David Beyer

David Beyer

Growing Pains

We Ensenadenses are experiencing a metamorphosis the pulse and pace of which are increasing exponentially.

Even as we traverse the same streets and boulevards en route to our usual places of work or worship, of play or passion, we notice that seemingly in the blink of an eye, a new monolith rises from the rocky soil, a skeleton of steel shrouded in concrete and adorned with neon. And within minutes of its birth, it becomes alive with the energy of people who have found a need to enter and explore it, to patronize it, even though it didn’t even exist seemingly moments ago.

As one who has lived here only seven years, I find the growth exhilarating. During my relatively brief presence here, I have commented on the recent efforts by our mayor to improve the infrastructure of the city.

For that praise (especially regarding the major street repaving projects) I have received some sharp criticism.

Perhaps because I referred to those areas of the city over which I traverse regularly, finding many of the once-devastated avenues so plagued with potholes as to represent a danger to the undercarriage of my car, now properly repaired and delineated.

I was excoriated by several people who own homes here and pay taxes and whose neighborhood streets still look like downtown Saigon during the Nixon administration.

Forgive me. I am forever the optimist.

But even I am beginning to wonder if this tidal wave of new construction can continue without some tipping point of reality to cause the boom to bust.

Why?

Because even with a brand-new desalination plant now fully operational, we still experience water shut-offs, although admittedly less frequent and shorter in duration.

Even with a new fleet of garbage trucks from Los Angeles roaming the streets, the problem of litter is still appalling. One reader sent me a photo of medical waste spilling out from an open dumpster on 14th Street at Ruiz.

And even with the massive effort to repair the minefields that comprise our network of roads, there are still so many left to upgrade that the prospect of complete success seems daunting, if not quite completely impossible.

But again, I am forever the optimist. During one of my deliveries, I entered the Baja Pharmacy on Calle Blancarte, next door to the Casa Del Sol Hotel. I noticed a small black-and-white photo on the counter, depicting the storefronts on La Primera (“The Avenue,” or 1st Street, the shopping mecca for the tourists from the cruise ships), taken decades ago.

I asked Jose Ibarra, the proprietor, about the photo.

“Where was that picture taken?” I asked.

“Right across the street,” he replied, pointing to the new La Primera Restaurant on the adjacent corner. “I’ve been here for over 50 years, in this same spot, and I’ve watched all these new businesses crop up, and seen the skyline of the city change over the years.”

That says it all, folks. Build it and the people will come. If it doesn’t work, we’ll find a way to fix it.

The people are coming, there is no doubt about it. The influx of population seems always to be one step ahead of the infrastructure, and the people may bitch about it but they won’t leave, because the truth of the matter is that regardless of its problems, Ensenada’s enchantment far exceeds its challenges.

Otherwise, why would Jose have stayed all these years?

I can’t imagine how amazing it must be for anyone of any age who was born and raised here to remember the place of their childhood and compare it to the city as it is now.

It’s a beautiful city and we all want it to work.

I guess we’ll just have to cooperate with each other; we can figure it out as we go.

More Than Another Brick in the Wall

Only an invisible line separates the United States from Mexico, and the two countries have lived harmoniously for decades. Recently, the mayor of San Diego declared that the southernmost counties of that city, together with all of northern Baja, are codependent upon each other economically, socially and creatively; he dubbed the region “CaliMex.”

One individual who personifies that union in the most joyous fashion is Enrique Chiu, a resident of Tijuana, originally from Guadalajara; he’s the artist whose work decorates that otherwise hideous tin wall that is supposed to separate our two cultures.

Enrique recently had his work on display at one of Ensenada’s premiere cultural and civic centers, the notoriously famous Riviera. An admirer of his work gave me his contact information, which I pursued with vigorous anticipation.

