Rural communities

CITY NO LONGER DRAINING LAKE MORENA RESERVOIR

 

 

 

 

 

 

Draining stopped days after our radio broadcast and coverage

By Miriam Raftery

January 22, 2016 (Lake Morena) – Back in February 2014, we ran a story exposing Lake Morena residents’ criticisms of the City of San Diego for draining the Lake Morena Reservoir down to a mere puddle of its former self.  We also aired a radio interview (listen at link) with area residents and a city representative, which won an award from Society of Professional Journalists for best talk radio broadcast. 

After the recent rains, the water level at Lake Morena is still only 2.6 percent of capacity. But here’s some good news for lakefront residents: Kurt Kidman, public information officer for the City, advised East County Magazine this week, “With respect to Morena Reservoir, the City stopped drafting water out of Morena Reservoir back in February 2014 and we have not resumed any drafting since.”

In our radio interview aired that same month, a city official admitted that San Diego had done essentially nothing to ask its citizens to conserve water before making its decision to decimate a lake popular with recreational users, eliminate wildlife habitat and negatively impact the lifestyle and property values for years  to come.

JURY RETURNS NEARLY $12 MILLION VERDICT AGAINST CALTRANS FOR VALLEY FEVER EXPOSURE IN CONTRACTOR’S WORKERS

East County News Service

January 22, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) — Residents in San Diego’s East County have raised fears of spreading Valley Fever spores in their arguments against projects ranging from a sand mine in Lakeside to solar projects in Boulevard and Jacumba.  Now a jury in Northern California has shown just how expensive a verdict might be for a government entity or company that ignores such risks.

ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP LANDS GRANT TO CONTINUE CLEANUP OF ALPINE WATERSHED

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

Photo courtesy of Backcountry Land Trust

January 18, 2016 (Alpine) – Clearing local watersheds of the arrundo donax, a hardy bamboo-like, non-native plant that is a major fire fuels hazard, and other invasive species is tough work.  To clear a four-mile stretch of Alpine Creek required contacting owners of about 700 private and public parcels, mapping the terrain and securing liability insurance and contracts.  So far, the initial work has been done on about 50 parcels, funded mainly by private donations.  But a lot more work is needed, including maintain those parcels already cleared.

FIRST SONS OF THE DESERT MEETING OF THE NEW YEAR SURE TO BRING LAUGHS

 
By Liz Alper
 
January 17, 2016 (Spring Valley) - If you're like me and never have anything to do on Saturday night and you LOVE classic comedy (also like me), here is something for you.  

NEW LIBRARIES COMING TO CASA DE ORO AND LAKESIDE

 

 

Source: County News Service

January 17, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – County Supervisors have approved spending $50,000 in Neighborhood Reinvestment funds to acquire land for new libraries in Lakeside and the Casa de Oro community in Spring Valley.  The plan was proposed by East County Supervisor Dianne Jacob.

FORMER SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT VAN ZANT FACING FELONY CONFLICT OF INTEREST CHARGE

 

By Miriam Raftery

January 16, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – Steve Van Zant, former superintendent of Mountain Empire Unified School District, was arraigned today in San Diego Superior Court on a felony conflict of interest charge, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports

While serving as Superintendent of Mountain Empire, Van Zant pushed through charter schools to operate in other school districts---while profiting by having some of those same charters hire his consulting firm, EdHive Inc.

STORM FREEZES, BREAKS TRANSMITTER FOR KNSJ: DONATIONS NEEDED FOR REPAIR

 

By Miriam Raftery

January 14, 2016 (Descanso) -- KNSJ Radio (89.1 FM Descanso) is off the air affter the station's transmitter on Mount Laguna froze and broke during  last week's winter storm.  The repair estimate is $1,500, said Martin Eder, founder of KNSJ, a public nonprofit radio station that serves East County and San Diego.

Donations are urgently needed to cover this unexpected major repair cost and may be made via PayPal, credit card or check at http://knsj.org/donate/.  

