La Mesa City Council

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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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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FOUR WOMEN RUNNING FOR LA MESA CITY COUNCIL, FIFTH CANDIDATE DROPS OUT

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left to right: Mejgan Afshan, Letitia Dickerson, Patricia Dillard, and Laura Lothian

July 20, 2021 (La Mesa) – So far, the lineup of candidates seeking to serve on La Mesa’s City Council have one thing in common: all are women who filed papers to run for a vacancy on the Council left when ex-Councilmember Akilah Weber won election to the state Assembly.  Dr Weber, a Democrat, was the first Black woman to serve on the Council.

The filing deadline opened July 12 and will close on August 6, so more candidates may yet file. The candidates who have filed to run so far are:


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LA MESA ADOPTS COMMUNITY POLICE OVERSIGHT BOARD

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo: Councilmember Akilah Weber led efforts to establish the police oversight body
 
October 25, 2020 (La Mesa) – By a 3-2 vote on Oct. 13, the La Mesa City Council approved creation of a Community Police Oversight Board. The board is empowered to retain an independent police auditor and to direct investigation of serious incidents involving police, such as shootings or major misconduct complaints. 

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COUNCILMAN PARENT LOSES POLICE UNION ENDORSEMENT AFTER VOTE FOR POLICE OVERSIGHT BOARD, ALSO DRAWS SCRUTINY OVER DONATIONS

By Miriam Raftery

October 15, 2020 (La Mesa) – The La Mesa Police Officers Association (LMPOA) announced yesterday that it has withdrawn its endorsement of Councilman Colin Parent.  The LMPOA cites several reasons for its withdrawal, which was announced the day after Parent cast the deciding vote on a 3-2 Council decision to establish a police oversight board.  Parent joined with Mayor Mark Arapostathis and Councilmember Akilah Weber to pass the measure over the objections of the LMPOA, which had requested the ordinance first go through a meet-and-confer process so that the officers’ union could request changes.

The two Councilmembers who voted against the police oversight board,  Kristine Alessio and Bill Baber, have both been endorsed by the LMPOA previously.

Officially, the LMPOA offered these reasons for withdrawing its endorsement of Councilman Parent.  “Ever since he aggressively sought and received our endorsement earlier this year, Councilmember Parent has become untrustworthy and unreliable. Whether it was his lack of transparency with the citizens of La Mesa regarding the homeless housing facility, or his broken commitment to protect the rights of workers, we can no longer in good conscience continue to recommend to the citizens of La Mesa that Colin Parent deserves your vote.”


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HIGHLIGHTS AND VIDEOS OF ALL SIX LA MESA CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES

 

 

Updated with highlights from all three participating candidates' statements during the forum, plus links to interviews with three other candidates who were not available for the forum.

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: left to right: Allan Durden, Colin Parent, Mark Papenfuss, Kristine Alessio, Jack Shu, Laura Lothian

October 11, 2020 (La Mesa) -- At East County Magazine's recent virtual forum for La Mesa City Council candidates, candidates offered their ideas for addressing the compelling issues facing the city including police/racial justice/public safety issues in the wake of protests and a riot, downtown redevelopment, housing, homelessness, budget priorities, COVID-19 relief and more.

Three of the six candidates running participated in the forum: Councilman Colin Parent, as well as challengers Allan Durden and Jack Shu.

To view video of candidate forum, click here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tH6GkbU9ayo&t=3085s

To read highlights of the forum, and more information on all candidates, scroll down.

Three other candidates were unable to participate in the forum due to schedule conflicts, but provided separate video interviews via Zoom, which are posted below, along with highlights of their statements:


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KRISTINE ALESSIO RUNS ON HER EXPERIENCE, OFFERS POLITICAL INDEPEDENCE ON LA MESA CITY COUNCIL

By Miriam Raftery

October 11, 2020 (La Mesa) – East County Magazine held a video interview via Zoom with Councilwoman Kristine Alessio, since she could not participate in our recent candidate form. She is one of six candidates running for two seats on the La Mesa City Council.

A native of La Mesa, she’s served on the Council since 2012 and was previously a planning commissioner. She holds a law degree and has been the city’s representative on SANDAG. She is also a former board member on the East County YMCA and East County Boys and Girls Club.  As candidate not aligned with a political party, she says she can represent all La Mesans, equally and fairly. She says La Mesa needs experienced leadership in the COVID-19 pandemic, a business friendly environment, public safety and preservation of neighborhood character.

Scroll down for highlights, or click here to view the full video interview:   https://youtu.be/GU7MibN3GlI


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LAURA LOTHIAN AIMS TO BRING BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE TO LA MESA CITY COUNCIL

By Miriam Raftery

October 11, 2020 (La Mesa) – Laura Lothian is one of six candidates running for La Mesa City Council. ECM recently held a video interview via ZOOM with Lothian, she since was unable to participate in our candidate forum due to a scheduling conflict.

A realtor with a business in the downtown village, she is running to bring a business perspective to the City Council. She wants to reduce regulations and provide more freedoms for business owners. Beautifying the village area is also a priority of hers. Lothian serves on the La Mesa Village Association board  and has previously run for both council and mayor.

