Mérida, Yucatán — Under a banner demanding “Queremos Dormir!” (“We want to sleep!”), about 100 Centro residents demanded city officials enforce noise regulations.
The regulations apply to the five to seven nightclubs that have opened alongside private homes in the last few years.
Protected from the gray drizzle by a tin roof, the residents, split between locals and foreigners, confronted the city’s urban development director, Aref Karam Espósitos.
An angry Yucatecan homeowner said he has complained to municipal authorities for three years, but never received a response.
Karam Espósitos replied that the city has indeed replied, by new city regulations. Going forward, bars will no longer be approved next to private homes. This is the first hint of any new regulations coming from the Ayuntamiento.
One nightclub has, on its own, installed acoustic paneling and kept all music inside its premises. That good deed was undermined by its neighbor, a bar that continues to play music outside, and well past midnight.
Neighbors also wake up to urine and vomit in the streets in the morning.
In March 2017, residents handed municipal authorities a petition with almost 500 signatures, asking for a crackdown on the nightclubs.
Attendees blamed the former mayor Mauricio Vila Dosal — now running for governor — for promoting the proliferation of bars, Karam Espósitos for granting land use permits without taking into account the neighborhood, and state health secretary Eduardo Mendoza Mezquita for indiscriminately granting licenses to serve alcohol.
Karam Espósitos has maintained that the new nightclubs have brought life to the Centro and are good for the economy.
“The meeting was successful in showing the amount of Yucatecans who were pissed off,” said Roland Seeman, an expat living behind two bars that appeared after he renovated his property.
“It was very disappointing,” said Joanna van der Gracht de Rosado, a Canadian-born resident who married a Yucatecan and settled here in the 1970s. Her son was driven from his home on Calle 47 when a bar opened on the other side of his wall. “The officials from the government said the same old, same old.”
The meeting fell short in developing a plan to move the cause forward.
“Just venting is not moving forward,” said Seeman.
“We love our home, we love living in Merida, we will not move, nor will we give up our legal efforts to solve the problem of noise,” said Joe Stines, an expat from Florida. He bought and renovated a home on Calle 56 in 2010, but later found himself near near several clubs, including one that generates noise at 69 decibels until 4 in the morning, six days a week.
None of those bars were in place when he purchased his property.
An attorney, who suggested that residents let their public servant solve the problem, was met with derisive laughter.
A speaker from a hotel association proposed a committee comprising citizens and representatives from the mayor’s office. They could investigate and solve complaints one by one, he said.
Another resident suggested neighbors post protest signs in their windows.
That’s not enough, said van der Gracht.
“I am afraid we will have to get a lot louder,” she said. “I for one am ready to take this story much more public and into international media. In an electoral year, this is not what the city wants, but they are forcing us to more aggressive tactics.”
With information from Joanna van der Gracht de Rosado, Roland Seeman, La Jornada Maya, Sipse