Do we really need more signs?

At least in Ensenada, authorities and business leaders think so. The third ENSENADA “letters” sign was officially inaugurated in the cruise ships terminal, focused on more national motifs than regional, since it’s almost exclusively going to be seen by cruisers. The sign features the agave plant, charros and the Aztec calendar.

The first one was installed in Playa Hermosa, featuring local animals; the second one, featuring a cruise ship and the cranes in the port, was placed in the “Ventana al Mar” Malecon.

Each of these signs is costing around $7,500 USD and the original project planned for 8, some in the city, one in San Quintin and other ones in the Guadalupe Valley.

The money is coming from a trust managed by local business people, called FIDEM, funded by the state government, through giving back 5% of all payroll taxes that businesses paid during the year.

There is one more sign at the entrance of Ensenada, but that one was placed in there by our tourism officials with federal funds, as they have done in most tourist cities in Mexico.

Fish Report

Tijuana Bull Ring

Local action has been slow recently — not many bonito or bass, and just a fair number of little rock fish. Out west in the flats, however, the skipjack fishing has been great.

Coronado Islands

After a month or so of very little action, the 10- to 15-pound yellowtail are back on the bite.

The word we have is that yellowtail were seen on the rockfish area just to the NE of North Island and were taking the 6x jr., 6x and 7x yoyo iron, fished on 40- to 50-pound monofilament. Scrambled egg and blue/white were working well also.

Along with the yellowtail, a bunch of 4- to 6-pound bonito were seen spread out along the weather side of North Island.

Offshore

Captain Louie Prieto shows off one of the better-quality sheepshead caught on a recent outing.
Captain Louie Prieto shows off one of the better-quality sheepshead caught on a recent outing.

Below the 425 / Upper Hidden & Hidden Bank

This zone continues to be the best bet for yellowfin, with the most productive area being below 32.06, down in the Upper Hidden Bank area.

There is a temp break running east/west at that number. Temps are below 68°F, and to the north of it as well as 68°F to 69°F to the south.

The yellowfin, skipjack, yellowtail and dorado have nearly all been kelps now with not a lot of open-water jig stops happening.

The average-size yellowfin has been small, mainly from 6- to 10-pounds, with a few up around 20-pounds. The skippies were in the 5- to 8-pound range. The yellowtail have been little rats, from 1- to 3-pounds and the dorado have been small as well, from 5- to 10-pounds.

Lower 9 / Coronado Canyon / 425 / Upper Hidden / Hidden Bank

A couple of boats went exploring and checked out this area today. They didn’t find a lot of fish — in fact, most of the area was a barren desert, but they did find a couple of kelps which produced good numbers of yellowfin and skipjack along with a sample of rat yellowtail.

295 / 238 / 450 / 1140 Finger / Lower 500

Still the location where the biggest scores of yellowfin were coming from, but with a catch: 95% are on kelp paddies.

Easy limits of 6- to 35-pound yellowfin, along with some skipjack, yellowtail and a lone dorado were caught recently.

Most of the area is a desert now as well, with lots of dead water; but be sure and check out any kelp or any dolphin you run into, because these could be holding yellowfin.

Ensenada

Captain Louie Prieto checked in, reporting that for the last couple of weeks, yellowtail fishing has been spotty, but the big bonito and bottom fish have been biting full speed. Water was 63°F to 66°F inside the bay and has been flat and calm most days.

Several high spots at Bahia Salsipuedes were producing sand bass to 7-pounds, reds and chuckleheads to 5-pounds and one nice 23-pound sheepshead on a large root beer colored scampi tipped with squid. Best action was in 120- to 150-feet of water for all the bottom fish. There were several nice bonito on blue and white salas 6x jr. between Punta Pescadero and the Gas Plant. No birds were working anywhere in the bay, but when bait was found on the meter, the bonito have been found as well. Also, lots of bonito are reported a couple of miles inside of the southern end of Todos Santos Island. None of the deeper “go to” spots seem to be holding any yellowtail yet. Only a matter of time until they show. Live bait is not available until probably April, so bring squid.

San Quintin

Only a few groups recently. Troy Hutton, plus some amigos from Lake Arrowhead, Calif., found excellent action fishing aboard Captain Kelly Catian’s 25-foot Parker Offshore III, scoring a mix of yellowtail, big red rock cod and lingcod.

