El Cajon

LIBERTY CHARTER HIGH SCHOOL PROPOSAL DRAWS OPPOSITION FROM RANCHO SAN DIEGO RESIDENTS; TRAFFIC IS MAIN CONCERN

Debbie Beyer, Literacy First Director, faults planning group for not allowing rebuttal testimony. “They got it so wrong,” she says.

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

January 31, 2020 (El Cajon) -- Initial plans to build a charter high school on an empty lot near Chase Avenue and Jamacha Road hit a major stumbling block when the Valle de Oro Planning Group unanimously voted to reject a mitigated negative declaration for the project proposed by Literacy First Charter Schools

With the January vote, the next step for Literacy First will be a vote by the Valle De Oro Planning Group on Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. at the Otay Water District Headquarters meeting room. After this vote, the proposal goes on to the San Diego County Planning Commission on a future determined date, and then on to the San Diego Board of Supervisors.

BLACK HISTORY MONTH EVENTS AT GROSSMONT AND CUYAMACA COLLEGES

Source: Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District
Contact: Della Elliott
 
January 29, 2020 (El Cajon)--Food, movies, dance and cultural and educational presentations are on tap in February at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges for Black History Month.
 
With the exception of fundraisers – a barbecue at Grossmont College and a night of jazz and comedy at Cuyamaca College – all other events are free. The public is welcome to all events.

PICKUP TRUCK PLUNGES DOWN EMBANKMENT, KILLING DRIVER FROM SANTEE

By Miriam Raftery

January 28, 2020 (El Cajon) – A Santee man is dead after the 2016 Dodge Ram pickup he was driving crashed down an embankment and struck a boulder last night around 8:46 p.m.

According to Officer Travis Garrow with the California Highway Patrol, the driver, 46, was traveling east on La Cresta Road in unincorporated El Cajon east of Forester Creek “at a high rate of speed” when he lost control and plunged off the side of the roadway.  The vehicle became airborne before overturning down an embankment and striking the boulder.

EL CAJON CITY MANAGER CHALLENGES OTHER EAST COUNTY CITIES AND COUNTY TO SERVE HOMELESS INDIVIDUALS

Graham Mitchell Provides Year End Status Report of city’s efforts  

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Complete Video: https://youtu.be/LybwvTl7E8Y

Powerpoint presentation: Homeless Program Update (Jan 14, 2020).pdf

January 27, 2020 (El Cajon) -- El Cajon City Manager Graham Mitchell has challenged other East County cities and the County of San Diego to address the current crisis level of homeless individuals, as El Cajon has during the past year.

In an overview of its efforts at the first council session for the year, Mitchell told councilmembers that the city has spent $640,000 on programs directed to people who have made El Cajon streets their home. While the city will be spending that much again this year, Mitchell challenged the smaller cities around El Cajon (Santee, La Mesa, and Lemon Grove) to make similar efforts.

“We are doing far more than what our neighbors have been doing,” Mitchell said.

UMOJA JAZZ AND JOKES FEB. 21 AT CUYAMACA COLLEGE

Source: Cuyamaca College
 
January 26, 2020 (Rancho San Diego) -- Enjoy an evening of laughter and live music with the Cuyamaca College Umoja Scholars community as a scholarship fundraiser, "Jazz & Jokes," 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 21, at the Samuel M. Ciccati Theatre.
 
A VIP reception for $25 from 6:30-7:30 includes the price of admission, which is $5 for students and $10 for general admission. Tickets are available online.

ECHO CHAMBER MUSIC SERIES AT CUYAMACA COLLEGE OFFERS FEBRUARY CONCERTS TO LOVE

East County News Service
 
January 24, 2020 (Rancho San Diego) -- The ECHO Chamber Music Series offers internationally-acclaimed musicians who have performed across the globe. All performances are at the Samuel M. Ciccati Theatre at Cuyamaca College.
 

HOT TOPICS: EL CAJON REALTORS GROUP DISCUSSING MEASURES A, B AND FIRE INSURANCE JAN. 31

East County News Service
 
January 24, 2020 (East County) – The Pacific Southwest Association of Realtors (PSAR), a real estate trade group for San Diego-area realtors with an office in El Cajon, will host a presentation on Measures A and B, two March primary ballot measures that address housing development in semi-rural and rural, unincorporated areas of San Diego County, starting at 9 a.m., Friday, Jan. 31, at its PSAR East County Service Center, 1150 Broadway, El Cajon. The public is invited to attend.
 
PSAR is recommending a no vote on Measure A and yes vote on Measure B for the March California Primary Election. Speaking on Measures A and B will be Tony Manolatos, a political consultant and principal with Manolatos Nelson Murphy.
 
