Popular candidate for Puerto Vallarta Mayor, Juan José Cuevas García (PAN), joined a growing number of people in a promises to reopen the malecón to light vehicle traffic again if he is elected as the next mayor of the city.
Cuevas also discussed the possibility of opening the malecón to traffic only during certain hours and days when there is less pedestrian traffic using the area.
The issue of opening the malecón to traffic is echoed by many of the candidates for mayor as growing demand by the voters and business owners have been heard.
In November 2011 a symbolic ceremony inaugurating the new city malecón was held with big promises to the community, tourists, and business owners, but many say those promises have fallen flat and the new malecón is having a negative impact on businesses downtown.
Over the last couple of years many businesses in centro have closed pointing to the new malecón and redirection of traffic as the reason for their business losing more than half of their income since the boardwalk was completed. Some downtown businesses have gone as far as displaying signs in their storefront windows informing the public about the economic downturn they have experienced since the malecón reconstruction and calling on the boardwalk to be reopened to traffic to ease congestion impacting their once thriving businesses.
The businesses most impacted are on the streets that were forced to take on the extra traffic as a result of a major downtown street being closed. Those streets were once easily walked for browsing and shopping however the new traffic increase has cut down the pedestrian traffic that many stores in the area for a decade or longer once depended on for business.
Businesses on the malecon are closing under unrelated circumstances where the landlords believe their property value has increased with the new malecon and they have priced out their tenants on rent and forced them out of business.
The city mayor has stated the cost to reopen the malecón to traffic would cost too much money and require assistance by the state to cover the cost.
The issue of reopening the malecón to cars has been a hot political issue that has pinned foreigners against the Mexican voter and many business owners in downtown Puerto Vallarta.
Many foreign residents have voiced their support for keeping the boardwalk closed to traffic, however many of the Mexican nationals and registered voters disapprove, leaving politicians in a no win situation.
Vallarta Daily posed the question “Walk or Drive on the Malecón?” to its readers back in August and overwhelmingly foreign readers voiced their opinion of keeping the boardwalk closed to automobiles, and a handful of Mexican nationals voiced their disapproval of closure.
Whoever is elected mayor in the June 7 elections will face growing pressure from both sides of the issue and will ultimately shape the future of downtown and businesses for many years to come.