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Thursday, December 27, 2007

San Felipe Disposal

Photo: Gary Dilley and Robin Waters.

If you’re looking for advice on how to retire in San Felipe, Gary Dilley is not the guy to ask. He’s owned a house here for 27 years and first visited 40 years ago for the Baja 1000. Just 3 years ago he became a full-time resident with the intention of retiring.

But a funny thing happened on the way to margaritas on the beach – trash spoke to him and San Felipe Disposal was born. So much for retirement. When asked why disposal, Gary said, “I saw construction was booming and that there was a real need for portable bathrooms and the
removal of construction debris.

I started working when I was 15 years old. I’ve owned and operated an amusement game company, worked as a printer and have owned car dealerships. One of my first jobs was in the garbage industry, so I guess I’m back where I started”.

With all the wonderful things about living in San Felipe, there are less than desirable aspects. Poor disposal practices and littering have created a serious problem, not to mention some unsightliness. When asked what changes he would like to see, Gary said, “I would get rid of all those open 50-gallon drums. Dogs tip them over, they draw flies, and they look and smell bad.” He adds, “Existing laws aren’t being enforced.

Uncovered trucks haul trash and it blows all over the place before they get to the dump site. Everything should be discarded at the town dump, not in the desert or wherever is convenient. People who litter should be fined.

All who live here have a responsibility to keep our community clean.” Doing its part, San Felipe Disposal rents and services portable bathrooms, removes waste from septic tanks and provides garbage containers in sizes from 40 yarders for construction sites, 3 yarders for business and 65 gallon containers for residential trash service.

When asked about recycling, Gary replied, “Right now all garbage is taken to the dump outside of town. I’m hoping that we will be able to recycle in the next year or two.” We asked him what makes his company different from his competitors. “We have all the permits to operate legally.” He adds, “We are bilingual, our drivers are licensed and our trucks are insured. We operate regular routes and we are dependable.” The same can’t be said for many of the trash haulers operating in San Felipe.

Gary has seen many changes in just the last five years and expects San Felipe to change much more in the next five. “I think that San Felipe Disposal will mirror the growth of this town. With so many Baby Boomers retiring, I’m sure it’ll continue to grow.”

Lastly, we asked Gary for his advice to someone starting a business in San Felipe. “Having been involved in many business ventures here over the last 40 years, I would advise that they really do their research and seek the input of established business people.”

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Outdoor Kitchens

When asked, many people will say the number one reason for being in Baja is the weather So, why not enjoy al fresco cooking and dining in your own outdoor kitchen?

Many people already have. The trend is catching on for good reason. Nothing tastes as good as a meal prepared outdoors. Outdoor kitchens range from simple to extravagant. A small workspace and a grill are the basics, but many people are moving the whole kitchen outside. Sinks, built-in ice wells, refrigerators, grills, burners, warming drawers, woks and beer drafts are all becoming popular today. And even baking can be accomplished with a wood fired oven.

Cooking in a wood fired oven can be considered an art in itself, but the rewards are remarkable. Since a wood fired oven can reach much higher temperatures, pizzas, vegetables and seafood cook quickly and are additionally seasoned with that delectable fire-roasted flavor. As the oven cools, roasts, stews, and bread benefit from even cooking as the masonry of the oven slowly releases its heat.

The outdoor kitchen is a natural for entertaining. No more crowds in the kitchen and food prep is easier in a roomy outdoor kitchen. Homeowners are finding the outdoor kitchen is an economical way to increases usability and add value to their properties.

Combine your al fresco kitchen with a shaded seating area, an outdoor fireplace, and a television for a guaranteed home run, Baja style.

About the author, Jonathon E. Spinner is President of Adobe Block Works, Inc. a San Felipe based, design-build firm specializing in adobe construction and dedicated to Old World ingenuity combined with Modern technology. He can be reached by email at jon@adobeblockworks.com

Saturday, December 1, 2007

A Mexican Tale of Two Tigers

by Hal “Paco” Clark

Golf experts and fans from all over the world are drawing comparisons between the two best players on tour today, Tiger Woods of the PGA and Lorena Ochoa, the top LPGA tour player. In her own words, Lorena Ochoa said that she and Tiger Woods ‘live in two different worlds’. Interms of golf, though, there is hardly anything that separates the two.Looking athe way Ochoa is dominating women’s golf, one cannot help but draw comparisons between her and Woods.

