Friday 21 December - Border Crossings delays and the impact on tourism.
Over the past 12 months our residents and visitors have noticed the slowly lengthening time it is taking to cross the border back into the USA. This has been a very gradual effect spread over a long period of time so that there has not been an outcry of rage. However, the comparison with the situation a year ago is dramatic. Back in November 2006, the typical delay in crossing from Mexicali to Calexico was 15-20 minutes at 10 a.m on a weekday. Today we see delays of 2 hours or more. Even the waits in the SENTRI lanes for those people who have undergone the security checks and had their vehicled inspected and electronically tagged have risen from 2-5 minutes to around 40 minutes. (I crossed the border in downtown Mexicali in the SENTRI lane at 2 p.m. on Wednesday and the delay was almost 1 hour!) It seems that the US Government is trying to kill tourism to Baja California (and all of the border states) in the name of the War on Terrorism. Each vehicle and every passenger now receives more scrutiny in the crossing procedure and, at the end of January 2008, the noose will be tightened even further when every passenger will have to produce documentation of citizenship (like a passport or birth certificate).
Word of these crossing delays is having a significant impact on our weekend tourism business in San Felipe. With waits of up to 4 hours on weekends, this means that a couple driving down from the Los Angeles area can now expect to spend around 16 hours on the journey for a 48 hour stay in our town. San Felipe is not a cheap place to visit; a decent hotel room can cost $100, lunch is now around $15 per person and insurance for the family car can run another $20/day. All things considered, a couple can spend $600 on a weekend visit and be totally frazzled when they get back home. Anybody who looks at the costs and benefits will see that a weekend package flight to Puerto Vallarta for $300 p.p.d.o is a more relaxing trip to a warm location with lots more to do.
A very interesting announcement was made yesterday by the Tijuana Municipality to allow patients of the various medical clinics and doctors offices there to cut in to the border line and have no more than a 20 minute crossing delay. Each clinic will be able to buy $2 tickets that permit the patient to use a special gate, controlled by a policeman, to bypass most of the crossing line. The medical tourism business in Tijuana is estimated to bring about $3.6 billion dollars into the community so it makes sense for the authorities to give these tourists a quick way to cross the border. See more.
We in San Felipe should also be able to get a $2 pass to allow our visitors and investors to cut into the border gate line at the Mexicali crossings!
The New Pemex Station, near the entrance to El Dorado Ranch, held it's innauguration ceremony yesterday afternoon at 5:00 p.m. with owner/devleoper C. PATRICK BUTLER cutting the ribbon. Photo to follow.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007. Rafael Navarro, owner of Pete's Camp and the President of the Committee to Municipalize San Felipe, stated as follows: "Our new Delegado, C.P. Azael Sierria, will be formally appointed as Delegado Municipal (Mayor) in a ceremony to be held Friday, December 14, 2007, at the current Delegado's Office (C. Joaquin Sahagun Jimenez) here in San Felipe. The time of the event will be announced as RODOLFO VALDEZ GUTIERREZ, PRESIDENTE MUNICIPAL DE MEXICALI, will be attending, and the exact time depends upon his schedule". More news to follow.
Do you know Villa La Estancia Puerto Vallarta is a premier Mexico vacation destination offering luxury and relaxation for its many satisfied guests and owners?
Monday, December 10, 2007. In response to an email I sent to Sal Fish, he states the following "Katherine, yes, I announced it at our awards banquet last Saturday.". We will have the Baja 250 again March 14-15, 2008.
