Tijuana and San Diego: Fighting Towards Regional Unity

David Alvarez; District 8 elected representative, visits Tijuana

Tijuana has certainly earned its popular assigned title as the world's most visited border town. The reason for this is the daily commute of American and Mexican citizens that cross the border from Tijuana to work and study in San Diego.

These commuters are labeled as transfronterizos (cross-borderers) and it's a reality that is now a part of the region's identity. These are people that prefer renting or purchasing a property in Tijuana so that they can live comfortably with their US salary pay.

In this sense, we are talking of two cities that share a considerable section of its population, since 50 to 70 thousand people cross the border on a daily basis through the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa ports of entry.

Tijuana and San Diego aren't separate entities; instead they are brotherly areas that in order for them to grow, they need to fight for the greater good. They're also a key figure in the decision-making process that politicians, corporate dealers and community members participate in, since they are a vital part of the regional economy.

If there's someone who knows a lot about these issues it would be San Diego's District 8 City Councilmember David Alvarez, who paid a visit to Tijuana in order to meet with ex-representative Juan Manuel Gastélum and businessman Ramón Toledo.

Alvarez, who currently holds his second term in office as a City Councilmember, has been one of the most prominent political figures regarding border issues. Among his goals as a San Diegan Councilmember, he addresses the importance of improving the border wait times; even though he emphasizes that the efforts must come from both sides of the border.

"I was talking with Juan Manuel about a very important report that came out a few months ago. It talked about the small things that can be improved to better our wait times. Not just for the ones who cross by car but also for the ones that cross on foot. We are noticing that pedestrian travelers are the ones who really need the help, they're the ones who suffer the most, standing out in the sun or rain for three to four hours. We have to think about it as a region and the more tourists come to Tijuana or Rosarito, the better it'll be for us on the other side of the border because it will impact San Diego as well in a positive way." said Alvarez.

Once they finish the El Chaparral project, Alvarez predicts that the user experience will be more pleasant while crossing the border; it'll be more inviting to traveling from one city to another with more frequency.

"We see the same thing with cargo trucks in Otay Mesa. We are in talks with the Mexican government about Otay Mesa II, a new port of entry that will also bring a positive effect on the region" Alvarez said referring to the bi-national project that will make the import/export business with the US easier.

Juan Manuel Gastélum thinks of Tijuana and San Diego as just one collaborative force and not two separate coincidental efforts in which "currently there are some exceptional conditions of mutual collaboration. The relationship that currently exists with San Diegan authorities helps us show a better city, why a better city you may ask, well simply put, because of the free-trade commerce. We need to keep that economic wheel rolling. Personally, I think that we shouldn't lose sight of what previous and current local administrations have done to keep wheel on track, we recognize that the progress made has been very good but what can we do to keep it this way? Keep the communication lines open and our actions transparent." said Gastélum.

VIDEO: DAVID ALVAREZ AND JUAN MANUEL GASTÉLUM INTERVIEW

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Elizabeth.rosales@sandiegored.com

Translated by: edgar.martinez@sandiegored.com

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