San Quintín, a bucolic beachfront community about 185 miles south of the international border, will apparently become Baja California's sixth officially recognized municipality.
By a 23-0 vote on June 28, the state legislature approved a measure that would take a big chunk of southern Ensenada to create Baja's newest city; however, at least one legislator, even though he voted yes, questioned the legality of the action. That's because the Ensenada city council, which was supposed to have sent its recommendation on the issue to the legislature by June 27, failed to do so. As a consequence, the legislature decided to interpret Ensenada's failure to respond as approval.
With the creation of San Quintín as a municipality, Ensenada would lose its distinction as Mexico's largest city by area; thus, the city’s leadership has long opposed the idea.
The San Quintín region is best known for its agriculture and is said to be the world's largest producer of tomatoes, with strawberries not far behind. Its urban population, though, is only about 5000.
For years, residents of San Quintín have sought separation from the sprawling city of Ensenada, about 120 miles to the north. They say San Quintín has been neglected and needs its own government, closer to home, to provide sewage treatment, street lights, trash collection, and more paved roads — matters that have been largely neglected by Ensenada's city council.
On October 28, 2012, voters overwhelmingly approved the creation of San Quintín as Baja California's sixth municipality in a referendum later disqualified by election officials. Voters approved the referendum 70 percent to 30 percent, with most of the “yes” votes coming from the southern part of Ensenada. The final tally was 17,580 “yes” votes to 7548 “no” votes — but, with around 330,000 eligible voters, election officials said the referendum was invalid because Mexican law requires that at least 10 percent of eligible voters participate.
The measure approved by the state legislature on June 28 provides for the establishment of a provisional municipal government in November, which will begin functioning in January 2014, followed by the first popular election of city-council members in 2016.
The last time a new municipality was created in Baja California was in 1995, when Rosarito Beach, formerly part of Tijuana, became the state's fifth municipality. The other officially recognized municipalities are Mexicali, Tijuana, Ensenada, and Tecate.