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In final days of city administration, noise regulations remain stalled

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Mérida, Yucatán — Noise regulations remain a list of promises to be kept before the current administration hands over the keys to the Municipal Palace to the incoming administration on Sept. 1.

A crackdown aimed mainly at nightclub music in residential/commercial neighborhoods was said to be imminent in April, but have lingered in draft form. The basis of the new regulations is sound proofing and a ban on outdoor music after 11:30 p.m.

With residential homes pre-dating the active nightclubs in the Centro and other neighborhoods, the regulations might have been considered a no-brainer. But opponents have characterized the issue as pitting self-entitled foreigners against locally owned clubs that add excitement and employment to their communities.

A campaign to control downtown noise has been organized by locals, including parents with small children, and hotel owners whose guests cannot sleep at night. A family of three was forced to vacate their home when a hipster bar took over an old casona next door, sharing a wall with a 3-year-old girl’s bedroom.

“We are not a few idle gringos, but thousands of Yucatecans, Mexicans and foreigners of different nationalities,” said Olga Moguel Pereyra, owner of Amaro restaurant, at a March press conference.

Locals and expats alike have also plastered the Centro with protest banners, to the embarrassment of city officials.

The issue all but disappeared from local media until Wednesday’s La Jornada Maya, which connected a reporter with Aref Karam Espósitos, the director of urban development.

“The commitment is that this regulation is ready before the end of the administration. This will depend on the Cabildo, although the document is ready for analysis by the next municipal administration,” he explained.

Incoming Mayor Renán Barrera Concha also served between 2012 and 2015, before nightclub noise became a hot-button issue. When still campaigning, Barrera Concha promised to crack down on the issue.

He recalled in February that when he first assumed office, the Centro was more tranquil, perhaps to a fault.

“When I got to be municipal president in 2012 the problem was that the center had no activity,” he said. “Today … with all the investment that the Centro Histórico has had, the problem is totally opposite, that is to say today the problem is the excessive cultural and tourist activity that exists in the Centro, which implies challenges such as the decibels coming from the businesses there.”

Karam Espósitos recalled that the measure seeks a balance between entertainment establishments and neighbors.

“Already today for new businesses, there is a standard that requires a study of soundproofing in their establishments, so that measures of infrastructure and equipment are applied to ensure that it will not affect the neighbors,” he said.

“There is no limitation for live music as such,” he also told the reporter.

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