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Monthly Archives: January 2011

ISSUES: Fairway abuses close right-of-way path

A right-of-way easement across a golf-course fairway from Bahia Xaac to Caleta Yalku was barricaded by Fideicomiso (Trust) officials in response to what they say has been flagrant abuses of golf-course property by area residents, their children and workers. (A previous report by the Pelican quoting other sources noted that the barricade may have been placed by a homeowner immediately adjacent to the path.)

Insofar as the Pelican Press is admittedly unfamiliar with the variations and complexities of Mexican law, it asked Puerto Aventuras designer-developer Roman Rivera Torres, who inserted the right-of-way easements into the master plan years ago, what the intent was and whether blocking one or more of the easements is legally or morally defensible given the long-term use of the path by investor-residents and workers as a short-cut to centro businesses and the main gate.

In U.S. law, an “easement” is a right, such as a right of way or a right to fish in a private pond or run utilities, afforded to a person or a constituency to make limited use of another person’s or entity’s real property. In it’s most simple form, it is the right to use somebody else’s property without owning it. In some cases and conditions, it is irrevocable. In others, it is not. In still other cases, easement status is debatable and open to interpretation. Mr. Rivera Torres explains his view in this particular situation:

“The fence was erected by Fideicomiso through Mr. Hector Pavon, who is general manager. The fact is that the golf course, as an entity, is private property. In our master plan, which was designed by me, I considered restrictions to be used as “servidumbres” (easement zones) which are not necessarily public ways. They are meant to be areas without construction to be used in some cases for emergencies, in others for”… access of repair equipment following hurricanes, for example.

Mr. Rivera Torres continues that, “There is no obligation to maintain it (the cross-fairway path) as a public way and there are many reasons to close it now for control and security. The main reasons that led us to control that specific easement zone (path) were:

– “Construction workers use it to cross toward the entrance (main gate) access, passing through residential areas that cannot be watched at all times.

–   Service workers from condominiums use it to cross towards the access (main gate) carrying with them things that cannot be supervised.

–   People use it (the path traversing condo areas and along private residences) to enter (the fairways) with their golf carts to circulate and transit at other locations. A golf course is for playing golf. There are streets for those other purposes.

–   A new sport has been invented: Kids pull surfboards with golf carts on fairways and spin to make the one behind roll and fall (creating some ruts in the fairway).

–   This last Sunday several adults in a white golf cart with no number stole a number of flats, broke our satellite photos at the tee-offs and played spinning their carts at two tees.

–   We don’t want to ever place a fence all around the golf course but we expect our co-owners (of surrounding private properties) to act in a civilized way apart from the fact that those areas are private property.”

SINNERS AND LOSERS

That being said, the Fideicomiso can hardly be blamed for wanting to protect its private property from inconsiderate abuse. Others have witnessed a mix of misuses, some worse than others – remembering how one boy was mauled by a vicious dog on the golf course last winter. Despite leash laws, some people continue walking dogs without leashes and not picking up after them, while others pull dogs along with golf carts or on bicycles. Children-gone-wild are racing golf carts, making figure eights and slamming on brakes digging into the turf; a few motor scooters have been spotted using the path to cross the fairway, worsening a trodden rut, and other overt infractions that have now reached a point where the occasional pedestrian is denied simple access to that particular pathway as was evidently and unofficially intended as a courtesy to golf course neighbors. It’s called “ruining a good thing.”

The losers are people like Bonnie Rodriguez of Condos Esmeralda who has but one lung. She must stop every so many steps to catch her breath and rest. Making the trip to Centro to shop or dine, or to the main gate, is a difficult task along the much longer roadways. The short-cut across the fairway in question has allowed her a modicum of freedom to enjoy her stays here. Other visitors who help bring prosperity and are not in a phycial condition to walk very far in the heat, also made quiet use of the easements.

The Fideicomiso’s action now reinforces the no-trespass, private property status of two condominiums at the top of Bahia Xaac, which was part of the right-of-way easement. It is doubtful anyone or group will challenge these actions before the bench.

What’s YOUR view? Write a comment!

Bankers’ deposit of good information received with interest

Posted 1/19/2011 by Pelican Paulie

There were banking tips a-plenty for foreigners this week as four employees of Bancomer engaged more than 30 Puerto Aventuras residents and a few from other villages at the season’s first informational meeting held at 9:30 a.m.Wednesday in the Colonos Hall. They were introduced by PA resident John Schwandke.

