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Homes

EL CAJON HOSTS COMMUNITY MEETING TO PLAN FOR HOUSING, ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE AND SAFETY IN GENERAL PLAN AMENDMENT

By Miriam Raftery

September 25, 2020 (El Cajon) – The city of El Cajon is embarking on updates to the Housing and Safety Elements of the General Plan and developing a new Environmental Justice Element. Residents are invited to join in a virtual community meeting on September 29 at 7:00 p.m. to discuss housing needs and the future of housing and community issues.


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PRICE GOUGING A CRIME AFTER VALLEY FIRE

 
By Yvette Urrea Moe, County of San Diego Communications Office
 
September 18, 2020 (Eastern San Diego County) - San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan is warning businesses and scammers not to take advantage of consumers by price gouging during a state of an emergency – doing so can end in prosecution.
 
As a result of the devastating Valley fire in the eastern part of San Diego County, Governor Gavin Newsom and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors declared a state of emergency in San Diego County on September 6. During a declared state of emergency, it is illegal for a business to increase its prices for essential goods or services by more than 10 percent, unless they can show their own costs have been increased.
 
“Wildfires leave a devastating effect on many of our neighbors and we want to send a clear message that we will not tolerate any unlawful activity by a greedy businesses, contractors or scammers who would seek to financially exploit victims of wildfires,” Stephan said. “Price gouging and unlicensed contracting during a state of emergency is not only a crime, it also can further victimize someone who may have lost everything in a wildfire.”

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HOMELESS HOUSING PROPOSED AT HOLIDAY INN: LA MESA HOLDS SPECIAL MEETING MONDAY, SUPERVISORS REVOTE TUESDAY ON PROJECT PUSHED THROUGH WITHOUT NOTICE TO CITY OR RESIDENTS

Story and photos by Miriam Raftery

File photo: cart at a homeless camp in Spring Valley

Updated with information on additional actions La Mesa has taken in the past week and will consider this week to help its homeless residents.

View background report provided to council members

September 17, 2020 (La Mesa) – The state and county want to convert a Holiday Inn in La Mesa to provide 139 units of transitional housing for the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless due to COVID-19.  Supervisors initially approved an application to the state for the “Homekey” project on Sept. 15 with no prior notification to the city of La Mesa, residents or businesses nearby. 


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HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CALIFORNIA'S EVICTION PROTECTIONS

By Laurence Du Sault | CALmatters

CALmatters is an independent public interest journalism venture covering California state politics and government.

Photo:  California State House. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

September 5, 2020 (San Diego) - Just days before courts resumed processing eviction filings after a five-month freeze, California this week enacted statewide protections through next year for tenants struggling to pay rent amid the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.


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LA MESA RENTAL ASSISTANCE GRANT PROGRAM APPLICATIONS CLOSED

Source: City of La Mesa

September 2, 2020 (La Mesa) -- Due to high demand for La Mesa's Rental Assistance Program, Home Start has closed their application form as of 6:00 p.m. on Monday, August 31.

Residents whose applications are currently under review will be contacted by a Home Start representative within the next two weeks for follow up.


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GOVERNOR SIGNS BILL PROTECTING BOTH TENANTS AND LANDLORDS AS PANDEMIC CONTINUES

By Chris Jennewein, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Photo:  An apartment building in downtown San Diego’s East Village. Photo by Chris Stone

September 1, 2020 (San Diego) - Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation Monday to protect millions of tenants from eviction and property owners from foreclosure due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.


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CONSTRUCTION TO START SOON ON NEW RESIDENTIAL AND RETAIL IN DOWNTOWN EL CAJON

By Miriam Raftery
 
August 31, 2020 (El Cajon) – Construction is set to begin in September on a new housing and retail building at 101 Main Street on the corner of Main and Magnolia in downtown El Cajon.  

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HOMEFED YANKS FANITA RANCH PLAN BEFORE COUNCIL VOTE

 

By Mike Allen

 

Cancelling Magnolia extension, as proposed, would remove key evacuation route for wildfires, critic says

August 30, 2020 (Santee) -- Fanita Ranch, the 3,000 unit residential project planned for Santee’s northwest quadrant, is being delayed by developer HomeFed Corp. to make some significant changes, including removing an extension of a key arterial serving the project.

In a letter posted on the Fanita Ranch Facebook page last week, Jeff O’Connor, the company’s vice president, said HomeFed requested the delay “to remove the extension of Magnolia Avenue from the project in order to direct those funds towards the improvements to SR-52.”


