martes, 16 de septiembre de 2008

16 de Sept de 2008




CHASING THE DREAM: Are you a British family or couple who are about to make the big move to Spain? If you are ‘upping sticks’ in the next couple of months, or have recently moved over to Spain, then we would love to hear from you.

STARTING A NEW BUSINESS: Are you embarking on the ultimate challenge, putting it all on the line to be your own boss? If you’re starting a new venture in Spain- or have launched one in the last year or so we’d love to hear all about it.

MORE THAN YOU BARGAINED FOR: Have you found that Spain was not what you expected? If you are fighting to stay where you are, or are considering leaving Spain behind then please get in touch.

If any of the above sounds like you or someone please send an email please send an email telling us a bit about yourself to:
Alternatively call us on 0207 534 2016 and we will call you back.

(Calls from the UK charged at standard rates on BT landlines – calls from mobile networks and overseas phone providers may be considerably more).
At this stage, there is no commitment to filming, and we welcome enquires from anyone who might be interested to find out more.

martes, 2 de septiembre de 2008

Special 20th aniversary report on -Ley de Costas- by Alfredo Maso in Arenales del Sol

On the twentieth anniversary of the Spanish Coastal Law 1988

In 1989, in the Spanish Congress of Deputies, the deputy Juan Antonio Montesinos posed a question to the then minister of Public Buildings and Works, Saenz de Cosculluela, about the implementation of the Spanish Coastal Law (ley de costas) that was approved in July 1988:-
"Has the government any plan of action, other than paying a fair price, to compensate financially foreign owners of property in the Spanish coast which will be expropriated by the application of the coastal law?
The Minister was offended, as well as surprised by the question. A country like Spain, serious and respectful of the rights of citizens, should not be subjected to such doubts. Emphatically he answered with the statement that his ministry had made public:

1… " The Ministry of Public Works flatly denies that the Coastal law involves the nationalization or expropriation of any property of either Spanish or foreign citizens. Only those buildings which are devoid of all legal support will be affected by the appropriate sanctioning, in accordance with the procedures established by law and the owners having access to all legal defence mechanisms.
2….. The Costal law arbitrates mechanisms for the legalization of constructions made in the coastal public domain zone, as well as safeguarding the buildings constructed in accordance with previous legislation."
Nothing more, nothing less.

That same year, the General Directorate of Coasts had begun the task of redrawing the coastal line in Arenales del Sol. In 1974 this part of the beach had been previously separated from the public shoreline area by the General Directorate of Coasts based on the previous definition of -coastal public domain- included in the Costal Law of 1969. Accordingly, the area had also been included as urban land in the Elche town plan and the buildings that had been approved then are today on this beach. Indeed, some of the land had been sold to individuals by the State as -non public domain land- so these homes are as legal as the homes in the urban centres of any cities.
What led the General Director of Coasts to implement the new 1988 Coastal Law in Arenales del Sol, contradicting the word of the minister (in parliament, which is the institution that reflects the higher level of popular sovereignty), is one of the biggest mysteries.
Did the minister lie and therefore act with indignation, making him an accomplice of his government to such deceit?
Did either of the senior ministers of the coastal department decide that the deputy was incompetent and they could circumvent his words and do what they wanted to achieve their aims?
The fact is that in 1997 (actually with another political party in power and a different minister) the new coastal demarcation line in Arenales del Sol was approved by parliament.
Curiously, the document says that it was redrawn because the previous demarcation, in 1974, was incomplete as it had not included the beach. A study of the previous demarcation, conducted by the Directorate of Coasts, found that the area where the constructions are had been separated from the surf zone.
The conclusion is that officials had to distort the facts in order to make the pieces of the report fit together.
Either, the coastal law itself applies retroactively on property law, with what that would mean re. legal certainty to invest in this country, or, they had to affirm, lying, that the properties were not legal because the previous coastal demarcation was incomplete.
They chose to lie and therefore chose to pervert the course of justice.
This is not a matter of any particular political party, which is endorsed by the fact that the Department of Coasts began its new coastal demarcation line in 1989 (unnecessarily because it had already been done) with one party in power and terminated it (after almost a decade ) with another in power.
Unfortunately, the modus operandi used by the Costal department in Arenales del Sol has since then been used in many other places on the Spanish coast. The alarm, legal uncertainty and helplessness that all these violations have generated, has forced thousands of residents affected to organize themselves in order to defend their legitimate properties.
In this way the - National Platform of people Affected by the Costal Law, PNALC, was born and they sent a report (January 2008) to the European Parliament in which were reflected some of these abuses by the retroactive application of the Coasts Law.
The European Parliament, alarmed that European citizens could be deprived of their properties by the Spanish government, has admitted the petition, and announced that they will form a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the performance of the Spanish Government.

