Mayor Abarca Takes His Victory Lap

Listing accomplishments of his term. See if you agree with him
BY: REN DRAKE HILL

Mayor Silvano Albarca was the guest speaker at a FRAO breakfast meeting, theming it,  “Together We Transformed Rosarito Beach.”

When Sr. Albarca took office the topic affecting Rosarito was tourism, specifically the lack of.  Since 90% of Rosario’s economy is tourist-based, this was a serious issue.  Albarca said he invested in the local police department by requiring more officer training classes through the academy, including English classes. Rosarito police officers are now the third highest paid in Baja with a 26% pay increase since Albarca took office.  Under his watch, the number of police cars increased from ten to more than 50. Albarca stated his hope that security will be a priority of the new administration, with whom he’s been working to provide for a smooth transition.

Funds from the Public Works Fund and private investments reactivated the economy in a number of ways that benefitted the entire community.  For simplicity, I’ve used US dollars in this article.

 $3.6 million was sunk info Phase 1 of tourist zone in the center of the city, adding new lighting, trees, art, and improved promenades, making the town square more inviting and better for hosting events. $2.6 million built a world-class tennis center (the only one in Baja California). This not only benefits locals, but tourists that can’t seem to live without their daily tennis matches.

Nearby is the Charro and Rodeo arena. Did you know that rodeo is Mexico’s national sport? There’s always something going on at the arena, even if it is just a bunch of charros putting their horses through their paces.

And who can forget the day we blew up a gun ship off the coast of Puerto Nuevo? Mayor Albarca fought hard to make sure Rosarito won that new undersea park that has already began drawing SCUBA enthusiasts from Mexico and the US. The economic benefit for Rosarito is that the best months for diving are off-season months for the rest of the tourists so it evens out the tourists very nicely.

Rosarito’s cultural jewel CEART, built with federal, state, and municipal funds at over $1 million, hosts many events every week, including live entertainment and dynamic photo and art exhibitions.

Funds have been secured for Phase 1 of the long awaited boardwalk. The original plans for the project had to be scrapped because the official high tide mark of the ocean has changed and the government didn’t want our loyal tourists swept out to sea.

Let’s talk bridges.  No, they are not finished, and the north part of town is a mess. But hey, it’s getting better all the time. Albarca blamed the hold up of federal funds for the lengthy delay. Buck-passing, anyone?

The four-lane Machado (McDonald’s) bridge is coming along on schedule with on and off ramps planned for every direction.

  A lot of money has been spent on roadways this administration, including plans to connect Sharp Boulevard (yes, it’s still called that) to the thoroughfare to the Baja Cultural Center.

Albarca made 29 promotional trips extolling the virtues of our city, including fostering a new Sister Cities agreement with the city of Long Beach, California. A total of eight Friendship Agreements were signed with the nearby cities of Imperial Beach Chula Vista, Tecate, and National City to name a few. The Mayor’s promotions also helped to garner ten major conferences and conventions to the new Baja California Center, bringing doctors, dentists, educators, and furniture designers to our area.

Mayor Albarca didn’t do all of this tourism reactivation by himself: There is a whole team of people including the Director of Economic and Tourism Development, the Marketing Committee of Rosarito Beach, and the offices of COTUCO and SECTURE. But in his victory lap he did point out that it did happen on his watch.

Whatever the Mayor and the city are doing, it’s working. Tourists are rediscovering Rosarito. About 30% of the tourists are from other cities in Mexico, predominately Mexicali. A whopping 93% of the foreign tourists are from California. The SCORE Baja Desert Challenge, so successful this year has signed on for 2017. The race was captured by CBS Sports Network and the one-hour special airing often opens with a five minute promo on Rosarito. And the biennial Rosarito-Ensenada bike race featured 9000 riders this year, up considerably from its 3000 rider low.

On the other hand, Albarca did allow Rosarito to be overrun by zombies. Watch for their return in January for the filming of season three of “Fear the Walking Dead.” Production companies use local services, and in some cases, Rosaritenses (that’s a person from Rosarito, Bunky,) appear as extras.

Recently, community leaders worked hard to settle the long-running, territory  war between Rosarito and Ensenada.  The land between the two cities was in dispute. Rosarito was granted the disputed land meaning more funds (taxes) for the city of Rosarito.

 Unfortunately, all of the news isn’t sunshine and lollipops. Tijuana is rated as one of the two most dangerous cities in Mexico. Rosarito’s proximity to TJ signifies that there is the prospect of crime spill-over.  Also, our visitors have to go through TJ and there have been recent reports of problems on that trip.

 Also, here there  has been a marked increase in crime the last few years. Burglaries and car thefts are way up and murders have increased substantially. In 2008 there were 90 murders in Rosarito. The number decreased in 2009 and 2010, but went back up to 45 in each of the years 2011-2015. As of mid-November, the toll is already at 50. Except for a couple of domestic disputes, nearly all of the murders were drug related. So a word to the wise: Don’t do drugs,  don’t get murdered. Buy an alarm for your car, and lock up your house. Do what is prudent to keep yourself safe.

The meeting concluded with FRAO presenting Silvano  Albarca with a plaque honoring his service to the city. The official last day of Mayor Abaca’s term was November 30, and we wish him well. Now let’s welcome our new Mayor, Mirna Cecilia Rincon Vargas, and give her our support.