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WHAT TO PLANT IN YOUR SOCAL GARDEN IN LATE SUMMER

By Amy Okafor

Photo:  Showy Penstemon via Tom Hilton on Flickr 

August 27, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- The dead of summer doesn't mean you have to put up with a wilted, drab landscape – even in Southern California where summers are warm and dry. Thanks to SoCal's mild winters, you can have a great yard almost year-round – if you know what to plant in your SoCal garden in late summer.


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HIGH PRICES, LOW INVENTORY PUT SQUEEZE ON LOW-INCOME AND FIRST-TIME HOMEBUYERS AMID PANDEMIC

 

By Helen Horvath

 

August 22, 2020 (San Diego) - You might think that amid the pandemic’s economic uncertainties, when many people are unemployed or living on reduced revenues, people would be hesitant to invest in buying a home. Yet real estate experts interviewed by ECM report the opposite – a frenzy of competitive bidding pushing up prices of local homes for sale. While a shortage of inventory is benefitting home sellers, the pandemic pandemonium in San Diego County’s real estate market poses daunting challenges for first-time homebuyers and those with low or moderate incomes.  


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REAL ESTATE REALITY: BEING A BUYER IN A SELLERS MARKET-- WHY HAVING YOUR OWN AGENT CAN PAY

By Maryanne Jackson, Real Estate Broker, CNE, CPRES

Photo:  Creative Commons, Free Stock

August 25, 2020  (El Cajon) -- Dear Maryanne,

My mother and I are interested in purchasing a home. We have concerns with the inventory being at an all-time low. Will this have an impact on our ability to get an offer accepted if we sign on with a buyer’s agent?

Are there any advantages for us to consider hiring an agent or are we better off just winging it on our own? -- M.M. El Cajon, CA


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DEFAULTED BILLS MAILED TO OVER 28K PROPERTY TAXPAYERS, BUT PENALTIES MAY BE WAIVED FOR THOSE IMPACTED BY COVID-19

Source: San Diego County Treasurer-Tax Collector

August 17, 2020 (San Diego) -- San Diego County Treasurer-Tax Collector Dan McAllister announced on Aug. 11 that his office is offering penalty relief for small business owners and homeowners who are among those receiving more than 28,000 defaulted bills. 

“We know many of the late bills are due to COVID-19, and we want our taxpayers to know there could be relief,” said McAllister. “They may qualify to have their penalties waived if they file for a COVID-19 cancellation request. Our customers must provide documentation as evidence to show how the pandemic impacted their ability to pay their second installment by April 10.”


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LAST-CHANCE BILL TO PREVENT FORECLOSURES AND EVICTIONS SET FOR HEARING TOMORROW

UPDATE AUGUST 20, 2020:  AB 1436 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 6-3 vote and will next be heard by the full Senate.

“There is an urgency to this.”—Assemblymember Monique Limon, who fears many Californians may lose their homes or become homeless if AB 1436, which she coauthored, is not approved

By Miriam Raftery

File photo:  Protest to stop foreclosures during the last recession

August 17, 2020 (San Diego) – To date, efforts to save homeowners and landlords from foreclosure, as well as extend eviction protections for renters in California have failed.  With the Legislature poised to adjourn soon and federal benefits expiring, a bill being heard tomorrow morning may be the last chance to prevent a wave of evictions and foreclosures. At 9:00 a.m. Aug. 18, Assembly Bill 1436 will be heard in the state Senate Judiciary Committee. 

The bill’s coauthor, Assemblymember Monique Limon, says the banking industry has been heavily lobbying members to oppose the measure. Assemblymember Limon previously introduced AB 2501 to prevent foreclosures, but the measure was defeated due to financial industry lobbyists.


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EL CAJON COUNCIL UNANIMOUSLY APPROVES EMERGENCY SLEEPING CABINS FOR HOMELESS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo credit:  Amikas

August 16, 2020 (El Cajon) – El Cajon’s City Council on Tuesday approved a pilot program to allow emergency sleeping cabins as temporary housing for the homeless. Homelessness is anticipated to rise amid the COVID-19 pandemic, after federal unemployment benefits ran out July 31, putting more people at risk of eviction in the future.

The first village of six cabins, similar to structures known as “tiny homes,”  will provide short-term shelter for homeless women, especially women veterans, and their children at Meridian Baptist Church on South Third Street. 


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CITY OF SAN DIEGO ENACTS RENTAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

East County News Service

 

August 4, 2020 (San Diego) – San Diego’s City Council has enacted a new program with payments of up to $4,000 per qualifying household to help with past-due or upcoming rental payments.  If you need help, the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program can assist low-income families in the City of San Diego who experience financial hardship due to COVID-19. 