December 9, 2007. The 3rd Annual Mexico Resort Development Conference: Opportunities for Foreign Investment, was held on December 4-5 at the La Costa Resort and Spa, in Carlsbad, California. Baja Diamante developer, Ing. Armando Ramos, Sr. and owner of the San Felipe Marina Resort and Spa, along with his son, Arq. Armando Ramos, Jr. designer of Crystal Beach Villas were among the attendees. Sr. Ramos, Jr. stated the following: "Among the key speakers were Jack Nicklaus, President of Nicklaus Design and Laurence Geller, President and CEO of Strategic Hotels and Resorts, Inc. John Mcarthy, the former Fonatur Director, reported that government funds have tripled for real estate development and tourism during this past year and experts are predicting the Mexican real estate market will make a huge come back in the next eight to fourteen months. More lenders are coming into Mexico providing better opportunities for financing and the two countries where Nickluas is building the most Golf Courses are Mexico and China. It was stated that the two best places to invest in Mexico are San Felipe, Baja California and anywhere in the Yucatan Peninsula. Mexico needs to invest in health care services in order to attract a bigger share of the market. Some of the topics discussed were taxes; cost of living in Mexico; due diligence for buyers; and much more. Second home sales have grown from 5000 units sold a year to 50,000 and the expectation is a growth of approximately 250,000 per year. The European and Canadian markets are looking at Mexico to invest their dollars due to the rise in the value of their currency. In addition, some of the largest Spanish developers are coming into Mexico. Laurence Geller (Four Seasons, Punta Mita, Mexico City) stated that although there are problems in Mexico (corruption and security) he had invested cash in real estate in Mexico several years ago and he has accumulated over half a billion dollars in assets today. He stated that he took the risk because he believed in Mexico and continues to do so. He also addressed the issue of the Mexican government's need to pay more attention to security and infrastructure (roads, electric, water, etc.) as they are the only entity that can solve this problem." Please click on the photo to see a larger view.
December 1. Rain Storm hits San Felipe. As predicted the rain storm hit us with a vegence yesterday and the wind blew last night until early morning, but the good news is, today we have sun! Our Mayor, the head of Public Works, Tony Montoya, the Water Company and CFE were all out working as fast as they could to get the water pumped up and out and the electric back up and running. By the time I left the Net, there were only a few places left where I had to detour to get home. Our hat's are off to the officials of San Felipe, who along with all of us, made the best out of a very wet situation. Our esteemed Mayor, C. Joaquin Sahagun Jimenez on the left and Lic. Tony Montoya, Head of Public Works on the right. Click here for more photos.
Shoe Box Program for the Elderly. My neighbor and friend, Kay Gabbard, asked Rotary members to contribute to the shoe box program as many elderly persons need a little Christmas cheer too!. Kay and the Rotary board also approved $300.00 for the project. Kay states: "We are putting together as many elderly boxes as we can collect - an equal number for men and women. We wanted to put in some items just for enjoyment, but we also put in items of clothing and for grooming. Some of the things we are including are: Women: comb and brush, fingernail clippers and emery boards, hand lotion, warm slipper socks, warm gloves and cap, playing cards, scented candle, Christmas cup with candy. Men: comb, fingernail clippers, razors, soap, socks, warm cap, dominoes, playing cards, Christmas cup with candy. We are also going to include a Rotary Christmas card in Spanish and a few pesos. The group, "Better Together" takes items each month to the poor elderly. They and Kuchy know where there is the most need, and we will be giving the boxes to them to distribute. This is a project that I hope the Rotary Club will adopt each year because so often the elderly are forgotten." We have a box at The Net for collection, which Abril and her friends at UABC here in San Felipe decorated. Please mark your boxes "elderly" or "munchkins". Thank you for helping all of us to help others less fortunate than we are.
Saturday, November 24. Important: The funeral for Maria Julia Perez Lupercio de Garcia will be held at 2:00 p.m. Sunday 25 November at the Catholic Church on Mar Bermejo, rather than 12:00 noon. If you know people who are attending the funeral, please call them and tell them it's at 2:00 p.m., rather than noon. The Father was busy at noon, so the time had to be changed. Already, the small room is filled with beautiful flowers from many people. After the funeral, there will be a procession to the graveyard, where she will be laid to rest.
Tony Reyes Sports Fishing is offering one fully paid 6-day trip on the Jose Andrés only, for the fisherman who catches the biggest White Sea Bass, Cabrilla or Yellow Tail. Book your trip now for 2008. Beginning in April, there will be a mini tournament on each trip. At the end of the entire 2008 season, the winner will be announced. It was reported earlier that he was giving away a trip a week, but that's not the case.
There is a Homeowner's Meeting for La Hacienda scheduled for Saturday, November 24, 2007 at 12 noon at the pool at Las Casitas La Hacienda Subdivision.
The information regarding the helicopter crash, which caused our power outage for over seven hours and was taken from race.off.road.com, was not correct. If you want more information, please go to signonsandiego.com or go onto Score's page for any information you want to find out.
November 13th -San Felipe without electricity for several hours Tuesday.
