Deserts

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.

GIANT WIND PROJECTS DRAW STRONG OPPOSITION FROM RURAL RESIDENTS AND TRIBAL MEMBERS: DEADLINE FOR COMMENTS IS TODAY

 

By Rebecca Person

Miriam Raftery also contributed to this article

Photos: An existing wind project on the Campo reservation has previously had multiple fires caused by exploding wind turbines, shown here, raising alarm among area residents over fire dangers and other potential hazards posed by the proposed new and far larger turbines

February 3, 2020 (Campo) -- Residents of Campo, Boulevard and Jacumba voiced their concerns Jan. 23rd at a meeting in Boulevard held by the County Planning Development Services staff addressing the construction of 120 wind turbines in Boulevard and on the Campo Reservation.

The wind turbines will be 596’ tall, taller than towers which dot the high desert that stand between 325' to almost 400 ft tall. 60 turbines are planned for the Campo Indian Reservation, and 30 turbines for McCain Valley near I-8 freeway in Boulevard. According to Donna Tisdale, chair of the Boulevard Community Planning Group, these may be the largest wind turbines ever erected on land. Turbines on tribal land would also abut her property in rural Boulevard. Setbacks from some homes would be far less than at many other wind projects, even though the turbines are larger.

Over 60 local residents gathered at the meeting and many spoke of the effects existing towers have had on their quality of life. Campo Band of Mission Indians tribal members who live on the Campo Reservation and oppose the project stated that they have presented a petition with 65 signatures asking their tribal council to overturn an earlier disputed vote to erect the giant turbines on the reservation.

COLD STORM, FREEZING TEMPERATURES AND HIGH WINDS TO IMPACT REGION

By Miriam Raftery

February 2, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Strong winds with gusts up to 75 miles an hour are forecast tonight through Monday afternoon, with a high wind warning in effect in our local mountains and light snow possible.

Monday through Wednesday, a hard freeze watch is in effect for the high deserts, where temperatures could dip into the high teens to low 20s and snow flurries are possible. In the low deserts and valleys, a freeze watch is also issued, with temperatures in the upper 20s to low 30s.

Along the coasts, a gale warning is in effect due to strong winds over coastal waters tonight and Monday.

SENATOR BRIAN JONES HOSTS BORREGO SPRINGS TOWN HALL FEB. 1

East County News Service

January 31, 2020 (Borrego Springs)  -- State Senator Brian W. Jones invites you to attend a Borrego Springs Town Hall on Saturday, Feb. 1 at the County Library, 2580 Country Club Rd., Borrego Springs.

A nonprofit expo will be held at 9 a.m. followed by a town hall from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.

Share your views, ask questions on issues important to you, and learn about great work being done by nonprofits in the community.

SANTA ANA WINDS AND WARMER WEATHER FORECAST TODAY THROUGH FRIDAY

By Miriam Raftery

January 29, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – The National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory for San Diego County’s inland region. The advisory is in effect from 4 p.m. today through 12 noon on Friday for San Diego’s mountains and valleys, with gusts up to 55 miles per hour forecast. In local desert areas, the wind advisory is in effect from 10 a.m. today to 6 p.m. tonight.

In addition to potentially damaging winds, the forecast also includes elevated surf at beaches with waves up to six feet, and a warming trend through the week with temperatures rising into the 80s by the weekend.

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.”

CALLING ALL PHOTOGRAPHERS IN BORREGO SPRINGS

East County News Service
 
January 19, 2020 (Borrego Springs) - The Under The Sun Foundation is organizing a photography exhibition for the 2020 Candlewood Arts Festival and invites you to submit your works for consideration.
 
They are looking for photographic works that visualize your Borrego Springs - images that capture the essence of this unique community and the special sense of place cultivated in this corner of the Sonoran Desert.
 
The works selected for the exhibition will be put on display in the old library space in The Mall during the upcoming Candlewood Arts Festival, from February 29 - March 29, 2020.

FATALITY CRASH ON I-8 AT JACUMBA

By Miriam Raftery
 
January 14, 2020 (Jacumba Hot Springs)- - Alejandro Jiminez Mendoza, 46, of Heber died January 12 after an accident that occurred on westbound I-8 at Carrizo Gorge in Jacumba Hot Springs.
 
Heber was a passenger in a vehicle that struck the left shoulder media and plunged down to the base of the embankment. 911 was called and paramedics responded, but he was pronounced dead of traumatic injuries.  

