It was just a few weeks ago that federal, state and city officials in Tijuana swept through the concrete river channel known as El Bordo and dislodged hundreds of indigents, who had made the area their home.
Now, according to a business leader in Playas, many of those who were rousted by police have migrated to the beach area and have become a nuisance there.
"We now have a big problem,” Elías Cervantes Jáuregui, president of the Comerciantes Ambulantes, told El Sol de Tijuana in an interview published August 29. Comerciantes Ambulantes is an association of sidewalk vendors licensed by the federal government to ply their trade along the Tijuana beaches. “All those people from El Bordo have moved here, to properties in the federal zone, living in abandoned dwellings, in houses and on land,” he said.
Cervantes, according to El Sol, said that before the sweep of El Bordo a few weeks ago, there were about 20 indigents living along the oceanfront in Playas, and now there are more than 100.
"The vandals live like tourists,” Cervantes told the newspaper. “These are very nice properties.” He said the indigents use the abandoned dwellings or vacant lots to take drugs or as places of refuge after committing robberies.
In addition, said Cervantes, some of the indigents have illegally occupied vacant lots and have constructed wooden shacks in which they live, or use the beach itself “as a hotel.”
Because the land in question is controlled by the federal government, municipal police say they have no authority to act, despite requests from the merchants for help, Cervantes told El Sol.
Not only have the indigents from El Bordo flocked to Playas, he said, but many illegal vendors ordered off downtown sidewalks in early August are now competing with legitimate vendors, especially on weekends.
In the last few weekends, Cervantes said, illegal vendors have invaded the beach area, even though only 38 vendors are licensed by the federal government. More than 100 illegal vendors are now showing up on weekends, he said.
Cervantes predicted that, if city and federal officials don’t act quickly, the Playas neighborhood could turn into a virtually lawless community.