Today was held the first in a series of meetings called “Conjoined meetings of San Diego – Tijuana city Officials”, with the objective to establish a new constant coordination between the most important department chiefs of San Diego and Tijuana.
In the Presidential Hall of the Municipal Palace in Tijuana, this first meeting was mostly an opportunity for each one of the invited city officials to establish contact with their counterpart on the other side of the border and determine the best way to work together around the main bi-national matters, mainly:
-The expansion of the San Ysidro Port of Entry. Mario Lopez, director of Bi-national Affairs in the city of San Diego, affirmed that the budget from President Barack Obama already has 220 million dollars contemplated for phase 2 and 3 of the project, but the government shutdown due to the issues in the United States congress will likely delay it's approval until 2014. It is a subject which, everyone in the meeting agreed, the city can only put some pressure and await the response from the federal government.
-Improving pedestrian crossing both incoming and outgoing between Tijuana and the United States at the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa crossings.
-Making sure that all long term development plans between San Diego and Tijuana are linked and fully integrated.
-Adequate maintenance of the causeways of the Tijuana river, Laurel Canyon and Matadero Canyon. Ann Sasaki, director of Public Services in San Diego and Esteban Yee Ibarra, director of Urban Development in Tijuana, both were present at the meeting and they talked about how they can better coordinate in order to reduce the environmental impact the sewage waters from Tijuana are having on San Diego. Sasaki proposed a better coordination with other city officials.
Todd Gloria, Acting Mayor of San Diego, said before the meeting that “Mayor Bustamante and I are fully committed to ensuring the relationship between both governments is as productive as possible”. “By sharing ideas and information, we can face the challenges and opportunities we face every day as two cities with interwoven interests”.
Antonio Cano, Chief of staff of the city of Tijuana, made it a point to clarify why they still went forward with this meeting with only 40 days left in the actual administration. He commented that it was important to send a message about how “we are still working until the last day, as if it was our first”, in order to ensure the continuity of the projects and as well that there will be another meeting with the team from the elected mayor of Tijuana Jorge Astiazaran.
The next meeting is programmed for February of 2014 in the new central library of San Diego, with the possibility of one or two more before then.
The meeting was headed by Alfonso Bustamante Anchondo, director of Bi-national Affairs in Tijuana, (and brother of the current mayor) and Scott Chadwick, sub-chief of Municipal operations, they were joined by other San Diego City Officials like Mario Lopez, director of Bi-national Affairs; Bill fulton, director of city planing; John Valencia, program manager of the office of National Security; Mario Sierra sub-director of Environmental Services and Ann Sasaki, Sub-director of Public Services. The city officials from Tijuana present were Miguel Velasco Bustamante, secretary of Economic Development; Daniel rubio, executive director of IMPLAN in Tijuana; Esteban Yee Ibarra, secretary of Urban development; among others.