La Mesa/Mt. Helix

WELCOME, LA MESANS!

Our La Mesa section covers the communities of La Mesa and Mount Helix.  Click here to read some fascinating facts about La Mesa and Mt. Helix.  Click here for links to city services, activities, shopping, business groups, farmers’ market,  schools, library, hospital, service groups, theaters, transportation, utilities, weather and more in La Mesa.


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GROUNDBREAKING CEREMONY HELD FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING COMPLEX IN DOWNTOWN LA MESA

By Miriam Raftery

Photo and artwork credits: City of La Mesa and La Mesa Chamber of Comemrce.

February 3, 2023 (La Mesa) – The site of La Mesa’s former police station will soon be home to 147 affordable apartment homes. A groundbreaking ceremony was held at the site at 8181 Allison Avenue on January 24.


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READER’S EDITORIAL: LA MESA PLANNING COMMISSION APPOINTMENT MUST AVOID CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

An open letter to La Mesa Mayor Mark Arapostathis 

By Aaron Amerling

Photo, left: Kathleen Brand

January 24, 2023 (La Mesa) -- I want to wholeheartedly recommend Kathleen Brand for the planning commissioner spot. She has over 20 years of history serving the people in La Mesa in both volunteer positions and on boards and committees, her work experience is in city planning and she has shown an even-keeled approach to sustaining growth while not losing what makes La Mesa, La Mesa.


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FALSE ALARM REPORTING SCHOOL SCHOOTER TRIGGERS HEAVY POLICE RESPONSE AT LEMON GROVE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

By Miriam Raftery

January 24, 2023 (La Mesa) – Neighbors near Lemon Avenue Elementary School reporting seeing 15-20 police cars and a SWAT team late this afternoon.  The La Mesa Police Department sent a Nixle warning of police activity near Lemon Ave. and Glen, but at 4:19 posted this message on Facebook:  “La Mesa PD received a call of an active shooter at Lemon Avenue Elementary. It was a FALSE ALARM. Officers are still on scene but there are no injuries and no active threat to the community.


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LA MESA CITY COUNCIL APPROVES PALM AVE. APARTMENTS AND SWEARS IN A NEW FIRE CHIEF

By Christianne McCormick

Photo: Project approved for 4757 Palm Ave. in La Mesa’s downtown village, courtesy City of La Mesa

January 23, 2023 (La Mesa) -- On January 10, La Mesa’s City Council ratified the Design Review Board’s approval of the Palm Avenue Apartments, which are slated to be built at the same site where the historic Randall Lamb building burned down during the 2020 George Floyd riots. The vote was 4-0, with Councilmember Laura Lothian abstaining because her office is close to the site.  

The development has brought about much debate among La Mesa residents. The five-story building would house 64 rental units, with only 29 parking spaces – less than one for each unit.  There will also be room for at least one business in the building, where apartment rents are expected to start at around $1,000 for units designated as affordable and run from $2,100 to $2,900 for other units, per the developer, Palm Street Ventures LLC.


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A CREATIVE ATMOSPHERE: OPEN MIC NIGHT AT SPACE BAR

By Susan Taylor

Photo, left: poet and activist Jim Moreno

January 22, 2023 (La Mesa) – On a recent visit to the Space Bar Café and Wine Bistro, I heard poets, read my own poetry, and enjoyed a nice late Sunday afternoon.  A small nosh and glass of wine seemed in order, so owner Frank Moody quietly executed my order so as not to disturb the speakers at the Open Mic event on the small stage at the rear of the café.


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THE REVLON GIRL - IT’S NOT JUST LIPSTICK

By Kathy Carpenter

 

January 19, 2023 (La Mesa) - After tragedy, life needs to be rebuilt. Lamplighters Theatre presents The Revlon Girl, written by Neil Anthony Docking. With so many tragic events hitting the news these days, it's hard to recall the details from month to month. Disasters need to be remembered and documented. The Revelon Girl humanizes Aberfan in England in 1966, delivering the stories and healing process of four women who lost their children and the woman who volunteers to help them.


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AAUW MEETING FEB. 11 TO FEATURE A PHENOMENAL WOMAN AND A COACHING LEGEND

East County News Service

 

January 17, 2023 (La Mesa) -- February 11 is the monthly meeting of the La Mesa-El Cajon Branch of the American Association of University Women. Precious Jackson-Hubbard (left) and Mimi Test (below right) will be the featured speakers focusing on MS. Jackson-Hubbard’s upbringing and career and MS. Tests history of Title IX through a coach’s eyes.

