Currently viewing the tag: "Calexico News"

By Mario Conde

Downtown Calexico is back on business with 90% of its stores opened but there are buildings that still need to be repaired on some face condemnation.

Last Wednesday, the Calexico Business Improvement District heard a presentation from City Building Manager, Ralph Morales, about the state of the downtown area after the 7.2 magnitude earthquake last month. Morales said that he has spent most of his time on downtown after the earthquake due the damages. Morales said that after the earthquake 76 buildings were red tag in downtown from 1st to 3rd street. At this time, Morales said that 20 buildings are red tag now.  Almost 50% of buildings are red tag because buildings next to them are in highly damaged condition and not because they are condemned.  Nineteen buildings are yellow tagged meaning that contractors can now enter to start working on renovations.

Morales said that T.C. Worthy on Second Street will have to be demolished because of its condition but said the property owners have to make a decision if they will go forward and fix it or decide for condemnation. The stores next to T.C. Worthy can re-open after improvements are made.

May 14, 2010 is the deadline for all building owners to provide information on the action plan of their buildings to issue permits and to inform the tenants of what needs to be done.   City is calling owners before the deadline to get information as soon as possible.

Assistant City Manager, Armando Villa, commended Ralph Morales for being accessible to downtown merchants. Villa said the owners of Gran Mercado have not sent their contractor to begin the plans with the city to approve the improvements that need to be made for the building.  All that is needed, he said, is for the contractor to spend 3 days with building department and begin their project.  After the work begins then the surrounding businesses can also run their businesses again.

Morales also indicated that the Historic De Anza Hotel has now lowered its status from red tag to yellow tag and contractors can begin doing the repairs to the historic building and could see a re-opening later this year.

The building that holds Payless, the Hot Dog stand, and Casa Bonita on second street was severally damaged since roof on the Casa Bonita store fell down and is pulling the roof from Payless side to the left. Renovations on the Payless store are being made right now and the building will have a new roof and a new wall. Construction might last two months.

BID member Christina Rocha asked how the City can improve pedestrian security on the downtown area because the fences at downtown make it look like war zone and asked if they could remove those fences and replace it with wooden pedestrian walkways.

Morales said that there are two problems because if a building would collapse there could be a danger that the front could fall towards the street and harm pedestrians.  That’s why there are sections where half of the street is blocked for safety on red tag buildings.  In other sever buildings there is no other option but to protect pedestrians from being harmed if a building was to fall.

The BID will continue to meet regularly to update the status of the downtown area.

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By Mario Conde

The City Council of Calexico approved a resolution approving the final parcel map of Calexico 10 Theater Parcel Map.

The Redevelopment Agency of Calexico took over the Calexico 10 Theater property in 2006 to avoid the closing of the theaters. Shortly thereafter, the Council gave direction to RDA to separate the property into parcels.

The Planning Commission approved last year the subdivision of the Movie Theater area into three parcels. The commission adopted a resolution finding that the land transfer of parcel #1 between RDA and Pacific Media Properties was in conformity with the General Plan. Pacific Media Properties plans to create a medical building in that parcel that will provide laboratory, imaging, and other medical services.

Prior to the recordation of the final map parcel, a reciprocal access/parking agreement for parcel #1, parcel #2 and parcel #3 shall be provided to the city for approval and recordation. Said agreement shall provide for a minimum of three hundred eighty-five improvement off-street parking spaces for the sole use of the current theater operation.

The Calexico 10 Movie Theater parking lot is underutilized according to a survey done by the City. The survey revealed that at the busiest time (8:00PM), the most parking spaces used were 57 spaces which represents 15% of the parking facility. This is attributed to the fact that Theater attendance had declined due to the opening of Cinemark at Imperial Valley Mall. Parcel #1 currently contains 140 parking spaces which are part of the 396 spaces throughout the facility.

The new proposed building would displace approximately 68 parking spaces. This leaves approximately 72 parking spaces available for Parcel #1 use. The proposed two-story building is approximately 25,000 sf therefore requiring approximately 100 spaces. Parcel 1 development could be short approximately 28 parking spaces.

City finds that there will be no conflict peak demand times due to the fact that the operation of theater and medical office will be different

In other items, the council passed a resolution requesting Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to approve the Manzanita Casino in the City of Calexico. The Tribe has submitted an application to the bureau of Indian Affairs to take the tribe’s land in the City of Calexico into trust for gaming purposes. The City and the Manzanita tribe are awaiting the decision by Governor Schwarzenegger on the approval of the Manzanita Tribe’s BIA trust application.

Calexico says that due to the earthquake that caused damages in the economy of Calexico and increasing an already high unemployment, the council is submitting the resolution to the Governor in support of the Casino in order to assist in improving the existing and future economic growth.