WATCH FOR WINDY WEATHER

East County News Service

January 14, 2020 (San Diego's East County) -- A storm system will bring gusty winds as well as a chance of rain and mountain snow Thursday into early Friday morning. Winds at 35-45 miles per hour with isolated gusts up to 50-60 mph are in wind-prone mountain and desert passes.

Light rainfall of 1-3 inches is forecast in most locations, with up to 6 inches at higher elevations, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Adam Roser.  The snow level may drop to 5,000 feet, so be prepared if driving in mountain areas.

HEARING FEB. 3 ON PROPOSAL TO RELEASE YET ANOTHER SEXUALLY VIOLENT PREDATOR IN JACUMBA HOT SPRINGS; COMMENTS DEADLINE IS JAN. 17

By Miriam Raftery

January 6, 2020 (Jacumba Hot Springs) – Despite recent protests over the highly disproportionate percentage of sexually violent predators placed in rural East County, the Department of State Hospitals is proposing to place yet another in Jacumba Hot Springs.  A hearing will be held Feb. 3 at 9 a.m. in San Diego Superior Court (1100 Union St., Dept. 2202) to determine whether Michael Poulsom should be placed at 45612 Old Highway 80, Jacumba Hot Springs, a community of just 561 residents, according to the 2010 Census.

Poulsom is diagnosed with Pedophilia Disorder. In 1985, he was convicted in Georgia of child molestation with two victims. In 1989, he was convicted in San Diego County of a lewd act on a child under 14. In 1995, he was convicted again locally for a lewd act with a fourth victim, also under 14 and served 15 years in prison. Prior to his release, the San Diego County District Attorney’s office filed a petition to have Poulsom civilly committed to a state hospital as a Sexually Violent Predator . He was committed, underwent treatment and petitioned for conditional release, which was opposed by the San Diego D.A. and the hospital. A year later he filed for release into the conditional release program for sex offenders, which the Dept. of State Hospitals supported over the objections of D.A. Summer Stephan.

The public may submit comments between Jan. 3 and Jan. 17 to be considered by the court. You can email comments to sdsafe@sdsheriff.org, or call (858)495-3619. Comments may also be mailed tol the SVP Release/Safe Task Force at 9425 Chesapeake Drive, San Diego, CA 02123.  Comments will also be accepted at the hearing.

LESSONS FROM PUERTO RICO TO CALIFORNIA: OFF-GRID LIVING OPTIONS

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

 Dec. 31, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) -- Emergency energy and electrical storage expert Eric Lobdell with Humless, a Utah-based company that provides universal energy management, has worked in disaster areas affected by wildfires and hurricanes, where he has helped some residents go off-grid. 

 

In the past couple of years, Lobdell has worked in the U.S. including territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, setting up systems to provide power. Humless recently landed a contract for installations to take communities 100% off-grid in Oregon, including 600 homes over a span of three years.

 

"After Hurricane Maria, I was part of a team that donated and installed off-grid systems in Puerto Rico," said Lobdell in a phone interview. “Our systems were able to provide lights and refrigeration to two different communities, both heavily affected by the hurricane. Being able to provide electricity for these communities reminded me of the reason I work so hard at what I do. I love being able to provide essential energy and storage systems to families, communities, and regions where grid power is not available or stable."

ROLLOVER CRASH ON SNOWY HIGHWAY IN RANCHITA KILLS WOMAN; DRIVER FACES CHARGES

East County News Service

Update: The victim has been identified as Alberta Fernandez De Zuniga, 61, of Borrego Springs.

December 26, 2019 (Ranchita) – A 61-year-old woman riding in the backseat of a 2019 Toyota Camry died this morning when the driver lost control and the vehicle rolled over, landing on its roof. The crash occurred around 6:50 a.m. on San Filipe Road (S2) south of Montezuma Valley Road. 

There was fresh snow on the roadway, and the Toyota was traveling at a speed that prevented the driver from maintaining control of the Toyota,” Officer Jeff Christy with the California Highway Patrol reports. “The Toyota traveled off the roadway onto the west shoulder where it collided with a dirt embankment. The female passenger, who was not wearing her seatbelt, was subsequently thrown forward from the rear seat into the front dash and windshield of the vehicle. At the same time, the Toyota rolled over onto its roof where it came to rest within the traffic lanes.”

