El Cajon

WELCOME, EL CAJON RESIDENTS!

Our El Cajon Living section covers the city of El Cajon and unincorporated El Cajon areas including Fletcher Hlils and Rancho San Diego.

Click here for fascinating facts about El Cajon.  For community and city links, click here.


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HELIX WATER DISTRICT’S ANNUAL WATER QUALITY REPORT AVAILABLE ONLINE

Source: Helix Water District

June 30, 2020 (La Mesa) -- Helix Water District’s 2020 Water Quality Report, which documents the quality of its treated water throughout 2019, is now available in English at hwd.fyi/wqr2020-english and Spanish at hwd.fyi/wqr2020-espanol.

The annual water quality report contains important information about the sources and quality of customers’ drinking water. As in years past, Helix Water District tap water met all U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state of California health standards for drinking water.


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AMID PANDEMIC, EL CAJON ENDS LEASE WITH CRISIS HOUSE, PUTTING SERVICES FOR HOMELESS PEOPLE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VICTIMS AT RISK

By Miriam Raftery

“It’s very likely that we won’t be able to provide the same level of service that we do today….The County has no walk-in services for the homeless, and pretty soon that’s going to be the way it will be in El Cajon.” – Mary Case, Executive Director at Crisis House (photo, left)

June 25, 2020 (El Cajon) – El Cajon’s City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve an early lease termination agreement to oust Crisis House from city-owned property at 1034 Magnolia Ave. For the past 26 years, the city has leased the property to Crisis House for a dollar a year, recognizing the value to the community of the services provided by Crisis House, which has a mission to “break the cycle of poverty, domestic violence and homelessness and strengthen families and individuals so that they can thrive and transform their lives.”

The city wants Crisis House gone from is current location near the new Hampton Inn hotel.  So the Council-approved measure offers Crisis House $700,000 if it vacates the property by September 30th. That amount diminishes to just $350,000 by year’s end and $150,000 by March 31, or zero if Crisis house remains until the lease expires on June 30, 2021.

But Mary Case, Executive Director of Crisis House, says that’s not enough time to find an affordable space, adding that the action will almost certainly mean major cuts in services.


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WHERE TO FIND FIREWORKS IN EAST COUNTY THIS JULY 4TH

By Miriam Raftery
 
June 28, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Due to COVID-19, several of East County’s most popular 4th of July celebrations have been cancelled. But several others have revamped to provide fireworks displays with social distancing and/or virtual celebrations.

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ILLEGAL POT SHOPS RAIDED NEAR SCHOOLS AND HOMES

East County News Service
 
June 26, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – More than a thousand pounds of marijuana products, six firearms, and over $221,000 in cash were seized Thursday following search warrants served at six illegal dispensaries and three homes. The raids took place in Lakeside, unincorporated El Cajon and the city of San Diego, conducted by investigators from the county Sheriff’s department and San Diego Police.

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EL CAJON VOTES TO INCREASE FUNDS FOR POLICE DEPARTMENT

By Miriam Raftery

June 25, 2020 (El Cajon) – El Cajon City Council members received hundreds of comments sent via email on the city’s proposed budget, nearly all weighing in on police funding following a nationwide wave of protests over police violence and racial injustice issues.   Many of the commenters argued for “defunding” or shifting some funds away from police into investments in the community or alternatives to handle mentally ill and homeless people, though many others voiced support for El Cajon Police and supported increasing the department’s budget.

The Council unanimously voted for a $120,000 increase for the police.

“The motivation is to keep all the citizens safe,” Councilman Gary Kendrick told ECM.


