Communities

PLANS FOR EMERGENCY SLEEPING CABINS FOR HOMELESS WOMEN AND CHILDREN MOVES FORWARD IN EL CAJON

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: Amikas demonstration village in City Heights

July 26, 2020 (El Cajon) – A proposal to allow construction of emergency sleeping cabins on property owned by Meridian Baptist Church has been approved by the El Cajon Planning Commission and will next be considered by the El Cajon City Council, potentially as early as August 11.


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PROTEST OF DUBIOUS ORIGIN FIZZLES IN LA MESA

By Henri Migala 
 
July 25, 2020 (La Mesa) -- Police and "counter-protesters" outnumbered a small number of would-be protesters around the La Mesa Police Station today during an event of questionable origin and intent.  

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CASI CIELO FARM AND WINERY ADDS WALKING TOURS

By Miriam Raftery

 

July 25, 2020 (Jamul) - Casi Cielo Farm and Winery in Jamul now offers free, self-guided vineyard and garden walking tours to wine-tasting guests.  

 

Owners Greg and PJ Maness have nick-named the elevated vegetable, flower and herb garden “Little Eden.”  From heirloom tomatoes to towering giant sunflowers to farm animals, the farm is a haven situated in Jamul just south of Rancho San Diego.


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SANTEE ENDS EVICTION MORATORIUM FOR COVID-19-AFFECTED TENANTS, APPROVES UPGRADES TO TELEVISE MEETINGS

By Mike Allen

July 25, 2020 (Santee) -- The Santee City Council voted to halt a moratorium on evictions of tenants who cannot pay their rent due to the coronavirus, citing the continuance of other financial back-up programs aimed at that purpose.

In a 4-1 vote at its July 22 meeting conducted via teleconference, the Council halted Santee’s moratorium effective July 31. The Council majority said a statewide moratorium on evictions of tenants remains in effect, and because the court system has not been operating, there aren’t any evictions happening anyway.

“As much as I hate to say this, I think we should rely on the state (to provide protections to tenants unable to pay their rent),” said Mayor John Minto. “We should give direction to staff to end this moratorium on a city level and allow it to proceed on the state level.”

Councilman Stephen Houlahan cast the sole no vote, and said the city should maintain the city’s eviction moratorium, a symbolic gesture of providing yet another safety net to local tenants who cannot pay their rent due to financial problems caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.


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CYT SHUTS DOWN ALL LOCAL PROGRAMS INDEFINITELY AMID STORM OF SEXUAL ABUSE COMPLAINTS

By Miriam Raftery

July 25, 2020 (El Cajon) – After numerous former students alleged sexual abuse by instructors, Christian Youth Theater posted yesterday on its Facebook page, “As of today, CYT San Diego social media will no longer be active since we will not be holding any programming or reopening until further notice. Please visit our website at www.cytsandiego.org to contact us directly if you have any questions or statements. We are here to listen. We are here to learn. We love and support our ENTIRE CYT family.”


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100 YEARS STRONG, ARTIST PHEBE BURNHAM’S WORKS TO BE DISPLAYED AT SOPHIE’S GALLERY



By Miriam Raftery

July 24, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – On July 26, Descanso artist Phebe Burnham will celebrate her 100th birthday.  A restrospective display of her vibrant oil paintings, pastels and mixed-media creations can be viewed at Sophie’s Gallery in El Cajon from now through September 9th.  Several can been seen online and many more can be viewed in-person at the gallery at 140 East Main Street in El Cajon.

Born at the dawn of the Roaring ‘20s in the U.S. and the Mexican Revolution in Mexico, Burnham has painted scenes and people in both Mexico and the U.S., including her rural Descanso community. 

 


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LA MESA POLICE RELEASE VIDEOS OF LESLIE FURCRON INCIDENT, IDENTIFY OFFICER INVOLVED

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo:  Detective Eric Knudson with La Mesa Chamber of Commerce President Mary England during "Salute to Local Heroes" event, where he was honored in 2018
 
July 23, 2020 (La Mesa) – La Mesa Police today identified the officer who fired a beanbag that struck protester Leslie Furcron on the forehead during a chaotic protest outside the LMPD station on May 30, 2020, seriously injuring the Lemon Grove grandmother. Police also release two body camera videos of the incident, as well as a critical incident video and additional information.

