Calexico throws out welcome mat

February 16, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Mayor Victor Carrillo and the City Council threw out a welcome mat for David Shteremberg and his Bravo partners.

Shteremberg is president and chief executive officer of Steren Electronics International, a Mexico City-based company started by his father in the 1950s.

The electronics company offers goods similar to gear found at Radio Shack. Steren's Mexico-based side of the company recently opened a store in Mexicali.

Steren International operates and franchises retail locations throughout Mexico and owns U.S.-based warehouses and distribution centers.

By unanimous vote at Tuesday's City Council meeting, the council allowed Shteremberg and his partners to build a mobile home/RV park and an industrial park on plots of land near the intersection of Cole and Bowker roads.


Shteremberg said the industrial park could provide 1,200 jobs. The partners hope to attract more than 400 snowbirds to a mobile home/RV park that could be built to resemble Seeley's Rio Bend RV Park.

The partners came to own the plots of land when San Diegan Charles "Chuck" Salas recruited a large group of Imperial Valley and San Diego investors to buy the 2,100-acre F.S. Bravo Ranch east of Calexico in 1992.

When Salas was jailed in 1996 after pleading guilty to 22 counts of grand theft, the former investors in the project, the "Bravo Partners," divided the 2,100 acres among themselves.

Since late 1996-early 1997, a sub-group of the partners, including Shteremberg, have tried to develop three plots of farmland near the intersection of Cole and Bowker roads.

During Tuesday's meeting, Shteremberg said it has not been easy.

"I don't know what's going on here. When I come to other towns I have been welcomed. I don't understand why people are opposed to someone investing money in this community. I got involved with Chuck Salas. I got stuck.

"Now that I've been here … I started knowing more of the area. We are opening a store in Mexicali," he said.

Some of Shteremberg's frustration could have been sparked by the city Planning Commission.

When the City Council voted Tuesday to allow the partners to start construction on their projects pending approval of final blueprints, the council ignored the advice of the Planning Commission.

At a recent meeting, the Planning Commission recommended denying approval of the two parks. Earlier in 2001, the commission recommended forcing the partners to pay for a $200,000 environmental review of their project.

The partners appealed both decisions. After Tuesday's actions, both appeals were upheld in favor of the partners.

During Tuesday's public hearing before the council's vote, no one from the community spoke against the projects, and not one of three planning commissioners who had voiced disapproval with the Bravo projects in the past.

More than seven people spoke in favor of the projects, including county Supervisor Tony Tirado and Imperial Valley Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Louis Fuentes.

Tirado said, "We need to be friendly in spirit. When I was on the council in 1980 we would have loved to get a mobile home/RV park."

As for the plans for the proposed industrial park, Tirado said, "That is clean."

He continued, "The message should not be ‘Get the hell out of here!' It should be ‘Let us embrace you.' "

Fuentes said, "I'm glad that there were options provided regarding this development. Had there not been an appeal, the community could have lost this excellent project."

When the council decided to approve the construction of the parks it did so by selecting one of three options provided by city planning consultant Brian Mooney.

Mooney's plan, approved by the council, requires the Bravo Partners to build the "Class A" projects they have said they will build.

Fuentes said, "Why does there have to be guidelines?"

He warned the council about getting a reputation as the community that doesn't welcome companies.

After the public hearing portion of the meeting was closed, Mayor Pro Tem John Renison said he would wholeheartedly welcome Shteremberg to Calexico.

>>Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or

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