La Mesa City Council

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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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 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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LA MESA REVIVES HEATED DEBATE OVER DIGITAL BILLBOARDS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Gene Carpenter

September 28,2023 (La Mesa) – Last night, the La  Mesa City Council voted 4-1 to ask staff to prepare a revised RFP (request for proposals) for digital billboards, with Councilman Jack Shu opposed.

The action reverse a July 25 vote, when Council rejected a similar proposal by a 3-2 vote. The major difference? The new plan would provide that any revenues the city receives off digital billboards for the first five years would be spent equally on police, fire protection, and the arts, said Councilman Colin Parent, who introduced the revised measure.

Several people showed up before the meeting with protest signs, such as “Keep digital billboards out of  La Mesa,” though some others spoke in support.


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LA MESA BECOMES FIRST CITY IN REGION TO ADOPT PROJECT LABOR AGREEMENT

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Carol Kim, general manager,  San Diego Building and Constructionj Trades, thanks La Mesa for adopting a PLA

September 28, 2023 (La Mesa)—By a unanimous bipartisan 5-0 vote, the La Mesa Cit Council last night voted to become the first city in San Diego County to adopt a Project Labor Agreement with the San Diego Building and Construction Trades Council and associated craft unions. The PLA would apply to public construction  projects in  La Mesa with a construction value of at least $1 million.

Councilmember Colin Parent proposed approval of the PLA agreement drafted by staff after negotiations with the unions. “We’re making sure we’ll be delivering projects on time and on budget, so taxpayers get the kind of infrastructure they deserve,” said Parent, who also thanked staff and workers who showed up to testify for “standing up for your families, for each other and for working people.”


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LA MESA CITY COUNCIL TO CONSIDER PROJECT LABOR AGREEMENT FOR PUBLIC CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS, ALSO RECONSIDERATION OF ELECTRONIC BILLBOARDS

By Miriam Raftery

September 23, 2023 (La  Mesa) –On Sept. 25, the La Mesa City Council will consider a staff recommendation to adopt a draft Project Labor Agreement with the San Diego Building and Construction Trades Council and associated craft unions. The PLA would apply to public projects in  La Mesa with a construction value of at least $1 million.

PLAs are pre-hire collective bargaining agreements negotiated between construction unions and construction contractors that establish terms and conditions of employment for construction projects.

According to the U.S.Dept. of Labor’s PLA Resource Guide, PLAs are an effective tool to ensure timely completion of projects at or under budget,  provide employers with a reliable source of highly skilled workers,increase diversity and support equitable workforce development, and improve worker health and safety on the job.

Opponents of project labor agreements have argued that PLAs may increase cost by mandating union wages and restricting competition, are unfair to nonunion contractors and nonunion workers, and hinder use of employer training programs that are not union apprenticeships.


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HERE’S THE BUZZ: LA MESA EXPANDS BEEKEEPING ORDINANCE

By Miriam Raftery

September 13, 2023 (La Mesa) – At last night’s La Mesa City Council meeting, Councilman Jack Shu proposed replacing the city’s restrictive beekeeping ordinance with a more expanded ordinance patterned after the county of San Diego to enable backyard beekeeping.


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READER’S EDITORIAL: DIGITAL BILLBOARD PLAN LA MESA CITY COUNCIL WILL CONSIDER TUESDAY COULD ENDANGER MOTORISTS, SPARK LAWSUITS

By Don Woods, La Mesa

Image: Rendering of a proposed digital billboard created by Clear Channel, via City of La Mesa documents

July 22, 2023 (La Mesa) -- The La Mesa City Council will discuss a digital billboards proposal this Tuesday evening.

At a prior meeting, the City Council appointed Council members Pat Dillard and Jack Shu to form an “ad hoc” committee to consider a proposal by Clear Channel Outdoor Advertising company to erect a huge new, two-sided digital billboard along the north side of the I-8 freeway as it runs past the Grossmont Center shopping center. The committee has met and has now made a recommendation, which the Council will take up at its 6 p.m. meeting on Tuesday.

