Santee/Lakeside

TWO FATALITY CRASHES ON HIGHWAY 67 IN LAKESIDE IN PAST TWO WEEKS

By Miriam Raftery
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
 
April 1, 2020 (Lakeside) – Two fatality vehicle accidents have occurred on State Route 67 in Lakeside in the past two weeks. Here are the details, provided by Officer Travis Garrow with the California Highway Patrol.
 
The first occurred on March 17 at 5 a.m.  A Spring Valley man, 45, driving a silver 2002 Ford Explorer northbound on Highway 67 south of Foster Truck Trail lost control and veered off the side of the road.  It became airborne before overturning down an embankment, then hitting a large boulder.  Law enforcement and a fire crew responded, but the driver died at the scene of his injuries. It is believed that the driver was wearing a seatbelt; alcohol and drugs are not believed to have been factors in the crash.

PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: MAGIC HORSES

Photo: Left to right Ka Lio, Indy, Reina, Billy, and Pearl
 
March 26, 2020 (Lakeside)  -- Robin Pawl, owner of The Magic Horse Therapeutic Riding Center, sent us these photos with the following message: “I hope you are all well and coping patiently with all the changes the COVID-19 Pandemic is causing. The Magic Horse Therapeutic Riding Center has been closed to comply with the restrictions mandated by the federal and local governments, the CDC, etc.  With their time off, the horses have shifted their work to weed abatement. As you can see, they are very focused and committed to their new responsibility!

SANTEE HALTS EVICTIONS OF RESIDENTS, BUT NOT BUSINESSES, DUE TO CORONAVIRUS IN FIRST VIRTUAL MEETING

By Mike Allen

March 26, 2020 (Santee) -- Responding to a still-evolving global pandemic crisis, the Santee City Council has approved a 60-day temporary suspension on evictions of tenants in the city who prove their financial situation has been damaged by the coronavirus.

The Council approved a temporary moratorium on evictions at its March 25 meeting by a 4-1 vote, with Councilman Rob McNelis opposed. It was the first ever gathering that was done using teleconferencing technology allowing the five elected members and other staffers to “meet” from remote locations.

THESE RESTAURANTS IN EAST COUNTY ARE OFFERING TAKE-OUT AND/OR DELIVERY

Note: This story is being updated as we learn of more restaurants with takeout or delivery options.  If you own a restaurant in East County, email your info to editor@eastcountymagazine.org. All readers and restaurants are also welcome to post comments in our comments section below. 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Hacienda Casa Blanca in El Cajon posted  these images of some take-out and delivery options

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.

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 and may change.

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

COUNTY NOW HAS 242 CASES OF COVID-19, INCLUDING TWO INFANTS

Cases expand countywide including more East County communities

By Miriam Raftery

March 24, 2020 (San Diego) – The number of COVID-19 cases in our region continues to grow at a steep pace.  San Diego County now has 242 confirmed cases, of whom 226 are county residents. Two of the new cases are in infants. Heath experts warn the actual number of cases could be ten times higher, since not enough tests are available and thus testing is being done primarily on those hospitalized with respiratory distress.

HUNGRY OR KNOW SOMEONE WHO IS? EMERGENCY FOOD DISTRIBUTIONS ANNOUNCED COUNTYWIDE

March 22, 2020 (San Diego) -- In addition to emergency food distributions, Feeding San Diego offers food assistance at many sites throughout San Diego County including rural, mountain, desert and urban communities. Click here to find a location near you.

 Feeding San Diego is working on adding additional distributions based on community input and the needs of specific populations. Listings of available emergency distributions will be updated daily and published at feedingsandiego.org/coronavirus.

NOTE: There are NO REQUIREMENTS to accessing any of Feeding San Diego’s food distributions.

ALL EAST COUNTY CASINOS TO CLOSE MARCH 21-31 DUE TO COVID-19

Barona, Campo, Jamul, Sycuan, and Viejas Jointly Announce Casino Closures in Response to Coronavirus crisis

Source: Kumeyaay Nation

March 18, 2020 (San Diego's East County)  — Tribal government leaders of the Barona Band of Mission Indians, Campo Kumeyaay Nation, Jamul Indian Village, Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation and Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians today jointly announced that they are temporarily closing their casinos amid concerns over the Coronavirus (COVID-19) beginning on Friday, March 20 at noon through the end of the month.

