Gringo in Guadalajara

Zoned Out

Zoning is a big difference between the United States and Mexico. Most U.S. cities have rather strict zoning laws in which locations for businesses, housing and industry are neatly specified.  Guadalajara seems to have very little in the way of zoning regulations.  In my neighborhood, there is a car repair shop next door to an apartment house next door to a school.  In another spot there is a small industrial plant with an apartment complex and soccer field on one side and a junior high school on the other side.  Businesses pop up most anywhere.

This lack of zoning adherence creates many tensions and a lot of interesting co-mingling.  Probably the most obvious negative result is noise. Because family homes and apartments are often side-by-side with businesses or industrial spaces, residents must often get used to the accompanying noise. One does not realize the large amount of noise pollution created by say, a taco stand, a junior high school or a tire repair company until one is living next door.  Sometimes there are even various smells that a resident must become accustomed to.

Another issue is trucks.  In the United States it is very clearly defined where and when certain sized trucks can drive on certain streets.  While such laws do exist in Mexico, they are more difficult to uphold when shops, industry and housing intermingle.  Business and industry need big trucks --- to make deliveries and pick up produce.  This means that neighborhoods and smaller streets here are often bombarded with trucks of all shapes, sizes and noise-levels.
This Schneider Electric building is oddly located in a residential neighborhood across the street from a park.

However, there are definitely benefits to the intermixed zoning.  At least if you enjoy the hustle and bustle of a big city.  Mixed zoning creates lively neighborhoods.  There is contstant motion, constant movement in such places as people come and go.  There is foot traffic, space negotiation and constant interaction.  The experience is a cacophony of sounds and a kaleidoscope of movement that is lacking in most U.S. areas, excepting commercial districts.  In short, to live in a Mexican neighborhood is to be part of a scene.