The start of the Baja 1000 race from Ensenada were tragically interrupted today by the collision of a race helicopter with the high voltage electricity lines to San Felipe. The helicopter hit the power lines at Valle de Trinidad and the two pilots were both killed. The accident occurred just after 2 p.m. Tuesday afternoon and all power to San Felipe was interrupted for about 6 hours. All our servers at The Net have been off and our mail service is still not restored (11 p.m.) News links here From race.off-road.com
CLUB LAS AMIGAS has an urgent message they would like to announce: "We currently support over 260 students through our Segundaria (Middle School) Committee. This is accomplished through finding private sponsors for these students. Cost to a sponsor is $80 this year per student, however going to $100 next year as total costs per student is over $160. Many of these students could not attend school without our financial help. They must pay for uniforms, tuition, gym uniforms, winter and summer uniforms, etc. Many families just can't afford it all. We choose students in need of the financial help that are willing to work at keeping an average or above average grade point and truly want to continue their education. We have 13 of the 260+ currently un sponsored and a long waiting list looking for help to continue their schooling. You can reach me at (011-52-686) 577-2807 if you would like to help.
Celebrate with UABC. The public is invited to attend a party at the UABC (Universidad Autonoma de Baja California) extension here in San Felipe. This is the first aniversary of the construction of their new facilities and the party starts at 5:00 p.m. on November 23rd. The building is located at Calzada Universidad on the road to Luis Cardenas Ranch. Come celebrate with the Baja California University!
November 6 Tony Reyes tells us that the new ecological zone that has been established offshore of Bahia de Los Angeles is going to have a big impact on the sportfishing industry of San Felipe.
November 2. Crime in Baja - The new governor of Baja California, José Guadalupe Osuna Millán, was inaugurated on 1st. November and has declared that the number 1 problem to be tackled is the crime wave. Public safety is to be made the prime issue on the agenda. For all its problems with crime, Baja California is one of the most economically vibrant states in Mexico. Its economy grew by 8.5 percent last year, according to state government figures. High-tech manufacturing, construction and tourism are key industries, and under outgoing governor Eugenio Elorduy Walther, more than 142,000 jobs were created...more here.
Major flooding and devastation is hitting southern Mexico. Little attention has been focussed by the US press, but there have been massive floods in the southern Mexican state of Tabasco. President Felipe Calderon has indicated that this may be the biggest natural disaster in Mexico in the past half century. About 80% of the state is underwater, and an estimate is that 100% of the agricultural crops have been destroyed. The cause has been massive rains that have occurred over the past two weeks and is not related to hurricane activity. Many Americans think that the most famous product from Tabasco is the red pepper sauce with the same name; this sauce is actually manufactured in Louisiana. More on the floods can be found here. We expect that there will be a big appeal to help the residents of the region. Please help if you can, UNICEF and Catholic Relief Services are already actively campaigning for donations.
November 1 We want to re-emphasize that it is important not to pay bribes to the police in Mexicali if you are pulled over for a traffic violation. If you genuinely did break the law, you will be stopped and cited. You will be required to follow the policeman to the station where you will pay a fine. Yes, it takes some time to do it legally but it is the right thing to do. Offering the policeman money to take care of the problem on the spot can land you in jail. By the same token, if you are pulled over and the police require you settle the matter on the spot, insist that you be led to the police station. You will probably find that your escort will "lose" you. If you have a cellphone, dial 078 to talk to the tourist assistance department or 060 to talk to the police dispacher. Give them the license plate number of the police car - take a photo if you can. I am prompted to write this reminder because of a letter we got from a group of RV'ers last weekend:
October 29, 2007. Lyons Club of San Felipe. Elayne Caldwell of the Lyon's Club passed this news on to us from Bob Ham. "Good news that you can pass on. Congressman Filner just announced that the V.A. has gone out soliciting bids from health care providers within a 5 mile radius of El Centro to create a Veteran's Health Care Center. Looks like El Centro Regional Hospital and Pioneers Hospital in Brawley might collaborate to provide a single proposal that would then allow veterans to access the hospitals for in-patient needs that cannot be taken care of by the VA. Progress is at hand. Thanks to Andy and everyone who passed around those signup sheets".
Mexico becomes one of the top countries for retirement living by Americans. See the article in International Living Magazine here. Note that the Mexican government provides many benefits for retirees who are at least 60 years old and have FM2 or FM3 visas through the Personas Adultas Mayores program. See some of the available benefits here.