The Tribes are united in this decision to close for the health and well-being of the community, their guests and approximately 9,000 employees. Despite this closure, it is their hope that they can continue to provide emergency services for their respective communities.

 

In Campo, the gas station and convenience store will remain open for the convenience of residents.

SANTEE IDENTIFIES WHERE IT CAN BUILD NEARLY 2,000 NEW HOUSES

By Mike Allen
 
Photos Credit: City of Santee
 
March 15, 2020 (Santee) -- Santee identified 37 different properties that could accommodate 1,949 new houses as part of a state mandated program to spur the building of affordable housing.
 
At its March 11 meeting, the Santee City Council reviewed the sites identified by city planners as most likely to handle the new units. The majority of the sites are zoned as single family residential, but by increasing zoning densities, a much higher number of living units could be built, which ultimately is the goal, city officials said.
 
Yet the prospect of change, even if it’s financially beneficial, caused some owners to voice their anxieties.

NEW ASSESSOR/RECORDER/COUNTY CLERK OFFICE AND FIRST-EVER ARCHIVE CELEBRATES GRAND OPENING

Photo credit: Michael Uyeda
 
By Tracy DeFore, County of San Diego Communications Office
 
March 13, 2020 (Santee) -- It’s official. The new Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk East County Branch Office and Archive in Santee formally celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday.
 
The new 25,000-square-foot building features a first for the County – County Archives. Historic documents dating back 170 years now have a dedicated space of their own. Some 4,400 cubic feet of archival records and microfilm moved from offsite storage to a repository with its own generator, heating and air conditioning system, state of the art fire suppression system and secure access.

LAKE JENNINGS SPRING PHOTO CONTEST SEEKS “LIFE AT THE LAKE” ENTRIES

East County News Service
 
Photo: Lake Jennings/Helix Water District
 
March 10, 2020 (Lakeside) – Lake Jennings is seeking entries for its 2020 Spring Photo Contest.  This year’s theme is “Life at the Lake.”  
 
Photos can show any aspect of lake life - camping, fishing, vistas, wildlife, etc., but photos depicting people enjoying activities at Lake Jennings are encouraged.
 
The contest runs March 1 - May 31. Prizes are awarded in youth and adult categories. 
 
For full rules and information about the Spring Photo Contest, click HERE.

ADVANCING HEALTHY COMMUNITIES: OPIOID EPIDEMIC – LAKESIDE TOWN HALL MARCH 25

Update: This event has been postponed due to the COVID-19 emergency.  Watch for announcements of rescheduling after the state and county emergency orders banning large gatherings is listed.

 

By David R. Shorey, East County Program Manager, Institute for Public Strategies

March 9, 2020 (Lakeside) -- Dozens of law enforcement officers, agents and deputies fanned out across Lakeside and the East County in January in the culmination of a 10-month undercover operation aimed at curtailing drug activity in Lindo Lake County Park. More than 20 suspects were arrested during the sweep. Fentanyl was part of the haul.

SANTEE COLLECTS BETTER THAN EXPECTED TAXES, HAS $1.5 MILLION SURPLUS TO SPEND

By Mike Allen

Photo by Mike Allen: Left to Right: Councilman Rob McNelis, Councilman Stephen Houlahan, and Councilman Ronn Hall.

 

March 2, 2020 (Santee) -- As some East County cities grapple with dwindling revenue and even contemplate disincorporation, Santee appears to be improving its bottom line, thanks to better than expected revenue from property and sales taxes.

At its Feb. 26 meeting, the Santee City Council got an update on the city’s financial situation and discussed how it might best use a projected $1.5 million in surplus funds at the end of the current fiscal year in June.

