Monday, December 5

End to farewells with plastic penises on their heads: the Malaga City Council asks for decorum from “drunk tourism”

Every weekend, dozens of groups of men and women in their twenties and thirties disembark at the María Zambrano station in Málaga with one sole purpose: to have a great time. Bachelor parties are not prohibited, but an excess can end up harming the right of others to enjoy the city or rest. That is where there seems to be a problem in Malaga. The residents of the Center have been complaining for some time about the noise, the dirt and the fights that this type of “drunk tourism” causes. And the city council has just put the focus on clothing and accessories: it wants to prohibit anyone from walking down the street in their underwear, with an inflatable doll or carrying a plastic penis on their head at bachelor and single parties.

The consistory proposes to modify the Citizen Coexistence Ordinance, adding a section to the article that includes the “inappropriate uses” of public space. You want to prohibit the passage or permanence on the road or in public spaces in the following circumstances: if you go without clothes or in underwear; if you go with clothes or accessories “that represent the genitals of the human being”; or if dolls of a sexual nature are carried. In all these cases, the Local Police will report that what is being done is prohibited, and only if the celebrants “persist” will they report them. The fine could reach 750 euros.

The consistory has explained that the proposal is motivated by the “proliferation, in recent years, of certain behaviors linked mostly to private celebrations, as is the case of bachelor and bachelorette parties with the exclusive use of underwear or erotic content in public spaces”. It would be about “preserving public space as a meeting place, coexistence and civility.”

The prohibition of walking with sexual gossip on the head or in a thong will go ahead once the period for hearing the citizens ends, which can make contributions to the new norm until November 22.

Neighbors of the Center: “It is a cosmetic measure”

Those who suffer most from this type of tourists, the residents of the center, do not believe that prohibiting someone from wearing a plastic penis on their head will improve their lives much. “It’s a cosmetic measure,” says Alejandro Villén, secretary of the Centro Antiguo Neighborhood Association, which has spent years demanding measures that guarantee coexistence and habitability in the neighborhood.

Barely two years ago, the Superior Court of Justice issued a historic ruling that condemned the city council to pay compensation to the residents of Plaza Mitjana for not monitoring compliance with its own noise ordinance. For this reason, Villén emphasizes that the problem is enforcing the rules: “Shouting with loudspeakers at so many in the morning or walking around naked is already prohibited.”

The farewells have served to draw attention to a broader problem, linked to the “city model”: “They are very striking, but our problem is the lack of vigilance, the excess of certain types of economic activity and tourist housing. It is the model of night offer and accommodation in Malaga”. The neighbors, who suffer from an increase in rents unparalleled in Spain, thus pay for the city’s tourist success.

A young man tied to a lamppost

The problem is not new. Malaga was the destination of the eleven young people recently sentenced to pay 7,676 euros for “behaving in a totally uncontrolled manner” in the train cafeteria and ending up delaying their arrival, in July 2018. Every weekend, dozens of groups arrive with a similar attitude .

The association has published dozens of videos of drunkenness, vomiting, fights and revelry at dawn. In these years, Villén has seen everything. For example, a young man tied with wrapping tape to a lamppost in Plaza Uncibay. His friends asked passers-by, at seven in the evening, to come closer to spit on him or make fun of him.

Every year, he calls the police several times for the early-morning parties in one of the four tourist homes with which he shares a building. The last time they threatened to beat him up and told him that they had paid a company for a package that, among other things, included accommodation. The model generates niche business: four stores that sell chicken have come to coincide in the Center: La Pollería, La Golfrería, La Poyota and The Dick Town.

The other great beneficiaries are the hoteliers, in their nightlife aspect. However, one bar, El Muro, publicly announced that it was prohibiting entry to farewells, after an incident with a group of young people who asked for the claim sheet to write on it: “Maricona”.

Measures against noise in the “fun city”

The issue slips with some frequency into municipal politics. In August, United We Can presented a motion asking for greater control in tourist homes and surveillance in the center that would guarantee the rest of the neighbors. Remedios Ramos, its spokesperson, denounces that Malaga has become a “reference center for all of Spain” for drunken tourism due to the apathy of the municipal rulers.

However, it is not the first time that the city council has announced that it is going to put an end to the landslide. In May, he announced his intention to apply “greater police zeal” in the face of noise and uncivil attitudes. He now breaks down the sanctions: in the last week, he has processed 25 complaints to establishments and 55 to people: 12 were singing loudly in the Center and 32 were urinating in the street.

For its part, the Association of Tourist Housing in Malaga installed some 1,000 noise meters in the Historic Center in the summer, where most of the more than 8,000 homes and 41,000 places of this type in the city are concentrated. The initiative came after the mayor, Francisco de la Torre (PP) warned in May: “We are not going to tolerate an uncontrolled city.” He was also in favor of limiting tourist homes, but these continue to grow at a rate of three new ones every day.

The problem for the mayor is that the perception has permeated some sectors that his government action has encouraged the Historic Center to become a fantastic place for parties and strangers, but inhospitable for the neighbors, and that the phenomenon begins to spread to other areas. The local businesses have closed, the terraces occupy the space (sometimes exceeding the authorized limits) and the neighbors are leaving.

Many accuse him of dragging his feet and thinking more about business interests than neighborhood ones. Elisa Pérez de Siles, Councilor for Public Roads, said in plenary that the problem of the excesses of the terraces is summed up in that “Málaga is a fun city, a city that aspires to be happy”. At least from now on, whoever comes must seek happiness with a little more decorum.

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