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PROTEST PLANNED AT LA MESA POLICE STATION ON SATURDAY, AUGUST 1

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 24, 2020 (La Mesa) – Another  protest against the La Mesa  Police Department  has been announced  for Saturday, August 1, at 3:30 p.m. outside the La Mesa Police Department. The flyer indicates that "civil disobedience" is planned and indicates this event is for adults only. The action comes amid nationwide protests calling for police accountability and racial justice.

The protest comes two months after a May 30 protest over police and racial justice issues dissolved into a riot that ended with police pelted by rocks and bottles, three buildings burned down and dozens of buildings looted. However several protests that remained peaceful have been held since then including a unity rally and Juneteeth rally.


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SIGNS OF THE TIMES: TWO DOWNTOWN EL CAJON BUSINESSES CLOSE

By Robert Gehr

Photography: Robert Gehr

July 23, 2020 (El Cajon) -- On my walk this morning, I noticed two businesses in downtown El Cajon closed and nearly emptied of furnishings.  Both Rock a Betties Beauty Salon and Thrill Seekers have closed these locations, with rent signs in the windows.

Thrill Seekers, a retail establishment at 164 East Main Street, still has a website. A second location at 1421 Woodside Ave. Suite C, Santee remains open for customers. The owner of Thrill Seekers told ECM's editor that relocating to Santee was not related to the pandemic and that his business is "doing just fine."

State and county mandated closures due to the COVID-19 epidemic may have played a role in the permanent loss of Rock A Betties Beauty Salon at 158 E. Main St. El Cajon, a long-time fixture in the community. The shop has has taken its website down and the phone is disconnected.


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SHERIFF'S DEPUTY, EX-SANTANA BASEBALL STAR ACCUSED OF MOLESTING THREE MINORS

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

Photo:  Jaylen Fleer, shown pitching for Santana High School in a March 2011 game against Helix Charter High School, also played football for the Sultans. Photo by Chris Stone

July 23, 2020 (Santee) - A San Diego County sheriff's deputy who once starred for Santana High School in baseball and football was behind bars Thursday on suspicion of a series of child molestation charges in Chula Vista.


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CHRISTIAN YOUTH THEATER IN SPOTLIGHT FOR ALLEGED SEXUAL ABUSE OF STUDENTS AND RACIAL BIAS

By Miriam Raftery

File photo, left: CYT’s 2014 performance of Les Miserables on Mt. Helix

July 23, 2020 (El Cajon) – Christian Youth Theater (CYT) a national junior theater organization based in El Cajon, is now in the spotlight over allegations by former students of sexual abuse and racism dating back decades. 


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SANTEE’S OFF BROADWAY LIVE WILL START SINGING AGAIN JULY 31 AT NEW OUTDOOR SPACE

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

July 23, 2020 (Santee) -- Santee’s Off Broadway Live will start performances again ----outside of their theater on 9490 Cuyamaca Street.  The theatrical company is adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic by constructing a performance area and seating section in the parking lot.

Arts organizations have been hard-hit by the pandemic, which has caused statewide shutdowns of theaters and concert halls since mid-March, with no opening date yet in sight for indoor live performance venues.  So like more and more businesses in other sectors, Off Broadway Live has opted to move musical theater productions outdoors.


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DISCHARGE WITH DIGNITY: DRIVE-THROUGH CLOTHING DONATION JULY 24-25 FOR SHARP GROSSMONT HOSPITAL PATIENTS

By Miriam Raftery

 

July 23, 2020 (La Mesa) – The public is invited to donate clothing and shoes to help assure “discharge with dignity” for patients at Sharp Grossmont Hospital. Donated items can be dropped off at the Grossmont Healthcare District parking lot at 9001 Wakarusa St., La Mesa between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. this Friday and Saturday, July 24 and 25. 


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PHOTO OF THE WEEK: NEOWISE COMET OVER EAST COUNTY

By Miriam Raftery

July 23, 2020 (Borrego Springs) -- Photographer Scott Burnham captured this amazing image of Comet Neowise over Borrego Palm Canyon from the edge of Borrego Springs on Friday evening, July 17.

The icy comet will make its closest approach to Earth tonight, and may be seen through July 25.

Once it’s gone, it won’t return for another 6,800 years. 


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CAMPO FAMILY SUFFERS DEADLY CRASH: FUNDRAISER STARTED TO HELP SURVIVORS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo via GoFundMe

July 21, 2020 (Campo) – Brad and Crystal Sparks’ family from Campo suffered a devastating rollover accident in New Mexico on July 12 while traveling home after a visit to friends in Texas. Two of their children were killed and five other family members had injuries. Brad works for Symons Fire Protection in Poway.