Voting by mail begins Feb. 3 and Election Day is a month later.

JULIAN MAN ARRESTED FOR STRIKING, KILLING CYCLIST ON DEHESA ROAD: CHP SEEKS WITNESS WHO FOLLOWED HIT AND RUN DRIVER

By Miriam Raftery

January 21, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – A bicyclist, 56, has died of injuries suffered yesterday when a Mitsubishi Mirage struck him from behind on Dehesa Road east of Willow Glen Drive. The Mitsubishi’s driver, Craig Wendell Nelson, 56, of Julian fled the scene and was arrested by the California Highway Patrol after a helicopter spotted him hiding in brush along Sloane Canyon Rd. south of Dehesa Rd. in unincorporated El Cajon.

The California Highway Patrol wants to locate the driver of a vehicle that turned around at the scene of the collision and followed the Mitsubishi, or anyone else with information on the fatal accident. If you have any information, please call Officer Wilson or Officer Harris at the CHP at 619-401-2000.

According to Officer Travis Garrow, Nelson was traveling eastbound on Dehesa Rd. east of Willow Glen Drive when for reasons still under investigation, his vehicle veered into the marked bike lane and struck the rider, who was ejected onto the roadway. The bicyclist was transported to Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego where he later died of his injuries.  Nelson has been charged with vehicular manslaughter and felony hit and run.

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: CALIFORNIA GNATCATCHER

January 19, 2019 (San Diego) – Robert Gehr shot this photo of the illusive California Gnatcatcher (Polioptilla Californica) at the waterscape in downtown El Cajon as this tiny male bird flitted about, snatching small insects from the air as its food source.
 
“Listed as a threatened species, these uncommon feathered friends are interesting to watch as they forage for a meal,” says Gehr.

GROSSMONT SUPERINTENDENT SLAMS CAJON VALLEY BOARD OVER PROPOSED CHARTER HIGH SCHOOL

 

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

"I've heard that it's been communicated that Grossmont High School District was fully aware of this charter petition. I need to say this is simply not true. That communication never took place until yesterday.  In fact, quite the opposite.” --GUHSD Superintendent TIm Glover (photo, left)

January 18, 2020 (El Cajon) -- Observers of the political hijinks which have become customary at meetings of the Cajon Valley Union School District (CVUSD) board of trustees were not disappointed at the last regular meeting for the year on December 17th

The meeting started with school board President Tamara Otero advising her fellow board members “to be careful in any contact” with Board Trustee Jill Barto in light of Barto’s recently filed federal civil rights lawsuit.

Then the spotlight shifted to Grossmont Union High School District Superintendent Dr. Tim Glover. Glover visibly caught the board off guard when he addressed the trustees, raising objections to Cajon Valley’s preliminary plan to expand and start a new charter high school (grades 9 to 12) at the site of the district’s Bostonia Language Academy, which encompasses kindergarten to eighth grade. The new charter school would be called the “Bostonia Global Charter School.”

​$10,000 REWARD OFFERED FOR INFO ON ELIJAH “BEAR” DIAZ, EL CAJON MAN MISSING SINCE 2015

By Miriam Raftery
 
January 16, 2020 (El Cajon) – Authorities yesterday announced a $10,000 reward for information to help find Elijah “Bear” Diaz, a member of the Barona Band of Mission Indians who vanished under suspicious circumstances in August 2015. 
 
He was 20 years old at the time and ill from diabetes.  “He was about to get his foot amputated. He couldn’t walk. He was in a wheelchair a few days before,” his mother, Lelanie Joe Thompson told ECM in a interview last year, adding that her son weighed only 110 pounds and could not have left on his own. She said Diaz had only two weeks of insulin left when he disappeared.

PAIR WANTED FOR ROBBING CITI BANK IN EL CAJON

By Miriam Raftery
 
January 14, 2020 (El Cajon) – The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) seeks public help to locate two men responsible for robbing the Citi Bank at 402 Fletcher Parkway in El Cajon on December 27th at 1:20 p.m.
 
According to special agent Davene Butler, one of the men approached a teller and made a verbal demand for money.  He was described as white, in his late 40s to 50s, approximately 5'9” tall, slender build, with dark (possibly dyed) hair and a dark handlebar mustache. This robber was wearing reading glasses, a camouflaged colored baseball cap, a long sleeve blue shirt with a short sleeve red shirt over top, and boots. 
 
The second robber stayed in the lobby of the bank.  Witnesses described the second man as a Caucasian male, in his late 30s, approximately 5'10"tall, with a slender build and was wearing a navy blue baseball cap with a San Diego Chargers logo, a dark colored zip-up jacket, jeans, and sunglasses.

