Que Pasa in Cabo?

November 30, 2015 Edition
BY: DAVID FLORES

City dump in trouble. Susana Zatarain, the city’s Sindica – the person in charge of watching the city’s assets – stated that a 15-year old, $120,000 debt to the La Candelaria ejido land owners will be paid, but not quickly and not in one fell swoop/

The city leased a large patch of land from the ejido (sort of a communally owned land, similar to that of the U.S. Indian reservations), to dump the Cabo San Lucas trash, but is behind in payments. The ejido land owners closed access several times to pressure the past administration, which routinely pretended to negotiate but never produced a centavo.

This time, says Zatarain, the city will pay, but not in one installment, as the new administration found the city coffers empty when they took over last month. Ejido land owners once again have showed patience and promised to wait if a schedule of payments is produced and complied with. Different ejido people are upset that the new toll road that just opened up hasn’t paid them for that land. Why are ejido folks picked on? They aren’t special, the government picks on everyone.

Tourists evacuated. Dozens of our precious pilgrims were evacuated last week from the Coral Baja resort in San Jose when a fire erupted inside the warehouse where chemical products were stored. The fire broke out at 2:00 am, and it took three fire trucks to extinguish it. The cause of the fire has not been determined yet.

Propane tank explodes. Early Sunday, at around 7:30 am, a big explosion could be heard in downtown Cabo San Lucas and all the way up to the road to Todos Santos. The cause was a propane gas tank that went up in a big boom at a house on Leona Vicario street, one block down from the hump. The explosion damaged neighboring homes and businesses as far as eight blocks around the site. Four family members were injured and a 92 year old lady was killed. This happens a lot. But what’s the alternative? Gas pipes under the streets? Shudder. These tanks go boom when they are filled by cigarette smoking workers, or when the tanks are placed in a kitchen, or when they are not serviced, or any number of stupid reasons.

A boom of another kind. Los Cabos is adding 3,900 more hotel rooms in the next two years, said Genaro Ruiz, the state’s secretary of tourism, and we all must prepare for the growth that is expected to create 10,000 new jobs. The growth represents an increase of nearly 30%, from the current 14,500 to 19,000 transient rooms in Los Cabos.

We all welcome new jobs, but these will also create a need for public services, security, housing and land for the workers to live on. And who are these jobs going to? Not always local people. In a job fair held just a few weeks ago, 65% of the 200 people who were hired came from different cities of the state and from the mainland of Mexico, which indicates that more housing will be needed for the construction guys also.  And their families.

Ruiz said that his office is working on obtaining federal funding and support to improve our tourist areas as in better landscaping, garbage pick-up, traffic lights, shaded bus stops, pedestrian crossings and more.

Fortunately, said Ruiz, Fonatur, the federal agency that developed San Jose and the Cabo marina, has taken over maintenance and conservation of the tourist zone in Cabo San Lucas, allowing the city government to divert that expense into social programs.

Aussies do Cabo. A record number of 10,000 tourists from Australia have visited Los Cabos this year, a report from the Los Cabos tourism fund revealed. The number of pilgrims from the U.K. and Brazil has also increased. No wonder so many people are talking funny around here. We’re barely understanding the Canadians, eh?

What’s going on with our convention center? Nada. Nothing. Zippo. It sits there abandoned and decaying. That is why Jacinto Avalos, former president of the architects association, asked the state’s tourism secretary Genaro Ruiz to fix it and market it or, of that is not possible, to turn it over to the city and convert it into the new city hall, as it was planned years back. As it stands now city offices are scattered all over San Jose and Cabo, in various buildings they rent because we’ve outgrown our city hall.

Better yet, turn it over to a private company that’s experienced in obtaining bookings from large companies that would bring their conventions down here. But geeze, do something! It was built for us by the federal government to host the G20. And what did we get out of that? Nada. We thought 20 heads of state would put us on the map, but it didn’t. This year’s G20 was held two weeks ago in what country? No, we didn’t think you could answer that. Turkey.

Is the fourlane on the move? City councilman Celestino Atienzo, president of the urban development commission, stated last week that “all voices will be listened to” when it comes the time to make a decision on whether to move part of the fourlane between Cabo and San Jose five miles up the hillside.

At a meeting held with several civil organizations such as S.O.S, AMMJE, the architects association, Médano beach business owners, and various busy bodies,  Atienzo received several proposals and recommendations, which he said “will be thoroughly analyzed by the commission”. Well, that says nothing. The hotel owners want it, they will pay the $30 million, but some locals believe it will keep Mexicans from getting to their beaches. No, Whitey, the beaches don’t belong to you just because you’re paying $200 a night for that swanky hotel room, the beaches belong to the people of Mexico.

Money stuck. The state government owes more than $1 million to FOIS, the trust fund for social infrastructure, said Roger Peralta, president of the sub-committee of public works.

The FOIS gets its funding from the extra 2% tax on payroll passed several years ago. They’re the ones responsible for remodeling and paving the streets of downtown Cabo, San Jose’s historic district, and Todos Santos, where work is still dragging along. Mostly they stick the utilities underground and re pipe the sewer and fresh water.

Peralta said former Governor Covarrubias turned the administration over to the current governor last month with enough funds, but those have been given to Fiturca, the state’s tourism promotion fund instead. Well, that’s what Peralta said. Public works are always a quagmire of, ahem, problems.

