News

LAKE JENNINGS CAMPGROUND SPARED: HELIX WATER BOARD VOTES DELAY ACTION FOR A YEAR

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 18, 2015 (La Mesa) – After hearing testimony from a Boy Scout leader and other users of the Lake Jennings Campground who pleaded to keep it open, the Helix Water Board voted to delay action on possible closure for one year.  But the long-term future of the campground is not yet secure, despite recent financial gains.

Since Helix took back ownership of the lake in 2008, the campground had been losing money at $200,000 a year – but that’s dropped to only $24,000 a year today, nearly a break-even point.

CEDAR CREEK HIKER DIES

 

East County News Service

June 16, 2015 (Julian)—A 24-year-old hiker has died after suffering apparent heat-related physical distress on the Cedar Creek trail near Julian on June 16th in the early evening.  His friends called 911 and paramedics were notified, along with Sheriff’s deputies.

HEAT ADVISORY ISSUED FOR EAST COUNTY

 

County News Service; photo via PhotoSpin

June 16, 2015 (San Diego’s East County)--With prolonged high temperatures expected to reach up to 115 in San Diego County deserts over the next few days, County health officials are reminding the public to take precautions to avoid heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses.

The National Weather Service in San Diego has issued a heat advisory in effect now through Sunday at 7 p.m. for the lower desert areas of eastern San Diego County. Temperatures inland will be anywhere from 5 to 10 degrees above average with high temperatures forecast of 112 to 115 degrees. Nighttime temperatures will only drop into the 80s. Mountain and foothill areas in the county are expected to be warm as well with highs in the 90s. Coastal areas will be near-normal temperatures.

The County operates the Cool Zones program and has designated more than 115 air-conditioned buildings as cooling centers. Locations and hours of operation can be found on a new interactive map on CoolZones.org or by calling 2-1-1 San Diego. The sites are identified by a light blue Polar Bear Cool Zone logo.

NEIGHBORS OF GILLESPIE FIELD SET JUNE 23 MEETING WITH ATTORNEY: MORE PLAINTIFFS NEEDED AS DEADLINE NEARS

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 15, 2015 (El Cajon)—Dozens of families are close to filing a lawsuit over the increased air traffic at Gillespie Field airport, where more expansion is planned. But with a June 30th deadline to finalize paperwork with a class action lawyer, another two dozen residents are needed to join the suit by the deadline.

A meeting is set for Tuesday, June 23rd at 6:30 p.m. with the lead attorney and interested residents. The meeting will be held at a private residence in Fletcher Hills. To RSVP and get the address and directions, contact info@asapgillespiefield.com.

“This is our last chance to get something done,” says Sue Strom with Advocates for Safe Airport Policies ASAP.

CLOSE LAKE JENNINGS CAMPGROUND DESPITE FINANCIAL PROGRESS? HELIX WATER BOARD VOTES WEDNESDAY

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 15, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – Helix Water District’s Board of Directors will vote on whether or not to close the campground at Lake Jennings in Lakeside. .The vote is set for Wednesday, June 17th at 2 p.m. at the board meeting at the district’s headquarters, 7811 University Avenue in La Mesa.

The vote is slated despite huge gains made in stemming financial losses, from $200,000 in 2013  to just $24,000 this year, plus increased profitability of other attractions and activities with potential for more, including state approval to add kayaks just  last month.

Director Kathleen Coates-Hedberg urges the public: “If  you want to see Lake Jennings Campground stay OPEN for the future and would like to voice your opinion, please come to the Board meeting or send an email to our Board Secretary and she will forward to Board Members. Board Secretary, Sandy Janzen, Sandy.Janzen@HELIXWATER.org.”

FAST-TRACKING TRADE DEAL FAILS IN HOUSE, BUT ONLY ONE SAN DIEGO REPRESENTATIVE VOTED “NO”

 

Re-vote expected early this week

 

Photo:  Potential  Trans-Pacific Partnership members, by en:User:Japinderum, en:User:Phospheros en:User:Orser67

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 14, 2015 (San Diego) – The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal has stalled in the House of Representatives, after one of two measures needed for passage failed to win enough votes. Opposition came from both left and right, with even House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) joining with conservative Duncan Hunter in standing up against President Obama to help defeat the proposal. 

