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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CAMPO MAN CHARGED WITH BURNING HISTORIC RANDALL LAMB BUILDING IN LA MESA DURING RIOT

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photos and video by Jake Rose

December 2, 2020 (La Mesa)—La Mesa Police announce the arrest of Daniel Sandoval, 43, of Campo.  He is charged with arson and felony vandalism of the historic Randall Lamb building, which was set on fire during a riot on May 30-31 in downtown La Mesa, says Lt. Greg Runge.

The building had been designated a historic structure by the La Mesa Historical Society. Due to the extensive damage, it was declared a total loss.

Sandoval was arrested near his home yesterday, according to a news release issued by LMPD. He has been booked into San Diego County Jail on the warrant with bail set at $500,000.


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PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: MOONRISE OVER EAST COUNTY

Photo credit:  Dawn Hough Sebaugh Photography

November 30, 2020 (Casa De Oro) – Dawn Hough Sebaugh sent in this photo taken from the deck of her Mt. Helix home, looking eastward as a golden-hued moon rose over East County’s mountains.

View more of her photographs and artwork at https://www.facebook.com/DHSartstudios.


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LA MESA INTERESTED IN COMMUNITY INPUT REGARDING NEXT CHIEF OF POLICE

Source: City of La Mesa
 
November 29, 2020 (La Mesa) - The City of La Mesa is interested in community input from La Mesa residents and business owners within the City regarding its next Chief of Police. Please visit the City’s survey www.surveymonkey.com/r/LMPDChiefofPolice to complete the short survey by 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 31, 2020.
 
For additional information on the recruitment process please click the following link:

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UNION BANK SURPRISES PINK ROSE CAFÉ OWNER IN LA MESA WITH $5,000 GIFT

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo by Sandra Small, La Mesa Chamber of Commerce
 
November 22, 2020 (La Mesa)  -- After Union Bank of La Mesa burned down amid civil unrest on May 31, Nadia Zamora, owner of the Pink Rose Café, organized on social media to collect messages of hope, love and peace. She and other volunteers hung those messages on a safety fence around the rubble of the burned bank. 

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MAKE THE HOLIDAY BRIGHTER FOR HOMEBOUND LA MESA SENIORS

East County News Service

 

November 21, 2020 (La Mesa) – The La Mesa Chamber of Commerce is seeking donated items to brighten the holidays for 24 homebound seniors in La Mesa. All items must be received by Friday, November 27, 2020, to be included in the senior gift bags and baskets.

 

All of the gifts are wrapped and placed in decorative baskets, so that our seniors receive these gifts with a festive flair. 


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‘TIS THE SEASON FOR HOLIDAY FAVORITES AT CASA DE PICO: TURKEY MOLE TAMALES, PUMPKIN FLAN AND MORE

East County News Service

Photo: Turkey Mole Tamales, courtesy of Bazaar del Mundo Restaurants.

November 19, 2020 (La Mesa) – This holiday season, Diane Powers’ award-winning Bazaar del Mundo Restaurants – Casa de Pico in La Mesa, Casa Guadalajara in Old Town, and Casa de Bandini in Carlsbad, are welcoming guests to enjoy special holiday dishes infused with authentic Mexican flavors. Each restaurant will offer an annual favorite for both dine-in and take-out orders: Turkey Mole Tamales, two handmade tamales filled with turkey, raisins, chopped pecans and apples, all topped with a mole sauce and sesame seeds.

With vibrant and spacious courtyards, the restaurant patios overflow with festive and colorful decor providing a visual feast for all, as well as ample outdoor heating and increased seating. In compliance with State guidelines, San Diego County has moved into the purple tier, limiting services to outdoor dining only and Powers is following a strict plan that will provide a safe environment for her customers.

The holiday menus are available through the New Year and vary by restaurant; with dishes including:


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JOIN LA MESA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND ASSIST CHILDREN OF MILITARY FAMILIES IN LA MESA MILITARY HOUSING

Source: La Mesa Chamber of Commerce
Photo: CC by NC-ND
 
November 18, 2020 (La Mesa) - Want to make a difference this holiday season for the children of military personnel who live in La Mesa military housing? Then join the members of the La Mesa Chamber of Commerce and purchase toys, diapers, gift cards and other items that will make their holiday season special. 
 
