June 14, 2013 PUERTO VALLARTA: At its regular Board meeting today, the Board of the Amapas Neighborhood Association (ANA, Asociacion de Vecinos de la Colonia Amapas, A.C.) voted to allocate funds to additional administrative help to get its new work as a Junta Vecinal underway.
Specifically, the Board voted to allocate $18,000 pesos to cover an additional half time person to support the JV’s administrative work for 3 months. This “seed fund” comes from surplus funds raised thanks to beating our member projections, now exceeding 200 ANA members.
Separately, the Board agreed to ask members to contribute to our special AIM Higher fund to “seed” operations of the JV. It is anticipated that in the future, fees will be charged for permit approvals to help pay for JV administration. However, until that time, the Board anticipates needing to fund 6 months of operations, plus consulting and legal fees. The recent clearing of landslides on Gardenias by the city is the JV’s first success in getting city action for neighborhood issues (click here for story).
A goal of $100,000 pesos was set in time for high season in October 2013. All members are urged to consider a contribution (click here for budget and details).
On Monday, June 16, workers and trucks appeared on Gardenias street to clear the road of debris and landslides, and to clear drainage for the rainy season.
Landslide clearing on Gardenias.
Landslide clearing on Gardenias.
Previously as a neighborhood association, our requests to the city for this work went unheeded. But as a Junta Vecinal, we made the official request throught the Department of CIty Participation. Director Hector Gallegos helped organize a tour of the area in the week of June 10, and the next week city crews were at work.
This is a real example of what we can get done, neighbors working through ANA as the new Junta Vecinal to get action from the city.
One of the first benefits of the new Amapas Junta Vecinal was a recent (and long-awaited) ‘tour’ by City officials of the rock- and mudslides that have accumulated on Gardenias, Hortensias, and Callejon de la Igualdad, creating traffic problems and occasional two-lane ‘lakes’.
On May 28, ANA member and Las Moradas resident Michael Baietti took PV Citizen Participation Director Hector Gallegos, his assistant Aby Hernandez, and an Obras Publicas engineer on a walking-tour of upper Gardenias, pointing out mounds of storm-deposited rocks, debris-choked gutters, culverts and drainage canals that have caused recent summer street-flooding on Gardenias and erosion problems for downslope areas of Hortensias. They were joined by Sharon Dunn, Selva Mar president, who expressed her building’s appreciation for the City’s visit.
The following week, Michael conducted a second tour for Proteccion Civil, whose approval is necessary for Obras Publicas to begin clearing the slides and debris, and three representatives from the Planning Department.
As a result, quick approvals are expected for the immediate clearing of the slides, just ahead of the summer rains. This should seriously reduce flooding and erosion problems on Gardenias and in the Hortensias area. Approval is also expected for some new retaining walls, curbs, and storm water containment work – which will likely be a City & ANA-funded joint project, and begin in the Fall.
The ANA and the Amapas Junta Vecinal will work to make this storm drain clean-up a regular annual event.
Also involved in the Landslide Tours were ANA ‘Streets’ Consultant Ruben Carrillo, ANA President Tom Swale, and ANA Administrator Jae Palsce.
It’s been a busy month. On May 24, Board member in charge of Security Gene Mendoza hosted a breakfast meeting with the new Sub-director of Police, Ernesto Ojinaga; Comandante of Transito, Jose Campoy; and Transito Sub-Director Everardo Rubio, to review recent Amapas Patrol performance and work for improvements.
Gene stated that, while area break-ins had decreased from last year’s 40, to a mere 4 reports since the Amapas Patrol began, ANA members want to see our Patrol on our own streets – not ticketing motorists on the Carretera or cruising Emiliano Zapata. He then went over complaints he had received. Sub-director Ojinaga said the Police were aware of the problem, had recently made several personnel changes as a result, and would continue to respond to reports of the Patrol being ‘out of area’ or any other performance issues.
Gene raised the possibility of neighborhood ‘check points’ – several hotels, businesses or condo buildings with a 24-hour front desk or Security, scattered around Amapas – where the Patrol would sign in as it makes its rounds. Sub-director Ojinaga was in favor of this, so in the coming weeks, the Board will identify possible ‘check points’ and work out the details. The Patrol will then run a ‘trial period’ to see how the new system works.
The police said they would also make an effort to provide at least some bilingual officers and ‘stabilize’ the Patrol staff, so they really get to know our area.
The breakfast meeting was held at ‘Fusion Gourmet’ restaurant. Also attending for the Association were President Tom Swale and Administrator Jae Palsce.
It’s official: In May 2013, the City approved the Amapas Junta Vecinal! With the same geographic boundaries as the ANA, but representing all colonia residents (not just ANA members), our Junta Vecinal is entitled to special recognition and cooperation with the City and its many departments – all facilitated by the Office of Citizen Participation.
While this won’t automatically solve all our problems, it should make it much easier for us to get official City attention and enter into public-private partnerships on things like landslide cleanup and our much-needed street-improvements.
Among other things, the Amapas Junta Vecinal has the right and obligation to review – and approve or disapprove – anything new or unusual in our colonia. This includes new business licenses, special events, the display of advertising banners, etc. Most activities that require a City permit must now be first signed-off by the Junta Vecinal. It’s a way to help ensure local control over local happenings.
The Junta will soon begin regular monthly meetings, open to all residents, and attended by Citizen Participation Representative Aby Rodriguez, who will act as our liason with City departments. Look for further announcements as the Junta gets organized this summer.
The Amapas Junta Vecinal will work hand-in-glove with the Amapas Neighborhood Association because we share the same goals and priorities. We also share many of the same officers and vocales. They are: Tom Swale, president; Don Pickens, treasurer; Myrna Morton-Brown, secretary; Gene Mendoza, vocal; Ben Schatz, vocal; Jae Palsce, vocal; Melissa Suneson, vocal.
Why have two separate neighborhood organizations? The Junta has the official ‘juice’ to arrange City meetings and get things done, but no money; the ANA has the organization, communications, dedicated members…and your annual membership dues & contributions to maintain the Patrol car, repair the streets, etc. Each organization, by itself, is pretty powerless. Together, they’re a powerhouse working to get things done for Amapas.