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Surfline News with Scooter Leonard on Salsipuedes new development in Baja

Baja's star righthander -- Salsipuedes -- is up for sale
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February 1, 2002 How much would you pay for the best pointbreak in North America? A cool, $16 mil? Well, the 100-yard barrel of Salsipuedes isn't exactly up for sale, but that's the going rate for the 715 acres of land surrounding Northern Baja's premier righthander.

For SoCal surfers, the modest drive south into the land of federales, fish tacos and flat tires often ends at Salsipuedes -- about 60 miles south of the border at the El Mirador turnout. The breathtaking views from the 200-foot cliffs stop many a tourist, but it's the wrapping pointbreak during large winter swells that draws the biggest crowd. Even on the smallest days, you can find a campground full of six-dollar-paying gringos guzzling Coronas and strumming cheap Rosarito-bought guitars between surfs.

Run by the Mexican partnership that owns every cactus in sight, that campground, which comprises of "715 acres of rolling hills, level plateaus, fantastic views . . . as well as dynamic natural cliffs down to the ocean" to quote the listing on mexonline.com's Real Estate section, will most likely cease to exist in its present form when the property is sold. Why? The listing makes it pretty clear: "There is a preliminary master plan which includes an 18-hole signature golf course, an equestrian center, a large condominium sub-development, hotels, private homes and rancho estates as well as a small marina."

While it's not mentioned in the listing, the US representative handling the property, Don Glunts, says that they accounted for surfers with a modestly priced hotel in the plans. There's also been some interest in smaller projects focused more on surfing. "Someone had talked to me recently about buying a small part of the property to put a surfing facility. It was a hotel, not a campground, but it catered to surfers," says Glunts.

"I haven't ever really advertised the property except on the website," he adds. "I'm a Real Rstate broker in Los Angeles, and I don't really specialize in land like this. So, I'm not actively trying to sell it. The partnership would like to sell it, but if it didn't sell right away that'd be fine. It's actually been for sale for 12 or 14 years."

Is there reason to worry? Of course there is. Longtime northern Baja surfers will remember when Salsipuedes' fellow righthand pointbreak, K-38, suffered a huge transformation in the late '80s when it was purchased and developed. Hotels and condos were built and the whole area was gated off, ending camping right at the break and making access to even surf it difficult.

Even worse, development in Northern Baja seems high on the priority list for the Mexican government. "What we're seeing under President Vicente Fox is proposals for rapid and mucho grande development all over the peninsula," says Surfrider's Chris Evans. "The Nautical Steps program, the Trans-Peninsular Highway and other proposed projects are all portent of a dark coastal Mexican future. There are groups fighting those things down there and we are working in concert with some. The government sees development in a totally different way. Their vision is very short-sighted."

And we all know that short-sighted visions to long, right pointbreaks don't mix. Let's just hope Salsipuedes' literal translation -- "leave if you can" -- doesn't turn into "get in if you can." --Scooter Leonard

Published Saturday, November 18, 2006 8:14 AM by Zinnia Q.


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