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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GROUNDBREAKING CEREMONY HELD FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING COMPLEX IN DOWNTOWN LA MESA

By Miriam Raftery

Photo and artwork credits: City of La Mesa and La Mesa Chamber of Comemrce.

February 3, 2023 (La Mesa) – The site of La Mesa’s former police station will soon be home to 147 affordable apartment homes. A groundbreaking ceremony was held at the site at 8181 Allison Avenue on January 24.


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READER’S EDITORIAL: LA MESA PLANNING COMMISSION APPOINTMENT MUST AVOID CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

An open letter to La Mesa Mayor Mark Arapostathis 

By Aaron Amerling

Photo, left: Kathleen Brand

January 24, 2023 (La Mesa) -- I want to wholeheartedly recommend Kathleen Brand for the planning commissioner spot. She has over 20 years of history serving the people in La Mesa in both volunteer positions and on boards and committees, her work experience is in city planning and she has shown an even-keeled approach to sustaining growth while not losing what makes La Mesa, La Mesa.


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LA MESA CITY COUNCIL APPROVES PALM AVE. APARTMENTS AND SWEARS IN A NEW FIRE CHIEF

By Christianne McCormick

Photo: Project approved for 4757 Palm Ave. in La Mesa’s downtown village, courtesy City of La Mesa

January 23, 2023 (La Mesa) -- On January 10, La Mesa’s City Council ratified the Design Review Board’s approval of the Palm Avenue Apartments, which are slated to be built at the same site where the historic Randall Lamb building burned down during the 2020 George Floyd riots. The vote was 4-0, with Councilmember Laura Lothian abstaining because her office is close to the site.  

The development has brought about much debate among La Mesa residents. The five-story building would house 64 rental units, with only 29 parking spaces – less than one for each unit.  There will also be room for at least one business in the building, where apartment rents are expected to start at around $1,000 for units designated as affordable and run from $2,100 to $2,900 for other units, per the developer, Palm Street Ventures LLC.


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A CREATIVE ATMOSPHERE: OPEN MIC NIGHT AT SPACE BAR

By Susan Taylor

Photo, left: poet and activist Jim Moreno

January 22, 2023 (La Mesa) – On a recent visit to the Space Bar Café and Wine Bistro, I heard poets, read my own poetry, and enjoyed a nice late Sunday afternoon.  A small nosh and glass of wine seemed in order, so owner Frank Moody quietly executed my order so as not to disturb the speakers at the Open Mic event on the small stage at the rear of the café.


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AAUW MEETING FEB. 11 TO FEATURE A PHENOMENAL WOMAN AND A COACHING LEGEND

East County News Service

 

January 17, 2023 (La Mesa) -- February 11 is the monthly meeting of the La Mesa-El Cajon Branch of the American Association of University Women. Precious Jackson-Hubbard (left) and Mimi Test (below right) will be the featured speakers focusing on MS. Jackson-Hubbard’s upbringing and career and MS. Tests history of Title IX through a coach’s eyes.

Audio: 

American Association of University Women mtg announcement El Cajon/La Mesa

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CALL FOR BIPOC ARTIST SUBMISSIONS AT VISIONARY DANCE SCHOOL

East County News Service

January 5, 2023 (La Mesa) -- Visionary Dance Theatre: School for the Performing Arts announces a call for submissions for BIPOC (black, indigenous and people of color) artists to design and paint building business signage at the front of their studio at 8674 La Mesa Boulevard in La Mesa. The artist awarded the project will receive $1,000 in compensation and will receive up to $500 to purchase supplies. 


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CHRISTMAS DAY APARTMENT FIRE DISPLACES SIX IN LA MESA

East County News Service

Photo via San Miguel Fire Dept. on Facebook

December 26, 2022 (La Mesa) – A blaze that may have begun in a Christmas tree yesterday damaged four units at a La Mesa apartment complex, displacing six people and killing a dog. 


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INTERGENERATIONAL TUTORING DOES “MIRACLE WORK”

By Susan Taylor

Photo  tutor Elaine Westheimer is enthusiastic about being part of the Oasis Intergenerational Tutoring Program

December 19, 2022 (La Mesa) -- At San Diego Oasis in Grossmont Center, seniors have the opportunity to be trained for and directed to the wonderful world of tutoring.  This fall, 175 volunteers, most of them seniors, are tutoring children in elementary schools in San Diego County.  This number is up from the first years of the COVID-19 pandemic, when just a handful of people were meeting face to face with kids at schools. 

