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I need your wisdom, brainstorming for controlling the family property!

 
Posts: 179
Location: Denia, Alicante, Spain. Zone 10. 22m height
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Hello everybody!

I have this project that you can read on this link:
https://permies.com/t/145856/Project-Intense-Food-Forest-Mediterranean#1158026

But I wanted to go into details about the property situation and your ideas on how to work the hole property.

We are located in Denia (and this is important) a mediterranean town. It has been an important town since the greeks and the romans, due to it's fishing and hunting around, and the development of agriculture. But in we had two "booms" wich made the town (now, more a small city - 45k inhabitants - than a town) to pivot full throttle into the touristic model. First, in the 60s, the so called "desarrollismo", where Franco Dictatorship wanted to open itself to the world, and replaced the old generals in the government with the so called "technocrats" to develop the country , investing in public corporations and touristic campaigns and construction. This, in the 60s , made in Denia a first boom of development around the sea with horrible buildings and all that involves. Then, in the 2000, the "brick and mortar boom", when the now democratic government impulsed the mortgages market and credit, so everybody wanted to have a "close to the beach apartment" going into debt etc. This intro is important for my situation.

My property was bought by my great grandmother, and then given as a gift to my grandma. It was a gift because it had a citrus plantation and my grandparents made also a small farm with cows (my grandad was from Cantabria, where everybody wants to have cows). At that time, it was very well located. Isolated, but not far away from some rural roads that connected it to Denia's downtown and to La Xara (another close town, smaller). The growth of Denia in the 60s did not affect us, but the one in the 2000s made the town grow with some industrial development in the old rural road, with industrial estate around. We are in between worlds. When I cross the house door in the morning and look straight, I see some other small houses (4) and, after those, the first buildings of the town. If I look to my left, I see more rural properties, and, further, some beach buildings, but as something in a convenient distance. If I look to the back part of the house, I see rural properties, citrus plantations and mountains. And if I look to my right, I see industrial estate. So we are in a crossroads in between worlds.

And it is easy to think that, if some day everything goes nuts again with urban development, we are the nexts (with some neighbours) to be "conquered".

Well, my grandma worked with the citrus, and then there was a big agriculture crisis, so she stopped working the land and then she died.

The original property was 3 hectares (wich was a "big" plantation there, because the "minifundios" system, there are lots of small owners). 1 hectare was inherited by my father. But this includes the one big house, one small and some parts for recreational uses (swimming pool, garden, etc) wich occupy 0.7ha. And 0.3ha of "abandoned orchard"). 1 hectare belongs to what is called a "comunidad de bienes", wich is a shared property, belonging 25% for each brother, my father included. So it is my father, two brothers and my cousin (cause my aunt died last year). This 1 ha is abandoned orchard and nothing else. This "Community" has to be undivided for 10 years since my grandma died, so in August 2024 any of the brothers could ask for the division. And 1 ha was part expropiated by the Town Hall for a road to the beach, part sold, and part is a small piece of isolated land. So not useful (and belongs to this "comunidad").

My grandma considered that agriculture was dead (with a lot of pity) and gave the house to my father because he was the only one who was helping with it's cost (is a more than 100 year old house), and the "abandoned orchard" was of little value.

There are no visible marks or borders between properties. We know where our part (my dad's) ends with very official measures (from this rock to this pine tree to this wall) but we can freely walk around. And in fact, my dad is the admin of the Comunidad and he can decide what use to give it. My uncles have no special interest on it, dont enjoy it, they have their lives. They put money every year for cleaning dry weeds in summer (danger of fires) and pay some town taxes, that's all.

Also, there is an important thing. The old tree grove is PROTECTED by the local government, wich means that those trees can't be taken out and you can't build anything on a diameter of 27m around each tree.

As you can see on the link that I placed at the beginning of the post, me and my brother had always the idea on recovering the agricultural use of the house. It was a shame for us, and for our family memory, to leave it just that way. So we started to play with the 0.3ha that it is at our free disposal. So there is where I am doing things and learning. And that is good.

But now, and here comes your part, we'd love to start working in the "Family Community" hectare.

So, where is the problem, if your dad is the admin? You might think. And you might be right... but the problem is in... LOCAL POLITICS (horror music)

In the Mediterranean, most of politicians have the "tourism mindset" and they think that agriculture is not good anymore and that tourism is the only way (wich is false, and it is also not good anymore, but they have this mindset, maybe is generational, my grandma and her mother thought that "agriculture was the only way" and they never questioned it). And the town has plans to change the land classification in the area.

I don't know how it goes in other countries. But in Spain, you can have four types of land:

- Rural, wich means that you can only use it for agriculture or farming. Wich is the current status
- Industrial, wich means that you can only use it for industrial estate
- Urban, wich means that are buildings and well, streets, and all that you can find in a city
- And "Urbanizable" wich means that it is not urban yet but, if all the owners in an "to be urban" area want to develop something, they can make it urban paying for it.