The Chamber is again coordinating this holiday project with Lincoln Military Housing and are collecting toys, diapers and other items for children of military families living in La Mesa military housing between the ages of 2 -13 years old. Lincoln Military Housing facilitates holiday events for over 2,000 military children within our region. This project allows the La Mesa Chamber of Commerce to continue their commitment to making a difference in La Mesa and the lives of those within our community.

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SOME CHURCHES AND RESTAURANTS FLOUT RULES, OTHERS COMPLY AS PURPLE TIER SHUTDOWNS COMMENCE

 

Story and photos by Jake Rose

Miriam Raftery contributed to this report

 

Photos, left: Parishioners at Skyline Church flock to indoor services, many without masks

November 15, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- Skyline Church in the unincorporated area of La Mesa and Shadow Mountain in El Cajon had full parking lots for Sunday morning services, despite new Purple Tier restrictions now in effect throughout the county.

Purple tier restrictions started at midnight Saturday, due to rising numbers of Covid-19 cases. Purple tier, or Tier 1, is the most restrictive level for California and comes into play when positive tests exceed 8%. Many non-essential business operations must close, places of worship, restaurants and gyms must move all activity outdoors, and retail must cut capacity to 25%.

With businesses already struggling after the initial lockdown followed by an overall slowdown due to the public’s worry about the coronavirus, this second lockdown has some businesses and places of worship around East County flouting the new restrictions.


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SOME BUSINESSES AND CHURCHES SET TO DEFY SHUTDOWN ORDERS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo,left: Major's Diner in Pine Valley, a long-time roadside stop for travelers also popular with local residents, could not survive another shut down in winter weather, the owner says.

November 13, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Several East County business owners and at least one megachurch have announced intentions to defy a new state mandate to shut down indoor services starting Saturday.  In addition, El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells says police in his city won’t prioritize enforcement of businesses that remain open despite public health orders.

Places of worship, gyms, restaurants and movie theaters are ordered to stop indoor operations under state mandates due to high rates of COVID-19 that have moved San Diego County into the purple tier.  Retailers are supposed to cut service to 25% capacity and any schools not yet reopened are prohibited from doing so.

Restaurants and bars have been tied to 9.2% of all COVID cases in San Diego County from June 6 through November 7, or 3,666 cases, according to newly released county health data. Even with many modifications, the most recent two weeks of data from October 25 to November 7 show 389 cases tied to restaurants and bars, or 10.01% of total new cases—more than any other specific business category.

Yet some restaurant owners say they’re done with shutdowns and would be unable to survive another shutdown as winter approaches.


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LA MESA HOLIDAY IN THE VILLAGE RETURNS WITH SOCIALLY DISTANCED HOLIDAY CRAFT MARKET DEC. 5

Source: La Mesa Village Association

November 12, 2020 (La Mesa) -- With the uncertainty of tradition for the 2020 Holiday Season, the La Mesa Village Association is proud to announce the return of the beloved 5th Annual Holiday in the Village! In a modified Craft Market format that has been approved by County and City officials, we will once again be ringing in holiday cheer for everyone far and near!

On Saturday, December 5th in the La Mesa Village from 10 a.m.to 9 p.m., friends and family will have the chance to take part in the FREE festive fun with holiday music, craft vendors, a food court, and a unique holiday photo station for classic joy and cheer!


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ANDERSON TAKES RAZOR-THIN LEAD OVER VAUS IN SUPERVISOR RACE; SANTEE COUNCIL CANDIDATES ALSO IN NEAR TIE

Update November 22, 2020:  Joel Anderson now leads by 284 votes over Steve Vaus, with 7,500 ballots left to be tallied countywide.  In Santee, Dustin Trotter is ahead by just seven votes over Samantha Hurst.

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 11, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – With 33,000 votes countywide remaining to be tallied, but far fewer ballots left in individual races, the latest update from the San Diego County Registrar of Voters shows several major contests in East County are still too close to call.