READER’S EDITORIAL: SHOULD WE LIMIT FREEDOM OF PEOPLE WHO CHOOSE TO BE HOMELESS?

By Steve Goble, El Cajon Councilman

January 14, 2020 (El Cajon) -- This has lots of good information. Thank you for this article, “Cities Should Act on Homelessness or Face Lawsuits, Newsom Task Force Says.”   

What I don't see the state officials addressing yet is, "What about a person's freedom to not live under a roof?"

The Council meeting today will have a comprehensive discussion on our efforts and results to-date on programs addressing homelessness.

U.S. BANK ROBBED IN FLETCHER HILLS

By Miriam Raftery

January 13, 2019 (El Cajon) – The U.S. Bank located at 2755 Navajo Road in El Cajon’s Fletcher Hills neighborhood was robbed today at 3:13 p.m. The suspect is described as a white man in his 30s with numerous acne scars on his face, unshaven with a full mustache.  He is approximately 6 ft. 1 inch tall and weighs about 180 pounds. He was wearing a gray long-sleeved shirt, baggy blue jeans and a dark gray hat with mesh on the back.

According to El Cajon Police Lieutenant J. Larson, the suspect walked up to a teller and stated, “This is a robbery, give me all your large bills.”  No weapon was seen.

The teller provided money to the suspect, who fled on foot. He was last seen running south on Fletcher Parkway near the intersection at Navajo Road and Fletcher Parkway.

“The FBI responded to the scene and will be working with the El Cajon Police Department during this investigation,” says Lt. Larson.

CVUSD FILES COUNTERSUIT AGAINST TRUSTEE JILL BARTO

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

ECM Editor Miriam Raftery also contributed to this report

January 3, 2020 (El Cajon) -- The Cajon Valley Union School District (CVUSD) has filed a countersuit against Trustee Jill Barto. The suit was filed in response to Barto’s federal lawsuit alleging violations of her civil rights and First Amendment rights. Barto filed her complaint in late November against the District, the other four trustees and Superintendent David Miyashiro, as ECM reported.

Barto’s suit accused the district, Superintendent and trustees of retaliating against her after she pursued an outspoken agenda of questioning questioning fellow board members and the Superintendent over hefty expenditures, including global travel by the Superintendent and promotional videos.  In her campaign materials she said, “My belief is that a school board should be answerable to taxpayers. The board should not simply be a rubber stamp committee, which it often times is.”

The district’s countersuit alleges that in 2019, the District received a complaint from an employee alleging that Barto was harassing her and “created a hostile work environment.” It also states that the Board of Trustees formed an Ad Hoc Committee to investigate the employee’s complaint. The countersuit does not directly identify any district employees by name and does not directly the names of the ad hoc committee.

PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: CHANUKAH FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS IN EL CAJON

December 26, 2019 (El Cajon) -- Bettie Wells shared these photos taken Dec. 22 in downtown El Cajon, where Mayor Bill Wells lit a menorah in honor of the opening of Chanukah, the eight-day Jewish holiday also known as the Festival of Lights.

The event was organized by Chabad of East County and featured firefights dropping gelt (chocolate coins) from atop a firetruck ladder, music, remarks from local dignitaries and unveiling of what organizers claim is the world's largest dreidel, a spinning top in the Jewish tradition.

GREAT CHANUKAH GELT DROP: TODAY AT 4 P.M. IN EL CAJON

East County News Service

December 22, 2019 (El Cajon) – Today at 4 p.m. Chabad of East County will present the Great Chanukah Gelt Drop in El Cajon’s Centennial Plaza (200 Civic Center Way) behind the Marriott. 

The occasion will include lighting a menorah, the world’s largest dreidel, catching chocolate coins dropped by Heartland firefighters from atop a fire ladder, music and dancing, a kids fun zone, raffle, Chanukah refreshments, honoring local heroes in uniform and dignitaries.

EL CAJON POLICE SHUT DOWN ILLEGAL POT DISPENSARY NEAR ELEMENTARY SCHOOL; FOUR ARRESTED

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Jill Barto

December 20, 2019 (El Cajon) – The El Cajon Police Department today shut down an illegal marijuana dispensary at 1358 Broadway, within 300 feet of Bostonia Language Academy. During the search of the illegal marijuana dispensary, approximately 322 pounds of marijuana and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) infused products, and approximately $7300 in cash was seized.

