Mountains

WELCOME, MOUNTAIN DWELLERS!

Our Mountain Living section covers the mountain communities in San Diego's East County north of I-8 including Aguanga, Cuyamaca, Descanso, Guatay, Julian, Mount Laguna, Pine Valley, Ranchita, Ramona, Santa Ysabel, Shelter Valley and Warner Springs.


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COUNTY EASES RULES FOR WINERIES, BUT IMPOSES CURFEW FOR RESTAURANTS AND BARS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: Woof N' Rose Winery in Ramona wil now be able to remain open, serving wine on an outdoor patio, under the county rule change allowed today.

June 30, 2020 (San Diego) – One day after ordering bars, breweries and wineries to shut down, county health officials today revised that order to allow most to stay open. That’s a big relief to East County wineries, which can now continue to offer winetasting outdoors without food. Wineries, breweries, distilleries and bars with indoor seating can also stay open, provided they serve alcohol with food. Those without food service licenses can team up with a restaurant or food truck.

The changes came after East County Magazine published an article quoting prominent wine owners voicing concern over the future of our region’s wine industry and hours after ECM's editor reached out to Supervisor Dianne Jacob to inform her staff of the winery owners' concerns.

Today, the County also imposed a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew on all restaurants, bars and other eating/drinking establishments that serve alcohol. Patrons in the door by 10 p.m. may stay until 11 p.m. nightly.  Violators are subject to a $1,000 fine.


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WINERY OWNERS SAY SHUTDOWN OF BARS UNFAIR TO RURAL WINERIES, THREATENS TO CRUSH BURGEONING WINE INDUSTRY

Story and photos by Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: Outdoor patio at Vineyard Grant James in Ramona provides ample social distancing for wine-tasting guests

June 29, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – East County’s once-thriving wine industry is struggling under COVID-19 restrictions – and some local wineries may die on the vine now that the county has once again shut down all bars effect July 1, including wineries and breweries.

Now, some winery owners are criticizing the shutdown as overly broad and unfair,  since many rural wineries have outdoor patios or spacious tasting rooms and have been providing ample social distancing – unlike urban bars and crowded venues such as the Gaslamp District.


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HAM RADIO OPERATORS CONTINUE LEARNING DESPITE SOCIAL DISTANCING: LOCAL VOLUNTEERS PROVIDE VITAL COMMUNICATION DURING EMERGENCIES

By Rob Freeburn

Photo by Sharon Freeburn:  “Using portable radio equipment in Alpine, radio operator Rob Freeburn reaches out to radio operators on the US East Coast."

June 27, 2020 (Alpine) --  On Saturday, 6/27/2020, San Diego East County ham radio enthusiasts transmitted radio signals from homes, backyards and parking lots to connect with other radio enthusiasts across North America to compete against each other and to practice emergency radio communications. Although the results are not yet tabulated, East County radio "hams" always do well in the competition because the remote backcountry and higher elevation make East County an ideal radio operating location. Radio hams in Crest, Alpine, Descanso, Mt Laguna, Ramona, Julian, and Campo turn in some of the highest scores in the United States. From East County, the most sought-after radio contacts were in Delaware and Prince Edward Island on the East Coast of Canada. 


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CHEERS! WINERIES REOPEN ACROSS EAST COUNTY

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: Ramona Ranch Winery's winemaker is cheered by news that wineries and vineyards can now reopen to visitors.

June 26, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Wineries are reopening across our region, after three months of curbside-only services due to COVID-19. Some owners have been hard-hit by the economic loss, but now welcome the opportunity to welcome back visitors.

Now you can once again enjoy sipping wine on a mountain patio  overlooking vineyards or in an urban tasting room. Some are offering food pairings, special sales and other incentives to welcome back visitors – with social distancing and other changes per state health rules.


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PHARMACY ROBBERY IN ALPINE MAY BE PART OF SERIES

East County News Service

Photos via CVS

June 18, 2020 (Alpine) – An investigation is underway into a robbery at a CVS in Alpine that may be part of a series of pharmacy robberies across East County. Two juveniles were apprehended.

Shortly before 3 p.m. on June 17, deputies from the Alpine Sheriff’s station responded to the CVS Pharmacy at 1385 Tavern Road after a 9-1-1 call reported a robbery. The caller said one of two suspects, armed with a cane, jumped over the counter demanding drugs and took 13 bottles of narcotics. As he fled, he swung the cane around and smashed the glass countertop. A cell phone of one of the employees was also taken, says Lieutenant Anthony O’Boyle.

The suspects fled the scene, but due to a quick response from a Sheriff's Sergeant, deputies and detectives, the suspects were located behind the Alpine library and detained,” says Lt. O’Boyle.


