August 2020 Articles

HIGH PRICES, LOW INVENTORY PUT SQUEEZE ON LOW-INCOME AND FIRST-TIME HOMEBUYERS AMID PANDEMIC

 

By Helen Horvath

 

August 22, 2020 (San Diego) - You might think that amid the pandemic’s economic uncertainties, when many people are unemployed or living on reduced revenues, people would be hesitant to invest in buying a home. Yet real estate experts interviewed by ECM report the opposite – a frenzy of competitive bidding pushing up prices of local homes for sale. While a shortage of inventory is benefitting home sellers, the pandemic pandemonium in San Diego County’s real estate market poses daunting challenges for first-time homebuyers and those with low or moderate incomes.  

VALHALLA STUDENT HONORED AS ONE OF SAN DIEGO’S MOST REMARKABLE TEENS

East County News Service
 
August 25, 2020 (El Cajon, CA) — Amelie Simpson, a junior at Valhalla High School, has been named one of San Diego’s most remarkable teens. The award, presented annually by the San Diego Public Defender’s Office and the San Diego Public Defender Youth Council, honors teen accomplishments in a wide range of categories, including civic involvement, leadership, and the arts.
 
Nominated by the Mitchell Thorp Foundation, Simpson is one of 25 teens recognized this year for their achievements. Beth Thorp, founder and executive director of the Mitchell Thorp Foundation, recommended Simpson for the award saying, “While Amelie’s musical abilities standout publicly, the majority of her other accomplishments, especially her dedication to community service and academic excellence go unnoticed because of her humility.”           
 
The East County teen is a singer and songwriter, who performs at venues throughout San Diego, including the House of Blues, the San Diego County Fair, Grossmont Center, and the Helix Brewing Company. Ron Troyano, founder of Alchemy San Diego, who manages events for Seaport Village said, ”We feature music from many local performers and one of our favorites is Amelie Simpson, a true talent.”

GIVE TO SUPPORT LOCAL JOURNALISM

During the protests and riots that rocked  La Mesa recently, East County Magazine was the only media outlet with a team of reporters, photographers and videographers on the ground all night to bring you this crucial coverage. Our courageous reporters endured pepper spray and tear gas, threats and intimidation to bring you in-depth, independent coverage of this story and others across our region. In La Mesa, we also covered the aftermath -- interviewing the Mayor and Chief of police, as well as views of protesters, counterprotesters, residents, merchants, and the many who came out to clean up and rebuild La Mesa.

But what if we weren't here? Local news matters--and it's in danger.

Due to the pandemic, the Local Media Association reports some newspapers have lost 90% or more of their ad revenues.  Nonprofit outlets including ours have lost revenues from hosting events, that are not allowed here due to COVID-19. Gannett, the biggest newspaper owner in the U.S., lost 94% of its value since last year.  McClatchy, another large news publisher, filed for bankruptcy. Penny Abernathy, Knight hair of journalism and digital media economics at te University of North Carolina, predicts COVID-19 will be an "extinction level event" for many local media outlets, large and small.

The good news is that readership is up 23% at news sites nationwide since mid-March -- and here at East County Magazine, our readership has doubled to 12 mllion hits a month.  During quarantine, people are rediscovering and appreciating the importance of local news coverage, whether it's reporting on emergencies such as wildfires or shining a light on actions of local governing boards at a time when the public is not allowed in many public meetings. We're also investing in bringing events online -- so you can hear directly from newsmakers and candidates in all parties running for local offices.

But we need your support to continue to be here to reflect your interests--the public interest, not special interests. With normal revenue sources gone due to the pandemic yet demand for local news higher than ever before, will you please make a donation to support our community reporting?

WHILE MAJOR EVENT PLANNERS RALLY TO REQUEST AID AS SHUTDOWNS CONTINUE, TRIBES RESUME EVENTS, EXEMPT FROM STATE RESTRICTIONS

By Miriam Raftery

August 24, 2020 (San Diego) – Due to state and county restrictions on gatherings of any size, most theaters, concert halls and other large event sites remained closed to prevent spread of COVID-19.  On Aug. 13, the San Diego Event Coalition held an “empty venue” rally to call not for reopening due to safety concerns, but for aid to assist the industry.  