Sandra Alvarez, manager of Bancomer’s English-speaking Preferred Customer Unit and Rosa Elena Jiminez Sosa, of the unit’s branch in Centro Maya near Soriana’s, along with two other bank agents, one from the mortgage department and another from Tulum. They were available to answer questions following presentations concerning bank accounts, transfers, avoiding taxes on deposits and that particular bank’s own commitment to service the foreign customer with not only the English-speaking preferred customer unit but a preferred customer English cage and teller at each bank. There is a branch in Centro Playa del Carmen as well.

There was a review of federal law implemented in June limiting the amount of foreign cash that can be deposited at one time, and how much of that cash is subject to a 3 percent federal deposit tax. As it was understood by the Pelican and explained by Senorita Jiminez Sosa, $1,250 USD can be deposited per month per account without a tax payment, while only $4,000 a month can be deposited in total per person, per account, all depots over $1,250 subject to the federal tax. But a fresh tip here was that depositing a check, say for $5,000, from an American bank avoids all fees and taxes and may even get a better exchange rate in the process. It takes about six or seven days for the check to pass in the U.S.and longer in Canada.

Senora Alvarez described the preferred customer unit’s mission as “trying to make you feel at home” by adopting similar banking methodologies practiced in other countries

and applying them to the unit. That includes automatic payments to the electric company and TelMex and online payments of the predial (property tax) to take advantage of the early-payment discount even if you aren’t here, and payments to the property trust. Some in the audience described how they can transfer money from their banks in the U.S. to their bank in Mexico with a simple phone call and without charges.

They also touched upon various money market accounts currently yielding from 2.50 to 5 percent, the limits of insurance on them and an insurance service for cars that can be paid automatically from your bank checking account…provided you keep you account chock-full of green stuff.

A relatively new service, that of property mortgages, was briefly explained and attracted some attention and questions from a few attendees who wanted to know about taking over mortgages from foreign banks and whether mortgages like home equity loans are available. The answers? “Yes.”

Even in banking, the Devil’s in the details and for more of those, attendees were invited to stop by the preferred customer units either in Playa or Maya Centro or , for account holders, check out the online, step-by-step customer manual written in English. More information at 01-800-2282-728.

The next event in the speakers’ series will be held at 9:30 a.m., Feb. 2, in the Colonos Hall featuring U.S. consular agent Samantha Mason speaking on the new FM3-2 online visa process and, with the help of some police officials, the protocols for handling traffic stops and paying fines.

SLEEPY SENTINEL –  The intimidating but young federal policemen in their dark uniforms and black Uzi type guns dangling on their chests were conducting a filtro (stop and search?) along 307. There were more than a dozen of them. When our car approached, the policeman on the right, arms outstretched and looking up to the sky let out a long, toothy and loud yawn that provoked outright guffaws in the car, and a big, humanizing smile from his partner who joined in the humor.Since then the federale filtros don’t seem so intimidating.

TelMex: A study in obfuscation and ineptitude

EDITORIAL
Add real estate horror stories, other alleged scams to experience Paradise lost

Posted 1/13/11 by Pelican Paulie

An acquaintance who lives in a waterfront condo tells the Pelican he’s been trying to straighten out TelCel problems for three years and is so fed up with the process that he has now resigned himself  to be without a cell

phone. Join the chorus. Because of these laments, yours truly has shied away from TelCel. Another acquaintance tells us of being cheated out of $200,000 by a developer who skipped town and headed back to Italy but is now being pursued by their lawyer. Join the chorus. A visitor in a rented car complains of having to pay a policeman for a speeding violation when he says he wasn’t speeding and other cars were zooming by. Other visitors and residents alike talk freely of being shortchanged by attendants at the Pemex gasoline stations and at the bus station cages in Playa del Carmen. Join the chorus.