Lieutenant Walt Miller told ECM, “This is the last marijuana dispensary that we know about in El Cajon.”  But he acknowledged, “They’re like weeds. They keep popping up.”  He added that California law often hampers enforcement efforts in a process that can take months to get illegal dispensaries shut down.

Cajon Valley Union School District trustee Jill Barto is among those who filed a complaint with El Cajon Police about the latest illegal dispensary near the Bostonia school. “I called the El Cajon Police, El Cajon City, the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) and the District Attorney,” Barto told ECM. “I said this can’t be a two month deal—this needs to be shut down now.”

NEW MURAL UNVEILED IN EL CAJON

East County News Service
 
December 19, 2019 (El Cajon) -- St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center held a ribbon cutting ceremony to unveil a new mural in historic Downtown El Cajon on Tuesday.
 
The mural, a whimsical depiction of east county flora and fauna is located on the east side of 181 East Rea Avenue (facing Suzfeld Way.) 
 
The mural was painted by Kline Swonger and is one of several colorful murals along what has become known as Alley Cat Alley, home to the annual Alley Cat Art Walk.

EL CAJON DESIGNATES HALL FAMILY RANCH HOUSE AS LOCAL HISTORIC RESOURCE

Source: City of El Cajon

December 19, 2019 (El Cajon) -- On Tuesday, December 10th, the El Cajon City Council approved designation of the Hall Family Ranch House, built in 1886, as a local historic resource. The property includes a single-family residence with a detached garage located on Provo Street in El Cajon. The 133-year-old home features a Folk Victorian architectural style. 

WHY IS IT SO HARD TO SHUT DOWN ILLEGAL POT SHOPS?

By Miriam Raftery

December 19, 2019  (San Diego’s East County) – Although personal use of cannabis is legal in California, each city and county has the right to ban or restrict sales.  But closing down illegal pot shops has become a challenge for law enforcement and a headache for neighbors, since the process often takes months and once closed, illegal dispensaries often pop up again nearby or even in the same building repeatedly.

How concerned should residents be about an illegal marijuana operation in their neighborhood?

Unlike licensed dispensaries that are subject to inspections, state and local regulations, illegal dispensaries may sell marijuana that is adulterated with contaminants and is dangerous to customers. Some illicit dispensaries locally have also been caught selling other drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamines.  They may sell drugs to minors. The operators may create hazards to neighbors by tapping illegally into electricity, overloading circuits, and if manufacturing hash oil extracted from marijuana, utilize drums filled with flammable chemicals that can and have exploded, causing fires locally.

At times, illegal dispensaries  have engendered other crimes. Robberies and shootings have occurred; illegal operators tend not to report these crimes to police.  Corruption has also allegedly happened locally. Former Rancho San Diego Sheriff Captain Marco Garmo has been indicted for allegedly tipping off his cousin, an illegal dispensary owner, on raids by law enforcement, among other federal charges that he faces.

IMPEACHMENT EVE PROTEST HELD IN EL CAJON

 

Story and photos by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

Dec. 17, 2019 (El Cajon) “I’m not a never-Trumper," said Trish F., of La Mesa, “I’m a never-narcissist. This has nothing to do with party lines." 

Trish, who wished to not disclose her full name, was one of many who showed up at an impeachment eve, impeach now protest held in El Cajon on Dec. 17.

She is a psychiatrist and says she is treating many for a variety of issues relating to Trump.

“I’ve been treating a rise in PTSD, anxiety and depression in the last three years,” she said. “There is no hope for some.” Trish, according to her patients, attributes it to the Trump presidency and campaign.

The El Cajon protest, held at the northwest street crossing of Johnson and Fletcher Parkway, was just one of many held across the country.

The line of protestors ran along the street corner, all the way to the north driveway entrances, northwest of Crunch, on the sidewalks of Westfield’s Parkway Plaza Shopping Center.

DUI CHECKPOINT IN EL CAJON TONIGHT, EXTRA HOLIDAY PATROLS NOW THROUGH JAN. 1

By Sgt. Steve Paz, El Cajon Police Department
 
Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over This Holiday Season: National Enforcement Campaign Through New Year’s
 
December 20, 2019 (El Cajon ) -- El Cajon Police Department encourages everyone attending holiday parties and gatherings where alcohol may be involved to use a designated sober driver. 
 
This holiday season, from now until New Year’s, El Cajon Police Department will have more officers on patrol looking for drivers suspected of being under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
In addition, El Cajon Police Department will hold a DUI/Driver’s License checkpoint tonight, December 20, 2019 from 8:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. in the 1400 block of east Washington Avenue in El Cajon.
 