Enrique painting on the border wall in Playas de Tijuana. Photo by: Noemi Ramirez
Enrique painting on the border wall in Playas de Tijuana.
Photo by: Noemi Ramirez

The man is an artist whose work is so positive and energetic that neither one of the governments dividing our two nations has ever tried to suppress him in any way. His work is nonpartisan, and celebrates the gift of life with colors bright and joyful, with messages that unify disparate cultures and express with uplifting energy the passion and cohesion that unite human beings in a manner that supersedes the spoken language.

Enrique told me that he became interested in art at a very early age. He grew up in Guadalajara, a city rich in culture, a metropolis blessed by museums, a rich history and              an optimistic attitude toward the future.

He traveled to the United States, where he continued to study art, music  and history. Always, during his travels, he expressed his impressions in paintings that caught the spirit of individualism while opening the door to human dignity and respect. His love for life is so contagious that his followers are numbered in the hundreds, if not thousands; his work attracts and energizes children as well as adults. His images are expressions of joie de vivre, “the joy of life,” and to see his work is to feel the happiness and hopefulness of humanity at its best.

From Long Beach, California, to Guadalajara, Mexico, Enrique has opened workshops for children, and encourages everyone, regardless of age, to express him or herself with vigorous and joyous respect and gratitude for the life we have been granted on this magnificent planet.

Enrique Chiu
Enrique Chiu

I was teasing him about his Mexican first name and his Chinese surname, and he responded with the good nature that one would expect from an artist whose life is his work, and whose work brings joy and unity to the human family: he said “I am an artist, altruistic, social and committed to things that can make changes in society.”

He went on further to tell me that he is a Mexican with Chinese and Spanish grandparents. How fortunate are we to have such a unique individual living among us; how beautiful and unifying is his art.

Next time you travel north to the United States, remember that although political differences will always challenge us, art will always unite us. Beauty, passion and joy are gifts that human beings treasure and revere.

Those treasures that we share will allow us to forgive our differences.

When you see Enrique’s art on any one of the panels he has decorated, remember that the man is expressing himself in a manner of peaceful coexistence and a presence of mind that encourages the future of our species in the simplest, purest and most innocent manner; that simplicity and innocence has driven artists throughout human history to create works in whose shadows we shall forever stand in awe.

Enrique Chiu’s love of humanity flows from within his heart to the panels on which he designs his art. Those panels are reminders that although our differences may be many, our similarities are our common bond.

Public Safety Enhanced By Drones

Ensenada’s experience with CAPE’s crusaders in the sky

 

As we reported last year, the City of Ensenada had enhanced its police protection with the collaboration of a state-of-the-art technology company based in Redwood City, California.

This collaboration, which utilized the services of a network of drones, was initiated by Mayor Marco Novelo on a trial basis to determine how much the company’s assistance could improve public safety in regards to crisis management and crime prevention.

The result was a significant reduction in crime since the inception of the program in October of 2017, as reported by Mayor Novelo as late as June 2018.

The Mayor reported that as of that time, 513 arrests had been made as a result of patrols, and that management of crisis situations were greatly enhanced by drone surveillance. By the time the program ended, over 1,000 arrests had been made as a result of drone intervention and guidance!

That Bay Area company is called Cape, which provided Ensenada with a network of drones that gave emergency services here unprecedented and incomparable coverage of the entirety of its large geographical area.

In order to appreciate the level of sophistication that Cape provided to the police and other emergency services, Gerardo Cervantes, Operations Manager at Cape, who also has an office locally, said that a drone could be deployed to within a 5km radius of a 911 call in less than three minutes!

Once the drone arrived at its assigned destination, its “eyes” on the situation provided critical information  to the drone operator, revealing instantly what resources were necessary for adequate management of the emergency; for example, were fire trucks, ambulances or utility company’s services necessary, and, if so, what kind and how many of each? That information, rapidly communicated by dispatchers, could make the difference between life and death in critical situations.

Hector Elias is an Ensenada native who works with Cape locally. He explained that the drones are so sophisticated that they can operate independently of an operator, i.e., if for some reason the operator is disconnected from the unit (which so far has never happened in a practical application), it will automatically return “home” – its original launching point – and land itself safely!