Bahia de Los Angeles

Currently, in a November tease mode with nice weather and only moderate breezes in the afternoons, most if not all the yellowtail action was dropper loop stuff, fishing at depths of 200-feet or so around the Islands. Cabrilla, grouper and pargo was also in the mix closer to shore. So far, north winds have not cranked up to full winter mode.

Mexican Land Trusts, Big IRS implications

I was intrigued by a recent presentation by a Mexican bank on the subject of Fideicomisos (land trusts). By way of a quick primer, ownership of real property in the “restricted zone” (100 km from borders, 50 km from shore) by a foreigner must be done through a Fideicomiso.

As it turns out, Mexican banks have a monopoly on this Fideicomiso business. The bank’s role is to hold the title to property on your behalf. One can direct the disposition of the property; sell, give away, or otherwise encumber the property. ‘Fidos’ are good estate planning vehicles from the Mexican perspective. At death, the property is transferred via the trust, perhaps a more efficient mechanism than Mexican probate.

Some banks appear to be pulling out of the “fido” market. When I asked why, I was told there is increased emphasis on anti-money laundering compliance by bank regulators, which to me means there may be a new spotlight on this market segment.

One of the reasons I attended was to see how much awareness there was on the part of bank officials on the federal income tax aspects of Fidos.  None. Zilge-ola. That means you, the person who may need to enter into a fido to own property, must pay special attention, because the bank won’t tell you.

Here’s the rub. What may work from a Mexican perspective may be sheer disaster from a U.S. tax perspective. Properly structured fidos (meaning they meet IRS requirements) are deemed to be “disregarded entities,” and the IRS will not bother you. When they are not, they become IRS ‘radioactive’. They become reportable foreign trusts. Every time there is an IRS reportable ‘anything’ you have better had done it right from the beginning.

“Good” fidos have only one property in them.  At the presentation it seemed like it was common to add more than one property per fido. Again, ok from the Mexican point of view, but runs afoul of IRS ‘safe harbors’. In fact, bank officials later confirmed they gladly would add properties to an existing fideicomiso, for a fee.

Another trait of “good” fidos:  They do nothing but hold title to property. Be wary of the bank doing other things for the property; managing it, paying taxes or other things. The IRS does not like that.

Food for thought:  New owner, new trust, or just substitute the name? Does one inherit the federal tax troubles of the last fido owner?

Orlando Gotay is a California licensed tax attorney (with a Master of Laws in Taxation) admitted to practice before the IRS, the U.S. Tax Court and other taxing agencies.  His love of things Mexican has led him to devote part of his practice to federal and state tax matters of U.S. expats in Mexico.  He can be reached at tax@orlandogotay.com or Facebook: GotayTaxLawyer.  This is just a most general outline. It is informational only and not meant as legal advice.

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.

Dealing With An Emergency Here If You Don’t Speak Spanish

Expat911 is a smart phone app that was designed by expats for expats.  It is a service that covers you for all types of emergencies when at home, on the road or out for a night on the town.  It utilizes GPS location services which allow the operators to target your exact location.  Many of us may have the capability to say our home address to Mexico’s Spanish speaking 911 operators, but what happens when we are in an unfamiliar area?  How can you explain where you are when you have no idea what the names of the streets are in the area during your emergency?  Also, how will you explain in detail about the type of emergency you are having?

Expat911 is an app that works on Android and iPhone devices.  Within the app you have a profile with information that will speed up the process when reporting an emergency.  You have a basic medical profile which has your blood type, allergies and sicknesses.  There is also a contact area where users can add 1 US/Canada contact and 2 Mexico contacts.  Expat911 will notify these contacts after your emergency has been reported to Mexico’s 911 on your behalf.  This way your family back home will know about your situation and so will the people that you trust here in Mexico.  The Mexico contacts can be neighbors or local doctors that speak English.  Many times our neighbors can come to our aid while we are awaiting the emergency services to arrive.  The Mexico contacts can also be used for our insurance agents or medical air evacuation plans that we may have in place.