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LACK OF DATA COLLECTION BLOCKS EFFORTS TO ASSESS COVID-19 IMPACTS ON LOCAL MIDDLE EASTERN COMMUNITIES

By Briana Gomez

Photo, left: Doris Bittar

“Arab Americans are largely considered Caucasian, other, or unknown.  We are a disappeared minority, rendering us nearly invisible in the media and in medicine.” – Doris Bittar, President, Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee, San Diego chapter

June 25, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- Minority communities across the US are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19. For example, nearly 67% of cases in San Diego are among Latinos and Hispanics, who comprise only 30% of the population, according to County Health Department  figures as of June 20.  But a lack of data on Arab and Middle Eastern Americans makes it impossible to accurately assess impacts of the pandemic on this population locally and nationally.


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CAJON VALLEY UNION SCHOOL DISTRICT’S BUMPY ROAD TO A POST COVID-19 SCHOOL YEAR

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

June 24, 2020 (El Cajon) -- The Cajon Valley Union School District Board of Trustees has approved a plan to re-open its 27 schools this fall, after going to state-mandated distance learning program in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The final plan approved by the board on June 11, however, looks different from what had been envisioned by the district’s Superintendent, Dr. David Miyashiro. The original plan would have had students continue to use internet teleconferencing exclusively, as they have been since mid-March.

However, after documents from a private meeting involving some 40 district employees at the Marriott Coronado Resort and Spa on June 6 and 7 were leaked to parents and to East County Magazine, Miyashiro’s vision began to unravel. Some 100 parents throughout the district quickly organized and descended on school district headquarters on June 9 for what was supposed to be a one hour board workshop to approve the measure.


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EL CAJON EASES REQUIREMENTS FOR SIDEWALK CAFES AMID COVID RESTRICTIONS

By Miriam Raftery

June 25, 2020 (El Cajon) – Owners of reopened restaurant are struggling to generate profits while complying with social distancing requirements of six feet between tables due to COVID-19. Now the El Cajon City Council has unanimously voted to make it easier for eateries to expand outdoors.

The Council approved a second reading on June 23 of an emergency ordinance passed unanimously June 9. It allows restaurants to skip cumbersome conditional-use permit requirements for sidewalk dining. The new ordinance will remain in effect through the end of this year, but an extension or option to make it permanent may be considered later on.

Previously, a conditional use permit, or CUP, required extra fees and delays due to an environmental review, followed by approval of both the Planning Commission and the City Council.


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EL CAJON POLICE OFFICER DIVERTS GRAFFITI ARTISTS TO CREATE PUBLIC ART

By Miriam Raftery

Photos courtesy of Officer Murphy and El Cajon Police

June 19, 2020 (El Cajon) – When El Cajon Police Officer Michael Murphy found three youths spray-painting “peace” and “BLM”, he created a teaching moment.  “I explained to them that by doing that, their message gets lost and destroys another person’s property. So I decided instead of arresting them we would work together to fix the damage and work on an area where they can post their message,” he posted on Facebook.

So he arranged to meet up with them, get plywood and find a place for them to express their views and creativity in a positive way - as well as having them lend a hand to clean up the defaced property. The result is a work of art showing talent and the power of working together for creative solutions to conflicts.


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GROSSMONT COLLEGE HIRES MARSHALL T. FULBRIGHT III AS VICE PRESIDENT OF ACADEMIC AFFAIRS

Source:  Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District

June 16, 2020 (El Cajon) - Grossmont College announced today that it will hire Marshall T. Fulbright III, Ed.D., as its new vice president of academic affairs. Fulbright will join the college on July 1.


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EL CAJON FIRE KILLS TWO DOGS; THC EXTRACTION LAB FOUND ON SITE

By Miriam Raftery

Photo courtesy of ECM news partner 10 News

June 14, 2020 (El Cajon) – A fire last Wednesday that killed two dogs at 1660 Via Elisa in El Cajon started in the bedroom and back deck. The cause is “most likely accidental,” with “no evidence of a criminal cause” despite a THC butane oil extraction lab found on the premises, says Greg Hampton with the San Diego Sheriff’s department.


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EL CAJON CHURCH FEEDS THE POLICE

East County News Service

June 14, 2020 (El Cajon) – Members of Foothills Christian Church in El Cajon responded by recently providing a free lunch and dinner as an expression of appreciation to the El Cajon Police Department.


