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Letter to the Editor

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Chapala040The “Lake City” complex is said to be planned for a site across the street from the Monte Carlo Hotel facility.  I am sure for such a mega project, perhaps at a cost to exceed 6 billion pesos, significant on-site studies have long ago been executed.  Nevertheless, as a Foundation Engineer and with 13 years of water relate projects in an about the lake, may I suggest a few basic concerns of which hopefully all have been satisfied.

    1. That area for this proposed complex is rather steep, often over 30% grade. I suppose the developer has purchased all the land above the main highway, to include the housing properties on Calle Monaco and that loop of houses

   2. Building on such slopes over 20% is normally not officially permitted inOne encounters VERY steep grades once 200 meters north from the main highway. If the proposed area was square in shape the announced 260,000 m2 total area would be 510 meters on a side. Perhaps the plan envisions building out into the lake and having the current main highway pass under the complex!

   3. Very soon as one is going up that hill they reach the critical elevation contour set by Jalisco above which no construction may beThat may be near the 1550 meter elevation.

   4. That section of mountain proposed for this complex is believed to be creeping southward continuously, perhaps a few centimeters/year. The municipio a few years ago was required to drill a new water well to the east of the Lourdes Church, which stands at the east edge of this proposed site, since the existing well had become so curved southward over time that the pump could not be removed for

   5. It would seem that water for over 6000 persons may be required for this complex. At 250 liters/person that could be 1.5 million liters/day (near 300 gallon/minute pumping 24 hours a day).  See item #7 below for more on water concerns.

   6. Note the various east to west geologic faults in thatSee the geologic map for that area below.  


   7, The majority of the near 8 water wells in the city of Chapala exceed WHO, EPA (USA) and Mexican norms forFor example arsenic levels are 3 to 5 times the USA limit (10 ppb).  The water in those wells is moderately warm which may be associated with the leaching of arsenic out of the area’s volcanic rocks.   Once westward in Riberas or 1 km east of Chapala it seems the water wells are free of arsenic.  If the developer knows the water may be thermal under their site, I suspect it will be laden with arsenic.  I would suggest seeking CONAGUA authorization for drawing the complex’s water from the lake which has no minerals that are over limits. Once treated, such water will match that provided the public in Guadalajara.  Very costly reverse osmosis processing is another alternative.

   8. For such a massive complex, to be planned for placement on a steep hill, adequate parking will also be quite aI suppose multi-story underground solutions are planned.  The housing towers may probably have the lower floors for parking, thus giving a better view from higher up residential units.

   9. All of the above challenges could be removed it one considered a flatter location such as east of Chapala and west of Santa Cruz de la Soledad which also has abundant high quality wellThat area, a like distance from the center of Chapala, also has a newer highway, which is significantly less congested with traffic.  Placement of a golf course in that area would also be much simpler and less restricted.  There is also from that area an existing alternate roadway towards Guadalajara without climbing going over the mountain from Chapala.

   10. I now am told that some part of the land to be used may belong to the U of Guadalajara which I believe also owns the Monte Carlo.  If so, ideally such a complex might better include the Monte Carlo property itself so as to extend right to the lake.  If so I would run the current highway under the complex, as a 4 lane passage so as to accommodate the future expected traffic.

   11. The initial “impression” is that real estate promoters may be seeking to float a mega project, to be funded perhaps, by yet unknown entities.  Sadly that could mean tainted money in this region.

   12. The next “impression” is that 99% of what has been produced to this point has been by market study, sales focused, folks without the benefit of ANY on-site engineering testing/study.  Further, all that may be seen so far seems to be some renderings which I suspect may have been prepared by Spanish architects who have yet to spend a day on this potentially unstable hillside. 

   13. Also, the idea that one can detect water under a mountain from a satellite is quite a stretch from being able to detect near surface moisture in soil based open plains which is possible.   Less than 10% of the 32”/year rainfall in this area, that may fall upon that mountain mass behind the proposed site, can be expected to become ground water. No one in all of Mexico has any clue as the interconnection of aquifers that lie beneath Chapala and Riberas, and thus the impact of extracting perhaps over 1.5 million liters/day via wells to be created by this project.    

Could it be that the staff at the Chapala government is not a professional match for what may be a hollow proposal by a slick marketing team?  

Dr. Todd D. Stong

Licensed Professional Engineer (USA)

Volunteer Engineer Adviser to Local Area Governments (13 years)

53 Emiliano Zapata, Ajijic, Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico

Tel:  011-52-376-766-1809

Letter to the Editor

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Well done Lisa.  Your comments today are so right, and it would seem that we all need to be regularly reminded that no matter how long we may have lived here and think of this lovely area as ‘home’, unless we are Mexican – like it or not – we are always going to be visitors. 

I think we were all probably taught at an early age that being a visitor or a guest in another person’s country, neighborhood, home, or even car for that matter carries with it certain expectations and responsibilities…. …especially if we want to be invited back, or even allowed to stay.  Chief among these responsibilities is basic respect for the real owner’s property, customs, manners, hospitality and sensitivities. 

What a pity that as we age we visitors tend to sometimes forget exactly what and who we are, and how some of us tend to attach a greater degree of self-importance to ourselves and our supposed ‘wants’ than we truly deserve.  
Uninvited rudeness as we witnessed yesterday clearly means that some of us have simply overstayed our welcome, and we’ve recently seen where a growing number of countries have recently suggested to their whinging complaining visitors that if they don’t like what they find here then they are welcome to pack their bags and either go back to where they came from……or just go somewhere else. From my own experience Mexicans are simply too polite to voice this type of sentiment, but they can and will think it, and they will ignore us to our own detriment if we don’t show the same politeness and respect in return.  After all, our contribution to the local economy only goes so far.
I’m wondering if sub-titling The Reporter as:  “The VISITORS’ Newsletter’, or signing off in that vein might help to serve as a gentle reminder of just who and what we non-Mexicans all are?
Keep up the good work.
Bob Semken

Letters to the Editor

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Submitted June 11, 2014:

Dear Editor,

This letter is in response to the interview with Spencer McMullen that you published in the June 2014 issue of the Reporter. In this interview McMullen alleges that at least two American lawyers are practicing law in Chapala without Mexican licenses and are cheating expats. I am an American lawyer who works at Lakeside with several Mexican lawyers, this peaked my interest. He started off by saying these two lawyers were very likeable and charming, so I relaxed knowing he could not be referring to me. However, after reading further, he made certain allegations which I feel compelled to address:

 1- Practicing here illegally. When my wife and I settled here almost 25 years ago, I was fully retired. I had practiced in Louisiana for 30 years and was, and still am, a member in good standing with the Louisiana Bar Association. I did miss my profession, and when a Mexican lawyer friend of mine was appointed Chief of Police for Chapala, he asked me if I could help out in his private office. I told him I did not have Mexican credentials to practice. He said that would be no problem. I did help him and enjoyed what I was doing. I later met a Mexican lawyer who had attended college in Louisiana, and he, and a former mayor of Chapala, invited me to form an association. Mexican Immigration authorities granted me a work permit that authorized me to join the firm just so long as I did not claim I had Mexican credentials. I have never made such a claim, so I guess that what I have been doing has been legal.

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