Civic Improvements | Mexico | Living in Mexico

Civic Improvements

San Miguel de Allende is trying to qualify as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Steps are being taken. The new parking lot on Cardo will eventually allow the historic center to be closed to automobile traffic, one of the requirements for listing. Rules restricting modification of historic buildings are being enforced (except for those with enough juice to get the city to look the other way). But as usual with any government, the right hand doesn't always know what the left is doing.

Last year trash bins were installed through much of the city—a very good thing that has greatly reduced the amount of litter. As part of the project, however, the original Coca-Cola trash bins were removed. These must have been at least 60 years old and probably even older. They added elegance and color to the look of the downtown.


The gray plastic bins that replaced the old ones look like they belong in a Taco Bell.



This state of affairs can only be marked up to incompetence. Everybody in San miguel, I mean everybody, knows that this city is all about maintaining its 18th-century colonial look. In the unlikely event that someone might forget, property owners must submit plans for any reconstructions to architects in the employ of the city government, whose initial reaction to any proposed reconstruction is disapproval. Inspectors swoop down on any construction site and shut down any job they think might violate design guidelines.

Some days, it seems like I see OBRA SUSPENDIDA stickers slapped on the front of every building undergoing remodeling. One neighbor had his job suspended because he installed window bars that were not vertical. Another was fined for using latex paint instead of cal, the lime paint that washes off in the summer rains (but which is, indisputably, authentic).

And yet, the department that erects public facilities like benches, doesn't appear to be subject to review and regulation.


In fact, they seem to be totally unaware that the city values the old colonial look.


In general, the look of the city is improving. All that's needed now, is for those few who haven't woken up yet to get with the program.