More on Yucatan's Decreto 801 Law
Mitch Keenan could easily be called the Father of Gringo Real Estate in Yucatan, if we were to invent such a silly title, which we promise not to. Mitch was the very first extranjero to sell real estate in Merida in a big way, and for many years, was the only one doing it. Many have learned from or have been helped along by Mitch and have their own agencies now. He is well-regarded by everyone. His agency, first called Piramides de Propiedades, is now called Mexico International, and sells real estate from coast to coast in the Yucatan Peninsula. Mitch recently sent this update to Yucatan Living, giving us his take on the recent law put into effect regarding the preservation of beaches along the Yucatan Gulf Coast:
Decreto 801 is very similiar to the types of protections that have been put into place in Costa Maya and the Mayan Riviera in Quintana Roo. In the State of Quintana Roo, the laws and regulations that are designed to protect the environment and dictate what type of improvements maybe built, are covered by "POET" (Programas de Ordenamiento Ecológico Territorial).
Decreto is more or less the same type of document. It seems a bit convoluted and it will probably require some legal test/challenges to help clarify its intent and how it will be enforced.
It is very specific as to population density allowances, construction foot print, height restrictions, square meters of allowable construction, water run off, flora and fauna replacement or relocation, site situation upon the lot and required permisos. As Jennifer Lytle mentioned earlier, the coast is divided into many regions and each has specific restrictions.
The rule for building structures a distance of 60-meters from high tide is to reduce beach erosion.
When the seas are rough and the tide is high, the tide rolls inland, sometimes to the lagoon where it is absorbed. When there is a structure impeding the path of the tide, the tide crashes against the structure, sending up a plume of water. When the water crashes back to the beach, it consumes it and drags the sand back into the sea. Personally, I think a law to protect the environment and to address some of the causes of beach erosion are long over due for the coasts of Yucatan.
I understand the consternation this call for protection is causing. However, the law will allow for stilted construction, if the property does not provide enough depth to build 60-meters back. Also, current homes are grandfathered and will not be affected.
The law will be evolutionary (not revolutionary) in it's application and enforcement. SEMARNAT (Secretaria del Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales) has a great deal of experience enforcing these types of protective measures. However, the local governments that oversee the beach areas of Yucatan will have to be brought up to speed and that will be time consuming.
If you already own a home on the beach and are not planning additional construction, I would not be overly concerned about Decreto 801. If you have a beach lot that you are planning to build upon, I would STRONGLY suggest that you consult an architect/contractor and attorney that have familiarized themselves with this new law and have some experience with obtaining permits from SEMARNAT and other local authorities.
We Working Gringos want to applaud Mitch and others for their measured reaction and approach to this, and we want to remind everyone that this kind of law is for the good of the entire community. If the environment is not preserved, all the houses built along the beach won't be worth the land they are built on. We all need to work together to keep the Yucatan beautiful.