Both players took extended time off at the end of last season and both opted out of the season’s first few events. Both won their first tournaments of the year. As the #1 mens player in the world, Woods won the Dubai Desert Classic and his next event, the Accenture World Match Play Championship in decisive fashion, 8 & 7. If you add his two wins at the end of last season ,and the Target World Challenge, his winning streak stands at six.

The 26-year-old Mexican, Ochoa is the #1 ranked female player in the world and won her 2008 debut at the HSBC Women’s Championship, an 11 stroke victory over former #1 Annika Sorenstam. Ochoa started her 2008 LPGA season the way she ended the previous season,on a winning note, by winning the ADT Championship. She said: “It’s always great to be compared with Tiger. We all want to be like him. I admire and respect him a lot. We live in two different worlds, but when he won a tournament by 10 strokes, I had that in my mind. It’s something that always motivates me. It’s an honor to be compared with him, and I’m going to try to go after him. Every tournament I play, I play to win. When I go to Nabisco for the first Major of the year in April, I’m going to be ready to win.”

It could be a long while before Ochoa matches Woods’ achievements, but she is getting there. Both players won one Major each, but Ochoa’s eight victories put her one up on Woods. Ochoa finished in the top-five an amazing 17 times, while Woods had 10 top-five finishes. Both led their Tours in scoring average - Woods 69.10 and Ochoa 69.69. The greatest disparity between the two lies in the prize money, but that’s a topic for another day. It is no surprise that both led their Tours in greens in regulation last year - Woods 71 per cent and Ochoa 73.1 per cent. When it comes to putting, Ochoa was ranked first on the LPGA with 1.76 putts per hole while Woods was fourth (1.73).

But it is the manner in which they annihiliate the field that has Ochoa mentioned in the same breath as Woods. Both have a desire to use their celebrity status to help the children of the world. Is Ochoa on her way to becoming the Tiger Woods of women’s golf? I like her chances.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

On Building: Keeping your house cool.

Many people in Baja will rely on their air-conditioning during the summer months to keep their homes cool. While there are times when air conditioning is a good choice for cooling, there are other less energy intensive ways to regulate the household temperature.

We will start with some basic techniques for controlling heat gain that can be applied to any home, then move on to more advanced construction methods and materials.

During the hottest parts of the year in San Felipe, we focus on lowering the indoor air temperature. To do this, start by looking at the house from the exterior. Our goal is to minimize the amount of heat entering the home from outside. The roof, south and west facing walls and windows of a building receive the maximum amount of solar exposure and are responsible for the majority of heat transfer to the interior. Shading these surfaces will greatly reduce the heat gain in the house. Shade for the walls can be created with structures such as porches or palapas, or by planting trees or vines. Windows are best shaded with exterior shutters, overhangs or interior curtains. Flat roofs can also be shaded with plants, or with shade cloth or a double roof system with an airspace. White or other light colored paints reflect the suns rays and also help keep the interior cool. Another possibility for an existing home is to apply rigid insulation to the exterior of the building, then re-stucco over the insulation.

These tips will reduce the load on your a/c system and therefore reduce your monthly electric bill.

But what if you want an even lower electric bill or to eliminate it totally? In these cases, we look back to the time proven tactics employed by our ancestors, people who lived in similar climates to ours before mechanical refrigeration was available. Today we call these techniques ‘passive cooling.’ Our ancestors called it ‘common sense.’ Centuries of trial and error have provided us with some extremely effective cooling strategies.

In fact, the first ice creams were produced centuries before mechanical freezers, in the hot arid environment we now know of as Iran!

Keeping cool using passive cooling requires an understanding of human comfort levels. The illustration below is a graph showing temperature vs. relative humidity. At the center, the comfort zone represents the temperature and humidity levels that most people find acceptable. (solid black line in this graph)

GRAPHIC:The dashed lines on the graph show four passive (non-mechanical) cooling strategies:

Natural ventilation - using only air movement to cool the home and occupants - refreshing sea breezes can be incorporated into the building design through cross ventilation.

