WILDFIRE INSURANCE CRISIS LEADS COMMISSIONER TO CALL FOR FIRST-EVER STATEWIDE NON-RENEWAL MORATORIUM

HUNTER TO RESIGN AFTER HOLIDAYS: MAY FORFEIT CONGRESSIONAL PENSION

POWAY BOIL-WATER ORDER LIFTED: PUBLIC URGED TO DINE AT POWAY RESTAURANTS TO HELP WORKERS HURT BY SHUTDOWN

MERCY AMBULANCE SKIDS OFF ROAD, LEAVING JULIAN WITHOUT MEDICAL RESPONSE FOR HOURS AS TOURISTS AND RESIDENTS EXPERIENCE “SNOWMAGEDDON”

YOU'RE INVITED TO OUR FEASTING & MERRYMAKING HOLIDAY PARTY DEC. 15!

SEN. ATKINS SAYS NEW TRUMP RULE COULD CUT FOOD STAMPS FOR 700,000 CALIFORNIANS

HOUSE ETHICS COMMITTEE STRIPS HUNTER OF VOTING IN BIPARTISAN ACTION AFTER GUILTY PLEA

PRESCRIBED FIRE BURNS PLANNED AT CUYAMACA RANCHO STATE PARK IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY

MASKED SUSPECTS WANTED AFTER ATTACKING RESIDENT DURING HOT PROWL BURGLARY IN UNINCORPORATED EL CAJON

RAMONA HOLIDAY WINE TRAIL EACH WEEKEND BEFORE CHRISTMAS INCLUDES HOLIDAY SHOPPING, MUSIC, AND WINE TASTING

ECM WORLD WATCH: NATIONAL AND GLOBAL NEWS

KAISER HEALTHCARE STRIKE TO START DEC. 16

News

COUNTY BOARD APPROVES 4 SATELLITE VOTING LOCATIONS

STATE SUPREME COURT REJECTS APPEAL BY DEVELOPER AND COUNTY; HOSKINGS RANCH TO REMAIN AS AGRICULTURAL PRESERVE

By Miriam Raftery
 
November 6, 2019 (Julian) – Land slated for development into luxury homes in the Julian area must remain as an agricultural preserve.  That’s the impact of the California Supreme Court’s denial of a petition for review filed by Genesee Properties, the developer of Hoskings Ranch and the County of San Diego.  
 
The appeal sought to overturn a July ruling in Cleveland National Forest Foundation et al. v. County of San Diego County (Genesee Properties) by the 4th District Court of Appeal, which found that the County acted wrongly in approving 24 luxury homes on the agriculturally-zoned site protected under the Williamson Act.
  

COUNTY TO ADD PSYCHIATRIC BEDS, STRENGTHEN BEHAVIORAL HEALTH SERVICES

Photo: In collaboration with UC San Diego Health and Scripps Health, the County plans to open a 60-bed psychiatric facility in Hillcrest at a County-owned property on Third Ave. that has been vacant for years.
 
By José A. Álvarez, County of San Diego Communications Office
 
November 5, 2019 (San Diego) - The County Board of Supervisors October 29th got an update on and voted to take the next step in immediate and long-term strategies to support San Diegans in psychiatric crisis and to help prevent such incidents from occurring.
 

DEPUTY INJURED IN SPRING VALLEY CRASH

East County News Service
 
November 5, 2019 (Spring Valley) --  A deputy from the Lemon Grove Sheriff station was involved in a single vehicle collision this morning around 8:23 a.m. in Spring Valley.
 
According to Sergeant Z. Sanchez, the deputy was responding with lights and sirens activated to assist another deputy with an occupied stolen vehicle. While traveling southbound on Bancroft Drive, the deputy struck a utility pole near the intersection of Kenwood Drive.
 
He was transported to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries. The collision did not occur during a pursuit, Sgt. Sanchez told ECM. 
 
The driver of the vehicle was taken into custody. 

RAY LUTZ OPTS NOT TO RUN FOR CONGRESS IN 53RD DISTRICT; WILL LEAD DEVELOPMENT OF BALLOT IMAGE AUDITING PLATFORM, AUDITENGINE.ORG

By Miriam Raftery

November 4, 2019 (El Cajon) – Ray Lutz announced today that he will not run for the 53rd Congressional district seat being vacated by the retirement of Susan Davis, after earlier forming an exploratory committee for the race. Lutz, an engineer and founder of the Citizens Oversight watchdog group based in El Cajon, previously challenged Duncan Hunter in the 52nd Congressional district before redistricting shifted his residence into the 53rd.

