Shopkeepers and householders from the vicinity of Calle Morelos are appealing to municipal authorities to ban informal commerce that is overrunning the Andador Axixic, a two-block stretch south of Ocampo-Consitución designated as a weekend pedestrian-only gastronomic and cultural zone.
In a letter Chapala Mayor Javier Degollado and other city hall officials bearing around 100 signatures, the petitioners spell out a variety of complaints and suggested improvements to restore the original concept of the Andador (walkway) highlighting Ajijic’s identity as a tourism hub of artistic activity and upscale dining.
The central grievance is that the project has lost its essence since the current administration took organization and management out of the hands of the business sector six months ago. Since then the government has permitted a growing number of ambulantes (itinerant vendors) to occupy the area, turning it into an ordinary tianguis (street market) filled with cheap crafts and manufactured goods. Their stalls reduce space in the street and up onto sidewalks, clogging foot traffic and blocking customer access to the row of established Calle Morelos businesses.
Petitioners point out that congestion detracts from the quaint atmosphere, while unfair competition harms formal enterprises that deal in quality goods and services, contribute jobs and worker benefits to boost the local economy, and generate substantial government revenue.
Many business owners stress they have experienced steep drops in weekend sales and clientele. They are also peeved that the government has never notified them concerning who is in charge of regulation and accountability for the Andador.
The list of proposals starts with a statement of purpose. “The Andador Axixic should benefit pedestrians, tourists and neighbors, making it a safe and fluid place to walk, to appreciate and photograph the landscape, the facades and the charm of the village streets.” Suggestions to enhance the Andador include keeping the street completely free for people on foot and programming art exhibits and diverse cultural activities to attract visitors.