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VIDEO OF THE WEEK: DANCING COWBOYS AT TEXAS ROADHOUSE WELCOME BACK CUSTOMERS


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Miriam Raftery 

June 12, 2020 (El Cajon) - Texas Roadhouse restaurant in El Cajon is back open after the COVID-19 shutdown and already drawing a wait list.  Arrive before five for some great dinner specials.  I got a tender BBQ pulled pork dinner with all the fixings for just $10.99, chilling out with an Armadillo Punch.

As an added bonus, enjoy some dancing cowboys and cowgirls -- actually the wait staff, kicking up their heels with some Western-style line dancing. Yeehaw!


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ILLEGAL BONFIRES HEIGHTEN RISKS AS FIRE SEASON ARRIVES: CAL FIRE HALTS BURN PERMITS

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Photo by Paul Kruze, left:  Bonfire in Rancho San Diego ignited nearby foliage, prompting fire crews to respond.

June 12, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Cal Fire has banned burn permits effective immediately, as temperatures rise across our inland region. The no-burn proclamation will remain in effect indefinitely.

Two recent illegal bonfires in a single night swiftly burned out of control recently, prompting responses by firefighters witnessed by this ECM journalist. Those incidents highlight the dangers of open burning, as temperatures rise and brush dries out across our inland region with summer drawing near.


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WATER CONSERVATION GARDEN REOPENS IN MID-JUNE: BUTTERFLY RELEASES PLANNED

East County News Service
 
June 11, 2020 (El Cajon) -- As of June 15, The Water Conservation Garden reopens for members and reopens to the public on June 16, but with a small admission fee for non-members. All visitors in June will receive free ice cream and popsicles, as well as having the opportunity to visit the Dorcas E. Utter Memorial Butterfly Pavilion to view butterflies throughout June. Butterfly release dates are planned June 15, 19 and 27.

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CAJON VALLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT STUMBLES IN PR SNAFUS OVER RACIAL SLUR, SECRET MEETING AT CLOSED HOTEL, AND PLANS TO KEEP SCHOOLS CLOSED THIS FALL DESPITE MANY OBJECTIONS

Board to decide future use of distance learning technology at 1 p.m. today; Superintendent apologizes over staff comments

Story and photos by Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

June 11, 2020 (El Cajon) -- The Cajon Valley Union School District’s carefully controlled public relations mote has been seriously breached over the past week with embarrassing social media comments, news of secret district meetings, and documents accidentally shared by a district employee, as reported by San Diego television and newspaper media outlets.  

One report was about a CVUSD school district employee and the revelation of a document of a secret meeting held over the weekend involving Dr. David Miyashiro and four district Trustees (except not Jill Barto) at the shuttered Marriott Coronado Resort and Spa.

The district also had two protests by parents yesterday outside district headquarters, one over racism concerns raised by staff comments, the other objecting to a district plan to continue distance learning instead of in-person classes this fall -- a vote delayed until an emergency session convening this afternoon after parents raised vigorous objections.


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REBUILD LA MESA: GO FUND ME ACCOUNT RAISES MORE THAN $160,000

 

Update June 18, 2020:  The fund has now raised over $196,000 and has begun distributing funds, but donations are still needed.

By Miriam Raftery

June 6, 2020 (La Mesa) – After riots devastated downtown La Mesa on May 30th, El Cajon Deputy Mayor Phil Ortiz teamed up with the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce Foundation and others to establish the La Mesa Business Disaster Recovery Fund.  The fund raised $50,000 in its first 13 hours last Sunday and has now surpassed $168,000 from more than 2,000 donors.

You can make a 100% tax deductible donation on GoFundMe by clicking here. 

The site states, “Our small businesses are devastated and many were already on the brink due to COVID19. La Mesa Village has been the heart of small business in the city and is a beautiful place for dining, events and memories.”