A GoFundMe Page has thus far raised over $187,000 to help Brad and Crystal Sparks, their surviving children and an unborn baby.


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MOTORCYCLE PASSENGER DIES AFTER ROLLOVER IN EL CAJON

East County News Service

July 20, 2020 (El Cajon) – A passenger on a Harley Davidson motorcycle has died following a rollover crash July 18 on Piping Rock Lane around 9:30 p.m. While passing a vehicle parked on the shoulder, the driver of the motorcycle lost control, causing it to roll over and crash into the parked vehicle.

Both the driver and passenger were ejected onto the roadway. They were not wearing helmets and both suffered major injuries. Both were transported to hospitals, but despite lifesaving efforts, the passenger was pronounced dead at Sharp Memorial Hospital.


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LA MESA MAY SEEK BOND TO FUND PARK UPGRADES, CONSIDERS TOWN HALL ON RIOT RESPONSE AND POLICING ISSUES

By Briana Gomez

July 18, 2020 (La Mesa) -- The La Mesa City Council Meeting on July 14 reflected an air of unresolved tensions, six weeks after rioting, looting and fires ravaged the community. The Council approved a grant application to help the homeless and addressed other issues, but concerns over police controversies and the riot response remained hot button issues with residents. 


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SECOND WOMAN FILES COMPLAINT AGAINST LA MESA, ALLEGES OFFICER SHOT HER IN BREAST WITH RUBBER BULLET AT GAS STATION AFTER SHE LEFT PROTEST

By Miriam Raftery

Photo of Horton's injuries, courtesy of Singleton Law Firm

July 17, 2020 (La Mesa) – A woman who claims she was shot one the side of her breast with a rubber bullet or other projectile by a law enforcement officer while waiting at the Chevron gas station for her daughter, after leaving the May 30 protest, has filed a claim against the city of La Mesa seeking unspecified damages for her injuries.

Michelle Horton, 51, a former Navy officer and healthcare administrator, is white. Her attorney, Gerald Singleton, told ECM in an interview that Horton had left the protest after a dispersal order was given. He indicated that according to Horton, the shooting occurred before dark, between 8 and 9 p.m., by an officer who pulled up in a vehicle at the gas station and shot her in the chest with a projectile, without warning.


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ANTHONY'S EXPANDS OUTDOOR DINING AMID TROPICAL MOTIF

By Miriam Raftery

July 17, 2020 (La Mesa) -- Just a few weeks ago, Anthony's Fish Grotto had announced its intent to close permanently due to the COVID-19 shutdown's devastating impact on restaurants. Then an outpouring of support from customers persuaded owner Craig Ghio to keep the doors open until dine-in resumed.  The state reopened dine-in only briefly. Now, with only outdoor dining allowed, Anthony's has substantially expanded its socially-distanced seating alongside a private lake, provided probably the most delightful outdoor dining experience in East County.

Tropical music added ambience when I visited this week, sipping a signature Tropical Cruise with rum, pineapple juice and peach Schnapps.  Homemade clam chowder in a sourdough breadbowl provided a hearty and affordable meal. My dining companion, an ECM reporter, chose a  healthy salad topped with fresh fruits; you can opt to top it off with shrimp, salmon, or chicken. The menu also includes an array of fresh seafoods, sandwiches and more.

Lush landscaping and fountains with the sound of running water, creating an illusion evocative of beaches in some far-away enclave.


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EMERGENCY SLEEPING CABINS ON AGENDA FOR EL CAJON PLANNING COMMISSION JULY 21

By Miriam Raftery

Photos: Screenshots, NBC7: an emergency sleeping cabin in City Heights built by Amikas

July 15, 2020 (El Cajon) – Last year, the nonprofit Amikas built an emergency sleeping cabin as a demonstration project at a church in El Cajon. The group hopes to win city approval to allow similar units to be used to temporarily house homeless people, particularly women, including women veterans, amid the COVID-19 pandemic when local shelter space in East County is insufficient.


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HELIX WATER DISTRICT’S DEMONSTRATION WATER-WISE GARDENS ARE COMPLETE

 

Source:  Helix Water District

View video: https://youtu.be/OuJTPTgV3_8

July 16, 2020 (La Mesa) -- Helix Water District’s new demonstration landscape, located at its administration office in La Mesa, is complete. The project beautifies the neighborhood and inspires others to install WaterSmart landscaping.