The number of tutors was between 300-400 before COVID.  Kristen Amicone, Director of Intergenerational Programs at Oasis, said, “(We are) working diligently to reach that number again and estimate that we will do so by the end of the 2023-2024 school year.”


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SKIMMERS STEAL FUNDS AT LOCAL ATM AND CREDIT CARD MACHINES

By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  skimming device recovered by La Mesa Police Department

December 14, 2022 (San Diego’s East County) – Skimming devices attached by thieves to ATM machines and credit card devices have stolen money from consumers in multiple East County locations. Some even have tiny hidden cameras stealing pin codes.

Lieutenant Katy Lynch with the La Mesa Police department confirms, “It’s definitely a trend.” LMPD has launched a campaign to educate merchants and the public on how to protect consumers and help nab thieves behind these schemes.

In La Mesa alone, 12 cases of skimming have been reported in the past year, with others in adjacent communities. “Many cases go unreported to law enforcement,” says Lt. Lynch. She urges anyone who is a victim of a skimming scam, or who believes they have spotted a skimmer, to immediately alert law enforcement. 

Showing a police report to banks or other financial institutions can help consumers recover money faster and also helps law enforcement catch the crooks, such as by identifying fingerprints or DNA on skimmers, and by asking businesses for surveillance videos. Businesses are encouraged to check their devices daily and report anything suspicious.


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AFSHAN CONCEDES LA MESA COUNCIL RACE; DILLARD AND LOTHIAN WIN BY NARROW MARGINS

By Miriam Raftery

December 12, 2022 (La Mesa) – Patricia Dillard and Laura Lothian have won their races for the La Mesa City Council.  According to the final certified results, Dillard will fill the seat vacated by Bill Baber’s retirement, drawing 8,600 votes, or 23.92%, while Councilmember Lothian won reelection with 8,414 votes or 23.40% -- just 11 votes above civil rights activist Mejgan Afshan, who got 8,403 votes, or 23.37%.


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LA MESA VILLAGE DOWNTOWN DISTRICT SIGN IS 83 PERCENT FUNDED - LOOKING TO COMMUNITY AND BUSINESSES THIS HOLIDAY SEASON TO GET TO THE FINISH LINE

East County News Service

December 10, 2022 (La Mesa) -- The La Mesa Village Association (LMVA) continues to fundraise for the much-anticipated downtown district sign that will be a beautiful new focal point in the La Mesa Village.  


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LAMPLIGHTER'S THEATRE REVIEW: THE GIFTS OF THE MAGI - TIMELESS CHRISTMAS ROMANCE THROUGH DEC. 18 AT LAMPLIGHTERS THEATRE IN LA MESA

By Kathy Carpenter

 

December 6, 2022 (La Mesa) - In San Diego, we do not have snow for Christmas. For many, it isn't Christmas without snow. In "The Gifts of The Magi" presented by Lamplighter's Theatre, the character City Her asks the question: how can I tell the Fourth of July from Christmas without snow? The Narrator, Willie Porter, sums up the Christmas season with his reply: people are uncharacteristically civilized.  That’s a term I fell in love with immediately because it's so apt.


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160 GUNS RELINQUISHED AT GUN BUY BACK EVENT

By Susan Taylor

Photos courtesy San Diego Sheriff's Department

December 4, 2022 (La Mesa) -- At 9 a.m. on Saturday, Dec.3, cars pulled into the parking lot across from the La Mesa Civic Center with guns that the drivers wanted to unload.  Organized by the San Diego County Sheriff and the City of La Mesa, assisted by El Cajon police, the event resulted in 160 firearms handed over in exchange for gift cards to Target stores.


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JUST FIVE VOTES SEPARATE LA MESA CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES

By Miriam Raftery

December 1, 2022 (La Mesa)  With two seats open on the La Mesa City Council, the latest returns reported tonight by the San Diego Registrar of Voters are so tight that a recount may be in the cards.


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REWARD OFFERED IN CASSIDY HOPWOOD CASE; FUNDRAISER SITE SET UP FOR BURIAL OF TEEN FOUND DEAD IN LA MESA

By Miriam Raftery

November 30, 2022 (La Mesa)  -- A $1,000 reward is offered for information leading to an arrest in the case of Cassidy Hopwood, an El Cajon teen who went missing in February. Her body was found March 13 behind a business in the 7900 block of El Cajon Blvd. in La Mesa, but she was not identified until November. 


