New Law Approved that Could Affect Some Coastal Communities

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The Urban Litoral Zones law project (18592) was approved by 39 legislators on March 6, thus becoming law. The project is one of several proposed measures to organize the maritime zones, in this case by allowing for areas that have a “high urban concentration” to be declared “litoral cities” where land use will be regulated by coastal regulatory plans.

According to the legislator who presented the project, Carolina Delgado Ramirez, it establishes an alternative to indiscriminate evictions from the maritime land zone.

However, instead of being met with rejoicing, some legislators have cautioned that this law represents a possibility to privatize lands in the maritime zone, giving way to continued concerns about mega tourism developments and evictions of families that live in the zone who may be considered squatters.

Rodrigo Acuña Obando, an official with Nicoya’s municipal maritime zone office, said that from his assessment of the text of the law project, none of Nicoya’s coastal areas— not even Samara— are likely to qualify as urban areas. 

The project that inhabitants of the nation’s coastal areas have been fighting to get approved is the Coastal Community Territories Law Project (18148), known as TECOCOS, which attempts to preserve the culture, customs and traditions of the more than 50,000 families who currently live in the maritime zones and could be facing eviction when the presidential moratorium runs out on October 14.

The project was approved by the Legislative Assembly in the first debate on April 30, 2013, but then on July 24 the constitutional court ruled it unconstitutional based on two points: that the first 50 meters of the maritime land zone cannot be inhabited under any condition, and that additional studies were required for the Ostional Refuge. The project was presented again, this time without the segments about the first 50 meters and the Ostional Wildlife Refuge, with hopes that it might have gone to first debate as early as mid-November of 2013. However, it has not yet been called up for debate.

The law project for the Regulation of Existing Constructions in the Restricted Area of the Maritime Land Zone (18593) is also under consideration.