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Lawmakers propose crackdown on vacant Centro properties

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The legislature is taking a new look at abandoned properties in the Merida's centro historico. Photo: Merida Are We There Yet?
The legislature is taking a new look at abandoned properties in the Merida’s centro historico. Photo: Merida Are We There Yet?

Reacting to the proliferation of vacant lots and abandoned, deteriorating properties in the Centro, members of Yucatan state legislature are preparing to toughen laws that allow the government to seize land.

The chairman of the standing committee on urban development, housing and infrastructure, Francisco Torres Rivas, said proposed reforms are being woven into the 70-year-old Expropriation Act.

“We want this legislative proposal to serve as a tool for the government to expropriate some land that present some problems,” Torres Rivas told Sipse.

Officials have been under increased pressure to react to this long-standing dilemma since July 10 when a roof collapsed on Calle 54 between 65 and 67, injuring at least 16 people. Not long after, a building in the hotel zone partially collapsed, raining concrete on parked cars.

Torres Rivas told Diario that their objective is not to generate a flurry of fines against the owners of these properties, which in some cases were inherited by people with no financial resources. Several properties are unclaimed because relatives have died, said Torres Rivas.

“I believe that in this way you can have public spaces that provide a service to the community as parking lots, community centers, soup kitchens,” he said.

In the historic center and around the city there are 116 homes over 60 years old at risk of collapse, according to Mayor Renan Barrera Concha. He said his administration has its hands tied to repair or demolish neglected, battered buildings because of INAH, which is charged with safeguarding historic architecture.

“These neighbors of the center are unable to leave their vehicles parked by the doors of their houses,” editorialized Diario on Aug. 7. “The truth is that there is an inability to draw comprehensive policies on urban development that allow the preservation of the history and cultural heritage of the city and at the same time target traditional buildings to new uses.”

The legislature of Yucatan convenes its next regular session on Monday, Sept. 1.

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