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Elon Musk wants to create his own city. Here’s how that could work

Samantha Masunaga, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

“The law is very straightforward,” said Bojorquez, who is not affiliated with Boca Chica Village or SpaceX’s plans. “The difficult part of the incorporation process is truly the public relations and the politics of convincing people who live out in the country to become a city.”

Successful incorporations happen usually because of “strong support among neighbors to either oppose something or achieve something they can’t do on their own,” he said.

As SpaceX’s ambitions grew in Boca Chica Village, the company began offering buyouts to residents. As of March, SpaceX — through an affiliated LLC — owns 110 parcels in Cameron County.

The company envisions the site as a future spaceport to the stars, where Starship spacecraft would take off on regular flights. As part of that plan, SpaceX is trying to drill for natural gas — the rocket’s fuel — on nearby land and is feuding with an oil company over the issue.

Incorporating Starbase could give SpaceX more control over local ordinances, such as zoning, which could enable the company to conduct more test flights and launches without having to evacuate the nearby area for safety. It could also set up the area to be more attractive for potential workers to relocate.

Workers could get in on the ground floor of a thriving city — but they also could be vulnerable.

 

“The place’s own viability is tied to the survival of the company,” said Loh of Brookings. “That’s not necessarily ideal, and it produces really tough outcomes if the place doesn’t make it.”

South Padre Island resident Louis Balderas has filmed SpaceX’s progress at Boca Chica Village for two years for his widely watched YouTube channel, LabPadre. He lives about 45 minutes away and said he would be interested in moving to the city of Starbase, if it were to be incorporated.

The city would need more public utilities — the cell reception out there is horrible, he says, and water has to be trucked in each month — but he relishes the idea of having a front-row seat to the action.

“I would hope that it would be more than just SpaceX employees,” he said. “It would be cool to live in Starbase, Texas.”

Times research librarian Scott J. Wilson contributed to this report.

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