High thermal mass - the ability of a material to absorb heat during the day and release it at night. To be effective the thermal mass material must be exposed to the interior. A house is considered to have average thermal mass when the exposed mass area is equal to the floor area. (a concrete slab floor provides average thermal mass). High thermal mass is achieved when exposed mass area is 3 or more times the area of the floor.

Evaporative cooling - cooling the interior by evaporating water. During dry weather, this is often accomplished with terra cotta water pots, fountains and plants.

High thermal mass with night cooling - relies on the thermal mass’s ability to slowly absorb heat from the day, then by opening the home at night, cooler night air is allowed to recharge the mass. Windows and doors are open at night and closed during the day.

Mediterranean cultures have used these concepts for centuries. The stone and adobe houses of Greece and Egypt are excellent examples of low-tech ways to maintain comfortable indoor temperatures. The whitewashed exteriors of the houses reflect the sun’s rays and thick adobe walls provide the necessary high thermal mass. Courtyards and narrow streets provide shaded areas for evaporative cooling through fountains and foliage, while creating stack effect natural ventilation during day and cool air pooling at night.

Incorporating these time-tested strategies into a building design can greatly reduce and often eliminate the need for air conditioning. Notice how much larger the comfort zone can become with passive cooling!

About the author, Jonathon E. Spinner is President of Adobe Block Works, Inc. a San Felipe based, design-build firm specializing in adobe construction and dedicated to Old World ingenuity combined with Modern technology. He can be reached by email at jon@adobeblockworks.com

Monday, April 9, 2007

Playa del Paraiso is Raising the Bar

Will Playa del Paraiso create a paradigm shift in real estate and construction in San Felipe?

“Playa del Paraiso is changing the way things are done,” says Eric Garcia, Director of Sales at Playa del Paraiso, as evidence that 90% of the Playa de Paraiso has already been pre-sold despite the fact that the project won’t be completed until 2008.

In 1999 Eric came to San Felipe to sell real estate. “Like the rest of us, I got started here at El Dorado Ranch” Eric says smiling. “Their marketing genius coupled with Pat Butler’s vision has made El Dorado’s a success, and their success has made this town a success. Nobody spends the kind of money they spend to get people down here to buy real estate.”

Now eight years later, as Director of Sales & Marketing for Playa del Paraiso with an extensive background in architecture drafting and design, civil engineering and electrical contractor for 13 years, he is the eyes and the ears for the developer and is able to effectively monitor the all phases of the project.

According the Eric there are three phases to selling a development of this size; the vision phase, the construction phase and the completion phase. “In the beginning when we sold so well during the vision phase, I knew we were on the right track.” Eric continues.

The property was purchased in latter part of 2003 with pre-plans being complete a year later in late 2004 and sales of the vision beginning in 2005. With only two years into the project and a total of 207 units available, only 14 units are left. “It tells me that when people are looking for real estate down here, this is what their looking for” says Eric “and 90% was sold via the Internet.”

Playa del Paraiso is the first Condo Hotel in San Felipe. “We’re building a condominium resort with full hotel amenities,” says Eric. A condo-hotel allows someone to purchase a unit and to live there when they choose, the period of the year it’s not occupied by its owner the unit is converted back into a luxurious hotel suite.

Despite many set backs and delays, Playa del Paraiso is nearing completion of phase one, that includes the first building and the first pool. The first building to be completed is the Punta Building, which faces the north towards San Felipe and is scheduled to be complete by the end of the year.

Playa de Paraiso is an ambitious project with eight different floor plans that range from one bedroom (1044 sq. ft.) to four bedroom (2400 sq. ft.) and range from $200k to $800k. “Having beach front condo with gym, health spa and hotel amenities, gives us an advantage over our competitors.” ” says Eric. Every Unit faces the ocean on 10 aches on prime beachfront real estate beside the new marina.

“We could have put in about another 500 units and used the federal zone for recreation,” Eric points out, “but the developers made this their home they wanted it to stand out.” And stand out it will with 5 acres of open space for pool, palapa bar, spas, and playground for kids with 3 acres of beach.