There were two bills—and both needed to pass in order for the TPP to move forward. But Speaker John Boehner has called for another vote early this week on the failed portion of the proposal.

304-ACRE SOLAR PROJECT PROPOSED IN JACUMBA HOT SPRINGS SPARKS CONTROVERSY

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

 

 “This is a recipe for disaster, potentially putting us in harm’s way AND increasing our already high fire insurance policies…This is a project that could generate dangerous chemical fires that when spread, could cause property damage as well as loss of life.”—Danielle Cook , member, Jacumba-Boulevard Revitalization Committee

June 13, 2015 (Jacumba Hot Springs)—A proposed industrial-scale solar facility near Jacumba is sparking heated controversy, with some residents raising concerns over fire danger and impacts on  local water supplies, wildlife, traffic and public safety.

NextEra Energy, a division of Florida Power and Light, wants to cover 108 acres of a 304 acre site in the Jacumba area with 81,109 solar photovoltaic modules on 2,253 tilting rack panels—along with a collector substation, transmission lines, and lithium battery energy story systems in containers the size of cargo cars.  Ultimately, the project would produce up to 20 megawatts of power, according to a draft environmental impact report prepared by the consulting firm DUDEK.

STATE SLASHES HISTORIC WATER RIGHTS

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture

June 12, 2015 (Sacramento) – Ever since California established its water rights system back in 1914, senior water rights holders with claims before 1914 have been able to freely use as much water as they could pump.  But for the first time ever, the State Water Resources Control Board has ordered curtailment of water use by 114 of the state’s oldest water rights holders, including farmers, rural and urban water districts in the Sacramento delta as well as the Sacramento and San Joaquin river watersheds.

THAT SINKING FEELING: SUBSIDENCE IS CAUSING MAJOR DAMAGE ACROSS CALIFORNIA

 

East County News Service

Photo: US Geological Survey scientist Michelle Sneed shows where a farmer would have been standing in 1988, before drought triggered sinking in the San Joaquin Valley.

June 12, 2015 (Sacramento) – California is sinking – fast.  Records from the U.S. Geological Survey reveal that some parts of California are subsiding by a foot a year, as groundwater pumping has increased by 40 percent due to the drought.  That’s causing wells to crumple, thousands of miles of highways to become damaged, irrigation canals to crack and bridges to be destroyed, according to an article in Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting.

SMOKING HOT DEBATE: EL CAJON COUNCIL VOTES TO SUPPORT RAISING AGE FOR TOBACCO USE

 

"I will support this in honor of my sister, and my mother and my father-in-law," -- Councilman Bob McClellan (photo, left), who lost all three family members to smoking-related illnesess.

"The American Revolution was about individual liberty...doesn't freedom to make a decision include freedom to make a poor one?" --Eric Anderson (photo, right), Rock Church and Caucus Chair for the San Diego Republican Party Executive Committee

By Juwan Armstrong and Miriam Raftery

June 12, 2015 (El Cajon) – El Cajon’s City Council voted 3-1 on Wednesday to send a letter asking Assemblyman Brian Jones and Governor Jerry Brown to support Senate Bill 151, which would raise the minimum legal age for buying cigarettes and other tobacco products from 18 to 21.

Jones has taken over $25,000 in campaign contributions from the tobacco industry.  East County’s State Senator, Joel Anderson, took nearly $40,000 and voted against the bill when it passed the Senate.

SUPERVISORS POSTPONE ACTION ON WATERFRONT PARK FREE SPEECH RULES UNTIL JULY

 

By Janis Russell and Miriam Raftery

“It is the basic tenet of all Americans to speak truth to power without restriction or regulation.” – David Patterson, U.S. veteran and Ramona resident (photo, left, by Janis Russell)

View video of complete hearing (item 7): http://sdcounty.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=9&clip_id=1682

 

June 11, 2015 (San Diego)- San Diego’s Board of Supervisors postponed action until July 21st on a controversial proposal to restrict protesters in the Waterfront Park outside the County Administration Building. The  County claims its goal is to protect free speech rights while also protecting rights of the growing number of others using the new waterfront park for activities such as weddings, picnics, concerts, yoga and children’s play.

