McDonald’s lawsuit still in progress

By Antonio De Jesús Aguado

In July 2011, Arcos Sercal Inmobiliaria de S. de R.L. de C.V. started proceedings to obtain permission for the installation of a restaurant in the historic center. The construction permit was issued by Eduardo Arias, then head of the local Urban Development Department. On November 25, signs with the phrase “Obra Suspendida” (Work Suspended) were placed on the building. After the permit was revoked, Arcos Sercal brought a lawsuit against the municipality, and a state court ruled in the company’s favor.

When sanmiguelenses first found out that the municipality had granted the construction permit for a McDonald’s franchise, citizens planned a protest outside the were members of the organization Salvemos San Miguel (Let’s Save San Miguel), which emerged after BANTERRA sought permission to build an 8,000-unit housing development near Atotonilco. According to city councilor Manuel Rosas, “They requested a construction permit to operate a restaurant, but it was never mentioned that it was for a franchise. Arias only granted permission to build.” Later, when officials learned that the permit was for a McDonald’s in the historic center, Arias cancelled the permit. Article 2, Part 33 of the regulations for permits for new businesses states that the installation of franchises is prohibited in the historic center.

Recently, Salvemos San Miguel learned that Arcos Sercal had initiated a lawsuit against the municipality because the permits were cancelled. According to David Bossman, a member of the group, the lawsuit stated “they did not have the right to revoke the permits, because they were taking away McDonald’s right to offer a service to the community.” Edgar Bautista, current director of Urban Development, confirmed the information and commented, “A few days ago the judge asked the municipality to overturn the city council’s decision. However, the laws also give us the right to appeal, so we sent an answer to the judge.”

The Director of Urban Development said, “We appealed this decision to make the facts clear, because the building at Sollano 16 does not meet the requirements for use as a fast-food establishment. An architectural plan must be provided and a director chosen to be responsible for work on the building. This was not requested before because the permit was granted only for minor work, not for the restoration of the building.” According to Bautista, this process could last months or years.

Currently there are several franchises in the historic center, and Bautista explained that the permits were authorized before the publication of the regulations for permits for new businesses in 2005. He said that currently they are working on some reforms to the urban regulations, based on the state code, which could permit franchises that are in accordance with the requirements of UNESCO, ONU and the state. He also made it clear that the new code will not be retroactive.

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