La Mesa

EAST COUNTY MAGAZINE RECEIVES $100,000 GRANT FROM FACEBOOK JOURNALISM PROJECT

 

COVID-19 Local News Relief Fund aids over 200 newsrooms nationwide

By Miriam Raftery

East County Magazine has been selected to receive $100,000 through the Facebook Journalism Project COVID-19 Local News Relief Fund Grant Program.  Facebook announced that more than 200 news organizations will receive nearly $16 million in grants through the program as part of Facebook’s $100 million global investment in news.

Read more about our grant project here.  View an index of our grant works to date, organized by topic. 


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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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LA MESA HOLDS SPECIAL HEARING TODAY ON PROP L SALES TAX RENEWAL SURVEY

By Miriam Raftery

Chart, left, prepared by city staff, shows general fund forecast for next 10 years if Prop L is extended.

April 23, 2024 (La Mesa)—The La Mesa City Council will hold a special meeting at 4 p.m. today to review and discuss the Proposition L renewal survey results.  Prop L, the ¾ cent sales tax increase approved by voters in 2008, is set to sunset in 2029, unless a measure to extend it is put before voters and approved.  Prop L revenues currently account for 20% of the city’s general fund revenues.

The announcement of a special meeting comes after a letter sent April 17 by former Mayor Art Madrid to the current Mayor, City Council, and City Manager urging action.


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VIEW OUR INTERVIEW: LA MESA ACTIVISTS OBJECT TO CITY COUNCIL BANNING REMOTE PARTICIPATION

 

View video of interview, which also aired on KNSJ radio: https://youtu.be/6CG6xMtEY8U

March 25, 2024 (La Mesa) East County Magazine recently interviewed La Mesa activists Janet Castaños, PhD, and Gene Carpenter, who raise concerns over La Mesa City Council’s Feb. 27 decision to end remote public comments.  The action came after anti-Semitic comments were made by several callers at the previous meeting, though the city’s stated reason for ending the public’s ability to call in with comments was that the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

Castaños calls the vote a “knee jerk” reaction without public input.  “We had built greater community activity, greater engagement in our City Council with our Zoom and call-in options,” noting that people who were sick or had childcare issues could call in from home.  She objects to the decision made “without even taking the time to look at a variety of options that are used by the City of San Diego City  Council or the Board of Supervisors...”

“It affects all boards and commissions for the city of La Mesa...You have to physically be there if you want to make a comment on anything on the agenda,” she added.

Audio: 


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LA MESA BANS PUBLIC REMOTE COMMENTS AFTER ANTI-SEMITIC RANTS; OTHER CITY COUNCILS AROUND NATION POINT TO AI GENERATED ASSAULT


By Michael Howard

 

Screenshot from City Council video: La Mesa City Attorney Gleen Sabine advises Council on free speech rights

 

March 3, 2024 (La Mesa, CA) - The La Mesa City Council in its February 27 meeting voted 4-1 to ban remote public comments moving forward, with Councilman Jack Shu casting the dissenting vote.


The agenda item cites a memo by City Clerk Megan Wiegelman that suggested “in the aftermath of COVID, remote public comment is no longer necessary.” But the move to disallow call-in and Zoom public comments during City Council meetings seems to be in response to theFebruary 13 Council meeting, in which several remote participants listed Jewish government officials and unleashed a barrage of anti-Semetic speech. 


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FREEWAY SHOOTING IN LA MESA: SUSPECT IN BLACK FORD FUSION SOUGHT

East County News Service

March 4, 2024 (La Mesa)—California Highway Patrol is seeking a black Ford Fusion sedan driven by a black man suspected of shooting and injuring a motorist on I-8 in La Mesa yesterday afternoon.

The injured motorist, an El Cajon man, was driving a red Chrysler PT Cruiser westbound on Interstate 8, just east of Grossmont Blvd. California Highway Patrol responded to reports of the shooting around 3:35 p.m.


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ANTISEMETIC CALLERS OVERWHELM LA MESA CITY COUNCIL MEETING WITH HATE SPEECH

By JW August, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association
 
Photo: Courtesy of City of La Mesa
 
February 16, 2024 (La Mesa) -- What began as a typical La Mesa City Council meeting this week to weigh local issues morphed into an antisemitic diatribe by largely anonymous white-supremacist callers.
 
Words turned ugly during the council’s public comment period on Tuesday when a series of callers, each held to a council-mandated three-minute limit per speaker, used their allotted time to debase and degrade Jews with callous accusations and conspiracy theories.

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COUNTY ISSUES EMERGENCY PROCLAMATION AFTER STORM CAUSES FLOODING DAMAGE; RESIDENTS ASKED TO SUBMIT DAMAGES

East Count News Service

Photo courtesy of the City of La Mesa

January 23, 2024 (San Diego)--The County of San Diego is proclaiming a local emergency on behalf of the Board of Supervisors in anticipation that resources and assistance from the state and federal government may be needed because of damage caused by flooding from the storm January 22, 2024.