Lutz has long been an activist on election integrity issues, including training the public to provide oversight of election audits. Now Lutz says he intends to focus on developing an auditing service to be available by the 2020 elections. It will allow election officials, candidates, and oversight groups to conduct a thorough and independent review of any election that uses paper ballots and equipment that creates ballot images.

TRUMP THREATENS TO END FEDERAL AID TO CALIFORNIA TO FIGHT WILDFIRES—AFTER OFFERING RUSSIA HELP TO STOP WILDFIRES IN SIBERIA

Critics accuse President of putting partisan politics above saving lives and aiding disaster victims

By Miriam Raftery

Updated 9 p.m. with comments from Alpine Fire Chief Paskle

 

Photo screenshot off NBC video:  Easy Fire started near the Ronald Reagan Valley in Simi Valley and threatened homes in Ventura County

 

November 4, 2019 (San Diego) – Days after California Governor Gavin Newsom praised the federal government for its rapid response to catastrophic wildfires and power outages affecting millions of our state’s residents, President Donald Trump on Sunday threatened to cut off all future federal funding to California.  

FIVE THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT MICROGRIDS

By Julie Cart | CALmatters

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

Photo:  This small energy system, or microgrid, powers the Southern California desert town of Borrego Springs. Photo courtesy of San Diego Gas & Electric

November 4, 2019 (San Diego) - More than 1 million Californians were left in the dark for days recently as their big utility companies shut off power for fear of sparking wildfires. Frustrated by those outages, some homeowners say they’d like to turn their backs on the companies in favor of smaller providers who might do a better job of keeping the lights on. The mayors of San Francisco and San Jose say they want to sever ties with Pacific Gas and Electric, which serves much of Northern California, and create separate utilities for their cities.

MERCY AIR CELEBRATES 30TH ANNIVERSARY AS A FLYING EMERGENCY ROOM

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

Photo, left:  Laura Elliott and Russell Haight.

November 3, 2019 (El Cajon) -- Laura Elliott and Russell Haight work in an emergency room. A flying one. Both are employed by Mercy Air, owned by Air Methods, an air ambulance provider that works out of El Cajon’s Gillespie Field as well as other locations.

FLU ACTIVITY STEADY AGAIN THIS WEEK

Flu Vaccine
 
By Tom Christensen, County of San Diego Communications Office
 
November 1, 2019 (San Diego) - Flu activity saw a slight decline in the County this week with 30 lab-confirmed cases, the County of San Diego confirmed yesterday, Halloween: six fewer than the number of cases reported last week. That brings the 2019-20 flu season total to 362 cases, compared to 130 at this time last year. County public health officials continue to emphasize the importance of getting the flu vaccine. There have also been two deaths so far this flu season.
 
The two formulas approved for the 2019-2020 flu season by the Centers for Disease Control are Fluzone High Dose, manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur, and Fluad, manufactured by Seqirus. Rite-Aid and CVS offer the 2019-20 flu vaccine, according to google.

MUMPS CASES AT THREE COUNTY HIGH SCHOOLS

By José A. Álvarez, County of San Diego Communications Office
 
Mumps (microscope)November 1, 2019 (San Diego) - Three unrelated people at three different high school campuses in the county recently tested positive for mumps and may have exposed others to the contagious virus, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced Tuesday.

MOTORCYCLE CRASH IN LA MESA KILLS EL CAJON WOMAN

Update: The victim has been identified a Theresa Chenelle Clouthier, according to the Medical Examiner.

East County News Service

November 1, 2019 (La Mesa) – A motorcycle crashed on the Severin Drive onramp to I-8 westbound at 11:19 p.m. last night, ejecting three people and killing an El Cajon woman, 38.  She was not wearing a helmet and was pronounced dead at the scene.

ECM WINS TRIO OF AWARDS FROM SAN DIEGO PRESS CLUB

By Miriam Raftery

October 31, 2019 (San Diego) – East County Magazine editor Miriam Raftery and contributing editor Paul Kruze once again won awards in the San Diego Press Club 46th annual Excellence in Journalism Awards.  The awards honored coverage of the West Fire in Alpine as well as investigations into legal and ethical scandals embroiling El Cajon Councilman Ben Kalasho, who later resigned.