Item 14.2 on the Council’s Tuesday agenda says “The Digital Billboard Negotiating Ad-hoc Subcommittee recommends the Council direct staff to develop and circulate, within 30 days, a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the placement and installation of digital billboards in the City, to include: (1) a statement of facts identifying the process to authorize digital billboards; and (2) a listing of questions and concerns (for response) raised by the Digital Billboard Negotiating Ad-hoc Subcommittee”.

So instead of just discussing the proposal with Clear Channel, the ad hoc committee now wants to open up a bidding competition to see who is willing to pay the most to be allowed to erect a digital billboard. In effect, they are interested in selling the safety of La Mesa residents to the highest bidder!  

The committee’s recommendation shows a surprising lack of due diligence. It also seems to ignore a number of facts, and tries to put the cart before several horses.


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LA MESA COUNCILWOMAN'S FLAG-BAN IDEA SHREDDED BY PRO-LGBTQ SPEAKERS, DIES

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

Photo:  La Mesa Councilwoman Laura Lothian, seeing no chance of council OK, made no motion for her policy proposal. Image via Facebook

May 25, 2023 (La Mesa) - La Mesa Councilwoman Laura Lothian ran a proposal up the flagpole but saw it shot down in a hail of public scorn and derision.


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COLIN PARENT TO RUN FOR ASSEMBLY, AKILAH WEBER TO SEEK STATE SENATE SEAT

By Miriam Raftery

April 6, 2023 (La Mesa) Assemblymember Dr. Akilah Weber has announced Thursday that she will run for the 39th State Senate seat held by termed-out Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins, after Supervisor Nathan Fletcher dropped out of the race amid accusations of sexual misconduct.  

Today, La Mesa City Councilman Colin Parent announced that he will run for Weber’s 79th State Assembly seat.  Since Parent’s term on the Council ends in 2024, his announcement also means La Mesans can expect to have a new face on the City Council after the 2024 elections.


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LA MESA CITY COUNCIL CONSIDERS DIGITAL BILLBOARDS, PUBLIC ART AND DECOUPLING PARKING ON NEW DEVELOPMENTS

By Jessyka Heredia 

April 2, 2023 (La Mesa) -- Clear Channel Outdoor Vice President of Public Affairs Layne Lawson gave the La Mesa City Council a presentation on a proposed digital billboard plan during the March 28 Council meeting. The company is proposing that the City enter a development agreement with Clear Channel for two digital billboards that would display advertisements generating an annual development fee payment of $125,000 per new advertising structure for the City, plus a 3% annual increase, starting in the second year. 


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LA MESA COUNCIL MOVES FORWARD ON PROJECT LABOR AGREEMENT, FORMS COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER TOBACCO ORDINANCE

City also lifts pandemic emergency declaration, proposes enforcement of affordable housing rules

By Jessyka Heredia

March 21,2023 (La Mesa) -- At Tuesday’s meeting, the La Mesa City Council voted to have staff draft a project labor agreement, form a subcommittee to consider stricter regulation of tobacco sales, and create fees for monitoring compliance with affordable housing in the city, among other items.


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LA MESA COUNCIL HEARS CALTRANS REPORT ON DELAY OF STATE ROUTE 94/125 INTERCHANGE, PUBLIC CONCERNS OVER BATTERY STORAGE SITE

By Jessyka Heredia

 

March 19, 2023 (La Mesa) - On February 28th, the La Mesa City Council heard an update from Karen Jewel, the Caltrans Project Corridor Director, on the State Route 94/125 Interchange Project that aims to provide freeway-to-freeway connection from southbound SR-125 to eastbound SR94 as well as ease congestion and improve traffic flow. 


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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 proposed by Palm Street Ventures LLC 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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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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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 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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TONY ORLANDO, CANDIDATE FOR LA MESA CITY COUNCIL: HELPING THOSE IN NEED

 

October 17, 2022 (La Mesa) -- Tony Orlando is a La Mesa City Commissioner on the Personnel Appeals Board and pastor of Lifepoint Church in La Mesa.

