New rule would force restaurants to pay ‘rent’ for public spaces

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Several restaurants in Mérida have long used public areas free of charge, but that could be about to change. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

It is time that Mérida’s businesses operating in public spaces pay for the privilege, says Mayor Renán Barrera Concha.

The mayor’s comments came after a backlash from Centro residents unhappy with plans for a new “foodie corridor” on Calle 47.

The new project plans to make use of city sidewalks and a traffic lane for restaurants to set up outside patios.

Similar complaints have been made about restaurants using public spaces in Parque Santa Lucia, where some business owners have even resorted to putting up metallic barriers to keep vendors out. 

A sign in Santa Lucia park prohibits access to street vendors in public areas operated by restaurants. Photo: Courtesy

The move would also likely affect markets including Mérida’s Slow Food Market, which make use of sidewalks. 

No bylaws on the books regulate the use of public spaces by businesses.

The proposed rule would also affect street vendors.

Earlier: A shortlist of Mérida’s most modern places for brunch with friends

“The problem is not that vendors use the street to sell their wares, but rather that elitist businesses feel like they have the right to block off public spaces. These street vendors probably would not even be able to pay the fee anyway. It all sounds very unfair,” Mérida resident Maria Alcocer said on Facebook.

There is also a concern that making restaurants pay to use public spaces may embolden them to feel like they “own” public spaces.

This has apparently been the case in Nuevo Léon’s Parque Rufino Tamayo, where beer gardens with concessions to operate within the public space have started to charge fees just to enter the park. 

“Public spaces belong to us all, it’s ridiculous that one would have to pay an entrance fee to a public park funded by taxpayers,” said a statement made on Facebook by a collective of residents Miguel Treviño in Nuevo Léon.

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