*2019 Crossing Stats Available Visit: https://smartbordercoalition.com/blog/facts-and-figures
WAIT TIMES INTO THE U.S. San Ysidro - All Traffic: Vehicles: $status }} Pedestrians: Update Pending Ready Lanes: Vehicles: Update Pending Pedestrians: Update Pending Sentri Lanes: Vehicles: Update Pending
Otay Mesa - All Traffic: Vehicles: 0:15 Pedestrians: no delay Ready Lanes: Vehicles: 0:15 Pedestrians: N/A Sentri Lanes: Vehicles: Lanes Closed Cargo Standard: Update Pending Cargo FAST: Update Pending
Tecate - All Traffic: Vehicles: Update Pending Pedestrians: Update Pending Ready Lanes: Vehicles: Update Pending Pedestrians: Update Pending Sentri Lanes: Vehicles: Update Pending
WAIT TIMES INTO MEXICO Tijuana - I-5: No Wait I-805: No Wait

COVID-19 Bulletin October 20, 2020

Category: SBC Bulletins
I just finished reading El Tercer País: San Diego & Tijuana. Two Countries. Two
Cities. One Community. The Kindle version is available, and the hardback will be
on sale next month. 

The book testifies to the efforts that extraordinarily generous, determined people have made over the last 200 years of the history of the relationship. What stories of courage and chutzpah!

In the words of the Mexico’s ambassador to the U.S., Martha Bárcena Coqui and Dr. Andrew Selee of the Migration Policy Institute, the human stories are “fundamental because they compel us to look more closely at new and different angles of a border that defies simplistic categorizations or an outdated narrative describing just customs and immigrations checkpoints.”

The book also made me reminisce about parallel stories in other pairs of border towns and cities like Nogales, my birthplace. 

My grandfather, Mario De La Fuente Flores, was quite the entrepreneur and owned the local bullring for decades starting in the early 60s. He was a pioneering force with U.S. “snow birds” and devoted a lot of time in Tucson 9 and Phoenix promoting bullfights. He was able to bring the best matadors to Nogales. In 1969 he managed to book “El Cordobés, ”, then the world’s bestknown bullfighter. 

A gifted pitcher in his college days in Austin, Texas and an avid, life-long baseball fan, he spent time with major league teams’ training camps in the Valley of the Sun, bringing greats like Willie Mays south of the border to play a game or two and provide baseball gear to less fortunate boys and girls. He wrote an autobiographical book in the 70s called “I Like You, Gringo…but” where he wrote about always trying to “work like a Gringo but play like a Mexican.” 

Tijuana Innovadora was a thrilling event, with many remarkable highlights. I want to share just a few with you.

Mexican Minister of Foreign Relations Marcelo Ebrard wants to take advantage of our “magnificent relationship” to bring more “innovation, science, and technology” to the border. Dr. Fernando León García of CETYS Universidad posits creating “centers of excellence at the binational level” in technology and other disciplines. Malin Burnham advanced a railroad crossing at Tecate, fixing sewage spills, a second runway at the Tijuana airport, and creating a large building straddling the border to convene our peoples. 

Michael Steep of Stanford’s Disruptive Technology and Digital Cities Program spoke about how his university connects with corporations to create smart cities. How can the model work in San Diego and Tijuana? Chris Wilson of the Wilson Institute’s Mexico Center posed the hard question about having a high quality of life at a reasonable cost at the border.

José Angel Gurría, secretary-general of the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (commonly known as the OECD) 9 told us how his organization struggled to get good data from our region as he was preparing to address the Innovadora conference. The OECD “is ready to work with CaliBaja to help with its data and narrative.”

He was adamant about our governments’ using their fiscal and monetary capacity to control and eliminate the virus, adding that governments have to support the most vulnerable, no matter what, and that they must accelerate structural reforms to improve health, drive digital transformation, and fight corruption -- a “build back better” approach. 

In “The Tale of 2 Cities” panel Alan Bersin reflected on the personal bonds between fronterizos and the institutionalization that politicians and civil society have created over several decades that makes him believe that “you cannot walk away from the people’s sentiments” about their border. “Flows are more important than the border itself.”