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LA MESA EXTENDS CURFEW FOR NEXT FIVE NIGHTS, SANTEE AND EL CAJON HAVE CURFEWS TONIGHT

By Miriam Raftery

June 3, 2020 (La Mesa) – Following rioting, looting and fires on Saturday in La Mesa and continued civil unrest across our region, the City of La Mesa has announced an extension of curfews each night from June 3 through June 8 from 7 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.

El Cajon and Santee have also extended curfews through tomorrow morning.

Below is each city’s announcement, since hours and details vary:


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SANDAG AWARDS $95,000 TO CITIES AND COUNTY FOR SHARED STREETS PROGRAM

Pilot projects to create safe spaces for biking and walking amid pandemic

Source: SANDAG

Image via Pixabay

June 2, 2020 (San Diego) - In light of the current public health crisis and in recognition of National Bike Month in May, SANDAG created a new pilot program to support local jurisdictions with providing safe spaces for residents to obtain essential goods, services, and exercise.  


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CURFEWS IMPOSED AGAIN TONIGHT; ACLU RAISES CONCERNS

 

By Miriam Raftery and Paul Kruze

Photo by Henri Migala: Police in riot gear Saturday night in La Mesa

June 1, 2020 (San Diego) – Following civil unrest across the region, all East County cities and some unincorporated county areas are under curfew orders tonight. Curfew orders are as follows:

La Mesa: 7 p.m. tonight to 7 a.m. tomorrow

El Cajon 7 p.m. tonight to 5:30 a.m. tomorrow

Lemon Grove 7 p.m. tonight to 6 a.m. tomorrow

Santee 8 p.m. tonight to 6 a.m. tomorrow

Lakeside and Spring Valley:  8 p.m. tonight to 5:30 a.m. tomorrow


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STORES CLOSE DOWN, BARRICADE DOORS & BOARD UP WINDOWS TO PREPARE FOR PROTESTERS

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

(Photos by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson)

(Photo at left - Walmart at Lemon Grove's College Grove Center)

May 31, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- The “We are open” and “reopened” signs announcing businesses were open after COVID-19 closures were nowhere in sight for some establishments across the East County late this afternoon. Stores closed early, in part due to curfews, or closed for the day in preparation for potential destructive actions by rioters and looters following protests of George Floyd’s death by police officers in Minneapolis.

Walmart Stores at College Grove Center, Santee, and at Parkway Plaza were closed late this afternoon. The College Grove Center location was in the process of boarding up and setting up barricades to lessen the chance of protesters breaking in. Sam's Club was closed for an unspecified time.

The Santee Walmart had red mulch bags stacked up in rows covering the main entry way. According to staff on site they will reopen at 8 a.m. on June 1.

Some La Mesa store fronts near the La Mesa Police Department, where protests turned violent, were boarded up.

Window fronts with glass were replaced with plywood and barricades of various materials in front of entries were common sights on May 31 around east county.

(Photo at right: Santee Walmart) 


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EAST COUNTY CITIES AND COUNTY ISSUE CURFEW ORDERS

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

May 31, 2020

In a bold move to avoid a repeat of the devastation and violence in connection with Saturday night’s riots which took place in East County San Diego, several cities and the county issue curfews for tonight. Below is the full schedule.

All law enforcement, fire, medical personnel, and members of the news media are exempt from the curfew. Individuals traveling directly to and from work, seeking emergency medical care, fleeing dangerous circumstances, or the homeless as exempted from the order.


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THESE RESTAURANTS IN EAST COUNTY NOW OFFERING DINE-IN, TAKE-OUT AND/OR DELIVERY

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Tiramisu Trattoria is now reopened for dine-in service in La Mesa.

Update May 25:  With restaurants now allowed to reopen for dine-in services, we are posting those now open again for dine-in in red lettering.  Call or visit websites for hours and whether reservations are required. 

If you own a restaurant in East County that's not listed or have a listing that needs updating, please email editor@eastcountymagazine.org.

