Merida city council passes noise regulations with fines reaching 2 million pesos

Decibel levels, other rules aimed at night clubs and bars, will be published and enforced in 1 month, city says

Merida's Centro Historico has gotten noisier in recent years as nightclubs have moved in. Photo: La Jornada Maya
Merida’s Centro Historico has gotten noisier in recent years as nightclubs have moved in. Photo: La Jornada Maya

(Updated to reflect details of the anti-noise regulations.)

Merida, Yucatan — Long-awaited noise regulations have been passed by city council, and they will go into effect in one month.

The regulations establish decibel levels, time limits and sound proofing. Fines for violators range from 8,000 to 2 million pesos, with the higher amount reserved for repeat offenders.

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The revisions to the Regulation of Environmental Protection and the Ecological Balance of the Municipality will be published in the official city Gazette next month. Such laws have been promised by the city for over a year, and most recently in April.

In a residential area, outdoor noise up to 55 decibels is permitted before 10 p.m. and is limited to 50 decibels after 10. Sixty decibels is the level of conversation in a restaurant or office, or background music, or like hearing an air conditioning unit 100 feet away, according to one summary. At 50, noise is equivalent to “a quiet suburb” and “conversation at home.”

In industrial and commercial zones, noise is capped at 65 decibels after 10.

The regulations will apply to the entire city, not just the Centro Historico, where noise complaints first became widespread. They apply to restaurants and bars that play either live or recorded music, as well as to business establishments that install loud speakers, facing the sidewalk, to attract attention.

Noise from nightclubs became an issue when more bars started appearing in once-peaceful neighborhoods starting about five years ago. The trend clashed with private homes that sometimes shared walls and fences with busy clubs.

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Clubs would often blast music, whether live or recorded, under the open sky, with no attempt to contain the noise. Customers have defended these businesses, saying that anyone living in the Centro shouldn’t expect peace and quiet.

Neighborhood groups as well as business owners were consulted while the bill was being drafted.

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