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By Kathleen Connell

February 13, 2020 (La Mesa)  On February 11th, La Mesa’s Mayor and City Council heard from Director of Finance Sarah Waller-Bullock (photo, left) on the state of the City’s finances and metrics versus the budget for the quarter ending December 31, 2019.  Ms. Waller-Bullock also provided information on state and regional financial data.  In general, with the exception of housing, La Mesa is “flat” without extreme fluctuations in income or expenditures in the period; most departments are “at or slightly below expectations.”

The financial review also concluded that “most economic forecasts predict continued economic growth through the beginning of 2020, as the economy continues to grow at a consistent pace, inflation remains within the expect limits, and the unemployment rate remains at historic lows.  The City’s core revenues…continue to remain stable in the current economy, although at levels requiring careful attention.” It was noted that “General Fund expenditures continue to be within budgetary expectations.”

(La Mesa participates in open government, and all City financial information is available to the public on its web site here).

The City Council then heard updates from various City Commissions. Top level Commission Goals are driven by adherence to City goals, and then executed via specific Work Plans.

The City’s 2020 Top Level Goals are as follows:

• Safe Community

• Maintain a Financially Sound and Affordable City Government

• Continue to Improve High Quality Municipal Services

• Revitalize Neighborhoods and Corridors

• Enhanced Recreation and Quality of Life Opportunities

• Insure Safe and Affordable Homes for All Current and Future Residents.



Highlights of the YAC Commission’s 2020 objectives include:

  • Commissioners will coordinate Power Hour with La Mesa Spring Valley School District ESS Program to introduce one hour of physical activity to elementary children.
  • YAC is currently partnered with San Diego County to learn about the Resident Leadership Academy. The lessons in the program will coincide with “Teen Talk,” a YAC agenda item. From the various conversations, the workshop topic will be established and speakers requested.  
  • The YAC noted that in August, La Mesa will open a time capsule that is currently buried in front of the City Hall. The Council expressed interest in seeing the contents, which were buried in 1992.
  • La Mesa YAC made sure to note that their work is carried out under a broad umbrella of sustainability, and being “more Green.”



Striving to be consistent with the City’s goals, The Community Relations and Veterans Commission laid out 6 areas of focus and implementation. Mayor Arapostathis and other Commissioners expressed a strong interest in the Veterans Day plans, in particular. The goals and status of this commission are:




1. Host speakers to educate commission and public about resources related to veterans, seniors, disabled and the community at large.


Host minimum of (5) presentations February to December 2020. Track attendance at meetings. Disseminate calendar via social media.

2. Participate in City community events

Ongoing, throughout year


Volunteer or have a table top at community events to increase Commission’s visibility.

3. Participate in Livable La Mesa/ Age Friendly Community Project

Ongoing, as needed

Assist City with implementing goals in action plan.

4. Participate in Veteran Day event

November 2020


Assist with a local Veterans Day event such as LMAC appreciation concert.

5. Attend meetings in area of interest at other organizations and report back to Commission and city council.


Ongoing, monthly

Members attend meetings throughout County and share resources.

6. Recognize La Mesa citizens, organizations and businesses.


As needed.


The Mission, Duties and Functions of the Community Relations and Veterans Commission were also provided:

  • The mission of is to address the needs and concerns of senior adults, the disabled, veterans, and the community-at-large, and develop activities which promote positive community relations in the city of La Mesa.
  • The commission shall have the following duties and functions:
(1) Provide a forum for discussion by the commission and the community on senior adult, disabled, veterans, and human relations issues;
(2) Plan, participate in, and/or help sponsor events dealing with seniors, the disabled, veterans, and human relations issues, which promote positive relations within the community; and
(3) Consult with other community organizations, seniors groups, veteran-related associations, and organizations serving the disabled community to best coordinate the activities of the commission.


Environmental Sustainability Commission





1. Advise and assist City staff in the implementation of the Climate Action Plan and provide as-needed review of CAP implementation actions, as directed by City staff.




