Que Pasa in Cabo?

December 14, 2015 Edition
BY: DAVID FLORES

Christmas music. Don’t miss out on the Voices of Peace Christmas Concert on December 17th at 8:00 p.m. at the Cultural Pavilion in downtown Cabo.  Opera soloists from Los Angeles will be featured and accompanied by the Philharmonic Orchestra from the Mexico National Autonomous University.  It’s free and it’s in Spanish, but hey, Christmas carols know no language. Didn’t most of them start out in Latin anyway? For our precious tourists. Genaro Ruiz, the state’s secretary of tourism, announced the creation of the very first Center of Total Attention and Protection of Tourists, which will have offices in all of our major tourist areas like Los Cabos, La Paz and Todos Santos.

The object of this new center is to take care of tourist complaints and will include staff from each city’s tourism department, the tourism secretariat, the state attorney general’s office, (Ministerio Publico), the tourist police, Profeco, (the federal consumer protection agency), and civil protection.

Ruiz is a tourist developer who entered politics this year, and he is conscious of the need to protect our precious tourists, so he may make this happen. May being the key word here. At first, the center will have offices in Cabo San Lucas and San Jose, and would expand to other tourist areas of the state. Ruiz emphasized that there is a lot of interest and concern at both state and federal levels to make this happen. As we say, light up a candle. The last time something like this was tried, the girl running it suddenly took off to the United States with a Gringo meal ticket that she picked up. The office was closed.

Cabo marina boats impounded. At least 16 boats of all types and sizes (pangas, yachts, sailboats) have been removed from the Cabo marina by API, the marina management company, as they either had been abandoned or had stopped paying their dock fees.

Some seemed damaged by last year’s hurricane Odile but most of them were abandoned. Although their owners were notified that they had to come up with their past due fees, they didn’t respond and now they have lost them. Some boats were also involved in labor law suits and are being kept as guarantee of payment to workers, under the watch of the labor courts.

Feds tearing up our streets. Although it is hard to tell which streets are torn up by construction and which are just torn up. Fonatur, the federal agency that developed San Jose’s tourist zone and the Cabo marina, is tearing up Cabo streets to fix them. The agency has been assigned to fix the lousy sidewalks in Cabo’s downtown and is working on the sidewalks of Morelos and Leona Vicario streets and will go on to finish the unfinished work on the so called Par Vial that runs from the entrance of Cabo towards the downtown main park and the Marina boulevard. That “improvement” has been sitting unfinished for four years now.

Raul Chollet, the local delegate of Fonatur, said that they will stop construction on December 15 and resume on January 4, to allow downtown merchants to take advantage of the influx of tourists and local resident who flock to the downtown area to shop during the Christmas season. Sure, because so many people buy tourist trinkets for gifts. More likely they’re knocking off work because the guys want to take Christmas off. Anyhow, let’s hope they don’t leave it half way finished.

City to clear off sidewalks. Several sidewalks in downtown Cabo and San Jose have been taken over by stores, who’s owners are encroaching with their merchandise. They are using the public walk way as an extension of their stores, with tents, clothes hangers and even tarps that make our precious tourists and local residents to duck or walk on the street.

But! Bending to local residents’ pressure, the city has promised to clear off those sidewalks, which were built for pedestrians, not as an extension of business displays. The move is also a result of complaints from civil organizations who work for the handicapped, who can’t use their wheelchairs or walkers without bumping into some vendor’s poles and tarps.

Speaking of the handicapped. Cabo San Lucas traffic cops, in cahoots with DIF, the city’s family oriented charity, have begun a campaign to reserve handicapped parking spots for genuine crips, especially in the bigger commercial areas like Sendero, Soriana, Mega and Chedraui, as well as in downtown Cabo.

The fine for parking in those clearly marked blue spots amounts to 7,000 pesos, or about $420 Gringo bucks. So far, dozens of local residents are whining because they got caught being lazy. The DIF has handicapped signs that those who need them can hang from their rear view mirrors, but c’mon, they have to go to any DIF office and apply for them. Too much trouble for some folks.

More water for Cabo. Mayor Arturo de la Rosa met last week with the head honchos of Banobras, Mexico’s public works bank and Fonadin, the National infrastructure fund, to obtain the necessary funding to build a second desalination plant for Cabo San Lucas.