The grounds were not the only area were the bar was raised. According to Eric, a normal development is put together using fairly standard formula of approx. 80% indoor living and 20% balcony/hall, but they’ve found in this climate that most of our living is outside, so Playa del Paraiso was designed with a formula of 60% living and 40% balcony/hall with unit balconies from 1000sq. ft. feet to exclusive rooftop decks
in excess of to 5000 sq. shared among the 8 penthouse units.

Currently employing more than 150 trades workers, the biggest hurdle the project had to overcome was labor. Playa del Paraiso is building with American construction methods of steel and drywall and San Felipe didn’t have qualified workers to do that kind of work. “We are the only steel building in San Felipe,” says Eric. Much of their workforce has been recruited from Mexicali with additional workers from Sandy Beach Resorts out of Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point) to help with concrete and drywall.

Playa del Paraiso is the first steel construction in this part of Baja. It is designed and being built as if in California for seismic activity and will withstand an 8.1 on the Richter scale; in accordance with the Uniform Building Code (UABC), International Building Codes and Steel & Concrete Institute of the United States. “We went with steel because this part of Baja in considered in the Red Zone because of seismic activities and a fault line.” Eric points out. “Although in my eight years here, I have only experienced a single
earthquake of about 3.0.”

A concern with building near the water or on sand is avoiding liquid faction, should an earthquake occur. Playa del Paraiso addressed this issue aggressively by removing all the sea sand and replacing it with fresh gravel and sand mixture and compacted it with over 1200 pillions, 30 feet deep and 30 inches wide and then designing the foundation to this structure. “We took it a step further” Eric say proudly, “to ensure it can handle a sheer factor of 200 mile an hour winds. It would comply with Florida state design criteria.” Additionally, they went the extra step on installation for sound quality, heating and cooling systems, and installed the first fire suppression system.

Playa del Paraiso is working to raise the bar not only in development and real estate, but in the quality of life for San Felipe and its residence. Playa del Paraiso is involved in local events and festivals, provides ongoing support to local organizations, such as the San Felipe Animal Shelter and is one of the top employers providing good quality jobs.

“We want to provide a better standard of living,” says Eric “which comes in the form a paycheck.”

“San Felipe is my home. I’ve lived here for 8 years and Playa del Paraiso will be my home as well as the home to the developer and their families,” states Eric. “It’s the
American Dream, only its south of the border in San Felipe.”

Thursday, February 1, 2007

The Children are the Champions!

Hal Clark

The Children of San Felipe are the real winners in the TECATE 3rd Annual El Dorado Ranch Charity & Celebrity Golf Classic. The three day event was topped off in fiesta-like fashion with a lavish awards banquet on Saturday night October 28, 2007 at the Pavilion Restaurant in La Ventana del Mar at Las Caras de Mexico Campo de Golf in San Felipe. Ceremonial checks were presented by Pat Butler and Jesus Olmos to two deserving charities. One in the amount of $10,000 US went to the San Felipe Scholorship Fund to benefit the children of San Felipe for their University and College Educations. Another $5,000 US to Casa de Paco, a hospice serving the those who are suffering from terminally ill diseases in the communities of Mexicali and San Felipe. Mr. Butler was quick to point out to the gala crowd of celebrities and esteemed guests that these amounts merely represent the minimums and when the final accounting is done the amounts are expected to grow.