October 19. Senator Lic. Francisco Arroyo Vieyra visited San Felipe to receive recognition for the efforts he made towards the construction of the four lane highway connecting Mexicali and San Felipe. This award was presented by Sr. Presidente Municpal, C.P.Samuel E. Ramos Flores, current mayor of Mexicali and co-founder of this initiative. This event was held on the San Felipe Marina Resort and Ing. Armando Ramos Arevalo, Presidente of the Developer's Association was the host. The meeting gathered representatives from the local developments, Tourism and local authorities. Lic. Victor M. Rodriguez Silva, Presidente del Cotuco, gave a presentation in which he explained the circumstances under which San Felipe is now presented within the Mar de Cortez development context. He explained that San Felipe has become a priority for both state and federal governments. During the presentation, the Civic Center project for San Felipe was introduced by Mayor Samuel Ramos. He explained they are very interested in providing the local citizens with more infrastructure and projects that will raise the living standards involving the construction of hospitals, schools, public gardens and other projects and social benefits. Senator Arroyo Vieyra also explained that right now the Senate is working on an initiative to adjust the 27th article of the Mexican Constitution in order to clear the path for foreigners to buy land in Mexico without the need of a Fideicomiso. It was stated that their goal is to bring San Felipe to the standards found in places like Puerto Peñasco and invited the public to share that same vision. More photos on Kat's Korner to follow.
October 4th. - A large meeting of developers and government officials is underway in Tijuana to hear about the new tourism initiatives being proposed for the Baja California peninsular. Fonatur, the government agency that developed Cancun and Los Cabos announced that it is looking at establishing one or more new "super-resorts" along the coast of the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California). One prime area being studied is the region between Bahia San Luis Gonzaga and Bahia de los Angeles, 100-180 miles south of San Felipe. This region is very sparsely populated and is extremely beautiful with incredible diversity in its marine ecology.
Environmental organizations will be understandably concerned but the area is going to be developed so it is wise to do it with a master plan of the type that Fonatur can provide. Perhaps one of the biggest hurdle to overcome is the very sparse avaliability of water in this area of the peninsular. Completion of the road south from San Felipe to Gonzaga in a couple of years will open up this whole section of the coastline for development. Already there is strong interest in purchasing vacant land along the coast south of Puertecitos and we can expect much more activity with this announcement. The meeting website is here. Some additional details, including the morphing of the original, grand, Escalera Nautica program into the more sustainable Proyecto Mar de Cortes, are found here.
October 1st. - People flying to Mexico and Canada from the US need to have passports effective today. If you are travelling by land or sea to Mexico you need to have that passport for January 2008!!!
Also, don't forget that Daylight Savings Time ends in Baja California at 2 a.m. Sunday 28 October. In the USA, DST ends Sunday 4 November, so there is a week of potential confusion with clocks.
September 27th - President Felipe Calderon and Ing. Carlos Slim (Telmex) reportedly flew into the new $50 Million dollar airport at Puerto Penasco for the meeting of the US and Mexico Border Governors.
Immigration, environmental issues, the drug trade and the new border fences are reported to be the hot button items. The Governors of Baja California and Sonora expressed major concerns about the very long wait times at the borders, now sometimes being 3-5 hours at some crossings. Governor Arnold Schwartznegger of California was one of the two US governors to attend. Governor Eugenio Elorduy and Governor-elect Osuna Millan attended representing our fair state of Baja California. See more here and here.
More on burglaries in the south campos - Lori Volk of Percebu reports that the garage of their house at Percebu was broken into last night (26th September) and a couple of thousand dollars worth of power and hand tools was stolen. Please keep a watch for unusual sales at the local swap meets! A more complete list of the burglary incidents so far this summer are found on this page.
September 24th. This is the tenth anniversary of the time that Hurricane Nora passed over San Felipe and caused a lot of damage to our town. We had heard of major storms coming up the Sea of Cortez before but this was the first time since the early 1960's that an actual hurricane had hit San Felipe. The Net had been in business only for about nine months and this was our first major challenge from nature. We were the only people in town who could download and distribute the satellite pictures to help make the local population aware of the magnitude of the storm that was advancing on us.