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GUNS FOR GIFT CARDS EXCHANGE IN LA MESA DEC. 3

East County News Service

November 28, 2022 (La Mesa) – You’re invited to turn in your unwanted guns and receive a gift card valued at $100 to $200 this Saturday, December 3 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the La Mesa Civic Center, 4825 Date Ave. in La Mesa.

 

Gift card values of $100 will be provided for handguns, rifles and shotguns, while assault weapons and ghost guns can be exchanged for a $200 gift card.

 

You can remain anonymous; no questions asked.


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CHAMBER HOLIDAY PROJECT HELPS LA MESA SENIORS: DONATE ITEMS BY DEC. 2

East County News Service

November 21, 2022 (La Mesa) – The La Mesa Chamber of Commerce seeks donations of items to help 16 homebound seniors locally, which will be assembled in large gift baskets and gift bags.

The gifts will be delivered by the La Mesa Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol. To allow time for wrapping and delivery, all donated items must be received by Friday, December 2. Please bring items to Fran Smith at the La Mesa Chamber’s office, 8080 La Mesa Blvd., Suite 214 between Monday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Mary England, Chamber President, can also meet donors seven days a week to pick up items directly from you by calling her at 619-251-7730.

Suggested items to purchase or donate:  Canned soups, canned vegetables, canned fruits, crackers, pasta, marinara, macaroni & cheese, instant cereals, bars of soap, tubes of toothpaste, tissues, bottles of hand soaps, hand sanitizer, socks, pens and pads of paper. Gift cards in any denomination from the following locations: Walmart, Target, or any grocery store. Please double check expiration dates, If you have another item you believe will put a smile on their faces, drop them off.


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MATT STRABONE SET TO BECOME FIRST MILLENNIAL ELECTED IN LA MESA AND FIRST DEMOCRAT TO SERVE AS CITY TREASURER

East County News Service

November 16, 2022 (La Mesa) – Matt Strabone appears all but certain to have won election as City Treasurer in La Mesa. He currently has 9,621 votes, or 54.01%, leading William “Bill” Exeter who has 8,192 votes, or 45.99%.


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DILLARD TAKES LEAD IN LA MESA CITY COUNCIL RACE; LOTHIAN AND AFSHAN ARE CLOSE BEHIND IN TIGHT BATTLE FOR TWO SEATS

Update November 16, 2022 – This race has tightened further, with the top three candidates in a near dead heat for the two Council seats.  Only 49 votes separate Dillard, who is in the lead, from Lothian in second, while just 31 votes separate Lothian from Afshan, who is currently in third. Countywide, 80,000 votes remain to be tallied, though the Registrar has not disclosed how many are in La  Mesa.

If Lothian squeaks out a win and Afshan fails to win a seat, it will likely be due in part to Brand, a Democrat who withdrew from the race too late to remove her name from the ballot, likely drawing votes away from fellow Democrats Afshan and Dillard, the party-endorsed candidates. Lothian was endorsed by Republicans. Though the race is officially nonpartisan, both parties sent mailers urging voters to party-backed candidates.

 

November 15, 2022 (La Mesa) – The latest election returns from the County Registrar of Voters show that Patricia Dillard has taken the lead over Councilmember Laura Lothian, with Mejgan Afshan a close third.  The top two vote-getters will win the seats.


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LA MESA-EL CAJON BRANCH OF AAUW ANNOUNCES ANNUAL SPEECH TREK CONTEST

East County News Service

November 16, 2022 (La Mesa) -- The La Mesa-El Cajon Branch of the American Association of University Women is holding their annual Speech Trek, speech contest, open to all high school students in grades 9-12. The in-person contest is open to all high schools including public, charter, home and private.

Each year a critical topic is selected and students, along with a branch/teacher coach, create, prepare, and present an original, 5–6-minute speech. This year’s topic is, “How can communities, organizations and citizens of all ages help protect and expand voting rights?”


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HOLIDAY IN THE VILLAGE: A LA MESA TRADITION RETURNS DEC. 3 WITH NEW CAROLING STROLL

November 14, 2022 (La Mesa) -- The 7th annual La Mesa Holiday in the Village will once again be ringing in holiday cheer for everyone far and near on Saturday, December 3 from 12 to 9 p.m. The event takes place along La Mesa Blvd. between Spring Street and 4th Street in the heart of downtown La Mesa.

La Mesa Village friends and family will have the chance to take part in free, festive fun with live music, cozy fires, craft vendors, food, holiday photo opportunities including selfies with Santa, and a kids’ area bigger than Santa’s Toy Shop.