The demonstration landscape includes three unique water-wise gardens on the streets around the building, including a Mediterranean garden on University Avenue, a desert landscape on Lee Avenue and a California native landscape along the building’s main entrance on Quince Street. Each is full of flowers, colors and textures.


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MURDERED WOMAN LED COUNTY FOSTER PARENT ASSOCIATION IN EL CAJON

By Miriam Raftery

July 16, 2020 (El Cajon) – Debbie Stolz, President of the San Diego County Foster Parent Association based in El Cajon, was murdered along with her daughter on Sunday at a home in Otay Mesa. The loss of Stolz has sent shockwaves through local communities and the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District. Stolz worked  for over 20 years as a trainer for parents with Grossmont College’s Foster, Adoptive & Kinship Care education program.

“Deb played an integral role in the program through her training and support to countless resource parents for foster youth in San Diego County,” says Sally Cox, CEO of the Foundation for Grossmont and Cuyamaca Colleges, in an email to staff.  Stolz Stolz was a long-time employee for the Foundation.


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CHABAD OF POWAY'S WOUNDED RABBI PLEADS GUILTY TO YEARS OF TAX, WIRE FRAUD

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

Photo:  As Poway Mayor Steve Vaus looks on, Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein chats with President Trump in September. Photo by Ken Stone

July 15, 2020 (Poway) - Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, the Chabad of Poway leader wounded during an attack last year on his synagogue, pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court to federal tax and wire fraud charges and could face a maximum five-year prison term.


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POWAY MAYOR VAUS PROPOSES PLAN TO LET FITNESS ACTIVITIES AND WORSHIP SERVICES USE PARKS DURING COVID-SHUTDOWN

 

Update July 15, 2020: The Poway City Council today unanimously approved this plan.

By Miriam Raftery

July 14, 2020 (Poway) –  Poway Mayor Steve Vaus has proposed a “Sharing Outdoor Spaces” plan to “allow local fitness biz & houses of worship to use areas in our parks until indoor restrictions lifted.” Vaus announced the plan on Twitter, which the Poway City Council will vote on tomorrow during an 11:15 a.m. meeting. View agenda.

The action comes after the state on Monday issued a order required all houses of worship, gyms, yoga, dance and other fitness organizations to cease all indoor activities until further notice in order to mitigate the further spread of COVID-19.

“Similar to how we recently assisted Poway restaurants by providing picnic tables, I propose we help houses of worship and fitness-oriented businesses (yoga, Pilates, dance class, gyms, etc.) by providing space for their activities in our parks,” the Mayor’s proposal states, noting that the state has not banned such activities from taking place outdoors. Outdoor activities are considered less risky by health officials since the virus dissipates more quickly in sunshine and since people are not breathing recirculated air.


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

EL CAJON STARTS SMALL BUSINESS GRANT PROGRAM, ALLOWS BUSINESSES SUCH AS BARBERS, SALONS AND RETAILERS TO MOVE OUTDOORS

City also weighs possibility of allowing city parks, such as Prescott Promenade (photo) downtown, to be used for outdoor faith services and business operations

By Kendra Sitton

July 14, 2020 (El Cajon) -- El Cajon City Council today unanimously approved a plan to allocate almost $2.5 million for a Business Grant Program benefitting primarily nonessential businesses forced to close during the pandemic.

The city also took action to help many businesses and activities move outdoors, after the state shut down many indoor operations due to a spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

LEMON AID: LEMON GROVE APPROVES CARES ACT FUNDING TO HELP SMALL BUSINESSES AND RECOUP COVID-19 COSTS TO CITY

Council also votes to place cannabis tax on ballot

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

July 14, 2020 (Lemon Grove) – By a unanimous vote, Lemon Grove’s City Council on July 7 approved a staff proposal for allocation of federal CARES Act funding. The city will receive $480,774 through the county and another $334,243 through the state. The lion’s share will be spent to help small businesses. A substantial portion will also offset city costs related to COVID-19, while a small sliver of the funds will be spent on homeless services.

 


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

By Miriam Raftery

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

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

The California Highway Patrol is investigating the collision.


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

SPRING VALLEY HAS WORST RATE OF COVID-19 TEST RESULTS IN COUNTY

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo: cc via Bing
 
July 10, 2020 (San Diego) – San Diego County has released data showing the percentage of people who tested positive per each 100,000 in the population, as of July 8th. 

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

 

By Miriam Raftery

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

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

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

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

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LMPD CHIEF RECEIVES REPORT ON AMAURIE JOHNSON INCIDENT NEAR TROLLEY STATION

By Miriam Raftery

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

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

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


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