Real estate Escazu and zoning
by Ivo Henfling
I remember the times we had cows and horses in the streets of Escazu and you could build anything in real estate in Escazu you felt like and those are long gone now. There were no controls, building permits were not important and zoning did not exist. The 4 year Costa Rica real estate boom changed all that and suddenly we had quite a few 7 story condos. That was more or less the only thing the engineering department of the city of Escazu controlled, no more than 7 floors, due to the seismic code.
Not only traffic in Escazu has gotten worse, it is the same thing throughout the Central Valley and the entire world. When I grew up, we had only 1 car at home. My Escazu neighbor’s family has 6 cars now. The Municipality of Escazu has always been a little slow on things but in the last 2 years, things have accelerated.
Things are happening, that is public interest is finally taking the overhand. Things are not being done with just stupid bureaucracy anymore and the “mañana – mañana” we used to get for an answer. I hear the excuse “this is Costa Rica” less and less, which used to be the defense for the usual mediocrity. Modern society is taking over when those in charge of the city start being more interested in the wellbeing of their citizens instead of their own.
Escazu real estate zoning
Escazu real estate zoning is now a big thing, and it was about time, and it is not too late. There is a real zoning plan in Escazu, with maps that tells you what, how much and where and what size of home. There is a zoning map and a map on threats like fault lines and others. Buildings of more than 3 stories are not allowed in most areas anymore, I see only 3 small areas left for construction any higher than that.
Escazu commercial construction is only allowed on main streets and around the Multiplaza shopping mall and you need a commercial license to have a business. No more offices in residential areas allowed.
If you are buying land in Escazu, of course you should call me to represent you but you should always request a zoning or “uso de suelo” before you purchase.
Building roads and bridges
Our Guachipelin road from the Paco to the highway will soon be turned from a 2-lane into a 4-lane road as the new Guachipelin Mas X Menos grocery store next door to my office will open soon. Yesterday, they started paving the road from the Paco to the cemetery. The neighbors who invaded the public street years ago by stealing a couple of meters to build a garage, will soon have to park their car on the roof of their house and finally the wrong is getting corrected.
The city is starting to oblige the Escazu property owners to build a sidewalk in front of their property and if not, they will do it for you and charge you with the annual property tax. I heard a new mixed zoning residential – commercial project will be allowed to open only if the developer invests in doubling the size of the existing Guachipelin bridge which creates traffic jams all the time.
The Municipality of Escazu
The Escazu municipality’s website, in Spanish, is incredibly well organized now and they have a great Facebook page. They have a phone directory where you can actually see who you are talking to, with email addresses and all, no more hiding for the incapable and lazy city workers who have always hidden behind animosity. We had to put in a complaint for a client whose neighbor decided to rent his garage to someone starting a car repair shop and we found we could just do it by phone. Costa Rica is changing and Escazu is one of the first of getting organized.
Escazu property taxes
If you own real estate in Escazu, you also need to stay on top of your property tax appraisal because the city is inviting you to update the value of your property now. The municipality has an Escazu land value map that you should use, download it below.
Once you know, by using the map, you can see what your value zone is, and the value per m2. The online calculator they have on the Municipal website is not functioning yet.
Costa Rica construction value
To calculate the value of your construction, you should use the Costa Rica Construction Value Manual that you can download here to calculate your construction value. This construction manual complies with article 12 of law 7509, on Costa Rica Property Tax. For sure, next time you pay your Escazu property taxes, they will be a lot higher than before. But only in Escazu property owners pay $200 annually for their property taxes on a $500,000 dollar home.
If I were allowed to vote in Costa Rica, I would vote for all these hardworking people who little by little have been able to make Escazu a wonderful city to live in which in turn gives more value to Escazu real estate. I love the new Escazu.
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