Ben Rohrbaugh stated at the “Border Efficiencies” panel that the CBX Cross Border Xpress international air terminal teaches us about doing less but much, much better. Couldn’t we have ports cater to one type of traveler, e.g., only trucks in the CTPAT program, or segment them for only 1-2 types of lanes? 

Evan Smith of Altana AI told us that the challenge of artificial intelligence use at the border centers on privacy, data security and sovereignty. How do you share intelligence without commingling the underlying data? You do big data targeting with the reality of data fragmentation as isolated “client spokes.”

Jacqueline Reynoso 0f the National City Chamber of Commerce is getting ready for the Binational Sustainability Conference the first week of December, featuring panels on mobility planning, data sharing, air quality control, and other important topics. The Smart Border Coalition will be moderating one of the panels. 

Salvador López, chief environmental officer at the North American Development Bank wants to support a modernized version of the San Antonio de los Buenos treatment plant south of Tijuana. It has obsolete technology, among many other imperfections. Mexico has paid much more attention to what the U.S. wants in terms of pumping stations right at the border than to all the untreated effluent that passes through San Antonio de los Buenos and goes straight onto Tijuana beaches. 

CommonPass is an attempt to create an international health protocol for border crossings, thereby thwarting the economic devastation seen in border cities (https://thecommonsproject.org/commonpass). The app uses a QR code for travelers and is slated to begin on Hong Kong-Singapore flights with Cathay Pacific Airlines this month. It will also start in Europe with some EU-Heathrow flights. 

I think our border can leverage this incredible option, though much work is needed to connect labs with governments and the CommonPass team. 

The San Diego Foundation has had a new CEO in Mark Stuart for the last year (https://www.sdfoundation.org/) and is embarking on a very ambitious inclusivity strategy. It has close to $1 billion in total assets and is looking to expand its giving in the Imperial Valley, but most notably in Baja California. If Mark’s accomplishments at the San Diego Zoo are any hint, we will see the foundation do great work in Mexico very soon.

I was invited to the GAET (Specialized Transportation Attention Group) in Tijuana to hear about the critical transportation problems at the Otay Mesa 9 Port of Entry. The group is led by the new Mexican National Guard and is attended by small and large carriers in Baja. 

It is evident that one of the largest headaches they have is the export corridor on the Mexican side. Even though this is supposed to be a federal last mile approaching the crossing, no agency has wanted to take on a sorely needed management role. The corridor lends itself to drug and human trafficking, truck lane cutters, and even some police officers taking bribes to let trucks cut lines. 

The Tijuana Development Council celebrated its formal Assembly to install Luis Lutteroth as their new President. It was a fitting event to commemorate a transition that happened in August. Luis is poised to transform the way the organization operates. 

It runs in his blood. Lutteroth’s dad, Héctor, was a true force at the border, a key player in the San Diego Dialogue, helping Director Chuck Nathanson bring other Tijuana citizens into the organization. He provided invaluable support to the Orchestra of Baja California, Iberoamericana University, the Centro Cultural de Tijuana (CECUT), and the San Diego Natural History Museum. 

I had a conversation with Wilson Institute’s Duncan Wood about how Canada and Mexico could together work with the U.S. to develop common objectives for our borders regarding efficiency. USMCA should give us the impetus to establish concrete steps with Canadians to work towards smarter borders. There are outstanding border champions in the Vancouver-Seattle area, Detroit-Windsor and Buffalo-Niagara Falls. 

Speaking about Canada, the Cascadia Innovation Corridor (CIC) region encompassing Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland is probably the most innovative along the northern border. Coalition friends Matt Morrison of the Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWR) and Laurie Trautman of the

Border Policy Institute are on the group’s steering committee. They want to position the CIC as a global innovation hub in life sciences, talent, higher education research excellence, and efficient people/goods movement across borders (http://www.connectcascadia.com). 

The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) unveiled its “Cross Border Travel Behavior Survey” at the Committee for Border Regional Opportunities (COBRO) on October 6. Some key findings: 

  • Nine out of 10 northbound trips through San Ysidro and Otay come from Tijuana.
  • The primary destination city in the U.S. is Chula Vista with 43% of cases, followed by San Diego with 30% of cases. 
  • The main reason to come across is to shop (52%), followed by work/business (31%), and then visiting a friend or relative.
  • U.S. residents generally visit Mexico to socialize, followed by medical care and shopping. 
  •  There is a 78.5% willingness to pay a $5 toll and 86% to pay a $3 toll for an expedited crossing as as is proposed for the Otay Mesa East Port of Entry in the next three years. 