In retrospect we can look at the track of the storm from the archives of the National Hurricane center in Miami and see that it did, indeed, head straight over San Felipe as you can see in the diagram below. Nora had originated off the coast of mainland Mexico near Acapulco and appearerd to be heading out towards the west as is typical of most hurricanes in the Pacific. However, on the 23rd of September, she turned towards the north and kept on this track until she dissipated east of Las Vegas.
Nora also maintained her strength as a hurricane while crossing over the Baja landmass and then moving up the eastern coast of the peninsular from Puertecitos to the delta of the Colorado. The heaviest rains started around 2 a.m. on the morning of 25th September and continued for about six hours when the clear eye was over the town and we could see cloud all around us. More rain, though not so intense, came as the southern part of the storm passed over us later that day.
We picked up 13 inches of rain in a 12 hour period and many roads were washed out or badly damaged. The road to Puertecitos disappeared in places and remained in badly damaged condition until the repairs and reconstruction of this past year. The Mexicali road was washed away just north of the Ensenada road junction and it was three days before it was passable to cars. In fact one of the first people to get here from Mexicali was the then-Presidente Municipal, Eugenio Elorduy, our present governor, who led the trucks bringing relief supplies to town. To this day you can still see the flood path that crosses Ave Mar Caribe east of the Glorietta. Waters rushed through the Los Arcos colonia, ending up at the old shipyard at the end of the Malecon. Many people had built homes in this Arroyo which were washed away; they had to be relocated to new land. No lives were lost but four children were swept away by the waters but later found safe on the roof of an old house.
I recall going to visit Pat Butler at EL Dorado and there was three feet of mud in Juanitos Cantina. Many other businesses were damaged. At the Net we had many leaks through the roof and it is a miracle that our servers continued to operate - we had to rig up blue tarpaulins over them to kee the rainwater off. Our office floor was probably three inches deep in water!
At that time we had our first digital camera - an Olympus that could take 36 pictures at 320x240 pixels. Some of those early pictures are still in our archives and I am putting a link here so you can look at 1997 San Felipe and the cleanup operations. (ej) (P.S. please do not use the old email links - they don't work anymore.)
September 21- Christmas present program for the children of San Felipe
We heard of a new program that sounds like a great idea for helping the children of this region. It is called the Shoebox Program and is being organized by Debbie and Dale Moore of El Dorado. Its mission is to provide a Christmas gift for every needy child in San Felipe. Please help them accomplish this. All you need to do is find a shoebox or similar container and fill it with small gifts for a child. Learn more...
September 20th: Break-ins reported at Santa Maria.(..... see also this page....) We just heard this from Susan Duffett from Campo Santa Maria at km 31 on the road to Puertecitos:
The 40th Tecate-Score Baja 1000 will be run from Ensenada to Cabo San Lucas on November 10 to 16, 2007. It will not come near San Felipe this year. A course map can be found here. Pre-running will start 13 October so we might get some crews coming through San Felipe looking for places to stay while they practice. There is still no word on whether the Baja 250 will ever be brought back to San Felipe after last year's debacle.
"Happy Birthday ... Irene Naden Skinner"
Sunday September 9- Highway 5 north of San Felipe never looked this good. They have completed the 4 lane highway with center divider all the way from the arches to a short way past Campo Ocotillos. They are now working on the next stretch to reach the never-opened gas station at the corner of Saltillos Road, El Dorado. Eventually it should be completed to the check station at the intersection of Highway 2. The down-side: they will have stop signs at intersections going into town; you cannot call this a free-way. (st)
Saturday September 1 - Traditional Pai Pai celebration of the Kury - Kury will be held next September 8 and 9 on Ejido San Isidoro. This will be a major opportunity to have direct contact with beautiful traditional hand crafts of the region as well as a very busy activity program including: Cury Cury Dances, Rodeo and a huge "Baile" to close the 2 day scheduled activities. Ejido San Isidoro is 11 km south of Valle de la Trinidad. Participating indigenous communitys are: Ejido San Isidoro, Ejido Tribu Kiliwa, Santa Catarina, San Antonio Necua, Cucapa and San Jose de la Zorra.
Saturday September 1 - Missions of the Lord’s Foundation presents "REVOLUTION the Concert", to be held on Saturday Nov 3, 2007 at the San Felipe Baseball Field. We need volunteers to come out and help support in all aspects of the event from stage set-up, clean-up, artist liaisons, volunteer leaders, ushers, cooks, security, grounds maintenance, intercessor prayer and more. If you feel called to transformation, to the youth, or to Mexico Missions this would be a perfect fit.
