Property owners who block access to beaches could soon incur fines of more than 1 million pesos.
The Senate unanimously approved a reform to the General Law on National Assets on Monday that sets fines ranging from 260,640 pesos to 1.04 million pesos (US $11,800 to $47,200) for owners of coastal properties who prevent, restrict, obstruct or place conditions on access to beaches. By law all beaches in Mexico are public.
Fines can be issued if fences, barriers or buildings prevent entry to a beach or if property owners, hotel security staff or other hotel personnel block access when there is not an alternative public path to the coastline.
Repeat offenders could be stripped of permits that allow them to access the beach from their properties.
“The restriction of access to beaches … by owners of properties adjacent to the federal maritime land zone represents an act of discrimination against citizens,” said Mónica Fernández, a senator with the ruling Morena party.
She said that some owners of coastal properties treat the beach as their own private land when in fact it belongs to the nation.
Antonio García, a senator with the Democratic Revolution Party and president of the upper house’s tourism committee, said the reform will help to put an end to the discriminatory practices of some property owners.
He also said that it will strengthen the tourism industry, which has been decimated this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re guaranteeing the right to recreation and also strengthening the tourism industry. … The tourism industry is the sector that has been hit the hardest by the pandemic; more than 10,000 small businesses have closed … due to a lack of economic activity,” García said.
After approval by the Senate, the reform was sent to President López Obrador for his endorsement prior to publication in the government’s official gazette.
Hotel owners have previously been warned by the government that their properties could be closed and demolished if they don’t comply with orders to grant access to public beaches.
The director of the federal office of maritime law zones said last December that one hotel project in Cancún, Quintana Roo, was demolished because it would have blocked public access to the beach.
In February this year more than 1,000 people gathered outside a beach club in Playa del Carmen to protest the infringement of citizens’ access to the country’s beaches.
The protest followed the arrest of a couple who had refused to buy food and drinks from Mamita’s Beach Club while they were enjoying the white sand and turquoise water of the Caribbean coast.