A smoker proudly takes a drag outside a home where the owner asked the public not to loiter. Photo: Facebook

Merida, Yucatan — Mayor Renán Barrera Concha called for tolerance after a homeowner’s protest banner caused a social media stir.

The banner, installed on a home that faces a popular Centro coffee shop, asks patrons not to turn his sidewalk into a smoking-area hangout. Although the homeowner is Yucatecan and has lived on the property for generations, many comments side with the coffee shop or were xenophobic.

Others reframed the conflict as the homeowner wanting to privatize the sidewalk.

Barrera Concha did not take sides, but called for “healthy coexistence, where everyone has space and can express themselves, but without limiting the rights of third parties.”

Even when native Meridanos are affected and complain, the expat community is tarred with implications that foreign residents are less tolerant over noise and have no right to challenge cultural norms.

One foreign resident, seeing hostile and threatening comments on local media sites, asked fellow expats to refrain from expressing complaints publicly.

But residents in opposition to nose problems, a relatively recent issue, represent a coalition of local, foreign and business owners.

Meanwhile, new music venues continue to appear in previously quiet neighborhoods. An open-air leap-day festival at the normally passive railroad museum on Saturday was particularly loud, blasting techno music for blocks until 4 a.m. At 2:30, a band actually ramped up the volume and the bass, reaching bedrooms a mile away.

The Todos Somos anti-noise group urges residents to be vocal. Since noise legislation was passed, an average of six complaints a week have racked up around 400,000 pesos in municipal fines.

Residents who feel their peace and privacy are violated can contact Director of Urban Development of the City of Merida, Federico Sauri Molina, federico.sauri@merida.gob.mx, 999-942-0038, 942-0039 and 942-0040 extension 81004.