The other day I was describing to a girlfriend my recent trip to Guadalajara, Lake Chapala, and Ajiijic. Guadalajara is a city of breath taking proportions and it was a pure delight to soak up the history, architecture and culture of this pearl of Mexico. As a side trip we spent the day touring Lake Chapala and the quaint town of Ajiijic and I will say I was impressed. I had heard of both but, what surprised me was the care these communities have taken to ensure visual appeal.
One key item that was missing and thus added to the appeal of both towns was billboards. It is obvious that a signage ordinance is in place because the businesses all had small signs on the front of their establishments. Even OXXO, whose signs over power San Carlos, had very reserved signage as well. Street signs were of a uniform design and added to the charm of both areas. These simple signage measures allowed for the visitor to notice the gorgeous Lake Chapala without interference from visual pollution.
As a tourist myself I was able to compare this with what I and our visitors see when they visit San Carlos. There is no question that we have a problem with visual pollution. The abandoned billboards that welcome visitors to San Carlos are not the only culprits. We have billboards that are so huge they would be more suitable to a freeway in Los Angeles. When you reach the downtown core the signage from Tecate, OXXO, Extra, Ley’s etc., spiral into visual chaos. These corporate logos have branded the visual aesthetic of San Carlos, detract from her appeal and demonstrate a lack of respect for our community.
Ajiijic is charming not only because of its colonial architecture but, because of the “colorful building” theme that they obviously encourage. These cobble stone streets are lined with business facades which are painted in beautiful colors that are reflective of Mexico’s colorful nature.
During my days as a tourist I was able to see first-hand what other Mexican cities have done and are doing to maintain the charm and natural beauty of their communities. San Carlos has the opportunity to do the same with the San Carlos Pueblo Escenico (SCPE) Initiative.
The SCPE initiative promotes long term and sustainable solutions to address signage issues, building facades, litter, graffiti, and other urban beautification considerations. These issues along with many others that relate to restoring and maintaining the character and cleanliness of San Carlos can be found at http://sancarlospuebloescenico.com/.