Now the Pelican has its own story to tell involving the sudden loss of its TelMex internet connection on December 8, 2010, and futile attempts over 36 days so far to have it reconnected. Pelican joins the chorus even though it can’t sing. Attempts to resolve the problem over 36 days and counting so far have been unnerving to say the least. They involve more than 21 time-consuming, absolutely frustrating telephone calls to the TelMex customer technical assistance number (01-800-123-2222) only to hear a plethora of falsehoods and deceptive appeasements from the polite, sincere sounding TelMex minions who promise everything but can give nothing but empty words. Their names change at every call: Alejandro, Joseph, Hugo, and, as we were ushered into the realm of supervisors, Mr. Gonzalez or Mr. Garcia, and so on. They all promise…guarantee even…service will be restored “in five minutes” or “by tomorrow” or “the men are working on it” or “we’re opening a new port” or “we are replacing the wires” or “they are cleaning the server” or “we don’t have the capacity right now” and on and on with absolutely no success in solving the problem, whatever it is. Take your choice. It doesn’t matter. The end result is nada. Nothing.

Multiply and bundle these negative experiences from many sources and the Paradise one wants to believe in begins to slip away like pesos at a Pemex station. Last year, the Pelican’s TelMex service was superior. So what’s happened? Who knows when all one is told falls into the categories of malarkey and bull dung, intended or not, it smacks of deceit, or in the vernacular of the North, the run-around. That’s what it is. And that is frustrating.

Obviously, TelMex doesn’t get it

Client frustration is not from the loss of service. It stems from the attempts to have it restored and constantly being deceived by people who are either intentionally stringing clients along or who exist as a cadre of unwitting dupes hired by TelMex as a buffer to keep irate clients at bay. Promising and not delivering, making clients waste time sitting by the phone waiting for a call that doesn’t come, are unethical and insulting business stratagems and a shoddy treatment of paying – repeat paying – customers. Yes, after 36 days and counting without service, Pelican got a bill for a service it did not receive. Simple breach of contract. If on the other hand TelMex admitted outright it couldn’t fix a problem, a client could make other plans, such as permanently using a neighbor’s connection and paying half the cost, meaning TelMex loses income. TelMex shoud be careful. Imagine if two thirds of its customers got angry enough to drop the service because they could use their neighbors’ connection? Massive loss of income. Thanks to Pelican’s friends and neighbors who offered use of their connections and made possible the continuation of production without much interruption.

In the final analysis, though, if Paradise is lost in the fog of bumbling business stratagems, it nonetheless resurfaces quickly for the critics who float in the surreal world of margaritas or surrender their angst to sand, sun, sea and smiles of the local population. Ahhh! Paradise…TelMex and those of its ilk excluded.

Good neighbors avert larger fire tragedy

Unidentified truck snaps utility pole

Posted 1/13/11 by Pelican Paulie

Alert and willing neighbors on Caleta Yalku prevented what could have been a damaging fire in the dry woods along the golf course. As the story was related to the Pelican, neighbors including Daniele Gracis of the Colonos board and cultural and sports committee chairman, responded quickly to the strong scent of what seemed like burning rubber or plastic and found it to be coming from a garage on Yalku that, upon approach, was burning inside. Neighbors managed to douse the fire and call the fire department in Playa del Carmen, which arrived 45 minutes later, after the fire was out and under control.

Investigation by fire officials and the neighbors revealed that an absent owner had apparently left his golf cart charging in the garage close to a can of gasoline. It was assumed that some sort of spark from the golf cart charging operation ignited fumes from the gasoline can, igniting  fire. Firefighters broke windows to allow heavy, black smoke to exit the garage before they entered. One witness said the firefighters could have simply opened the doors to achieve the same result. Evidently the hood of a vehicle was also pried open with a crowbar so firefighters could dismantle the battery under it, for reasons that bystanders could not fathom.

It was pointed out that there hasn’t been much rain in the last two months and that the woods, and they are quite heavy, surroundinfg the garage could have spread the fire to other nearby structures and then some.

If golf cart owners are going to be away for a time, they should obviously remove the charger from the vehicle batteries to prevent just such an incident and store gasoline in a safer and more distant manner, say fire officials. Also at the end of Yalku recently, an unidentified truck apparently struck a utility pole and snapped it in half, with one half dangling from telephone wires and threatening loss of phone service. But it was jury rigged a week later without loss of phone service, according to reports of residents there who are awaiting a permanent repair.

Pelican Free Press Newsletter

For emergency phone numbers, church services, “resident” and “gate” card forms and processes; rules for golf carts and motorcycles, pets, construction by-laws, recycling schedule and other pertinent community information and services, please click on the Puerto Aventuras Colonos icon below. Thank you

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