"It's very bad. The noise is much worse than it was before the pandemic"
Neighbours of Casc Antic and Barceloneta demonstrate against incivism at night
The Casc Antic and Barceloneta have never been quiet neighborhoods when summer arrives, but this year, with the end of the restrictions, the situation exceeds any past time. The desire to party, mainly among young people, complicates the weekend nights, which in this part of the city begin on Thursdays. "It's very bad. The noise is much worse than it was before the pandemic", complains Elena Marti, a resident of Barceloneta. "As the beach has been one of the first places to open, it's as if many people have discovered it and have taken a liking to drinking there", she says. Another place that seems to have more and more people every day is the Born. In this neighbourhood the party started even before the end of the state of alarm and has now increased. "I understand that it has been very hard and that young people need to go out and socialize, but not everyone has to suffer this. We need to sleep. With the narrow streets of the neighborhood the sound rises a lot", says Asun Justo, a member of the Association of Neighbors of Casc Antic. The organization began to receive complaints from neighbours about the noise at night and decided to convene an assembly to address the issue: "So many people came that we had to take the chairs and change places because we could not fit", explains Asun. At that meeting, some neighbours decided that from midnight on they would start throwing water from the balconies, that they would start collecting signatures to take them to the Ombudsman and that they would demonstrate in the streets of the city. The Barceloneta Neighbourhood Association joined the call scheduled for today and this afternoon hundreds of residents of the two neighbourhoods have taken to the streets to demand a response from the City Council. The protests have begun in different neighbourhoods and have coincided in the Via Laietana with Princesa street, where they have cut traffic with posters calling for "enough noise" and demanding "the right to rest".
As explained by neighbours consulted by this newspaper, at night they do see agents patrolling and sometimes call their attention, but the problem is not solved. The proof is every night from Thursday to Sunday in any of these neighbourhoods. Faced with the influx of people, some bars try to make more cash and close later than the allowed time. But when they lower the shutters, the street vendors arrive with their beers. All this allows the party to go on until the early hours of the morning, with all that this entails. "I live on a fourth floor and I have double glazing, but I can't sleep even then", laments Ignasi Jauset, a neighbour of the Born. According to him, in the 20 years that he has lived in the neighbourhood, he had never seen anything like this. "I doubt that there is anyone who defends this type of tourism", he criticises, and asks the City Council not to be "so permissive". The feeling is that when, finally, the agents manage to get the young people out of the Born, many choose to go to the beach. There the party goes on for a little longer and when people decide to go home "they are still screaming through the neighbourhood, drinking and peeing", according to Marti.
The two neighbourhoods also share the urine problem. "Many people pee in the first alley they find and it turns out that the first alley is where I live", explains Juanjo Fernández, who lives on the ground floor of Carrer dels Pescadors, near the beach. He regrets that the City Council did not leave some of the toilets that were installed for the San Juan festivity in the neighbourhood and he has assumed the remedy: "I wake up around four in the morning, when the party is over, and throw two buckets of water with bleach so that it doesn't smell bad the next day". As he explains, the cleaning services come every day but sometimes they don't do it until midday and the bad smell is unbearable. Even so, this neighbour believes that the noise is similar to every summer but this year it seems more intense because with the end of the restrictions it has come suddenly: "This year the summer has come all at once and it's more noticeable, but I don't think it's anything more or less than other years", he says. However, he does think dirt has increased.
Hoteliers have also protested against the situation. In a statement issued today, the Hotel Guild asked the City Council for a "firm attitude and strong measures" to curb incivism that they link to "illegal activities". The general director of the organization Manel Casals linked this incivility "to tourist apartments".
Consulted by this newspaper, the Barcelona City Council insists that it is on the problem and has just activated the Pla Estiu, which among other objectives wants to ensure civility in public space. Representatives of the district have met with the neighbours, but they have not really convinced them. "Everything they told us was very generic. We were disappointed", says Asun Justo. In fact, the entity is looking for a lawyer to denounce the City Council for not being able to guarantee the right to silence.