The interview covered a wide range of issues including the needs of local businesses, beautifying  La Mesa, police issues, housing and homelessness, and more.

Scroll down for highlights of our interview, or click here to view the full video interviewhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HCss3QqeEk


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MARK PAPENFUSS AIMS TO HELP LA MESA FORGE A NEW PATH

By Miriam Raftery

October 11, 2020 (La Mesa) – Mark Papenfuss, one of six candidates running for the La Mesa City Council, missed our candidate forum last month due to a family emergency but participated in a separate interview on Zoom.

 He shared his views on ideas for La Mesa’s downtown village, improving racial justice and public safety, housing and homelessness, the pandemic, and the need to in his words, help La Mesa “rise from the ashes” after a riot and fires by forging a new path for the future.  He touts his business experience and the need for leaders who are free of conflicts of interest or developer donations.

Scroll down for highlights from our interview, or click here to view the full video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugPdqOtqHCY&feature=youtu.be


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COUNTY SUPERVISORS WITHDRAW HOMELESS PROJECT IN LA MESA AFTER CITY’S CONCERNS OVER LACK OF TRANSPARENCY, BACKDOOR DEALINGS

By Miriam Raftery and Briana Gomez

Photo, left: La Mesa Mayor Mark Arapostathis

September 24, 2020 (La Mesa) – By a 3-2 vote on Tuesday, the County Board of Supervisors voted to withdraw its application for state grant funding to convert the Holiday Inn motel on Parkway Drive in La Mesa into a Homekey transitional living and long-term supportive housing facility for the homeless and those at risk of homelessness.


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VIEW INTERVIEWS WITH LA MESA COUNCIL CANDIDATES KRISTINE ALESSIO AND LAURA LOTHIAN

By Miriam Raftery

September 10, 2020 (La Mesa) – ECM held ZOOM virtual interviews with La Mesa City Councilwoman Kristine Alessio and realtor Laura Lothian, who were unable to attend our candidate forum last week. The candidates discussed the major issues facing La Mesa including the city’s response to protests, housing and homeless, downtown redevelopment, help for local businesses, racial justice and policing and more. 


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2020 LA MESA CITY COUNCIL VIRTUAL CANDIDATE FORUM SEPT. 23 HOSTED BY METHODIST CHURCH

East County News Service

 
September 9, 2020 (La Mesa) - Six candidates. Two seats. Find out where La Mesa’s City Council candidates stand on important issues.

 

La Mesa First United Methodist Church will host a Virtual La Mesa City Council Candidate Forum on Wednesday, September 23, 2020, at 6:45 p.m. The forum will be held via Zoom and moderated by Pastor Christian DeMent.


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LA MESA CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES TO APPEAR IN VIRTUAL CANDIDATE FORUM THURSDAY, SEPT. 3

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: La Mesa City Council candidates Allan Durden, Colin Parent, Mark Papenfuss, Kristine Alessio, Jack Shu, and Laura Lothian.  Four of the six candidates have agreed to participate.

August 29, 2020 (La Mesa) – Six candidates are vying for two seats on the La Mesa City Council. East County Magazine invited all candidates to participate in a candidate forum this Thursday, September 3 at 7 p.m. Have a question for the candidates?  You can send it to editor@eastcountymagazine.org by 12 noon on Thursday.

Four of the six candidates have confirmed they will participate.  Shown in the photo above, they are Allan Durden, Mark Papenfuss, Councilman Colin Parent, and Jack Shu.  Councilmember Kristine Alessio and Laura Lothian are not available but agreed to do an interview with ECM via Zoom, which we will post when completed.

The forum, held virtually via Zoom due to COVID-19,  will be live-streamed on Facebook here:  https://www.facebook.com/EastCountyMagazine   Video will also be recorded and posted at www.EastCountyMagazine.org after the forum. We thank the #FacebookJournalismProject for supporting our virtual candidate forums during the pandemic.

Below is information on all candidates running, listed in alphabetical order:


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READER’S EDITORIAL: ROAD MAP FOR LA MESA

An open letter to La Mesa’s Mayor and City Council

By Dave Myers

August 24, 2020 (La Mesa) --  I am a 27-year resident of La Mesa and also a retired San Diego County Sheriff’s Commander with 35 years in local law enforcement. In May of this year, all of us saw and experienced the horrific scenario that started out as a peaceful BLM demonstration taken over by criminals without police intervention and rapidly devolved into a nightmare of looting, violence, and the burning of downtown La Mesa.


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LA MESA RESPONDS TO HOMELESSNESS

City Council approves Citizen Task Force recommendations
 
By Bonnie Baranoff, Chair, La Mesa Citizen Task Force on Homelessness
 
August 23, 2020 (La Mesa) - Homelessness in La Mesa isn’t new, nor is our community’s concern about or exasperation with it.  
 
In February 2019, a motivated City Council responded to local homeless advocate concerns by approving the formation of an Ad Hoc Citizen Committee consisting of five-seven residents.  In March 2019, the City Council selected seven community members with a variety of knowledge of and experience with the issue. On July 17, 2019, we came together for the first meeting of the Citizen Task Force on Homelessness.  

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