Greg Shannon has had a tough time in La Jolla.
The San Diego developer has spent five years fighting to build two houses there. His project fits within development restrictions on the property, but he still can’t get a permit due to protests from neighbors and hassles from city bureaucracy.
Shannon’s experience isn’t rare in San Diego, and is part of the why the region hasn’t built enough new housing to keep pace with a growing population.
That’s why Shannon and other small San Diego developers have turned their sights to the other side of the border.
“My favorite disruptive theory is, Tijuana as an affordable housing market for San Diego,” Shannon said.
Tijuana is drawing San Diego developers’ attention for two reasons. One is the emerging market from a growing city undergoing a cultural revival. The second is how difficult and expensive it is to build in San Diego.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
Before joining Mr Pritchard's stampede, it's worth considering why we don't already have a lot more people like him here.
1. Tortuguismo. This is the name we've given the behavior of the U.S. ports of entry. The word has been in use since at least the 1970s. Living in Tijuana and working in San Diego is not your typical commute and many of us here believe that the U.S. government "turtles" our border -- it makes the crossing unnecessarily onerous -- specifically to maintain high property values north of the border. SENTRI was not meant to be a real solution and it is onerous in its own way.
2. Culture shock (yours). Tijuana isn't Disneyland with potholes. People who can't adjust to life here wind up complaining about their host country, living in gringo enclaves, and seeking help from those who speak English. Protip: People don't learn to speak English because they really want to help you.
3. Culture shock (ours). Tijuana is unlike any other part of Mexico and its people don't take kindly to large waves of immigrants. In this century there's been a grassroots campaign to deport all the Sinaloans that have moved in. Around 1990, our reaction to the invasion from Mexico City was the bumpersticker "Haz patria, mata a un chilango." Mexican-Americans are not looked upon favorably, especially by the police. And already our federal authorities have been tightening up restrictions on gringo immigration.
Over the past few years, the Mexican government has changed a lot of the restrictions for foreign ownership of real estate, so you definitely want to hire a GOOD lawyer to investigate the reality. It's like anything you do in the U.S., you need the right people on your team to make sure you are all working to the same end and not just paying fees to get no where. I would suggest having a U.S. lawyer lead the coordination with the Mexican Lawyer. I made a few mistakes in the beginning and it took a lot more time and money to get it straightened out in the end. It's worth the time, money, and effort with all the wonderful opportunities throughout Mexico, but you do need to minimize the risk by hiring the right professionals.
I've been living with my wife and 3 kids in Rosarito for more than 9 years now. I work in the US and my kids go to private school in Mexico. We like it and have a much lower cost of living than if we were in the US. We live in a private, secure community in a beautiful single family home very much like in the US and feel safe and secure. We're 20-minutes from the border. The private school is bi-lingual and the kids are fluent in Spanish and English. Years ago, I formed a Mexican Corporation and bought properties without any problems, but I did pay GOOD lawyers to handle the transactions and did my own due diligence along with the lawyers. Crossing the border is easy and quick with SENTRI, however the Ready Lane is getting crowded with lots of tourists getting the benefit from local venues offering the pass as a perk for shopping there. The US and Mexico upgraded the San Ysidro crossing and Mexico is improving the Otay entry point. Not sure about the U.S. plans for Otay as yet. Otay is usually less crowded.
I'm a Senior Construction Manager in the US involved with commercial, mixed-use, and multi-family projects. I originally founded my Mexican company with the intent to develop in Mexico, but the 2007 crash impacted both sides of the border and I'm back to work in the U.S. I am excited at the prospect of being able to build in Mexico again.
Anyway you try to candy coat it, housing in San Diego is unaffordable because the politicians want it that way. It is not that they don't know how to make it more affordable with fewer regulations and restrictions -- They just don't know how to do it and get re-elected.
You want to remodel Lafayette quickly, do as the Mexicans do.
You want to take two years or more, do as the Americans do.
“complicated restrictions on foreign land ownership and a less secure real estate system".
It is only complicated if you don’t know the rules, it is as daunting for people south of the border to invest or relocate in California, different language, different culture and rules, same as here, thus, it is only complicated if you try to digest everything without a professional to explain the various forms of land acquisition and business intricacies.
This is a fascinating concept. I would imagine the market for real estate consulting/policy services to solve the foreign investment problem should heat up right along with the new developments. It takes far less time for me to go have a meal at Verde y Crema or any number of good restaurants in Tijuana than to to get to Del Mar, Solana Beach or Encinitas. Now that crossing the border is pretty easy and efficient (most of the time), I could see this being a meaningful option for many San Diegans. However, the distance exacerbates one problem. Having housing that is affordable is great for parts of quality of life, but if you work in Sorrento Valley, a commute to Tijuana is far worse on the environment and on a person's life in general than if there was enough mid-price housing stock in the immediate area to meet the local workforce demands.
It would be awesome to have cheaper but aesthetically comparable rentals (to San Diego) south of the border in Tijuana, if the commute time is short and not burdensome. Great that developers are looking down there to do just that. I have a cautionary advice based on this statement - "Down there, you could probably give someone a little extra money, and get out of it.”
That is alluding to corruption of Mexican officials . . . yes, things like that go on in developing countries all the time but that does not make "giving someone a little extra money" right. It is called bribery!! Americans know better and should encourage best practices, i.e., that we are lawfully bounded by, in the U.S. when we operate in foreign countries, even if such corrupt practices are prevalent in those countries. May sound naïve on my part, but coming originally from a third world country, I know how bribery and corruption of government officials by American businessmen can bring a third world nation to its knees in the long run!
Many of our (American) inadvertent actions often have severe unforeseen consequences in foreign lands . . . even if it is next door in Mexico.