Hike in condo water costs argued
NATIONAL SAIL CLUB REGATTA coming here Jan. 31 – Feb. 2 with some 250 boats. Pick your vantage point.
COOKING CLASS on regional Mexican cuisine at 10 a.m. Fridays at Latitude 20 Restaurant through March. More info at 984-802-9372; Live jazz 7-9:30 Saturdays, Mr. R and Bohemian guitar 6:30 – 9 p.m. Wednesdays.
FOR CATERED party information click on Puerto Aventuras Catering logo at left to see extensive menu and prices
LIBRARY HOURS Mon-Fri from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Road Race is Sunday, Jan. 19;
About 500 runners expected
It isn’t too late to sign up at the Colonos office for the 1–5-10 Km courses to cover all age groups and abilities in this Sunday’s 6th annual Puerto Aventuras Road Race.. The first gun goes off at 7 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 19 on Boulevard Puerto Aventuras near Porto Bello, for the 10K race that includes ages 19-39, masters 40-49 years of age and veterans 50 years and older. The 5K race will step off at 7:15 for age groups 15-18; 19-39 and 40 and over. Children nine and under will begin their 400-meter race at 9 a.m. and children 9-14 will start the 1,000 meter course at 9:15. All courses are the same as last year.
Runners may register until 6 p.m. Jan. 17 at various locations. Registration is at the Colonos office in Puerto Aventuras along with sites in Playa del Carmen and Cancun. Late registration will be accepted, at 300 pesos. Maximum time to run the 10K is 1 hour and 50 minutes.
Condos cry ‘foul’ over
increase in water costs
Ending ‘the great divide’ called ‘unfair’
Condo administrators in the grips of planning their assemblies say the community’s private water concession has unilaterally and without warning changed the way it charges condominium complexes for water, doubling and perhaps even tripling in some cases, they claim, the cost to condo associations already forced to raise maintenance fees in the wake of a 5 percent increase in the sales tax.
The problem: Most condo complexes are equipped with one water meter. Until last November, the water concessionaire would charge a condo complex based on total usage going through the single meter to all units. Then the cost would be divided by the number of units. By the division process, the per-unit usage was lower than the aggregate usage per cubic meter (m3), qualifying the complex for the lower-end rates.
Change is sudden
All that changed with last November’s bill, said a condo administrator who did not want his name used. He said the water concessionaire eliminated the process of dividing the total condo usage by the number of units in the complex. The result is a much higher use through one meter, thus pushing the cost up to the higher or highest rate. The strategy, say administrators, has doubled or tripled the cost to condo owners via their maintenance fees and unfairly profits the concessionaire. This impromptu switch pushed some complex administrators to overshoot their 2013 budget at the 11th hour. Conversely,the concession claimed it could no longer subsidize condo owners. Calling it a subsidy, say condo administrators, is woefully misleading.
The rate per cubic meter (m3) of usage ranges from 10 pesos for 0-99 cubic meters of use; then to 12 pesos for 10 to 20 cubic meters, 15, 20 pesos for higher users and finally 28 pesos for users of more than 40 cubic meters of water. Obviously, usage is much higher through one meter supplying, for example, 45 condos, and less expensive if each condo is charged separately. That’s where administrators are calling foul. “The owner of a single-family detached house with its own meter pays a generally low rate because usage is low while a single-family condo unit using the same amount of water is now paying twice or three times as much. That is patently unfair,” said the administrator.
What to do about it?
Administrators of several complexes plan to discuss the issue with unit owners at their assembly meetings. One obvious way to avoid the doubling of water costs, the administrator said, would be to equip each condo unit with its own meter at a cost of about 700 to 800 pesos per meter. On average, he said, it would take about six months, more or less, to recoup the meter costs.
One administrator of a large complex is contemplating a similar meter strategy whereby meters could be controlled by the association and water flow per meter monitored to yield maximum savings on water costs. One may ask that if complexes install individual meters, could not the concessionaire simply increase the rates?