So how does Expat911 work during an emergency?  You only have to click on one of the 3 emergency buttons.  There is a button for Police, Ambulance and Fire.  Within seconds an English speaking operator will call your phone and verify the emergency.  If you do not pick up, then they will assume that this is a serious emergency and report to Mexico’s 911 on your behalf.  If you answer, they will verify some quick details about your emergency and then call Mexico’s 911 to report the emergency.  Once the emergency has been reported, they will then confirm this with the user.  At this time they will stay on the phone with you if you request them to, or they will start calling your emergency contacts.  So it is very simple to use during an emergency and all you have to do is click a button.  They will take care of the rest.  They also record all calls so that there is a record of the emergency being reported to Mexico’s 911 and the call with the user as well.

Expat911 does have a cost to use their service.  It is important to understand that this is a 3rd party service who worked directly with Mexico’s C4 and C5 offices around the country.  C4 and C5 are the agencies that handle all 911 calls in Mexico.  Expat911 has a direct line of communication with all local C4 and C5 offices nationwide.  It is also important to realize the value of this service.  An alarm in our home has a cost of 1,000’s of pesos to install.  Then we pay an average of 250 pesos per month to have the service in case our alarm goes off.  So the yearly fee of an alarm in Mexico is 3,000 pesos on average.  This alarm system will only cover your home and you while you are at home.  There is no translation services included with your alarm company and you are only covered for police emergencies.  This is why we see the huge value in Expat911 which has a cost of $ 99.00 per year.  That cost is under 2,000 pesos per year and will cover you everywhere within Mexico.  Plus Expat911 has the added benefits of being 100% English spoken and contacting your friends and loved ones during your emergency.

Expat911 has recently implemented a couples plan.  The first user pays the full amount upon registration.  They will then contact Expat911 to ask for a coupon code which will be used on their spouse or family members.  The user will be provided with a 50% off coupon code for any other family members that wish to use the service.  So it is not just limited to your spouse and can also be used for you children, brothers and sisters who may also be living here in Mexico with you.  All additional accounts have a fee of $ 49.50 which is 50% of the original rate.

Expat911 is already serving a large number of expats in Mexico.  They have active users in 11 states and are growing daily.  It is a great service for those of us who have not been able to develop a strong command of the Spanish language.  It is also great for those of us who do speak Spanish well enough, but might worry about the stress during an emergency hampering our ability to speak another language.  It is also a great aid when we are traveling to an area that is unfamiliar to us.

If you are interested in using this service, we highly recommend reaching out to the company.  You can visit their website here:  https://www.expat911.mx/ref/baja/  If you have any questions about the registration process or require assistance, then you can email them directly at info@expat911.mx.  You can also request a call from them by sending an email and setting up a time to speak with a representative.

Fish Report

Tijuana Bull Ring

Wide open bonito fishing this morning in the Point Loma area down to IB. The bones were along the kelp line biting small sardines and chrome jigs along with a mix of calico bass, sheepshead, small rockfish and a few legal-sized lingcod.

More bonito can be found a mile or so outside.

 

Coronado Islands

The only surface fish that is being caught is the bonito which are along the weather side of North Island, the Middle Grounds, the Ribbon Kelp and the SKR. Some are big, coming in at well over the 10-pound mark, but 95% of them fall in the 4- to 8-pound class.

Slow-trolling sardines and Rapalas seems to be the ticket for the really big ones.

Other than this, the only thing biting are rockfish and whitefish.

 

Offshore

Below the 425 / Upper Hidden & Hidden Bank

This zone continues to be your best bet for a “local” yellowfin with the best area being below 32.06 down in the Upper Hidden Bank area.

There is a temp break running east/west at that number. Temps are below 68 to the north of it and 68- to 69- to the south.

The yellowfin, skipjack, yellowtail and dorado are nearly all on kelps now with not a lot of open-water jig stops happening.

The average size is small. The yellowfin are mainly 6- to 10-pounds with a few up around 20-pounds. The skippies are in the 5- to 8-pound range. The yellows are little rats, from 1- to 3-pounds and the dorado are 5- to 10-pounds.

 

Ensenada

After some shaky fishing when the hurricane passed far below in the Baja midsection, the surface action resumed with a vengeance. Limits of lunker-sized yellowtail were a pleasant surprise for anglers looking for a fish fix with limits rounding out good bottom fishing as well.

