Lemon Grove City Council

FIRST LEMON GROVE COUNCIL MEETING OF THE YEAR WELCOMES NEW MEMBER AND BRINGS UP THE PAST

View video:  https://fb.watch/i9kwlQIxfd/

By Jessyka Heredia 

January 19, 2023 (Lemon Grove) -- The first Lemon Grove City Council meeting of 2023 included fiery criticisms of a Council member by the City’s retired fire chief, proposed changes to commercial sewer rates, and appointments of members to serve on regional boards.  


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JESSYKA HEREDIA, CANDIDATE FOR LEMON GROVE CITY COUNCIL: THE TOWN WE WANT IT TO BE

By Elijah McKee

September 20, 2022 (Lemon Grove) — “The squeakier wheel gets the oil, right? If you come out and say ‘Hey, this is what we need,’ and you’re persistent, things start to change, remarked ” Jessica “Jessyka” Heredia about virtual access to city meetings. She personally live-streams Lemon Grove City Council meetings on Facebook, while calling for an investment in an official video record.

In an interview with East County Magazine, Heredia reflected, “I get lots of views so I know it’s something that should be done and could be done. And I believe it will be done as a result of me coming and doing that. I’m going to continue to advocate for that regardless of whether I’m elected or not.” 

Heredia officially qualified for the ballot last month, and is now one of five candidates vying for seats on the Lemon Grove City Council this election year. She runs a business in El Cajon that has been in East County for 24 years, sat on the City's Community Advisory Committee (CAC) and the Business Improvement District, and runs the Lemon Grove Support Local social media pages. 

Given the four-year term lengths for councilmembers in Lemon Grove, Jennifer Mendoza is the only current official whose seat could be challenged this year. However, Councilmember Jerry Jones decided to retire after nearly 20 years as a councilmember, creating an open seat and the possibility for two new faces to join the dais. 

For elections within San Diego County this year, every active registered voter will automatically be granted a mail ballot. They will begin being sent out on October 8, and early voting via ballot drop boxes will begin October 10. All in-person poll centers will be open from November 5 through Election Day on November 8. 

In the Lemon Grove field, Councilmember Mendoza has announced her bid for reelection and is the only incumbent in the race. The other four candidates include Heredia, as well as Blanca Brown, Stephanie Klein, and Alysson Snow.  East County Magazine sat down with all five women for in-depth interviews in order to learn more about them and their campaigns. Watch for profiles of all five candidates to be posted in our Communities section for Lemon Grove.


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JUDGE ENDS RESTRAINNG ORDER AGAINST COUNCILMEMBER LEBARON

East County News Service

June 22, 2022 (Lemon Grove) – A judge has lifted a restraining order which had barred Lemon Grove Councilmember Liana LeBaron from her home due to her husband accusing her of assault. The order was ended after LeBaron’s husband, Timothy Howell, told the judge that the couple had sorted matters out civilly.


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LEMON GROVE COUNCILMEMBER TO FACE RESTRAINING ORDER AND POTENTIAL CRIMINAL CHARGES IN COURT AFTER ACCUSATION OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

By Elijah McKee

 

Rebecca Jefferis Williamson contributed to this report.

 

April 29, 2022 (Lemon Grove) — Lemon Grove Councilmember Liana LeBaron was arrested and charged with domestic violence on April 18 by the San Diego County Sheriff’s department, following an altercation with her husband over his life insurance policy.

 

A restraining order was filed the next day under the name Timothy C. Howell, which required that LeBaron leave her home upon its court approval. The protective order will last until May 10, when LeBaron will appear in court to address the issue. 


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STATE-FUNDED BATHROOM PROJECTS APPROVED IN LEMON GROVE FOR BERRY AND WASHINGTON STREET PARKS

By Elijah McKee 

Photo: New restrooms may look similar to these, according to Mayor Racquel Vasquez

 

February 21, 2022 (Lemon Grove) — “I’m really excited to be able to replace these aging, crumbling bathrooms,” reveled Councilmember Jennifer Mendoza. According to her, the restrooms at the Berry Street and Washington Street parks are going on 60 years old. 