MAN ARRESTED FOR ATTEMPTED ROBBERY IN EL CAJON; VICTIM LEFT WITH BROKEN ARM

East County News Service

December 17, 2019 (El Cajon) – El Cajon Police have arrested Ammar Hassan, 19, of San Diego for an attempted robbery that left the victim with a broken arm, ECPD announced on Dec.10.  The attempted robbery happened in the 500 block of North Mollison on Friday, December 6. 

According to Lt. Walt Miller, the victim, 44, was walking on the sidewalk when he was approached from behind and punched numerous times. He was knocked to the ground and the suspect demanded money.  The victim told the suspect he did not have any money and the suspect fled on foot.

EL CAJON STAKE CHOIR TO PRESENT CHRISTMAS CHORAL CONCERT ON SUNDAY, DEC. 15

East County News Service

December 14, 2019 (El Cajon) -- The El Cajon Stake Choir of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will present its annual evening of choral Christmas music on Sunday evening, Dec. 15 at 6 p.m. The El Cajon Stake Center is located at 1270 So. Orange Avenue (off Chase Avenue) in El Cajon.

There is no admission charge for the event.

Directed by Marilyn Harris-White, the concert will feature traditional Christmas carols including Harris-White’s own work, “The Greatest Gift.” The concert will also include John Rutter’s “Gloria.” and community sing along of holiday favorites.

EL CAJON CITY COUNCIL RAISES FINES FOR ILLEGAL TOBACCO SALES; REJECTS BAN ON VAPES AND FLAVORED TOBACCO

“My responsibility is to keep these extremely dangerous devices out of the hands of our children…This is a disaster in the making.” – Councilman Gary Kendrick

“I’m very afraid of a trend I see in our country of slowly giving away our freedoms for safety,” – Mayor Bill Wells

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Photo from City of El Cajon presentation

Watch complete coverage with public participation

Watch council members discussion before voting

December 13, 2019 (El Cajon) – The El Cajon City Council took up Councilman Gary Kendrick’s proposal last month to increase fines for illegal tobacco sales to minors and to ban flavored tobacco and vapes disguised as USB memory sticks, lipstick tubes, pens and other objects. The hike in fines passed, along with added teeth to the ordinance, including suspension of a retailer’s business license for numerous violations.

But despite many El Cajon residents and others voicing concerns over health impacts of vaping, Kendrick fell short of the votes needed to enact a ban on flavored vapes and vaping devices attractive to minors. Councilmen Steve Goble, Phil Ortiz, Mayor Bill Wells prevailed with “no” votes, over Councilmen Gary Kendrick and Bob McLellan who voted “yes.”

EAST COUNTY REALTORS TRADE GROUP HELPING COMMUNITY NONPROFITS IN NEED

East County News Service 

December 12, 2019 (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, recently awarded $13,500 to four local nonprofits. The monies represented proceeds from two PSAR fundraising events held in 2019.

FOOTHILLS CHURCH IN EL CAJON FEATURES NIGHTLY CHRISTMAS LIGHT DISPLAY; 100,000 LIGHTS SYNCHRONIZED TO MUSIC

East County News Service

December 11, 2019 (El Cajon) – Foothills Christian Church, 365 West Bradley Ave., El Cajon, is presenting its third annual “Christmas Nights at Foothills,” a free, nightly, synched-music Christmas light show featuring more than 100,000 lights, from 5 to 9 p.m. through Dec. 31. Motorists are invited to drive along West Bradley Drive, tune their car radio to 104.1-FM and enjoy the holiday light display that is synchronized to music.

APARTMENT FIRE DISPLACES 23 PEOPLE IN UNINCORPORATED EL CAJON

By Jonathan Goetz and Miriam Raftery
Photo: Jerald Western
 
December 9, 2019 (Bostonia) – A condominium fire at the Bradley Condos in the Bostonia community has displaced 23 residents and damaged nine units, according to Lakeside Fire Battalion Chief Andy Lawler.  The complex is located just east of Highway 67 and one exit north of Interstate 8. There is a fire station adjacent to the gated community, and it was sprinkling rain around the time.
 
The first firefighters on the scene from San Miguel Fire & Rescue saw light smoke and believe the fire started between walls, quickly spreading to adjacent units and the roof, ECM news partner 10 News reports. Firefighters from Lakeside, Santee and Heartland also provided mutual aid response.

POLICE SEEK HELP TO SOLVE STREET ROBBERIES IN EAST EL CAJON

By Miriam Raftery

December 8, 2019 (El Cajon) – El Cajon Police Department is warning the public about a rise in street robberies, some targeting elderly men. The robberies have occurred in the vicinity of the 1000 block of East Main Street and the 800 block of Buena Terrace in recent weeks.

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