The long time mayor of San Jose, Johnny Araya, wants to repopulate the capital city.  La Republica
The long time mayor of San Jose, Johnny Araya, wants to repopulate the capital city. “The city is a vibrant and cultural icon,” Johnny Araya. Esteban Monge/La Republica

(QCOSTARICA) From the mayor’s chair in San Jose, Johnny Araya wants to convert the capital city into a place to live comfortable and efficiently, as well as attract trade, and global tourism.

Repopulating the capital with about 10,000 “new neighbours” is among the goals of the Araya who has been, save for a short run at the presidential chair, mayor of San Jose since the office was created in 1998; before that, from 1991 to 1998, he was the “executive” of the Municipalidad de San Jose, elected councilor for the first time in 1982.

In an interview with La Republica, Araya has his sights on developments for the middle and lower-middle class, already approving five new condo projects, in addition to a number of mix-used towers in La Sabana that will combined create 1,283 housing units. In addition, the city will soon see rise two of the tallest buildings in the country, one in La Sabana and the other on Paseo Colon.

Araya also plans to convert the Simon Bolivar park/zoo into a botanical garden.

The mayor of San Jose sees the repopulation of the capital as a solution to the dramatic collapse of the roads system, where daily many spend more than two hours in traffic, to get to and from home and work.

The idea, according to the Mayor, is that people can move without using the car, or even on foot. “I know that there are towers without parking, that’s because they are not needed. The idea is that at least 10,000 people come to live in San Jose,” said Araya.

For the mayor, the repopulation of San Jose will mean the creation of thousands of jobs, business opportunities and tourism that will, of course, be a new revenue source for the city, to invest in improving services and infrastructure.  See related report: Since The Opening of Chinatown Two Years Ago, 25 Business Have Closed

As to the Simon Bolivar zoo, the decadent icon that central government wants to shut down, Araya said the plan is for the city to acquire the park, turn into a tourist attraction and the zoo, today run by a foundation, move the animals to Santa Ana, one of the places on the short list.

Araya also said plans are in the works to promote the city as a destination point, for its wide, varied and vibrant culture, artistic activities such as concerts, dance and theatre, as well as to develop a national convention centre to attract more people to Costa Rica and San Jose.

Johnny Francisco Araya Monge (born April 29, 1957) presidential aspirations ran short in the 2014 elections when he became the first presidential candidate to thrown in the towel, leading to a landslide win by Luis Guillermo Solis.

Araya’s ambition was to succeed his incumbent Partido Liberacion Nacional (PLN) party colleague, President Laura Chinchilla, constitutionally barred from re-election. Favoured to win, Araya came in second place to Luis Guillermo Solís, who won 30.9% of the vote against Araya’s 29.6%. Given that neither obtained the required 40% of the popular vote, a second round vote was called.

Although he technically did not resign, not allowed by the country’s political constitution, on March 6, 2014 Araya announced that he would abandon his presidential campaign after polls showed him far behind Luis Guillermo Solís.

This year

Araya, the nephew of Luis Alberto Monge, who was President of Costa Rica from 1982 to 1986, graduated from the University of Costa Rica’s Faculty of Agronomy in 1980; has worked as an agronomic engineer for many years, after graduating from the University of Costa Rica’s Faculty of Agronomy in 1980.