ALL SCHOOLS CAN REOPEN SEPT. 1, COUNTY ANNOUNCES, PROVIDED SAFETY PLANS ARE APPROVED

By Miriam Raftery

August 25, 2020 (San Diego) – All local schools can reopen for in-person instruction starting September 1st, San Diego County public health officials announced today.  The decision does not require schools to reopen, however. Each district will determine whether it wishes to resume in-classroom instruction, continue with online learning, or a combination of both.

The action, announced in a telebriefing with school administrators, comes after the county was removed from the state’s monitoring list on Tuesday, setting in motion a 14-day timeframe after which the state will allow in-class education to reopen.

EAST COUNTY EATER: LE BON BO-BEAU REOPENS IN LA MESA

 

By Henri Migala

 

August 23, 2020 (La Mesa) - After being closed for several months, BO-beau in La Mesa has re-opened with reconfigured sitting areas that not only conform to mandated social distancing guidelines, but in an elegant way actually enhances the sense of intimacy for diners and patrons.

 

A member of the Cohen restaurant group, BO-beau is located in the historic downtown village in La Mesa.  The website describes the restaurant as where “Bohemian-chic meets industrial elegance.”  That is probably an accurate description when all sections of the restaurant are open, but with only the outdoor seating areas being available, the full experience of ‘Bohemian-chic and industrial elegance’ is replaced more by a comfortable, delightful and stylish experience of open-air garden dining.

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.

79TH DISTRICT BACK TO SCHOOL BACKPACK AND SUPPLY GIVEAWAY

 
East County News Service
 
August 27, 2020 (San Diego) – Assemblymember Shirley Weber will host the 8th Annual 79th District Back to School Backpack and Supply Giveaway. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this will be a drive-thru event held on Saturday August 29, 2020 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m in the parking lot at Second Chance, 6145 Imperial Ave., San Diego, CA 92114.
 
This year, instead of physically attending school, some children will be at home learning virtually as the Coronavirus pandemic continues.
 
“Our goal as a community is to make sure our future leaders are prepared academically and have the right tools to succeed,” says Dr. Weber.

CHIEF’S CORNER: HAVE A DRINK ON ME

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna
 
August 25, 2020 (San Diego) -- It’s hot outside, so make sure you stay hydrated. Give the yard a break, but don’t cut back on yourself. Dehydration occurs when your body does not have as much water and fluids as it should. Dehydration can be mild, moderate, or severe, based on how much of your body's fluid is lost or not replaced. Severe dehydration is a life-threatening emergency!
 
Don’t wait until you’re thirsty until you drink water. Stay one step ahead of the thirst and drink water throughout the day. Don’t rely exclusively on thirst to tell you when you need to grab something to drink. Sometimes thirst is not a reliable gauge, especially when you’re exercising, on a working incident, training or if you’re taking medications or have a health condition.
 
Keep a water within reach — at all times. Do you take regularly rehab breaks during an incident? Make sure you do! Keep water at moderate temperatures. You drink more fluid when it’s just the right temperature, not too hot and not too cold. Beware of certain energy drinks. Popular energy drinks are very different from sports drinks. They are full of caffeine and sugar, and can be dehydrating instead of thirst-quenching.

MARGARET HUNTER ESCAPES PRISON TERM; PROSECUTORS DEFEND LIGHT SENTENCE

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

Photo:  Margaret Hunter, wife of former Congressman Duncan D. Hunter, walks past the federal courthouse on Broadway with her attorney Logan Smith after her sentencing on corruption charges. Photo by Chris Stone

August 24, 2020 (San Diego) - Former Rep. Duncan D. Hunter is going to prison. His wife and co-conspirator will not.

Thanks to her “extraordinary” cooperation with federal prosecutors, Margaret Hunter will serve just eight months of “punitive home detention” starting immediately.* Her estranged husband will begin 11 months behind bars in January.