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LEMON GROVE COUNCIL MEETING UNRAVELS, ADJOURNS EARLY

By Elijah McKee

February 17, 2022 — Sixty-two — that is the number of times Mayor Racquel Vasquez hit her gavel during Lemon Grove’s City Council meeting on February 15, 2022. In the end, the meeting was adjourned early and scheduled to resume two days later at 6 p.m.


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LEMON GROVE APPROVES MTS CONTRACT, SEWER REPAIRS AND SEAT DESIGNATIONS

By Elijah McKee

January 21, 2022 (Lemon Grove) — The Lemon Grove City Council moved forward with several key agenda items on Tuesday at their first meeting of the new year.


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LEMON GROVE COUNCIL HOSTS WORKSHOP WITH RESIDENTS ON STREET REPAIR PRIORITIES

By Elijah McKee

October 25, 2021 (Lemon Grove) -- Anyone who owns a car hopes to drive on roads that are smooth and safe, for their sake and their community’s. The reality for many drivers in Lemon Grove is the opposite, as they face an array of holes, cracks, and ridges that jostle their daily transit.


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LEMON GROVE APPROVES EXPANSION OF CANNABIS BUSINESSES, APPOINTS PLANNING COMMISSIONER IN FOUR-HOUR MEETING

By Angela Kurysh
 
June 24, 2021 (Lemon Grove) – Despite a policy set over a month ago to keep City Council meetings in Lemon Grove to three hours or less, the most recent meeting on Tuesday, June 15th, started at 6 p.m. and adjourned at 10 p.m.  Hot items included approval of an ordinance to allow a broad range of cananbis businesses and name a new city manager.
 
Although there were many items on the agenda, including the interviews and appointment of the City’s new Planning Commissioner, Council was not able to go over every item, due to time constraints.

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LEMON GROVE CITY COUNCIL MEETINGS RETURN TO IN-PERSON, WITH NO VIRTUAL OPTION

By Angela Kurysh

 

June 6, 2021 (Lemon Grove) – Lengthy Lemon Grove City Council meetings conducted remotely have come to an end. As of Tuesday, May 18 Council meetings have returned to being held in-person and virtual options to attend the meetings have been eliminated. 


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LEMON GROVE PROPOSES LIMITING COUNCILMEMBERS’ SPEECH

By Miriam Raftery
 
April 11, 2021 (Lemon Grove) – On April 20, the Lemon Grove City Council will hear a proposal that would limit councilmembers’ speaking time to five minutes per agenda item, plus three additional minutes later on.  The proposed action targets new member Liana LeBaron, who has been criticized by colleagues for lengthy comments up to 45 minutes and questions to staff that some say are rude or reflect a lack of preparation.

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IN LEMON GROVE CITY COUNCIL TOWN HALL, CANDIDATES ADDRESS CITY IN CRISIS, OFFER ONLY LIMITED SOLUTIONS

By John Sepulvado

View full video of ECM’s forum for Lemon Grove candidates:  click here.

Scroll down for highlights and analysis of the forum.

October 9, 2020 (Lemon Grove) -- In the past 25 years, Lemon Grove has been battered. Revenues for the city have plummeted as businesses have fled. Currently the city is experiencing a $1.5 million budget shortfall. Major thoroughfares are in disrepair, while major civic investments like the Lemon Grove Recreation Center sit underused as the city continues to struggle financially. 

Many of the buildings - including prime real estate on Broadway, sit empty and under-utilized. Many of the unhoused neighbors suffer from extreme health conditions that go untreated. Residents complain about policing from the Sheriff’s office. The Council spends most of its budget on policing through the Sheriff, yet some businesses and residents complain of crime and say more law enforcement protection is needed.  (This year’s crime stats have not yet been released.)

These problems are compounded by a lawsuit in which a candidate for Mayor - Christopher WIlliams - is suing the city over a meeting on his proposed marijuana dispensaries followed by a pool party with alcohol that ended in an alleged assault. The spectacular suit is driving a deep wedge among current and aspiring council members.


