EAST COUNTY ROUNDUP: TOP LOCAL AND STATE NEWS

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March 7, 2013--(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/REGIONAL

STATE

Read more for excerpts and links to full stories.

LOCAL/REGIONAL

San Diego-based air traffic control errors soar (U-T San Diego) 

March 5, 2013--Air traffic control errors — such as allowing planes to fly too close together — rose sharply across the nation in recent years, with the highest increase coming from the San Diego-based hub that manages air traffic for much of Southern California, according to a federal audit released this week.

The increases are “dramatic” and “continue to be a major air safety concern,” concluded the report by the inspector general for the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Rising permitting fees driving up housing prices in East County (EC Californian) 

February 27, 2013--According to local developers and permitting professionals, the costs associated with permitting have become so arduous that it is driving up the cost of living for consumers. Residential experts report that the cost of building a new home may be as high as $85,000 in East County communities such as Santee, representing 20 percent of the cost of an average middle-class home.

Greg Brown, the owner of New West Investment Groups, says there are two phases of permitting that take place for his multi-lot projects. The first step is the entitlement process for commercial and residential projects.

“The regulators get to decide what you do — or don’t do — on your own property,” explained Brown. “This sort of thing takes $50,000 (per house) and two years in San Diego.

Manzanita health study (The Alpine Sun) 

February 15, 2013--A study currently under way to assess possible health impacts to residents due to wind turbines on the Campo reservation is expected to be finished in the fall -- and researchers hope to find the money to expand it into a regional study. 

Lead researcher Arcela Nuñez-Alvarez, Ph.D., of the National Latino Research Center said the numbers, so far “…show some trends that I think deserve more attention.” Preliminary numbers in the small population being studied show that 68 percent of the households are suffering from chronic sleep disorders – an oft-mentioned complaint of people who live near turbines – and the same percentage reported emerging respiratory problems.

SD’s Share of Federal Homelessness Funding Doesn’t Add Up (Voice of San Diego)

March 6, 2013-- San Diego has the third-highest homeless population among major American cities. But it ranks 18th when it comes to a key source of federal funding to combat homelessness.

And thanks to an archaic rule that governs how the money is distributed, there's very little San Diego can do to move itself up in the receiving line.

San Diego City Council To Consider $600K Settlement Over 2011 Blackout ( KPBS)

March 4, 2013-- The San Diego City Council is scheduled to consider tomorrow paying more than $600,000 to settle civil allegations of violations related to the failure of two sewage pump stations during the widespread blackout in September 2011.

After the electricity went out, about 2.6 million gallons of sewage spilled into the Sorrento Valley from one station and eventually flowed to Los Penasquitos Creek. Another 870,000 gallons spilled from the other station into the Sweetwater River.

Mayor recommends funding of homeless shelter, public restrooms (SD CityBeat) 

February 27, 2013--For the first time in, well, ever, San Diego's winter homeless shelter could be open through the spring. 

The city's mid-year budget-monitoring report, presented at today's meeting of the City Council's Budget Committee, projects a $5.5-million surplus for the fiscal year ending in June. Of that money, $3.6 million's available for spending and Mayor Bob Filner set out how he'd like to spend it:

Lakeside residents use Facebook for neighborhood watch (Fox)

March 4, 2013--A local neighborhood is using the power of social media to fight crime. Members of the Eucalyptus Hills Community are using Facebook as a new form of neighborhood watch and now the rural homeowners are closer than ever.

“The neighbors definitely feel like they know what’s going on in the community,” Lakeside resident Dennis Richardson said.

The Eucalyptus Hills Facebook page has become the new epicenter of a community that is spread out.

Ramona utility demands big money from ratepayers (10 News)

February 25, 2013--The Ramona Municipal Water District is demanding ratepayers pay up or face a shut off. Team 10 found the public utility asking for tens of thousands of dollars from private business owners.

Business owners said they don't know why they got one-time water bills for tens of thousands of dollars. 

Blackbird foot malady poses mystery (U—T San Diego) 

March 4, 2013--“When you look at the landscape of things going on in wildlife, you’re going to focus on things that cause mortality rather than nonfatal foot problems,” Rideout said.

A chronic condition can become catastrophic, however, if other factors — such as changes in habitat, predation or other pathogens — set the stage for decline.

Cassandra Steppat Crowned Miss La Mesa, City’s First Title-Holder of Color (La Mesa Patch) 

March 2, 2013--The final act of La Mesa’s historic centennial year was five years in the making.

Cassandra Steppat—after finishing first runner-up in 2012 and out of the top spot in four other tries for Miss La Mesa or Miss Teen La Mesa—was crowned the city’s ambassador Friday night at Sonrise Church in Santee.

Call to action: Master plan threatens historic spring house at Collier Park: (La Mesa Today)

March 3, 2013--I am writing to those interested in the preservation of the heritage of La Mesa-- and its current and future civic health.

The City of La Mesa Development Department has recently released a Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the Collier Park Master Plan.

The Plan is now in the period in which public comment is accepted as part of the project's requirement to comply with the guidelines and processes of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

STATE

Former parks employee fined by ethics commission (Sacramento Bee) 

March 7, 2013-- A former state parks employee who illegally cashed out thousands of dollars in vacation time for himself and others as the department was struggling with budget deficits must pay a $7,000 fine.

The California Fair Political Practices Commission said that Manuel Lopez cashed out about 524 hours of his own vacation time for payments totaling $28,647. The other payouts involved 56 people and totaled $300,000.

New bill would separate reform CPUC hierarchy (Sacramento Bee) 

February 25, 2013--A California lawmaker wants to keep state energy regulators from holding private settlement talks instead of public hearings following a failed mediation process in the San Bruno pipeline blast cases.

The Commission appointed former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell to mediate private talks over how much Pacific Gas & Electric Co. should be fined for the deadly explosion last fall at the direction of CPUC president Michael Peevey.

Republican leaders emphasize Latino candidates (Sacramento Bee)

March 2, 2013--Recruiting more Latino candidates is critical to the future of the California Republican Party, prominent Hispanic Republicans said during an afternoon forum at the party's convention in Sacramento.

The event was hosted by GROW Elect, an organization devoted to cultivating Republican Latino candidates for elected office, and participants spoke to a growing recognition that the Republican party's fortunes will be increasingly tied to how well they appeal to Hispanic voters.