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WILL BILLS TO PROTECT AGAINST FORECLOSURE WIN PASSAGE IN TIME TO SAVE HOMES AND BUSINESSES? WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TO PROTECT YOUR PROPERTY

By Miriam Raftery

August 4, 2020 (San Diego) – Five months into the COVID-19 crisis, many Americans still remain jobless, with millions of businesses shut down or operating at reduced revenues.  Unemployment benefits and stimulus check funds are running out for many who are struggling to pay their mortgages. Bills to provide long-term protection against foreclosure due to the pandemic have thus far stalled in Congress and the California Legislature, though a revised bill in Sacramento still offers hope for some. 

A measure to protect some commercial property holders is also in the works, such as hotels, retail, apartments/condominiums, industrial and commercial offices.

But will these measures win passage in time to prevent mass foreclosures, if they are enacted at all?  The federal CARES ACT in March temporarily halted foreclosures for nonpayment due to COVID-19 on federally backed home loans, an action Congress extended short term until August 31. Many other property owners have had no protections at all. On July 31, the $600 a week extra unemployment benefit also ended, putting more Americans in dire straits.

Advocates say impacted consumers and business owners should let their legislators know of their needs. Among our local legislators, some have been supportive and one is a coauthor of Congressional legislation. But others have been tone deaf, including an East County legislative representative who voted against mortgage relief for homeowners.


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CRISIS HOUSE GETS EXTENSION FROM CITY ON RELOCATION AID

Relocating will likely force Crisis House to end walk-in day services for the homeless and rely more on outreach to homeless on the streets or in parks to direct them into housing programs

By Miriam Raftery

August 2, 2020 (El Cajon) – By a unanimous vote, El Cajon’s City Council on Tuesday approved giving Crisis House until December 31st to vacate its current location on city-owned property and still qualify for $700,000 under an early lease termination agreement.  Crisis House, which provides services to the homeless and to victims of domestic violence, has been leasing city property for $1 a year for the past 26 years.

In an earlier decision, the Council had given Crisis House only three months, until September 30th, to get out and receive the maximum $700,000 amount, though a diminishing amount of funds would have been offered to aid in relocation through when the lease ends next summer.  Under the new arrangement, Crisis House will no longer receive anything if it stays past Dec. 31.


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DEBUNKING HOT PEPPER MYTHS

By Melinda Myers

 

July 28, 2020 (San Diego) -- Enjoy the spicy heat hot peppers add to your meals without concern for the many myths surrounding these garden vegetables. Here are a few you may have heard, but that are not true.


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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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HOW TO ATTRACT MONARCH BUTTERFLIES IN EAST COUNTY

By Francie Murphy

July 23, 2020 (San Diego) --It is easy to bring beautiful Monarch butterflies into your San Diego backyard this summer by simply offering them the perfect meal – milkweed plants.

Anyone can learn how to start their own butterfly garden thanks to a new video out now from the University of California Master Gardener Program of San Diego County.  It only takes two and a half minutes to watch. You will get up close to caterpillars as they devour the milkweed on their way to becoming butterflies.

These beautiful creatures make the perfect house guest –you will welcome them back again and again!


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REAL ESTATE REALITY: BUYERS' MARKET OR SELLERS' MARKET?

By Maryanne Jackson

Photo via CC Free Stock

July 8, 2020 (Spring Valley) – Dear Maryanne,

We are wondering what type of housing market we are currently experiencing.

Is this a good time for buyers or best for sellers?

M.M., Spring Valley, CA


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THE ZERO WASTE FAMILY SUPPLIES BUDGET-MINDED RECIPES AND IDEAS DURING THE PANDEMIC

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson
(Photos courtesy of The Zero Waste Family) 
 

July 3, 2020 (San Diego) Many families and individuals have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic – with some experiencing unemployment coupled with financial insecurity, health issues and/or medical expenses.  

San Diego resident Fredrika Syren, founder of The Zero Waste Family, offers up tips to reduce the cost of feeding a family or individual and eating healthy at the same time.

(Photo at left: The Syren family)

“There are so many people who have lost money and their income during the pandemic,” said Syren, an environmental writer, in a phone interview with ECM. “We were prepared more than most.”


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KEEP YOUR LANDSCAPE LOOKING GOOD WITH LESS EFFORT

By Melinda Myers

July 1, 2020 (San Diego) - Keep your garden looking its best and reduce your workload by enlisting practices that provide multiple benefits. Your garden will flourish and you’ll have more time to enjoy its beauty.


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SANTEE ADOPTS RESOLUTION DENOUNCING RACISM, CONSIDERS INCLUSIONARY HOUSING LAW

 

By Mike Allen

June 25, 2020 (Santee) -- Santee’s leaders decided they needed to make a public denunciation of racism, hate speech, and intolerance in response to a flurry of recent ugly incidents in their predominantly white city.

