California Wealth Tax, a Dangerous Initiative

As the Pandemic dried state treasuries, they desperately seek new ways to get more revenue.  Like addicts without a fix, some have resorted to extreme measures. I watch these with trepidation because the emergency makes them justifiable to legislatures. But once adopted, they tend to grow roots and become permanent, making them doubly dangerous. New York just enacted its own way of getting the “stuff”. Others will likely follow.

California’s Wealth Tax initiative -AB2088- is textbook “California”: innovative, greedy and innocuous looking from popular perspective. After all, it only applies if your net worth is over 30 million (15 if married filing separately). Read even if it still does not yet apply.

This is a “net worth” tax. Unlike an income tax, this requires you to compute your worldwide net worth to figure if the tax applies. A long list of assets are included in the mix, even if they are difficult to value family businesses, startups, farms, or others. Since cash counts, you would have to disclose its existence to California, no matter where located, even if it’s under your mattress.

If you barely met the threshold, $120,000 would be added to your annual tax bill.

In a pernicious twist, if you decide to become a nonresident, leaving that nonsense behind, you would remain subject during the next ten years, albeit at “generous” declining tax rates. Worse, it invents a new “temporary resident” category, aimed at those spending over 60 days in the state over the year. Those would prorate the tax based on time spent in California. Aimed at snowbirds, those should be very leery of these provisions. They could find themselves stuck with a California reporting obligation and tax even if they have no corresponding federal one. No tax treaty would be of help against California.

Dangerous? Well, it’s populist. It sounds good to tax the wealthy. I would generally agree, except there’s no guarantee that once enacted, that $30M “floor” won’t somehow move down to include more and more taxpayers. The compliance costs, even figuring out if you are subject, can be staggering and can exceed the tax itself. You have foreign businesses or investments or retirement funds anywhere? They go in. It can quickly get quite complex.

In my almost 25 years as a licensed attorney, I have never seen such a worrying proposal from California, the state that even figured how to tax satellites that fly far above the state.

Orlando Gotay is a California licensed tax attorney (Master of Laws in Taxation) admitted to practice before the IRS, the U.S. Tax Court and other taxing agencies.  His love of things Mexican has led him to devote part of his practice to federal and state tax matters of U.S. expats in Mexico.  He can be reached at [email protected] Facebook: GotayTaxLawyer or WhatsApp at +17604491668. This is just a most general outline. It is informational only and not meant as legal advice.

Baja Community Benefits Farmworkers

Debra Blake and Carol Woodruff are among the many expats working with the local community to improve the living standards for everyone.

Their group, “Feeding Farmworkers’ Families,” focuses on those  whose arduous labor provides sustenance not only for their neighbors, but also for communities outside the local area.

It all began about 41/2 – 5 years ago. Debra Blake joined a small group of volunteers, spearheaded by Barbara Bridge and Patty Rodriguez to offer an opportunity to provide some basic education, with an emphasis on English-language instruction, to the children of the farmworkers.

The volunteers hoped that once the kids were comfortable speaking some English, they could overcome their shyness regarding Gringos, and be more confident in seeking to communicate and collaborate with them; in this way, both the people from El Norte and the natives of Baja would benefit by employment options and through sharing the history and the traditions of both cultures.

The current school is very spartan, consisting of only a concrete foundation and a roof, a simple structure with no walls, having evolved to that point from teaching the kids who sat on blankets in the open air.

The boys and girls were naturally eager to have an opportunity to improve their opportunities through education, and of course their parents welcomed the chance to see their children broaden their horizons.

The school, “Escuela en Las Lomas,” quickly grew from a few families to 40 to 90 students, primarily the children of 30 Oaxacan farm worker families with whom the founding group of volunteers developed strong relationships of trust, great expectations, and hope for a brighter future. Unfortunately, the pandemic has forced the closure of this project.

