Senate OKs Commerce Office in County; Veto Appears Certain

Times Staff Writer

The Senate Thursday easily approved legislation to force the state Commerce Department to open an office in San Diego County to aid the development of business between companies in the United States and Mexico.

But the measure, passed by the Senate 34-0 and sent to the Assembly, appears headed for a certain veto, just as a similar bill was rejected last year by Gov. George Deukmejian. Both bills were carried by Sen. William Craven (R-Oceanside).

Deukmejian objected last year to the cost of the new office, which would need about $200,000 a year to operate, according to the Commerce Department. And the lobbyist for the department said Thursday that the state still lacks the resources to open an extra Commerce Department outpost in San Diego.

"The problem is money," said Rich Allen, the department's legislative coordinator. "There just isn't the money to open an office--not that we don't want to."

Allen said the department does "a land-office business" at its offices in San Jose and Los Angeles.

"San Diego, being the second largest city in the state, I'm sure that we could do business there," he said. But Allen added that San Diego is served adequately by the department's other offices.

Craven said the office is warranted because San Diego is the "gateway" to the Pacific Rim's Latin American sector.

As the California city bordering the United States' third-largest trading partner, San Diego has become increasingly involved in the maquiladoras program--under which U. S.- or foreign-owned companies build plants on the Mexican side of the border that produce or assemble products destined for sale in the United States.

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