The report is being finalized this month.

Silicon Valley Press’s Joe Dinucci and Atiya Dwyer are working with a number of partners in the U.S. and Mexico to promote the book El Tercer País: San Diego & Tijuana. Two Countries. Two Cities. One Community. 

I want to thank the UCSD Rady School of Management’s Karen Jensen and Monique Casellas for their help in coordinating the Border Innovation Challenge 2 nd Edition information session on October 7. I have been involved in 9 reviewing the applications. We will be inviting you to join us at the final judging and awards session on December 1st . 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Passenger Meeting last week provided some interesting data for our ports. If we compare crossing numbers from the week of March 21st when non-essential travel restrictions started, to the week of October 4th, there has been a 29% reduction in vehicle traffic and a 50% reduction in pedestrian traffic. U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents make up 91 to 94% of crossers.

Once restrictions have been lifted, Tecate’s schedule will likely be 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 6 a.m. to 12 a.m. on Fridays, and 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. 

Rafael Fernández de Castro and team convened the sixth iteration of the “Emerging Stronger Together” group that is making sense of the lessons we’ve learned from the pandemic at the border. The U.S. and Mexico have shared agricultural labor challenges such as low wages, low benefits, high-risk third party labor recruiters, no career ladders, basic financial literacy and education, affordable housing, and labor shortage. 

The Community Alliance (Alianza Comunitaria BCS) that the International Community Foundation (ICF, http://www.icfdn.org) has helped create in Baja California Sur has provided emergency food relief for 97,000 families. The objective is to encourage, amplify and maintain collective action towards the creation of healthy food systems. It is “zero hunger challenge.” 

ICF is also intent on creating a food alliance to serve the needy in Baja California. 

The Otay Mesa East Port of Entry project is getting an enormous boost from the Mexican Ministry of Communications and Transportation, which has now awarded bids for project manager and the negotiation of the right-of-way land purchases, including the road leading to the new port as well as the port footprint. 

The Smart Border Coalition has helped form a small task force of regional players to monitor and hopefully accelerate this process so that we have a new port by 2024. 

KPBS has embarked on a new podcast, “Port of Entry.” It focuses on “border people who often inhabit the in-between space created by the separation and collision of two cultures.” Each episode dives deeper into people's personal stories, what makes them tick and how the border has shaped their lives. Please tune in at http://www.portofentrypod.org.

I was invited as a special guest last week. I was impressed by the group’s professionalism and attention to so many operational details. Kudos to Kinsee Morlan, Alan Lilienthal and team for pulling this off!

Miguel Marshall of the City of Tijuana’s Sustainable Economy and Tourism Secretariat (SEST) is about to begin leading the Baja Business Improvement Districts or DREs (Distritos de Regeneración Económica). They have taken a page out of San Diego’s successful efforts in its districts. The project was unveiled at the beginning of the year, but COVID-19 kept it dormant. Tijuana will be an important beneficiary in its Colonia Federal as will be Mexicali, Ensenada, and Rosarito

Tijuana Economic Development Council’s Borderless Business Congress last week and this week has focused on major topics for the region such as 9 advanced manufacturing, global logistics, blue and green tech, IT, and food and beverage. Carlos Higuera’s leadership has enhanced the organization’s role as the major protagonist in attracting foreign direct investment. 

Maria Keckler of San Diego State University has been organizing the RE:Border 2020 Conference which will focus on reimagining mobility and migration in the transborder region. Set to take place November 12 and 13, it promises to be an even better event than last year when the emphasis was on water.

Our online Stakeholders Working Committee meeting will happen November 5 th from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. It will be the last meeting of 2020. You can register here: us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0lceyoqD0rG9DkkJc8b9abcjH1wve9_D8

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Please join us then! 

With best wishes

Gustavo De La Fuente Executive Director


(619) 814-1386