1.1: Identify at least two CAP measures and actions for which the Environmental Sustainability Commission can assist City staff in implementing over the next year.

1.2: Maintain an ongoing list of ideas and measures that could be included in future CAP updates.
1.3: Assist City staff in the development of a municipal facilities GHG emissions inventory and develop municipal GHG reduction measures the City can implement over the next year.

In progress


2. Research and present to the City sustainable practices and projects.


2.1. Identify and assist in implementation of additional projects that can provide financial savings to the City and can serve as examples to residents and local businesses.
2.2. Consult with similar commissions at other jurisdictions in the region to identify best practices in environmental sustainability.
2.3. Identify projects and programs that could benefit transportation goals.
2.4. Explore issues regarding green/food waste recovery.
2.5. Update/support the update of a community garden ordinance.

In progress

3. Provide educational opportunities for residents and businesses in La Mesa related to environmental sustainability and Climate Action Plan implementation.




 This Commission also presented their 2020 plans:


Council Member Colin Parent expressed interest in positioning the City to acquire more housing grants, from funds available for “affordability and sustainability” and to add this action to the scope of work of the Environmental Sustainability Commission. All present voted aye, and the recommendation passed unanimously.

The Planning Commission

2020 promises to be a busy year for The Planning Commission, which delivered its goals and progress reports, including the following:

  • Regular Duties as identified in LMMC 2.60.060 and 24.02. Second, review and comment on Annual Zoning Code Clean- up Amendments 010. Third, review of the Draft 2021 Housing Element.
  • Finally, in 2020, The Planning Commission will commence with a “Downtown Village Specific Plan Update, and a Historic Preservation Ordinance.”

During a public comment period, resident Tark Asbor and others voiced concern about lighting, speeding and a need for additional pavement.  The Mayor responded that the City has been working in 7 zones during the year, in an orderly fashion. However, he promised the City “take a look” at problem areas mentioned. The Mayor profusely thanked the speakers for bringing issues to the attention of the Council.

Additional information on planning matters included:

-LMMC 2.60.060 - Powers and duties are stated as:

“The Planning Commission shall have, and is hereby vested with all the powers and duties provided by said act and amendments thereto, and such other powers and duties as may be conferred upon the Planning Commission by any and all laws of the State of California and the City Council.

-2.60.140 - La Mesa relocation appeals board:

The Planning Commission shall also act as the "La Mesa relocation appeals board" and shall have the power when it acts in that capacity as provided by the by-laws for the relocation appeals board and shall carry out its duties and obligations pursuant to said by-laws. Said by-laws shall be adopted at the first meeting of the planning commission acting as the relocation appeals board and shall not thereafter be amended without the prior approval of the city council.”

Title 24 – Zoning Ordinance24.02.010 - Administration and enforcement agencies:

Planning Agency. The City Council, Planning Commission, Development Advisory Board, and Community Development Department are hereby designated collectively as The Planning 

Agency. The Planning Agency shall perform all functions required by California state law. The specific duties and functions of the Council, Commission, and Departments relative to this title are given below.

  1. Perform all functions required by California law of a planning agency.
  2. Furnish information and general assistance to the public in the administration of this title.
  3. Maintain the Zone Map.
  4. Review site development plans as to their compliance with the requirements of this title.
  5. Review applications for adjustments in development regulations.
  6. Interpret, administer and enforce this title.
  7. Assist the planning commission in performance of its functions.

Planning Commission. The authority and functions of the Planning Commission in the administration of this title shall be to:

  1. Review and approve plans, including site development plans when either required of or when appealed or referred to the commission, and to perform such other functions as provided by this title.
  2. Resolve the question as to whether or not a proposed use is permitted in one or more zones in keeping with the general description and intent of such zones and the Land Use Element of the General Plan.
  3. Consider appeals from any determination made in the administration or enforcement of this title.
  4. Review applications for special permits, conditional use permits and variances.
  5. Perform other functions as provided by state law
  6. Resolve questions or alleged ambiguity on appeal from the determination of the Community Development Department.

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