In the important race to fill retiring Supervisor Dianne Jacob’ district 2 seat, former State Senator Joel Anderson has taken a scant seven-vote lead over Poway Mayor Steve Vaus. 

Santee’s City Council race to fill an open seat, meanwhile, has Samantha “Samm” Hurst retaking the lead over Dustin Trotter by just two votes after being tied just one day earlier.


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LA MESA HISTORICAL HOME TOUR GOES VIRTUAL WITH HOMES THROUGH THE AGES OVER THE PAST CENTURY

By Miriam Raftery

November 10, 2020 (La Mesa) – On November 14 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., La Mesa Historical Society invites you to join President Jim Newland for a look back at the first 14 years of the La Mesa Home Tour.  This free event celebrates the city’s architectural gems from the Gilded Age to the Space Age.  It will be streamed live on the Society's Facebook page. RSVP to receive a reminder notice.


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HELIX WATER DISTRICT INCUMBENTS ALL WIN RE-ELECTION AFTER DISTRICT DELAYS RATE INCREASE DUE TO COVID-19

By Jonathan Goetz 
 
Photos (L – R): McMillan, Scalzitti & Gracyk (source: Helix Water District)
 
November 9, 2020 (La Mesa) – Directors Dan McMillan, Joel Scalzitti and Mark Gracyk will all return to the Helix Water District Board, after voters rewarded the incumbents for delaying rate increases due to COVID-19, when many ratepayers are struggling financially. Instead, Helix is dipping into its reserves.
 
McMillan defeated Doug Sterling with 75% of the vote.  Scalzitti took 57% of the vote in a four-candidate race, topping Vickie Knight Butcher who got 27%, Lu Tejeda 12%, and Tyler Logan 4%. Gracyk ran unopposed. 

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CAMPAIGNING AMID A PANDEMIC: LEADING COUNCIL CANDIDATES SHARE EXPERIENCES AND GOALS

View the interview at https://youtu.be/4zjc_ssHY8g

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Former Lemon Grove Councilman George Gastil is poised to regain his seat.

November 7, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Who are the potential newest faces on East County City Councils—and what was it like to campaign amid a pandemic?

ECM invited all non-incumbents leading in East County City Council races as of November 5 for a Zoom interview to share secrets of their apparent successes and what they hope to accomplish if they win their elections to become the newcomers on local councils.


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BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS OF EAST COUNTY HONORED EAST COUNTY PHILANTHROPISTS RON AND MARY ALICE BRADY

East County News Service

November 7, 2020 (La Mesa) – The Boys & Girls Clubs of East County (BGCEC) recently honored husband-and-wife philanthropists Ron and Mary Alice Brady of La Mesa. The Bradys were the inaugural recipient of the BGCEC Community Award in recognition of their longstanding charitable commitment and dedication to supporting children in the East County.


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PARENT, SHU LEAD IN LA MESA CITY COUNCIL RACE

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: left to right: Allan Durden, Colin Parent, Mark Papenfuss, Kristine Alessio, Jack Shu, Laura Lothian

November 3, 2020 (La Mesa) – Councilman Colin Parent and Jack Shu, both endorsed by the Democratic Party, are leading in the La Mesa City Council race with 25.15% and 24.76% respectively in a field of six candidates with two seats up for grabs.  If the current lead holds, incumbent Kristine Alessio may lose her seat.

While some feared an anti-incumbent backlash in the wake of the May 30 riot, that does not appear to have impacted the leaders in this race.  However, both Parent and Shu supported formation of La Mesa’s Citizens Police Oversight Board and a citizens advisory committee on homelessness. Parent appears to have weathered controversy over developer donations over a proposed homeless shelter that was later withdrawn by the county. 

Shu told ECM, ""The early results look very good but I'm waiting for more ballots to be counted before presuming anything.  However, there is a clear message that La Mesa is ready for positive change. I'd like to thank the community for the tremendous outpouring of support we've received and my campaign team and volunteers who did a phenomenal job."


