EAST COUNTY ROUNDUP: LOCAL AND STATEWIDE NEWS

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December 20, 2017 (San Diego's East County) -- East County Roundup highlights top stories of interest to East County and San Diego’s inland regions, published in other media. This week’s top “Roundup” headlines include:

LOCAL

STATE

For excerpts and links to full stories, click “read more” and scroll down.

LOCAL

Environment Report: Water Authority Extends Controversial Deal by a Decade (Voice of San Diego)

The San Diego County Water Authority extended by 10 years a multibillion-dollar deal it has to buy water from the Imperial Irrigation District.

New SANDAG Board Chairman on Climate Change: 'It's a Debatable Issue' (KPBS)

Del Mar City Councilman Terry Sinnott was unanimously elected the new board chairman of the San Diego Association of Governments on Friday, taking the helm of the county's lead agency in charge of meeting state climate goals. But in a brief interview after his election, Sinnott declined to acknowledge the scientific consensus that climate change is caused by human activity and the burning of fossil fuels.

Succulents as fire break (Debra Lee Baldwin)

Filmed five days after Camille Newton's garden "saved" her house from wildfire, you'll see how the fire impacted neighboring homes as well. Whether or not you live in a fire-prone region, you'll marvel at the extensive succulent garden Camille created entirely from cuttings, and find her narrative of the Lilac Fire both remarkable and harrowing.

Record number of meth users died in San Diego County last year (San Diego Union-Tribune)

More than a decade after a full-scale assault on methamphetamine production in San Diego County, the drug is continuing to ravage the region, killing a record number of users last year and hooking more than half of adults who end up in jail, according to a report released this week by the county’s Methamphetamine Strike Force. The drug was linked to 377 deaths last year in the county — 66 more than the previous year.

Gondolas in San Diego Have Powerful Backer But Still No Liftoff (KPBS)

Supporters say mass transit gondolas are affordable and have a light touch on the urban landscape. So why hasn’t San Diego built any?

San Diego betting on lower income entrepreneurs (KPBS)

The city of San Diego wants to stimulate business growth in low to moderate income communities with a new initiative focused on supporting entrepreneurs from those neighborhoods.

Former county Supervisor Pam Slater-Price ditches the GOP, becomes a Democrat (San Diego Union-Tribune)

… Amember of the Republican Party for nearly three decades, including nearly all of the 24 years she spent in elected office, Slater-Price said the GOP has lost its focus on pragmatic service and fiscal responsibility…The party’s support for Senate candidate Roy Moore, a former Alabama judge accused of molesting a teenager, was the final factor that pushed her to change parties, she said.

Report Details Secret Pentagon Program to Study UFOs  (KPBS)

A Navy pilot about 100 miles off the coast of San Diego found it difficult to believe what he was seeing….  Fravor’s sighting is just one of many investigated by a secret Pentagon program to study unidentified flying objects….

San Diego start-up fills a niche, helping people grow cannabis at home (San Diego Union-Tribune)

Call it kismet. Naomi Aragon of Normal Heights was at a coffee shop a few months ago wondering how she could learn to cultivate marijuana when she noticed a business card on the wall that promised to make her life easy.

STATE

'Reasonable rates' is stricken from CPUC mission statement (San Diego Union-Tribune)

For more than 20 years, the agency mission statement said, “The CPUC serves the public interest by protecting consumers and ensuring the provision of safe, reliable utility service and infrastructure at reasonable rates, with a commitment to environmental enhancement and a healthy California economy.”  Under a recent revision, the statement now says: “The CPUC regulates services and utilities, protects consumers, safeguards the environment and assures Californians’ access to safe and reliable utility infrastructure and services.” 

State regulators adopt stronger fire safety rules for utilities (San Diego Union-Tribune)

In the aftermath of the Lilac Fire and a series of deadly blazes that have scorched the state, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) just passed more stringent regulations for utilities to help reduce the risk of wildfires.

California’s new sanctuary law will aid some immigrants, but not all (KQED)

One of the most controversial issues in Sacramento this year has been widely referred to as the “sanctuary state” law, which will take effect Jan. 1. It is intended to protect law-abiding immigrants from being set on a path to deportation after interactions with local police. But in immigrant communities and elsewhere, there is confusion about how the law will work and exactly what protection it provides.

Prison Reforms Pressuring California's Inmate Firefighter Force (KPBS_

The firefighters clearing brush during a raging wildfire or digging containment lines are not always professional firefighters. In California, about 3,700 of them are prison inmates. / But that number has fallen 13 percent since 2008. Prison realignment, which has decreased the overall number of state inmates, is also slowly shrinking the number of inmates qualified to volunteer for firefighting duty. The state estimates these inmates save California $100 million a year it would otherwise have to spend on firefighters.

In California’s wildfires, a looming threat to climate goals (Cal Matters)

Beyond the devastation and personal tragedy of the fires that have ravaged California in recent months, another disaster looms: an alarming uptick in unhealthy air and the sudden release of the carbon dioxide that drives climate change.

Supervisor London Breed becomes acting San Francisco mayor upon Ed Lee’s death  (San Francisco Chronicle)

 London Breed, a native San Franciscan who was raised by her grandmother in the city’s housing projects, became acting mayor of San Francisco early Tuesday morning. She is San Francisco’s first black female mayor.

Investigation into cause of Southland wildfires probes Edison utility equipment (Los Angeles Times)

 California fire officials have notified Southern California Edison that the utility’s equipment is under investigation as a possible cause of some of the fires.

Cause of Skirball fire was ‘illegal cooking’ in homeless camp, LAFD says (Orange County Register)

…The Skirball fire has burned 422 acres, destroyed six homes and damaged 12 others in the Bel-Air community.

Gov. Brown met with Edison over San Onofre costs, weeks before Warsaw pact (San Diego Union-Tribune)

Gov. Jerry Brown met with Edison International’s top executive... the month before a key meeting in Warsaw that shaped the disputed settlement agreement for the San Onofre nuclear plant….Critics say the timing of the meeting is questionable, especially given that the government is refusing to release Brown’s emails on the San Onofre matter.

19 million California voter records hacked, held in Bitcoin ransom, per report (San Diego Union-Tribune)

Hackers were demanding $3,500 worth of Bitcoin to restore more than 19 million California voter records.

In California, Mixed Results for Regulations Meant to Help Stop Fires (NY Times)

...rules like requiring homeowners to clear flammable bush near their houses have proved to be of mixed success, fire officials said on Monday.