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JULIAN WELCOMES VISITORS BACK



By Bobbi Zane

June 18, 2020 (Julian) --Julian shop and restaurant owners are now back open to serve visitors, though the rules have changed in the historic gold rush town located in San Diego's back country.

"Visitors no longer need to stay at home,” says Robin Boland, manager of the Julian Chamber of Commerce. During the COVID-19 shutdown, the Chamber had earlier asked visitors to stay away to prevent brining the virus to the mountain town which customarily thrives on tourism.

Restaurants and one-of-a-kind charming shops have lined both sides of Main Street for many years. Julian is also known for excellent restaurants, though Julian is most faous for its apple pies, known as the new gold that draws visitors to Mom's Pie House and Julian Apple Pies.


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CHP STEPS UP SAFETY ENFORCEMENT ON SR 67 AKA "SLAUGHTERHOUSE ALLEY," TO PREVENT DEADLY MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENTS

East County News Service
 
Photo: Creative Commons via Bing
 
June 17, 2020 (El Cajon) – California Highway Patrol (CHP) will deploy additional officers on State Route 67 from Interstate 8 in El Cajon to Ramona between June 21 and September 30. The goal is to reduce the number of motorcycle crashes caused by unsafe speed, following too closely, unsafe lane changes, improper turning, and other primary crash factor violations by motorcyclists and other drivers.
 
Many crashes in California end in death or injury as a result of individuals speeding or driving aggressively. From January-December 2019, provisional statistical data from the California Highway Patrol (CHP) El Cajon Area database revealed 230 injury crashes involving motorcycles and 20 fatal crashes involving motorcycles in El Cajon
CHP’s boundaries.

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AS WEATHER HEATS UP, COUNTY OPENS COOL ZONES -- AND OFFERS FREE FANS FOR THOSE HOMEBOUND WITHOUT AIR CONDITIONING

By Miriam Raftery

Photo courtesy of County News Service

June 13, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – As summer approaches and temperatures heat up, the County will open several “Cool Zones” starting this week.  The Cool Zones will be open from Monday through Friday between 12 noon and 5 p.m.at the following inland locations:


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RAMONA COMMUNITY FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES 2020 GRANTS AVAILABLE

East County News Service

June 8, 2020 (Ramona, CA) – Ramona Community Foundation (RCF), an affiliate of The San Diego Foundation, announced its annual call for grant applications. In its 9th year of grantmaking, RCF invites nonprofit organizations and agencies to submit proposals that demonstrate the power to build a more vibrant Ramona community.

The goal of the grant cycle is to support programs that make Ramona a great place to live, work and play. Desirable projects will inspire community pride and revitalization, and increase the quality of life of the broader community.


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HEAD-ON COLLISION IN RAMONA KILLS 21-YEAR-OLD WOMAN

East County News Service
 
June 7, 2020 (Ramona) – A 21-year-old San Diego woman died at the scene of a head-on collision today on Wildcat Canyon Road in Ramona.
 
The woman was driving a 2016 Ford Fusion south on Wildcat Canyon just south of Ketuull Uunyaa Way around 1:20 p.m. when she lost control. Her vehicle crossed the center line and struck a 2009 Ford F-150 pickup driven by a 61-year-old woman.

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WIND ADVISORY IN EFFECT NOW; FIRE WEATHER STARTING SUNDAY

By Miriam Raftery

June 5, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – A wind advisory is in effect for East County’s mountain areas and deserts through Sunday morning with gusts up to 60 miles per hour. Light showers are possible west of the mountains through Saturday afternoon. But a warming trend after that will bring elevated fire weather conditions Sunday through Tuesday, the National Weather Service predicts.


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EAST COUNTY CITIES AND COUNTY ISSUE CURFEW ORDERS

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

May 31, 2020

In a bold move to avoid a repeat of the devastation and violence in connection with Saturday night’s riots which took place in East County San Diego, several cities and the county issue curfews for tonight. Below is the full schedule.

All law enforcement, fire, medical personnel, and members of the news media are exempt from the curfew. Individuals traveling directly to and from work, seeking emergency medical care, fleeing dangerous circumstances, or the homeless as exempted from the order.


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VACANT STRUCTURE BURNS IN RAMONA

By Miriam Raftery
 
May 30, 2020 (Ramona) – Investigators from the Sheriff’s department are working to determine the cause of a fire that destroyed a vacant structure today in Ramona.
 
Deputies from the Ramona substation responded to the fire at 1028 A Street at 4:29 p.m. this afternoon. When deputies and fire department personnel arrived, the structure was fully engulfed, also affecting power lines nearby.
 
Fire department personnel were able to extinguish the fire and contain it to the single structure, which was vacant. 

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

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Tiramisu Trattoria is now reopened for dine-in service in La Mesa.