MISSING MOTORCYCLIST FOUND DEAD IN BORREGO SPRINGS RAVINE

East County News Service

December 24, 2019 (Borrego Springs) – A Borrego Springs man, 66,was reported missing Dec. 22,  after borrowing a friend’s motorcycle at 4 p.m. for a 30-minute ride. The rider’s wife and the motorcycle’s owner began a search and then notified the Sheriff’s Department. Information was also posted on Facebook and many residents joined in searching but did not find the rider or the motorcycle.

On Dec. 23,  around 8:15 a.m., employees from the Borrego Springs Water District were checking well sites in the area and discovered the rider and motorcycle in a deep ditch about two miles from where he began his ride. The motorcycle was on top of the rider and he was unresponsive.

PROTESTS HELD OUTSIDE COURTHOUSE OVER PROPOSED RELEASE OF SEXUALLY VIOLENT PREDATOR IN JACUMBA NEAR BOULEVARD

East County News Service
 
December 21, 2019 (Jacumba Hot Springs) – Despite Jacumba Hot Springs already having 11 of San Diego County’s 14 released sexually violent predators, the state is proposing yet another:  Thomas Joseph Cornwell, 41, who was convicted in 2008 on two counts of lewd act with a child under age 14.  
 
Local residents protested outside the Superior Court in downtown San Diego yesterday, where Judge Albert T. Harutunian III took the proposal under consideration after the judge earlier granted Cornwell’s petition for conditional release.
 
The judge will issue a written decision in the future on whether or not to allow Cornwell to be released under supervision in the 2100 block of McCain Valley Rd. in Jacumba Hot Springs, a facility that the Department of State Hospitals indicates has previously housed sexually violent predators. The site is near rural Boulevard and is also close to campgrounds in a federal recreation area and two federal wilderness areas.

READER'S EDITORIAL: WE MUST NOT EQUATE SEXUAL HEALTH TO DEVIANT SEXUAL BEHAVIOR

By Daniel Smiechowski, Bay Ho  

December 20, 2019 (Jacumba Hot Springs) -- The recent hearing in a San Diego courtroom to release another sexual predator in Jacumba Hot Springs is another bridge too far. Eleven of fourteen county sexual predators are already in rural East County. It’s clear that demographics play a role in further stigmatizing this dusty ramshackle outpost in San Diego’s high desert.

NEW BOOK DESCRIBES THE EVOLUTION OF THE ANZA-BORREGO DESERT REGION

Source:  Sunbelt Publications

November 23, 2019 (Anza-Borrego) - The Anza-Borrego Foundation (ABF) in Borrego Springs is sponsoring a free public book launch for A Natural History of the Anza-Borrego Region: Then and Now, just in time for holiday gift-giving on Saturday, December 14 at the Steele/Burnand Anza-Borrego Desert Research Center at 401 Tilting T Drive in Borrego Springs, starting at 4:00 p.m. Authors Mike Wells and Marie Simovich will  present the story of how the desert landscape and organisms that inhabit this desert area evolved to their present state and what the future may hold for these desert lands. Books will be available for purchase and refreshments will be served. All author royalties are assigned to ABF to help support Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. The book was published by Sunbelt Publications of San Diego in cooperation with California State Parks and ABF. 

STORMY THANKSGIVING COULD BRING SNOW BELOW 3,000 FEET, THUNDERSTORMS AND HEAVY RAINS ACROSS REST OF REGION

By Miriam Raftery

November 23, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) – If you’re heading over the rivers and through the woods this Thanksgiving week, you might just wind up traveling through white and drifted snow, as the popular song lyrics go—not to mention rain and flash flooding, too, making for hazardous roadway conditions across southern California, the National Weather Service warns.

The National Weather Service predicts a major winter storm will bring significant snowfall of one to two feet above 5,000 feet by Wednesday, with the snow level dropping to 3,000 feet or even lower by Friday.  Snow could impact I-8 through San Diego County’s mountains, as well as areas such as Cuyamaca, Julian, Jacumba Hot Springs, Descanso, Mount Laguna and Palomar Mountain locally, as well as the Cajon Pass on I-15 for those heading north.

JACUMBA'S FESTIVAL OF SUNFLOWERS: A POP-UP SHOW OF LOCAL ART STARTS NEW TRADITION

By Rebeca Person

Editor Miriam Raftery contributed to this report

November 22, 2019 (Jacumba Hot Springs) -- Local Jacumba artists exhibited their works in a Pop-Up Show October 5th launching Jacumba’s first ever Festival of Sunflowers at Gilliam Gallery in downtown Jacumba Hot Springs.
 