The East County Magazine  Show airs on KNSJ on Mondays and Fridays from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.  During the outage, which began last week, our radio show and others on the station can still be heard online by downloading the TuneIn App for your cell phone or by listening to the streaming audio online at http://knsj.org/knsjpopup.html.

LAWSUIT FILED AGAINST COUNTY AND COVERT CANYON OVER SHOOTING RANGE IN HEART OF CLEVELAND NATIONAL FOREST

 

East County Magazine

January 14, 2016 (Alpine)--The Cleveland National Forest Foundation (CNFF), Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation (CERF), and Save Our Forest and Ranchlands (SOFAR) announced  that they have filed a lawsuit challenging the County of San Diego’s approval of a firearms training facility for military and law enforcement at Covert Canyon within the boundary of the Cleveland National Forest outside of Alpine.  

The suit seeks an injunction and restraining order to shut down commercial firearms training at the facility, among other remedies.

The lawsuit cites alleged violations of the California Environmental Quality Act, abuse of discretion in changing the use classification of the commercial firearms shooting facility, and violation of the California Land Conservation Act of 1965 (commonly referred to as the “Williamson Act”).

3 ALPINE SCHOOLS CLOSE FOR REPAIRS AFTER STORM DAMAGE

 

East County News Service

January 14, 2016 (Alpine) – Last week’s storm damage has necessitated closure of three Alpine schools today, with two remaining closed through tomorrow.

Joan MacQueen Middle School will be shut today and tomorrow due to propane leaks.  Shadow Hills and Mountain View  Learning Academy will be closed today for repairs on gas valves following leaks.

DRIVER KILLED IN HIGH SPEED CRASH IN SPRING VALLEY

 

East County News Service

January 11, 2016 (Spring Valley) — A 30-year-old El Cajon woman lost control of the Honda Civic that she was driving westbound on State Route 94 at 2:35 p.m. today and crashed down an embankment at the State Route 125 junction, striking a tree.  The driver, who was not wearing a seat belt, died at the scene.

COURT RULES AGAINST ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP OVER SOITEC SOLAR PROJECT IN BOULEVARD

 

East County News Service

January 9, 2016 (Boulevard) – Efforts to block the massive Rugged Solar project in Boulevard appear to have hit a dead end.  On December 11th, Judge Wohlfeil confirmed  his tentative ruling to dismiss a writ of mandate filed by Backcountry Against Dumps (BAD).  The challenge claimed the project violated California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirements on groundwater and fire issues, among others.

“BAD has chosen not to appeal based on a variety of issues and realities,”  BAD founder Donna Tisdale told East County Magazine.  Our attorney may never see the fee award ordered by Judge Wohlfeil, or a final decision could be strung out for years.”

CAMP ONWARD HELPS TEENS WITH ASPERGER’S SYNDROME GAIN SOCIAL SKILLS

By Janis Russell

Hear a podcast of our interview aired on KNSJ  radio:  click here

January 8, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) - Camp Onward is designed for teens with Asperger’s Syndrome to help with social skills. East County Magazine recently sat down with founder Nancy Hagan, director Kathy Gerstenberg, and parent of a kid with Asperger’s Syndrome, Laura Preble. We asked them questions about how the camp got started, its impact on the kids and parents, and what the camp is like among other topics.

FLOODING AND MUDSLIDES WREAK HAVOC IN RURAL EAST COUNTY

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo of Dehesa Elementary School courtesy of ECM news partner 10 News

January 7, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – Today’s storm has caused significant damage across East County including closure of Dehesa Elementary School and a mudslide that oozed into homes in Rancho San Diego.

Muddy floodwaters drenched the interior of classrooms at Dehesa Elementary, soaking electrical and computer equipment on floors.  The school will remain closed until Monday for cleanup, 10 News reports.

JAMUL AREA FLOODING AND ROAD CLOSURE

 

 

East County News Service

Jaunary 7, 2016 (Jamul) --Honey Springs Road will be shut down all night due to power lines downed by vehicle that struck a power pole this evening, while awaiting SDG&E repairs, the CHP website indicates. A SIG Alert has been issued.