The farmworkers who are the focus of the group’s efforts are very poor. Some of them live in homes provided by various church groups, but many others live with extended families in plywood and black plastic shacks with dirt floors. About half of the 30 families have no electricity, and none have running water.

Their homes, marginal as they are, can only be reached by a dirt road that is impassable during wet weather.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the families were already very poor, working hard in austere conditions to earn a meager $8 – $10 per day per person.

The pandemic very quickly resulted in the closing of schools, restaurants and other institutions dependent upon the produce that the farmworkers provided, thus reducing demand for their output by more than half.

This caused layoffs, which made an already needy community even more insecure; some families could not even afford to provide themselves with basic necessities, including food.

The food delivery program began in mid-April of this year; Carol and Debra expected (“hoped” is a better word) that the situation would be short-lived. Of course, that has not been the case.

The need for assistance to these struggling families continues to this  day.

Carol and Debra obtained the despensa (“pantry”) guidelines from DIF (Desarrollo Integral de la Familia) in April and began to procure and distribute full allotments of rice, beans, lentils, sugar, eggs, milk, oil, oatmeal, canned vegetables, tomato sauce, pasta, tuna, and other basic nutritional needs every two weeks to the families in their care.

Eva’s Garden (a local organic grower/distributor) contributes an assortment of fresh, organic veggies.

In addition to food supplies, they are able to provide sanitary products from a regular donor who purchases them from Costco and donates them to the families through this team.

Carol says, “Our donors are families and friends. The Punta Banda community has been very generous.”

As schools remained closed due to the Covid crisis, Debra and Carol became aware that the children were in need of structured activities and materials that stimulated them to become more involved in learning.

To that end, Barbara Bridge provided the students with homework, which they actually loved; it gave them an opportunity to reinforce what they had learned in a classroom setting, such as writing and math skills.

The older students are given supplemental worksheets from LaRousse Publishing, the results of which are collected by Debra and Carol, who provide feedback and award stickers to reward the kids’ efforts.

Each child learns at his or her own pace, depending on individual capability and eagerness about a given subject. Age/grade levels are not relevant in such an environment; each child’s willingness to learn dictates how fast he or she will progress.

More recently, FFF provided a mobile library, which now has 75 books in Spanish, with more on the way. The kids are so grateful for this additional opportunity to grow and learn that they have proven themselves responsible by returning the books so that they may check out others.

Some of them are already on their 3rd book in as many weeks.

Beba ‘Cosmo,’ who teaches Early Childhood Education at Alocalo University, selected and provided the books. Beba is the owner of the popular Punto en el Cosmos Restaurant in Maneadero.

Other notables who have generously given their support to FFF prep and delivery operations are Hideyo Hirada, Chris Blake, Gary Woodruff, and Kathleen Estay.

Pris Austin of Los Adoptables in Maneadero adopts and treats the sick animals that the group sometimes encounters on their travels in the hills.

As Carol says, “It takes a village, and so many people have contributed in different ways.”

The next project underway is a collaboration with Baja Networks (Carlos Munguia) to install solar panels and a microwave receiver in an empty casita in the area without electric service; this will provide internet access to families and allow kids to attend classes via tv.

If you would like to make a donation to help our community to thrive, the FFF PayPal pool is https://paypal.me/pools/c/8oDfwG0bVK. Clothing and shoe donations suitable for hill terrain, non-perishable food, and school supplies are needed and would be greatly appreciated. Contact Debra Blake or Carol Woodruff via Facebook.

Hidden Gem Found In La Bufadora

Whenever I think of food sold in the Bufadora area, fish tacos, seafood cocktails and churros come to my mind. BajaMed cuisine is something that never crosses my mind.

That all changed last week when my wife and I visited La Bufadora Tequila Grill, which, judging solely by its name,  seemed to have even more of the same; the name somehow evoques fish tacos and margaritas in my experience, but oh my god was I wrong!