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BODY FOUND IN LA MESA IDENTIFIED AS EL CAJON TEEN MISSING SINCE FEBRUARY: REWARD OFFERED FOR INFORMATION

East County News Service

November 13, 2022 (San Diego’s East County) – The San Diego County Medical Examiner has identified a body found on March 13 in La Mesa  as that of Cassidy Hopwood, according to El Cajon Police.  Hopwood, an El Cajon resident, was reported missing in February.

Both La Mesa and El Cajon Police have listed Hopwood’s age as 17. However, on Facebook, the RAD movement, an organization that helps families locate missing teens, states that she was 16 when she went missing and when she was found dead.

The group also leveled criticism at police handling of the case.


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WEAPONS CACHE INCLUDING ASSAULT RIFLES SEIZED IN IN LA MESA AND SAN DIEGO; TEEN ARRESTED

By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  some of the weapons and drugs seized

November 12, 2022 (San Diego’s East County) – Harrison Lee Stone,18, was arrested Wednesday under suspicions of trafficking after SWAT teams seized large caches of guns and drugs at homes in La Mesa and San Diego, ECM news partner NBC 7 reports.


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VISIONARY DANCE THEATRE PRESENTS THE NUTCRACKER: IN A NUTSHELL DEC. 9-11 IN LA MESA

East County News Service

 

November 10, 2022 (La Mesa) -- Visionary Dance Theatre:  School for the Performing Arts presents “The Nutcracker: In A Nutshell” at The Visionary Performing Space (8674 La Mesa Blvd. La Mesa, CA 91942) on December 9-11.


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INCUMBENTS WINNING IN EAST COUNTY CITY RACES

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells and La Mesa Mayor Mark Araposthis are winning their reelection bids

November 8, 2022 (San Diego’s East County) – Early results after polls closed tonight indicate incumbents heading for reelection in La Mesa, El Cajon and Lemon Grove.

The power of incumbency proved stronger than partisan politics. Though city races are nonpartisan, political parties endorsed candidates and expended resources walking precincts to campaign for their parties' choices. But incumbents in both parties hold solid leads, though Democrats appear likely to pick up a seat in both the La Mesa and Lemon Grove Council races, following the retirement of Republican incumbents.

El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells, a Republican, has a solid 71.25% of the votes tallied so far; his opponent, realtor Arnie Levine, a Democrat, has 28.75%. The Mayor ran on a track record of boosting revenues through bringing in new hotels and reopening the performing arts center, while Levine criticized Mayor Wells’ defiance of public health business shutdown mandates duringthe pandemic. El Cajon Councilman Gary Kendrick ran unopposed, drawing 100% of the votes.  But El Cajon’s Measure P which the Mayor supports, to increase the city sales tax to a penny per dollar, is losing 58% to 42%.


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LA MESA CITY COUNCIL HEARS CONCERNS OVER PROPOSED APARTMENTS ON RANDALL LAMB SITE DOWNTOWN

By Christianne McCormick

Screenshot: Mayor Mark Arapostathis

 

November 6, 2022 (La Mesa) -- Disgruntled and outraged residents of La Mesa at the October 11 City Council meeting voiced their concerns about a five-story, 64-unit apartment complex proposed to be built in the heart of the city’s village.  The building would be erected on the same land where the historic Randall Lamb Building burnt down during a riot following the May 30, 2020 protests after the tragic death of George Floyd. 


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SHOP FAIR TRADE IN LA MESA DECEMBER 4

Source: Shop Fair Trade

October 31, 2022 (La Mesa) -- Shop Fair Trade this Christmas will be held at St. Martin of Tours Parish in La Mesa on Sunday, Dec. 4th from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.  You’re invited to shop for beautiful, handmade, one-of-a-kind gifts from local store Fair Trade Décor, The Guatemala Project, and local vendors including Lumily, SSEKO/Noonday and Ember Arts Jewelry.  In addition, you can meet Dressember, founder Blythe Hill celebrating a 10-year anniversary with a special documentary at 11 a.m. 


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ANTI-PANHANDLING SIGNS OF LA MESA SPARK DEBATE, DENUNCIATIONS AND EVEN PRANKS

 

By Ken Stone, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

October 28, 2022 (La Mesa) - A disabled Vietnam-era veteran named John sat under an Ikea umbrella on a La Mesa median Tuesday. He displayed a neatly lettered sign that read: “Please help with what you can. Every little bit helps, even change.”


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