Not necessarily, said one observer familiar with the situation. He said the rate limits are set by the government, not the concessionaire and the concession would need to prove a need to raise rates. In an aside, the observer said it is unfortunate that condo administrators do not work together on these sorts of problems rather than view themselves and their counterparts as competitors, a situation that flourishes most in the face of disinterested owners. There are deeper politics involved, but suffice it to say that “ a problem shared is a problem halved.”
Language flap develops over
Centro HOA’s decision
to cut assembly translator
Some owners in the Centro Marina District of 35 ground-floor retail and restaurant bays and 75 upper-level housing condominiums are complaining about the HOA board’s decision to omit a translator from the group’s annual assembly Jan. 25, leaving English-speaking investors in the dark and with little reason to attend the assembly. “How can you vote when you don’t know what you’re voting on?” one condo owner asked rhetorically. The annual Colonos assembly, by contrast, is conducted in English and Spanish in deference to the many who contribute to the local economy and want to be an active partner in progress.
One owner was taken aback at the association board’s indifferent response that if English speaking shareholders want a translator, let them pay the $500 or so on their own. Translators are not required by law but are offered as a courtesy to foreigners who choose to live and invest in Mexico.
Another Centro resident said he is “perplexed” by another HOA board’s decision to eliminate English versions of e-mailed notices to members and labeled that board decision as “inconsiderate.” Mexican law does not mandate such language courtesies to foreigners.
Unfortunately, there is little organized effort apparent in PA to help “Ingles” learn at least some basic Spanish phrases for a modest fee with which one could get the gist of simple conversations of need, like “How much is that doggie in the window?” or “Fill my tank with gas and put air in the tires,” or “Can you deliver the bureau on Wednesday of next week?”
Perhaps the Colonos board, with its ample meeting room and its service to shareholders a given, could take the lead in forming a committee to develop a practical Spanish language course at a modest fee and eventually eliminate the verbal barrier to better understanding and cooperation.
Car tax announcement
confuses newer owners
An announcement from the Colonos office published in the Pelican Free Press last week confused some newer car-owning residents who believed the tax had been suspended. The government, under pressure from voters, did indeed end a vehicle tax last year assessed to pay for the Mexican Olympics some years ago, but another tax remains for the “possession and control” rights to own and drive a Mexican-plated car. But don’t worry. It isn’t expensive by U.S. standards.
The tax can be paid at any time between now and the end of March at the vehicle registry office at 15th Avenue and 1st Street in Playa del Carmen. The reasons for the tax is to cover the cost of producing the registration card that every auto must have and also to pay for the new registration plates every vehicle must be issued this year. New registration plates are required every three years and this year’s distribution will be valid to 2017.
The tax payment can be made at any time, but the replacement registration plates won’t be available until mid-February, the Pelican was told. It means that drivers who pay before that time will have to return for the plates. One owner with a full-size car who has already paid the tax was charged 981 pesos, or $75 USD in last week’s exchange rate. Other provisions for payment are available, such as on-line or at banks. Information on that is available at https://shacienda.qroo.gob.mx/tenencias/tenenciasx.php.
Municipal population continues climb
Solidarity’s count leaps by 21.7%
PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Q. Roo –. The municipality of Solidarity, of which Puerto Aventuras is part, ended 2013 with193,805 inhabitants, representing a growth of about 21.7 percent compared to the population and housing census conducted in 2010 by the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI ) that tallied 159,310 people.
The new figures place Solidarity as the third most populous municipality in the State of Quintana Roo, behind Benito Juarez (Cancun) at 720,359 and Othon P. White at 238,015. The three municipalities have a combined population of 1,152,179, or 77 percent of the state’s 1,484,746 population.
