La Mesa/Mt. Helix

WELCOME, LA MESANS!

Our La Mesa section covers the communities of La Mesa and Mount Helix.  Click here to read some fascinating facts about La Mesa and Mt. Helix.  Click here for links to city services, activities, shopping, business groups, farmers’ market,  schools, library, hospital, service groups, theaters, transportation, utilities, weather and more in La Mesa.


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LA MESA MAN, 20, KILLED IN DULZURA HEAD-ON COLLISION

By Miriam Raftery

July 10, 2020 (La Mesa) – The driver killed in a head-on collision in Dulzura on June 27 has been identified as 20-year-old Joshua Ruben Valtierra of La Mesa. He was driving south on State Route 94, also known as Campo Road, east of Little Tecate Road in Dulzura when an oncoming vehicle veered over the center line and struck Valtierra’s vehicle head-on.

Valtierra’s vehicle overturned and plunged down an embankment. Paramedics responded to a 9-1-1 call. Valtierra’s death of blunt force injuries sustained in the crash was confirmed at the scene, the Medical Examiner reports.

The California Highway Patrol is investigating the collision.


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LA MESA PLANS TWO MEETINGS JULY 14: AGENDAS INCLUDE LEASE OF FORMER POLICE STATION SITE, HOMELESS GRANT, SEWER FEE CHANGES, AND FUTURE TOWNHALL ON PROTEST AND RIOT

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 10, 2020 (La Mesa) – The La Mesa City Council will hold two meetings on  Tuesday, July 14:  a special meeting at 5 p.m. followed by the regularly scheduled 6 p.m. Council meeting, both via teleconference.

At the 5 p.m. special session, Council will discuss whether to consider a potential ground lease of the old police station site at the southeast corner of Allison and Date avenues to USA Properties Fund for a housing project. A closed session conference with a real property negotiator will follow the special session.

During the 6 p.m. meeting,  the agenda includes:

  • A presentation by the Climate Action Campaign
  • Interviews with applicants for city boards and commissions
  • Shifting sewer service charges to the county property tax roll
  • Consideration of a grant application to the Permanent Local Housing Allocation Program fund homeless services in La Mesa
  • A proposal by Mayor Mark Arapostathis and Councilmember Akilah Weber to hold a future town hall meeting on the May 30 events that included protests, a confrontation at the police station, and an ensuing riot.

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LMPD CHIEF RECEIVES REPORT ON AMAURIE JOHNSON INCIDENT NEAR TROLLEY STATION

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Amaurie Johnson, courtesy of Ken Stone, Times of San Diego

July 10, 2020 (La Mesa) – Today, the city of La Mesa announced that an external investigation has been completed into a controversial incident that occurred May27 involved a La Mesa Police officer and Amaurie Johnson.  The result of the external investigation has been forwarded to LMPD Chief Walt Vasquez for his review and a determination on what action if any will be taken.

No further details were provided and the report has not been made public.


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LA MESA AUTHORIZES RESTAURANTS TO SET UP OUTDOOR DINING AREAS

By Miriam Raftery

File photo, taken prior to the pandemic: Curbside, one of La Mesa's newest eateries, was designed for only limited outside seating. The new executive order could enable restaurants such as Curbside to expand onto sidewalks or streets, with permission of the City Manager and adherance to other laws.

July 9, 2020 (La Mesa)  -- The La Mesa City Manager today issued an executive order under emergency powers granted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The order temporarily allows use of public and private outdoor areas by eating establishments for dining, after county health officials banned indoor dining for three weeks starting July 6 due to a growing number of coronavirus cases including some tied to restaurants and bars.

Restaurants must obtain written authorization from the Director of Community Development and comply with all social distancing and other COVID-19 related health orders, as well as all other laws. This includes city and county emergency orders, state laws such as Alcoholic Beverage Control rules, and federal laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Per the executive order, there is no City fee charged or permit required for businesses that receive authorization to use public and private outdoor areas for dining.  Businesses interested in obtaining written authorization for temporary use of public and private outdoor areas should contact Allyson Kinnard, Senior Planner at akinnard@cityoflamesa.us.


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ILLEGAL FIREWORKS SPARK FIRES AND A BARRAGE OF COMPLAINTS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Screenshot of KCAL video showing llegal fireworks across Los Angeles

July 8, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – With fireworks shows cancelled or not allowing on-site viewing due to COVID-19, use of illegal fireworks skyrocketed across southern California. This video by KCAL shows a panorama of illegal fireworks in Los Angeles, where an illegal fireworks display burned down eight apartments and injured five people, CBS reported.

In a normal year, July 4th fireworks cause 19,000 fires nationwide. But this year, residents across San Diego County and elsewhere say the problem was far worse.

