The role of informal housing in resort communities : case study evidence from Mazatlán, Mexico
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This study examines the intersections of the economy, property rights, land use, and housing within a tourism destination context. Housing is a human need, and when neither the public nor the private sectors are providing it, people will provide it for themselves in the form of self-help housing. Accommodation within informal settlements is an important segment of the housing market, and in many developing nations, the majority of housing that is available to the poor and working classes. The question then becomes not how to prevent informal housing but how to manage it. The research here considers the impact of tourism on the housing markets, particularly as they relate to Mexico’s informal housing, which is a significant component of the country’s housing inventory. Influences such as new, wealthier competitors for land and housing products, changes in expectations around land use and design standards, and the political motivations for economic development may affect the housing market dynamics. This interdisciplinary work seeks to identify the interrelated drivers of informal housing and develop workable recommendations for policy makers working in this sector. The findings of the research indicate that tourism has a significant impact on housing markets in Mazatlán. It was also found that a substantial component of the housing stock originated as informal settlements (known as invasions) and that most of those have now been serviced and incorporated into the community. New invasions continue to occur, however there is more support from the municipality in terms of urban planning, infrastructure, and services than was expected. The process for the creation of a new informal settlement was sufficiently standardized that a high-level process map was able to be developed to graphically represent the steps. The study’s GIS analysis revealed that housing parcel sizes for the poor and working classes has remained modest over time. Land parcels in gated communities trend slightly larger and lots for residential tourists are larger again, but are relatively small compared to other North American destinations.
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