Highway 94 had substantial flooding this afternoon, reaching 30 feet wide in places and up to two feet deep, by some estimates..

Ronnie Durfee sent in video including this still shot of the dip between Rancho Jamul and Melody Lane.

CHIRP, ORGANIZER OF ALPINE’S SAGE & SONGBIRDS GARDEN TOURS, CLOSES DOORS

 

East County News Service

December 30, 2015 (Alpine) –After 19 years of working to create gardens friendly to birds, butterflies and other creatures, the nonprofit Center to Instill Respect and Preservation for Garden Wildlife, or CHIRP, is coming to an end.

The board of directors voted in November to dissolve the nonprofit after financial challenges, as many nonprofits have faced in recent tough times.  “I feel it is time for me, the founder and executive director, to move on,” Maureen Austin wrote in a letter published on the Alpine Community Network.

CHIRP, a garden club known for organizing the popular Sage & Songbirds garden tour each year, gained national fame for Alpine after helping the community become first in the nation to receive a Community Wildlife Habitat designation from the National Wildlife Federation.  Austin voiced hope that Alpine will continue to nurture habitats for wildlife to retain the designation, adding that she will happily help transfer NWF’s annual status report to another organization or individual.

MISSING MAN : LAST KNOWN TO BE IN DULZURA-CAMPO-JAMUL AREA

 

East County News Service

Update:  John "Arias" Harrington has been found in Tecate, Mexico and is now back in the U.S. in a hospital receiving medical treatment, a family friend informed ECM today.

View or print missing flyer

December 29, 2015 (Dulzura)—John Sebastian “Arias” Harrington, 25, has been missing since Christmas Eve.   His family is very concerned for his safety.  He was last seen driving a friend’s red F-150 truck with CA license 7U32923. He was last seen wearing a red windbreaker jacket, jeans and a black watch.

Harrington dropped off friends  at the San Diego Airport on on Dec. 24.  He is from Oceanside, but GPS indicates his last known location was in the Campo-Dulzura area at 10 p.m. that night.  A caretaker for disabled individuals, most recently he was working for a person in Jamul. His mother, Deb Meacham, told ECM that police  said his employer received a text message from him a day or so later. He has not been heard from since then.  There are indications he may be confused due to missing medication, his mother said.

ALPINE HEART ATTACK SURVIVOR TO APPEAR IN ROSE PARADE ON NEW YEAR’S DAY

 

East County News Service

December 28, 2015 (Alpine) – Heart attack survivor Randy Truax of Alpine has been selected to appear in the 2016 Rose Parade in Pasadena on January 1st. He will be riding on the “Union of Hearts” float for the American Heart Association and Union Bank. 

 

ALPINE HIGH SCHOOL CASE HEADS TO TRIAL: CASE HINGES ON WHETHER OR NOT ENROLLMENT TRIGGER WAS MET

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 23, 2015 (Alpine) – Just in time for Christmas,  Judge Joel Pressman issued a decision in the Alpine high school case that gives neither side what it wanted. 

The Judge denied the Grossmont Union High School District’s motions to dismiss the case but also denied a request from Alpine Union School District and Alpine Taxpayers to issue a summary judgment in their favor.

Judge Pressman did determine that the Appeals Court found Grossmont made a promise to build a high school that is binding. However, that promise hinges on whether or not the enrollment trigger was met or not.

COVERT CANYON OPPONENTS APPEAL TO SUPERVISORS

 

"Arguably, the County will now be required to allow any such property owner to conduct commercial firearms training on an interim basis so long as a permit application is eventually submitted." -- Marco Gonzalez

By Miriam Raftery

December 23, 2015 (Alpine) –Attorney Marco Gonzalez has filed an appeal with County Supervisors on behalf of environmental groups and neighbors of Covert Canyon in Alpine. If the Planning Director's decision stands, he argues, it would set a precendent that could subject residents across vast areas of the County  to neighbors opening up similar commercial shooting ranges.

