Real Estate FYI / More on Yucatan's Decreto 801 Law

More on Yucatan's Decreto 801 Law


More on Yucatan's Decreto 801 Law

19 October 2007 Real Estate FYI 21

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 Ecol├│gico 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.


  • Phil Mitchell 10 years ago

    It is now March 2013. I would like to know if anything has been done about the 40 meters of lost beachfront in front of properties between Chelem and Churburna mentioned by "Richard Davies" on September 9th, 2010:

  • Sergio 11 years ago

    The decree 801 was published in July 2007. In this document, called POETCY, the Yucatan coast is divided in zones called UGAS. Its very important to know the UGA of your land (o if you want to buy one) and before to build you must get your EIS (Environmental Impact Assessment) authorized by SEMARNAT.

  • richard 11 years ago

    Thanks to all of you for your comments. It is very rewarding to know there is people in the planet who appreciates such areas as Yucatan. I have been interested in all the cultural aspects of the Mayan people as well as animals and plant life from this great peninsula from California for a few months now, and been reading a lot. Some day I will travel there to see and appreciate it even more.

  • Richard Davies 13 years ago

    This site has been of great help and insight. I have a property between Chelem and Churburna and in the last 10 years have seen the beach in front of my house come closer and closer. I had the chance to speak to an engineer in Yucatan that had performed a survey on the effects of the lengthened pier and he totally agreed that the west side coastline of the pier (Chelem/Churburna) will pay the price by losing their beaches.

    We (myself and the neighbours) are feeling the effects of this for the last 3 years. After hurricane Wilma hit the foundations of the beach-front areas were left totally exposed and up to 4 meters under the concrete structure could be seen. The beach is gradually getting closer and closer with every visit I make there. Once a beautiful 50-60 meter beach has now been brought down to 20 meters.

    There must be a way that the owners and local government can collaborate to find a solution to this.

    Richard, 20 years in Merida, Yucatan

  • Working Gringos 13 years ago

    Actually, looking at the first comment on an article is an excellent way to figure out the date of that article. We have very few articles that go without comments...

  • Trevor 13 years ago

    I think the information supplied is very valuable. My only suggestion regarding all articles published is that they should have been dated.
    Looking through the responses, I have no idea if this latest article was before or after some of the comments. After all the comments go back over a period of 3 years!

  • Michael A 13 years ago

    If you notice the severity of erosion began increasing shortly after the government built that 5 mile long dock in Progreso. To believe that it has no effect on the shoreline for 50 miles in each direction is naive. It causes a massive disruption of the natural flowing current of the Gulf. It has effected fishing as well as increased erosion. As water flowing from the east is deflected out to sea after hitting the Progreso dock, it pulls a back current from Chelem and Chuburna, taking sand with it. It takes sand and seeds with it spreading the flora into deeper water allowing more plants to grow and displacing fish. The land owners should start a class action suit against the government and have them pay for effective relief for the problem they created.

    Building a house 60 meters or 100 meters will make no difference; the shore will erode. Coastal dredging is needed. Sand is sucked off the bottom 15 meters out from shore on one side of the barge, and shot out 2-5 meters onshore from the other side of the barge. 100 cubic meters per minute of sand can be extracted from the sea bed and sprayed onto the beach. It will replace the lost sand. In six months you can replace 10 years worth of erosion. There are solutions.

  • Brenda Thornton 14 years ago

    I am happy to see that the Mexican government is doing more to protect their beaches, wildlife, and environment. All the construction on barrer islands, beaches and shorelines in the United States is all about greed.

    We live about 70 miles north of Galveston and had storm damage from Ike on our property, including our roof, and it just points out that our Indian and indigenous forebearers had a good deal more sense than we do today. I love Galveston and the damage broke everyone's heart, but I think it is time that damage along the coast lines is left to return to its' natural condition along much of it. Besides, with the rising of tides due to the warming, many of these places will be permanently underwater by the end of this century.

  • CasiYucateco 14 years ago

    That's electricity in Mexico. The first to bring in electric lines pays the cost of the wires and the poles and all the other neighbors benefit. It is a common occurrence.

    We once extended lines about 2 kilometers at a very high cost. Soon, every lot along the way had connected to those high tension lines (not the transformer) for free. (That is completely legal by the way. The CFE controls high tension lines, even if you build them yourself.)

    Did your builder/contractor/architect/attorney advise you about these things? They should.

    There are limits. Too big a load from too many houses and your expensive transformer will pop. (as in BOOM!) You really need to visit with a local attorney who specializes in such things advise you.

    The best solution is for the other lots to extend the high tension lines to their property and install their own transformers. That often does not happen. The rating of your transformer will determine how many households can connect without straining it.

  • JEFF 14 years ago

    Thank you, Casi Yucateco. That's what I wanted to hear. I have a transformer that I bought and everyone is trying to connect to it. They just don't want to spend the money I did... I guess. They are coming from four to six lots away underground and up the pole to connect. Not fair!!

  • CasiYucateco 14 years ago

    "How far....?" Well, it depends on the voltage, amperage, cable size, purpose, location, etc. Obviously, electricity is distributed over the face of the earth, so that's not the problem. But, what seems like s simple question is actually complex.

    A competent electrician can answer such things with the specifics at hand. Generally speaking, a line for 110 to 220 can be run a few hundred feet, but the cables have to be properly sized. grounded and installed.

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