Lawmakers given initial OK bill for coastal residents

Lawmakers passed on first reading Tuesday three measures that will benefit those who live on the coasts.

A spokesperson for the organization Frente Nacional de Comunidades Costeras said the principal measure would benefit 60,000 coastal residents in 60 communities.

These are the people who have lived for years along the coast but do not have official concessions. The rights of the residents appear to have been given short shrift when lawmakers originally passed the maritime zone law that restricted development within 50 meters of mean high tide and specified concessions for the next 150 meters.

The bill, No,  18148, the Ley de Territorios Costeros Comunitarios, creates a special form of concession for social interests. Residents claimed that the current concession bill was stacked in favor of commercial interests.

Two other measures would prevent eviction and destruction of properties in the maritime zone.

The bills need one more vote by lawmakers. President Laura Chinchilla favors the idea and has issued a decree halting temporarily enforcement of the maritime zone evictions.

The maritime zone legislation did not take into consideration the historical rights of people on the coast, and many were ignorant of the legalities affecting their properties.

Tuesday was the final day of what was called an extraordinary session. These are the days of the year when the legislative agenda is handled by Casa Presidencial. The legislature convenes again today to elect leadership for the coming year and to hear an evening speech by President Chinchilla.

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