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.


  • JOANNE 14 years ago

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

  • Dan Denney 14 years ago

    " 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."
    We bought a house in Santa Clara, we would like to add a couple of rooms on, and change the appearance by adding some height to the outside walls, could you tell us of the restrictions in this area, there are new homes bring build close to us.
    Google coordinates are 21 degrees 22' 25.68 N 89 degrees 01' 11.98 W

  • JEFF 14 years ago

    Thanks Casi Yucateco. I agree with you. But I still would like to build on my lot in San Bruno like the one going up right now. If a 20-goot or even a 10-foot wave does come to shore, I don't think it's going to stop at my house. Maybe just slow down a little for the one behind me.

  • CasiYucateco 14 years ago

    Building your house farther back is good for the environment, good for you and good for the house. I don't know anything at all about your location or how this law will be enforced.

    If you are like Joanne and follow the laws - even though it may cost more - you'll have peace of mind. Storms will be less hazardous to your house and enforcement today, tomorrow, or 5 yrs from now will not be a problem. It's nice to step out your door onto the beach, but the ocean goes where it likes and storms with 20 ft waves give you a new perspective.

  • JEFF 14 years ago

    No, I'm not that Jeff. But you answered my question. I'm from Canada and when I came back this year, I was told of the new law. Why I asked is because there is a home being built on the 40 meters line as we speak.

  • CasiYucateco 14 years ago

    Hi Jeff, Sorry, I'm not an attorney.

    From what I understand, the Beach Law applies to the property, not the purchaser. So, regardless of who owns it or when they first owned, the law applies. (AGAIN, I am not an attorney.)

    You should consult your Notario - attorney who handled the closing, and/or, the attorney that represented you in the purchase and with the Notario. (Sometimes, people have more than one attorney through the purchase process).

    If you are the same Jeff as the one who provided the Library of Congress maps link, "Thanks!" Those were super cool.

    Due to storms, you probably want to be far(ther) from the water anyway, IMHO.

    Best of luck on the beach lot. Enjoy!

  • JEFF 14 years ago

    Heap Big Medicine, I was told that even though I bought my beachfront lot in San Bruno last year, I still can't build under the old law of 40 meters from the beach. What to do???

  • CasiYucateco 14 years ago

    Heap big medicine.
    Big Heap. You decide. ;-)

  • JOANNE 14 years ago

    Everything that Casi Yucateco said is true. So yes, you should bow down to him. I studied the laws for four years before I did anything here, and there are a lot of different parts of the laws they don't tell you about on the internet. Or there are old ones and that's when you get screwed up here to do business. So if he is all knowing, then he did his homework too. Good man.

  • JOANNE 14 years ago

    Thank you for your kind words. Everything you said is true. The only thing that bugs me is I had to pay for everything to have it done by the law, and then have to watch others do it for free. I worked just as hard for my money to come here and live well too.

  • maria luisa and bill 14 years ago

    Is CasiYucateco an ordained minister? religious zealot? priest? shaman? all of the above? There seems to be nothing he does not know about. Should we be very afraid of him? or bow down before him? or both? Just wondering...

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