The city usually adds most of any net profits from its operations to its reserves, but because the reserve balance now exceeds the prescribed target of 20 percent of the city’s operating budget by about $1.5 million, the council can allocate this money to other uses, said Tim McDermott, Santee’s finance director.

HEAR OUR INTERVIEW: BRIAN SESKO, LAKESIDE PLANNING CHAIR RUNNING FOR COUNTY SUPERVISOR

By Miriam Raftery

“I believe the county planning commission should be banned and that authority should be vested in each individual planning board,”—Brian Sesko

February 27, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- Last week, we published interviews with three of the four candidates running for the 2nd supervisorial seat being vacated by Dianne Jacob through term limits. Now we’ve interviewed in depth the fourth candidate, Brian Sesko.

He’s chairman of the Lakeside Planning Group and a member of the Lakeside Design Review Board. He’s also a homebuilder, realtor, and a rancher who calls himself a “real life cowboy.”

Click the audio link to hear the full interview and scroll down for highlights.

Audio: 

ENVIRONMENTALISTS SUE SANTEE OVER CLIMATE ACTION PLAN

East County News Service
 
February 20, 2020 (Santee) – A lawsuit has been filed against the city of Santee, claiming the city erred in passing its Climate Action Plan and a related environmental impact report without accounting for potential emissions from Fanita Ranch, Home Fed’s proposed project that would add 3,000 homes and increase traffic on already congested roadways.
 
The suit was filed in San Diego Superior Court by three environmental advocacy groups: Preserve Wild Santee, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Climate Action Campaign.

LEAP OF KINDNESS IN LAKESIDE

East County News Service

February 19, 2020 (Lakeside) – This Leap Year, the Lakeside Chamber of Commerce is hosting a “Leap of  Kindness Day.” The public is encouraged to drop off canned foods, dry goods and school supplies for people in need during the month of February to help people in need.   

Drop-off bins are located at the Lakeside Chamber of Commerce office as well as at Café 67, Mary’s Donuts in Lakeside, the German American Club in El Cajon, and Acai Addiction restaurant in Lakeside.

Donated items can be dropped off now through February 27th, and will distributed to people in need on Leap  Day, February 29th.

SANTEE-BASED SAN DIEGO COUNTY GUN OWNERS POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE ANNOUNCED ENDORSED CANDIDATES FOR MARCH PRIMARY ELECTION

East County News Service
 
Photo: Michael Schwartz (left). Scott Sherman (right).
 
February 18, 2020 (Santee) – San Diego County Gun Owners (SDCGO), a Santee-based political action committee promoting Second Amendment rights, has announced its endorsement of candidates for the March 3 primary election.
 
Leading SDCGO’s list of endorsed candidates are two candidates for the San Diego County Board of Supervisors and one candidate for mayor of San Diego. The Supervisor candidates include Joel Anderson, a former State Assemblyman and State Senator, for the District 2 seat and Alex Galicia for the District 1 seat. The seats are open due to term limits for the incumbents. The top two vote-getters who finish first and second in the primary, regardless of political party affiliation, will advance to a November runoff.
 
Anderson is hoping to succeed Dianne Jacob, who has served for the past 28 years. Jacob, first elected as Supervisor in 1992, is termed out after six terms. The Second Supervisorial District, the largest of the county’s five districts, features more than 2,000 square miles and more than 50 communities and cities in the East County, including the unincorporated communities of Lakeside, Alpine, Ramona and Julian along with the cities of El Cajon, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Santee and Poway, as well as the city of San Diego communities of Allied Gardens, College Area, Del Cerro, Grantville, Navajo, Rolando and San Carlos.

FANITA RANCH GENERATES WORRIES ABOUT WILDFIRES

By Mike Allen
 
Photo: Theresa McCarthy, speaking against Fanita Ranch
 
February 15, 2020 (Santee) -- In a third public workshop Feb. 12 about Fanita Ranch, the 3,000 unit residential project proposed in northwestern Santee, developer HomeFed Corp. presented an extensive fire prevention plan--including construction of a new fire station and three roadway extensions from the site to main city thoroughfares in case of an emergency evacuation.
 