Asked what motivated him to run, he says he’s lived in La Mesa for 21 years, raised his children here along with his wife, and says he’s dedicated himself to serving the community to “help adopt and embrace those who need help.”

Click the video link above to view the full interview, or scroll down for highlights.


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PATRICIA DILLARD, LA MESA CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATE: COMMITTED TO PUBLIC SERVICE

 

October 16, 2022 (La Mesa) -- East County Magazine recently interviewed Patricia Dillard, one of four La Mesa City Council candidates vying for two seats on the ballot. In our interview, originally aired on KNSJ radio, she shares her experience, priorities and goals if elected.

Her  career spans close to 40 years working in business development, customer service, and sales for large and small businesses. She’s also been an active volunteer in community service. 

View the full interview by clicking the video image above and scroll down for highlights.


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LA MESA CITY COUNCIL APPROVES CONTROVERSIAL URBN LEAF DISPENSARY, REVERSING PRIOR DENIAL

By Henri Migala

August 12, 2022 (La Mesa) -- The La Mesa City Council voted Tuesday to approve a Conditional Use Permit and allow Urbn Leaf to build a cannabis (marijuana) dispensary at 7901 Hillside Drive. The Council unanimously voted 5-0 to repeal its earlier approval of an appeal that had blocked the project, after applicant Urbn Leaf filed a legal challenge.


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LA MESA CITY COUNCIL VOTES 4-1 TO SUPPORT “NO PLACE FOR HATE” STATE LEGISLATIVE PACKAGE

By Henri Migala

June 7, 2022 (La Mesa) -- The La Mesa City Council voted 4-1 on May 24 to support a package of three California State Legislature bills that seek to address the high and rapidly escalating rate of hate crimes throughout the region, state and country.


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LA MESA APPROVES COLLABORATING WITH COUNTY AND CITIES TO HOUSE HOMELESS, BUT REJECTS LOTHIAN PLAN TO BUY CAMPO SITE

By J.W. August

 

May 12, 2022 (La Mesa) -- The Tuesday evening La Mesa City Council meeting was a study in contrasts as elected leaders tackled a discussion that has no doubt played out in other council chambers across the country — what to do about the homeless problem. 


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VACCINE CASH AND MORE: LA MESA APPROVES PHASE TWO ALLOCATION OF ARPA FUNDS

By Elijah McKee

April 13, 2022 (La Mesa) — City of La Mesa employees are now eligible for $500 bonus checks — and if they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, they can receive an additional $500. 


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LA MESA CITY COUNCIL ADOPTS NEW PUBLIC COMMENT POLICY

New policy & procedures aim to preserve remote access to meetings

Source:  City of La Mesa

January 21, 2022 (La Mesa) – In an ongoing commitment to transparency and accountability in local government, La Mesa City Council adopted a new public comment policy for City Council, Boards, and Commissions meetings. Currently, these meetings are held virtually, but the new policy preserves remote access to these meetings when in-person sessions return.


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LA MESA REPLACES ITS SANDAG REPRESENTATIVE AND EXTENDS VIRTUAL MEETINGS; LOTHIAN DEFIES MASK MANDATE

Updated January 17 with comments from Councilmember Lothian and clarification that the Council has been meeting virtually since the pandemic began and voted to extend virtual meetings.

By Eugenie Budnik

January 14, 2022 (La Mesa) - The La Mesa City Council held its first meeting of the new year on Tuesday. Mayor Mark Arapostathis opened with his State of the City speech, calling the city “strong.” 

Later the Council addressed some contentious issues, including replacing its SANDAG representative and extending virtual meetings amid the latest COVID surge.  With Council and staff in chambers, newly elected Councilmember Laura Lothian openly defied the state’s mask mandate.