Cape drones have shown that they are indispensable allies to the local police department. They are also valuable assets to the military, private industry, large agricultural concerns, and private security companies.

Hector demonstrated one of the most desirable traits of Cape drones: They can  be controlled remotely from anywhere in the world. As he stood at his test site at Playa Hermosa, he pointed to a drone that was coming in for a landing; that drone was being piloted by a Cape operator in Redwood City!

In the U.S., Cape is currently partnering with the city of San Diego for the UAS Pilot Integration Program, providing Cape-enabled drones to assist in emergency response support, offering the incomparable crime fighting and crisis management services that only a highly sophisticated squadron of drones can provide.

According to Mr Cervantes, the FAA’s flight pattern restrictions in the United States offer challenges  more restrictive than those in Mexico, such as “line of sight,” but he is certain that Cape will be able to offer solutions to any challenge posed by that federal agency, noting that the restriction could be lifted once the FAA is convinced that Cape’s drones can be operated remotely – and safely – from anywhere in the world.

As he says, with justifiable confidence, “There is no competition.”

Ensenada’s Public Safety Greatly Enhanced by Drones

As we reported last year, the City of Ensenada had enhanced its police protection with the collaboration of a state-of-the-art technology company based in Redwood City, California.

This collaboration, which utilized the services of a network of drones, was initiated by Mayor Marco Novelo on a trial basis to determine how much the company’s assistance could improve public safety in regards to crisis management and crime prevention.

The result was a drastic reduction in crime since the inception of the program in October of 2017, as reported by Mayor Novelo as late as June 2018.

The Mayor reported that as of that time, 513 arrests had been made as a result of patrols, and that management of crisis situations were greatly enhanced by, drone surveillance. By the time the program ended, over 1,000 arrests had been made as a result of drone intervention and guidance!

That Bay Area company is called Cape, which provided Ensenada with a network of drones that gave emergency services here unprecedented and incomparable coverage of the entirety of its large geographical area.

In order to appreciate the level of sophistication that Cape provided to the police and other emergency services, Gerardo Cervantes, Operations Manager at Cape, who also has an office locally in the Ensenada Business Center, said that a drone could be deployed to a within a 5km radius of a 911 call in less than three minutes!

Once the drone arrived at its assigned destination, its “eyes” on the situation provided critical information  to the drone operator, revealing instantly what resources were necessary for adequate management of the emergency; for example, were fire trucks, ambulances or utility company’s services necessary, and, if so, what kind and how many of each? That information, rapidly communicated by dispatchers, could make the difference between life and death in critical situations.

Hector Elias is an Ensenada native who works with Cape locally. His “office” is underneath a palapa at Playa Hermosa, next to the circular building used by cruise ship tourists as an observation post!

Hector explained that the drones are so sophisticated that they can operate independently of an operator, i.e., if for some reason the operator is disconnected from the unit (which so far has never happened in a practical application), it will automatically return “home” – its original launching point – and land itself safely!

He works at that location daily, running tests and designing and upgrading new applications for Cape’s product line.

Cape drones have shown that they are indispensable allies to the local police department. They are also valuable assets to the military, private industry, large agricultural concerns, and private security companies.

Hector demonstrated one of the most desirable traits of Cape drones: They can  be controlled remotely from anywhere in the world. As he stood beneath his palapa at Playa Hermosa, he pointed to a drone that was coming in for a landing; that drone was being piloted by a Cape operator in Redwood City!

Police officers from Ensenada and drone pilots doing remote surveillance of problematic parts of the city.

Even though the municipal government is currently experiencing budgetary shortfalls, the Mayor is trying to get the federal government to allot funds to Ensenada to continue the program.

Hopefully, with the recent election of a progressive, forward-thinking president, that request will be granted.

It would behoove the feds to approve the request for the allocation of such funds, because, as the statistics from the trial have revealed, the reduction in crime and the more efficient allocation of emergency resources would more than pay for the cost of a partnership with Cape.