'GREAT PLATES’ TO CONTINUE, EXPAND MEAL DELIVERY TO HELP MORE ADULTS WITH HEALTH CONDITIONS

Source: County of San Diego

August 25, 2020 (San Diego) - More than 2,000 older adults in the “Great Plates Delivered” program will continue to receive three free and healthy meals a day. Launched in mid-May, the program is a collaboration between the County and 31 local restaurants. Now the County is expanding the service, originally for seniors with health conditions, to include all adults with a disability or health condition that puts them at higher risk from COVID-19.

VICTIM IDENTIFIED, SUSPECT CAPTURED IN MAIN STREET KILLING

By Miriam Raftery

Photo,left by Della Elliott:  A shrine to commemorate 21-year-old shooting victim Fabian Cerda has been created by community members at the site where he was fatally shot. 

May 24, 2020 (El Cajon) – El Cajon Police today announced the arrest of George Louis Garcia, 42, following a tense standoff in La Mesa with police from multiple law enforcement agencies. Garcia is charged in the shooting death of Fabian Esteban Cerda, 21, on August 18 in El Cajon.

According to Lt. K. MacArthur with El Cajon Police, Cerda became involved in an argument with Garcia, the former boyfriend of Cerda’s mother around 1:30 a.m. on August 18 in front of 1548 East Main Street in El Cajon. “He was shot several times and later died as a result of the shooting,” Lt. MacArthur says. The victim succumbed to his injuries in an ambulance en route to a hospital.  

CORY BRIGGS PREVAILS IN TWO LAWSUITS AGAINST MARA ELLIOTT OVER BALLOT STATEMENTS IN CITY ATTORNEY RACE

 



By Miriam Raftery

August 27, 2020 (San Diego) – In the hotly contested San Diego City Attorney race, attorney Cory Briggs has won two lawsuits against incumbent Mara Elliott., Elliott has been ordered to correct her ballot statement which asserted that she was endorsed by the San Diego Union Tribune. In a separate case, a judge ruled that Briggs can use the ballot designation “taxpayer advocate.”

KIDZ DANZ KOMPANY PRESENTS “THE CONSTITUTION” ONLINE AUG. 29

East County News Service

 

August 26, 2020 (La Mesa) -- Kidz Danz Kompany, San Diego’s premier children’s dance company, presents a virtual encore performance of “The Constitution” on August 29, 2020 @ 6 p.m.   

 

The Constitution” received a National Youth Arts award (2018) for Outstanding Dance Performance and an award for Outstanding Dance Ensemble.  It also received three nominations for Outstanding Dance Performance and one nomination for Outstanding Choreography (Spencer John Powell).

PALA CASINO SPA RESORT ANNOUNCES NEW OUTDOOR CONCERT SERIES: UP & COMING COUNTRY ARTISTS

East County News Service

August 24, 2020 (Pala, CA) – Pala Casino Spa Resort in northeast San Diego County is launching an outdoor concert series in the Starlight Theater. The series is titled “Up & Coming Country Artistsopening Aug. 29 and running through Oct. 2.

 

The Pala tribe is able to host these events because sovereign tribal lands are not required to follow state or county restrictions on gatherings due to COVID-19.  However, Pala will follow guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control to protect health and safety of guests. According to Pala’s press release, guests will be asked to wear facial coverings and practice safe social distancing at events. Seats will be sanitized and pre-set to enforce proper social distancing. All guests will have temperatures screened. For a full list of the property updates and safety protocols, see https://www.palacasino.com/.

OVER A MILLION ACRES BURNING ACROSS CALIFORNIA: PRESIDENT AUTHORIZES DISASTER AID

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Cal Fire via Instagram

August 23, 2020 (San Diego) – More than 14,000 firefighters are battling wildfires that have charred nearly 1.3 million acres across California.  Since August 15, there have been over 615 new wildfires sparked by nearly 12,000 lightning strikes, including fires that are now among the largest in the state’s history.  Governor Gavin Newsom has requested help from firefighters as far away as Australia and Canada.

Today, President Donald Trump announced that federal disaster assistance will be provided through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for  Lake,  Napa, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma and Yolo counties. The aid includes grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.    Federal funding is also available to the state, tribal, eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures in those counties.

 In addition, federal funding is available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

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.  