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EARLY BELL RINGS IN EAST COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD RACES

By Robin N. Kendall

Photo via Bing

November 3, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) — It has been a topsy turvy year for everyone, especially for the area’s school children. Voters weighed enthusiasm, experience and ethics as they chose the next crew of school board trustees, who ultimately will help steer schools out of the rough seas of this quarantine.

On election night, as of early returns at 10:30 p.m., here are our observations.


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TWO ARRESTED FOR ARSON ON CHASE BANK BUILDING DURING VIOLENT MAY PROTEST IN LA MESA

Source: Joint news release issued by La Mesa Police Department, San Diego Police Department, and San Diego FBI

Photo by Jake Rose

November 3, 2020 (La Mesa) - – Two men are in custody, charged with arson and looting, in connection with destructive fires intentionally set in La Mesa during a protest that turned violent in May.


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LA MESA ADDRESSES YOUTH IN THE AGE OF COVID

By Briana Gomez
 
Image via Alexandra Koch from Pixabay
 
November 1, 2020 (La Mesa) -- The City of La Mesa Community Relations and Veterans Commission and the Youth Advisory Commission hosted a zoom summit Wednesday on youth in the age of COVID.

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READER’S EDITORIAL: LA MESA CANNOT TRUST COLIN PARENT

By Aaron Amerling

 

October 29, 2020 (La Mesa) -- Over the past four years, it has become apparent that the citizens of La Mesa can not trust Colin Parent to do what is in the community's best interest, and only what’s in his personal or donor’s best interests.


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COMMUNITY POLICE OVERSIGHT BOARD RECRUITMENT NOW OPEN

Source: City of La Mesa

Photo: Themis, Blind Justice, Cast Bronze by Design Toscano

Click here to apply

October 28, 2020 (La Mesa) – Applications are now being accepted for the newly created Community Police Oversight Board (“CPOB”). The deadline for submission of applications is 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, December 1, 2020, in the City Clerk’s office at La Mesa City Hall, 8130 Allison Avenue. Applications may be obtained at City Hall or from the City of La Mesa website.

The CPOB will provide recommendations to the Chief of Police, Mayor, City Council, and City Manager on the La Mesa Police Department procedures and policies and on matters of public safety within the City. The CPOB will consist of an 11 member panel (must be residents of the City of La Mesa) as follows:


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FRAZIER FARMS MARKET BRINGS NEW NATURAL FOODS STORE TO LA MESA

East County News Service

 

Photos, top, by Miriam Raftery 

 

October 26, 2020 (La Mesa) – La Mesa Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting October 20 at the new Frazier Farms Market at the corner of Jackson Drive and Fletcher Parkway.

 

“We are pleased that they had the vision to open their third market in La Mesa. We were thrilled to welcome this family-owned business to our community,” says chamber president Mary England.  La Mesa Mayor Mark Arapostathis joined the celebration along with Frazier Farms owners Norman and Kathe Frazier and their sons Matt, Nick and Alex Frazier.


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LA MESA ADOPTS COMMUNITY POLICE OVERSIGHT BOARD

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo: Councilmember Akilah Weber led efforts to establish the police oversight body
 
October 25, 2020 (La Mesa) – By a 3-2 vote on Oct. 13, the La Mesa City Council approved creation of a Community Police Oversight Board. The board is empowered to retain an independent police auditor and to direct investigation of serious incidents involving police, such as shootings or major misconduct complaints. 

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READER’S EDITORIAL: PROP 15 WLL HURT COMMUNITY THEATRES, NON-PROFITS AND SMALL BUSINESSES

By Lamplighters Theatre, La Mesa

Local theaters already shut down by COVID-19 may be further negatively  impacted if Prop 15 becomes law.

October 23, 2020 (La Mesa) -- In the upcoming November ballot there is one proposition that will impact our theatre and most community theaters, as well as most non-profits and small businesses.  Proposition 15, if passed, will raise taxes on commercial and industrial properties while exempting properties and residences worth less than $3 million. 


