Beachfront Dreams and Buildings Destroyed in Playa del Coco.
Guanacaste’s golden coast is a haven for development; foreign investors flock to the beautiful sand beaches and bright blue skies, banking on their own slice of paradise. Yet not all is perfect in paradise, as twelve home and business owners recently found out, when they were notified that their buildings and additions would be torn down.
By law, all Costa Rica beaches are public, and 50 meters back from the water line are inalienable public lands – under no circumstance whatsoever may anyone build on these first 50 meters. An additional 150 meters are given to the municipality, to be sold at its discretion. Per law, the municipality may place rules and regulations on this land ownership.
The Municipality of Carillo began demolition on several homes and properties yesterday, all of which were illegal resting on public lands, or the first 50 meters from the shoreline. “We hope that by the beginning of next year, the 49 kilometers of Carillo beachfront will be free and clear for the 50 meters of public space,” the mayor of Carrillo, Carlos Cantillo, explained.
In total, about twenty buildings encroach on public land in the municipality of Carrillo. Regardless of the law, several Costa Rica property owners sought protection from the Sala Cuatro, asking that they disallow the demolition of their properties. Five homeowners were granted a stay of execution, and will not yet be demolished. Their future is unknown.
This is the second round of demolitions in Carrillo; the first occurred last November. Like its predecessor, yesterday’s events were conducted peacefully. “The municipality plans to build a boulevard, dock, and recreational [parks] for national and international tourists; thank God there no conflicts arose from the demolitions, because all those affected were notified by the Carrillo’s municipality,” the vice mayor, Kattia Quirós, confirmed. Only one injury was reported, when a senior couple, who had been renting the same home for 15 years, didn’t know where else to go. The municipality quickly obtained a pickup truck to help transport the couple and their belongings to a new home.
In addition to the twelve buildings knocked down yesterday, the Carrillo municipality sent 72 total demolition notices to property owners whose constructions are in violation of the 50-meter free zone. Only eight cases are currently held up in court proceedings, so more demolition is soon planned. “Next week two home’s [cases] are on the docket; if the matter is resolved in favor of the Municipality, we will demolish then,” Cantillo explained.
Playa Hermosa and Ocotal will soon be investigated. All properties constructed on public beach in those areas will also be notified of the problem, and demolition will soon follow. “We’re ready to obey orders when and whenever they are legal,” director of the Natura Cultura Foundation, Edgar Castrillo, said.
The moral of today’s story is simple: before you build or buy on beachfront property in Costa Rica, make sure you are within your legal rights to do so. As evidenced by yesterday’s demolished houses, not every promise of beachfront rights is backed by law.
Photo courtesy of La Nacion.
|Written by Erin Raub|
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Filed under: Business on August 8th, 2008