News

SPJ RAISES CONCERNS OVER SDPD, FBI VISIT TO JOURNALISM STUDENT'S HOME

 

East County News Service

May 29, 2015 (San Diego)--The Society of Professional Journalists San Diego Pro Chapter has issued a statement criticizing local and federal law enforcement for going “too far” when an FBI agent and a San Diego Police Department detective on the San Diego Joint Terrorism Task Force visited a San Diego City College student journalist’s home. The investigators inquired about a news crew filming outside the FBI San Diego office for a story about sex trafficking.

OCOTILLO WIND FAILS TO PRODUCE POWER PROMISED FOR SECOND YEAR IN A ROW

Fraud issue heightened by 2nd year of weak wind energy output. So why isn't the federal government taking action?

By Miriam Raftery

May 29, 2015 (Ocotillo) – Last year, our award-winning investigative story, Was It Fraud?  raised serious questions over why Pattern Energy’s Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility produced only 15% capacity factor in 2013—far less than the 34 percent capacity factor that Pattern promised the federal government in order to obtain lucrative federal subsidies. Even after accounting for time when a fallen blade shut down the project, capacity factor for the remaining months still averaged less than 19 percent.

Now, the figures are in for 2014—and the Ocotillo wind project again under-performed, this time reaching 24 percent capacity factor:

SAND MINING PROJECT IN EL MONTE VALLEY ON AGENDA FOR LAKESIDE PLANNERS JUNE 3

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Facebook site dedicated to stopping project

May 29, 2015 (Lakeside) – A controversial proposal for sand mining in scenic El Monte Valley along the San Diego River bed is on the agenda for the Lakeside Planning Group on Wednesday, June 3 at 6:30 p.m. in the Lakeside Community Center (, 9841 Vine St, Lakeside). The applicant is the “El Monte Nature Preserve LLC,” though residents voice concerns the project will be destructive to nature, not preserve it.  View application.

Lakeside resident Billy Ortiz, a videographer who chronicles Lakeside’s beauty for media outlets and the Lakeside Historical Society, opposes the project. He voiced outrage over the plan.

. “If we don’t stop them, our beautiful valley will be destroyed,” Ortiz told ECM.  “We will be there to protest and discourage the project.”

JAMUL ACTION COMMITTEE APPEALS CASINO RULING

East County News Service

Photo: Construction site at Jamul Indian Village

May 27, 2015 (Jamul) – The Jamul Action Committee and Jamulians Against the Casino (JAC/JCC) today announced that they have appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, after a federal judge denied their request for a prelimininary injunction to halt construction of a casino at the Jamul Indian Village.

The plaintiff’s request for a permanent injunction remains pending while the tribe moves forward on construction.

PASSAGES: ACCIDENTS CLAIM EAST COUNTY LIVES

By Miriam Raftery

May 26, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – Accidents have claimed the lives of several local residents including Xochil Calvario or Ramona, Darrell Thomas King of Alpine, and Michael Young of El Cajon. In addition, a fatal Pine Valley accident killed Casey Phillip Ellis of Yuma, Arizona.

SHARKS SPOTTED OFFSHORE

 

East County News Service

Creative commons photo by Terry Gross

May 26, 2015 (San Diego) – More than a dozen young great white sharks have been spotted recently off the Southern California coast, mostly off Huntington Beach.  But this week, a six-foot-shark that lifeguards indicate could be a great white was seen off the shore in Oceanside.

MOVEMENT GROWS TO REDUCE DRUGGING OF FOSTER CARE KIDS

 

By Miriam Raftery

May 26, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) - May is national Foster Care month. The Children’s Defense Fund is voicing concerns over the high number of children in foster care who are being given mind-altering drugs—in many cases to control behavior, not address real medical problems.

MISSING COUPLE FOUND: WIFE SURVIVED 2 WEEKS IN VEHICLE

 

By Miriam Raftery

May 26, 2015 (Warner Springs) – A Fullerton couple missing for two weeks after leaving Valley View Casino has been found.  An off-road vehicle rider spotted their vehicle on the Los Coyotes reservation in a remote are near Warner Springs.  That’s far off the route searched by authorities, since the couple was believed traveling north to a Mother’s Day celebration at a family member’s home in La Quinta.

NEW DOCUMENTARY EXPOSES RISING PROBLEM OF CAMPUS RAPES

 

By Miriam Raftery

May 26, 2015 (San Diego)—A new documentary called ‘The Hunting Ground’ is shining a light on the increasing rate of campus rapes nationwide—and the failure of campuses to take action, particularly when the accused perpetrator is a college sports star.