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FIVE-STORY MIXED USE COMPLEX IN LEMON GROVE IS A GO

By Jake Zawlacki 

May 20, 2020 (Lemon Grove) — By a 3-2 vote, Lemon Grove’s City Council on Tuesday denied an appeal of the planning commission’s approval of a five-story mixed-use development, with three retail spaces at the street level. The project at 7946 Broadway is slated to be built on property occupied by Berry’s Athletic Supply, a longtime business no longer in operation; the structure is set for demolition.  


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LEMON GROVE CITY COUNCIL OFFERS COVID-19 INFO FOR RESIDENTS AND PASSES CLIMATE ACTION PLAN WITH AMENDMENTS FORTHCOMING

By Jake Zawlacki

Audio Recording Link: https://www.lemongrove.ca.gov/city-hall/city-council/city-council-meeting-audio-recordings

April 8, 2020 (Lemon  Grove) -- In a 3-2 split, the Lemon Grove City Council voted Tuesday to approve the city’s Climate Action Plan, a plan to take advantage of $2.5 million in grant funds  from SANDAG to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 through local projects.

In accordance with Gov. Newsom’s Executive Orders in a response to mitigating the transmission of COVID-19, the meeting commenced online via Zoom.


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LEMON GROVE CITY COUNCIL CONSIDERS MEDICAL MARIJUANA BUSINESS, MOVES AHEAD ON GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE AND HOUSING PLANNING

 

Girl Scouts unveil "Lemon Ups," official new city cookie

By Kathleen Connell

January 23, 2020 (Lemon Grove) -- On January 21st, Lemon Grove leaders kicked off the new year in a well-attended meeting, with many citizens clearly interested in the medical marijuana dispensary item on the agenda.


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LEMON GROVE DROPS COMPLAINT AGAINST ROSIAK

By Miriam Raftery

December 17, 2019 (Lemon Grove) – The City of Lemon Grove has dropped its complaint against Teresa Rosiak alleging misdemeanor campaign finance and disclosure violations. Rosiak, a fiscal conservative, ran unsuccessfully for the Council in 2018. She has been a vocal critic of the Council on financial matters and had called the charges politically motivated.

As ECM previously reported, the FPPC had earlier closed its investigation into Rosiak with no disciplinary action before Lemon Grove filed its complaint in court. The city has acknowledged in response to an ECM records request that it has not filed any similar charges against any other candidate in at least the last ten years.


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WHO WANTS TO BE THE NEXT LEMON GROVE COUNCILMEMBER AND PLANNNG COMMISSIONER? HERE ARE ALL THE APPLICANTS

By Miriam Raftery

November 26, 2019 (Lemon Grove) – The Lemon Grove City Council will hold a special meeting on December 2 at 6 p.m. to interview applicants to fill vacancies on the City Council and Planning Commission.  A wide range of people have applied for these positions, bringing a diversity of skills and backgrounds. 

Here are summaries of each applicant's primary qualifications and aspirations:


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WHAT SHOULD LEMON GROVE CITY COUNCIL REQUIRE OF APPLICANTS TO FILL VACANCY? COMMUNITY WEIGHS IN; FORUM FOR APPLICANTS NOV. 13

By Miriam Raftery

November 12, 2019 (Lemon Grove) – Lemon Grove is now accepting applications for appointment to fill the vacancy on the City Council left by the resignation of Matt  Mendoza, who moved to Florida for his job.

The appointment process raises questions over what criteria should be considered, beyond basic residency and age requirements, in choosing the next councilmember.


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LEMON GROVE TO APPOINT NEW COUNCILMEMBER TO FILL VACANCY: APPLICATIONS ACCEPTED NOV. 11-21

By Miriam Raftery

November 8, 2019 (Lemon Grove) – At a special meeting last night, Lemon Grove’s City Council voted to fill the vacancy left by Matt Mendoza’s resignation through appointment.  Applications will be accepted starting Monday, Nov. 11 through Thursday, Nov. 21 at 5 p.m. at City Hall.


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LEMON GROVE COUNCILMAN MATT MENDOZA RESIGNS, REPLACEMENT PROCESS IS ON TONIGHT’S AGENDA

By Miriam Raftery

November 7, 2019 (Lemon Grove) – Lemon Grove Councilman Matt Mendoza resigned Monday after moving to Florida due to his work for Boeing.  The Council will meet tonight in a 6:30 p.m. public session to discuss options for filling the vacancy. The  Council originally planned a closed-door meeting but changed to an open session after the San Diego Union-Tribune raised questions about the legality of a closed-door process, the newspaper reported.