When we arrived at the restaurant, we were met by the owner, Alex Malpica, popular in the area as a resident of the Rosa Negra Ranch, one of the most popular properties in the area, having already been featured in 4 movies. In contrast to the fabulous property he calls home, I was not impressed with the restaurant, which seems to have a funky ambiance; I asked Alex about it and he said that he just wants to maintain a relaxed, easygoing atmosphere to his restaurant.

Alex told us that he came here from the US several years ago, retiring from the restaurant industry over there, and decided to acquire this restaurant. For many years it did very well, selling the usual combination of affordable Mexican dishes that are a staple for Bufadora tourists, but about a year ago Alex had an idea: What if he could bring food similar to the meals served in the wine valley to his Bufadora restaurant.

It seemed like an impossible idea. How would he even begin to succeed in such a daunting task, but in the process of searching for a solution, he met local Chef Temo Cortez. Temo brought to the table exactly what Alex was looking for, being an experienced chef who could create fine BajaMed cuisine at his restaurant.

Alex is not an easy man to impress, in my opinion; it’s even harder to impress him in the restaurant industry, as he has more than 40 years of experience in that area; so naturally I was very curious about Chef Temo that he talked so highly of.

Since I’m more easily impressed by actions than by words, I listened to what the pair had to say but decided to reserve my opinion until I tasted the food there.

We asked for a menu and got a letter sized sheet with about 14 different dishes, we decided on the shrimp, aguachile style, and a Tomahawk steak.

While we waited, Alex explained that one of his passions was Tequila, and that he makes his own Extra Añejo tequila, for which he has recently started distribution in the States. While we waited for our food we tasted two of his tequilas, Xedda and Escortauro, which were very good.

Chef Temo surprised us with an octopus tentacle appetizer, served sizzling in a mini iron pan. As soon as the plates arrived, I was impressed with the presentation; here I am thinking that I’m once again going to be let down with the food at one more restaurant, and this beautifully constructed plate comes to our table, and when I tasted it, oh my god, the savory, meaty, octopus just instantly takes me to the Valley; this is actually wine valley food, I say to myself.

A couple minutes later the shrimp aguachile comes, nope, it was definitely not your typical Mexican seafood restaurant aguachile, this one had a very subtle flavor, acidic but very well balanced. Later I learned that this was achieved by chef Temo by adding white wine and olive oil to the green chili and lemon juice. The presentation was immaculate, adorned with Salicornia and beet sprouts, which also helped bring the flavors of the plate together.

A few minutes after we finished with the shrimp, the Tomahawk was brought to the table. Another one of Temo’s gems, beautifully presented, cut into pieces, with the bone still left on the plate. By that time, after the first two dishes, I was already expecting greatness and I was not disappointed; in fact, I was once again impressed. The steak was beautifully accompanied by a dab of Oaxacan mole with balsamic, and roasted vegetables

When we finally finished the steak, we were already stuffed, but we opted for the  crème brûlée anyway, it was a great finish to our meal.

The Bufadora Tequila Grill is located on KM 22.5, on the road to La Bufadora, just a few meters before getting to the arches that mark the start of La Bufadora. They open Tuesdays from 12:00pm to 8:00pm and Wednesday to Sunday, from 8:30am to 8:00pm. BajaMed style cuisine is only available from 2pm to 8pm, and Sundays all day. ,

Time to Vote, Expats

Voting materials from the United States have already started appearing in your mailboxes. If you have not already done so, request your mail-in ballot NOW. Perform your due diligence and research on candidates and propositions quickly, then promptly return your ballots via US Mail. There are instructions online for those of you who would like to personally drop your ballot in an official ballot box, should you decide not to trust the US mail service to deliver it on time. This applies mostly to those registered in California and Arizona, unless you really feel like taking a bit of a road trip. And you may always return to your state of residency to vote in person at the polling address listed on your ballot, even if it is a “mail in” ballot. Most states just have a special form or book to sign that you elected to personally drop off your ballot instead of returning it by mail. Although the border is closed to unnecessary travel, voting is your constitutional right. For our local residents who are registered to vote in the state of South Dakota, please allow for ample driving time.

