The Magical Mayor of Estepona
The Mayor of Estepona, José María García Urbano requires a special mention, as we consider that the positive transformation to the town and municipality over the past few years can be attributed to his ongoing pursuit of progress. The changes to Estepona over the past few years have been radical and the city’s image has been completely restored. The clear proof is investor confidence which is visually apparent on every street corner.
So, who is José María García Urbano and what exactly has been happening since he took over as Mayor in 2011?
The mayor of Estepona, was born in Coín 55 years ago. He graduated in Law in 1982 and three years later at just 24 years old, he won the oppositions of Lawyer of the General Directorate of Registries and Notaries. Between 1985 and 1994 he held various positions in the Ministry of Justice, the last being the Deputy Director General of Nationality and Civil Status. He has held the position of property registrar in Fuengirola and Benalmádena and as a notary in Estepona for thirteen years. He has also devoted time to teaching, as associate professor of Private Law in the Distance University (UNED), of Civil Law at the UMA and of Commercial Law in the Carlos III University. In May 2011, García Urbano entered the town hall of Estepona, leading the Popular Party candidacy and winning the absolute majority for his formation, with 17 councilors.
José María García Urbano maintains his job part-time as a registrar, so since taking over as Mayor decided not to take the mayor’s salary, preferring to invest all available funds into the ambitious public works that are planned within the municipality.
García Urbano took on the position in 2011 with an inherited debt of €300,000,000 from the former government. At this point in time it was reported that the financial status of the town hall was in dire straits. Police cars couldn’t patrol because there was no money to fuel the cars, children took toilet paper to school because the City Council couldn’t provide it and even the deceased had to be transported out of the area because the crematorium no longer worked.
Fast forward to 2019…
Fast forward to 2019 and the situation couldn’t be more different. Estepona has undergone the greatest transformation and modernisation of its history. The inherited debt that existed in 2011 has been halved and this reduction has been passed on to its residents in tax cuts of 20%. The full payment of this debt will enable the reduction of council tax (I.B.I) by 50% and a €25,000,000 annual investment in the city.
The City Council Urbano quotes is now “a great economic engine” with an ongoing programme of public initiatives that generate employment and wealth. According to municipal data, employment has been reactivated “placing Estepona ahead of all the municipalities of Andalusia with the lowest unemployment rate.”
The economic growth is really thanks to the ‘Garden of the Costa del Sol project’ spearheaded by Garcia whose objective has been the renovation and beautification of streets of the historic centre. This project has involved planting over a million flowers, adding Artistic Murals throughout the city to improve and enliven some of Estepona’s forgotten neighbourhoods, the addition of colourful themed flower pots and the expansion of green areas and pedestrianised streets. One hundred streets in the Old Town centre have been upgraded and remodelled with the purposes of attracting visitors, new residents and to boost commercial activity.
Estepona is also now home to a botanical garden with the largest Orchid Museum in Europe, the new Gourmet food market ‘Mercado de San Luis’ which has won the ‘New York Best Design of the Year Award’ in 2018 and an impressive seafront boulevard. Furthermore the castle ruins of San Luis are now under restoration, a fantastic plaza, view-point and beach club in progress on Playa del Cristo and the creation of the only beachfront library in Southern Europe on Playa del Rada.
We cannot forget to mention the incredible Coastal Path, planned to connect the entire Costa del Sol from Nerja to Manilva. The last 6km of the 23km Estepona coastline will complete this year providing an uninterrupted boulevard of pedestrian walkways, seafront promenades, wooden bridges, parks and playgrounds. This will allow everyone to explore the Estepona coastline on bike, foot, segway or skate, providing new spaces for tourist and leisure use.
Surrounding every new project is the inclusion and addition of beautiful parks, outdoor gyms and green-zone landscaping, representing the importance of the health and well-being of residents and visitors alike.
José María García Urbano himself claims the new state-of-the-art Estepona hospital as the “greatest achievement of the last two decades.” The hospital represents an investment of €17.7 million signifying a “milestone for Estepona,” as the biggest infrastructure project of the past few decades.
We are delighted that the Mayor has put himself forward again for 2019 elections and look forward to seeing how the next phase of improvements enhance this wonderful town.
Just a few more of the projects recently completed or in the pipeline:
- Auditorio Felipe VI Theatre
- Estepona Athletics Stadium complex
- Spains largest urban slide
- Shopping centre and cinema
- Indoor public pool
- Skate and BMX tracks
- Los Niños Park
- Extension of public transport routes to the West of Estepona
- New road connections in Isdabe-Casasola, El Paraíso, Don Pedro and Arena Beach, El Saladillo and Benamara, El Pilar and Buenas Noches
- New access to A7 from Estepona to improve road traffic
- Remodelling of the seafront promenade
- Expansion of the Tree plan
For more information about and developments in and around Estepona, check out the townhall webpage: https://ayuntamiento.estepona.es/la-ciudad/actuaciones