All three officials toured the existing water desal plant along with former Mayor Pene Nunez who currently manages the Los Cabos water supply agency.  It was agreed  they have to get tough and demand Promaqua, the Spain-based company that built and is supposed to operate our desal plant, to comply with their commitment to supply Cabo with 50 gallons per minute or go back home. But first give us our money back. Well, they didn’t say the go back home part, but it looks like finally our city government has grown a pair and is getting tough on this company. Our desal plant was the first municipal plant in Mexico and it is a national pride. Or it should be. The meeting ended with a promise from Conagua and Fonadin to mail a check “soon”. To the same crappy company! Why would we sign on for another plant from this company when they never got their first plant to deliver the water? Follow the money. Due to the United States Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, any American company that takes kick backs to get contracts, will see their chief executives thrown into prison. This is why U.S. companies can not compete in large portions of the world. And why in those same portions of the world, their engineering projects often don’t work.

More money for Todos Santos. Before leaving office last June, former Governor Marcos Covarrubias applied for nearly $1 million in funding to finish fixing up Todos Santos, our state’s Magic Town. Well, current governor Carlos Mendoza twisted some arms here and there, and got 300 grand more from Mexico’s ministry of tourism (Sectur).

The money will be used to finish paving most of Todos Santos’ downtown and main access street, to bury the electric and telephone wiring, additional street lighting, painting and improving facades, street signs, and refurbishing the town’s main park. Congratulations, Todos Santos! Spend it carefully.

Still need Christmas stuff? Not to worry. La Paz merchants have set up their traditional tianguis (that’s Mex speak for street market) on Madero street, offering their holiday merchandise until December 25. There are 170 booths set up on the sidewalk, so you surely will find what you need. And more.

Money flowing in. La Paz Mayor Armando Martinez is happy as a worm and wiggling because tax payments are flowing in like almost never before. It seems that his constituents trust that he will not take that tax money for himself like former officials did. Mayor Martinez even walked around the tellers at La Paz city hall and personally thanked those who were in line paying their taxes. He promised that the money will be used to benefit the city and improve lighting, security, pavement and, well, the usual city stuff.

Do we need one more hotel? Apparently we do. Velas Group, which began operations in Puerto Vallarta in 1989 with the Velas Vallarta resort, will begin construction of a 9 story, 360 room resort in Los Cabos next year. They’re keeping the location of the 3.5 acre property a secret.

The new resort will add to the 1,170 luxury rooms that the group has previously built in Mexico, including Velas Vallarta, Casa Velas – also in Puerto Vallarta –, Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit (Nuevo Vallarta) and Grand Velas Riviera Maya.

The story of how the group was born is unique in Mexico. Well, not so much. Brothers Eduardo and Juan Velas signed an agreement to buy the land that is now the Velas Vallarta resort, with no money in hand. They took the document to Fonatur, Mexico’s tourism development agency, and got the needed financing to build their first resort. Years later, they began selling time share. And that’s how fortunes are made in Mexico. You know somebody in government.

New criminal justice building. $5.5 million has been found to build a three story building to house our municipality’s criminal justice system. It’s going to take more than a spiffy new building to bring us justice. It’s going to take a thorough house cleaning of all the crooked judges and especially the crooked district attorneys who won’t bring charges to anyone who will pay them to make a case go away. Justice would be better served in a field under a tree, than in a swanky new building with the same tired old thieves in charge.

More hotel rooms. Our tourism minister pointed out that 14 months after hurricane Odile, Los Cabos is almost 100% recovered and acknowledged that was due largely to the work of teams of employees in the hotel industry. Now, we’re facing a different challenge, he said, with 3,900 rooms new rooms coming on line in the next couple of years, we will need a workforce of more than 10,000 people to service those rooms.

He added that preferably these positions should be filled by people already living here, because bringing in the labor will generate more urban sprawl and the social problems that come from demand on municipal services and schools.

$1,900,000. That’s the tab for installing 680 light poles along the 27 kilometers of  fourlane. Then there’s the ongoing electric bill, and the cost of re wiring the stolen cable, which is already underway before the job is even finished. Why can’t we all just turn on our headlights? If you’re headlights don’t work well enough to see where you’re going, please get off the fourlane before I get on it.

Economy is booming. The residential development Quivira, which is over on the Pacific side, presented an economic conference at the Pueblo Bonito Rose Hotel on Medano Beach. Macario Schettino,  a chemical engineer, holds a PhD in administration and has been a college professor, an author of more than two dozen books and a government advisor in the economic sector nationally and internationally.

OK, so. He says “Now is definitely the time to invest in real estate in Los Cabos because the Mexican economy has an incredible upside and expectations in the immediate future are high.” Now you have it. If you get in on this real estate boom too late, it won’t be our fault or Macario’s fault. We told you.   ,