While the plans looked nice to some, others remained skeptical that the addition of all those houses will make the city safer during a wildfire.
 

PETCO FOUNDATION PROVIDED A VALENTINE SURPRISE FOR SAN DIEGO HUMANE SOCIETY STAFF

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

February 15, 2020 (San Diego) - Petco Foundation provided a $250,000 grant valentine surprise to staff at the San Diego Humane Society on Gaines Street on Feb. 13.

“As part of our mission we have committed $10 million to making a difference to shelters and pets during the valentine day week,” said regional field program manager Bill Gialenes with the Petco Foundation.  The $10 million will go to animal welfare organizations across the country.

Two hundred staff, guests, and volunteers gathered for lunch followed by the presentation of an oversized check for $250,000 to Dr. Gary Weitzman, president/ceo of the San Diego Humane Society from Gialenes.

MICROCHIP CLINIC FOR PETS: SUNDAY, MARCH 1 IN SANTEE

East County News Service
 
February 14, 2020 (Santee) -- The San Diego Humane Society will host a microchip clinic for pets on Sunday, March 1 in Santee from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for dogs, cats and bunnies.  The cost is $15, cash only.  (You must be signed up by 12:15 p.m.)
 
The event will take place at 8917 Carlton Hills Blvd. Santee (near the GTM Store/Mary’s Donuts), hosted by Andy Popka from State Farm.  Phone: 619-698-2333 

HOULAHAN DECLARES CANDIDACY FOR SANTEE MAYOR

By Mike Allen

February 10, 2020 (Santee) -- Santee Councilman Stephen Houlahan wants a larger say in molding the city’s future and has declared his intention to run for mayor, opposing incumbent Mayor John Minto.

Houlahan says the main issue motivating him to throw his hat into the ring is the disturbing trend by a majority of his Council colleagues to consistently undermine Santee’s General Plan and approve higher density projects.

MAST PARK OPENS AFTER YEARLONG RENOVATION

Story and photos by Mike Allen

The wait is over. After 13 months of reconstruction, Mast Park reopened Feb. 1 to hordes of Santee residents who were nearly universally happy about the results.

“I like it but I can’t wait until all the people are gone,” said Olga Buhler, a 24-year resident of Santee who frequents the park on daily walks. “I’ve been waiting, waiting, every day…They did a super job.”

“It looks beautiful,” said Michael Ranson, who lives nearby in the Santee Lakes neighborood. “This looks a lot more open, brighter, and safer. They did an amazing job.”

READER’S EDITORIAL: AN OPEN LETTER TO SANTEE OFFICIALS: LET’S PAUSE HOUSING DEVELOPMENT AND SOLVE TRAFFIC CONGESTION FIRST

By Eid Fakhouri, CPA, Santee resident and commuter advocate
 
Photo by Eid Fakhouri, taken January 23, 2020
 
January 31, 2020 (Santee) - We see this traffic everyday on city roads (Carlton Oaks, Inverness, Mast, West Hills) that are 1/2 mile from the on ramps.
 
This is just to show you that even on a beautiful day without any accidents, traffic is still backed up. The bottom line here is our city roads are not made to handle the traffic.
 
We understand there are a lot of vehicles coming from all over the region to Highway 52, but let's not exacerbate the problem.
 
Our land will always be available; it is not going away.  And yes it may be developed one day. But there is no need to race to add to the problem until our infrastructure can handle it. 

21 ARRESTED IN DRUG BUST AT LINDO LAKES

East County News Service

File photo: Lindo Lake Park, by Miriam Raftery

January 30, 2020 (Lakeside) -- This morning deputies from the Lakeside Sheriff's Substation concluded a 10-month investigation into the sale of narcotics at Lindo Lake Park, Lakeside. Search and arrest warrants were served at multiple locations in Lakeside and El Cajon regarding the sales of methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl.

Twenty-one suspects were taken into custody facing charges in State and Federal Court ranging from narcotics offences to outstanding warrants. During the operation methamphetamine and weapons were located and confiscated.

