Better than law, is action.
Puerto Rican Law 31 of the 18th of January of 2012 seeks to offer municipalities and private individuals an efficient process to acquire public disturbance structures for restoration and economic reinstatement (“Ley para Viabilizar la Restauración de las Comunidades de Puerto Rico” Ley Núm. 31 de 18 de Enero de 2012). The state constitutional power of expropriation of a property requieres two things:
- A “public good” justification
- Just compensation to the owner
Long story short, what Law 31 of 2012 did is extend this constitutional power to the municipalities.
The process can be started by the municipality’s will or by a private individual. In the latter case, the individual has to pay the just compensation and the structure rehabilitation expenses. After a process of fair notice that seeks to alert the owner of the expropriation (who has 20 days to object), the Municipality can declare the structure a Public Disturbance, which then gives the Municipality the permission to buy, rent, sale, expropriate, or to donate it to a Non-for-Profit Organization that seeks to use it for a greater good. From start to finish, and adding all possible obstacles, this procedure should not take longer than a year.
In May 2018 a year would have passed since Billy Joe, a resident of Cerro Calero community, and Olita started the process under Law 31 to obtain a structure that has been abandoned for 17 years. This forsaken house will be transformed in El Hotelito, a community managed hostel that will create 3 direct jobs in Cerro Calero, one which Billy Joe works as Creative Director. We went last week (January 23) to Aguadilla’s Municipality to check on the status of our request to find out that our inquiry hasn’t left the office where we set things moving. Officials of the Permit Management Office didn’t even knew what was Law 31…
But no worries, Sunday we began the takeover.