Lost money. Almost $5 million in federal funding didn’t reach the La Paz city coffers because of indifference and negligence of the previous administration, declared Maximino Iglesias, current city councilman and president of the water commission.

The city, said Iglesias, had a chance to apply and easily obtain $5 million to improve the water supply networks, but only worked to get a little over $175,000. And it gets worse. The city owes millions of dollars to Conagua, Mexico’s water commission, and did not take advantage of the programs to negotiate the debt.

The new administration is now working on obtaining funding to build an aqueduct from El Carrizal south of La Paz, to the city, and to build a desalination plant.

More pennies from heaven. Well. The federal government is hardly heaven. Nearly $1million in funding from the federal government’s 2016 budget has been allocated for our Southern Baja state, said senator Juan Fernandez Sanchez-Navarro.

The areas where the money will go have already been defined by Governor Mendoza, and they are science and technology, culture, education, environment, roads and highways, water, health and police.

The money for the cops will serve to fire those who have not passed the confidence exams and to unify the state and city police corps under one command. Yes, it takes a lot of money to fire someone, even if they’re caught stealing. Thousands of dollars in many cases, depending on their length of employment. This is whey we have so many crummy workers everywhere: They want to be fired so they can get their very generous finiquito. Going away money.

Help Wanted. To organize our capitol city, Mayor Armando Martinez has launched a national and regional public call for those qualified and interested in becoming the new director of the city’s urban planning institute. After the Mayor and city council members look over all applications and proposals, the decision will be made and announced on December 3rd. Light up a candle, and stay tuned. Well, don’t get your hopes up, every city has a planning agency, even Cabo. You see what good it does. It’s usually ignored.

No Olvidar. That’s Mex speak for don’t forget. This writer had the pleasure of attending one of Las Estrellas de Todos Santos’ premier performances this last February and enjoyed it very much. If there are still tickets left, don’t miss their Dec. 3rd, 4th & 5th production, Slice of Life, a collection of theatrical readings that promise to be lively and filled with laughs. Go to www.facebook.com/LasEstrellasDeTodosSantos for all the details. For Will Call, lasestrellasdetodossantos@gmail.com

Help a lagoon survive. The 2016 Calendar showing pretty pictures of La Poza Lagoon in Todos Santos is now available. It features snap shots taken by local and visiting photographers who contributed to create this stunning visual tribute to La Poza Lagoon, The Jewel of Todos Santos, with the help of Amigos de la Costa de Todos Santos (ACTS, or friends of the Todos Santos shoreline). OK, so maybe they aren’t snapshots.

ACTS is a nonprofit committed to conserving La Poza, its raw natural beauty, its importance to the biological diversity of the area, its role as a major habitat of an endangered, endemic bird species, its critical role as part of the Pacific flyway, its contribution to carbon sequestration, its allure for international birders and wildlife viewers, and its protection of the coastline and coastal community of Todos Santos against hurricanes and storm surge. Bet you can tell we bought one and we’re reading off the back cover.

This calendar is made possible by the generous contributions of photographers who, over many years, have documented the diverse roles and facets of La Poza, including Kaia Thomson, Claude Vogel, Alvaro Colindres, Morgan Edwards, Michael Matthews, Peter Krogh, Jurg Wiesendanger and Edward Rooks. For more on the group’s work, look them up at Facebook/TodosSantosLagoon

Todos Santos family needs help. 16 year old Jeanette del Carmen Garcia Perez lives in a one room home without electricity and has way too many names. She also has too many troubles for a little girl.  She was born with a birth defect that left her with two club feet, and without sensation in her lower body. She spends days with mother, sister and brother. Jeanette needs adult diapers and $2000 pesos (some $120.00) for a new used wheelchair. The family’s kids need clothing, books, art supplies and beans and rice.

The Lions Club of Todos Santos is coordinating donations, which can be taken to the DIF government charity, next door to Hotel Guaycura, from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm Monday through Friday. DIF’s phone number is 612-147-0861.

One person’s trash is another’s treasure. So donate your unused stuff to the tianguis to be held Saturday, December 12 in Todos Santos. Tianguis is Mex speak for garage sale and proceeds will be used to yank out the most treasured parts of your neighborhood dogs and cats. Dozens of the critters are cured of their wandering ways during these clinics.

Items can be dropped off at Angelique’s house in Las Brisas near La Esquina bar, behind Casa Dracula.  For more information, write to Angelique Schornstein at bajakitties@yahoo.com

Social Media goes nuts. Again. Following an outpouring of complaints by tourist transportation companies and meddling citizens, the construction of the retaining wall on the fourlane at Km. 17 just north of the Marbella hotel has been halted. The wall was – actually, still is – in the emergency lane alongside the highway. The new development called Le Blanc got the required federal permit to apply their fix to what was already a bad exit/entrance right there. But now that the social media crowd has taken on the job of tearing the wall down, the feds are not speaking up and saying they OKd the wall. Well, they admit it, in barely a whisper.

So, it’s back to the drawing board with this tight intersection. Work has stopped, but the pissers and moaners on Facebook have not and they’re not likely to stop their pissing and moaning. Everyone is trying to reach a brokered agreement. Meanwhile, don’t catch a wheel on that wall, it is pretty close to the driving lane.

What we want to know is, why don’t these people take on the big issues of the day, like the money our government is stealing from us? We all knew the last mayor was stuffing his pockets with millions, why didn’t these people dog him? Instead they make a big deal over a section of concrete wall. Where is the bigger picture here?,