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Metropolitan Tijuana The Baja Triangle

(1st of a series. Next: The Binational Community; The Medical Destination; The Retirement Heaven; and, The Binational Challenges.)

Tijuana, a city of 2 million residents, swells to 2.5 million in its metropolitan area which includes Tecate, Ensenada and Rosarito The Baja Triangle. At a compound growth rate of 6 percent annually, the metropolitan population will double in 10 years, surpassing San Diego County. Just in Valle de la Palma, the eastern outskirts of Tijuana, over 100,000 homes will be built within the next 7 years, with a population approximating 500,000 residents.

The Nuevo Tijuana, 15,000 hectares (approximately 37,500 acres) the south eastern area of the city, adjoining the city limits of Rosarito, constitutes one half of the undeveloped land mass within the city boundaries. This area will be crossed by the super highway denominated Corredor 2000 scheduled for completion by the end of this year, connecting the future 2nd Otay Mesa border crossing with Rosarito. The New Tijuana master plan being formulated will include over 250,000 new residences, retirement housing for over 50,000 California expatriates, vacation homes, resorts, industrial and office parks, shopping centers, a university campus, a medical plaza, tourist attractions and a municipal airport.

The U.S. Consulate in Tijuana estimates that there are over 170,000 Americans living in the Baja California Peninsula. These expatriates include over 50,000 San Diegans living in Tijuana and working in San Diego. And, due to the disparity of housing prices between Tijuana and San Diego, thousands of residents in San Diego are searching for affordable housing in Tijuana. Although speculative, based on current trends, the likely prospect is that in 10 years 1/8th of the Baja Triangle will be made up of American expatriates, particularly with the opening of planned retirement communities. In the next series I will discuss the emergence of the Binational San Diego/Tijuana community.

During the Prohibition era and through the aftermath of WWII, and through the 60's, Tijuana was the ‘sin’ capital attracting the inebriate, the gambler, the addict, and the prostitute dependent. Revolution Blvd. became the main attraction for the young in search of a thrill and the sailor seeking for-hire companionship. Cheap tourism defined California's perception of Tijuana. It was not until the advent of the maquiladora industry and the channeling of the Tijuana River which opened the Zona Rio district for development that catapulted Tijuana into the new millennium of cosmopolitanism and respectability.

At present Tijuana is the busiest international Border in the world, attracting over 5 million border crossings per month. The San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau has estimated that fully 25-percent of San Diego tourists choose the region because of the opportunity to visit Mexico (Tijuana).

Of the 800 family restaurants in Tijuana, over 100 are gourmet, 1st class, offering international cuisine in addition to the local fare. Most of the trendy restaurants are located in the Rio District. Tijuana counts seven five star hotels and a number of 1st class facilities. Among these are the Real del Mar Spa and Resort, the Hotel Camino Real, Hotel Lucerna and The Grand Hotel de Tijuana. Tijuana is the entertainment capital of the region, excelling in nocturnal entertainment with as many night clubs, cabarets and discotheques as in San Diego County.

The migration to Tijuana from the interior of Mexico, accounting for one-half of its annual growth, is bringing new professional talent in the computer and communication sciences, engineering, urban development, medical and bio-medical sciences, high technology and the professions. Fresh capital, domestic and international is pouring into the Baja Triangle. Already Tijuana boasts the highest per capita in Mexico and its best climate (equivalent to adjoining San Diego).

Tijuana has become a world class community and a worthy Binational partner to San Diego. It is no longer the cul-de-sac to San Diego that it was once perceived to be. It deserves our respect, admiration and awareness for the opportunity that it represents.

By Sal Osio

Baja California Medical Tourism Association
Baja's Ultimate Portal Baja California, Mexico Al Delino Design