Oh Deer!!! A Bambi moment
Man about Puerto Aventuras Centro Hal Harper was telling the story recently about running into a deer on Route 307 just before entering Playa del Carmen. The deer ran off but left some damage to the car. If you think that was a rare occasion for these here parts, read on.
Hundreds of tourists were treated to another exceptional event on 5th Avenue in Playa on Sunday afternoon when a doe (a deer, a female deer) that evidently had escaped from a nearby farm found itself in a river of humanity on the popular waterfront avenue. The white tail female, unadorned with protective antlers as are her stag counterparts, ran frantically around as did some tourists who sought refuge in a crafts store between 14th and 16th Streets, prompting the frightened animal to do the same and charge into the retail outlet.
The story ends OK, though. There was some damage to the store’s inventory and to the deer, which suffered a cut as firefighters and civil protective agents managed to calm and capture it, place a bandage on it and deliver it to a vet who treated the wound. Rescue officials notified the farm from which it evidently escaped and the presumption is that the doe was returned. The incident caused much less damage than the fictitious bull in a China shop and gave some tourists a great story to bring back home.
Hard Rock sets 4-day concert
—-but don’t sweat the noise
When noise is music,
and when music is noise
The recently opened Hard Rock Hotel of Riviera Maya, next door to the relatively quiet resort community of Puerto Aventuras, will be holding a four-day music festival Jan.26 to 30 according to publicity in a local newspaper and online sites such as the one in the above photo. The event is being billed as “One Big Holiday” and concerned some residents here worried about a replay of the hotel’s opening night noise last December.
It was that concern by residents that sent Colonos GM Armando Rincon, acting on complaints from the hotel’s opening night last month, to meet yesterday with the hotel’s general manager, Rene Malacara, to discuss that and other issues of mutual interest.
The hotel’s opening night volume in early December pounded the north side of Puerto Aventuras like a howitzer barrage into early morning hours, awakening PA residents who have made considerable investments to achieve a modicum of heavenly peace when slumber time arrives.That constituency sees no reason for concerts well after midnight awakening people who have to rise early for work and those who just want to sleep at a reasonable hour, 11 p.m. being an accepted compromise with local hotels and pubs with live music.
The Hard Rock organization agrees with that concept, the hotel’s manager told Rincon, noting that the opening night celebration in December was a rare occasion unfortunately held outdoors in the most southern part of the 65-acre hotel complex, just next to the PA resort’s northern limits. He said music is presented almost nightly at the Hard Rock but generally is partially covered by a large plaza in the center of the complex and with speakers facing out to the Caribbean.
To its credit, Hard Rock has been containing sound to its property since then, making one night of interrupted sleep on a special occasion forgivable. People who pay to attend a concert hear the power-enhanced noise as music, but people who appreciate music but need to sleep at night hear music as disruptive noise entering bedrooms like a sleep-stealing thief in the night.
Rincon also said they discussed some wetlands and broken fencing along Bahia Kantenah that could use some attention to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in the area and shoring up the fence. Rincon also said the pair agreed to meet again soon to negotiate a discounted day and night pass for residents of the PA resort community in a neighborly gesture.
Among the confirmed presentations occurring Jan. 16-30 are the American alternative rock band The Flaming Lips , who are known for their lush arrangements and surreal lyrics, My Morning Jacket, Mariachi El Bronx, Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Rob Garza.
The event is being billed as four music-filled nights, three shows with sea view and a private party with some of the guest musicians, and other “surprise” activities. To attend the event will require a reservation in the accommodation center. About 2,500 are expected. The hotel, we are told, issues day passes for $97 that reportedly includes the hotel’s evening shows.
Pelican Hit Parade, by Counterize for Jan. 14, 2014
Last 24 hours
Last 7 days
Last 30 days
Porto Bello hires consulting firm
to market remaining inventory
Sales were suspended during housing slump
Sales have resumed at the fractional Porto Bello Private Residence Club in Puerto Aventuras where nearly 50 percent of available months were sold prior to the 2008 housing market slump. That’s when offers to sell were suspended in a business decision to protect the premier property’s value. Now, with the world economy improving, the Porto Bello ownership has hired marketing consultant PGC Emprendedores S.A. de C.V. to re-ignite interest in the deeded fractional ownership concept that makes Porto Bello a “hassle free,” choice for buyers, said a company spokesman.