ECM has received a total of 116 journalism awards since our lanch in 2008, 11 years ago -- an average of 10 per year

PROGRESS MADE FIGHTING CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES

By Miriam Raftery

October 31, 2019 (San Diego) – As Santa Ana winds begin to diminish, firefighters are making progress against major wildfires burning across California, as well as a small brush fire on Otay Mountain  that started in Mexico and burned into the U.S. Here are updates on fires statewide as of 3:30 p.m. Friday, with links to incident pages where available:

PG&E TO CREDIT RATEPAYERS FOR OUTAGE, BUT SDG&E REFUSES AS THOUSANDS HERE LEFT POWERLESS

By Miriam Raftery

October 31, 2019 (San Diego) – A day after Governor Gavin Newsom ordered the California Public Utilities Commission to create tough new rules limiting mass outages by utilities seeking to limit their liability for fires and mandating compensation for ratepayers,  PG&E announced it will credit its ratepayers for blackouts, Newsom announced.  But San Diego Gas & Electric is refusing to do the same.

In respond to East County Magazine’s inquiry,  SDG&E communications manager Wes Jones responded yesterday, ““SDG&E is not processing any bill credits. SDG&E abides by rules set by the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates how we operate. Per that process, SDG&E is not liable for circumstances beyond our control, including weather conditions like those we have been experiencing this month. SDG&E has a legal obligation to abide by tariffs, or rules, that prevent payment for damages, such as food spoilage.”

EIGHT SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO CLOSE THURSDAY DUE TO POWER OUTAGES

Source: County News Service

 

October 30, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) -- The San Diego County Office of Education reports that because San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) has activated a public safety power shutoff in certain parts of the county, schools in the following school districts will be closed on Halloween this Thursday, October 31: 

 

  • Dehesa School District
  • Julian Union High School District
  • Julian Union School District
  • Mountain Empire Unified School District
  • Rancho Santa Fe School District
  • Spencer Valley School District
  • Vallecitos School District 
  • Valley Center-Pauma Unified School District

HELIX WATER CUSTOMERS VENT OVER HIGHER BILLS, BUT MOST WERE MISPERCEPTIONS, DISTRICT SAYS

By Mike Allen
 
October 30, 2019 (La Mesa) -- Customers of Helix Water District complaining about their bills doubling and tripling found out their perceptions weren’t in line with reality.
 
The venting about the bills began about a week ago on the online community forum website Nextdoor, instigated by one customer who said her family’s water bill increased 130 percent over bills she received in the last four years.

FIRES IMPERIAL SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA COMMUNITIES

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Easy Fire threatens Reagan Library in Simi Valley; screenshot ABC 7

October 30, 2019 (San Diego) – Much of Southern California is in flames, with several new fires erupting today that have shut down major freeways.  Hurricane-force winds have also toppled over big rigs and trees.  Here are brief updates on existing and new fires:

REPORTER OFFERS TIPS FOR WHAT TO DO DURING OUTAGES AND WILDFIRES

By Leslie Wolf Branscomb
 
October 30, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) - I hate to have to post this again, but here is my advice to all living in areas that might have fires in this next week. Based on personal experience (having been evacuated) and years covering fires for the Union-Tribune. 

CAL FIRE BEEFS UP STAFFING DURING SANTA ANA WINDS

East County News Service
 
Agency brings in 150 out of state engines to California, adds 15 engines in San Diego County
 
October 30, 2019 (San Diego) –  Cal Fire/San Diego County Fire Authority has announced preparations being taken to prepare for extreme Santa Ana winds impacting most of Southern California over the next two or three days. 

COUNTY PLANNERS TO HEAR SKYLINE CHURCH PROPOSAL FOR SENIOR RETIREMENT CENTER NOV. 8

East County News Service

October 30, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) – A controversial proposal by Skyline church to build a senior retirement center is slated for  hearing by the County Planning Commission on November 8 at 9 a.m.at the County’s Campus Center Chambers at 5520 Overland Rd., San Diego.

VICTIM AIR-LIFTED TO HOSPITAL AFTER CRASH IN LA MESA

By Miriam Raftery
 
October 30, 2019 (La Mesa) – A multi-vehicle crash involving at least three vehicles Tuesday morning briefly shut down all lanes of State Route 125 in La Mesa near Spring Street.  A medical helicopter air-lifted at least one injured person to a nearby hospital.
 
The crash was reported at 9:05 a.m. according to the California Highway Patrol and all lanes were reopened by 10:30 a.m.

SCHOOL CLOSURES ON WEDNESDAY DUE TO OUTAGES

October 29, 2019 (San Diego's East County) -- Because SDG&E has announced planned power outages due to high fire danger, the County Board of Education announced that the following school districts will be closed on Wednesday, October 30:

  • Dehesa School District
  • Julian Union High School District
  • Julian Union School District
  • Mountain Empire Unified School District
  • Rancho Santa Fe School District
  • Spencer Valley School District
  • Warner Unified School District

GOVERNOR NEWSOM ASKS CPUC TO REFORM POWER SHUT-OFF RULES, PENALIZE UTILITIES FOR EXCESSIVE OUTAGES AND MANDATE COMPENSATION FOR IMPACTED RATEPAYERS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Governor Newsom met with officials and emergency responders after touring Getty Fire area in Los Angeles yesterday

October 29, 2019 (Sacramento) –San Diego rural and mountain residents weary of repeated utility-led Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) by SDG&E to prevent wildfires had complaints fall on deaf ears during Governor Jerry Brown’s administration.