Supervisors voted to delay action and ask staff to re-examine the proposal after the American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter calling the action “probably unconstitutional” as written, also noting that the City of San Diego has no permit requirements for free speech activities. Members of the public and Supervisor Dianne Jacob also voiced concerns about the proposed ordinance.

MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN A TEEN’S LIFE! HOST FAMILIES WANTED FOR EXCHANGE STUDENTS

 

Area rep also sought to help place foreign exchange students

 

By Miriam Raftery

Hear our radio  interview  on KNSJ with Karen Toledo  from the ISE: click here

June 10, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – Families are wanted to host international exchange students in East County and across our region, says Karen Toledo, assistant manager for the International Student Exchange (ISE) locally.  An area rep is also sought to help place the many students eager for local homes for the next semester—and those who place 7 students or more will be rewarded with a trip to Ireland.

Toledo, a Lemon Grove resident knows first-hand the joys of the program, having hosted over 100 foreign exchange students at her own home.  She’s also traveled the world – visiting students she formerly hosted to experience their cultures, too. 

“It’s an amazing experience…I’m a single mom and I was hosting two at a time…I’ve traveled to many of their homes and stayed with them,” says Toledo, who cites Spain and Brazil as recent places she has visited. “They treat you so well when you come, because they are so thankful that you treated their kids so well and they had an amazing year.”

JUDGE SETS TRIAL DATE FOR DEC. 4 ON ALPINE SUIT AGAINST GROSSMONT OVER HIGH SCHOOL

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 11, 2015 (Alpine) – Alpine residents seeking to force the Grossmont Union High School District to turn over $70 million in bond funds and land acquired for construction of an Alpine High School will finally have their day in court.  Judge Joel Pressman ruled against Grossmont on Friday, refusing to dismiss the case and requiring that the money be set aside pending outcome of the trial.

The proceeding will be an administrative trial before Judge Pressman set for December 4th with the Alpine Union School District and the Alpine Taxpayers for Bond Accountability squaring off against the GUHSD. A 3-judge appellate court panel previously denied Grossmont’s request for a stay to stop the proceedings, a move affirmed Friday by Pressman. The County Grand Jury also found that the district did not live up to its obligation to Alpine taxpayers and recommended that the district build the high school or turn over the money to the Alpine Union High School District to build the school.  The district's board majority defied the Grand Jury and did neither.

The plaintiffs contend that Grossmont misallocated millions of dollars from Propositions U and H,  spending much of the $700 million measures approved by voters for projects not listed in the bond while refusing to build the Alpine High School that was a priority project in the bond measures.

COURTS CAN'T CHARGE FINES FIRST FOR DRIVERS WHO FIGHT TRAFFIC TICKETS

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 9, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – If you’ve got a traffic ticket in California, here’s some good news:  courts can no longer make you pay bail in order to challenge the ticket. There is a catch though – you have to show up at the arraignment to ask for a trial. The change, an emergency rule adopted by the Judicial Council, which oversees the state’s courts, is effective immediately.

WOMEN VETERANS COMMIT SUICIDE SIX TIMES MORE THAN WOMEN WITHOUT MILITARY SERVICE

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 8, 2015 (Washington D.C.) – A new study by the Veterans’ Administration reveals that women veterans are killing themselves nearly six times more often than women who never served in the military.  The carnage is even higher among young veterans: women ages 18-29 have a suicide rate 12 times higher than nonveterans.

FIRE INSURANCE RATES FOR HOMEOWNERS, BUSINESS TO DROP IN HEARTLAND FIRE DISTRICT—THANKS TO DISTRICT ATTAINING “RARE” TOP NATIONAL RATING

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Heartland Fire & Rescue Chief Rick Sitta delivers good news at El Cajon Council meeting

June 9, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – If you live in the cities of El Cajon, La Mesa or Lemon Grove, your fire insurance rates will soon be going down. That’s because Heartland Fire & Rescue, which provides firefighting services for all three cities, has received a class 1 rating from the Insurance Services Office (ISO).   

The  ISO rates 47,000 fire departments across the United States and of those, only 98 have attained a class 1 rating, including only 8 fire districts in the entire state of California.  “Class 1 communities are very rare, and some of these scores are the highest we’ve ever seen,” says Stephanie Ruscansky from the ISO, who notes that only a small fraction of 1% of all agencies rated attain a Class 1 rating.