Residents and businessowners can submit their damages to https://crisistrack.juvare.com/public/sandiegoCA/request.html

A local proclamation communicates to the state that the County is anticipating significant impacts to both public and private property.

The San Diego National Weather Service office reported that Monday was the 5th wettest day in San Diego since 1850.


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LAMPLIGHTERS THEATRE IN LA MESA PRESENTS THE CRUCIBLE JAN.12-FEB.4 -- WITH A MODERN TWIST

East County News Service

January 21, 2024 (La Mesa)-- Lamplighters Theatre in La Mesa will present playwright Arthur Miller’s classic, The Crucible January 12 through February 4. 

Written in 1953, it is a dramatized and fictionalized retelling of the Salem witch trials in Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1692-93. Most of the characters are real historical figures.  Miller wrote the play as an allegory for McCarthyism.  It is regarded as a central work in the canon of American drama.  It’s a story of one man’s struggle toward grace.  It depicts human struggles both internal and external:  a community galvanized by fear and suspicion, a wife betrayed by lust, an orphan girl blind with passion and obsessed with revenge, ruthless prosecutors, deluded holy men, and covetous neighbors. 

Lamplighter’s director has updated once again, this time to 2020, where it appears the country is again seemingly divided and moving in two extreme directions.


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COMEDY NIGHT JANUARY 26 AT SPACEBAR CAFÉ AND WINE BISTRO

East County News Service

January 19, 2024 (La Mesa) -- Comedians Gene Levin and Carol Johnson produce 4th Friday Comedy every month at SpaceBar Cafe & Wine Bistro, 7454 University Avenue, La Mesa from 7:30 to 9 p.m. The monthly show is one of longest running free comedy shows in our region.


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TOBACCO RETAILERS WILL NEED A LICENSE TO SELL IN LA MESA

Story and photo by Michael Howard

Photo: Tobacco retailers like this smoke shop will be subject to licensing later this year. 

January 15, 2024 (La Mesa, CA) - The La Mesa City Council adopted a new ordinance earlier this month that mandates tobacco retailers shall have a license to sell tobacco products.

The ordinance passed unanimously during the January 9,2024 City Council meeting upon Councilmember Jack Shu’s motion to adopt. Shu showed his support of the ordinance by wearing two lapel pins.

“One is ‘I love clean air’ and the other is a lung that was given to me for cleaner lungs by not smoking,” Shu said.


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VISIONARY DANCE THEATRE BECOMES MOUNARATH-POWELL DANCE

Source:  Mounarath-Powell Dance

January 13, 2024 (La Mesa) - Visionary Dance Theatre, an award-winning dance company and school for the performing arts in the heart of La Mesa, is thrilled to announce a rebranding initiative to celebrate its 15th anniversary and the long-standing partnership of its founders, Spencer John Powell and Mickey Mounarath.


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$10,000 REWARD OFFERED TO SOLVE 2021 MURDER OF SAILOR IN LA MESA

By Miriam Raftery

January 11, 2024 (La Mesa) – La Mesa police seeks public help to solve the murder of 22-year-old Corneilius Donte Brown.  His family is offering a $9,000 reward, in addition to a $1,000 Crimestoppers award, for information leading to the identification and arrest of suspects in his murder, which occurred on April 24, 2021 around 12:26 a.m.


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SING, DANCE AND LEARN WITH KATHRYN THE GRAPE JAN. 12 AT GROSSMONT CENTER

East County News Service

January 4, 2024 (La Mesa) -- Families are invited to come sing, dance and learn with Kathryn the Grape for a Fun Friday morning January 12 from 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. in the Grossmont Center Courtyard in La Mesa. Enjoy positive, upbeat, award-winning children’s music at this interactive concert. Your little ones will love singing and grooving along at this live music experience.


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AFFORDABLE HOUSING COMPLEX IN DOWNTOWN LA MESA STARTS LIST FOR LEASING

By Miriam Raftery

January 3, 2024 (La Mesa) — An affordable housing development on city-owned land at the site of the former police  station in downtown La Mesa is expected to be completed later this year.  You can now sign up on an interest list to received leasing events information this summer.

Renters must have a household income between $29,200 and $67,200, which is 30% to 70% of the area’s $97,000 median income. Rents will range from $685 to $1,591 per month.


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PASSAGES: ERNEST EWIN, FORMER LA MESA COUNCILMAN AND CIVIC LEADER

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Councilman Ernie Ewin  at the La Mesa railway depot, during kickoff of the city's 2012  Centennial.

