More private planes from Mexico flew into San Antonio in 2010 in the biggest jump since the city was authorized to clear immigration for international travelers, and this means cha ching for housing sales in the Alamo City. That’s why I am kissing this plane.

Preliminary data from the city’s Aviation Department shows that almost 4,000 Mexican-owned private aircraft cleared customs at San Antonio International Airport last year, a 52 percent jump from 2009 and almost double the number from 2008.

San Antonio officials say the booming private air traffic is largely due to an increase in cross-border business and a rise in the number of people who own second homes in the Alamo City, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

In 2008, San Antonio received permanent port of entry status from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, so private aircraft from Mexico can clear customs in San Antonio rather than having to stop at another checkpoint in, say, Houston or Dallas..

The increase is good business news for San Antonio, and Jose Luis Garcia, the aviation department’s marketing manager, says this goes beyond shopping.

“They have second homes here or are looking to buy homes here,” said Garcia. “It’s a tremendous opportunity. We need to keep working on developing it because other cities are doing it too.”

Texas ranger third baseman Adrian Beltre and his wife are real-estate heavy. They have listed for sale a seven-bedroom, 14.25-bath home at 340 Old Ranch Road in Bradbury, northeast of LA, near Pasadena and at the foot of Bliss Mountains.  Don’t gulp: the home is listed for $19.8 million.

The 16,600-square-foot house was built in 2010 in the Rancho Azusa subdivision. Lynwen Hughes-Boatman of Sotheby’s International Realty is the listing agent for the home, and Sotheby’s, of course, is associated with our very own Briggs-Freeman here in Dallas.

It’s a modern, Mediterranean-style number you see way too much of a lot of in LA:  the circular driveway, Corinthian columns for that palatial feel,  35′ custom painted ceiling in the entry, inlaid marble fleurs, over-sized, dripping crystal chandelier after dripping crystal chandelier, & dual sweeping “Gone With The Wind” staircase. There is a  2500 sq-ft guest house (perfect to accommodate a Middle East security force) with 3 beds & 2 baths, and my oh my to be a servant in this home: even the Cabana has a full kitchen with Viking appliances. (To clean all those bathrooms? Maybe I’ll take GE instead.) Besides all the bedrooms and formals and soaring high to the sky ceilings, there is a rec room/batting cage with bathroom, infinity pool, golf greens,  both tennis & basketball courts.

I would seriously market this lickety split to some of the wealthy Egyptians who are escaping right now. Maybe even Hosni Mubarak himself?

Adrian Beltre is currently the third baseman for the Texas Rangers. Previously, he played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Seattle Mariners, and the Boston Red Sox. He has won several awards including the Silver Slugger Award in 2004 and the same year was voted second in the National League MVP voting, just behind Barry Bonds. He also received the Fielding Bible Award for being the top MLB defensive third baseman in 2006 and 2008 and the Gold Glove award in 2007. Playing for the Red Sox in 2010, he had 28 home runs, 84 runs scored, and he led the Majors with 49 doubles. No word yet on where he is leasing in north Texas, but I’m sure searching.

And I’ll say he has a home run with this mansion. Cannot help but wonder if he’ll fetch anywhere near $19 million in this market, however. Especially with that furniture…

I feel so sorry for our neighbor to the south. I am signed up for several Google alerts — guess which one sends me the most stories? Crime in Mexico, Mexico crime. It’s enough to make you want to never cross the border, which is not fair, of course. The entire country of Mexico is not dangerous. But the government just HAS to get a grip on the drug cartel problem.

Of course, as my Mexican friends tell me, if we Americans would stop buying drugs, there wouldn’t be a Mexico drug problem.

I love every inch of Mexico. Now comes word that, because of crime, some of the cruise lines are refusing to stop in certain Mexican ports — Mazatlan this time. The cruise line, Disney Wonder, stopped instead at beautiful Manzanillo, where we have been many times — Los Hadas, where the movie “10” was filmed, is nearby. Disney says:

“Safety is very important to us and we believe this change is necessary to provide the best family vacation experience for our guests.”

The cruise lines are also making stops in Cabo San Lucas, on the Baja California peninsula — no safety fears there.

Recent security incidents in Mazatlan — a woman had her necklace snatched from around her neck –are troubling the cruise lines, who are, after all responsible for the safety of their guests.  Of course, last year Mazatlan was bragging that Disney’s decision to resume stops at the port was a sign of growing confidence in the city, and Disney Wonder had planned 27 port calls in Mazatlan in 2011.

Believe it or not, Mazatlan has continued to thrive as a tourist destination despite drug-gang violence in other parts of Sinaloa state, where it is located, which is also Ground Zero for several Mexican cartels. You would think, of course, that all this would hurt tourism. But guess what: Mexico’s tourism revenue was up 7.1 percent in the first 10 months of 2010, compared to the same months of 2009, with visitors spending $9.8 billion, according to the Mexican Tourism Ministry. (My take: Americans will risk anything for a vacation, and vacations in Mexico fit most budgets. So the Mexican Tourism Industry is benefitting from our economic crisis.) The resort of Cancun in the Yucatan peninsula, and Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific coast, for instance, have been largely untouched by the violence.

Still, if those gross Google crime alerts continue, and be-headings and massacres keep making head-lines (pardon the sick pun), tourism and second home sales in Mexico are going to take a major hit. Stay tuned for Central America.

Would you buy a second home in Mexico?

I am preparing a story for you on a beautiful coastal area north of Baja, La Paz, on the sparkling Sea of Cortez, called Costa Baja. But first, I want to tell you about David Simmons. He is an American travel writer who wants to tell the whole world not to worry about safety in Mexico:

“The cartels do not target Americans,” Simmons said. “No.1, they shoot at themselves, then they shoot at (Mexican) cops. You hear about the occasional gringo getting caught in a crossfire, but you’re more likely to get robbed in Los Angeles.”

This is what we heard in La Paz. The bad stuff, the violence — and there is a lot of violence, with children being recruited to behead victims — is happening along the border and in Mexico City. In fact, the darling publicist at Costa Baja rollerblades on the boardwalk late at night in La Paz; her brother has been kidnapped twice in Mexico City. I know the Mayor of Monterrey, Mexico fled to Las Colinas, near us here in Dallas, but I was told by a Monterrey resident (who was looking to buy in La Paz) that had more to do with her family being in the area.

Simmons estimates that one million ex-pat Americans are living in Mexico, enjoying the lower cost of living and temperate climate. But he agrees the government of Mexico has to get serious and take a bite out of crime. I have to say, his solution is interesting: legalizing pot in the U.S. Can’t say I disagree, but I doubt it will ever happen.

Are you afraid to travel to Mexico? Would you buy a second home there?