Linda Churchill, muralist and mosaic artist, revealed new mosaics and oil paintings of Jacumba’s scenic beauty. 
 
Now the community plans to make this event an annual tradition.

SUPERVISOR JACOB SOUNDS ALARM OVER STATE’S PLAN TO RELEASE ANOTHER SEXUALLY VIOLENT PREDATOR IN JACUMBA HOT SPRINGS, NEAR BOULEVARD

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo:  Thomas Cornwell, 41, convicted of lewd acts on children under age 14, has been diagnosed with pedophilic disorder
 
November 14, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) – Supervisor Dianne Jacob, in a letter to Calif. Attorney General Xavier Becerra, cites disturbing statistics regarding sexually violent predators released in East County.  Of 12 released countywide in the past 15 years, nine were sent to East County. Five of the 12 violated conditions of their release and four were sent back to state mental hospitals, according to Jacob. Yet the state is proposing to release two more sexually violent predators into our region.

EIGHT SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO CLOSE THURSDAY DUE TO POWER OUTAGES

Source: County News Service

 

October 30, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) -- The San Diego County Office of Education reports that because San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) has activated a public safety power shutoff in certain parts of the county, schools in the following school districts will be closed on Halloween this Thursday, October 31: 

 

  • Dehesa School District
  • Julian Union High School District
  • Julian Union School District
  • Mountain Empire Unified School District
  • Rancho Santa Fe School District
  • Spencer Valley School District
  • Vallecitos School District 
  • Valley Center-Pauma Unified School District

BORREGO FARMERS MARKET OPENS FOR WINTER SEASON

East County News Service

October 30, 2019 (Borrego Springs) – The Borrego Farmers Market will return on Fridays from 8 a.m. until 12 p.m. starting November 1st at Christmas Circle in downtown Borrego Springs.

The market features certified farm fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh flowers, handmade items, T-shirts, soaps, jewelry, and more.

The market is hosted by the Borrego Springs Chamber of Commerce. For more information, call 760-767-5555.

SDG&E WARNS OF NEW OUTAGES AS SANTA ANA WINDS ARE SET TO RETURN

By Miriam Raftery

October 28 2019 (San Diego’s East County) – With the strongest Santa Ana winds of the season forecast Tuesday through Thursday,  San Diego Gas & Electric is warning over 32,000 customers that the utility may proactively shut off power to many communities to prevent lines from sparking fires, including some areas not previously impacted by outages.  The outages could begin late Tuesday or early Wednesday and last as late as Friday evening, according to SDG&E.

The communities that may lose power are:

  • Alpine
  • Boulevard
  • Campo
  • Descanso
  • Dulzura
  • El Cajon (portions of)
  • Encinitas (portions of)
  • Escondido (portions of)
  • Jacumba
  • Jamul (portions of)
  • Julian
  • Lakeside (portions of)
  • Mount Laguna
  • Pala
  • Palomar Mountain
  • Pauma Valley
  • Pine Valley
  • Potrero
  • Poway
  • Ramona
  • Ranchita
  • Rancho Santa Fe (portions of)
  • San Clemente (portions of)
  • San Juan Capistrano (portions of)
  • Santa Ysabel
  • Valley Center (portions of)
  • Warner Springs

Steps to prepare for an outage

FIRST FALL FROST WARNING ISSUED; WINDY WEATHER TO RETURN

By Miriam Raftery

October 28, 2019 (San Diego’s East County)—The National Weather Service has cancelled a fire weather watch for Monday in San Diego County, however a stronger Santa Ana Wind event is likely Tuesday through Thursday.

The temperatures are cooling off, however, with freezing temperatures likely across the high desert areas mid-week. Lows could dip into the 20s by Thursday night and Friday morning, says meteorologist Dan Gregoria.

SDG&E EXPANDS POTENTIAL OUTAGE AREAS; SOME CUSTOMERS COMPLAIN OF ERRATIC NOTIFICATIONS

By Miriam Raftery

 

Update October 24:  As of 8 a.m. Thursday, power is shut off for 431 people in Dehesa, Alpine, Rancho Palo Verde, Santa Ysabel, Wynola, Pine Hills, East Descanso, Green Valley Falls, Cuyamaca, Viejas, West Descanso, Boulder Creek, Live Oak Springs, Boulevard, Jacumba, Japatul Valley, Buckman Springs, Morena Village. Resource centers have been opened in Julian and Descanso; scroll down for details.

