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.

Thinking Of Buying Property In Mexico?


Baja California is certainly enjoying a major historical real estate boom. Nonetheless, the real estate industry has also been one of the sectors with the most complaints before the Federal Bureau of Consumer Protection (“PROFECO”).

For this reason, if you are considering buying a property for residential purposes, it is very important that you take into consideration several caveats before putting your signature on the final contract.

Generally, real estate developers have standardized purchase contracts, meaning that these contracts have been prepared by them and are normally not negotiable, except sometimes as to price and form of payment. These contracts are called Adhesion Contracts by the Federal Consumer Protection Law (the “Law”).

Protect your investments.

According to the Law, developers, brokers and any other person intervening in the marketing and sale of real estate is obligated to record their adhesion contracts before PROFECO, to prevent them from containing abusive or unfair clauses that put consumers in a disadvantageous situation.

To that end, it is important for you to know the following 10 points that you should take into consideration before signing a purchase contract.

Before signing the contract…

  1. Contract registration. Find out whether the contract model you are asked to sign has been previously authorized by PROFECO. If the contract has been authorized, it should have a registry number and authorization date. You can research Adhesion Contracts at the website: https://burocomercial.profeco.gob. mx/ by entering the contract’s registry number or the seller’s name.
  2. Seller Investigation. It is also highly recommended to investigate whether there are prior complaints lodged before PROFECO against your potential Seller.
  3. Liens. The Seller must provide all appropriate documentation showing clean title to the property, and disclose any liens affecting the same, as well as a full and precise description of the property’s characteristics, area, structure type, facilities, amenities, accessories, parking spots, additional services, among others.
  4. Delivery date. Make sure that the contract specifies the property’s delivery date.
  5. Conventional Penalties. Verify that any established penalties are fair and reciprocal for both parties. There are often cases where conventional penalties apply only to the buyer.
  6. Warranty period. According to the Law, the Seller must provide a warranty for a period of not less than 5 years regarding structural parts, 3 years for waterproofing and 1 year for all the other items of the property. All terms start running upon delivery of the property.
  7. Jurisdiction. The “jurisdiction” clause is the “forum and choice of law” stipulation. It is crucial because it indicates the place where any eventual complaints should be filed and the law that will apply to their resolution. Naturally, the forum and the applicable law should preferably be that of the place where the property is located and not of the place of the Seller’s location, because this would put you in a very disadvantageous position.
  8. Lopsided provisions. Given that these contracts are prepared by the sellers, it is strongly advised that you pay close attention to all clauses imposing obligations and duties to the buyer. We have seen contracts where the buyer is obligated to purchase blinds and other items such as finishing decorations unilaterally selected by the seller and from suppliers that are also unilaterally selected by the seller.
  9. Termination of the Contract. The contract must indicate the termination procedure and the corresponding implications to each party, and given the cause, you must review the terms and conditions regarding refunds.
  10. Down payment. The seller has no right to request any payment until the agreement has been formalized by a written contract, except for any investigation expenses. Taking the previous recommendations into consideration will  diminish the risks of exposure in your real estate investment; however, we highly recommend that you always seek professional legal advice to review and determine the contract’s full terms and conditions and duties to the buyer. We have seen contracts where the buyer is obligated to purchase blinds and other items such as finishing decorations unilaterally selected by the seller and from suppliers that are also unilaterally selected by the seller.

Mariana Lopez-Bustamante is part of the legal team at SANCHEZ Y ASOCIADOS, a Tijuana based law firm that specializes in real estate transactions for foreigners. You can reach them at their office in Blvd. Agua Caliente 10611-507 in Tijuana, call them at +52 (646) 686-4137 or email at mlopezb@scaabogados.com.

All Aboard the Rosarito Restaurant Tour

You keep telling yourself, “I just have to try out (enter Restaurant Name here),” and you never quite get around to it. Well, no more excuses. Welcome to the Baja Tourism Promotional Restaurant Tour, organized by Scot Richardson of Once Upon a Time in Rosarito and Melissa Judge. Recently 50 Rosaritenses boarded a tour bus for eleven restaurants in eleven hours, visiting eateries from Magana’s in the south, the Charly’s Taqueria at k37. Read more

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.

Need To Phone The Cops?

Hopefully you haven’t been there yet. And hopefully you never will be.  But if you need to call the police and can’t speak Spanish, this is the app for you. Or, if you’re feeling a little bit apprehensive about living here, this is the app for you. Or if you think your concrete house is going to burn down this is the app for you. Read more

Do I Really Need a Visa To Live Here?

Only if you want to have legal status

The exact number of foreigners living in Baja is high, but there is no way to tally them accurately unless they are registered with INM, the National Institute of Migration. Perhaps as few as 10 – 15% of foreign residents possess a valid visa. INM is equal to the United States’ Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), except for customs issues that are conducted by SAT, the Tax Administration Service. Read more

Good News For Local Veterans

AVCO Scores Additional Benefits and New Service Bureaus

McCail Smith Jr is a retired U.S. Navy veteran who suffered PTSD as a result of injuries incurred during active duty in the Vietnam conflict. As a result of his injuries, the VA granted him partial disability benefits. Read more

Rosarito Theater Guild Brings New Play

“Shirley Valentine” starts Sept. 22

A real treat awaits you at the Rosarito Theatre Guild in just a few days. The RTG put on this play, “Shirley Valentine”, written in 1986 by Willie Russell, about eight years ago, and there has been a quiet groundswell for a reprise ever since. So finally the groundswell succeeded and it’s here! Read more

Santa in September

Let’s help out the kids early this year

Christmas shopping comes early this year. Hearts of Baja Children’s Homes Network is operating a toy drive the month of September, requesting new, unwrapped toys that DON’T require batteries, for children aged 0 – 16 years of age. Read more

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