Chiringuitos under the spotlight again

Beachfront ‘Chiringuitos’ have been around for a long, long time and range from the ramshackle to the pristine, from tiny huts to large restaurants.

There are those that see them as part of the charm of the coast, a part of real Spanish life. There are also those who believe that the beach is for bathers, end of story.

Many of the chiringuitos have always infringed upon maritime-terrestrial land, either partly or wholly, especially where terrace extensions have been built. However, in combination with a realignment of maritime-terrestrial boundaries, the vast majority are now thought to be in breach of the prevailing laws, rules and regulations.

There have been many plans and attempts to rid the coast of these delightful culinary outposts, and although some have already gone for one reason or another, the majority still remain. And hope to continue.

In Marbella, some 90% of the chiringuitos are said to be infringing the law, mostly by encroaching upon the sand. Twelve are currently under the threat of sanctions, a situation which could lead to a fine of up to €60,000, and have fifteen days in which to present their defence. Needless to say, the owners are not happy about this threat.

It is hoped that three-way negotiations between the Council, the businessmen and the Department of Coasts can bring about a settlement without the need for threats and sanctions.

Two options have so far been put forward as possible solutions. One is that there could be ‘authorised facilities’, with a maximum area of 20 square metres, which would be dismantled at the end of the bathing season, namely October 31st each year.

Option two is to grant concessions, which would require ministerial approval, for permanent structures which would also close on October 31st but not have to be dismantled. These would occupy a maximum area of 150 square metres and would have to be at least 200 metres apart.

The Department of Coasts has set rules and regulations, backed by law, regarding distances from the shore, diostances between establishments etc, and wants offending businesses to be relocated. They have also been informing all the municipalities in the province of the need to find a formula for relocating all establishments which now fall outside the public domain.

With the usual enthusiasm, only five municipalities have so far submitted any sort of project, plan or application (Málaga, Algorrobo, Fuengirola, Casares and Estepona).