Thursday August 30 - All vehicle and pedestrian traffic at the San Diego border crossing may be blocked Friday during demonstrations. U.S. authorities said.
Tuesday August 28 - The new Pemex Station is not yet open. This station, just across the highway from Playa del Oro, appears to be complete but it has barriers up to dissuade people pulling in. It appears that the opening will be held off until more people return after the summer vacations. In addition, it is in an area where the four-lane highway right-of-way is still being graded before laying of the pavement. It could be a few weeks before the asphalt gets to this area and it might not be worth having the ststion open until all the paving is finished. You can see the sand base for the southbound carrigeway in the picture below. Incidentally, the Pemex station at Puertecitos also appears to be complete but is not yet open. (Note that the road from San Felipe to Puertecitos is now completely paved and in excellent condition!)
Wednesday 22 August - Official Election Results certified The results of the August 5th elections in Baja California have now been offically certified. Further details are found in this CNN article.
Tuesday 21 August. New infrastructure for Baja California and the border region. In addition to the extension of the San Felipe - Puertecitos highway south to connect with the main transpeninsular highway at Laguna Chapala, to be completed in 2010, other notable infrastructure projects for Baja and the northern gulf region are:
Monday 20 August.
On September 1st. President Felipe Calderon will address the nation in his first "informe", the State of the Nation address. One of the things that may get highlighted is the concern over the growing waste of water and its impact on the development of Mexico. At a water conference in Cancun on 14 August, President Calderon gave a major policy speech on water and waste-water matters. Calls have been made to renegotiate the 1944 Colorado River treaty to supply more water to Baja California where the population growth, agricultural use and rapid development appear certain to require access to more fresh water in the near future. Even Baja California Sur is concerned that it will need to bring water from the north to satisfy the explosive population and golf course growth in the southern part of the peninsular and has called for a binational conference to take place later this year. This will likely be brought up as a meeting of the International Boundaries and Waters Commission in which the states of California, Arizona, Baja California and Baja California Sur will participate. Recently, articles have appeared in the US press indicating that the US government now favors processing as much as possible of Tijuana's waste water in San Diego. This would supplement the use of repurified water for agricultural purposes in San Diego.
Wednesday 15 August - Yet another press release promoting the building of a large resort (Pelican Reef) and casino complex (Mexicarlo) south of San Felipe, together with slot-machine gaming in town to open in December ! Again, we suggest you take this all with a grain of salt. (see the August 3 announcement below).
News Roundup August 6th.
Three coffees a day help women's memory
Starbucks is coming to Baja California (to help us with our memory loss?)
Mexican real estate boom in coastal communities
Does anybody pay for water anymore?
PAN takes Baja in the Gubernatorial elections.
August 3 - An impressive press release was made yesterday announcing that a large resort called Pelican Reef was to be built mid-way between San Felipe and Puertecitos. Here is the text of this release:
Interestingly, we have been unable to rget any information from the Public Relations firm that distributed this release and a cursory internet search shows no prior business history of this company "Ad Valora". Even though the release was made in Rancho Mirage, the California Secretary of State has no record of any such company and there are no filings on record for offering real estate sales of this property in California. We also do not believe that the Mexican constitution has yet been amended to allow the building and operation of Casinos in Mexico. Until further information is available, we recommend treating this announcement with some skepticism. We also wonder if there is any coincidence in the location of this property (38 miles south of San Felipe) with the item we listed on July 20th. in which the campo Rancho Villa del Mar - located 38 kilometers south of San Felipe is in a disputed sale. Note that it will likely be years before the electricity line reaches this far down the peninsular from San Felipe. (ej).
Update 12 August - E & E Communications put out another press release on Ad Valora being merged with Niteagle Systems. I reproduce it below for your edification. Note that the CEO of the two companies appears to be the same person.
july 20th - We are getting sporadic reports that owners of campos south of San Felipe are being approached by real estate investors for possible buy-outs. The Campo at km 38, Rancho Villa del Mar, appears to be the first target of a Mexicali development company, Promocasa. Please do not hesitate to email us (see "contact us" section) if you hear of any activity in this area. (Update 9 August : We have heard that the campo was sold for around $8 million dollars and the camp owner has already received about half the money. Landowners who had previously purchased their lots in the campo have filed lawsuits and Lic. Luis Alberto Cidon in Ensenada, phone 646-120-5668, is handling the case for the plaitiffs.)