CITIZENS OPPOSE COUNTY’S EFFORTS TO CURB FREE SPEECH

By Miriam Raftery

June 8, 2015 (San Diego) – Last week, we reported that Supervisors on Tuesday will consider a proposal to restrict protesters to “free speech zones” outside the County administration, ban amplified sound, require permits for events bigger than 200 people and impose fines for those who violate these rules. Supervisors will also consider rule changes to impact all county parks.

But the proposal is drawing strong reactions – and so far, all the comments we’ve received have been negative toward the county’s plans.  Here are some of the comments we’ve received from people who don’t want their free speech rights limited:

PETITION TO SAVE SCENIC EL MONTE FROM SAND MINING

By Miriam Raftery

June 8, 2015 (Lakeside) – Lakeside residents have launched an online petition asking Bill Horn, Chair of the Board of Supervisors, to save El Monte from a proposed sand-mining project.  View or sign petition here.

This ill-conceived, destructive and dangerous project poses a clear public safety threat. It would also destroy a place so beautiful that it’s been designated a county scenic view corridor and a focal point in long-range San Diego River Park preservation plans.  Mining here could also contaminate a major drinking water supply and potentially spread deadly Valley Fever across our region.

GIRL, 10, MISSING SINCE WEDNESDAY IN EUCLID AREA

 

June 7, 2015 (San Diego) – San Diego Police seek help to find Isabella Keating, a 10-year-old girl who disappeared after leaving Horton Elementary School on Wednesday, June 3rd around 2 p.m. and has not been seen since then.   The school is located at 5050 Guymon Street in the Euclid area.

SPLISH AND SPLASH YOUR WAY TO COOL ENERGY SAVINGS

 

 

East County News Service

June 7, 2015 (San Diego's East County) -- Summertime is almost here--time to dive in and cool off. But maintaining a pool  and air conditionoing can be costly. SDG&E has provided some tips for saving energy and money on your swimming pool and air conditioning systems.

BODY NEAR OCEAN BEACH PIER IDENTIFIED AS EAST COUNTY WOMAN

 

East County News Service

Photo courtesy ECM news partner 10 News

June 6, 2015 (El Cajon)--An El Cajon mother is mourning the loss of her 20-year-old daughter, Victoria Zubkis, whose body was found in the ocean near the Ocean Beach Pier on May 28th.   Zubkis’ mother had reported her daughter missing two days earlier, when she went to visit a friend in Ocean Beach.

COUNTY SEEKS TO RESTRICT FREE SPEECH, PROTESTERS, PHOTOGRAPHY AND MORE IN PUBLC PARKS

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photos, left: Rural residents rally for protection from wind turbines after explosions; faith-based community leaders seek justice for immigrants outside County Administration Building

June 6, 2015 (San Diego)—For years, community groups and activists have rallied outside the County administration building where Supervisors meet to protest or urge support for various causes, from immigrant rights to stopping environmentally damaging projects, with rally organizers ranging from civil liberties advocates to conservative Tea Party groups. 

But under a new ordinance proposed for consideration on Tuesday’s agenda, people wishing to exercise First Amendment rights may be restricted to  designated “free speech zones” at the new Waterfront Park around the building, where you won’t be able to bring a megaphone, microphone, or even a chair on which to sit.  There will be noise limits and gatherings of 200 or more must obtain permits—meaning you’ll have to predict how many will show up for your event, or risk paying fines.

That’s not all.  The proposed ordinance would go farther,  changing codes regarding selling and advertising for all county parks and recreation facilities to regulate “other issues such as commercial photography, noise levels, and the prohibition on posting or affixing materials on park property.”

LAKESIDE RESIDENTS AND PLANNERS VOICE OUTRAGE OVER SAND MINING PROPOSAL AT HEATED MEETING

 

Story by Miriam Raftery

 

Photo, left: "Would you want these kids breathing that, every day for 15 years?" -- Jessica Webb

 

June 5, 2013 (Lakeside) –  Imagine up to 250 trucks a day – one every minute and a half—hauling sand along a rural  road right in front of your house:  five days a week for the next 15 years or more in El Monte Valley.  It gets worse:  noise and dust from sand mining operations clogging the area, kicking up potentially deadly Valley Fever spores lurking in soil here, where several El Monte Valley residents have already contracted the disease. 

