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 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.


  • 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.

  • JEFF 14 years ago

    I`d like to know about a transformer as well. How far can you run a line from your house???? Somebody must know!!!!

  • SHARON 14 years ago

    I too would like to know about any Decreto 801 restrictions for building on beachfront lots in San Benito and San Bruno.

  • JOANNE 14 years ago

    what are the laws for building beachfront in san benito and san bruno? also how far can you run a wire to a transformer from your house?

  • Jose A Herrera 15 years ago

    Decreto 801 should be extended to "constitute the law of the land" We must keep in mind that after all, one hundred years from now, none of us is going to be alive. We hope and pray the generations of Yucatecos in the year 2108 will not "Curse" us the living in 2008 for not taking the proper environmental restrictions to save not only the beauty of Yucatan but everywhere throughout the world!!!

  • G 15 years ago

    Does anyone have anything new on Decreto 801? I haven't heard an update in some time . . .

  • Tito 16 years ago

    As in the United States, indigenous people in Canda, México, Central and South America generally opted NOT to populate coastal areas. One wonders if they knew something...

    Then as now, as is obvious on the coastal and gulf regions of the United States and México, beachfront property is subject to the whims of nature and the increasing disastrous effects of global warming, which in turn are magnified by the voracious destruction of coastal regions.

    Would be that the coastal areas of the Yucatán and Quintana Roo be preserved for future generations to enjoy.

    Yucatan Living is to be complimented for its thoughtful analysis. The same cannot be said for the ever growing greedy lot of Mexican, American and European developers and realtors who are raping and gentrifying the coastal areas, all under the guise of their gushy love for the region. Santa Fe in shorts.

  • Carlos de la Barrera 16 years ago

    Thank you to working gringos for showing this important information. It is great that Semarnat is taking more steps to enforce more protective measures. 60 meters is a safe and reazonable distance inside Zona Federal to build from the water edge. One of the major reazon to step back so far is because once every 10 years or so we are hit by huge hurricanes that wipe out everything along the beach. As an architect related to this area I suggest to everybody who build in front beach lots to build a deep impact WALL or barrier to stop hurricane tide as well as deep foundations so your property does not collapse with returning tide from hurricane. It is a little expensive but worth it. Yucatan is along the hurricane path as we all know.

  • Pat 16 years ago

    We've been dreaming of retiring in the Yucatan and are glad that the gov is taking steps to preserve fragile areas. We are certainly willing to live further away from the beach in order to see this precious ecosystem protected.

  • Working Gringos 16 years ago

    MCM, right you are and duly corrected. Thanks.

  • mcm 16 years ago

    I think you've made a typo -- it should be DECRETO 801, not Descreto 801 (Decree 801).
    Thank you for following up with some hard information on this topic.

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