Visitors come to La Paz for fun in the sun including water sports, snorkeling, whale watching, and even lounging with their toes in the sand on a beach.
However, a recent survey by La Paz officials found that nearly 20% of the public beaches in La Paz are illegally blocked from tourist access by landowners in the community.
A Total of 27 Blocked Beaches
Tourists are unable to easily access 27 of the 149 public beaches located in the beach resort destination of La Paz.
Officials recently completed an overall survey due to an issue around a beach access closure issue at nearby El Saltito beach. In that a case, a resort owner blocked access to what they considered a private beach for guests only.
The beach has only recently opened for public access.
Violation of the Access Law
Article 18 of the Land Transit Law of the State and Municipality of Baja California Sur requires landowners to provide access to public beaches as a legal easement of passage.
The law guarantees that beaches are considered public property, and access is provided to both locals and visitors to the area.
This has not been actively enforced by the state and municipal governments in the past, and land owners regularly restricted access without any concern.
In order to access what the law considered public beaches, tourists had to pay a fee or even be a guest at the resort property where the beach was located.
Officials Get Involved
Due to the ongoing issues with beach access between tourists, locals and landowners, the La Paz municipal government kicked off an investigative campaign they call the Beach Access Release Program.
For the past couple of weeks, La Paz officials have been surveying the local beaches to ensure there is public access available for locals and tourists. Where it is not available, they are working with landowners to ensure compliance with the law.
Some landowners so far have complied with the requests of the La Paz municipal government, removing gates and bars that block access. This is to avoid a confrontation with the municipal government and the possibility of a costly fine.
In the cases where landowners do not agree to provide access to locals and tourists, La Paz municipal police have been empowered to enforce the law, remove the barriers to entry and reopen access to the public beaches.
So far, the Beach Access Release Program has been successful in reinstating public access to El Saltito, Las Cruces and Tesoro Escondido beaches. Before reopening to tourists and locals, these beaches were off-limits to the public for more than 10 years.
How Tourists Can Help
Tourists can help provide details about blocked beach access by reporting the issue. La Paz municipal officials have enabled a special button on the App La Paz tool that allows anyone – locals or tourists – to report beaches closed off to access.
They have even taken steps to make sure that the app is functional in rural areas without needing access to the Internet.
Visitors simply need to snap a couple of pictures of the blocked access and allow the app to access the location function to record the GPS coordinates of the issue.
Officials will then investigate the claims made through the electronic reporting system and contact the landowner about the issue.
They pledge to follow up with the land owner in person after the initial contact to ensure compliance with the state and municipal law.
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