There were numerous winners in various categories of competition among the teams comprised of major sponsors and celebrities the winners of the lowest team scores were: Low Gross Team Scores; 1st Place score of 55, the team of Don Cavanaugh, Scott Ferguson, Larry Bonneville, Pam Teegaurden; 2nd Place score of 60 the Medical Group team of Dave Bondurant, Cris Creswell, Lyle Fritchey, Greg Griffin; 3rd Place score of 62 Team Chevrolet, Elizabeth Keys, Jorge Trevino, Mario Hernandez, Aleksei. The Low Net Scores with First Place capturing the coveted Governors Trophy were: 1st Place Low Net score of 53 Team US Airconditioning/Metcro, David Gonzales, Frank Villareal and two unnamed stars; 2nd Place Low Net score of 54 Team InterceramicJaime Olmos, Rene Bejarano, Erick Acosta, Fernando de las Casas; 3rd Place Low Net score of 55 Team Distrubuidora Superior – Roberto Quinos, Marco A Gutierrez, Pablo, Felipe.
Accolades from the organizers go to all companies and individuals involved in this annual charity extravaganza – The Universal Golf Foundation, La Ventana del Mar, Las Caras de Mexico, El Dorado Ranch; Major Sponsors – Tecate, Z-Gas, Interceramic,R-Mac, US Airconditioning/Metcro, Cocinas Institucionales, Forsgren/Gardner, CasaBlanca, Cemex, Monex, La Sombra Elegancia, Medical Group, Perla del Mar, Chevrolet, Impulsa, San Felipe Storage, Distrubuidora Superior, Mi Casita, Nissan, Ford, California Realty, Cabo Baja, Santander Private Banking, Honda, CristaPuro, and all the many other sponsors and contributors. Of course a celebrity event must have celebrities and indeed they came to San Felipe with all of the zeal and enthusiasm that we associate with stars and athletes. They included Patrika Darbo, Brian Goodell, Ron Hale, Effran Herrera, Roland Kickenger, Kim Kouwabunpat, Bradley Lockerman, Kyle Lowder, Arianne Zuker, Larry Worman, Paula Trickey, Karri Turner, Billy Warlock, and Billy Erickson.

Very special thank yous go out to Sharry Appleyard, Director of Golf at Las Caras de Mexico, her entire staff and all of the volunteers from the community of San Felipe for the donation of their precious time and energy to this worthy event.

Warm & Cozy: An Artists Retreat

It’s said “the home is where the heart is” and in the case of this artist’s retreat it couldn’t be truer. This beautiful home is as warm and comforting as the owner and builder Melody Ashley. But this isn’t just any retreat; this gorgeous house is built from old tires. It was just three years ago next month that she started the project. She first started by building the block structure and the property wall from tires she’s collected around the San Felipe area.

Melody was inspired by the actor Dennis Weaver and the huge home in Colorado he built from tires some years ago...it appeared in Architectural Digest and spurred interest in the 1970’s. She loves the look and insulation value and the fact that it cleans up the environment.

Melody found that in Mexico, over 40 million tires (llantas) are deemed unusable annually and according to Grupo Reforma Servicio Informativo of Mexico, in Mexicalli alone, the state capital of Baja Norte, there are over 10 million tires stocked piled as waste. As a very environmentally conscious person, this was a great motivator.

The Master Bedroom unit was started 17 months ago and is built entirely of tires and since then she has built several more homes of tires and has many new projects in the works. If you want to see an environmentally sound and beautiful home, then visit Melody and see the organic beauty of this incredible artist retreat of tires. The home is approximately 5 miles north of San Felipe on the Westside of the highway, just three blocks behind the radio tower and Moto 2000

Building In Mexico: Choose the right building material

Mexican contractors now offer custom home buyers many options for building materials. To help prospective new home owners narrow the choices, we’ve compiled this primer.

Adobe, one of the worlds’ oldest building materials, has recently been reintroduced to the San Felipe market. Adobe is praised for its ability to remain warm in winter and cool in summer. Adobe blocks are comprised of a combination of clay and sand. Due to its earthen composition, adobe is unique among building materials in its ability to passively cool. Thermal mass and natural evaporative cooling allow the interior of an adobe building to drop well below ambient temperatures on hot days (without additional mechanical cooling), while remaining warm during the cold days. These qualities make adobe well suited to solar homes and those who wish to reduce energy consumption with an environmentally friendly material. Homes built from adobe are highly fire and insect resistant and offer excellent sound absorption and acoustics.

Concrete block, also referred to as CMU (concrete masonry unit) is perhaps the most common building material in san Felipe today. These blocks are laid up in a running bond with steel reinforcement and concrete poured into the blocks at predetermined intervals. CMU construction is popular because it is inexpensive and familiar to local builders. Alone, concrete is not very energy efficient, however, rigid foam insulation is often applied to the exterior to add insulation and increase the efficiency. Concrete block is also resistant to fire and insects, although acoustics are generally poor. Noise travels through concrete block walls quite easily.

Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs) are a formwork system assembled much like a giant set of Legos. After stacking, the ICF foam blocks are filled with concrete and steel reinforcement. Visitors from the cooler parts of the U.S. may recognize ICFs as the material used to build basement walls and foundations. ICFs are sold under several brand names; Rastra, Nudura, and Ice Block are available in San Felipe. These products offer good insulation and are resistant to insects. After plastering, these products also provide adequate fire protection. Rastra offers additional fire protection by incorporating cement into the composition of its foam. ICFs buffer exterior noise well, although, interior spaces may echo due the “drum” effect of hard plaster over foam.

Insulated Concrete Panels (ICPs) are sold in San Felipe as Tri-D Panel. This product is a rigid foam panel with steel mesh on both sides. The mesh sheets are connected through the foam with steel wire. This assembly is erected on site and plastered inside and out with cement. Insulation can be very good, but varies based on the thickness of the foam in the panel. ICPs can be used for walls and roofs. They are quick to erect and have good resistance to fire and insects.

Ladrillo is a multicolor fired clay brick. They are used as in-fill between reinforced concrete columns called castillos. Ladrillo provides little energy efficiency, but can be insulated with rigid foam much like concrete blocks. These bricks are resistant to insects and fire while being inexpensive.

Straw-bale construction uses bales of straw, an agricultural waste material. The bales are stacked and pined together, then plastered. Straw-bale homes have high insulation values, are resistant to insects and fire, and have pleasant acoustics. Recently, straw-bale home building in San Felipe has been in decline due to increasing costs of transporting the bales and the labor intensive nature of plastering the uneven surface.

Deciding on a building material requires careful consideration of the benefits of each material. Ultimately, the best choice is the material that meets your unique needs. A consultation with your architect or designer may be the best way to determine the most appropriate material for your project.

About the author,
Jonathon E. Spinner is the President of Adobe Block Works,
Inc., San Felipe’s original supplier of genuine adobe blocks
and custom adobe homes. He can be reached by email at
jon@adobeblockworks.com

Bruce Parkman - The Man Behind Playa de Oro

BRUCE: For me, it goes back to 1988 and the National Penn Company and El Dorado Ranch, I had one of these deeds of license, and I came down here to find out what it was. At the time, the national Penn Company still owned El Dorado. They were just starting their program, they didn’t have their pool built, and they were just talking about what they were doing.

MEXICO LIVING: When did Playa de Oro become a reality after that?

BRUCE: All my life I’ve been involved in real estate; buying, selling and developing। So real estate has always had an interest for me and as I looked around San Felipe, you could not buy as a non-national at that time; it was limited as to what you could own. Then in December of 1993, the Mexican government changed he law so that non-nationals could own Mexican corporation and real estate through the Fideicomiso (bank trust) process. In January 1994 I formed the first Mexican corporation owned by non-nations in the San Felipe area and opened a real estate company. We ran the real estate company until 1999. During our first year; 1994 and 1995, we had a huge demand for property, but there was no property. There was such a limited inventory of safe and secure property that you could buy.

MEXICO LIVING: Who own the property at the time?

BRUCE: Most of the property was own by Mexican national [Ejido], and we would lease it from them or it was large, large parcels। If someone wanted a small parcel, no one had a sub-division। El Dorado had their lots on the mountainside of the highway and at that time were a lease situation। Nevertheless, we had people that wanted to buy. The only thing we could sell in those days was the San Francisco development, the Hacienda development and some lots in town. So I thought if we had a good sub-division the American people would buy it if we could make it safe and secure for them.
This property of Playa de Oro came about as I was driving down the highway one day and there was a FOR SALE on the side of the highway and it was owned by Bancomer the Bank. So I’m thinking if Bancomer owns it, they had to repossess it from somebody and if they repossessed it, they had to cleanse the title. About a year later, I bought the property and all the predictions turned out true; the title was cleared and we started the sub-division process.

MEXICO LIVING: In addition to the first real estate brokerage in San Felipe, you became the first non-national landowner?

BRUCE: Yes, probably one of the first.

MEXICO LIVING: At that time was El Dorado still leasing their property?