And well, the town has plans to make "urbanizable" our land and other neighbours land. This does not mean that it is going to be urban development any time soon, it can also happen that nobody wants to make it urban. This is a long process and with a lot of steps and legal issues and me and some neighbours are fighting to leave it as rural. Anyway, if something happens, it is unlikely to happen in the next 10-20 years.

BUT, the only suspicion about a land becoming "urbanizable" makes the land increase its value. And here comes the thing.I need you with the brainstorming.  How could I work the whole property?

1. I could just start tomorrow working it and planting trees. Without asking permision. And if enough time passes, this trees could be considered and ecological value and part of the protected tree grove. My uncles will not notice, they don't even come. I could have right now lions and dinosaurs there, they will not know. But, what if I start to work there and in August 2024 they want to divide it? Or, what if they dont want to divide it, but some day they just want to sell it, if everything becomes urban land? My work will be destroyed.

2. I could offer something to my uncles and cousin for using the whole land. Something that locks any future use. But it will cost me something. I mean, if I want to tell them "look, I need this to be not touched for 20 years", they will ask for some rental or whatever.

3. Or I can try to buy them out. The possible reactions are unknown. Maybe some of them can think that this is a rural land and it will be forever (wich is what it is today) and sell it for rural price, wich is affordable. Or maybe some of them think that it is going to be super expensive with the urban thing and dont want to sell it for rural price because they might be expecting to earn a lot of money

4. I could also use it as a learning lab for me, and instead of moving full time there (I divide my time between Denia and Madrid) with my family, I could take whatever I am learning and buy another property in a more isolated are with less people around and less potential development danger. This is tempting, although I have two problems with it. One is that I promised my grandma before she died that I would take care of the property (my grandme was IN LOVE with her house, she loved every tree, every flower, every orange, although she stopped working it, she loved the persimmons, and the figs, and the birds, nothing was more important for her), so there is this promise and the sentimental value (wich I'm sure you can understand, being this a community of romantics) And two, somehow I want my property to be an example for permaculture, agroforestry etc, and I think that my location can be good to make people SEE WITH THEIR EYES (they can see it from the road) that you can do different things with your property, and that it can be an alternative to tourism. I don't want to break my promise and my emotional link, but also don't want to deal with family ambitions (wich I consider legit, in the end they are not even there anymore, so why do they want to keep an abandoned orchard?) and it is very tiring to fight with politicians



So, if you have arrived here and you are not bored... What do you think? Any idea of how to proceed to keep on with the project and extend my agroforesty acquired knowledge to more land? I know that here I can find people who has worked and started cool projects without having, at the start, all the property they wanted. So maybe you could give me ideas!
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I feel you have some good ideas and a nice opportunity.

Having a conversation is a great way to find out how the others feel.

Maybe they will want to keep the land and not sell it off, then you could decide what is the best way to proceed.

In any event, I would work something out on paper so that everyone is in agreement and signs the agreement.

Using it as a learning lab is also a great idea.
 
master gardener
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If the land classification changes to urban, does that mean the land has to be built on, or just that it can be buiklt on more easily and thus it's value increases?
I'm also not quite sure whether the protected tree grove is on your father's land or the comunidad.  The restrictions will presumably reduce the value of this part of the land if it does change to urban classification.

A lot depends on your Uncles' and father's financial situation and personal values.  At the moment, they are paying money out for a property they have no real interest in other than for family memories, but can't get anything out of it anyway unless they want to work the land like you.  I have seen the pictures on your other thread, and it looks like you have made a big difference already in the land you are using, maybe the uncles will be happy that your Grandma's land will be productive again, or maybe they will just want to cash in. You will not know until you have that conversation, and as Anne says put it in writing.  If they feel it is not fair for you to have the land, maybe there would be a way to set up a trust in memory of your Grandmother, which you could manage on everyone's behalf. This is just a thought which might involve getting legal advice, but could also build in protection for the land in the future.
 
Antonio Hache
Posts: 179
Location: Denia, Alicante, Spain. Zone 10. 22m height
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Anne Miller wrote:I feel you have some good ideas and a nice opportunity.

Having a conversation is a great way to find out how the others feel.

Maybe they will want to keep the land and not sell it off, then you could decide what is the best way to proceed.

In any event, I would work something out on paper so that everyone is in agreement and signs the agreement.

Using it as a learning lab is also a great idea.



Hola Anne! Yes, we will have to talk to them and work out on paper. But my father thinks (and I agree with him) that it is important to “set the frame” of the negotiation and have the initiative, so I think that we need to have (an defend) a proposition. And from that point, see what happens. Probably is important to have a clear first message. Although it will also depend on each uncle / cousin

Thanks!
 
Antonio Hache
Posts: 179
Location: Denia, Alicante, Spain. Zone 10. 22m height
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Nancy Reading wrote:If the land classification changes to urban, does that mean the land has to be built on, or just that it can be buiklt on more easily and thus it's value increases?
I'm also not quite sure whether the protected tree grove is on your father's land or the comunidad.  The restrictions will presumably reduce the value of this part of the land if it does change to urban classification.

