be in risk; sometimos the houses may be pulled down to build again, but in a vertical way.”
Ricardo Yáñez -Housing Institute, Chihuahua. “We must keep going on with the collaborative work between government and private initiative.
If the first has good initiatives, the second can support them, by applying coordination. The government’s main task is to make developing the initiatives easier, and the private sector’s goal is to press to make it happen and, also to grant the capital helping the economy growth.”
Enrique Terrazas- Developer Businessman “If we can bring some universities like the TEC and Anahuac, if we can have a full time school, if we can offer health breakfasts in the public schools, we could attack the problems of education and health. The program of the Governor César Duarte includes those points, among other topics as mobility, school transport and economic development based on high value added products, for instance the nuts, (the State exports 700 million dollars of this product), apples, cotton, corn (a million 300 tons are being produced), jalapeno chili pepper, etc., products that today have no value added. Integration and execution are important factors, but we will be able to highlight when we execute in a fast way and once. It is a shame to have built 250 thousand houses and, today we have to come back to fix them or even pull them down.”
Eugenio Baeza – Real estate Businessman “A viable way to direct the plans must be present, and they can be achieved by financing. We must redirect the resources going to other sectors of less impact.”
Blanca Rodriguez – Urban Land Institute and Rockwood “Redirect the DUIS.”
José Antonio Ruiz Galindo – Industrial Global Solutions