A very interesting article in Atención on Capilla de Piedra, which tries to give the history of how the construction was allowed. The authorities interviewed each “passed the buck,” and I was surprised at the ending, when Mayor Villarreal commented that any citizen could have filed a criminal complaint “but nobody did.” There were many people with lawyers who did try to stop the construction. So, the blame is laid at the feet of a citizen.
Years ago when I was in Ireland, a country that knows that the tourist economy relies on the beauty of the country, the zoning administrators required a German company to take down the upper story of a hotel. Ireland has a rule that you cannot break the horizon.
In your article you say that it is not possible to lower Capilla, referred to as “the mountain,” but while you are working on what you can do about Capilla de Piedra, you might consider other problems that are still solvable: #1 is the traffic pollution that is a blight the city.
I came to SMA many years ago when the taxis circled the Jardín in front of the Parroquia. The fumes were horrendous. Imagine if that still existed! Think of what a positive, essential change that [ban] has been for the city!
Now imagine the Historical Center free of the noise, congestion, and pollution of cars, buses, and 4×4’s. Word would travel and bring an abundance of tourists to enjoy a car-free, safe, walking city. The reputation of San Miguel Allende would soar instead of diminish.
Each year the traffic gets worse, the air gets worse, and the “eternal spring,” the climate that draws people to SMA, is approaching eternal pollution. I have friends who are leaving San Miguel because the air in the city has caused lung problems, and I see many people walking with masks!
We do not have to look up at Santo Domingo and what friends call Cancun Mountain (Capilla de Piedra), but each minute we do breathe the air. This city existed before cars, and the narrow roads are not made for trucks, cars, and buses.
Over 29 countries have cities and towns where cars are prohibited. In Mexico, three areas are listed: 15 streets in Guadalajara, the Historic Center in Mexico City, and some Guanajuato streets.
SMA needs to start a plan to eliminate the traffic—if you do it, they WILL come; if you don’t they will go.
Study how it was accomplished in other World Heritage Cities.
Be bold, see other plans (for example: reclaiming city streets for people, chaos, or quality of life? http://ec.europa.eu/ environment/pubs/pdf/streets_ people.pdf
Perhaps establish parking outside the city—truck deliveries before 8am, etc.
Allow only taxis in the town (with catalytic converters).
Consider small electric trolleys that pedestrians can ride for free or buy a pass to ride. Offer free passes to the elderly and handicapped.
Hotels, all businesses, and citizens will thrive.
A part of the objection to the problem of Capilla de Piedra is that it will bring more traffic, hundreds more cars, into the city. But what is the real cost of water in and water out?
I visited SMA 30 years ago, and the same sewer stench still emanates from the same problem areas (including the arroyo near Capilla de Piedra). People walking in the Historic District without car pollution may forgive the construction pollution on the hill.
However, please do block any other construction of Capilla. Be the President who will be remembered for improving San Miguel Allende in long-overdue, essential ways.