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Border Report: For Affordable Homes, San Diegans Go to Tijuana

The new cross-border airport terminal is a reality and where plans for a cross-border bike lane and Tijuana trolley system stand.

Welcome to the Border Report, which is following in the footsteps of Voice of San Diego’s Morning Report, Sacramento Report, Culture Report and other news roundups. Every two weeks, we hope to bring you the most interesting political and policy stories about the border with a focus on the San Diego-Baja California region. Interested in getting the Border Report in your inbox? Sign up here.

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Home is where the heart is, and in this case, it just might be across the border. We start this Border Report series by looking south, where San Diego-based developers like Greg Shannon are heading to Tijuana. “My favorite disruptive theory is, Tijuana as an affordable housing market for San Diego,” Shannon told VOSD’s Maya Srikrishnan.

The story cites rising building costs in San Diego and Tijuana’s cultural renaissance as two propelling factors. The trend, however, brings with it the possibility of Tijuanenses being pushed out of their own affordable housing market. “Anytime that occurs, there should be concerns,” Downtown San Diego Partnership’s Daniel Reeves, said. “However, the flip side is those are all construction and service jobs.” You can listen to Srikrishnan talk about the topic on KPBS Midday Edition here.

Cross-Border Airport Terminal Is Now Real

This week, a cross-border idea decades in the making will finally come to fruition. Private investors will cut the ribbon on a new airport terminal that connects San Diego to Tijuana’s international airport with a pedestrian bridge. Now, for a small fee, Tijuana airport passengers will be able to park on the U.S. side and walk directly into Tijuana’s airport and come back to the U.S. without the hassle of endless waits at the regular border crossings.

The bridge opens Wednesday, and the AP had the scoop:

The terminal is one of the last works by the late Ricardo Legorreta, whose bold colors helped bring Mexican modernism to a world stage and attracted a strong following in the American Southwest. The stone exterior mixes purple stucco and red limestone that takes on a deep, inky hue when it rains. Stone gardens sprout agave and other desert plants.

Passengers enter a courtyard with a reflecting pool to an airy building with ticket counters and kiosks. High, white ceilings have large orange circles of recessed lighting. Sparse decorative touches are onyx, including high-hanging black slabs near ticket counters and white spheres atop the escalators.

Aesthetics are more dated in the Tijuana airport but passenger flow is the same. Ticketed passengers must carry luggage across a bridge with frosted glass windows to border inspectors in the receiving country and a wall in the middle to separate the two directions.

Lisa Halverstadt has explained how the terminal came to be and what it might mean for both San Diego and Tijuana.

And writing in the Washington Post earlier this year, Liam Dillon discussed how the airport bridge represents a big divide in the national conversation about border and immigration issues and the ones people are having in San Diego.

Planes Are Cool But What About Bikes?

While the airport terminal, known as Cross Border Xpress, is a reality starting this week, the dream of a binational bike lane remains just that. VOSD cites a study that estimates the project’s cost to be $1.1 million, counting infrastructure on both sides of the border and a new, bicycle-only inspection lane. This isn’t the first time said initiative has been proposed. Following Sept. 11, a bike lane was instituted to ease border crossing congestion. It closed in the mid-2000s after authorities caught wind of a little Mexican ingenuity. For $5, you could rent a bike in Tijuana, use it to cut the line and then hand the bike back to someone on the U.S. side.

Planes and Bikes Are Cool But What About Other Transit?

Construction has begun in Tijuana on a modern 23-mile public transit system that is sure to put the city’s current fleet of hand-me-down Technicolor school buses to shame. The first bus rapid transit line will run the trunk corridor of El Florido on the city’s southeastern corner to Puerta México, near the San Ysidro Port of Entry and points in between. The line will provide service to an estimated 300,000 passengers daily at just under $1 a ride. The upgrade brings with it dedicated lanes, regular service and spiffy Wi-Fi-enabled stations.

New Border Recon Group, Congressman Eats Burrito and Other News

 Minutemen are so three seasons ago. Make way for the former security guard and retired military-staffed Arizona Border Recon. “AZBR is a non-government organization. We are not affiliated with any form of government, nor are we a militia. Our objective is not to overthrow any government, or take the law into our own hands,” according to the group’s Facebook page. “We have pictures from trail cameras that show Somalis and Middle Eastern guys with beards and everything else, but nobody is listening,” Tim Foley, field operations director of the recon, told The Washington Post.

There are eyes in them thar hills. Arts collective Postcommodity recently installed “Repellent Fence,” a two-mile stretch of helium balloons emblazoned with an unblinking eye. The barrage, a member of the group told World Policy, was dedicated to military agencies, among others. “[W]e wanted to turn the intruding reflection back upon them, fear and introspection staring at themselves in the mirror.”

You down with OTM? That’s the term employed by the Border Patrol to designate “other than Mexicans.” According to current data, there’s a spike in immigrants of El Salvadoran, Guatemalan and Honduran origin being apprehended along the U.S.-Mexico border. The Christian Science Monitor reports that nearly 6,000 families traveling together were apprehended last October (nearly triple the number from the same month last year), as well as 5,000 unaccompanied minors. Before shouting this, check out this harrowing video by MSNBC on the reality of the immigrant experience.

“Congressman eats burrito, crosses U.S.-Mexico border in Snapchat story.” There’s really nothing else I can add. Read the story on Mashable.

You can keep your methamphetamine tunnel, El Chapo. One savvy entrepreneur recently attempted to smuggle in 450 pork tamales via commercial carrier. With the holidays approaching, said masa goodies had an estimated street value of $1.4M (my own calculation). The greatest sin of all? The corn-husked delicacies were incinerated, not properly steamed.

Enrique Limón is a border native obsessed with the news and oddities that come out of San Diego-Tijuana region. Check him out on Twitter: https://twitter.com/EnriqueLimon.

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