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By Mario Conde

The Calexico City Council passed a resolution denouncing the anti-immigration bill SB1070 that was signed into law recently.

The law signed by Republican Governor Jan Brewer makes it a state misdemeanor crime for anyone to be in the United States unlawfully; requiring police to make an attempt, when practicable, to determine a person’s immigration status if there is reasonable suspicion that the person is an illegal alien; allow police, without warrant, to arrest a person if there is probable cause that the person is an illegal alien or is a legal alien not in possession of registration documents that the person is required to carry by federal law and imposes a fine of $2,500 and jail time when arrested.

Millions marched this past May 1st to protest the immigration bill and to demand an immediate immigration reform. The protest made some effect on the bill as Governor Brewer amended the bill and eliminated the portion that said that police officers could arrest a person based on their appearance.

The Mayor of Phoenix, Arizona, Phil Gordon, has publicly stated his opposition to this anti-immigration bill as well as several other Sheriffs in the state of Arizona. President Barack Obama stated that SB 1070 threatens to “undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.”

Mexican President Felipe Calderon met this week with President Obama and touched the subject of this immigration bill and stressed the importance for the Obama Administration to work on an immigration reform that has been put aside in favor of the Health Care Bill.

The City Council has given direction to the City Clerk to send a copy of this resolution to Arizona Governor, Jan Brewer, and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Calexico is the second city in California after San Francisco has or will consider a similar resolution.

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By Luke Phillips
After all of the recent earthquakes in the area, Calexico Chamber of Commerce Director Hildy Rivera says that the 19th Annual Mariachi Festival Sin Fronteras is just what people need to relax.
“People just want to celebrate something,” she said. “It’s been rough, and people want to get out.”
The festival, marking it’s 10th year in Calexico, will begin this coming Tuesday and continue all week long before wrapping up with the main event at Crummett Park on Saturday May 15.
Rivera says the earthquake has also affected the way things are being done for this year’s mariachi festival. She says that all mariachi festival events were set to take place at the Calexico Cultural Arts Center, but plans had to be changed after the building was red-tagged by building inspectors.  That means an added expense for venue rentals
“We still have a mess on our hands, but we have to on,” Rivera said.
Rivera says sponsorships are also way down this year. She says the event only has 6 or 7 major sponsors this year, as opposed to 36 last year. Rivera suspects that the decline in financial support is due to business owners spending money on fixing earthquake damage instead.
“It was already hard to find sponsorships,” she said. “Now we have the earthquake to top it all off.”
As a way of seeking new revenue to pay for the festival, Rivera is asking politicians in the area, who are campaigning for this spring’s election, to make a $200 donation in exchange for an on-stage introduction and the chance to make a short presentation to the crowd.
“If they’re going to be out there campaigning anyway, and they’re going to be there (at the festival) anyway, maybe they can help support the event,” Rivera said. “We can help each other out.”
Kicking off the festivities will be the Mariachi Mixer Tuesday at Family Style Buffett, featuring dinner, music, and guest speakers. The mixer will also offer the opportunity to sign up for the returning ‘Mariachi Idol’ contest, an ‘American Idol’ style mariachi singing competition. Potential contestants are asked to bring a CD with their own music for the audition. Judges will choose the best three singers to compete at Saturday’s mariachi concert at Crummett Park. The contestants will perform with a live mariachi band and audience members will vote to determine this year’s winner.
A Mariachi Idol audition will also be held at 8 p.m. on Wednesday at the Camerena Library.
The Mariachi Idol contest will continue on Wednesday at the Mariachi Festival Artesian Exhibit and Sale, an art show set for 5 p.m. at the Woman’s Improvement Club, 320 Heber Ave. Refreshments will be served.
Event sponsors will be recognized on Friday night during the 19th Annual Mariach Festival Sponsor Reception at the Woman’s Improvement Club at 6 p.m. The event is for sponsors only and is not open to the public.
On Saturday, the main event kicks off at Crummett Park at 7 p.m.
Rivera says the concert will feature mostly the same acts as last year, with one exception. All female mariachi group Las Adelitas has been added to this year’s line-up. Rivera says that she is excited to see new talent on the stage.
“They’re an all female group, which we’ve never had before,” Rivera said. “We’re all looking forward to it.”
World-famous  Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan will be headlining the festival again this year.
The group originally formed in Tecalitlan, Jalisco, Mexico in 1897 and has continued through five different generations of musicians, playing all over the world. In 1987 the band played on Linda Ronstadt’s album ‘Canciones de mi Padre”, which went on to win a Grammy award.
Rivera says the act is very well known among mariachi fans.
“In the mariachi world, this

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