Already an important number of the officials who for years committed these atrocities, with unprecedented arrogance, have been removed from the General Directorate of Coasts.
There is now a new responsible minister of the environment and some new people in charge of the coastal department. We hope that they understand what our association and the PNALC hope to achieve. Our struggle is to defend the property rights legitimately acquired before the 1988 Coastal Law came into force and these rights go beyond the mere defence of our homes.
We wish to amend the articles of the Coastal Law that have allowed, and that still allow today the retroactive application of this law. We do not accept the stale argument that the ends justify the means and that individual rights must be subordinate to the collective interests, and we want to open a debate which returns, what we understand are the basic conditions for a state, respect for its citizens, and their rights. We believe that new laws do not apply to earlier rights, and that legitimately acquired property rights is a fundamental right. We know that it is not a fundamental right of people in our Spanish Constitution, (the daughter of time and history), but it is for the European legislation and courts.
Both conditions are essential to regain the confidence of thousands of foreign nationals who consider this country unsafe for its investment and little more than a banana republic in these issues of urban design.
We have never doubted the ability of a democratically elected government to order the territory based on the common good. If the Government wishes to remove buildings from the coast, it is within its rights. What we ask is that it does so with appropriate mechanisms of recognition of property rights and rights to reasonable compensation as is does when it expropriates land to build a motorway, a railway, an urban highway, a park, etc..
What we consider to be nonsense is for the Government to remove our property rights and tell us that the compensation is a concession to live in the property for a certain number of years.
Although this is the result of a legal ruling of the Spanish Constitutional Court, it is absolute nonsense, and relates to someone with no economic sense.

Now, the state can acquire property, paying for it by simply giving the owner permission to use his or her own property for a limited period of time.
Extrapolating this type of relationship to individuals, it is as if one could say to another: I like your car and as I am stronger than you (I am the state), it is now mine, but to show that I am not really a thief you can carry on using it for a few months, but you will have to ask me permission to do any repairs and you must pay all costs including the road tax. I will be back to collect the car in six months time, make sure it is in good condition.
If we allow the government to enforce laws like this on previous(legitimate) properties we will open the door to future abuses without end.
Imagine that it is considered that the massive construction in our cities has spoiled the skyline, for example buildings with 8 or 9 floors in the same streets where there are more older buildings of 4 or 5 plants. You can find arguments to justify this action.
The existence of buildings which are higher than others in the same streets is not only aesthetically unbearable (some pseudo-environmentalists are so aesthete!), but it also harms the reception of TV and radio broadcasts in the lower houses . So next a responsible government issues a law to recover the Public Domain Air to Ground zone, which stipulates that cities may no longer have buildings in the centre of more than 5 stories high.
This same law also stipulates that all homes that exceed the allowed height, become the property of the state. As this will affect hundreds of thousands of housing stock, it proclaims that the current owners will be given, in compensation for losing their property, a concession of 30 years (expandable in certain cases), and once past this period, the excess height will be demolished.

Do you not admit that if you had the misfortune of owning a property on the sixth floor you would fight for your property rights?
This is exactly what we are doing, and whilst you are thinking about it, remember the verses of Bertol Brecht about one of those governments who believed that the individual and their rights should be subordinate to the state.

"First they took the blacks, but I did nothing because I was not black. Then they took the Jews, but I did nothing because I was not a Jew. After that they arrested anarchists, but since I am not an anarchist I did nothing ... Now they are taking me……… " !
Alfred MASO Tribune
President of the association of neighbours in Arenales del Sol
+Diego Photographer
Friday, August 29, 2008

This is an unoficial translation of an article published by