New Yucatan Beach Law
Though we don't own property on the beach, we know lots of people who do or who want to! So when we heard about the law that was passed this last summer that prevents building within a certain distance from the Federal property line on the local Yucatan Gulf Coast beaches, we were mildly concerned. We asked some of our real estate acquaintances what they knew and what they thought about this new law.
Mitch Keenan, owner of Mexico International Real Estate, was on his way to the States when we asked him about it, with the text of this law as his reading material. He has promised a report back after reading it and discussing it with various colleagues familiar with Mexican laws.
On July 21st on the afternoon he was leaving office, the outgoing Governor of Yucatan Patricio Patron Laviada passed a new law for the protection of the coastline. Studies had been ongoing for a number of years looking for recommendations to prevent further coastal erosion, to protect flora and fauna in sensitive breeding grounds, and to conserve the aquifers which provide most of Yucatan's fresh water.
This law consists of 96 pages of fine print, dividing the coastal areas from Celestun to San Felipe into many coded areas and assigning designations to each as to what can be built there and how.
It seems not to affect existing property in already developed urban areas, but will affect new construction along most of the coast. Exactly how it affects new construction will depend on the exact geographic coordinates of the property and varies widely from case to case. For those owning property, we will be happy to give you the exact details pertaining under the law if you will provide the coordinates.
In most areas, it will be possible to build on any lot of any size, provided the construction is raised above the ground on pilings at least 1.5 meters high to allow the free passage of water and wildlife on the beach. You may not destroy dunes or remove native plants, and where this has been done, the law requires that you help replant and rebuild the dunes.
In some areas, any new construction must be more than 60 meters from high tide - or 40 meters from the federal zone, and there are also restrictions on the percentage of land which may be covered by construction - varying from 10% to 20% in more isolated areas. There are certain height restrictions, but I must emphasize again that there are no general answers - everything depends on the exact location.
As far as implementation, as yet there is no specific authority in charge and the local people here are only just beginning to be aware that the law even exists. It is not being enforced, and construction, renovation and rebuilding is continuing without any modification. I am told that citizens groups are beginning to put forward constitutional challenges to the law, as if it is enforced it will have far-reaching effects on the value of property and especially land on the coast of Yucatan. I personally believe the law will soon be rescinded or greatly modified, as too many interests are at risk. As soon as I have more news, I will write an update. We are all anxiously waiting for clarification from the current state government.
Update as read in the Diario de Yucatan, October 15:
Decreto 801 Will be Modified: After the Commission of Evaluation and Continuity of the Committee of Ecological Regulation, which will occur in the next 15 days, spaces will be opened for public consultation destined to modify this disposition, which currently prohibits reconstruction and giving maintenance to houses that are less than 60 meters from the beach. On October 19, the Committee of Ecological Regulation will meet, for the purpose of installing the Commission of Evaluation and Continuity that will modify Decreto 801. This commission will open space for public comment, opinions, and revisions of everything relevant to the decree, indicated Eduardo Batlori Sampedro, head of the state Secretariat of Ecology.
So there you have it. Stay tuned to Yucatan Living for further updates as we have them.