Some readers were confused by all of the websites I listed in my first article. The best link to use for all voter information is www.FVAP.gov. I hope this helps!.

Bringing Children and Horses Together In Our Community

In the course of one’s lifetime, the people who have the most significant and lasting impact on us (besides the parents) may be a nurse, a first responder, or even a teacher or professor.

The reason that’s true is because people who enter into such enterprises do so not out of a desire to become wealthy in a material way, but rather to enrich the lives of those with whom they interact, thereby making their own lives more meaningful and rewarding.

Case in point is Dawn Stephens, who grew up in a family that valued horses as companions. Her family lived in Burbank and had a ranch outside of Bakersfield, where horses roamed freely. In that environment, she learned to ride them and care for them, doing the hard work necessary to ensure that their health and sense of physical well-being were consistently and adequately attended to.

Her interaction with these magnificent creatures was temporarily interrupted when she decided to pursue a higher education.

She attended UC Davis, later studying Sport & Exercise Psychology at the University of New Mexico, finally earning her Doctorate in the same subject from UC Berkeley.

From there, she became a Professor at the University of Iowa.

When the time came for Dawn to give back to the parents who had so lovingly cared for her as a child, she suggested that the family move to Mexico. Where they could retire and reap the benefits of the casual lifestyle and Mediterranean weather that makes Mexico such a desirable destination for so many Americans when life tells them it’s time for a change.

So they came, but little did they know that retirement was simply not in the cards for Dawn.

She began to notice almost immediately that horses, once a source of inspiration, healthy exercise, and interaction with nature back in Bakersfield, were sometimes neglected or abused in her new environment.

Dawn made up her mind to prepare and maintain a sanctuary for the creatures in need, and, with her partner, Tina Jo, co-founded Tina Jo’s Promise in Punta Banda, a rich agricultural region southwest of Ensenada.

The pair have, over the years, procured 3 1-acre lots in PB, where the horses are cared for. In many cases, the horses are sick, malnourished, and frightened when brought to the sanctuary. The actions of Dawn and Tina Jo ensure that rather than being condemned to death, they are nurtured, loved, and meticulously cared for.

Her work is arduous but rewarding. She attends auctions where horses are being sold and often has to outbid meat buyers, who would use the animals as a source of protein in dog food.

Dawn has names for each of the horses, many of which are taken from the classic novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. One of the beautiful creatures is named “Atticus Finch,” and another is “Harper” (after Harper Lee in the novel). Her very first rescue, however, was named Lover Boy.

Her operation is massive and expensive and is primarily dependent on public donations in order to provide the nutrition, grooming, veterinarian care and all the equipment necessary to maintain such an optimistic enterprise.

Her altruistic nature now goes beyond caring for horses.

She is active in the support of Baja Love Outreach, an enterprise that provides support for 10 orphanages in the region.

One of the many benefits she provides to the community of orphans is bringing the kids to her ranch to ride the horses or simply to pet them and enjoy the wide-open spaces outside the confines of their crowded institutions. These activities help the kids to heal from abuse or physical injuries,

Seeing the positive impact upon the children whose interactions with the animals brought them such joy, Dawn began to envision a dream whereby her efforts to improve the lives of these young orphans would ensure that their lives would be made more valuable once they were no longer wards of the system.

As she so wisely observed, “What happens to these kids when they turn 18? They are sent away from the orphanage with no further assistance. What are their prospects? Sell drugs? Enter into a life of prostitution? Work forever in an unrewarding and low-paying job, if they’re fortunate enough to find one?”

Baja Love Outreach has provided 2 cargo ship containers and had them placed on her property; these units will provide the basic structures to be modified into classrooms where the kids can come to learn skills allowing them to become proficient in a chosen profession to support them long after they leave the orphanages.

She has the wherewithal to send surveys to the kids to ascertain their interests, so that she can provide the training in the fields that interest them most.

