Real Estate FYI / New Yucatan Beach Law

New Yucatan Beach Law

New Yucatan Beach Law

13 October 2007 Real Estate FYI 51

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.

Jennifer Lytle, owner of Tierra Yucatan and recently featured on our Yucatan Living Interviews, has this to say:

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.


  • total 13 years ago

    If you build on the beach, then you deserve to have your house washed away. The beach should be for all, not just the wealthy. No one should be allowed to build any closer than 100 meters from the water. You might think you own a piece of the beach, but no one ever owns anything.

  • Working Gringos 13 years ago

    Tom and Tania, we would suggest that you talk to the people at Yucatan Expatriate Services if you have any doubts or questions about the laws in the Yucatan. They can be found at

  • tom and tania 13 years ago

    we are about to buy land in sunset shores in yucatan, its not a beach front its the lot behind the beach front lots, we are looking to build few years from now should i have any concerns about future building, i know about hight restrictions the lot have a lagoon at the back any of you know about how far from it i can build, we want everything done by the book so we can enjoy our future home. thanks for your help.

    • Martin Enyeart 8 years ago

      I purchased lot 23A a couple years ago, I am planning to visit Sunset Shores later this year, hoping to meet some other owners who have been thru the building process, and to find out what the economy is doing in the realestate market. Please feel free to contact me about your experience. Martin Enyeart

      • Billy Crandall 8 years ago

        Hello Martin... We built in Sunset Shores 2 years ago. Our architect and builder was Mario Heredia. He was wonderful and reasonable. He is also involved as the architect of Ensisal. Our lot is 42-A. Feel free to call me if you have any questions 205-620-5474.

  • CasiYucateco 13 years ago

    I echo the comments of the WGs: you should be asking these questions of a competent real estate attorney in Merida. Not an American ex-pat's opinion, or a real estate agent's opinion, but an experienced attorney.

    You should find out all the various aspects of owning property and the particular restrictions that come with beach front property. Before going any further and certainly before giving any money to anyone, you should understand the legalities.

    If you have visited Santa Clara, then you already know it is a pretty remote location. Perhaps that is what you are looking for. Remote can be good or less good, depending on your personal perspective.

    All that said, I hope you find the place of your dreams, without any hassles along the way. ;-)

  • Working Gringos 13 years ago

    Elizabeth, for an accurate assessment of the current laws, we suggest you contact the good people at Yucatan Expatriate Services and ask them to advise you on this matter. You can read more about them here:

    or email them at

  • elizabeth 13 years ago

    Hello- I also am looking into purchasing land in Santa Clara. Some of these lots are only 50 to 60 M this new law official, or any changes, updates?

    If not could someone be able to share laws about beach fronts in Santa Clara, or is it very specific to each lot,etc.

    THANK YOU, Elizabeth

  • Vanessa 14 years ago

    Where could i get a list of builders and architects who would build on sunset beach in merida yucatan?

  • JEFF 14 years ago

    What happened to the new beach law? No one seems to be building by it... is it dead in the water?

  • JOANNE 14 years ago

    Jeff, the key words are "Pay a little more"!

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