Audio: 

American Association of University Women mtg announcement El Cajon/La Mesa

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MT. HELIX MAN SENTENCED FOR BRUTAL STABBING DEATH OF HUSBAND

East County News Service

Photo: Daniel Scott Jordan. Courtesy Washoe County Sheriff’s Office

January 12, 2023 (Mt. Helix) – A man who fled the state after his husband was found murdered at their Mt. Helix home was found in Nevada and this week pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.


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CALL FOR BIPOC ARTIST SUBMISSIONS AT VISIONARY DANCE SCHOOL

East County News Service

January 5, 2023 (La Mesa) -- Visionary Dance Theatre: School for the Performing Arts announces a call for submissions for BIPOC (black, indigenous and people of color) artists to design and paint building business signage at the front of their studio at 8674 La Mesa Boulevard in La Mesa. The artist awarded the project will receive $1,000 in compensation and will receive up to $500 to purchase supplies. 


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CHRISTMAS DAY APARTMENT FIRE DISPLACES SIX IN LA MESA

East County News Service

Photo via San Miguel Fire Dept. on Facebook

December 26, 2022 (La Mesa) – A blaze that may have begun in a Christmas tree yesterday damaged four units at a La Mesa apartment complex, displacing six people and killing a dog. 


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INTERGENERATIONAL TUTORING DOES “MIRACLE WORK”

By Susan Taylor

Photo  tutor Elaine Westheimer is enthusiastic about being part of the Oasis Intergenerational Tutoring Program

December 19, 2022 (La Mesa) -- At San Diego Oasis in Grossmont Center, seniors have the opportunity to be trained for and directed to the wonderful world of tutoring.  This fall, 175 volunteers, most of them seniors, are tutoring children in elementary schools in San Diego County.  This number is up from the first years of the COVID-19 pandemic, when just a handful of people were meeting face to face with kids at schools. 

The number of tutors was between 300-400 before COVID.  Kristen Amicone, Director of Intergenerational Programs at Oasis, said, “(We are) working diligently to reach that number again and estimate that we will do so by the end of the 2023-2024 school year.”


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SKIMMERS STEAL FUNDS AT LOCAL ATM AND CREDIT CARD MACHINES

By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  skimming device recovered by La Mesa Police Department

December 14, 2022 (San Diego’s East County) – Skimming devices attached by thieves to ATM machines and credit card devices have stolen money from consumers in multiple East County locations. Some even have tiny hidden cameras stealing pin codes.

Lieutenant Katy Lynch with the La Mesa Police department confirms, “It’s definitely a trend.” LMPD has launched a campaign to educate merchants and the public on how to protect consumers and help nab thieves behind these schemes.

In La Mesa alone, 12 cases of skimming have been reported in the past year, with others in adjacent communities. “Many cases go unreported to law enforcement,” says Lt. Lynch. She urges anyone who is a victim of a skimming scam, or who believes they have spotted a skimmer, to immediately alert law enforcement. 

Showing a police report to banks or other financial institutions can help consumers recover money faster and also helps law enforcement catch the crooks, such as by identifying fingerprints or DNA on skimmers, and by asking businesses for surveillance videos. Businesses are encouraged to check their devices daily and report anything suspicious.


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LA MESA POLICE URGE DRIVERS TO HAVE A GO SAFELY GAME PLAN: CELEBRATE THE HOLIDAY SEASON RESPONSIBLY

National “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” Enforcement Campaign Begins Dec. 14

Source: La Mesa Police Department

December 13, 2022 (La Mesa) -- With a commitment to keeping the community safe, the La Mesa Police Department is reminding the public of the dangers of driving impaired and celebrate the holiday season responsibly by not driving under the influence.

From December 14 through New Year’s Day, the La Mesa Police Department will have additional officers on patrol looking for drivers suspected of being under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. The extra enforcement effort is part of a national campaign, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, with the goal of stopping suspected impaired drivers who put others on the road at risk.


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AFSHAN CONCEDES LA MESA COUNCIL RACE; DILLARD AND LOTHIAN WIN BY NARROW MARGINS

By Miriam Raftery

December 12, 2022 (La Mesa) – Patricia Dillard and Laura Lothian have won their races for the La Mesa City Council.  According to the final certified results, Dillard will fill the seat vacated by Bill Baber’s retirement, drawing 8,600 votes, or 23.92%, while Councilmember Lothian won reelection with 8,414 votes or 23.40% -- just 11 votes above civil rights activist Mejgan Afshan, who got 8,403 votes, or 23.37%.