The resignation comes at a critical time for the city, which has been forced to dip into its financial reserves.  An initiative to raise sales tax by three-quarters of a cent has just qualified for the ballot – a measure that Mendoza, a conservative, has said he supports.  He told the Union-Tribune that his greatest regret has been the inability of the city to attract enough new businesses to attain fiscal stability. The city has even faced calls from some to consider disincorporation, or giving up cityhood to revert to county control.

Mendoza’s departure comes just weeks before a December 19, 2019 jury trial in a lawsuit against the city of Lemon Grove and Counclman David Arambula is set to commence.  Judge Richard Whitney authorized Cory Briggs, attorney for plaintiff Chris Williams, to take a deposition from Mendoza but so far, Mendoza has been unavailable for that deposition, Candid Chronicle reports.   


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LEMON GROVE COUNCIL HEARS PLAN FOR CAMERAS TO AID LAW ENFORCEMENT AND MORE

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

October 6, 2019 (Lemon Grove) -- A San Diego Sheriff pilot project introducing a video federation program, election sign regulations for Lemon Grove City Council candidates and other matters were discussed by the Council at their meeting Oct. 1st at the Lemon Grove Community Center.

The video federation project was introduced by San Diego Sheriff Lt. Mike Rand. 

Lt. Rand said the department has begun the process of community awareness of a video sharing platform named “SafeSanDiego.” The first community forum in Lemon Grove was held on Oct. 3.  Businesses, government agencies and residents will be allowed to share video with law enforcement to help authorities investigate and solve criminal cases.


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READER’S EDITORIAL: AREN’T WE WORTH THE INVESTMENT?

By Jerry Jones, Lemon Grove Councilman

“Let’s first save the city, and then deal with the leadership and trust issues.” – Councilman Jerry Jones

October 4, 2019 (Lemon Grove) -- While I am supporting a city sales tax for Lemon Grove I did oppose the one proposed for last year for a number of reasons. I was very clear in my 11-page PowerPoint that the 1/2 cent was not enough and what I felt next steps should be. At no time did I advocate for disincorporation, though I did call for a discussion on what that would look like. For some people transparency is just a word, not me. I was very clear about the steps needed to address our problem with the end result being a 1 cent tax measure placed on the 2020 ballot. Yes, one cent is a heavy lift but by my calculations and forecast that is what it will take to make us sustainable. I am not a tax kind of guy in principle. For some the word tax is an immutable principle and to be avoided at all cost. The good people of Lemon Grove expect me to protect their asset, that is the city, not force my principles on them. If the facts support a tax that will sustain, benefit the community and improve my home then I will fight as hard as I can to make that happen under the right circumstances. The Citizens initiative, circulating a petition currently, is only 3/4 versus the one cent I proposed but my calculations say that it will work. It just leaves us less to invest than I would have wanted and will require a larger reserve. 


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LEMON GROVE COUNCIL HEARS POLICE AND FIRE UPDATES, PLANS TO REGULATE INFLATABLE JUMPERS IN CITY PARKS

 

 

By Allan Acevedo

 

March 11, 2019 (Lemon Grove) –  The Lemon Grove City Council conducted business this week in the absence of Councilmember Matt Mendoza. The remaining four councilmembers received annual updates from fire and police. Additionally, the Council discussed at length the possibility of adding a local ordinance regulating inflatable jumpers as soon as this summer.

 


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WITNESS DISPUTES LEMON GROVE COUNCILMAN ARAMBULA’S STATEMENT ON MEETING WHICH ENDED IN PHYSICAL ALTERCATION

 

Update February 13, 2019: Judge Whitney has issued a final ruling keeping the City of Lemon Grove as a defendant in this case.