Once she knows what the children are drawn to, she will provide training in those areas of expertise.

For example, she will provide vocational-type training for construction skills, mechanical work, computer skills, welding, sewing, etc. Some adults who are already proficient in those areas have already volunteered to provide the training.

She currently has a hydroponic fodder machine on the property.

Future plans include the development of aquaponics units; first, a large one for the ranch, then later smaller ones to be placed at each orphanage.

Aquaponics is a symbiotic system whereby live fish are nourished and the waste they accumulate is turned into bacteria, providing nourishment in the form of fertilizer to sustain a garden, which in the process of photosynthesis returns safe water to the fish.

Dawn’s vision is reflected in this statement on her website: “My religion is kindness.”

The magnitude of her love for children and for animals is awe-inspiring. By bringing them together, she improves the lives and future prospects for both.

She can’t do it alone, however. She is currently engaged in a fund-raiser to make sure that the horses have enough hay for the winter. She says that now is the time when hay is sold at the lowest price, and she would like to purchase enough of it to last one year for the animals in her care.

It costs $650 per month to provide food for the horses. If only 25 people donated $25 each per month, their most basic needs would be covered. A donation of $150 for the year by each of 50 people would help Dawn and Tina Jo provide a quality life for the horses that have thrived under their care. Their goal is to raise a total of $7,500.00 to feed the horses for a year.

Please consider making a donation to help this altruistic enterprise to continue and to grow.

Also, check out Dawn’s personal FB timeline to see the many testimonials to her loving care for both children and animals.

For more videos and photos of the heartwarming efforts on behalf of the young people and the horses, see Tina Jo’s Promise, also on FB.

Most importantly, please donate! Any amount is greatly appreciated, and will go a long way to ensure the longevity, success, and growth of this most energetic and charitable enterprise.

You can make your donation through PayPal at [email protected]; or click on “save a life” or “adopt a horse.” You can make a one-time donation, or a monthly recurring one.

It’s a 501(c)3 organization, so any donation you make is tax-deductible by the IRS.

And remember, their mission is “to end the suffering of abused, unwanted and neglected equines and to improve the quality of their lives.”

Obviously, to help them grow is to improve the quality of life for the community at large, and by making life better for children and for animals, a better society overall is ensured.

Foreign Asset Control and You

BY ORLANDO GOTAY / TAX ATTORNEY

If you are a US person who runs a business in Mexico and have not heard about OFAC, perhaps you should. OFAC (Office of Foreign Asset Control), is part of the US Treasury. It administers dozens of programs related to trade and economic sanctions to further US national security interests.

OFAC foreign asset control programs designate both foreign individuals and entities for economic sanctions. Some of these are country focused, such as Cuba, Iran, Venezuela and North Korea. Others are broader, making designations under Global Terrorism, Narcotics Trafficking and “Kingpin” lists, among others. Because these are economic sanctions, the lists include entities in which target persons have a majority ownership too, even if the named entities themselves have no actual relation to what got the “owners” on the list. This is the so-called “Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) and Blocked Persons” list.

Sanctions are a bad thing. One does not want to be on these lists. Why is this relevant to you? Great question!

If you are a US person, you are not allowed- in fact, you are prohibited by federal law- from doing business, receiving or giving property to anyone on these lists. OFAC has a comprehensive database of listed persons and entities that change constantly. I just searched it to figure out how many entries it had for Mexico; it returned over seven hundred names. On the basis of a name alone, some businesses would hardly be noticed. There is a childcare center, hotels, even an air taxi service. But the rule is there and it’s on you to not do any business with listed persons.

Why? Because, you can be fined for a violation of OFAC sanctions if you have prohibited transactions with sanctioned persons. More serious cases could warrant more comprehensive actions, ranging all the way to criminal prosecution.

Compliance with these rules can be burdensome. There are screening services that will clear names for you. If you are operating a souvenir shop somewhere, you may not need to do much screening. If you are a real estate developer, the scope of your activities could be such where it may be worth the while, maybe even critical, to screen against the OFAC list.

