El Cajon

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.”

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:

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.  

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

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) 

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.

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

By Miriam Raftery

Update February 2021:  Restaurants in San Diego County are now allowed to offer outdoor dining, as well as take-out, curbside pickup and delivery, under the latest state and county COVID-19 restrictions. Below are restaurants across East County, with information on the options offered by each.

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

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!

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:

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!

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.

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.

SPRING VALLEY STORAGE FACILITY OFFERS TWO MONTHS FREE STORAGE TO BUSINESSES IMPACTED BY COVID-19 AND RESIDENTS WITH CHARITABLE DONATIONS

By Miriam Raftery

May 13, 2020 (Spring Valley) – With many businesses shuttered and charities not accepting donations, one family-owned business has decided to give back to help the community. 

A Storage Space has served our region for over 30 years. Now, the company is offering two months of free storage space at its newest location in Spring Valley near Rancho San Diego for businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as for individuals who need a place to store items for charitable donations until charities reopen.

“While we are certainly feeling the strain of the current situation, we are fortunate to remain open and in business. We know a number of the business in the community are struggling right now,” says owner Bryan Grissinger, who works with many essential businesses and other companies. “We want to help our neighbors in these uncertain times. If businesses need a secure place to store their belongings while in a time of transition, this is one way we can assist.” The offer also includes waiving move-in fees.

IN TOWNHALL, LOCAL LEADERS ANSWER QUESTIONS OVER COVID-19 AND REOPENING LOCAL VENUES

By Miriam Raftery

May 12, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Supervisor Dianne Jacob hosted a virtual town hall last Thursday along with El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells and Poway Mayor Steve Vaus. They provided updates on the COVID-19 pandemic locally, addressed ideas for  more businesses, churches and other paces to reopen, and fielded questions submitted by constituents.

EL CAJON AND SANTEE MAYORS DISCUSSES LONG TERM SOCIAL COSTS AND IMPACTS OF COVID-19 IN GOP ONLINE TOWN HALL

Pandemic’s impacts on Live Nation, operator of The Magnolia performing arts center, also discussed

 

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

 

El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells Video

 

Santee Mayor John Minto Video

 

May 8, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- “When people are bored and feel trapped, they often resort to using drugs and alcohol. We’re going to see a huge increase in drug and alcohol abuse that’s going to have a corresponding effect on domestic violence and other problems like that,” said El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells (R) as a part of an hour-long question and answer webcast presented and moderated by San Diego County Republican Central Committee Chairman Tony Krvaric last Tuesday. 

"DANGEROUS" HEAT WARNING FOR DESERT, HEAT ADVISORY FOR INLAND VALLEYS ALL WEEK

 

East County News Service

May 5, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat waring for San Diego County deserts, where dangerously hot temperatures of 103 to 108 degrees are forecast each afternoon this week. In addition, a  heat advisory is in effect local valleys including the cities of Escondido, El Cajon, San Marcos, La Mesa, Santee, and Poway today through Friday.

IRAQI REFUGEE IN EL CAJON NOW SAVES LIVES MAKING MASKS FOR MEDICAL WORKERS, ASYLUM-SEEKERS AND NAVAJO NATION

By Miriam Raftery
May 4, 2020 (El Cajon) –“Helping other people was the only way that I survived through different risks and wars I went through,” says Kilian Colin, an Iraqi refugee in El Cajon who says he went through lockdowns in Iraq and Syria.  A long-time civil rights and labor activist, he has now started a mask-making campaign that is protecting thousands of the most vulnerable people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
His masks have been sent to protect healthcare workers in San Diego and in cities across the nation including had-hit New York City, as well as to farmers in the Midwest, farmworkers in Oregon, asylum seekers in Mexico, and tribal members of the Navajo Nation in Arizona.
 
How the effort began
 
“I was visiting Asia in January when the pandemic started,” says Colin, who began wearing masks in Vietnam and Taiwan.  Back home as a student at San Diego State University, he kept wearing a mask to avoid infecting others.  
 