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LA MESA VILLAGE DOWNTOWN DISTRICT SIGN IS 83 PERCENT FUNDED - LOOKING TO COMMUNITY AND BUSINESSES THIS HOLIDAY SEASON TO GET TO THE FINISH LINE

East County News Service

December 10, 2022 (La Mesa) -- The La Mesa Village Association (LMVA) continues to fundraise for the much-anticipated downtown district sign that will be a beautiful new focal point in the La Mesa Village.  


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LAMPLIGHTER'S THEATRE REVIEW: THE GIFTS OF THE MAGI - TIMELESS CHRISTMAS ROMANCE THROUGH DEC. 18 AT LAMPLIGHTERS THEATRE IN LA MESA

By Kathy Carpenter

 

December 6, 2022 (La Mesa) - In San Diego, we do not have snow for Christmas. For many, it isn't Christmas without snow. In "The Gifts of The Magi" presented by Lamplighter's Theatre, the character City Her asks the question: how can I tell the Fourth of July from Christmas without snow? The Narrator, Willie Porter, sums up the Christmas season with his reply: people are uncharacteristically civilized.  That’s a term I fell in love with immediately because it's so apt.


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160 GUNS RELINQUISHED AT GUN BUY BACK EVENT

By Susan Taylor

Photos courtesy San Diego Sheriff's Department

December 4, 2022 (La Mesa) -- At 9 a.m. on Saturday, Dec.3, cars pulled into the parking lot across from the La Mesa Civic Center with guns that the drivers wanted to unload.  Organized by the San Diego County Sheriff and the City of La Mesa, assisted by El Cajon police, the event resulted in 160 firearms handed over in exchange for gift cards to Target stores.


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JUST FIVE VOTES SEPARATE LA MESA CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES

By Miriam Raftery

December 1, 2022 (La Mesa)  With two seats open on the La Mesa City Council, the latest returns reported tonight by the San Diego Registrar of Voters are so tight that a recount may be in the cards.


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REWARD OFFERED IN CASSIDY HOPWOOD CASE; FUNDRAISER SITE SET UP FOR BURIAL OF TEEN FOUND DEAD IN LA MESA

By Miriam Raftery

November 30, 2022 (La Mesa)  -- A $1,000 reward is offered for information leading to an arrest in the case of Cassidy Hopwood, an El Cajon teen who went missing in February. Her body was found March 13 behind a business in the 7900 block of El Cajon Blvd. in La Mesa, but she was not identified until November. 


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GUNS FOR GIFT CARDS EXCHANGE IN LA MESA DEC. 3

East County News Service

November 28, 2022 (La Mesa) – You’re invited to turn in your unwanted guns and receive a gift card valued at $100 to $200 this Saturday, December 3 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the La Mesa Civic Center, 4825 Date Ave. in La Mesa.

 

Gift card values of $100 will be provided for handguns, rifles and shotguns, while assault weapons and ghost guns can be exchanged for a $200 gift card.

 

You can remain anonymous; no questions asked.


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LAKE MURRAY CHEVRON SLASHES GAS PRICES NOV. 22-24 TO HELP STRUGGLING FAMILIES THIS THANKSGIVING SEASON

East County News Service

November 22, 2022 (La Mesa) - It is no secret that inflation has hit energy prices particularly hard, and thousands of San Diego families are struggling to put both gas in their cars and food on the table. In recognizing this issue and the need for action, Lake Murray Chevron Owner David Hallak announced that for a limited time only, he is slashing gas prices for a 3-day period to help San Diego families ease the burden of out-of-control fuel costs this holiday season.  


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CHAMBER HOLIDAY PROJECT HELPS LA MESA SENIORS: DONATE ITEMS BY DEC. 2

East County News Service

November 21, 2022 (La Mesa) – The La Mesa Chamber of Commerce seeks donations of items to help 16 homebound seniors locally, which will be assembled in large gift baskets and gift bags.

The gifts will be delivered by the La Mesa Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol. To allow time for wrapping and delivery, all donated items must be received by Friday, December 2. Please bring items to Fran Smith at the La Mesa Chamber’s office, 8080 La Mesa Blvd., Suite 214 between Monday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Mary England, Chamber President, can also meet donors seven days a week to pick up items directly from you by calling her at 619-251-7730.

Suggested items to purchase or donate:  Canned soups, canned vegetables, canned fruits, crackers, pasta, marinara, macaroni & cheese, instant cereals, bars of soap, tubes of toothpaste, tissues, bottles of hand soaps, hand sanitizer, socks, pens and pads of paper. Gift cards in any denomination from the following locations: Walmart, Target, or any grocery store. Please double check expiration dates, If you have another item you believe will put a smile on their faces, drop them off.


