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New Law Regulates Coastal Development in Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Coastal Construction in Guanacaste Regulated
Coastal Construction in Guanacaste, Costa Rica to be Regulated.
A new Presidential Decree was signed by President Oscar Arias with the intention of regulating real estate development in Guanacaste by limiting the height of buildings constructed in zones that are located near to the beach.

The regulations will draw a line 4 kilometers inland from the beach, with all property between the line and the ocean pertaining to the new ‘no high-rise’ zone. The decree includes the cantons in Guanacaste that do not yet have a regulatory development plan and will be effective for four years.

Beach front land will be broken into four zones: public (first 50 meters of beach), restricted (up to 150 meters from the first limit), intermediate (the next 800 meters after the restricted zone), and the internal zone (up to 3km after the intermediate line).

No construction is allowed in the public zone, buildings in the restricted zone will be limited to three stories, the intermediate zone can have buildings up to five stories, and the internal zone will allow buildings no higher than eight floors.

The decree will become law once it is published in the Government daily newspaper La Gaceta. However, it will only apply to projects that receive their building permits six months after publication so as to not punish projects that were planned before the decree was discussed.

Guanacaste is a region of rapid development ever since a tourism boom hit the region with the opening of the Liberia International Airport. According to statistics from the Guanacaste Tourism Chamber, 2007 saw a 5% increase in the number of hotel rooms from 2006. The total hotel room count for 2007 was 8,700. According to El Financiero, construction zones in Guanacaste increased 250% since 2002 and 40% of construction in the country takes place in the region and in the Central Pacific.

The goal of the new decree is to prohibit construction in the area from taking away from the natural beauty of the coastal countryside in the region, protecting this treasure for years to come and thus complying with Costa Rica’s overall sustainable tourism policies. This is a regulation that Costa Rica has used in other regions, allowing the country to differentiate itself from other tourism giants like Cancun and Panama. It is also protects current owners of Costa Rica property from seeing a devaluation in their coastal purchases.


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Written by Claire Saylor

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