But he recalls, “Both professors and students at SDSU were making fun of me…I had no option but to face some of those bullies and told them I was protecting them by wearing this mask, since I had no idea if I carried the virus with me home.” 
 
In mid-March, SDSU moved classes online. Without spending an hour daily commuting, Colin decided to make several masks instead and offer them online to whoever needed them, also replacing his own surgical masks that had been washed too many times to be protective.
 
“I looked online for patterns to make masks and I looked in my closet for clothes that I no longer use,” he tells East County Magazine in an exclusive interview. 

EL CAJON POLICE SEEK HELP TO FIND VANDAL AT CHURCH AND CAR DEALER: DAMAGE DELAYED DELIVERY OF PROTECTIVE GEAR TO HOSPITAL WORKERS

East County News Service 

Photos: Surveillance video

 

May 4, 2020 (El Cajon) -  El Cajon Police seek public help to find a vandal who damaged a church and car dealership, also breaking the windshield of a truck set to delivery donations of personal protective equipment to hospital workers, says Officer Sue Stoller.

COUNTY LAUNCHES MOBILE COVID-19 TESTING AFTER CONCERNS RAISED OVER RACIAL DISPARITY; ALSO ANNOUNCES JOBS FOR TRACERS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Rev. Shane Harris, People’s Alliance for Justice

 

May 2, 2020 (San Diego) – San Diego County will deploy mobile testing sites to at-risk communities. The vehicles will include a new Live Well Bus, bookmobiles and other County vehicles, the County announced on Thursday. The County also announced plans to dramatically increase tracing of contacts with each person who tests positive and announced job openings for tracers.

LIVE NATION STREAMS CONCERTS BY ARTISTS AT HOME DAILY DURING PANDEMIC, OFFERS GENEROUS OPTIONS FOR CANCELLED EVENTS

Concert cancelled?  You can get a refund – or a 150% credit, plus give tickets to healthcare workers
 
By Miriam Raftery
 
May 1, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Live Nation’s concert venues remain shut down around the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the Magnolia performing arts center in El Cajon, House of Blues in San Diego and others.  But their site proclaims, “Just because we’re keeping our distance doesn’t mean the music has to stop. Join us daily for live streams from around the globe – follow artists live form their homes as they share music, stories and more.”
 
 
If you had tickets to any upcoming shows, here’s what you need to know.  

EAST COUNTY RESIDENTS AND BUSINESSES HUNKER DOWN TO WAIT OUT PANDEMIC: CITY LEADERS SHARE VIEWS ON REOPENING

By Emmet Pierce

Photo: Creative Commons via Bing

April 27, 2020 (San Diego’s East Count) -- Despite a growing desire to return to life as normal, East County residents and businesses are following the state’s COVID-19 social distancing guidelines, officials say.  But some mayors and local business leaders voice concerns over impacts on the business community from extended closures.

LOCAL EAST COUNTY SCHOOLS BEGIN DISTANCE LEARNING AFTER MONTH-LONG SHUT DOWN

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

April 24, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- Local East County primary and secondary school began sailing in unchartered waters earlier this week when school districts began offering distance learning for their students because of the COVID-19 virus pandemic.

East County Magazine reached out to primary and high school districts across our inland region to learn what steps they are taking to educate students remotely.

EL CAJON POLICE SEEK HELP IN HOMICIDE INVESTIGATION

East County News Service

Photo: Victim Tony Montantes

April 21, 2020 (El Cajon) -- The El Cajon Police Department is asking for the public’s help in identifying and locating the suspect(s) responsible for the murder of 41-year-old Tony Montantes. On March 16th at approximately 9:55 p.m., Tony Montantes was standing on the sidewalk in the area of E. Main St. and S. First St. in El Cajon when an unknown suspect fired several gunshots at him. As a result, Montantes was struck multiple times. Despite life saving measures by El Cajon Police officers, paramedics and hospital staff, Montantes was pronounced dead. The suspect(s) were last seen fleeing the area in a vehicle.