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MAN, 26, KILLED BY TRUCK ON I-8 IN LA MESA

By Miriam Raftery

November 19, 2022 (La Mesa) – California Highway Patrol seeks witnesses to a fatality accident that occurred yesterday at 10:50 a.m. on Interstate 8 near Severin Drive in La Mesa. 


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PASSAGES: CHUCK MUSE, 89, FORMER HELIX WATER BOARD PRESIDENT

East County News Service

November 16, 2022 (La Mesa) – Charles William “Chuck” Muse, long-serving member and past president of the Helix Water District, died November 10.

 

"We at Helix Water District are saddened by the news of Chuck Muse’s passing," said Kathleen Coates Hedberg, current president of Helix Water District’s board of directors. "He served on the Helix Board from 2004-2016 and represented the communities of Lemon Grove and La Mesa. He was active in the community on many boards. We are grateful for his service and he will be missed."


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MATT STRABONE SET TO BECOME FIRST MILLENNIAL ELECTED IN LA MESA AND FIRST DEMOCRAT TO SERVE AS CITY TREASURER

East County News Service

November 16, 2022 (La Mesa) – Matt Strabone appears all but certain to have won election as City Treasurer in La Mesa. He currently has 9,621 votes, or 54.01%, leading William “Bill” Exeter who has 8,192 votes, or 45.99%.


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DILLARD TAKES LEAD IN LA MESA CITY COUNCIL RACE; LOTHIAN AND AFSHAN ARE CLOSE BEHIND IN TIGHT BATTLE FOR TWO SEATS

Update November 16, 2022 – This race has tightened further, with the top three candidates in a near dead heat for the two Council seats.  Only 49 votes separate Dillard, who is in the lead, from Lothian in second, while just 31 votes separate Lothian from Afshan, who is currently in third. Countywide, 80,000 votes remain to be tallied, though the Registrar has not disclosed how many are in La  Mesa.

If Lothian squeaks out a win and Afshan fails to win a seat, it will likely be due in part to Brand, a Democrat who withdrew from the race too late to remove her name from the ballot, likely drawing votes away from fellow Democrats Afshan and Dillard, the party-endorsed candidates. Lothian was endorsed by Republicans. Though the race is officially nonpartisan, both parties sent mailers urging voters to party-backed candidates.

 

November 15, 2022 (La Mesa) – The latest election returns from the County Registrar of Voters show that Patricia Dillard has taken the lead over Councilmember Laura Lothian, with Mejgan Afshan a close third.  The top two vote-getters will win the seats.


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LA MESA-EL CAJON BRANCH OF AAUW ANNOUNCES ANNUAL SPEECH TREK CONTEST

East County News Service

November 16, 2022 (La Mesa) -- The La Mesa-El Cajon Branch of the American Association of University Women is holding their annual Speech Trek, speech contest, open to all high school students in grades 9-12. The in-person contest is open to all high schools including public, charter, home and private.

Each year a critical topic is selected and students, along with a branch/teacher coach, create, prepare, and present an original, 5–6-minute speech. This year’s topic is, “How can communities, organizations and citizens of all ages help protect and expand voting rights?”


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HOLIDAY IN THE VILLAGE: A LA MESA TRADITION RETURNS DEC. 3 WITH NEW CAROLING STROLL

November 14, 2022 (La Mesa) -- The 7th annual La Mesa Holiday in the Village will once again be ringing in holiday cheer for everyone far and near on Saturday, December 3 from 12 to 9 p.m. The event takes place along La Mesa Blvd. between Spring Street and 4th Street in the heart of downtown La Mesa.

La Mesa Village friends and family will have the chance to take part in free, festive fun with live music, cozy fires, craft vendors, food, holiday photo opportunities including selfies with Santa, and a kids’ area bigger than Santa’s Toy Shop.


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BODY FOUND IN LA MESA IDENTIFIED AS EL CAJON TEEN MISSING SINCE FEBRUARY: REWARD OFFERED FOR INFORMATION

East County News Service

November 13, 2022 (San Diego’s East County) – The San Diego County Medical Examiner has identified a body found on March 13 in La Mesa  as that of Cassidy Hopwood, according to El Cajon Police.  Hopwood, an El Cajon resident, was reported missing in February.

Both La Mesa and El Cajon Police have listed Hopwood’s age as 17. However, on Facebook, the RAD movement, an organization that helps families locate missing teens, states that she was 16 when she went missing and when she was found dead.

The group also leveled criticism at police handling of the case.


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