WATER CUTS HIT HARD IN BORREGO SPRINGS

 

East County News Service

May 25, 2015 (Borrego Springs)--An emergency order issued by Governor Jerry Brown is having a harsher impact on some communities than others, since the slash-water-use requirements make no distinction between northern forested communities and places like Borrego Springs, which is located in the Anza-Borrego desert.

BOIL WATER ORDER LIFTED FOR MOUNT LAGUNA RECREATION AREA WATER SYSTEM OPERATED BY THE U.S. FOREST SERVICE

 

May 24, 2015 (Mount Laguna)--The County of San Diego, Department of Environmental Health (DEH) has lifted the Boil Water Order for the Mount Laguna Recreation Area Water System, operated by the U.S. Forest Service.

READER’S EDITORIAL: MEMORIAL DAY 2015

By Rob Tade, Adjutant, American Legion Post 303, El Cajon

May 24, 2015 (El Cajon)-- Tomorrow is the annual day of remembrance for those that have gone before us and given “all” for our freedom and the liberties that we enjoy.   You are all welcome to join us for a short ceremony at the El Cajon Veteran’s Memorial. 

HELIX WATER BOARD VOTES TO ADOPT DROUGHT ACTION PLAN

 

 

By Janis Russell and Miriam Raftery

May 21, 2015 (La Mesa)- At the board meeting yesterday, the Helix Water District board voted 4-1 for the drought action plan for increased public education and outreach, increased restrictions with two days/week for outdoor water use in tier 3, and a 10% penalty for using 31 units or more of water, effective starting with July 29th water bills.  The plan also limits watering to two days a week and cuts warning for water waste fines to just one courtesy letter. View the resolution here.

Tier-3 users will be charged 10% on water over 30 units each two-month billing period, but will not be charged 10% on the first 30 units, Mike Uhrhammer, senior public affairs representative at Helix, told ECM.  A person who exceeds the limit by 1 unit would pay 55 cents; while 50 units would be $11.02, for instance. See chart above left for details.  Average water use is 26 units over two months for the district.

“There is a variance procedure,” Uhrhammer said, citing a need to irrigate for defensible space or erosion control and undue hardships as examples. The penalties will not apply to tier 1, which is considered essential indoor water use level, or tier 2. Tier 3 is targeted because these residents use water mostly outdoors and the state is pushing districts to encourage homeowners to limit ornamental landscaping.

LA MESA PLANNING COMMISSION REJECTS PARK STATION PLAN, BUT APPROVES EIR

Project will advance to City Council

Story and photos by Janis Russell

Photo, left: Sherm Harmer, Urban Housing Partners

May 21, 2015 (La Mesa)- At yesterday’s meeting, the La Mesa Planning Commission voted to deny approval of a revised Park Station plan because of its inconsistency with the general plan and community objectives. The vote was 4-2 with Commissioner Dexter Levy absent.  Next up, the City Council will be asked to decide Park Station’s fate.

This was the developer’s third attempt to win approval.  The plan had been dramatically scaled down from 190 feet in height originally proposed  to a maximum of 75 feet in the latest proposal, though still far over the 46 feet height limit citywide and double the allowable density. The latest plan increased density and added a hotel, but reduced parking. A controversial aspect has been the developer’s effort to  get approval of a specific plan solely for Park Station so that zoning requirements of the historic downtown district and other areas in La Mesa would not apply.  It would have included a “by right” ability to make future changes without city approval, or what critics referred to as a “blank check.”

OIL SPILL OFF SANTA BARBARA NOW NINE MILES WIDE

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: "Refugio Oil Spill in Santa Barbara" by Zackmann08

Updated to include expanded size of spill, now five times earlier estimates

May 20, 2015 (Santa Barbara) – A ruptured pipeline has caused a nine-mile-wide oil spill in the ocean off the Santa Barbara coast.  The environmental disaster occurred 46 years after the catastrophic 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill.

While emergency crews work to try and clean up the estimated 110,000 gallon spill, campgrounds and beaches at Refugio State Beach have been evacuated due to severe air quality, water pollution and oil oozing onto the sand as Memorial Day weekend draws near.  Warnings have been issued for nearby El Capitan State Beach as the oil slick moves southward with the currents.

ACLU OF CA RELEASES SMARTPHONE APP TO HOLD LAW ENFORCEMENT ACCOUNTABLE

 

East County News Service

May 20, 2015 (San Diego)--The ACLU of California has launched Mobile Justice CA, a free smart phone app allowing Californians to automatically record and submit cell phone videos to their ACLU affiliate when they feel law enforcement officers are violating civil rights.

EAST COUNTY ROUNDUP: LOCAL AND STATEWIDE NEWS

May 20, 2015 (San Diego's East County) -- East County Roundup highlights top stories of interest to East County and San Diego’s inland regions, published in other media. This week’s top “Roundup” headlines include:

LOCAL

STATE

For excerpts and links to full stories, click “read more” and scroll down.

