- checking for driver's licenses. They have set up roadblocks at random times all over the island and are stopping to check for licenses. Car for car, motorcycle for motorcycle. This applies to tourists also. Tourists should have a copy of their rental contract with them since their licenses are held at the rental office. There have been several motorscooter deaths in the past two weeks, all involving teenagers with no licenses.
- enforcement of the one-way streets. Periodically, police officers are being posted on the most abused corners and turning people around who attempt to drive the wrong way. Man, I am all for this one. (now if they would just take that beer away from the driver!)
- very strict enforcement of the pedestrian zone, Avenue Hidalgo. That is the main street downtown with all the bars, restaurants and vendors on it. They are not allowing anybody to park on this street. Most employees of these places park in front of or near the business where they work. If the owner of a scooter or golf cart can't be found, I have personally seen the police haul the vehicle away.
Finally, a biggie. Hidalgo is set to be torn up, from end to end, sometime in the middle of this month. Once the Malecon is totally done, they will be moving on to this project. They intend to dig up the street, bury all of the cable, phone and electrical lines and remove all utility poles. They plan on improving the drainage problem downtown at the same time. Then they will cover it up, resurface and set new street light poles. When they are done, NOTHING will be allowed on the street. No tables or chairs, no vendor booths, nothing. Only pedestrians. This is going to be devastating to local businesses and I just can't believe they are going to stand for it. It will seriously damage places like Don Chepo, Buccanero, Rolandi's and Amigos. All businesses that have more tables on the street than inside. Not to mention how crowded the vendors will be in their little shops. Personally, I think just keeping the traffic off the street will be enough. Leave the businesses alone.
The plan is for every street downtown to eventually be torn up and redone. The fear is that every Mayor has tried, but none have succeeded, in making the whole downtown area a pedestrian zone. But, of course, not providing for parking outside of town or even on the perimeter. It will be a mess if it really happens.
I'll keep you posted!