July 10 2007 - Major Naval Force stationed in San Felipe. The Government of Mexico has announced that a large team of Mexican Naval personnel are now being stationed in San Felipe. Some 500 men will be housed in the town and will form a major task force for controlling the sea and the access routes that the smugglers and drug traffickers use to move contraband and personnel towards the US border region. We also notice that there are patrols of humvees and military personnel with powerful laser searchlights on the beaches during the night. This is a very welcome development and promises to significantly deter the crime and drug trafficking along the shoreline and stop the flow of vehicles that drive along the beach into town without lights during the wee hours of the morning. (ej).
Boat sinking in the San Felipe harbor. Over the weekend the Celia Angelina fishing boat sank near the entrance to the harbor. It was being repaired at the time and carpentry work was underway to upgrade it. Possibly someone cut a hole in the wrong place. We will try to get a photograph and post it later.
July 5 2007- Possible growing real estate scam with Encantana.com The Gringo Gazette North in its June 28, 2007 issue reports that U.S. Marshals from Boise, ID. have arrested a fugitive from justice, Steven Francis (known in Mexico as Gary Stevens), who was apparently selling real estate in San Felipe for the past four years. He is believed to have taken substantial deposits, some in excess of $100K, from several investors for a hypothetical development called Encantana that was supposed to be under construction around the coves between Machorro and the North Beach communities. The website www.encantana.com has been taken down. It is possible that many investors have put down deposits sight-unseen based on the very attractive presentation of the Encantana website. Cached copies of the website may still be available through Google for those people interested. Here is a cached rendreing of part of the ficticious development:
There are many links on the internet to this property develpoment and it is disturbing to see that some international property management and investment companies are acting as though this real estate development project is already under construction (saying that a 17 story tower with 171 units was begun in 2006). The full Gringo Gazette article is here (you will have to search archive or look at cached copy here. See a Mexico Property Blog here and Keller Williams (Florida) offering here which implies lots of sales with Tower 1 sold out. Update 12 August - A review of the situation from the Gringo Gazette North is here (the Gringo Gazette link on this page also covers some other concerns about real estate in San Felipe).
We at The Net are always concerned when we hear rumors about "secret" real estate developments. Since we live here in San Felipe we know what is being proposed. We can go and check whether any building is going on and report this to our readers. We do not accept advertising from developers that cannot show that they have passed at least the first three permit approval processes required by the government. If you have any concerns about buying propery in San Felipe and want to check on whether a given development is legitimate, please do not hesitate to contact us. (ej)
June 29 2007 Continental Airlines announced today that it has launched non-stop service from Houston (IAH) to Loreto (LTO) in Baja California. They will use the very efficient 50-passenger Embraer ERJ-145 ExpressJet aircraft. Now what we need them to do is add service between San Felipe, San Diego and Las Vegas! (ej)
June 28 2007 - The new, four-lane highway. The new four-lane highway leading north from the San Felipe Arches towards El Dorado is progressing well and it is clearly going to be a wide and impressive boulevard with trees in the center divider. However, during this construction phase, it is very important to notice that there are various diversions that put the northbound and southbound traffic onto the same side of the divided highway in places. There are few signs to indicate which lanes you should be in, particularly as you approach town. Yellow lines appear and then disappear and it is wise to see what the vehicle in front does and to follow cautiously. It is particularly confusing when you are driving after dark and there is little traffic to provide guidance. Last night, coming back into town from Campo Ocotillos, I found myself on a section of road that was several feet lower than the main highway and I ran into newly asphalted surface. I eventually found a way to get back to the main traffic lane but it just shows you how even a local resident can get confused.(ej)
Ing. Armando Ramos Arevalo, President of The San Felipe Developers Association (ASOCIACIÓN DE DESARROLLADORES TURÍSTICOS DE SAN FELIPE A.C. ), announced that they would be hosting a meeting today for the PRI Gobernatorial candidate, Sr. Jorge Hank Ron. The meeting will be held at The San Felipe Marina Resort.
U.S Veterans Health care issues - There is discussion of getting a VA clinic in El Centro to serve veterans in the Imperial Valley region. US Congressman Bob Filner (51st district) is holding a town hall meeting in El Centro to discuss this issue. The meeting will be held on Monday 2nd July at 5:30 - 7 p.m. at the Police Athletic League/ Ryerson Youth Center, 1100 North 4th St. El Centro 92243. For more details or RSVP call Juanita Salas at (760) 355-8800.