San Miguel Fire Department, in response to an ECM records request, confirms their firefighters were dispatched to halt three fires caused by fireworks. One near Campo and Millar Ranch roads burned down 10 trees near a wildlife preserve and church.  Another firecracker ignited a neighbor’s backyard on Redfield Street. A third was spotted in a Spring Valley canyon behind Barcelona Street.


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LA MESA FARMERS MARKET IS OPEN AGAIN

By Miriam Raftery

July 2, 2020 (La Mesa) – Now you can once again purchase farm-fresh produce directly from local farmers. The La Mesa Certified Farmer’s Market has reopened for in-person visitors on Fridays from 3 to 7 p.m. The market is  located along La  Mesa Blvd. between Palm Ave. and 4th Street, but with some changes due to COVID-19.

The farmer’s market was briefly closed, then opened for pre-ordered curbside delivery only. Now the market is back open to the public, but with the following rules, provided by the La Mesa Village Association:


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FIRST ROUND OF RELIEF FUNDS DISTRIBUTED TO 27 LA MESA BUSINESSES DAMAGED DURING CIVIL UNREST

By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  Don Buxton, owner of Play It Again Sports, accepts La Mesa Disaster Recovery Fund relief check. His store suffered looting, fire and smoke damage.

July 1, 2020 (La Mesa) – Relief checks of $5,000 each from the La Mesa Disaster Recovery Fund were distributed to 27 business owners on Tuesday, in the first of two rounds of funding.  


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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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DESPITE LOSING BUILDING TO ARSON, RANDALL LAMB ASSOCIATES JOINS EFFORT TO HELP OTHER BUSINESSES DAMAGED DURING RIOT

The Phair Company and Lions Club of La Mesa also make major contributions

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: Flames engulf Randall Lamb Associates building

June 24, 2020 (La Mesa) – Among the many local companies stepping forward with donations to help businesses damaged by looting, vandalism or arson on May 30-31, one name stands out. The Randall Lamb Associates’  building burned to the ground, yet its owners have generously given $5,000 to help others rebuild their businesses and their lives.


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READER’S EDITORIAL: REFLECTIONS ON RECENT EVENTS AND CHALLENGES TO PRESERVE CULTURAL HISTORY IN LA MESA

By Jim Newland, President, La Mesa Historical Society

June 23, 2020 (La Mesa) - The past few weeks’ events and experiences, including those in our local community, can only remind us of our nation’s challenging history of discrimination, violence and racism.  This is a very personal history for many that sadly continues into the present. 


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A PASTOR BRINGS SPIRITUAL SUPPORT TO THOSE IN NEED DURING RIOTS

By Briana Gomez

 

Photo by Jake Rose: Pastor Ferguson in La Mesa, as police guard street while firefighters battle flames at the Randall Lamb Building

 

June 23, 2020 (La Mesa) -- After being sighted praying amid the La Mesa riots the night of May 30th, Pastor Travis Ferguson has found himself in unexpected limelight as a symbol of hope for La Mesa.


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MISSING LA MESA MAN FOUND IN SANTEE

 

Update 10 p.m.:  La Mesa Police confirms that Al Buki has been found safe in Santee and reunited with his family.

East County News Service

June 22, 2020 (La Mesa) -- La Mesa Police is asking for public help to locate Attila "Al" Buki, who has been missing since last night around 7 p.m., when he left his independent living residence in the 7900 block of Culowee Street.  He is on foot and does not have access to a vehicle.

Police report that according to a family member, Buki has cognitive delays, and suffers from dementia caused by multiple strokes that he has suffered in the past.

He frequents the area of the nearby La Mesa Springs shopping center (8011 University Avenue) but otherwise has no other expected local destinations.


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UNIONS HOLD RALLY ON JUNETEENTH IN LA MESA

Story, photos and videos by Henri Migala
 
June 20, 2020 (La Mesa) -- La Mesa was once again the location of demonstration in support for Black Lives Matter.  This time the event was sponsored by many Labor Unions, which make up the San Diego Imperial County Labor Council, and was promoted as the Labor for Black Lives Caravan. It was held on June 19th, a date  known as Juneteenth which commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S.

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LESLIE FURCRON SAID SHE WAS ENTERING A “RIOT” AND CALLED TO “BURN” DOWN LA MESA POLICE STATION BEFORE SHE WAS SHOT WITH BEANBAG

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Chris Stone, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

June 20, 2020 (La Mesa) – The attorney for Leslie Furcron, the woman shot in the head with a beanbag projectile May 30 outside the La Mesa Police station, has characterized her as a “peaceful” protester. A police incident narration claims she threw an object at Sheriff’s officers before she was fired at from 40 yards and struck in the head with the beanbag. While it is unclear on her cell phone video whether she threw an object or not, what is clear is that she, or someone narrating the video taken on her cell phone, advocated burning down the police station while she was in the car driving to the station.


