San Felipe, Baja, Mexico

As a relatively recent resident of San Felipe I would like to comment on what I believe to be a key barrier to future civic improvement and economic growth of this beautiful place that my wife and I have chosen to call home.

I refer to the fact that "quad" type motor vehicles seem to have the run of the town. Indeed, as I am writing this on Memorial Day weekend, an excellent example is at hand.

The hundreds of quads that are driven through town in a fast and reckless manner threaten the serenity and safety of the townspeople in many ways. For example, small children are unsafe in front of their own homes, since the quads are are commonly driven in a reckless manner and at unsafe speeds. A child in the street is in imminent danger of being run down by the quads. In fact, since children who are untrained and unlicensed drivers, often drive the quads, it is easy to imagine a tragic accident. By this I mean a child driving a quad running down another child on foot.

Moreover, although quads are illegal on the beach, they nevertheless are. This presents another safety problem since Quadthe operators typically show no concern for the safety or tranquility of beach goers. Rather, they indulge their own individual pleasures by driving their machines on the beaches in a manner to disturb anyone not on a quad, which is to say, the big majority of beach goers.

In addition to presenting an obvious safety hazard, the incredible noise created by these machines is a public nuisance to the large majority of residents who do not operate them.

It is informative to note that in real estate developments near San Felipe, such as Eldorado Ranch and Playa De Oro, quads are not permitted. Nor are they permitted in any town or city where vehicular safety is a priority. For example, in Mexicali, quads are certainly not permitted on city streets.

Why then are quads so rampant in San Felipe? I suggest that the answer to this question is not flattering to many Americans who come here on vacation with their quads in tow. That is to say, there is an ugly tradition in the United States that vacationers to Mexico may do pretty much as they please, without regard to the cultural, legal, environmental or moral restrictions that are present at home. I suggest that the problem of reckless quads in San Felipe is a manifestation of this larger disregard that too many Americans seem to demonstrate for this beautiful place and
its people. The common American mentality seems to be, "I'll do as I damn well please.. after all I am in Mexico. If this includes presenting a safety hazard and public nuisance, what do I care?"

Why does San Felipe allow this to continue? Why do the authorities not regulate this problem as so many other Mexican towns and cities have done? Part of the answer, I believe, is that up to this point in time, San Felipe has allowed itself to be victimized by this reckless disregard for public safety, cultural respect and common courtesy which too many Americans demonstrate. Many people in San Felipe believe that if restrictions on quads on the streets and beaches were enforced, tourists would stop coming here. I believe that this view, though understandable, is short-sighted and ultimately incorrect for several reasons. First of all, tracks and courses for quads could be developed in appropriate locations in the sand dunes and desert. Fees could be charged for using these courses and tracks. The courses could vary from beginner type tracks to advanced technical courses so that all levels of quad operators could be accommodated. Businesses could rent quads at these locations. Operator training could be provided. Safety regulations could be enforced.

Even more importantly, if the quads were no longer permitted on city streets and beaches, more tourists would travel here to enjoy the natural beauty of San Felipe. This beauty would be far more attractive without the assault on the tranquility and the danger presented by quads on the streets and beaches. More people would prefer to vacation in San Felipe if the quads were not allowed to remain a constant insult to the senses as well as a safety hazard. Once the quads were restricted and the word of this improvement in the tranquility of the environment worked its way through tourist communities, San Felipe would see a significant rise in its tourist industry.

I respectfully suggest that the municipal authorities in Mexicali which oversees San Felipe together with local authorities, both administrative and police, give serious consideration to putting a stop to the dangerous and disrespectful behavior that quad drivers demonstrate. Such a change in law and its enforcement would provide an important step in the civic improvement, public safety and economic progress of this beautiful and charming town. All Baja California and San Felipe residents would be well served by such a change.

Tom Cooke
San Felipe
Baja California