Levin College of Law

Costa Rica Study Abroad 2007

World’s Colliding: Land Use in a Developing State

Costa Rica is a country making the painful transition to development. Less than 20 years ago it seemed conservationists’ chief concern was deforestation due to illegal logging and the continued march of the agricultural frontier. Today, the most valuable tree species in the country are all but commercially extinct and the country is one of the few in the developing world that can boast net reforestation. Today’s issues are developed country issues; yet Costa Rica is not fully developed. Real estate development and land use planning represent today’s concerns; yet Costa Rica’s regulatory framework for land use decision-making remains in its infancy. U.S. and Costa Rican law students in UF Law’s Costa Rica Program have begun to explore this fertile area and bring the comparative experience of the United States – and especially Florida – to bear on the problem.

In the 2007 UF Law Costa Rica Program students Gerardo Celis (University of Florida), Meghan C. Gabriel (Fordham University), Gary W. Manca (University of Washington) and Haydée Rodríguez (Universidad de Costa Rica) worked with the rapidly developing Central Valley Municipality of Santa Ana to analyze its legal authority to manage growth and explore the legal efficacy of growth management techniques drawn from the U.S. experience. This required researching, translating and explaining complicated concepts like concurrency, impact fees, overlay zoning, density transfers and transferable development rights into both Spanish and the Costa Rican context. The project team produced a simple manual and presented their work to the Mayor and municipal officials in July of 2007.


Herramientas para el Desarrollo Urbano Sostenible Municipalidad de Santa Ana [454 kb PDF] (Tools for the Sustainable Municipal Development of Santa Ana) (Gerardo Celis (University of Florida), Meghan C. Gabriel (Fordham University), Gary W. Manca (University of Washington) and Haydée Rodríguez (Universidad de Costa Rica)

Managing Urban Growth While Sustaining the Environment: A Set of Urban Planning Tools for Santa Ana, Costa Rica [22 mb PPT](Gerardo Celis (University of Florida), Meghan C. Gabriel (Fordham University), Gary W. Manca (University of Washington) and Haydée Rodríguez (Universidad de Costa Rica)

Other 2007 Costa Rica Clinic Projects

  • Audencias Publicas: Protocols for Public Participation in Environmental Decisions before the Secretaria Nacional Tecnica (National Technical Secretary) (Natalia Porras, UCR Law, Kathleen Tanner, Baylor Law)
  • Modelo De Clínica Ambiental Para A Amazôna: Desenvolvimento, Plano Estratégico, E Administração (A Model Environmental Law Clinic for the Amazon, Strategic and Administrative Plan) (Giselle Ferreira, Gustavo Favo, Federal University of Mato Grosso, Brazil, Elizabeth Manno (UF Law)
  • Legal Opinion on the Public Trust Doctrine in Jamaica: Protecting Public Access to the Beach and Preventing Prospecting in the Cockpit Country (Keita-Marie Satherwaite, Courtney Williams, Norman Manley Law School, Jamaica, Bradley Ennis, Mississippi College Law School, Mariamalia Rodriguez, UCR Law School)
  • Preserving Community-based Artesenal Fishing Grounds in Tarcoles, Costa Rica (Spanish only) (Mariamalia Rodriguez, UCR Law School)
  • Property in Transition: Resettlement, gentrification and Nueva Arenal – A Land Tenure Analysis (Thomas Reynolds, UF Law, Gabriella Stocks, UF SNRE, PhD)
  • Environmental Insecurity: Migration, Refugees and the Environment – A Museum Exhibition Proposal (Enrica Vincenzi, Malmo University, Sweden)

Published: September 13th, 2012

Category: Academics

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