We have come here today, citizens and residents alike of the Valencian Community, in a public demonstration, to be heard at the highest level in this region and to express our concerns about urban development and the predatory land laws so many of us continue to encounter and suffer from. 

The elections last week have resolved none of these issues and we pledge to continue our civic protest and legal actions to the highest courts in this county and in Europe. 

In particular, we are concerned about: 

  • The almighty, powerful and arbitrary “agente urbanizador” who acting in his own interests, dictates the development of our towns to the detriment of small property owners
  • The unjustified application of undefined terms such as public benefit, public use or social interest to legitimize and to support development schemes that benefit the few at the expense of many small property owners and the environment
  • The neglect of constitutional guarantees including Art. 10 (human rights), Art. 3.3 (rights to property) and Art. 47 (rights to proper and dignified housing) and Art. 96 (respect for European law)
  • The brutal and uncontrolled projected growth of towns without solving critical infrastructure problems or water supply issues
  • The avalanche of projects including golf courses, for the small elite, as though this is the panacea for declining tourism, when one of the core problems is the destruction of this area’s natural attractions, being submerged in massive concrete development
  • The artificial and rising cost of housing which are not connected with the availability of land or material and labour costs, but which prevent the young and those of modest means from owning homes, just as there are some 600,000 empty dwellings in Valencia, held off the market for speculation or as a way of hiding black money
  • The destruction of rural Valencia which a decade ago was considered one of the richest and most productive agricultural areas in all of Spain, if not Europe, in order to cultivate bricks, concrete and asphalt monstrosities
  • The Valencian region is suffering. 15 years ago this was the region leading the Spanish economy in terms of exports, job creation, etc. with a lifestyle and income level among the best in Spain – a pole position
  • Valencia was then one of the most productive areas of Spain. Now, we are in the bottom half, our exports have fallen to a ruinous level – the same as regards per capita income ad the creation of new permanent jobs
  • We are the largest consumers of cement in the European Union, not a proud fact, only because we seal more of our territory under concrete. And all this while Valencia was receiving very generous amounts of European Union grants, yet becoming one of the most indebted regions in Spain. So many Valencian towns, such as Calpe have dug themselves into deep financial holes.
  • The government has boasted that construction has been the motor of the economy. This is easy money that reflects short term planning. Now that the housing market is saturated, sales are down, foreigners are not buying and the contract jobs which represent most of the workers are drying up. We are paying the price for destructive development, which can in NO way be called sustainable. The motor is running out of gas…
  • For all of this, we join in calling for a moratorium, a pause on the part of our newly elected governments in this Valencian Region, before new development plans are approved,  in full accord with all relevant laws,  European and Spanish. Here we need new laws that will provide for equitable development that is sustainable ad fair – this is what our community needs and all of its inhabitants, native or foreign-born desire.

Therefore we demand: 

  • Limits on the growth of our towns, growth that cannot be dictated only by small majorities in town councils
  • Clear definitions and objective criteria for such terms as “public benefit” or “social interest”, used loosely to justify unreasonable growth and exorbitant profits and the now infamous land grabs for which Valencia has become internationally renowned
  • Public consultation or referenda on any development project that proposes a significant increase in the population or a major change to the environmental situation of any town
  • Proposals that promote reforestation of any non-urbanizable land
  • Disconnecting any golf complex projects from new development plans, where they are merely excuses for more overpriced ‘luxury’ dwellings
  • Where development agents (agentes urbanizadores) are essential these must be professionals, not just relatives or friends of the mayor
  • Creation of a professional, scientific ad objective council to manage water resources, with no political interference
  • Proposals for the revitalization of the Valencian countryside – why is it that agriculture is less viable here than in northern countries with more difficult climates?
  • Public and social housing to be built on land belonging to towns and municipalities, without forcing small property owners to  cede their land for this when most of this will be used to enrich promoters and developers
  • Respect for and compliance with European laws which relate to development proposals and the environment

We are, after all is said, free citizens and residents of this region, not the subjects of arbitrary decision makers and speculators in our governments nor speculators or developers.              

We demand an end to the tyranny of town halls, and the others who are responsible for so many of our problems. 

Abusos NO, Justicia SI 

Enrique Climent and Charles Svoboda  

Valencia, June 2 , 2007


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but merely conveys general information related to issues commonly encountered.