Of course, the screening universe includes not only clients, but even partners and service providers.  Remember, it’s on you not to do business with them!  You were told.

Orlando Gotay is a California licensed tax attorney (Master of Laws in Taxation) admitted to practice before the IRS, the U.S. Tax Court and other taxing agencies.  His love of things Mexican has led him to devote part of his practice to federal and state tax matters of U.S. expats in Mexico.  He can be reached at [email protected] Facebook: GotayTaxLawyer or WhatsApp at +17604491668. This is just a most general outline. It is informational only and not meant as legal advice.

Victor Diaz Dies at 77

On Saturday, August 8th, Victor Diaz, loving husband and father of 4, passed away at the age of 77 in Tijuana.

He was born in Mexico City on December 1st, 1942, although he lived his final years in Rosarito, where he helped countless families move between the US and Mexico with his business “Fletes y Mudanzas Diaz”.

Mr. Diaz, an honest man of strong convictions, was very well appreciated in the local community, especially by the staff of this newspaper where he was a good friend and a client for over 5 years.

He is survived by his wife Juanita Ramirez, his four children, Victor Hugo, Jose Humberto, Leo Kenneth and Omar Saul, his 7 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.

He will be greatly missed.

Border Closure Lengthened (Again)

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard proposed that border crossings with the United States be “closed” until September 21st, citing the continued spread of coronavirus in both countries. Per Aristegui Noticias, “Currently the US has had a resurgence in… the south belt, which is the southern part and so the border could not be opened now.”

Mr. Ebrard further acknowledged that the restriction of land border crossings has severely impacted trade and the economy on both sides of the border for the past six months. He emphasized “prioritizing health.” There has been a 48% drop in the VAT (Value Added Tax) paid through customs versus this time last year, and a decrease of 36% in the General Import Tax.

This may not be the final word on “closing” the border. The closure may be extended through October 21st, if necessary.

It’s Time to Write That Will

If you are like me, you don’t really want to dwell on death and dying. But it’s September, and in Mexico that means it is the month to draw up your Last Will and Testament, Mexican style. “Mes Del Testamento” or “Testament Month” is the chance to have your Mexican will created with a cost reduction of about 50%, or more.

Expats living in Baja should know that your American (or Canadian) Last Will and Testament does you no good if you happen to pass away while in Mexico. Now, if you don’t own your home and don’t have a lot of personal property, you probably don’t have a lot of need for a Mexican will. However, if married, this document will come in handy if and when the surviving spouse wants to sell a house, car, or other property.

There are several types of wills, but the “Open Public Will” suffices for most people. These wills can be simple and straightforward or inclusive of many clauses (Simultaneous Death Clause, No Contest Clause, etc.) depending on your individual situation.

There are several differences between wills in the US and Mexico. In Mexico, one must retain a notario (notary) to complete the Last Will and Testament. Obtain a form from the notario and fill it out completely. If you do not know Spanish, have someone knowledgeable help you. Take the completed form and two identical handwritten copies of your will. No photocopies allowed. The will must be signed and dated to conform to the Baja California Civil Code. In some cases you may be required to have your Mexican will translated into Spanish by a court-approved translator.

You must also bring an official ID with photograph and signature, and two color copies front and back. Acceptable IDs are a driver’s license (Mexican or country of origin), a Mexican voter’s card, valid passport, and/or permanent or temporary Mexican residency card. You must bring two witnesses with their official photo ID’s and two color copies as well. The notario will translate your will into Spanish and have it signed by you and your witnesses if you have not already done so.

The rules of will-making vary from state to state, so if you own property in two different states you will probably be required to have two separate Mexican wills drawn up. The cost varies by state and by the individual notario, depending on several factors, including the amount of property involved and the number of people involved. In September all notarios reduce their rates, but as of this writing, rates had not been set.

