East County News Service
August 4, 2017 (Deerhorn Valley) – The Deerhorn Valley Antler, in an email to its Jamul-area residents, states that a resident has stepped forward to assemble a legal team hoping challenge the distribution of Sunrise Powerlink mitigation grants. Deerhorn Valley Antler editor Kim Hamilton writes, "They now have the basic [original] documents along with additional ones that have recently surfaced. This team is experienced in previous lawsuits vs. Sempra and the recent Porter Ranch gas leak.”
The Deerhorn Valley Community Association made a presentation recently to the Jamul-Dulzura Planning Group about a grant program intended to help residents near Sunrise Powerlink fund brush clearing and fire hardening to mitigate increased fire risk. To win approval of the Powerlink high voltage line, SDG&E agreed that grants should be distributed to homeowners at highest risk of structure damage from a transmission line fire.
But some residents in the highest risk areas in the Deerhorn Valley area have said they got no grants or only partial grants, while residents in lower risk areas in Alpine got more money. A conflict of interest question has arisen, since Alpine Fire Board is a voting member of the committee doling out the funds, but Deerhorn Valley has no representation.
“This is not passing the smell test,” Deerhorn Valley Antler Editor Kim Hamilton writes. The legal team is currently working to assess grounds for legal action, she told ECM.
SDG&E declined to send a representative to the Jamul-Duluzura planning meeting.
Last month, SDG&E’s Allison Torres advised ECM that SDG&E is a “non-voting member of the Sunrise Powerlink Fire Mitigation Board (SPFMB) and we do not run, administer or make any grant decisions. Our only role is to fund the program, which we have been doing.”
She encouraged concerned residents to contact the County Fire Authority Chief, Tony Mecham, as well as Lakeside Fire Chief Don Butz, who chairs the SPFMB.
But Hamilton says she has contacted Mecham and he has not responded to her inquiries.