The four-story property consisting of three buildings, each with its own canal-side lap pool, dominates the entrance to lushly divided and well-paved Puerto Aventuras Boulevard on one side and the Grand Marina on the other where yachts begin their parade to the open waters of the Caribbean.The spokesman said Porto Bello has 1,2 and 3 bedroom choices among its 65 furnished condo units that come fully equipped and serviced, including private sunrise terrace with Jacuzzi overlooking the yachting activity. It has a club house and gym and is situated steps from the golf course and other community amenities vacationers appreciate.
“Porto Bello is a gem within a gem,” the spokesman said, referring to the gated community of Puerto Aventuras with its own golf, marina and tennis facilities, beaches, fine private homes and condos. It has roving security personnel, restaurants, catering services, retailers, dolphin pools and its own democratic form of government in which Porto Bello owners are invited to participate as shareholders. “It’s a protected place where English is as commonly spoken as Spanish,” said the spokesman.
Residents can mingle with friends at the twice-weekly open air fresh fruit and vegetable market, or at the well-equipped public library of more than 15,000 English and Spanish books including current best-sellers. The library, manned by volunteers, offers a lifetime membership for 100 pesos, or roughly $7.50 USD. There are community events such as concerts, road races and sailing regattas and a supermarket within walking distance outside the main gate.
But, the spokesman said, Porto Bello stands out within that community for its fractional ownership model. It was designed, he said, for those who want a luxury vacation home without the stresses of the buying process and of furnishing and maintaining it. “It’s ideal for people whose current circumstances allow for a month or two or three of vacation time a year, but also prefer an investment for the long term. In this arrangement,” he said, “all the time spent here at Porto Bello is vacation time, not worrying time about repairs or anything else.”
“We never thought we could actually own a place like this and it was really easy,” said Bob and Janet Evans of Florida. “This is an investment that brought us more pleasure than we could ever imagine… and our family will enjoy its beauty forever, because we own it.” As deeded owners, the Evans’ can share it, trade it, rent it and/or sell it at a potential profit or will it to their heirs. It can also be traded for time in exotic places like Paris, Amsterdam, Hawaii, Thailand or anywhere in the world serviced by Interval International, the company says.
The marketing effort, said the spokesman, includes an invitation to area realtors to show and sell units for a contracted fee along with the Puerto Bello sales team. “We also have a program whereby we pay a fee to persons who refer friends who ultimately purchase a unit.”
And for those who like to try before they buy, the club has what it believes is a unique “Fly and Buy” program where potential buyers can vacation in one of the units at a modest fee and have all their costs for that vacation, including plane fare, deducted from the purchase price should they decide to buy, said the spokesman. Puerto Aventuras is inhabited by a generous and interesting mix of mostly U.S., Canadian, European and Mexican shareholders and travelers visiting the community’s several hotels. The mix creates a cosmopolitan society by agreement while socializing in the community’s own central business district of some 15 restaurants, major sports fishing business and general retailers. Get more information and photos by clicking on the Porto Bello Club logo on this page’s column of sponsors.
