What’s with all the noise?

It appears that not many people, especially Mexicans, have heard about the new noise laws. They have been in place in Guadalajara for a while now and there have been over a thousand complaints filed with 911. Enforcement of the new laws is coming to Chapala very soon and it is going to wreak havoc on the community. Why?

The simple answer is that the laws are ridiculous, as is the enforcement. The President has stated that he wants the Lakeside area to be a “major tourist area”. That means Lakeside cannot be a place where they “roll up the sidewalks” at ten o’clock, which is exactly what is going to happen. The law states that decibel levels after ten o’clock must be no more than 50 decibels. What is that? It’s the noise level of a quiet library! Even before ten o’clock it’s 65 decibels. The average level for a band playing music is 110 decibels, so this means all bars must shutdown at ten o’clock. Worse, they will not even be able to play at all. Bars will close and staff will lose their jobs. All our wonderful local musicians will be put out of work. That sure doesn’t make for a vibrant tourist area.

Even worse is the way that the laws are administered. If there is a noise complaint the government will install a microphone to monitor the decibel levels and this is connected twenty-four seven to their website. If there is a confirmed complaint the fine is FORTY THOUSAND PESOS! If the owner doesn’t pay the fine it will be added to their property tax bills! This is unbelievably Big Brother and would never be accepted in any other country in the world.

If you define “noise” as the normal vibrant cultural celebrations that are so popular here in Mexico then you will no doubt be happy that none of this will be allowed anymore. Fiestas are excluded from the new law, but anything not classified as a celebration will come under the new laws. The laws will have a devastating effect on local businesses that depend on the tourist trade to survive.

An interesting sidebar to these laws is that the decibel level for barking dogs is 110 decibels. Does that mean that Mexicans will be forced to get rid of their dogs? Oh, that will sure be popular.

Whatever you call “noise” it is just part of the amazing Latin American culture. If you want total peace and quiet go home. Who is doing all the complaining? Very doubtful that it’s Mexicans. More likely Expats who really shouldn’t live here if the cultural noise bother them that much.

Okay, there may be some justification for controlling noise, but only for abuses. All night parties with music blaring is very disrespectful to the neighbors. The boom box blaring at three o’clock in the morning on the Ajijic Malecon. The loud fireworks at six o’clock in the morning. The downtown bar that blares music until two o’clock in the morning in a residential neighborhood. Let’s be reasonable though. Curb the abuses without shutting the town down.

First, the daytime decibel level must be either eliminated or increased to allow bands to play at local bars. Maybe one hundred and fifty decibels. Reduce the levels after one o’clock in the morning meaning most bars will shut down at that hour, which is fine and the bars will not be forced to close. Second, have an escalating fine schedule. Start with something that will send a message to the abuser, like five thousand pesos. Only when abusers ignore the warning fines will the fine be increased to forty thousand pesos. It should also not be allowed to add it to the property taxes. Many bars just rent their premises so attacking the owners will only cause havoc.

Third, reduce the decibel levels to zero between reasonable hours, like one o’clock in the morning to seven o’clock in the morning. This will solve the problems with all night house parties and the guys who start the chainsaws at six in the morning. Even with a more reasonable noise law the issue of barking dogs will be more troublesome. Many people leave their dogs outside when they are away, for security. Most unfortunately those dogs then bark at anything that moves. Maybe if they simply put their dogs inside the house they still have security if someone is trying to break in, but they won’t bark at anything. Any solution is better than getting rid of the dogs.

There also needs to be a website that allows people to protest. Many bar owners and staff would like to voice their strong objections to these ridiculous laws. Many bar owners have already stated how worried they are about closing and many employees of those bars are concerned about losing their jobs.

Time for change!