This town is Chiclana, and it is trapped in a legal limbo that has forced it to return to a planning regulation dating from 1987 because the courts canceled all its later zoning plans and it cannot grant any new first occupancy licenses, a legal requirement in Spain.
Marisol Ayala, the local chief of city planning, got the post after creating a political party representing residents of these illegal homes. The party's program included a request for amnesty for their homes, fine reductions and a chance to rejoin legality at a minimum cost.
Nobody knows how it all began, or who took the first step. Chiclana progressively grew while authorities turned their eyes away from the fact that walls were going up on rural land, flood zones and protected areas. Within the walls, homes were built. And people came to live in these homes.
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