The appeal contends that it was illegal for the Planning Director to issue an order reclassifying the zoning ordinance defintion of “law enforcement” to include military and law enforcement firearms training at Covert Canyon, a mountain meadow surrounded by Cleveland National Forest, without reveiw under the California Environmental Quality (CEQA) Act. 

PLANNING COMMISSION GUNS DOWN APPEAL, ALLOWS COVERT CANYON TO CONDUCT MILITARY FIREARMS TRAINING AMID FEDERAL FOREST LANDS

By Miriam Raftery

Photos: Covert Canyon owner Marc Halcon (left); neighbors Clark and Robin Williams (right)

December 17, 2015 (Alpine) – Testimony at the County Planning Commission hearing on Covert Canyon   on December 11th was heated, as concerned citizens and planners fired off concerns which project backers sought to deflect.  At stake was an appeal filed by neighbors and environmentalists opposed to the Planning Director’s decision allowing commercial firearms training of military and police at the Alpine site, which is surrounded by Cleveland National Forest lands.  Animal rights activists also protested live shooting of pigs for military medic training at the property in the past. 

Here are some of the impassioned statements made:

“What the Planning Director has done is sign a death warrant for the national forest.” – Duncan McFetridge, co-chair, Cleveland National Forest Foundation

“I live in constant fear…it is extremely dangerous.” – Robin Williams, neighbor closest to Covert Canyon

 “Military ranges are overloaded right now. Post-911, demand is up…We live in a different world now; our law enforcement and first responders have to have training to respond.” – Marc Halcon, Covert Canyon owner

“You’re allowing an unlimited decibel ordinance for 14 minutes every hour. That’s no ordinance at all…How can a firing range not have substantial impact? It’s beyond my comprehension.” – Planning Commissioner Michael Beck

“This is the most tortured interpretation of the zoning ordinance I have ever seen…You’re going to get sued, and you’re going to lose.” – Attorney Marco Gonzalez, addressing County Planning Commission

“We all know about the global war on terror…Range time equals one of our biggest challenges in San Diego…this is paramount for the success of war fighters.” – Tommy Marquez, on behalf of Congressman Duncan Hunter

SAN DIEGO COUNTY TO ENLIST INMATES IN EL NIÑO RESPONSE

 

 

Source: County News Service

December 15, 2015 (San Diego)--County Supervisors on Tuesday agreed to seek rapid deployment of state inmate work crews if El Niño packs a punch in the coming months.

The board voted to approve Supervisor Dianne Jacob’s proposal to team up with Cal Fire and ensure that the region’s nearly 500 work crew inmates are quickly available to assist with flood prevention and cleanup.

CAMPO ROAD/CASA DE ORO IMPROVEMENTS MEETING DEC. 17

East County News Service

December 12, 2015 (Spring Valley ) – Institute for Public Strategies invites you to the third community meeting on alcohol-related harm in Casa De Oro.  

At the last meeting in November, members decided to create a formal community group and will choose a name at the next meeting, which is set for Thursday, December 17 from 6 to 8 p.m.  The meeting will be held at the Young Actors’ Theater, 9628 Campo Road, Suite J in Spring Valley.

COVERT CANYON APPEAL FILED; OWNER MARC HALCON SPEAKS OUT AS CONTROVERSY HEATS UP

 

 

 

 

 

 

Planning Commission to hear appeal Friday;  ECM tours site; environmentalists threaten lawsuit

By Miriam Raftery

December 10,2015 (Alpine)—An appeal filed yesterday on behalf of three environmental groups and neighbors of Covert Canyon will be heard by the County Planning Commission tomorrow at 9 a.m.  If the appeal is denied,  a letter signed by appellants’ attorney Marco Gonzalez states, “the Environmental groups and Appellants intend to file suit and seek injunctive relief before the matter is heard by the Board of Supervisors.”  

In addition to Clark and Robin Williams, the closest neighbors, Gonzalez' letter states he is representing the Cleveland National Forest Foundation, Save Our Forests and Ranchlands, and Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation.

A staff report recommends denying the appeal and upholding the Planning Director’s decision to reclassify the use of the property as law enforcement. 

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