The beach is the part of land that the tide covers and reveals; the beach is typical where the incline is less than 30 degrees. The Federal Zone is currently the twenty-meter-wide strip of land passable and contiguous to the high tide mark. When the coast lacks beaches and has rock formations or cliffs, the Federal Zone is measured adjacent to the sea, and will be the twenty-meter inland strip contiguous with the seacoast.
Figure 1. is from the initiative of Senator José Luis Pech and exemplifies the current location of the Federal Zone.
The Federal Zone is property of the Nation. This means that it is not private property; it cannot be bought or rented, but private citizens and companies can use it through a concession. The Federal Zone concessions to restauranteurs, hoteliers, and beach clubs often generate annoyances in the population since the concessionaires charge for lounge chairs and beach clubs within the Federal Zone. This has created a perception of “private beaches.” Also, due to erosion and loss of beaches, the beach area may be entirely within the Federal Zone under concession. Thus, on April 29, 2021, the Senate approved a reform to guarantee access to the public to the beach.
Based on the initiative, we interpret that the change is as follows: Of the twenty meters of Federal Zone, the first ten meters inland and adjacent to the high tide or rock formations will be classified as “Maritime Beach.” Maritime Beach will be for public-use-only, free, frank access and not subject to a concession. It is not clear if the authorities will interpret “frank” as open or clear of constructions. The following ten meters adjacent to the “Maritime Beach” and private property will be the Federal Zone. Companies and people can continue holding concessions over the Federal Zone that will be a strip of ten meters instead of twenty.
The main difference is the reduction in the area that can be the subject of the concession by 50%. The ownership of the Nation will not change, but the concession area will. Figure 2. below also comes from the initiative of Senator José Luis Pech and exemplifies how the current 20 meters of the Federal Zone will be divided into 10 for the Maritime Beach and 10 for the Federal Zone.
In the case of Federal Zone concessions, the ten meters adjacent to private property will not be subject to future changes. Still, there is uncertainty about the ten meters that will be transformed from the Federal Zone to Maritime Beach. Suppose the proposed reform is approved in the same terms by the Deputies. In that case, it will generate challenges and problems for those who have legitimate constructions, which may remain within the future Maritime Beach, such as docks, pools, facilities, etc.
Figure 2. Reform approved by the Senate. Figure from the initiative in Spanish.
Even though the current concessions will remain in force until their termination, there will be a legal vacuum for the owners who have authorized constructions within the entire twenty meters of the Federal Maritime Terrestrial Zone and that they built under the protection of current laws. Since the concession is not a property title, they may lose exclusive access to the constructions that remain within the Maritime Beach if they do not have an Amparo against the reform of the law (which would have to be requested within 30 days following the publication of the reform).
Our firm is a specialist in supporting those who have Federal Zone rights. Many beachfront developments even have condominiums located within the Federal Maritime Terrestrial Zone, which is delicate because the property of the Federal Zone belongs to the Government, therefore having the rights to the concession is very important and prepare before This legislative change is fundamental.
Our firm also has experience in Federal Zone litigation. These cases are very specialized and are carried out mainly in Mexico City. Our firm has achieved the first precedent of the Specialized Chamber on Environmental Matters of the Federal Court of Administrative Justice. The transfer of the Federal Zone in favor of a third party was annulled, determining that the adjoining property owners have a better right.
If you have questions or require more information about the Federal Zone, properties or constructions in front of the beach, schedule a Telephone Call with us on our site www.litigationlawyers.mx or follow us on our Facebook groups: LitigationLawyers.Mx and Quintana Roo Civil Law – Support and Advice (Cozumel, Playa del Carmen).