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LA MESA RENTAL ASSISTANCE GRANT PROGRAM ACCEPTING SECOND ROUND OF APPLICATIONS NOV. 2 THRU NOV. 4

East County News Service

October 23, 2020 (La Mesa) -- In an effort to further assist renters during the coronavirus pandemic, Home Start will be accepting a second round of applications for the La Mesa Rental Assistance Program starting Monday, November 2, 2020 at 8:00 a.m. through Wednesday, November 4, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. Beginning on November 2nd, applications can be completed online at https://home-start.org/city-of-la-mesa-rental-assistance or submitted at the office of Home Start located at 333 E. Main Street in El Cajon.


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COVID RATES REMAIN LOW IN MOST REOPENED EAST COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICTS

Cajon Valley, first to reopen, has most cases.  Three other districts report cases; others lack transparency in disclosure.  

Update October 31:  The Cajon Valley Union School District has added a breakdown by schools of its COVID cases, which now number 15 students and 2 employees  (17 total) at 11 schools. 

By Miriam Raftery

October 21, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – How safe is it to send your child back to school amid a pandemic, or for teachers to provide instruction inside classrooms?

East County Magazine has checked out the websites of all districts in East County to determine how many cases have been reported at schools that have reopened thus far, and how transparent each district is in making this information easily available to parents, teachers and staff.

To date, the County Public Health Department has not reported any outbreaks (defined as 3 or more cases tied to a single location) at any East County elementary, middle, high school or community college district. However some school districts do have cases among both students and staff. It is unclear whether cases were contracted on campus, or how many others may have been exposed.

In some districts, information on schools with COVID cases are being publicly disclosed, but not in others. Asked about this discrepancy, County spokesman Michael Workman said, "A change in the order regarding schools is being discussed and may be in place soon. The state guidance referenced above covers school notification. It’s too early to say what our health order change may say."

Here are the results of ECM's investigation.


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ART MADRID SPEAKS OUT: FORMER LA MESA MAYOR SHARES POINTED VIEWS ON CIVIL UNREST READINESS, CITY POLITICS AND MORE

By Miriam Raftery

October 18, 2020 (La Mesa) – Art Madrid has served La Mesa for more than 44 years, including 24 years as Mayor, 10 on the City Council, and 10 on city boards and commissions.  Since 2014, when Mark Arapostathis won the mayoral race, the customarily outspoken Madrid has stayed out of city issues—until now.  

“I’ve never said anything since I left office, maybe one comment,” Madrid told ECM in a phone call this week. But after the May 30 racial justice protest and riot, controversies over housing for the homeless and more, he’s decided to speak out. “If you look at the effectiveness of the Council in taking a leadership role, it’s absent,” he said. Madrid believes that assessing what happened on May 30 amounts to “dealing with the symptom, not the cause” of racial tensions in the city.

Madrid , who is Hispanic, knows first-hand what it’s like to be a target of a racial hate crime. 


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LA MESA POLICE DEPT. SEEKS HELP TO IDENTIFY LOOTING SUSPECTS AT LA MESA SPRINGS DURING MAY 30 RIOT: REWARD OFFERED

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

October 15, 2020 (La Mesa) – Tips from the public helped identify five juveniles now charged with crimes related to the looting of Pierre’s Jewelers during the May 30 civil unrest. Now the La Mesa Police Department (LMPD) has released several surveillance images from La Mesa Springs Shopping Center at 8011 University.

Police also released additional photos from Pierre’s in hopes that the public can again assist in identifying suspects involved in these crimes.


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LA MESA POLICE DEPARTMENT RECEIVES GRANT TO FIGHT ALCOHOL RELATED CRIME

East County News Service
 
October 15, 2020 (La Mesa) -- The La Mesa Police Department has been awarded a $52,349 grant from the California Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) to battle alcohol-related crime. This is important to the City of La Mesa in order to increase protection for youth and to keep our community safe.
 
The grant is one of 50 awarded in California to local law enforcement agencies through ABC’s Alcohol Policing Partnership (APP) Program. The grants strengthen local law enforcement efforts by combining the efforts of local police officers and ABC agents. ABC agents have expertise in alcoholic beverage laws and can help communities reduce alcohol-related problems.
 
“The program improves the quality of life in neighborhoods,” said ABC Director Jacob Appelsmith. “We’ve seen a real difference in the communities where the grant program resources have been invested.”

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