A lot depends on your Uncles' and father's financial situation and personal values.  At the moment, they are paying money out for a property they have no real interest in other than for family memories, but can't get anything out of it anyway unless they want to work the land like you.  I have seen the pictures on your other thread, and it looks like you have made a big difference already in the land you are using, maybe the uncles will be happy that your Grandma's land will be productive again, or maybe they will just want to cash in. You will not know until you have that conversation, and as Anne says put it in writing.  If they feel it is not fair for you to have the land, maybe there would be a way to set up a trust in memory of your Grandmother, which you could manage on everyone's behalf. This is just a thought which might involve getting legal advice, but could also build in protection for the land in the future.



Hola Nancy!

If it changes to urbanizable, it means that it can be built, but it is not mandatory. Although, that might increase the value a lot

The tree grove is mostly on our part, but also it has part on the Comunidad part. So you are right on that, the grove has not urban value. And the perimeter of 27m affects everybody’s part.

The trust in memory of our grandmother is a very good idea, I am going to reflect on it!
 
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Antonio, it's an interesting problem and I think the way you are approaching it is spot on.

You say that the property is currently zoned rural but the town wants it to become urbanizable. Is that correct? You also mention a tourism mindset of area politicians. It would seem then, that whatever you do ought to be seen as an asset to the area. You are thinking permaculture, so perhaps if you can start promoting permaculture as an environmentally sound and popular green way to garden and landscape, you could hopefully bring them in line with your thinking. Maybe workshops? Tours of your property? A little farmers market? A permaculture gardening shop? Classes on practical permaculture? Feature speakers? A permaculture newsletter? Collaborate with someone nearby who wants to do a bed and breakfast type inn? And/or a zero-waste shop? I would think those kinds of things would elevate your purposes to something even non-agricultural business mindset folks could appreciate. And maybe even want to promote.
 
pollinator
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You have described a situation that exists in many places.
In Australia we have a law which enables a 'family trust' to own the land, not individuals.
As people come and go the land stays and the income, if any is shared.

You may have a similar law in Spain. Its popular with big farmers and politicians to avoid tax!!

There is another point I have observed often and has not been mentioned.

The attitude of family members partners. They have no connection with the land and its history, but if it looks as if it could turn into a 'pot of gold', interest will appear.
SELF INTEREST.
I would suggest you plan things with your family, such that if you do improve the property a partner cannot force it to be sold, for their self interest.
I have seen it before unfortunately.
 
Antonio Hache
Posts: 179
Location: Denia, Alicante, Spain. Zone 10. 22m height
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Leigh Tate wrote:Antonio, it's an interesting problem and I think the way you are approaching it is spot on.

You say that the property is currently zoned rural but the town wants it to become urbanizable. Is that correct? You also mention a tourism mindset of area politicians. It would seem then, that whatever you do ought to be seen as an asset to the area. You are thinking permaculture, so perhaps if you can start promoting permaculture as an environmentally sound and popular green way to garden and landscape, you could hopefully bring them in line with your thinking. Maybe workshops? Tours of your property? A little farmers market? A permaculture gardening shop? Classes on practical permaculture? Feature speakers? A permaculture newsletter? Collaborate with someone nearby who wants to do a bed and breakfast type inn? And/or a zero-waste shop? I would think those kinds of things would elevate your purposes to something even non-agricultural business mindset folks could appreciate. And maybe even want to promote.



Leigh, you made a super good point! I still have to work out the family side, but for the politicians side, definitely I am going to work on this. You opened my eyes here with this, so thanks
 
Antonio Hache
Posts: 179
Location: Denia, Alicante, Spain. Zone 10. 22m height
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John C Daley wrote:You have described a situation that exists in many places.
In Australia we have a law which enables a 'family trust' to own the land, not individuals.
As people come and go the land stays and the income, if any is shared.

You may have a similar law in Spain. Its popular with big farmers and politicians to avoid tax!!

There is another point I have observed often and has not been mentioned.

The attitude of family members partners. They have no connection with the land and its history, but if it looks as if it could turn into a 'pot of gold', interest will appear.
SELF INTEREST.
I would suggest you plan things with your family, such that if you do improve the property a partner cannot force it to be sold, for their self interest.
I have seen it before unfortunately.



Thanks John. Yes, I have to work on the self interest side. My father said yesterday that he thinks that he needs to approach on a different way to each brother. The older one is probably the most friendly with the idea, but we have to work fast because he is the older. If something happens to him (God forbid, but it is biology, he is 82) his part will go to my three cousins and one of them is one of the most complicated guys that I have ever known (different problems with drugs etc, sad story, but is very difficult to read and or manage). The third one is my cousin. His mother (my aunt) died and he will probably be happy with any convenient deal. He is very linked to my father, who helped him a lot with his mother succession issues, so as long as the deal is reasonable, he will be okay. And the second brother is maybe the most difficult. Not because of his personality (nice guy) but because for several reasons he has not emotional attachment to the place (he decided to leave and came back for first time in more than 20 years to my aunt funeral) and has more an “investment” mindset, to the speculative side to this might be very attractive to him (no emotional attachment + la d that can potentially triplicate value...)


So, well, it is going to be step by step
 
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