At the June 24 City Council meeting, Mayor John Minto said the unanimously passed resolution condemning racism will be a guiding principle as the city confronts its past.

“We acknowledge that we’ve had problems but we’re not going to allow those problems to stop us from moving forward and doing better,” Minto said.


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DOWN IN FLAMES: SUPERVISORS REJECT LILAC HILLS RANCH OVER WILDFIRE DANGER

By Miriam Raftery
 
June 24, 2020 (Valley Center) – The Lilac Hills Ranch, a proposed 1,742-homes development in rural Valley Center, has been a lightning rod of controversy for the past 15 years. In 2016, over 64 percent of voters rejected the project when Measure B went down in flames. Today, County Supervisors agreed with recommendations by staff and fire officials, rejecting the project due to the danger of residents becoming trapped should a major wildfire force evacuation.

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SUPERVISORS TO HOLD HEARING ON CONTROVERSIAL LILAC HLLS RANCH JUNE 24 AFTER STAFF AND COUNTY FIRE AUTHORITY RECOMMEND DENIAL

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: Site of proposed master-planned deveopment that has sparked a firestorm of controversy

June 18, 2020 (Valley Center) -- The San Diego County Fire Authority and County staff have recommended that Supervisors deny the controversial Lilac Hills Ranch mixed-use development project in Valley Center due to concerns over fire safety and evacuation routes. County Supervisors will consider the recommended denial on Wednesday, June 24. Theh project has also drawn strong opposition over the years from community members.

Despite objections from fire authorities, however, the County Planning Commission voted 5-2 to overrule staff and ignore concerns over lack of safe evacuation routes.  Intead, the majority of commissioners recommended that Superivsors allow the developer to pay a $2 million fire protection fee with various escape clauses in order to proceed, with building the project with the homeowners' associatoin paying for annual brush clearing, as the developer has sought.

The meeting begins at 9 a.m. and will be virtual due to COVID-19.


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RENOVATING LIVES DURING COVID19

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

June 10,  2020 (San Diego’s East County) The coronavirus pandemic has exacted a huge economic toll globally and locally.  With an estimated 32 million on unemployment the likelihood of economic changes to all of our lives, is of concern. 

(Courtesy photo of Greg May)

Mortgages might not be paid on time, obtaining future employment may be down the road, this may necessitate the likelihood of having to sell your home. 

“If you lost your job during the pandemic, your future might be uncertain,” said the owner of Renovating Lives’ Greg May. 

Renovating Lives operates in three stages: 1. Evaluation of your home, 2. Renovation, and 3. Sale. May, an Alpine resident who has offices in El Cajon and Arizona, works with homeowners to renovate their properties readying them for sale. 

“I see people panic that they cannot sell their home during a pandemic,” he said. 

But May’s own business experience provides perspective to those that are panicked.

“During this pandemic, we have five houses in escrow,” said May. “Two in Santee, one in El Cajon, one in Escondido, and one in Fallbrook. We have several other projects as well.”


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EL CAJON APPROVES RENT AND UTILITY ASSISTANCE: FUNDS LIMITED TO FIRST 150 APPLICANTS STARTING MAY 26

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Creative Commons via Bing

May 22, 2020 (El Cajon) – El Cajon City Council has approved allocating over $800,000 of its Community Development Block Grant Coronavirus funds for several COVID response programs.  These funds were granted to the City as part of the federal CARES Act.

Per City Council direction, a large portion of the funds will be used for rental and utility assistance to help those most vulnerable to loss of employment.

Due to limited funding, there is a limit to the first 150 eligible applicants. Online and over the phone applications will be accepted through the following service providers beginning Tuesday,May 26, 2020:


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LAWMAKERS PROPOSE SWEEPING RELIEF TO HOMEOWNERS, RENTERS

By Matt Levin | CALmatters

CALmatters is an independent public interest journalism venture covering California state politics and government.

Photo:  A for rent sign in front of a cottage in San Diego, Oct. 30, 2018.  Photo by KPBS Staff.

May 17, 2020 (San Diego) - As missed rent payments and delinquent mortgages pile up across the state, California Democratic lawmakers Tuesday introduced a series of sweeping proposals aimed at shielding homeowners, renters and landlords from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.


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REAL ESTATE REALITY: THE NEW NORM: VIRTUAL HOME SALES

By Maryanne Jackson

Photo via Maryanne Jackson

May 14, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -

Dear Maryanne,

I was wondering what the status is with home sales now.

Are Realtors still listing properties and conducting business as usual?

--Mureen S., Casa De Oro, Spring Valley


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