Press Releases

Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer (both D-Calif.) today asked Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to support a presidential permit for the proposed Otay Mesa East Port of Entry in San Diego.

The request comes in the wake of reports indicating that congestion at California’s ports of entry significantly impact the regional and national economies.

The California Department of Transportation has applied for a presidential permit, required for the project to move forward. Regional planners, the state of California, and the U.S. and Mexican governments agree that a new Otay Mesa East border crossing is needed to alleviate congestion, and to accommodate future trade and growth.

Following is the text of the letter from Senators Feinstein and Boxer to Secretary Rice:

March 12, 2008

The Honorable Condoleezza Rice
United States Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Rice,

We are writing to respectfully request your support for the California Department of Transportation’s (Caltrans) application for a Presidential Permit for the proposed Otay Mesa East Port of Entry in San Diego, California.

As you know, Caltrans is proposing a new land Port of Entry (POE) border crossing in East Otay Mesa to serve the San Diego, California and Tijuana, Baja California areas.  The future Otay Mesa East POE has been identified by regional planners along with the state and federal governments in both the United States and Mexico as being necessary to alleviate existing cross border congestion and accommodate future growth in trade and traffic in the region.

According to a study completed by Caltrans and San Diego’s regional planning agency, the San Diego Association of Governments, Economic Impacts on Wait Times in the San Diego-Baja California Border Region, the existing Otay Mesa Commercial Port of Entry handled more than 1.4 million trucks and $28.6 billion worth of goods in both directions in 2006.  This represents the third highest dollar value of trade among all land border crossings between the United States and Mexico.  Wait times at the California ports of entry have a negative economic impact on the local and national economies.  The Caltrans study found that in 2007, the combined annual output loss from cross border delays equaled $5.35 billion for the entire country. 

To reduce wait times, Congress and President Bush have approved funding for major investments in border infrastructure, such as the expansion and reconfiguration of the San Ysidro Port of Entry in San Diego.  Nevertheless, as the above mentioned study points out, traffic delays and economic losses are expected to double over the next 10 years due to expected growth in the region’s population and bi-national trade.  At the national level, this means $10.7 billion in lost output for the United States, $6.56 billion in lost output for Mexico for a combined loss  of $17.26 billion per year.

It is critically important that a Presidential Permit be issued for the Otay Mesa East Port of Entry as soon as possible for two reasons.  First, the land proposed for the port of entry is one of the last undeveloped areas suitable for the facility and local and state agreements preventing development on both sides of the border are set to expire in the next few years.  Secondly, as the Caltrans study forecasts, border delays will grow with time severely impacting trade, quality of life, and the economies of border communities. 

We hope you will agree that there is indeed great need for an additional port of entry in the San Diego region and move forward with issuing a Presidential Permit as soon as possible.  Thank you for your assistance on this important matter.


Dianne Feinstein               Barbara Boxer
United States Senator      United States Senator