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Loreto Bay in Baja California Sur, Mexico

Building a healthy, sustainable village

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Rocky Beach at Loreto Bay, Mexico

"Founders' Neighborhood" in the Villages of Loreto Bay clusters along the beach near Loreto in Baja California Sur, Mexico.

Photo © Jackie Craven
On the rocky eastern coastline of Baja California Sur, Mexico, a group of visionaries have begun a bold experiment: to build a boom town, without busting the environment.

The builders' claims seem almost too good to be true. The Villages of Loreto Bay will, they say, be the largest sustainable development in North America. If their goals are realized, the new community will:

  • produce more energy than it consumes
  • harvest or produce more water than it uses
  • introduce more natural habitats and more natural lifeforms than exist in the region today
Are these goals achievable? Let's look at the challenges.

The Landscape

The construction site is a three-mile strip of desert tucked between craggy mountains and the Sea of Cortez, also known as the Gulf of California. Rugged and remote, the site neighbors the sleepy fishing village of Loreto, Mexico, often praised for its beautiful landscape, abundant wildlife, and rich history.

The Goals

The developers are a U.S. and Canadian team working in partnership with Fonatur, the Mexican tourism agency behind the huge resort communities at Cancun, Ixtapa, and Los Cabos. The Loreto Bay developers plan:
  • 6,000 homes
  • two 18-hole golf courses
  • a beach club
  • a tennis center
  • shops, galleries, and small businesses
  • a 5,000-acre nature preserve

The Concerns

Over the next fifteen years, the region is likely to grow from about 15,000 to a population of 120,000, according to Loreto's urban development commission. Critics worry that the influx of people will bring traffic, sewage, and crime. Several professors from Harvard raised concerns in a report called "Loreto Alternative Futures."

On the other hand, many architects and town planners are calling The Villages of Loreto Bay a model of regenerative, or restorative, development. Rather than harming the environment, the new community will restore exhausted natural resources, improve the environment, and enhance the lives of the people who live there, developers say. Here's how >>

As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodation for the purpose of researching this article. While it has not influenced this article, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.

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