By contrast, Governor Gavin Newsom has just issued a series of announced actions aimed at restricting widespread intentional outages and penalizing utilities that violate new rules that Newsom aims to impose.  In addition, Newsom called for an end to charging ratepayers during planned outages and approved funds to help compensate those left without power for losses incurred.

He also made clear that he expects the California Public Utilities Commission to take strong actions. The new Governor has appointed two new CPUC commissioners – and made clear at a press conference that he expects to see reforms, or more changes  will be made.

SMALL QUAKE NEAR LAKE HENSHAW RATTLES EAST COUNTY

East County News Service

October 29, 2019 (Lake Henshaw)-- A 3.6 earthquake centered near Lake Henshaw, 15 miles northwest of Ramona, rattled the region around 9:20 a.m., according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).  

The temblor was felt as far away as La Mesa, where ECM's editor felt a rumble followed by a jolt that startled her two dogs and a cat.  

MARINE CORPS VET NEEDS HELP AFTER LOSING EVERYTHING IN POWAY FIRE

By Miriam Raftery

A GoFundMe site has been set up to help T.J. Poucher recover from the devastating fire

October 28, 2019 (Poway) – T.J. Poucher, a Marine Corps veteran, awoke to a chemical smell and a choking feeling last Saturday night.  Cracking open a door, he was blasted by heat “like a jet engine” that singed his hair and face, he told NBC 7. 

Fortunately, his military training as an infantryman kicked in. “We thrive in chaos,” says Poucher, who knew he needed to break a window immediately. He escaped with his dog but burned his feet on the smouldering grass outside. 

Poucher is grateful that his teenage children were not there during the fire, but the blaze destroyed everything else – a lifetime of memories gone, along with his work truck, his equipment needed for his fish tank cleaning business, two saltwater aquariums filled with fish and coral, and more.

SHERIFF ROUNDS UP STOLEN HORSE STATUE AND ALLEGED THIEVES

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo:  The stolen statue was similar to the horse sculpture pictured.
 
October 28, 2019 (El Cajon) – A metal horse sculpture stolen from in front of the Double S Tack and Feed Store in unincorporated El Cajon has been recovered in Arizona.  Two men have been arrested and charged with the theft.

SANTEE STILL WANTS COMMUNITY CHOICE ENERGY, BUT NOT WITH NORTH COUNTY ALLIANCE

By Mike Allen
 
October 28, 2019 (Santee) -- The Santee City Council voted for the second time to establish a community choice energy program, but put the brakes on joining a joint powers authority being formed with the cities of Carlsbad, Del Mar and Solana Beach.

SDG&E WARNS OF NEW OUTAGES AS SANTA ANA WINDS ARE SET TO RETURN

By Miriam Raftery

October 28 2019 (San Diego’s East County) – With the strongest Santa Ana winds of the season forecast Tuesday through Thursday,  San Diego Gas & Electric is warning over 32,000 customers that the utility may proactively shut off power to many communities to prevent lines from sparking fires, including some areas not previously impacted by outages.  The outages could begin late Tuesday or early Wednesday and last as late as Friday evening, according to SDG&E.

The communities that may lose power are:

  • Alpine
  • Boulevard
  • Campo
  • Descanso
  • Dulzura
  • El Cajon (portions of)
  • Encinitas (portions of)
  • Escondido (portions of)
  • Jacumba
  • Jamul (portions of)
  • Julian
  • Lakeside (portions of)
  • Mount Laguna
  • Pala
  • Palomar Mountain
  • Pauma Valley
  • Pine Valley
  • Potrero
  • Poway
  • Ramona
  • Ranchita
  • Rancho Santa Fe (portions of)
  • San Clemente (portions of)
  • San Juan Capistrano (portions of)
  • Santa Ysabel
  • Valley Center (portions of)
  • Warner Springs

Steps to prepare for an outage

RED FLAG WARNING: STRONGEST SANTA WINDS THIS SEASON

East County Wildfire & Emergency Aerts

October 28, 2019  (San Diego) --- The National Weather Service has issued a red flag alert, warning of extremely critical fire weather conditions arriving Tuesday night and continuing through Thursday afernoon.  This has potential to be the strongest Santa Ana wind event so far this season, the NWS predicts.

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