The sand loads would be transported for use on highways, roadways and other aggregate projects across San Diego County—potentially bringing sand  laden with Valley Fever spores to construction projects near you.  All thanks to a deal cut by Helix Water District to settle litigation over a golf course and water reclamation deal gone sour on land that Helix owned in El Monte Valley, a county-designated scenic view corridor.

This project has the Orwellian-like name “El Monte Nature Preserve” though all parties including the developer concede it is first and foremost a mining operation that will strip bare the valley for decades, lowering the valley floor 30 feet with dredging  far deeper in places, in a project three times wider than Lake Jennings.

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

UPDATE: Hear our interview on KNSJ radio with Lisa Wood, Lakeside resident and chair of Supervisor Dianne Jacob's youth activites on the river committee.  Wood discusses impacts of the sand mining project, which she believes would be severe, irreversible, and worse than Sunrise Powerlink. 

Listen online now: http://k003.kiwi6.com/hotlink/3qugn67xe5/Newsmaker-SandMining-LisaWood.mp3

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.”

CAJON VALLEY DISTRICT SHUTS DOWN SCHOOL OVER TOXIC CONCERNS

By Miriam Raftery

June 1, 2015 (El Cajon)—Last week, we reported that parents in El Cajon have filed a lawsuit Ametek Aerospace & Defense, alleging that the company’s underground toxic waste dumping  is causing illness among children at Magnolia Elementary School next door. 

Now the Cajon Valley School District Board has voted unanimously to close down the school for the current school year.  All students and staff will be relocated to Bostonia Elementary School.

BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD FOR LA MESA OKTOBERFEST 2015

Debt from 2014 leaves future wide open

"I feel for the Merchants, I feel for the situation, believe me I do, but when you have the money and you know you owe the money, you’ve got to get your priorities straight. I would say the same thing to my children, if they got the rent to pay and they’ve got other things to pay. You get your priorities straight and pay the rent, or you’re going to be out on the street." - Councilmember Ruth Sterling

By Kristin Kjaero

May 30, 2015 (La Mesa) – The operation of this year’s Oktoberfest is up in the air, with the door open for a new organizer to potentially take over. Last week, the city of La Mesa received an application from the La Mesa Village Merchants Association for the 2015 Oktoberfest, but the Merchants’ group still owes the city $37,229 for past events including last year’s Oktoberfest.  Without ruling on the application directly, the city added a phrase to its special event application policy that empowers the City Manager with discretion to pre-qualify and negotiate with applicants.

 The Merchants Association proposed to pay both its past debts and future costs by taking over the entire event without the La Mesa Chamber of Commerce’s participation, combined with a request asking the Council  to roll back cost recovery to 50%. The Merchants group also promised to place future proceeds from 2015 into an escrow account so the City would be the first paid from future event revenues. 2015 Car Show series, funded annually by Oktoberfest profits, was also cancelled last week by the Merchants.

This isn’t the first time that the Merchants Association’s finances have lead to a change in the way the City processes applications for special events.

4.1 QUAKE RATTLES BORREGO

 

East County News Service

May 31, 2015 (Borrego Springs)--If you felt the earth move under your feet Sunday morning at 6:02 a.m., that’s because a 4.1 earthquake centered 7 miles northeast of Borrego Springs rattled our region.  Our news partner, 10 News, reports the quake was felt as far away as Escondido, but the Sheriff’s Department did not receive any reports of damage.

$10,000 LIBRARY CHALLENGE GRANT ANNOUNCED

 

May 30, 2015 (Alpine)--The Alpine Library Friends Association (ALFA) announces an anonymous challenge grant pledge of $10,000. The Donor will match any contribution of $250 or more from an individual or group, up to a total of $10,000. The Challenge period runs from June 1st to July 15th   The money raised by this challenge will be used to outfit the Library.  San Diego County provided $10.7 million for the construction of the Library; but the Alpine Community must raise the money needed for furniture, fixtures and equipment (FF&E ) the cost of which is estimated at $675,000. ALFA has, so far, raised about $350,000.

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