March 17, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Since yesterday’s county order for restaurants to stop dine-in service through March 31 due to the COVID-19 emergency, many owners are adapting by switching to curbside take-out (curbside) service and a few are also offering home delivery through services such as GrubHub, UberEats, or through their own delivery service.  Those with alcohol permits may also offer take-out bottles of beer or wine, as well as cocktails and other alcoholic drinks to go, depending on their type of liquor license.

While this is by no means a complete list, here are many restaurants confirmed as offering take-out and/or delivery services.

Call or check the restaurant's website for details on hours and how to place orders, which vary at each location; hours may be limited and options and may change.

If you know of any we missed, please post in the comments section below!


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UNIDENTIFIED BODY FOUND OFF HIGHWAY 67 IN EL CAJON

By Miriam Raftery
 
May 24, 2020 (El Cajon) – The body of a man who appeared homeless, according to California Highway Patrol, was found Wednesday afternoon alongside southbound state route 67, just north of the Interstate 8 interchange in El Cajon.

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WHEELCHAIR-BOUND MAN STRUCK, KILLED IN EL CAJON

East County News Service
 
May 23, 2020 (San Diego) – A 76-year-old man in a wheelchair was struck by a vehicle on the evening of Tuesday, May 19 while crossing the 1000 block of Broadway in an unmarked area.  

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EL CAJON APPROVES RENT AND UTILITY ASSISTANCE: FUNDS LIMITED TO FIRST 150 APPLICANTS STARTING MAY 26

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Creative Commons via Bing

May 22, 2020 (El Cajon) – El Cajon City Council has approved allocating over $800,000 of its Community Development Block Grant Coronavirus funds for several COVID response programs.  These funds were granted to the City as part of the federal CARES Act.

Per City Council direction, a large portion of the funds will be used for rental and utility assistance to help those most vulnerable to loss of employment.

Due to limited funding, there is a limit to the first 150 eligible applicants. Online and over the phone applications will be accepted through the following service providers beginning Tuesday,May 26, 2020:


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PHOTO OF THE WEEK: AIR FORCE SALUTES HEALTHCARE HEROES WITH SPECTACULAR FLY-BY

The view from east county

By Robert Gehr

Photo: Six F-16C/D Falcons

May 20, 2020 (El Cajon) -- The well known U.S. Air force Thunderbirds made a brief, yet impressive flyover in El Cajon on Friday, May 15th just after high noon.

Hearing the powerful jet engines off in the distance signaled their pending arrival, especially when the pilots lit the afterburners as they throttled up more power. Seconds later they were barely within sight, arriving from the East, flying in tight formation as they skimmed the blue sky above. A moment later they were gone, leaving just a fading echo of sound, and perhaps a thought of awe.

I was fortunate to capture this single, fleeting image of these six, F-16C/D Falcons when they made their appearance over the east county of San Diego as they honored first responders, health care workers, military members, law enforcement, and so many other essential service personnel.

I add my gratitude as well. Thank you everyone!


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COUNTY AND STATE ADD MORE COVID-19 TESTING SITES

By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  Creative Commons via Bing

May 18, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- The region’s COVID-19 testing is expanding this week.  Starting Tuesday, May 19th, the public can get free testing at walk-up sites run by the state at two locations:  The County Assessor’s former office at 200 S. Magnolia Ave. in El Cajon and at the Tubman-Chavez Center, 415 Euclid Ave. in southeast San Diego.


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EAST COUNTY REALTORS COLLECTING DONATIONS FOR `RED SHOE DAY’ BENEFITING RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE

East County News Service

May 14, 2020 (El Cajon) – The Pacific Southwest Association of Realtors (PSAR), a real estate trade group for San Diego-area realtors with an office in El Cajon, has formed “Team PSAR” to collect donations online until June 4 as part of the annual Red Shoe Day fundraiser benefiting Ronald McDonald House, a home-away-from-home for families of seriously ill or injured children being treated at San Diego hospitals.


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