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SANTEE CARJACKING SUSPECT ARRESTED IN LA MESA

By Miriam Raftery

June 19, 2020 (Santee) – A suspect is in custody after reportedly threatening to kill a 77-year-old woman and her family, then forcing the victim out of her car and driving off with her purse and cell phone.  The carjacking occurred shortly before 1 p.m. today in the 9800 block of Mission Gorge Road in Santee.

Sheriff’s deputies and La Mesa Police officers found the suspect, Chris DiSalvo, 30, sitting in the stolen car in the 4600 block of Palm Drive in La Mesa. 

“Upon seeing law enforcement DiSalvo took off, but crashed into a tree,” said Sergeant Michael Tingley with the Sheriff’s Department.“He then ran into an apartment complex."


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PHOTO OF THE WEEK: LA MESA LIONS CLUB DELIVERS MEALS TO CAREGIVERS

East County News Service 

June 19, 2020 (La Mesa) – Members of the La Mesa Lions Club delivered meals to caregivers at Sharp Grossmont Hospital last month in appreciation for their efforts.  Left to right, photo shows two nurses from an ICU unit on a COVID-19 floor, Lions Club Vice Presidents Joyce James and Mary Rynearson, Beth Morgante, CEO of Grossont Hospital Foundation and La Mesa Lions member David Shaw, Elbert Kim, La Mesa Lions Club President, and Cupid’s Caterers representatives.


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LA MESA TASK FORCE ADOPTS AGGRESSIVE SCHEDULE IN HOPES OF GETTING POLICE OVERSIGHT BOARD ON BALLOT

By Kendra Sitton

Photo: Jack Shu has proposed a ballot measure to create a police oversight commission for La Mesa.

June 17, 2020 (La Mesa) -- In a meeting Wednesday, June 17, the Citizen Oversight Task Force set a plan in motion that could culminate in a November ballot initiative to bring a strong police oversight commission to La Mesa.

After missing several meetings due to the coronavirus, the group resumed meeting in the wake of mass protests and riots over the La Mesa Police Department’s mistreatment of the Black community.


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HELP SOUGHT TO IDENTIFY THOSE WHO LOOTED PIERRE’S JEWELERS IN LA MESA

By Miriam Raftery

June 17, 2020 (La Mesa) – The La Mesa Police Dept. is asking for public help to identify suspects caught on surveillance video breaking into and looting Pierre’s Jewelers on La Mesa Blvd. the night of May 30th, when dozens of businesses were looted and others burned following protests.  


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SYCUAN SUPPORTS LA MESA BUSINESS COMMUNITY WITH $5,000 DONATION

East County News Service
 
Photo courtesy of the La Mesa Chamber of Commerce
 
June 16, 2020 (La Mesa) — The Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation has donated $5,000 to help La Mesa businesses impacted by civil unrest the night of May 30th.  

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FERN PLATT HALL LIVES A LIFE OF GOOD DEEDS

By Mimi Pollack, San Diego Jewish World, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Photo:  Jeff and Fern (Platt) Hall with their dog Chico

June 16, 2020 (La Mesa) - Growing up in the last century, it was not always easy being outside of the box.  In most cultures and countries, one followed a certain path:  go to school, work an eight-hour job, get married, have kids, etc. For those of us who didn’t follow all or part of the path, we were mostly accepted, but with questions. For that reason, I have always admired humans–especially women--who lived their lives by their own rules and beliefs.  A good example of someone who has lived both a life of adventure and service is Fern Platt Hall. She is a good example of a kind, but no nonsense, adventurous spirit.


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CITY OF LA MESA HIRES NEW ASSISTANT CITY MANAGER CARLO TOMAINO

East County News Service
Photo: Tomaino, Carlo - Assistant City Manager
Source: City of La Mesa, California
 
June 16, 2020 (La Mesa) -- After an extensive, national recruitment process, Carlo Tomaino has been chosen for the Assistant City Manager position for the City of La Mesa,. Mr. Tomaino comes to La Mesa after thirteen years at the City of Lake Forest, California where he was the Economic Development/Housing Manager for the past three years. Mr. Tomaino was responsible for Lake Forest’s economic development programs, including business attraction and retention strategies, marketing outreach, and communication. He coordinated the economic development function with city departments and outside agencies.

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LA MESA DISASTER RECOVERY FUND REGISTRATION PROCESS NOW OPEN FOR AFFECTED BUSINESSES

East County News Service

A convenient online registration process is now available for La Mesa businesses damaged during civil unrest overnight on Saturday, May 30, and Sunday, May 31 to receive money from the La Mesa Disaster Recovery Fund.

The East County Economic Development Council (ECEDC) is supporting the effort initiated through the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce and La Mesa Chamber of Commerce. It will receive and manage the applications on its website.

“We had one single objective at this stage of this process: making registration and documentation as easy and quick as possible,” said Jo-Marie Diamond, President and CEO of the East County Economic Development Council.  