In the U.S., Cape is currently partnering with the city of San Diego for the UAS Pilot Integration Program, providing Cape-enabled drones to assist in emergency response support, offering the incomparable crime fighting and crisis management services that only a highly sophisticated squadron of drones can provide.

According to Mr Cervantes, the FAA’s flight pattern restrictions in the United States offer challenges  more restrictive than those in Mexico, such as “line of sight,” but he is certain that Cape will be able to offer solutions to any challenge posed by that federal agency.

Line of sight seems an archaic restriction in the view of Cape’s worldwide network Internet coverage; Cervantes notes that he can be in Hawaii and control a drone in Ensenada!

As he says, with justifiable confidence, “There is no competition.”

Cape has an impressive website, that allows the viewer to fly a drone remotely! They’ve posted videos of example situations, like drones being used to catch burglars in the process of attempting to leave crime scenes with stolen goods, only to be surprised by the arrival of the police, who’d been notified by drone operators who “saw” the crime through the eyes of their technological partner in the sky!

There are also recorded images of crisis situations for which drones provided the information to dispatchers which allowed for the deployment of adequate resources to manage the situation.

It’s really a no-brainer: How can the city NOT continue to employ the services of a company which unquestionably enhances the safety of the public, while greatly assisting the police and other emergency systems?

In the long run, it’s probably one of the most “renewable” financial expenditures that could be considered by the government. It would more than pay for itself in the long run.

You can learn more about the company by visiting their website at: www.capedrones.com

American Veterans Coalition (AVCO) Expands its Services

Many Beneficial Veterans Services Soon to be Offered to Civilians

 

The American Veterans Coalition (AVCO) was started in 2014 by a US Navy veteran who struggled for 27 years with the VA to ascertain and secure maximum benefits available to service members suffering from PTSD. That ordeal paid off well for him, and inspired him to share the knowledge he attained with other service members.

Since its humble beginnings, AVCO has secured many successes for its members. One member, who for decades had been receiving only 50% of the maximum benefits allowed, is now receiving full benefits (100%). This member also received “back pay” for the many years since the time of his original application, a value in the hundreds of thousands of dollars!

Other members have received a variety of benefits, most of which they did not even realize were available, or did not know that they were eligible for. One of these included funeral benefits (including transportation to military burial sites in the US). Others included a variety of spousal and child benefits.

One major positive development in the long history of the founder’s struggle with the VA came from the VA itself: When former Senator Chuck Hagel became Secretary of Defense  under President Obama in 2013, he declared that veterans no longer had to provide service documents verifying their claims. This came about as a result of many complaints from veterans. They claimed that once they realized they had a valid claim to receive benefits, so much time had elapsed between the traumatic event itself and the time of their filing a claim, records were difficult if not impossible to obtain from the military. In other words, Hagel required the VA  to accept “self reports” from veterans regarding the events resulting in their trauma.

Prior to that time, the VA required that layers of documentation be submitted with a plethora of forms to verify their claims. Many veterans went through months, sometimes years, contacting military sources in an attempt to secure the necessary documentation.

One person attending the September 9th PTSD meeting at AVCO headquarters in Ensenada pointed out that the VA’s official refusal to process this veteran’s claims was due to lack of information available from military sources. Yet a lawyer working on the veteran’s behalf was able to verify the veteran’s claims from reputable sources by performing a simple Google search.

In any event, AVCO’s record of successes in helping veterans on many levels speaks for itself The next step is to offer those services to civilian expats living in Mexico.

The first step in that direction will be the outcome of AVCO’s application for the Mexican equivalent of the US 501(c)3 tax-exempt status for a non-profit organization (it is already a tax-exempt US entity). Once that status is secured, American civilians living here may also benefit from the services offered by AVCO,

Those services include evaluations for PTSD and other psychological conditions, IQ assessments, depression and addiction, and directions to a variety of other services available to treat those issues.

Job training services are also available.

Since local treatment is available for physical and mental conditions, the long journey to the US, which for some can be an arduous and costly experience, becomes unnecessary.

Bi-monthly PTSD-members only meetings are held at AVCO headquarters in Ensenada, during which members exchange experiences and solutions.