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LOTHIAN WINS LA MESA COUNCIL SPECIAL ELECTION

 

 

 

Update November 2, 2021:  The final, official results give Lothian the win with 4,474 votes, or 38.43% of the vote, a comfortable margin of nearly 2,000 votes. Out of 39, 346 registered voters, 11,686 cast votes. Afghsan too, 21.67%, Dillard 20.36%, Stieringer 10.95%, Brand 6.84%, and Louden 1.76%.

By Miriam Raftery

November 3, 2021 (La Mesa) – Realtor Laura Lothian appears poised to win the La Mesa City Council special election.  Preliminary results posted by the San Diego County Registrar of Voters show Lothian with 39.18% of the vote in the six-candidate race, more than double the vote tally of the next highest candidate.

With 2,000 votes yet to be tallied, Lothian has a lead of 1,451 votes over Patricia Dillard, who has 20.85% of the votes.


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LA MESA CITY COUNCIL APPROVES APARTMENTS ON OLD POLICE HEADQUARTERS' SITE AND CREATES COMMISSION TO SUPPORT ARTS, CULTURE

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

Image, left: Artist's rendering of the apartment project slated to be built on the former police station site on Allison Avenue

Oct. 14, 2021 (La Mesa) -- The La Mesa City Council voted 3-0  on Tuesday to approve  development of the old police headquarters' site, where an apartment project is slated for construction.

Mayor Mark Arapostathis, Vice Mayor Jack Shu, and Councilman Colin Parent voted in favor. Councilman Bill Baber abstained due to a conflict of interest. One seat remains vacant, with a November 2 special election set to fill the vacancy.

The council also approved creation of an arts and culture commission during the October 12th Council meeting.

In addition, Juneteenth, a new federal holiday, will now be officially observed in La Mesa, commemorating the emancipation of African Americans from slavery. The order reached Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865.


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ECM TO HOST LA MESA CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES FORUM THURSDAY, OCT. 14

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Participating candidates, left to right: Mejgan Afshan, Kathleen Brand, Patricia Dillard, and Laura Lothian

October 13, 2021 (La Mesa) – East County Magazine will host a virtual forum for La Mesa City Council candidates running to fill the vacancy left by Dr. Akilah Weber’s election to the state Assembly. The candidates will be Thursday, October 14 at 7 p.m.  It will be recorded via Zoom and livestreamed on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/EastCountyMagazine. A podcast will also be posted at www.EastCountyMagazine.org after the forum.

Six candidates are running and four have agreed to participate: Mejgan Afshan, Kathleen Brand, Patricia Dillard, and Laura Lothian. A fifth, Jim Stieringer, provided detailed information on his experience and goals if elected.

Find information on  these five candidates below.


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LA MESA CITY COUNCIL TO WEIGH FUTURE OF FORMER POLICE STATION SITE, CREATION OF ARTS AND CULTURAL COMMISSION AND MORE ON OCT. 12

By Miriam Raftery

October 10, 2021 (La Mesa) – On Tuesday, October 12 at 6 p.m., the La Mesa City Council will consider several key matters including:

  • A hearing on the proposed leasing and development of the former police station site at 8181 Allison Avenue for a mixed use development including apartments ITEM 10.pdf
  • Second reading of a proposal to establish an Arts and Culture Commission ITEM 8.pdf
  • Rezoning 9000 Wakarusa Street from residential to commercial, at the request of Sharp Grossmont Hospital ITEM 9.pdf


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LA MESA CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES PARTICIPATE IN VIRTUAL FORUM

East County News Service

September 30, 2021 (La Mesa) -- La Mesa First United Methodist Church hosted a candidate forum for those running to fill a vacancy left on the La Mesa City Council when Dr. Akilah Weber won election to the state Assembly.  The election is November 2, with ballot drop-off locations available starting Oct. 25. View the forum at https://www.facebook.com/groups/2852523438206427/permalink/4288325947959495/.

Four of the six candidates participated in the forum; Michelle Louden and Jim Stieringer did not participate.

The candidates running are:


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