June 27 2007 Things are amazingly stable here in San Felipe. The exchange rate has been around 10.8 pesos per US Dollar for the past year and gasoline is also stable at around $2.25 per gallon (equivalent) for regular unleaded. The economy of the town is steady for the summer and the annual slowdown of the pace of life has is now starting as the hot weather arrives. Even though the US economy is jittery and consumer confidence is at a low ebb, we expect a good influx of tourists, new residents and real estate investors this fall. Government investment in infrastructure is way up and roads, electricity, water and sewage are all benfitting. Multi-national companies such as GE Real Estate and Prudential Financial are increasing their investments in Mexico and indicate that they see this as a time of opportunity. Prices are still moderate compared to the expected appreciation of the market here. Earlier in June, Prudential opened a bank in Mexico to handle its investments, mutual funds and life insurance operations here. We expect to see significant growth in this area as more Americans move south of the border and start to demand comprehensive financial services. GE has also announced that it plans to invest $400 million dollars over the next three months in industrial space.
Don't forget that the Gobernatorial elections take place in Baja on Sunday 5 August; no word yet as to whether this will be a dry weekend.(ej).
June 26 2007 Power outages. This is the season of electrical disturbances and power outages in San Felipe and is one of the things that you have to learn to live with. We experienced a whole wave of "glitches" over the weekend as the system here struggled to keep up with the demand for air conditioning. Any sudden shock to the distribution system when it is so heavily loaded will cause breakers to open and close to try to maintain stability. All our power comes across the peninsular from the power station between Tijuana and Rosarito. As the summer storm season approaches we expect to see thunderstorms in the mountains and there are occasional lightning strikes that hit the electrical transmission system. San Felipe may go offline for a few seconds or a few hours depending on what gets hit.
On Saturday morning a car ran into a utility pole between town and Punta Estrella and the wires there came down and touched. Power to La Hacienda and points south was off for a couple of hours until the Comision Federal (the electricity company) could make repairs. At the Net, our servers were also thrown into turmoil by the frequent spikes and momentary power losses that were beyond the capabilities of our uninterruptible supplies to handle. Glitches in power also affect the telephone lines and many of our dial-up customers had a hard time getting reliable connections. Today things are operating more-or-less normally and, at my house, I have a fairly steady 125 volts. The electricity is generally boosted a little during the summer to "help the air conditioners start" but it can play havoc with light bulb life and with your sensitive electrical equipment. We always recommend that you buy a good, voltage-regulating, uninterruptible power supply for your computer equipment and satellite TV system to minimize the potential damage during periods of glitches. Also be sure to check that your 3 prong outlets really are grounded properly. In many houses the ground wire may not be attached to anything, or may be connected to a copper rod that is pushed into the sand outdoors. This is not an adequate ground for protection purposes because the soil/sand is so dry. As a temporary measure you could pour a bucket of water on the ground rod each day to give it better conduction to "earth". I will post a series of tips and things to be aware of in architectural design of your house over the next few weeks so you can make some household checks and minimize your energy use. (ej)
June 20, 2007. The next general meeting of Lions Club San Felipe will be held tomorrow, Thursday, June 21, at 6 p.m., following the Board Meeting, at Cliff and Sue's Los Arcos Restaurant.
One of our readers, Richard Lueck, sent this photo and a short reminder to everyone travelling from San Felipe to Mexicali to be very careful driving. This area is between Km 79 and 82. In the Laguna Salida there was sand covering parts of the highway and there are no warnings. You can see the tire tracks in the sand and Richard said there were cars driving in the wrong lane to avoid the drifts. Historically, this area is always dangerous when we have wind. Please take extra care when driving through this area.
June 14, 2007. The United States Department of Homeland Security has announced a postponment in the requirement for a passport to travel by air to Mexico and Canada until September. If you've applied for your passport and haven't received it, you may show your receipt to fly to these countries. Remember to bring your birth certificate as a backup. There have been reports of persons showing their receipts but no birth certificates and consequently, not being allowed to travel. The government has issued millions of passports since the new requirement and still have millions to process. We will keep abreast of any delays in the land travel requirements.