REAL ESTATE REALITY: BEING A BUYER IN A SELLERS MARKET-- WHY HAVING YOUR OWN AGENT CAN PAY

By Maryanne Jackson, Real Estate Broker, CNE, CPRES

Photo:  Creative Commons, Free Stock

August 25, 2020  (El Cajon) -- Dear Maryanne,

My mother and I are interested in purchasing a home. We have concerns with the inventory being at an all-time low. Will this have an impact on our ability to get an offer accepted if we sign on with a buyer’s agent?

Are there any advantages for us to consider hiring an agent or are we better off just winging it on our own? -- M.M. El Cajon, CA

SDG&E PLANNED OUTAGES IN TRIPLE-DIGIT HEAT AND STORMS MAY ENDANGER SAFETY OF RESIDENTS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: New power poles in Pine Valley are made of steel, not wood, for fire safety, as part of the upgrades that SDG&E has been installing across inland San Diego County.

Updated August 23, 2020 9:40 a.m. with responses from SDG&E.

August 22, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Amid a record-breaking heat wave with monsoonal thunderstorms, flash floods and lightning-sparked fires forecast as potential added hazards, SDG&E has announced plans to shut off power for hours during the heat of the day on Sunday and Monday across much of San Diego County.  

The outages are to upgrade wood poles to steel, among other equipment upgrades or maintenance planned.

The NWS has warned that the intense heat  this week can be life-threatening for those without air conditioning, yet the power outage will leave any residents who lack generators without access to safe, cool spaces amid the COVID-19 pandemic when many public, air-conditioned places are shut down.

Rural residents with electric well pumps will also be left without water for people or livestock to drink, as well as for fighting fires, as many rural residents equipped with tanks and hoses have done in past brush fires, unless they have invested in generators. Downed communications including internet and in some areas, phone service also leave residents unable to receive emergency alerts despite a high potential for emergencies during the extreme weather conditions.

NEIGHBOR SAVES ELDERLY WOMAN FROM FIRE IN LAKESIDE

By Miriam Raftery

August 22,2020 (Lakeside) – A 76-year-old woman suffered minor burns and smoke inhalation from a fire at her home at 11414 Pinehurst Drive in Lakeside this morning.

According to Sgt. Greg Hampson with the Sheriff’s department, the victim “was assisted out of the house by a male neighbor.”  She was transported to UCSD Medical Center.

Firefighters and deputies from the Lakeside substation responded to the scene at 10:31 a.m.  The fire was quickly extinguished and no other structures were threatened.

ALL SAN DIEGO COUNTY GOODWILL INDUSTRIES® RETAIL LOCATIONS HAVE REOPENED

East County News Service

Photo: Luis Ortega

August 22, 2020 (San Diego) – As Goodwill San Diego retail stores and donation centers reopen, program participants continue to be brought back to work. On March 15, 2020, the organization was asked to close due to the coronavirus pandemic. Prior to the shutdown, the nonprofit employed 1,400 community members.  Today, Goodwill San Diego employs 894 people in San Diego County, 47.2% of whom are persons with a disability or other barriers to employment.

"There is a lot of opportunity for you at Goodwill based on your skillset,” shared Luis Ortega. Luis graduated from high school and got his first job at Goodwill San Diego. “I really enjoy hanging and tagging clothing for now. I like seeing how our donors help those in need with their donations.”

FREE OR REDUCED-COST SCHOOL MEALS STILL AVAILABLE DESPITE PANDEMIC IN JAMUL-DUZURA AREA

East County News Service

August 22, 2020 (Jamul-Dulzura) – The Jamul-Dulzura Union School District began its fall semester August 17 with distance learning, for now, since California has not yet authorized in-classroom learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  However, nutritious free or low-cost breakfast and lunch are still available daily for children in households that qualify under federal standards.

In addition to households that meet income level requirements, the meals are also available for households receiving certain benefits such as CalFresh, CalWORKS WICS, or FDPIR, as well as for foster, homeless, and migrant children, among others.