By Miriam Raftery

February 11, 2019 (Lemon Grove) – A witness has disputed a key claim made by Lemon Grove Councilman David Arambula in a civil suit filed by marijuana dispensary applicant Christopher Williams against Arambula and Lemon Grove.  Williams alleges that he Arambula cut his face with a beer bottle, bit, choked and punched him after a meeting at Arambula’s home regarding the dispensary application.


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INCUMBENTS LEADING IN LEMON GROVE



By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Challenger Teresa Rosiak says even if she doesn't win, she hopes to restart a Chamber of Commerce to help bring new businsses to Lemon Grove and help improve the city's economy.

November 6, 2018 ( Lemon Grove) – With 14% of precincts counted, incumbent Councilmenbers Jennifer Mendoza and Jerry Jones appear headed for reelection in Lemon Grove. They are leading with 32.48% and 29% of the votes respectively.


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BUDGET CRISIS TOPS CONCERNS FOR LEMON GROVE COUNCIL CANDIDATES



By Miriam Raftery

Photos, top row--Challengers Kamaal Martin and Teresa Rosiak, bottom row--incumbent Councilmembers Jennifer Mendoza and Jerry Jones.

October 14, 2018 (Lemon Grove) – With Lemon Grove facing a budget deficit and 78% of its general fund spent on public safety, the City Council faces tough choices. Should the city consider the drastic step of disincorporating and reverting back to county control? Or can the city be saved through revitalization by bringing in new businesses, or by raising taxes? Proposals for the latter failed to win passage with the current Council majority, leaving the city faced with dipping into its reserves in the next fiscal year if the finances don’t improve.  

Those are among the issues addressed in our interviews with all four candidates, as well as concerns over crime, marijuana dispensaries, street repairs and more.The candidates are  incumbent Councilmembers Jennifer Mendoza and Jerry Jones, as well as challengers Teresa Rosiak, a medical credentialing specialist and former Chamber of Commerce president, and Kamaal  Martin, an educator with state and county governmental experience.

Hear our interviews aired on KNSJ radio by clicking the audio links below this story, and scroll down to read highlights from each interview.

 

Audio: 

Kamaal Martin interview
Teresa Rosiak interview
Jennifer Mendoza interview
Jerry Jones interview

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EAST COUNTY LEADERSHIP COUNCIL NONPROFIT LAUNCHES FROM EL CAJON DOWNTOWN LIBRARY

 

By Jonathan Goetz

July 23, 2018 (El Cajon) – George Gastil, a former Lemon Grove Councilman and history professor at Grossmont College and San Diego State Univesrity, opened the inaugural meeting of the East County Leadership Council (ECLC).  The newly formed 501c(3) nonprofit organization has a mission statement to promote “quality discussion of politics and public policy in the East County region of San Diego County.”


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FLOWERS, BUDGET AND TAX PROPOSALS TAKE ROOT AT LEMON GROVE COUNCIL MEETING

 

By Jonathan Goetz

Photo:  Lemon Grove Management Analyst Miranda Evans, smiling, received flowers for her self-taught videography in Lemon Grove's 40th birthday year of celebration and history minutes.

July 5, 2018 (Lemon Grove) -- It wasn’t all flowers Tuesday as the City Council discussed roads, sidewalks, a memorandum of understanding with firefighters and bringing various proposals before voters in order to raise revenue for the City of Lemon Grove, which is forecasting a budget deficit.


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DOWNTOWN REDEVELOPMENT BLOCKED IN LEMON GROVE

 

By Jonathan Goetz

Photo: Lemon Grove Mayor Pro Tem Jerry Jones

May 8, 2018 (Lemon Grove) – Lemon Grove's downtown redevelopment climate dampened last week, as the City Council blocked a plan to allow four and five story buildings throughout downtown. The infill plan for redevelopment passed on April 17, by a 4-1 vote. But it failed upon second reading on May 1, by a 3-2 vote.


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LEMON GROVE REJECTS CLAIMS OVER POTHOLES AND BUCKLED SIDEWALKS



By Miriam Raftery

April 19, 2018 (Lemon Grove) – Lemon Grove’s City Council on Tuesday voted to reject, per staff recommendation, liability claims submitted by three separate individuals plus a lawsuit filed, all claiming injury or harm due to allegedly poorly maintained city streets and/or sidewalks.


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