January 3, 2024 (La Mesa) -- Former La Mesa City Councilman Ernest “Ernie” Ewin died December 28, 2023 at age 76 in Utah from complications of vascular dementia.  Ewin served 18 years on the City Council, previously serving on the city’s planning commission, and held many other civic leadership positions, contributing to East County communities in the fields of education, healthcare, and more.

Ewin represents the City on the Metropolitan Transit Board (MTS), where he has chaired the audit committee. He chaired the Metro Waste Water Joint Powers Authority and served as Executive Director of the Grossmont College Foundation’ board of directors and as donor relations specialist for the Foundation for Grossmont & Cuyamaca Colleges. In addition, he was Chairman of the Prop G Grossmont Healthcare District's Independent Oversight Committee and served on the board of the East County Visitors’ Bureau.

 He was also  a founding member of the San Diego Trolley Board of Directors, past member of the County of San Diego Finance Review Panel, past Chairman of the San Diego County Organization Assessment Panel, and past Chairman of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca District's Prop R Citizens' Bond Oversight Committee. He also chaired a volunteer finance committee for the city’s 2012 Centennial celebration.


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BURGLARY SUSPECT ARRESTED IN LA MESA AFTER FIVE-HOUR STANDOFF

East County News Service

December 11, 2023 (La Mesa) – After La Mesa Police responded to a call reporting a burglary in a vacant apartment in the 8500 block of Chloe Avenue, the suspect barricaded the door and claimed to have a hostage inside.

“The suspect was known to officers and was known to have an outstanding felony arrest warrant for a theft-related charge,” says Lieutenant Katy Lynch.

Residents of adjacent apartments were evacuated and additional resources were requested, including the La Mesa Police Department’s Special Response Team, the San Diego Sheriff Department’s Crisis Negotiation Team, and a K9 from the San Diego Police Department.


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FBI, SENIOR GROUPS TEAM UP TO HOST ELDER FRAUD PRESENTATIONS

East County News Service

December 9, 2023 (La Mesa) - In partnership with the FBI San Diego Elder Justice Task Force, the FBI San Diego Citizens Academy Alumni Association and the San Diego Seniors Community Foundation’s Senior Center Coalition will host a series of one-hour elder fraud information sessions for seniors, caregivers and neighbors. 


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LA MESA LEADERS END E-BILLBOARD PLANS

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 13, 2023 (La Mesa) – La Mesa Mayor Mark  Arapostathis and Vice Mayor Laura Lothian introduced a motion at the Dec. 12 City Council meeting directing staff to terminate the request for proposals  (RFP)  for electronic billboards. By a unanimous vote, the City Council voted to reject electronic billboards and end the RFP,  following an ECM investigation that found a history of many serious traffic accidents where the billboards were proposed to be installed.

“After considering substantial citizen commentary and careful evaluation regarding this matter, we believe that the placement and installation of digital billboards in La Mesa is inappropriate at this time,” the agenda attachment for item 8.1 stated. “Therefore, rather than expend valuable staff time, resources, and effort processing the RFP, we request that the Council immediately (at this meeting) redirect staff to terminate the RFP and all related actions.”


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MOM THANKS COMMUNITY AND POLICE AFTER MISSING SON WITH AUTISM FOUND SAFE

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Skye Pinon, via ECM news partner 10 News

December 9, 2023 (La Mesa) – Skye Pinon says it was the “scariest moment of my entire life” when she realized that her 15-year-old son,  Max, who has autism, was missing.  Max went for a walk around 3 p.m. shortly before Thanksgiving wearing only a T-shirt and shorts, with no wallet or cell phone.

Skye Pinon and her husband spent an hour searching on their own, then called La Mesa Police, according to her post on a La Mesa community forum. Within minutes, officers took a report, had a helicopter in the air broadcasting Max’s description, called in a volunteer canine search and rescue team, and launched a social media post that was soon widely shared.  

“It only took minutes for the amazing people of this community to begin responding and I immediately began getting calls, texts, and social media messages from people asking how they could help,” Pinon says.


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EAST COUNTY EATER: PERFECTLY SMOKED MEATS AND MORE AT PAPALO SONORAN-STYLE BBQ IN LA MESA

By Mike Atkinson

 

December 8, 2023 (La Mesa) - As a Texas BBQ aficionado, I've been anxious to try the newly-opened Papalo Sonoran-Style BBQ in La Mesa Village. Chef Drew Bent has a legendary pedigree, most recently the founding chef behind San Diego's Michelin-recognized Lola 55 modern taqueria. 


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LA MESA TO ROLL OUT LICENSE PLATE READERS


By Michael Howard

 

December 8, 2023 (La Mesa) – The La Mesa City Council voted on Nov.28 to join 15 San Diego County cities and agencies in installing 20 automated license plate readers (ALPR) in high traffic areas throughout the city at a cost of $124,500 for a two-year period. 

