TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Puerto Penaso, better known as Rocky Point in Sonora, Mexico, is a popular travel destination for Arizonans.
But problems between the city and those who live there are on the rise.
Tucsonan Kay Warren spends nearly eight months out of the year at her property inside the Las Conches Community in Rocky Point. The resort community is popular desert getaway with 70 percent of its residents are current or former Arizonans.
“We’ve been going to rocky point since 1996. We were married there on the beach," Warren said.
The Sonoran city has been her place to relax and unwind. However, it’s become a source of stress.
"We still don’t understand why it happened, why we are apparently a target.”
It started back in 2019, when city officials told the Las Conches community they were going to close down their guard gate at the entrance.
Warren, who is also vice president of the community’s home owner’s association, said she was in the midst of negotiations with city officials when bulldozers showed up May 20, 2019.
"The city basically said to us if you give us $250,000 donation to Puerto Penasco’s municipal planning project, known as ImPlan, then we will not do anything else and we refused. Our membership and our residents saw that as blatantly asking for something we didn’t owe them for,” she said.
The city told community members it’s because they didn’t have a building permit for it, which is true.
But Bart Stockton, with the HOA’s architectural committee, said it’s something they’ve been working to obtain for years.
“They’re right. We did not have a building permit, we did not have a zoning permit. It had been built in a public right away. But it had been there for 30 plus years and we had tried many times over many different administrations to get a building permit and approval for it. And when we went through this last alteration four years ago that’s one thing we asked for up front was a building permit and they said no we’re not going to give it to you,” Stockton said.
With the wall down problems are already starting to rise.
“Once the gate was gone we had a tremendous upturn in minor break ins,” Warren said. Which is why they hired more security staff and installed more cameras to help, she said.
HOA leaders recently met with Gov. Doug Ducey’s staff to ask for assistance, including asking to consider issuing an investment advisory warning Arizonans about the current problems in Rocky Point.
Ducey’s office who said quote:
"Our office has met with members of this community to hear their concerns and we are working with our counterparts in Sonora to relay those concerns."
KOLD reached out to Rocky Point Mayor Ernesto Munro and received an initial response acknowledging the request for comment but has yet to respond with a statement.
Las Conchas HOA President Ginger Beauchamp hopes this kind of thing doesn’t happen in other communities.
“We are very concerned about what is going on here. We love Puerto Penasco and we worry that what is happening to us could happen to other communities,” Beauchamp said.
Beauchamp said the HOA still wants to work with Munro, the city council and State of Sonora to resolve these disputes and make Puerto Penasco an attractive destination for tourists and for those considering investing and living in the city.
“We very much want to be good neighbors and good partners with the city and state governments here in Puerto Penasco," Beauchamp said. "Recent actions not only jeopardize our community, but the homes and rights of thousands of others who invested their life savings to come here.”