There is a list of licensed notarios at https://www.NotariadoMexicano.org.mx. Click on “Directorio” at the top of the page; click “notarios”, then select Baja California, and choose a notario from any of the cities listed. There are two registered notarios in Rosarito, Mr. Luis Armando Durazo and Ms. Ana Cecilia Thomas.

It is important to know that in Mexico there is no “right of survivorship” as there is in the US, so it is extremely important to have a will for each spouse handled by the notario. If the couple has children, said children are the direct heirs of all properties and the spouse very well could legally end up with nothing if not so stated in the will.

Certain assets such as your life insurance, bank account funds, owned home, and Fideicomiso may already have their dispensations to beneficiaries and legally transferable, but other personal property such as cars, boats, coins, jewelry, and stamp collections are all up for grabs unless their dispensation is officially recorded by the notario in your Mexican will. It is also wise to cross-reference your “country of origin” wills and any of the items listed above in your Mexican will to avoid any confusion among heirs.

Without a will registered in the national database, the government will divide your property among surviving heirs,  not including your spouse.

So get your elements and witnesses together. Remember, there are many others with the idea to cash in on this annual event, so a phone call to a local notario is a must. There is a lot of information online to help you with your preparation. Google “Mexican wills” and check out the information most relevant to your situation.

Plans to Renovate Binational Park on the Border Launched

BY JACKIE BARSHAK

“Build That Park” organizers launched a 12-month long public education and design development campaign to raise awareness and solicit input for a proposed bi-national park along the Mexican/U.S. border, where California meets Baja along the Pacific.

Hugging the boundary of the wall in Tijuana, the site is home to Friendship Park and the binational garden of native plants, which serves as a gathering site for a community advocating unrestricted access to both sides of the border. To the north, on the very southwestern corner of the U.S., 1.5 miles south of San Diego, a wildlife refuge inside Border Field State Park forms the perimeter to the other side of the border wall. On these and other expanded sites, including the bull ring to the south in Tijuana, chief architect James Brown envisions a park embodying values of peace, friendship, cooperation and security.

During the year-long design phase, input will be solicited from stakeholders, community activists, artists, designers, grassroots organizers and first nations people. Engagement with the public is key to formulating conceptual design plans that will be unveiled on August 18, 2021, the day marking the 50th anniversary of Friendship Park.

Building parks in cities sharing frontiers has historical precedent. At the US/Canada border crossing, green lawns and flowering gardens of Peace Arch Park, straddling British Columbia and Washington State, gives rise to a dramatic white arch, a symbol of peace, honoring the peace treaty that ended the War of 1812. On the Mexican border, the white stone border marker in Tijuana’s Friendship Park stands as a monument to the end of the 1848 U.S. Mexican war and the signing of The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. “The terms of that treaty have relevance to building a park on the border today”, said James Brown, “reciprocal benefit, cooperation and security for both countries outlined in that historical treaty are the values guiding the new park design”.

The design process will draw on a peoples’ history and the collection of personal stories woven into a visionary plan for the park. There will be international competitions for the design of vertical gardens, outdoor event spaces, interpretive centers with conference rooms, trolley terminals and pedestrian walkways, among other structures proposed in the building plans.

Spanning the two frontiers, the binational garden will encompass an expanded area, with greater opportunities to link shared ecosystems divided today by artificial political boundaries. Binational cooperation of the landscape will enhance control of exotic invasive plants and restoration of native flora. “After 15 years of working in the garden”, said Daniel Watman, founder of the binational garden, “and dreaming that some day the garden would outgrow the walls and end militarization, I’m ecstatic about the prospect of expanding native flora across barriers to bring people together and form collaborations that will improve the region we share”.

The fate of two countries sharing a border are linked. A binational park on the Mexico/U.S. border can serve as a model and living symbol of peace between the two nations, exemplifying what can be achieved through cooperation and collaboration.

Visit www.buildthatpark.org for more information about the project and to learn how you can help.

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