WILD WEATHER CONTINUES: THUNDERSTORMS, FLASH FLOODS AND HIGH HEAT

By Miriam Raftery

August 22, 2020 (San Diego’s East County)  -- The monsoon season is here – with mountain thunderstorms expected each afternoon through Monday with brief heavy rain, small hail, lightning and strong erratic winds.  There is also a potential for flash flooding today and tomorrow across our inland region, as this map shows.

While thousands of lightning strikes across northern and central California have caused major wildfires,  Southern California has also had numerous lightning strikes, as the Earth Network image sent by the National Weather Service shows for Friday, Aug. 21:

FEMA ANNOUNCES LOST WAGES GRANT FOR CALIFORNIANS IMPACTED BY COVID-19 – AT HALF THE RATE AS EARLIER UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF

By Miriam Raftery

August 21, 2020 (Washington D.C.) – Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Pete Gaynor has approved California for a FEMA grant under the Lost Wages Assistance program. FEMA’s grant funding will allow California to provide an extra $300 per week -- on top of its regular unemployment benefit -- to those unemployed due to COVID-19.  

 

But that’s only half the amount that workers were receiving before federal supplemental unemployment benefits expired July 31. 

TRENDING: OUTDOOR ROLLER-SKATING

Story by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson and Miriam Raftery 

Photo by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson:  Skaters stay cool with misters at the Viejas outdoor roller rink in Alpine

August 21, 2020 (Alpine) - Looking to change up your COVID-19 outdoor exercise routine? Consider visiting the outdoor roller-skating rink at Viejas Casino Outlets to burn off some of that quarantine-15 extra weight.  Or take a skate at the San Diego Derby United outdoor rink in Encanto to roll those pounds away—and have fun. 

READER’S EDITORIAL: FROM PROTECTING VOTING RIGHTS TO HONORING VETERANS, THE POST OFFICE IS AN ESSENTIAL SERVICE

By Brian Trautman

August 21, 2020 (San Diego) -- The capacity of the United States Postal Service (USPS) to provide mail services that generations of Americans have relied on has been severely weakened by the Trump administration. The assault on the Postal Service has only grown stronger and more brazen in recent weeks. We know by Trump’s own admission that his targeting of the agency is by design and is intended to interfere with the federal election that is less than three months away. Due to the ongoing health risks associated with COVID-19, a record number of Americans are expected to vote absentee this November rather than in-person. Knowing this, Trump has weaponized the pandemic to obstruct mail services and suppress the people’s vote, particularly in battleground states. By making it more difficult for Americans to exercise their right to vote, he is disenfranchising tens of millions of voters. The other part of Trump’s calculation is that by stripping the Post Office of much-needed resources to receive and process absentee ballots, he can exploit any hint of trouble with vote tallying this November to try and cast doubt on, and perhaps even dismiss, the election results should he lose. It has all the makings of an authoritarian power grab.

FLASH FLOOD WARNING: DANGEROUS THUNDERSTORMS THIS AFTERNOON

August 21, 2020 (San Diego's East County) -- The National Weather Service has detected dangerous thunderstorms across portions of East County. A flash flood warning is in effect now through late this afternoon for areas in and around Pine Valley, Boulevard, Mount Laguna and Cuyamaca.

Move to high ground immediately if you are in these areas.

FIRES RAGE ACROSS NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  Bureau of Land Management image of smoke frm the CZU Lightning Complex Fire threatening Davenport, CA



August 21, 2020  -- Nearly 12,000 firefighters are battling nearly two dozen major fires and complexes across California, Cal Fire reports. Since the lightning siege started on Saturday, August 15, 2020 there have been nearly 12,000 lightning strikes. During this time-period, there have been more than 560 new wildfires, which have burned over 771,00 acres, burned over 660 structures and killed at least five people in northern California, including a former Channel 10 helicopter pilot.

Flames also devastated a historic redwood tree grove in Northern California.  “We are devastated to report that Big Basin State Park, as we have known it, loved it, and cherished it for generations, is gone,” the Sempivirens Fund, which supports the park, posted on Facebook yesterday. “ Early reports are that the wildfire has consumed much of the park’s historic facilities. We do not yet know the fate of the park’s grandest old trees.”

U.C. Santa Cruz has evacuated the campus after flames burned to within a mile of the university.

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