Businesses can register through an online form on the East County Economic Development Council website. Applicants able to complete their registration by Friday, June 26 and have it verified will be part of the Phase I distribution.


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PEACEFUL UNITY RALLY ROARS INTO LA MESA

By Henri Migala

Rebecca Jefferis Williamson also contributed to this report.

Photo, left, by Henri Migala: La Mesa Police Chief Walt Vasquez speaks with protesters

June 14, 2020 (La Mesa) -- Before you could see them, you could hear them.  With a rumble that made the air vibrate, over 215 motorcyclists from approximately 15 motorcycle clubs rolled into the parking lot across the street from the police station in La Mesa. The riders joined another 150 protesters who were waiting at the parking lot for what was billed as a “Unity Ride Meets Unity Protest”. 

This was the very site of the now infamous clash between La Mesa police and protesters that happened on Saturday, May 30 during the national protests over police violence prompted by the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis officer now charged with murder.


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LA MESA SETTLED SUIT WITH HELIX HIGH STUDENT IN OFFICER USE OF FORCE INCIDENT

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Student walk-out at Helix Charter High School in January 2018 

June 15, 2020 (La Mesa) – The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Friday that the City of La Mesa quietly signed an agreement back on Sept 5, 2019 to settle a lawsuit filed by a Helix Charter High School student over a use-of-force incident shown on a video that went viral.  


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LA MESA GIRDS FOR “UNITY PROTEST AND RIDE” SUNDAY, JUNE 14

By Miriam Raftery

June 13, 2020 (La Mesa) – La Mesa Police Department has sent an alert out to inform the public of a protest planned tomorrow at 1 p.m. at the La Mesa Police Department.  The LMPD advisory indicates the protest is expected to be peaceful and that protesters free speech rights will be respected, but that mutual aid from law enforcement agencies across the county are prepared to respond to protect La Mesa if that situation changes.

According to a flyer posted on social media sites, the “Unity Protest” will welcome motorcyclists from clubs across the region in a “Unity Ride” starting in San Diego and ending at the LMPD station, where two weeks ago a protest against police violence that began peacefully ended in assaults tageting police and a barrage of nonlethal weapons fired at protesters, followed by a rampage of looting, vandalism, and the burning of buildings and vehicles.


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LA MESA BUSINESSES FILE DAMAGE CLAIMS AFTER RIOT; ATTORNEY HAS TIPS ON LOSS CLAIMS DUE TO RIOTING OR PANDEMIC

GoFundMe Site raises over $200,000 to help local businesses

By Mike Allen

Photos by Henri Magala

June 12, 2020 (La Mesa) -- Steve Clay first got wind that his family’s package mail business, The Postal Annex, was being looted from an app he has on his phone.


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MORE ARRESTS MADE FOR CRIMES DURING RIOTS IN LA MESA

 

Scroll down for images of more crimes commited during the May 31 La Mesa riot, including arsonists not yet apprehended

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: This image of looters circulated widely on social media.

June 12, 2020 (La Mesa) – La Mesa Police yesterday announced new arrests related to the May 30 riot in La Mesa, the latest for looting stores at Grossmont Center and the La Mesa Springs shopping center. Though the riots occurred in the aftermath of a Black Lives Matter protest over police use of force, those arrested so far include white, Hispanic and black suspects.


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LA MESA COUNCIL VOTES FOR INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION OF PROTEST AND RIOT RESPONSES; HEARS HEATED COMMENTS FROM PUBLIC

By Briana Gomez

Photo by Paul Kruze: Officers guarding City Hall, where the City Clerk's office was set afire during the riot  on May 30

The City of La Mesa held a heated livestream city council meeting Tuesday with council members socially distanced via zoom,  the first public meeting since the May 30 riots that followed protests for black lives.

The Council unanimously voted to have an outside investigator review police, fire department and other city agencies’ actions during the protest and rioting that ended with multiple businesses looted, vehicles burned, two banks and a historic building burned down.  

Council members reviewed their agenda before public comments, most of which criticized the La Mesa Police Department for its recent treatment of the black community, perceived mismanagement of what began as a peaceful protest, and for not preventing the city from burning down during riots that ensued.


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LA MESA POLICE SHOT LESLIE FURCRON FOR CRYING "MURDERERS," LAWYER SAYS

By Ken and Chris Stone, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego News Association

Photo:  Leslie Furcron, a 59-year-old grandmother who was injured during a protest in front of the La Mesa Police Department, thanked her hospital caregivers but said she is still very weak and will need nursing care. Photo by Chris Stone

June 11, 2020 (La Mesa) - Leslie Furcron spoke for three minutes outside La Mesa City Hall on Wednesday — her first public remarks since being shot in the face during a La Mesa police station protest. But her lawyer said she was wounded for being heard saying “Murderers.”


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