San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Maritime Zone

Lawmakers pass 'Coastal Urban Zone' bill that will protect maritime zone residents from eviction

Of 47 lawmakers present in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday, 42 voted in favor of a bill that will allow thousands of coastal residents in the maritime zone to keep their homes and businesses.

The new legislation, known as the Coastal Urban Zone Bill, will halt the eviction of those who currently live or conduct business in the restricted area extending up to 50 meters from the high-tide line on both the Pacific and the Caribbean coasts.

The bill creates a legal concept known as a “Coastal Urban Zone,” which  protects properties prohibited under Law #6043, known as the Maritime Zone Law. That law has been in place since the 1970s, prompting the Comptroller General’s Office to order municipalities to destroy all structures found to be in violation.

Under the Maritime Zone Law, all residents living within the protected area would have faced eviction next September, when a deadline set by a legislative moratorium in 2012 would have expired.

The new bill describes the relationship between residents and municipalities as a contract, and outlines regulations to maintain ownership of a property. It also outlines regulations for businesses within these areas, “including a concession tax that will be set by each municipality,” according to National Liberation Party lawmaker Carolina Delgado, one of the bill’s advocates.

“The land is still state-owned, but this law allows current residents to remain there. The law is not intended to create any more similar zones in the future, it was drafted mainly to permit current residents to keep their properties and provide legal clarity through a concession contract,” Delgado said.

Social Christian Unity Party lawmaker Rodolfo Sotomayor said the bill also includes provisions to protect nature and forested areas that now are located within the Coastal Urban Zones, and that also will be considered state-owned.

Following Thursday’s vote, a group of Pacific coastal residents gathered at the Assembly cheered from a separate room upon hearing the news.

The bill must now be signed into law by President Laura Chinchilla and published in the official La Gaceta newspaper.

Contact L. Arias at

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Gary Gary Quite Contrary

As I understand it, the first 50
Meters from the high tide mark
Is still off limits. What this allows is business and homes in the next 150 meters to continue to live or operate paying a concession for 35 years with rights of inheritance but no right to sell to third parties.

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Marvelous Marv

Good news then. I am going to squat down by the beach, pay no rent and run a pipe from my bucket toilet into the ocean.

The bill rewards illegal behavior. Better to relocate the squatters to basic quarters outside of the zone. If unemployed, use group labor to build the structures for each in the community.

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Christer Rubio

Wonderful news for the coastal areas that are the most marginalized areas in the country lacking investments while facing unemployment and poverty. The administrations and congress has kicked the can down the road for almost 40 years unable to face this complex issue. Its good that they found the courage to finally do so and that common sense prevailed.

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Colin Brownlee

Wow… You finally talk about the law (after the fact) that actually passed. Yet you devoted 2part series on the proposed law that had no real chance of passing.

And I am the one who needs to study more about Costa Rica?

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Good news for the people in this area that is affected.

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