Update May 25:  With restaurants now allowed to reopen for dine-in services, we are posting those now open again for dine-in in red lettering.  Call or visit websites for hours and whether reservations are required. 

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

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.  Those with alcohol permits may also offer take-out bottles of beer or wine, as well as cocktails and other alcoholic drinks to go, depending on their type of liquor license.

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; hours may be limited and options and may change.

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


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PRESCRIBED BURN IN CUYAMACA AREA DID NOT JUMP CONTAINMENT LINE, CAL FIRE SAYS, BUT EXTRA RESOURCES WERE CALLED

 

By Miriam Raftery

May 22, 2020 (Cuyamaca Rancho State Park) – Cailfornia Dept. of Parks and Recreation in cooperation with Cal Fire yesterday conducted a prescribed burn in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. A large plume of smoke over Middle Peak late yesterday raised concerns among area residents,after winds kicked up and Cal-Fire called in extra resources.


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SUPERVISOR JACOB AND BOTH CANDIDATES FOR HER SEAT ASK MAYOR FAULCONER TO REOPEN ALL EAST COUNTY LAKES

City opens Miramar, Murray and Lower Otay reservoirs, but leaves others closed indefinitely

Photo: Lake Murray, by Miriam Raftery

May 15, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Lake Murray, Lower Otay Reservoir and Lake Miramar reopen today for fishing, boating, cycling and walking, the city of San Diego announced. But other lakes remain closed. Four of them – El Capitan, Hodges, San Vicente and Upper Otay, are being evaluated for potential reopening later, but Lakes Barrett and Sutherland are slated to stay closed all year, even if stay-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic are lifted.

Earlier this week, Joel Anderson, candidate for County Supervisor in the 2nd district, launched a petition he urges the public to sign. It calls on County Supervisors to intervene and  “save our lakes.”


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CHILDREN’S NATURE RETREAT LAUNCHES VIRTUAL FIELD TRIPS AND ONLINE LESSONS; ALPINE SANCTUARY ALSO SEEKS DONATIONS TO HELP FEED ZEBRAS, LLAMAS AND OTHER RESCUED LARGE ANIMALS

Children’s Nature Retreat launches virtual field trips & online lessons

**The Alpine sanctuary also calls for support among COVID-19 pandemic** 

Source: Chlidren’s Nature Retreat 

May 5, 2020 (Alpine) – The Children’s Nature Retreat is a 20-acre animal sanctuary in Alpine with nearly 150 domesticated animals. Due to the statewide COVID-19 stay-at-home order, the Retreat is closed for public visits and school field trips. They have recently launched online classes – $5 lessons and virtual school field trips. 

The Retreat has teamed up with the Association for Human-Animal Bond Studies to offer the remote programming, which will include a video lesson, as well as a tutorial for a craft project related to the lesson. The first lesson – launched this week – is Reptiles and Birds. The objective is to introduce students to the similarities that reptiles and birds have with each other, and for them to have an opportunity to see different reptiles up close, including a rosy boa snake, a bearded dragon lizard, and a leg less lizard, as well as different birds from the Retreat – chickens, ducks, and turkeys. 


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COUNTY REOPENS PARKS AND GOLF COURSES, ALLOWS BOATING

By Miriam Raftery

April 30, 2020 (San Diego) – Starting tomorrow, a new county health order eases many restrictions on recreational facilities. Specifically:

  • All county parks will be reopened, with 50% parking capacity for social distancing.
  • Members of the same household can picnic or participate in sports or other activities in parks, but gatherings are still prohibited.
  • Recreational boating can resume at local lakes, bays and the ocean, however passengers must be in the same household.
  • Golf courses can also reopen, but golf carts are not allowed. Courses must provide physical distancing and conduct temperature screenings on all golfers.


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PASSAGES: FAMED MOTOCROSS CHAMPION MARTY SMITH AND WIFE KILLED IN DUNE BUGGY ROLLOVER

By Miriam Raftery
 
April 28, 2020 (Alpine) – Motocross Hall of Fame champion Marty Smith, 63, died yesterday along with his wife, Nancy in a dune buggy accident at the Imperial Sand Dunes in Glamis, California.  
 
The couple lived in Alpine and are survived by two daughters, a son and grandchildren.
 
TMZ sports reports that the couple was in a dune buggy that flipped and rolled down a hill. According to TMZ, Marty Smith was not wearing a safety harness and his wife wore only a lap belt. 
 
Lee Rampage posted “with a grieving heart” on social media that he and his wife, Tammi, were with the Smiths when the crash occurred.

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

By Emmet Pierce

Photo: Creative Commons via Bing

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


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LOAN PROGRAM TO HELP SMALL BUSINESSES IN UNINCORPORATED AREA AFTER SBA FUND RUNS OUT OF MONEY

By Miriam Raftery

April 24, 2020 (San Diego) -- The County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a $5 million loan program to help small businesses in the unincorporated area that have suffered losses because of COVID-19.