Contact AVCO @ 52.646.244.8431 or www.avcosd.org.

Ensenada Stepping Up Its Game

Now She’s More Popular Than Ever Before!

Long known for her potential, Ensenada was nicknamed “Cinderella of the Pacific,” and that moniker was appropo for decades; recently, however, the City has begun a metamorphosis from a diamond in the rough to a highly polished gem.

The progress began with almost no fanfare back in February, when Mayor Novelo’s massive street repair program began to dramatically change the complexion of Zona Centro and other key regions of the City. Once pothole-infested roadways became smooth, safe and well-marked, making it easier and more pleasant for residents and visitors alike to travel to their destinations of choice.

Since that time, investors both foreign and domestic have been pouring resources into the City in the form of new condos, hotels, residential renovations and retail establishments. Back in february we brought an article to you that heralded one of the first of such major investments with the announcement of the Viento complex, which combined 167 condos and guest accommodations (in a City Express Hotel) with on-site recreational facilities, as well as retail support markets and a food court, that essentially made the triple towers a totally self-contained living environment.

That opened the floodgates, and as of this writing, it is difficult to keep up with the almost frenetic pace of new construction, expansion of existing structures, renovations, upgrades and the opening of a myriad of enthusiastic and optimistic businesses, large and small.  The construction of a Holiday Inn in Zona Centro is nearing the completion of its external shell; a new Kia dealership is rising up near CEARTE and a City Express Hotel is being built next to the Dodge dealershp, across from the Marine base on Blvd Costero..

One of the most explosive growth areas currently is the Playa Hermosa sector. Many new restaurants and cafes have popped up along Blvd Costero (aka Blvd Lazaro Cardenas), the beautiful coast highway that brings motorists from up north into the City, and carries them alongside the beach and the malecon, Ensenada’s most popular recreational area.

The Playa itself has been given a makeover by the federal government, with the installation of palapas, observation posts, winding boardwalks from the wide sidewalk that’s skateboard, roller skate and bicycle-friendly, down to the broad, sandy beach, and, recently, an “Ensenada” banner, which tourists and locals alike are proudly using as a backdrop for postcard-worthy photos.

The hottest story on the Playa right now is the ongoing construction of a shopping plaza, which is being built entirely from modified cargo containers! Yes, those unsightly metal boxes that have been piling up at the ports of Ensenada and El Sauzal are being finally being put to constructive use, customized and arranged into what is going to be a modern, open, unique shopping plaza that will feature eateries and various retail outlets, with an incomparable view of the bay, from the port of Ensenada to the towering hills of La Bufadora!

The beachfront property was leased from API (the revenue service of the waterways) by a conglomerate of private investors That group enlisted the services of Maganas (“herreria y estructuras”) as lead contractor on the project.

Maganas has already begun arranging the containers on the property, and is cutting openings in strategic parts of the boxes to allow for windows, doors and canopies; they’re also pouring slabs to create patios outside the units. Cranes are lifting boxes up to create 2-story units, with stairways leading up to observation areas and additional retail spaces.

Jorge Hernandez, on-site manager for Maganas’ construction project, said that the project is in its infancy; more containers are scheduled to be brought to the site, and that the area allotted for the plaza has room for a potential plethora of outlets.

That area of Playa Hermosa is adjacent to the spacious paved enclosure which has been the site for car shows and numerous other recreational events.

It’s a frequent host to tourists, bused in from the cruise ships to enjoy the view from an on-site observation deck, where they are served Puerto Vallarta-style by the nearby restaurants and coffee shops; waiters from those establishments can be seen running from their cafes and cocinas, across the Boulevard to the waiting tourists, bringing them everything from fresh coffee to hot tamales.

It won’t be long before those same tourists will be able to walk from their observation post to a unique new shopping plaza, where they can wine, dine and go shopping at a myriad of creative new outlets.

Cinderella has kicked off her glass slippers, and is dancing to the tune of a long-awaited renaissance.

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