Biz In Brief
TAXI FARES could rise this year as state authorities await a request from the local Playa del Carmen union for a 35 percent increase required to meet the 5% sales-tax hike and rising cost of gasoline. That would yield fares of between 25 to 33 pesos…CONSUMER PROTECTION AUTHORITIES in Q. Roo will spread 40 investigators among various businesses to check prices and prevent unjustified price increases to blame on the 5 percent increase in the sales tax that went into effect Jan. 1…DELAYS of two to three hours were experienced at Cancun Airport last week because of the snow and ice storms in the U.S. and Canada. Thirty-three flights were affected…TOURIST OPTIMISM abounds in official Riviera Maya circles as the area ended the tourist year of 2013 with nearly 80 percent occupancy abetted by 20 percent hikes from the Russian and UK sectors. This has caused tourism officials here to predict a record 4.1 million visitors next year…MEXICO ENDED 2013 with $176.52 billion in reserves…JAPAN AND SPAIN teaming up to benefit from LatAm’s (Latin America’s) growth potential…CHINESE FIRMS express investment interest in Mexico’s newly liberalized oil industry…PRESIDENT PENA NIETO to visit Cuba for a summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States. Nieto’s appearance marks a “closing and re-launching” of links between the two countries…MEXICO AUTO MAKERS produced 2.93 million vehicles last year, 1.7 percent more than in 2012. The record could be broken this or next year as Honda opens a production plant for its Fit model…MEXICO ENERGY SECRERTARY Pedro Joaquin Coldwell says Mexico will attract an extra $10 billion annually in direct foreign investments in its energy sector. Look what that industry has done for Alberta, Canada, and the Riviera Maya, attracting vacation home buyers here from there because of the high-paying energy economy…SPAIN’S BANCO SANTANDER’S U.S. consumer lending branch expects to raise about $1.8 billion in an IPO of 65.2 million shares at about $22 – $24 per share…TORRENTIAL RAIN has affected 40 hectares of melon crops in nearby Jose Maria Morelos, meaning there will not be a harvest there in February and March…
The Mail Bag…
We are visitors who have been renting in Chac Hal Al for nearly 17 years…We started with one week and now that retirement has come we spend 2 months here in what we think is our paradise. My point is to pass along how much we enjoy this newsletter. Thank You.
Compiled from staff, contributor and media reports
THE COLD FRONT visiting Solidarity last week caused a 50 percent absenteeism in primary grade schools and an 8 percent increase in respiratory cases at the general hospital. The pounding surf in Playa del Carmen collapsed several structures at Coco Beach and swamped several boats as waves reached the foundations of several hotels in that area…RARE CONJOINED WHALE CALVES were discovered in a Baja California Sur lagoon last week, the first such documented case in that region. The calves did not survive…MEXICAN MOVIE DIRECTOR Alfonso Cuaron has been nominated for best director in England’s Bafta Awards for the space adventure “Gravity”…THE U.S. COLD WAVE has left 21 dead and caused an estimated $5 billion loss to the economy…VERY LONG STORY – A 10-foot cobra with 60 babies was found in eastern Bolivia by some soldiers…NINE SHIPWRECKED Jamaicans were rescued from an island off the Sian Ka’an biosphere last week…POLICE IN CANCUN say a former U.S. Marine living in Cancun who was arrested on a complaint and died from asphyxiation on his way to jail, was a case of self-defense, say the police. Arresting officers say he resisted arrest and it took five of them to hold him down. He died of strangulation in the process, the police said…THE U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT has updated its travel warnings to Mexico, listing 13 states to be avoided for non-essential travel, none of which are on he Yucatan Peninsula. The warning advised extreme caution traveling through Vera Cruz and urged daytime travel using only major highways …
Phrase a Week… with Gloria Contreras, state certified interpreter
”Where do we pay our vehicle taxes?” In Spanish, you could say “¿Dónde pagamos nuestros impuestos del vehículo? ”
Anyone interested in learning the language can please contact Ms. Contreras by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Cel: 984-108-3517 .
Church Services… Please click Colonos icon on right top of page.
AA and Alanon meetings…
AA and ALANON meetings are held at the public library at the Colegio as follows:
AA Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m; Thursdays at 6 p.m. and Saturdays at noon. ALANON meeting is held Mondays at 5:30 p.m., also at the library. Meetings are “open” and non-members are welcomed to attend.