October 23, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) – SDG&E is warning of a new round of potential power-shut offs that could affect up to 23,944 customers, with a red flag warning from 5 a.m. Thursday through 5 p.m. Friday evening.

The areas that could be impacted are Alpine, Barona, Barrett Lake, Boulevard, Campo, Cuyamaca, Descanso, East Poway, East Valley Center, Julian, Mesa Grande, Mount Laguna, Palomar Mountain, Pine Valley, Potrero, Ramona, Rancho Bernardo (portions), Santa Ysabel, Shelter Valley, Viejas and Warner Springs.

The utility’s site states that it makes several efforts to notify ratepayers prior to shutoffs. In many cases the system worked to provide customers with time to prepare for outages.  However, some rural residents have posted complaints on social media stating that they received repeated warnings of shut-offs that never occurred, and later had power shut-off with no warning.

SUPERVISORS VOTE WEDNESDAY ON WITHDRAWING COUNTY AS GROUNDWATER SUSTAINABILITY AGENCY FOR BORREGO VALLEY GROUNDWATER BASIN

Update:  Supervisor Jim Desmond introduced a mtion to approve this mesaure, which was passed unanimously by Supervisors with one amendment:  the withdrawal will take effect when the stipulated agreement is submitted to a court, or on December 31, 2019, whichever occurs first.

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

Photo: Citrus growers and other farmers in Borrego use 75% of the area’s groundwater. A new plan proposes allowing large water users to buy or trade water use credits. 

 

October 14, 2019 (Borrego Springs) – Faced with a state mandate to reduce water use by 75 percent after years over over-pumping groundwater, major water users in Borrego Springs have submitted a stipulated agreement for reducing the desert community’s water use by an estimated 75 percent. On Wednesday, San Diego County Supervisors will vote on withdrawing as a groundwater sustainability agency for the Borrego Valley Groundwater Basin, with a goal toward transitioning into water management.

SDG&E WARNS OF POWER SHUT-OFFS IN NEXT 48 HOURS TO 28,701 CUSTOMERS IN EAST COUNTY COMMUNITIES

October 9, 2019 (San Diego's East County) -- SDG&E has issued a warning that it may shut off power to 28,701 customers in East County communities starting in the next 48 hours due to wildfire risks.  A red flag alert has been issued for Thursday afternoon and Friday by the National Weather Service.  The following communities are currently forecasted to be impacted:

  • Banner Grade
  • Boulevard
  • Descanso
  • East Alpine
  • East Ramona
  • Fallbrook
  • Julian
  • Mesa Grande
  • Mt Laguna
  • Palomar Mountain
  • Pine Valley
  • Potrero
  • Rancho Santa Fe
  • Rincon
  • Santa Ysabel
  • Valley Center
  • Viejas
  • West Valley Center
  • Wynola

FIRE WEATHER FORECAST

East County News Service
 
October 6, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) – The National Weather Service predicts moderate Santa Ana winds this week, combined with low humidity for elevated fire danger.
 
While Orange County is forecast to have the most severe conditions,  relative humidity is expected to fall into low double digits in San Diego’s mountain areas and single digits in the desert.  West to northwest winds of 15-20 miles per hour with gusts up to 40 mph are anticipated starting Tuesday. By Thursday and Friday, falling humidity is expected to create critical fire weather conditions.  

PASSAGES: BORREGO SPRINGS PHILANTHROPIST BILL WRIGHT

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Borrego wildflowers, CC by SA

October 6, 2019 (Borrego Springs) -- Since moving to Borrego Springs from Santa Barbara in 1980, Bill Wright has been a “champion of all things good in Borrego Springs,” according to the Borrego Sun.  The newspaper announced that Wright passed away on October 1 at age 88.

TWO EAST COUNTY PROJECTS WIN ORCHID AWARDS FOR ARCHITECTURE

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, top: Ilan-Lael Center; bottom: Borrego Springs Library

 

October 5, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) – The annual Orchids & Onions Awards have presented coveted “Orchid” awards to two East County projects.  

 

The Ilan-Lael Center in Santa Ysabel built by Hubbell and Hubbell Architects received the award for collaborative architecture. The County’s Borrego Springs library, park and Sheriff’s office designed by RNT Architects received an Orchid architectural award.

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