 

San Quintin

Like Ensenada, both inshore and offshore seems to be returning to the conditions prior to the storm. There has been some great fall action for the few anglers visiting the area now. Still, there’s some yellowtail along with great bottom fishing that is almost a given. Hopefully, the fall season will continue until November.

 

Cedros Island

As the lodges close down for the winter, the timing could not have been better with the recent storm that hit the area recently. The fishing remained good right up the the storm. Since then, it has been quiet.

 

Bahia de Los Angeles

Recent reports indicate the dorado that arrived during the summer are beginning to leave as the sea temps cool down. Already, there have been some comments about the north winds. Hopefully they won’t begin in earnest until late in November.

Meanwhile the bottom fishing for cabrilla, pargo and plenty of other takers is holding steady with most anglers limiting out often.

Don’t Forget to Turn Back The Clock

Daylight savings time ends this Sunday, November 4 at 2:00AM, so don’t forget to turn back the clock one hour before going to bed on Saturday. You won’t want to miss an hour of your favorite Baja brunch buffet!

Northern Baja sets back the clock the same day as Southern California because of the huge commercial relations between the two areas. Almost every other city in the country already did it this past weekend (except for a few border towns).

Baja California was the only state in Mexico to observe the daylight savings adjustment for many decades, until 1996 when the rest of the country decided to join the party.

A new bill proposal in California’s Congress would give voters a chance to end daylight savings for good. If that goes through Baja would have to follow suit just as Sonora has done with Arizona since 1998.

National Survey for The Mexico City Airport Starts Today

From today and until October 28th, polls will be open in order for Mexican people to decide the faith of the deeply controversial new Mexico City airport.

There are just two options to vote from, one is to continue construction of the new airport in Texcoco and the other option would be to expand the current airport, the Toluca airport and build two more air strips in the military air base in Santa Lucia.

The construction is already ongoing or the Texcoco airport.
Construction is already ongoing on the Texcoco airport.

The poll is organized by Lopez Obrador or AMLO as he is better known, although he hasn’t stepped into office yet (he will do that on December 1st) he said he wanted to gain some time and ask people how they feel regarding the airport.

AMLO has been against the new airport from the start because, he says, it was just a monument to corruption since on the first phase the project was already over budget by over 5.5 billion USD. The total cost is said to be 15.5 billion USD.

The new airport was beautifully designed by Norman Foster, an internationally acclaimed architectural design group.

In Baja, several polls are installed in every municipality although the one in Rosarito was almost cancelled because the organizers were robbed of all the material from their truck a couple days ago.

https://www.bajanorte.com/en/surfing/

Surf Tournament Coming Up In Ensenada

Playa Hermosa Surf & Sk8 Club is adjusting the final details of the 5th “Day Of The Dead” tournament, which this year is a tribute to Cristian “Cri Cri” Contreras.

The surf competition will be this October 27 and 28, Saturday and Sunday. You can register now at Playa Hermosa Surf and Skate Shop in Pedro Loyola St.

Cost per competitor is just $150 pesos (about 8 bucks) until October 25, after this day the cost will go up to $200 pesos (about 11 USD), registration includes an official shirt of the event.

The categories open this year are female beginners, male beginners, female open, male open, body board open, long board open (mixed), paddle board open (mixed) and Minihoonies (12 years or less).

Each day the tournament start at 7 AM just across the stairs in Playa Hermosa, awards are being given after the competition finishes on Sunday on the same place.

With information from Gabriel Garcia | El Vigia.

Ensenada Plans to Shield the Wine Valley After Business Owners Complain

Authorities from the three levels of government (city, state and federal), agreed to strengthen security in the wine valley by opening a second security booth, working on public lighting and programming more security checkpoints in a meeting with business owners from the valley.

Attendants to the meeting told authorities about the increase of non-violent thefts that they have suffered lately and asked authorities to prioritize and solve the issue as soon as possible.

Ensenada mayor, Marco Antonio Novelo, emphasized the importance of filing a report with authorities for them to know about the problem and work on a solution as most crimes in the city go unreported. A report by Ethos Public Policy Lab published last year stated that 94% of crimes in the whole country go unreported because people think it’s just a waste of time.

The city has been strongly pushing the wine valley to national and international tourists for a few years now and gets pretty worried when there are crime problems over there, sometime getting residents of other parts of Ensenada, specially the low-income areas, disgruntled at the lack of surveillance there.

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