42 NURSING HOME PATIENTS IN EL CAJON DIAGNOSED WITH COVID-19: VIRUS HAS CAUSED 7,000 DEATHS TIED TO NURSING HOMES NATIONWIDE

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Creative Commons via Bing

April 18, 2020 (El Cajon) – COVID-19 is having a devasting impact on nursing home patients. Nationwide, over 7,000 nursing home-related deaths have occurred, the New York Times reported on Friday in a headline that referred to the facilities as “death pits.”

Today, the California Health Department for the first time released statistics on coronavirus cases in nursing facilities. Locally, the hardest hit area is El Cajon, where 42 patients have been diagnosed with the virus in three nursing homes:  Country Hills Post Acute (19), Bradley Court (12), and Avocado Post Acute (11).

EL CAJON CITY COUNCIL APPROVES MAJOR RESPONSE TO COVID-19: $1 MILLION TO AID RESIDENTS, HOMELESS, AND BUSINESSES

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Video Coverage

City of El Cajon press release on COVID-19 actions

 

April 17, 2020 (El Cajon) -- The El Cajon City Council unanimously voted on Tuesday to set forth a major million-dollar effort to support local residents, businesses, and the homeless during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic crisis, extending after the state declares the emergency over.

The City Council approved a dozen programs to help the community including:

  • Providing residents assistance with utility bills and rent
  • Delaying sewer bills through June and eliminating any late sewer fees in 2020
  • Assisting seniors to access groceries
  • Promoting and financially supporting existing food distribution throughout the community
  • Setting up a business resource website and reaching out to businesses
  • Waiving late business license renewal penalties
  • No longer enforcing banner and temporary use regulations at business sites
  • Providing additional homeless shelter opportunities, providing transportation to the homeless to access regional resources
  • Providing free on-line recreation classes, discounted structured recreation classes after the emergency declaration has been terminated.

In addition, the City Council adopted a resolution strongly recommending that owners of rental properties in the City to refrain from raising rent for a 60-day period beginning Apr. 15.

ANOTHER "PHOENIX" TRANSFORMATION COMING SOON TO EL CAJON: OLD SALVATION ARMY BUILDING DEMOLISHED FOR MIXED USE DEVELOPMENT

By Robert Gehr
 
April 16, 2020 (El Cajon) -- The former Salvation Army Thrift Store at the corner of Main Street and Magnolia Avenue (101 East Main St.) in El Cajon is being demolished to make way for a future mixed-use building.
 
This once busy location has been vacant and dilapidated for many years, damaged by an earthquake that occurred on Easter Sunday in 2010.  It is now in the final phase of demolition.
 
This site in the heart of downtown El Cajon is the future home of a mixed use building. Lower floor will be for commercial use of an as yet undetermined business, with about 11,000 feet of space, with 15 residential units above.
 
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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever. In light of COVID-19 we cancelled our monthly East County Dining Club fundraisers. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.
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Click Read more for a herculean looking bulldozer, and more!
 

CAJON VALLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT FILES RESTRAINING ORDER AGAINST BOARD TRUSTEE JILL BARTO

 

CVUSD contends Barto interfering at school meal handouts; claim disputed by CVUSD Personnel Commission member

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

April 16, 2020 (El Cajon) The ongoing legal clashes between embattled longtime Cajon Valley Union School District Board member Jill Barto continued last week when the district lobbed another salvo at her by filing a temporary restraining order (TRO) against her.

The injunction enjoins Barto from being present at the district's student food distribution efforts at its schools. Like other districts around the state, Cajon Valley continues to provide meal services to its 17,000 students, although it has shut down regularly scheduled instruction at its schools until further notice. According to a video release produced by the district, it produces 4,000 lunches a day at its child nutrition center.

HOW EAST COUNTY REALTORS GROUP IS COMMUNICATING WITH ITS MEMBERS DURING COVID-19

East County News Service

April 13, 2020 (El Cajon) – The Pacific Southwest Association of Realtors (PSAR), one of San Diego’s largest real estate trade associations for San Diego-area realtors with an office in El Cajon, is making efforts to keep its members informed during the coronavirus crisis.

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