 

The vote passed 4-1, with Vice Mayor Laura Lothian casting the only dissenting vote.


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LA MESA POLICE AND DISTRICT ATTORNEY ANNOUNCE HATE CRIMES FORUM DEC. 14 AFTER ANTI-SEMITIC FLYERS DISSEMINATED

By Miriam Raftery

December 5, 2023 (La Mesa) --  A representative from District Attorney Summer Stephan's office and the La Mesa Police Dept. invite community members to a hate crimes forum with Q&A session on Dec.14 at 5:30 p.m. at the La Mesa Police Dept., 8085  University Ave., La Mesa.

The forum comes on the heels of anti-Semitic flyers repeatedly disseminated in La Mesa and the nearby San Diego communities of Del Cerro,  San Carlos and Allied Gardens in recent months, among other neighborhoods targeted. Some flyers blamed Jews for 9-11 attacks, among other false claims.


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LOCAL TEEN MUSICAL SENSATION AMANDA FAGAN TO PERFORM AT LA MESA’S HOLIDAY IN THE VILLAGE

 


By Jacob Pamus


December 1, 2023 (La Mesa)-- Amanda Fagan is an accomplished 19-year-old musician who has written many songs during the past six years.  She lives in La Mesa with her parents and younger sister.  During a two-week stretch at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, she wrote a 23-song musical in just two weeks. A New York musical producer was so impressed that he contracted with Amanda to produce the musical.  Amanda Fagan’s band will be performing at La Mesa’s Holiday in the Village on December 2 and  at Balboa Park’s December Nights on December 1.


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ELECTRONIC BILLBOARD OPPOSITION IN LA MESA GAINS GROUND

By Miriam Raftery

December 1, 2023 (La Mesa) – An online petition started by Keep  La  Mesa Beautiful in opposition to the city’s plan to allow electronic billboards has attracted 338 signatures sent it launched on November 21.  Now, the new owner of Grossmont Center has sent a letter to the city’s mayor and city council opposing two proposed e-billboards along I-8 as detrimental to the regional shopping mall.


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LA MESA CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS GET HEFTY PAY RAISE

By Michael Howard

Photo: Council Salary Adjustment Citizen Panel member Aaron Landua acknowledges his fellow panel members at the October 24 La Mesa City Council meeting

November 29, 2023(La Mesa) -- After 18 years without getting a pay raise, the La Mesa City Council members voted to give themselves a hefty 90% pay increase at their regularly scheduled November 14 meeting.

The ordinance passed unanimously and will amend section 2.04.010 of the La Mesa Municipal Code to increase each city council member’s salary from $1,000 per month to $1,900 per month.  The move also increases the mayor’s compensation by an additional $1,900, reflecting the dual role a mayor plays as both council member and mayor, bringing the mayor’s total monthly salary to $3,800 a month, or a 135% increase.

The increase doesn’t take effect until after the November 2024 elections, which means current pay rates remain the same until then.


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CHRISTMAS ON MT. HELIX DEC. 9

East County News Service

November 11, 2023 (Mt. Helix) – Christmas on Mt. Helix returns on December 9 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. complete with a Christmas market to shop for holiday gifts, caroling, crafts, food trucks, a holiday program and Santa Claus.


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CAROLING, CARNIVAL RIDES, COZY FIRES AND MORE AT LA MESA’S HOLIDAY IN THE VILLAGE DEC. 2

East County News Service

November 11, 2023 (La Mesa) -- With the holidays quickly approaching, the 8th annual La Mesa Holiday in the Village will once again be ringing in holiday cheer for everyone near and far on Saturday, December 2 from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. The free, festive fun will include live music, cozy fires, craft vendors, carnival games, food, holiday 360 photo booth, the grand return of “selfies with Santa” and a kids’ area bigger than Santa’s Toy Shop.  


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PEDESTRIAN KILLED BY VEHICLE ON I-8 IN LA MESA

East County News Service

October 29, 2023 (La Mesa) – A 38-year-old San Diego man was struck by a vehicle on Interstate 8 east., east of Baltimore Drive n La  Mesa on October 24. The victim  was walking in the #4 lane at 8:38 a.m. when he was hit by a white 2004 Chevrolet pickup truck.


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MISSING 10-YEAR-OLD BOY IN LA MESA

Update: The missing child has been found,  La Mesa Police Dept. advises.

East County News Service

October 16, 2023 (La Mesa) -- La Mesa Police seek public help to locate a missing 10-year-old boy,  last seen in the 8000 block of Parkway Drive, La  Mesa.

Ezra is white with short brown/red hair and hazel eyes. He is 4 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 85 pounds.  He iswearing a green or turquoise gaming T-shirt and has a gray Adidas backpack.


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