SUPERVISORS TAKE NEW STEPS TO ADDRESS HOMELESSNESS IN UNINCORPORATED AREAS, INCLUDING SHELTERS

By José A. Álvarez, County of San Diego Communications Office

January 28, 2020 (San Diego) -- The County Board of Supervisors today voted to adopt several measures, including sheltering options and expanded outreach teams, to deal with homelessness in unincorporated communities.

The measures, brought forward by Supervisors Dianne Jacob and Jim Desmond, are expected to help with homelessness in unincorporated areas that have seen a significant increase of people who don’t have a place to live. Recent encampments at Lamar Park, Spring Valley Park and in other outlying areas are the latest reminders that homelessness is a regional crisis.

“Like in the city of San Diego and the rest of California, homelessness has become a huge concern in the suburban and rural parts of our region,” said District 2 Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who represents East County. “Today’s board vote opens the door to creating a comprehensive approach to homelessness that includes immediate and long-range measures.”

WALKERS SHINE AT SANTEE’S OLYMPIC RACE WALKING EVENT

By Mike Allen
 
January 27, 2020 (Santee) -- Cool fog gave way to stunning sunshine and higher temps Jan. 25, not exactly the best conditions for walkers traversing some 31 miles or 50 kilometers at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials in Santee, but glorious viewing conditions for the event.
 
“This is just fantastic for this city,” said Marlene Best, Santee’s city manager, cheering on the walkers along Town Center Parkway, just below the big clock at Trolley Square. “Only two other cities in the nation have held more Olympic Trials---Eugene, Oregon and Los Angeles.”
 
Besides the Olympic Trials for the 50K race walk, which Santee previously hosted in 2012 and 2016, it’s also hosted the national championships in the same event for seven years. The city of 58,000 can easily lay claim to being the Race Walking Capitol of the country.

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.

CACTUS MICE TEST POSITIVE FOR HANTAVIRUS IN SANTEE AND VALLEY CENTER

By Gig Conaughton, County of San Diego Communications 
Image Credit: shutterstock
 
January 16, 2020 (San Diego) -- Two cactus mice collected separately in routine monitoring in Santee and Valley Center have tested positive for hantavirus, marking the first appearance in San Diego County in 2020 of the potentially deadly virus.
 
County officials said people should never sweep up or vacuum, but use “wet cleaning” methods instead, to clean up rodent droppings or signs of rodent infestation if they find them in their living spaces — homes, garages, sheds, cabins and outbuildings.
 
Infected rodents shed hantavirus in their urine, feces and saliva. If people stir that dry matter into the air by sweeping or vacuuming, they can inhale the virus and get sick.

SANTEE LIBRARY GETS NEW LAPTOP KIOSK

By Mike Allen

January 15, 2020 (Santee) -- Patrons of the Santee Library can now borrow small laptop computers through a new, high tech dispensing machine that was funded by the Friends of the Santee Library.

The kiosk, available to use for free to anyone with a library card, has been operating for about two weeks but got an official ribbon cutting Jan. 13.

Chris Miller, vice president of the Friends of the Santee Library, said her group provided about $38,000 towards the purchase of the kiosk, while the county of San Diego, which operates the library, put up about $24,000 to pay for the laptop computers made by Hewlett Packard and the maintenance cost.

“The Friends of the Santee Library is committed to doing whatever we can to expand the capabilities of the library regardless of the space we have to work with,” Miller said.

READER’S EDITORIAL: OPEN LETTER TO SANTEE COUNCIL MEMBER LAURA KOVAL - PUBLIC INTEREST MOTIVATES PRESERVE WILD SANTEE

By Van Collinsworth, Director, Preserve Wild Santee
 
January 14, 2020 (Santee) -- At the last meeting, the new Vice-Mayor Laura Koval waited until after I had addressed the council and returned to my seat to suggest that Preserve Wild Santee and/or other environmental organizations work is financially motivated. To be clear, and as has always been the case, I will engage with any council member at the podium to address their directed remarks, as I did with the mayor. From my perspective, waiting until I cannot respond to make this suggestion of financial motivation, demonstrates the weakness of your position.
 

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