After more than a month of mandatory shut-downs, promised relief has not arrived for many businesses and individuals.  Pam Garcia owns a hair salon in the unincorporated area of El Cajon.  “None of my self-employed people have gotten unemployment. I filled for small business help and have received not even a letter,” she posted on Facebook. “ I also have not received my stimulus.”


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COVID PROMPTS SCHAWARMA SHOP IN ALPINE TO CLOSE: OWNER SEEKS BUYER

By Miriam Raftery
 
April 17, 2020 (Alpine) – Many restaurants are struggling due to the COVID-19 emergency that has forced restaurants to stop offering dine-in services.  While some have been offering take-out or delivery in an effort to stay afloat, the owners of the Schawarma Shop (formerly Greek Village Grill) in Alpine have announced plans to sell their newly remodeled restaurant due to the pandemic’s impacts.
 
Below is their announcement with details:
 
An Urgent Message to All Alpine Entrepreneurs

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YES, YOU CAN EXERCISE YOUR HORSE DURING STAY-HOME ORDER

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Creative Commons via Bing

April 8, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – After a rural resident told us his horse has been stabled since mid-March to prevent violating COVID-19 stay-home orders for non-essential needs, ECM reached out to San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) Chairman Steve Vaus. Vaus, a horse owner and also mayor of Poway, provided clarification that horseback riding is legal – provided social distancing is maintained.

“Horseback activity would fall under the agricultural exemption,” Vaus stated, but added that riders should not ride in groups with anyone other than their household members.  Don’t congregate before or after rides with friends at parking lots or elsewhere. “Take a ride and go home,” he advised.


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ART PRODUCED DURING A PANDEMIC: ARTISTS GIVE BACK WITH ERASECOVID EFFORT

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

April 6, 2020 (San Diego) -- El Cerrito artist Michael Buchmiller, creative director at El Cajon-based Graphic Business Solutions, Inc., created an artist-led effort to provide economic relief for artists and musicians during the world-wide coronavirus pandemic.  The project is titled EraseCOVID, featuring works by local and well-known creative talents.

(Artwork by Michael Buchmiller)   

But EraseCOVID is not only about raising money for artists and musicians, who have also become charity partners with the MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund. The creators also supply artworks that reflect messages, such as washing your hands or staying home, that are informational and aim toward minimizing the spread of covid19.  

Their website bills it in part as “Public Safety Art You’ll Want To Own.” 

Art patrons get pandemic artwork for their money, including some by prominent artists. 


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STORMS TO IMPACT REGION

East County News Service
 
April 5, 2020 (San Diego) – Two storms are forecast to hit our region this week, bringing rain, gusty wind, mountain snow and possible thunderstorms Sunday through Friday, the National Weather Service predicts.
 
The heaviest rain from the first storm is expected Monday and Tuesday, with snow levels dipping as low as 5,000 feet. No impacts on interstate freeways such as 8 or 15 are expected, however. 

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4.9 QUAKE NEAR ANZA ROCKS SAN DIEGO REGION

By Miriam Raftery

April 3, 2020 (San Diego's East County) --  A quake measuring 4.9 on the Richter scale occurred this evening at 6:53 p.m. near Anza, at the boundary of San Diego and Riverside counties.  The U.S. Geological  Survey earlier ranked the quake a 4.6 but later upgraded its intensity.

The shallow quake, at a depth of about 6.6 miles, occurred along the San Jacinto fault which seismologists have previously indicated is capable of generating a powerful quake up to 7.5 in magnitude. There is a 5 percent chance that this quake could be a precurser to a large quake within the next 48 hours, seismologist Tom Rockwell with San Diego State University told the San Diego Union Tribune.


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FREE DOG FOOD FOR BACKCOUNTRY RESIDENTS

East County News Service
 
March 27, 2020 (Alpine) – Residents of Alpine, Descanso, Pine Valley and backcountry communities in East County can receive free dog food at Natural Instincts Healthy Pet Center in Alpine. 
 
The shop on Alpine Boulevard e-mailed area residents that it has teamed up with PAWS, a San Diego rescue group, to buy discounted dog food to give out for those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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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.


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STORMS TO BRING RAIN, COLD AND SNOW DOWN TO 4,000 FEET

East County News Service

March 23, 2020 (San Diego)--A storm system will bring light showers today through Wednesday, with a new storm system forecast for Wednesday afternoon into Thursday.  This will be a colder storm, with snow levels possibly falling to 4000’ or lower.

There will be less moisture, but nevertheless, some accumulating snowfall is likely in the mountains. Roads may be slippery due to rain and snow, with chains potentially required at higher elevations.


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