JUDGE FINDS SHERIFF'S LIMITS ON JAIL MAIL UNCONSTITUTIONAL

 

By Miraim Raftery

May 18, 2015 (San Diego) – Back in 2012, San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore sought to stop drugs and weapons from being smuggled into county jails in envelopes. So the Sheriff imposed a ban on mail to inmates, allowing only postcards or emails—no hand-written letters from loved ones. An exception was allowed for inmates to receive letters from their attorneys, however.

PLANE HITS TRUCK DURING EMERGENCY LANDING IN SANTEE

 

East County News Service

Photo: Heartland firefighter Gabe Belloli

May 17, 2015 (Santee) – The pilot of a single-engine Cherokee plane made an emergency landing Saturday morning on Prospect Avenue near Cuyamaca Street in Santee.

F.A.C.E. SAVES PETS LIVES WHEN OWNERS CAN’T AFFORD SURGERY: KEEPING FAMILIES TOGETHER

 

Hear our interview with Brooke Haggarty, executive director of Foundation for Animal Care and Education (FACE) , originally aired on KNSJ Radio. 

Listen now:  http://k003.kiwi6.com/hotlink/pzmrc3u90d/Newsmaker-FACE-Brook_Haggarty.mp3

May 17, 2015 (San Diego) – “What we do is give families hope when they are about to lose their best friends, their furry family members. We are able to keep them together,” says Brooke Haggarty, executive director at Foundation for Animal Care (FACE). 

The San Diego-based nonprofit  provides funds to help families save the lives or health of pets with life-threatening injuries or conditions. Unlike some other organizations, FACE does not require owners to give up their pets to get help. Instead, FACE partners  with over 100 veterinary hospitals countywide to negotiate discounts of 25% or more and pay most of the remainder for families that can’t afford care.

STORM DRENCHES REGION

 

May 16, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) - The storm that doused our region in recent days brought some welcome drought relief. According to the National Weather Service, so far in May, 2.35 inches have fallen in San Diego—making this the second wettest May in our region’s history and the wettest since 1921—and we still have half a month to go!

BOIL WATER ORDER ISSUED FOR MT. LAGUNA RECREATION AREA

 

East County News Service

May 16, 2015 (Mt. Laguna)--The County’s Department of Environmental Health has issued a Boil Water Order for the Mount Laguna Recreation Area’s water system on Sunrise Highway on Friday. The agency indicated that  the drinking water system tested positive for E.Coli and total coliform bacteria, which means water may be contaminated with human or animal waste.

AMTRAK CRASH IN PHILADELPHIA RAISES TROUBLING QUESTIONS

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: National Transportation Safety Board, public domain

May 16, 2015 (Philadelphia)—What caused an Amtrak passenger train bound for New York from Washington D.C. to derail in Philadelphia’s Port Richmond neighborhood, killed eight passengers and injuring 200 people?

HOUSE FIRE DISPLACES EIGHT PEOPLE IN LEMON GROVE

 

May 14, 2015 (Lemon Grove)--At approximately 7:51 p.m., Sunday, May 3, Heartland Fire & Rescue crews in Lemon Grove, responded to reports of a structure fire in the 25-hundred block of Pergl Street. Upon arrival firefighters found heavy smoke coming from a single-story structure at 2523 Pergl Street.

STRIKE, BOYCOTT ORGANIZED TO HELP BAJA FARMWORKERS

 

By Leon Thompson

May 15, 2015 (San Quintin, Baja Mexico) – About 220 miles south of Tecate near the Pacific Coast is the rich agricultural region known as San Quintin.  Strawberry fields stretch as far as the eye can see.  Tomatoes, blackberries and raspberries bound for American grocery stores like Whole Foods and Vons are grown in this fertile valley.  The work is backbreaking, the weather is scorching and the workers work from sunup to sundown.  They earn around $5 per day – about the cost of a basket of strawberries at Whole Foods.

EL CAJON TEAMS UP WITH RADY CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL TO IMPLEMENT SAFE ROUTES TO SCHOOL PROGRAMMING

 

May 14, 2015 (El Cajon)--The City of El Cajon has teamed up with Rady Children’s Hospital for school pedestrian safety improvements.

HELIX WATER BOARD WEIGHS FINES FOR EXCESS WATER USE, ADDITIONAL DROUGHT ACTIONS

 

By Janis Russell

May 14, 2015 (La Mesa)- At yesterday’s board meeting, staff at Helix Water District presented a drought action plan and resolution to the board.  No action was taken, with the measure slated to be brought back to the board for action  on May 20th. If approved, the plan calls for tough enforcement and hefty fines of up to $500 against heavy residential water users who fail to cutback water use.

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