BRUCE: Yes, they were still leasing at that time. I think Pat Butler took over in 1995 or 1996.

MEXICO LIVING: A couple years later?

BRUCE: Yes. That was about when Pat entered the picture, and when he entered the picture, he started working on getting the titles or the land; prior to that it was all leased.

MEXICO LIVING: You were pioneering and didn’t know it.

BRUCE: We found out something very interesting a couple of years ago. We had a man here from the real estate control department in Mexico City. We were talking to him as he was here looking at various properties and he had a map of all the lots on the north side of San Felipe. Playa de Oro was the only property that showed all the individual lots, all the others were just long narrow pieces of land. So I asked him why Play de Oro was the only to show all these lots and he said that Playa de Oro was well know in Mexico City, because it was the only development 100% owned by a non-national and is legally approved to transfer title to non-nationals – in all of Mexico.

MEXICO LIVING: Wow, you must have been feeling proud about that time.

BRUCE: Yes. So, then as we moved forward in the process and got our First American Title insurance, we were again the first development in all of Mexico to have title insurance on the entire project. There was title insurance, but it was a lot here, lot there, but not on the entire project. So that was a novel idea and as it turned out my initial intuitions were correct, the American people wanted exactly what we were offering.

MEXICO LIVING: I’ve seen many development signs up and down the highway for very long time, but only a few with light construction or no construction at beyond their entrance. However, you have many homes and as many as 10 different homes being built right now on this development alone. How do you account for that? What makes you different?

BRUCE: There are several things that make us a little different; one is we’re focused on a project and we put our sales money back into our project. What happens with other developers is the money goes somewhere else, or goes to buy more land or other items. In addition, many developers think you can shortcut. There are no shortcuts. They says things like “they know so and so” or “I’m connected here” or “I know the guy at the electric company”, “I know the Mayor,” and that and fifty pesos get you a cup of coffee [laughter].
For example, on the electricity; you see the power line running down the highway and you think you can just attach to the power line and you have power to your project. That is not that way. You have to have an engineered plan of your project, showing in detail what you’re going to use and how much KVA you’re going to use. How are all your wires laid out? How are your transformers laid out? Then all that has to be approved by the electric company, the county and the state before you can even go forward.
Once you’re approved for your electric, then you do your installation and go to the electric company and tell them you want to power your sub-division. At that point, the electric company has two charges; they have what they call a connection fee and are huge and then they have what I call “the privilege tax” which is even bigger [laughter].
For us to make the connection to the power line to our entire underground system costs us around $800,000 US. We have about two million in electrical including the underground, wiring etc. Then once it’s all in and it’s all done, we had to sign it all over the electric company. Other developers just don’t understand that.
What’s interesting is when you follow the law in Mexico things work. I have assembled a team of attorneys, engineers and architects; people I feel comfortable that I could work with. But you never know if they’re doing what you want them to do [laugher]. As it turns out, going back to the guy from Mexico City I mentioned earlier, obviously my attorneys, engineers and architects did everything correct because there was the proof [only development with map of individual lots].

MEXICO LIVING: Is this project completed?

BRUCE: No, we have about 18 lots left and about 20 lots we need to get electricity. Then we have to decide on some sort of surface for the street. The original intent was to put some sort of dust proofing sealant. Nothing oil-based or asphalt, because during the rains all the water and oils run down the arroyo and into the sea and we can’t have that. We’ve been very environmentally conscious here and want to protect Baja, so were looking at options.
We’re going to work with the homeowners association; there have been a few homeowners with ideas too. Plus we want to finish our entrance and security gate.

MEXICO LIVING: Yes, it looks like it’s going to be very nice. So what other projects do you have?

BRUCE: We have Playa San Rafael just a half mile north of Playa de Oro, which is very similar except we made the lots bigger. Seems people wanted bigger lots, so that’s what we’ve done, made bigger lots. That project is just in the final stages of recording all the final sub-division documents and once that’s done, we’ll start the development process. We have 330 plus lots over there and we’ve sold about 60 in the pre-sale deal.

The markets we’re looking at there are the US citizen that just wants a little place for the weekend or maybe stay for week or so। Give them a garage to keep their toys in, and keep the pricing below $150,000 for land and home.