BARBECUE BLAMED FOR SPRING VALLEY FIRE THAT DESTROYED TWO HOMES

LA MESA STUDENT, 12, KILLED BY STRAY BULLET IN BACKYARD OF AUNT’S SKYLINE HOME

FIRE-SAFE CHRISTMAS TREE TIPS

LEMON GROVE TOY DRIVE SEEKS GIFTS FOR KIDS

AUTHORITIES IDENTITY WOMAN WHO DIED IN RAMONA FIRE

MAYOR VASQUEZ, IN LEMON GROVE’S STATE OF CITY ADDRESS, HIGHLIGHTS EFFORTS TO ADDRESS HUNGER, HOMELESSNESS AND PANDEMIC

PASSAGES: MIKE HANCOCK, RADIO REPORTER

CONGRESSWOMAN SARA JACOBS CELEBRATES THANKSGIVING WITH SERVICEMEMBERS AND VETERANS IN SOUTH KOREA

HO HO! HOLIDAY WINE TRAIL EVERY WEEKEND FROM THANKSGIVING TO CHRISTMAS

SDG&E RESTORES POWER IN SOME AREAS, OTHERS STILL IN THE DARK. MORE OUTAGES POSSIBLE, UTILITY WARNS

BRUSH FIRE IN SANTEE SPARKS EVACUATIONS; HOMES THREATENED

POWER OUTAGES BEGIN: THOUSANDS WITHOUT ELECTRICITY ON THANKSGIVING

News

CITY OF SANTEE ISSUES STATEMENT ON PLANE CRASH

East County News Service

Photo by Tom Abbott:  remnants of the Cessna that crashed into homes, killing the pilot and a UPS driver

October 12, 2021 (Santee) -- The City of Santee today issued a statement voicing sympathy for those impacted by yesterday’s plane crash, praising residents who helped save lives of neighbors, and providing updates on the situation.

Below is the statement in full:


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SANTEE PLANE CRASH VICTIMS IDENTIFIED AS PILOT AND UPS DRIVER

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: Dr. Sugata Das, via Yuma Regional Medical Center, and Steve Krueger, UPS driver, via Facebook.

October 12, 2021 (Santee) – The pilot in yesterday’s deadly plane crash in Santee has been identified as Dr. Sugata Das, a cardiologist from Yuma Regional Medical Center.  The hospital’s chief medical officer, Dr. Bharat Magu, described Das as an “outstanding cardiologist and dedicated family man” who “leaves a lasting legacy.”


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TWO DEAD, OTHERS INJURED AFTER PLANE CRASHES INTO SANTEE NEIGHBORHOOD

By Tom and Nadin Abbott

October 11, 2021 (Santee) The call came in at approximately 12:15 p.m. to the Heartland Dispatch center. A small plane had gone down in a residential neighborhood of Santee, initally reported at 9915 N. Magnolia Ave . The plane, later identified as a Cessna 340 twin engine six-seater by the Federal Aviation Administration, crashed into at least one house that was destroyed by the impact, which was actually on the corner of Green Castle and Jeremy. Neighboring homes also suffered damage from the flames.

Two people were confirmed killed on scene and two transported to the hospital, according to Santee Assistant Chief Justin Matsushita. The injured were in the first house hit. Their condition is unknown, but they were conscious when transported.


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PLANE CRASHES NEAR SANTANA HIGH FOOTBALL FIELD, IGNITES HOMES IN SANTEE

 

Bystander recounts efforts to help rescue survivors from burning home

By Miriam Raftery and Rebecca Jefferis-Williamson

Nadin and Tom Abbott also contributed to this report.

Photo, left: Screenshot off video by ECM news partner 10 News

October 11, 2021 (Santee) – A plane has crashed near Santana High School close to the intersection of Greencastle and Jeremy, setting homes nearby on fire.

Two fatalities are confirmed and two others have been transported to a hospital with injuries. 

A temporary evacuation point has been set up at the Cameron Family YMCA at 10123 Riverwalk Drive, Santee, for families displaced by the crash.

Santana High tweeted that all students are safe and a secure campus order has been lifted.Students are being allowed to leave if they have no afternoon classes.

An ECM reporter witnessed body parts on roofs and scattered across the neighborhood, adding to the trauma facing residents.

Stephanie Diaz, another neighbor, says the crash occurred at 12:12. "It was just like in the movies," she said of the sound, adding that the whole house shook. 

David Witthoft said he used to work on military jets as a mechanic. He said he was in the house when "I heard the pilot go full throttle, and then I heard it hit the ground" with a loud boom. His house filled with smoke and the stench of burning debris, he added.

Numerous homes in the area suffered damage ranging from blown-out windows to cracked solar panels, in addition to two homes destroyed by fire.

Hillcreek Elementary also alerted parents/ guardians that they were "safe and sound."

San Diego Sheriff asks that the public avoid the area. A Hazmat team has been dispatched.

There are reports of a box truck also damaged by the crash.


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HIGH WIND WARNINGS AND ADVISORIES TODAY

East County News Service

October 11, 2021 (San Diego) – The National Weather Service has issued a high wind warning from 11 a.m. today to 3 a.m. Tuesday. Gusts up to 65 miles per hour are forecast in mountain areas including Julian and Pine Valley, with west to northwest winds of 30-40 mph. Gusts up to 45 mph are possible in San Diego County’s deserts, valleys and coastal areas, where a wind advisory is in effect.

These damaging winds can blow down trees and power lines, so power outages are possible.

Secure outdoor objects which may become projectiles in high winds, and close patio umbrellas.


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LA MESA CITY COUNCIL TO WEIGH FUTURE OF FORMER POLICE STATION SITE, CREATION OF ARTS AND CULTURAL COMMISSION AND MORE ON OCT. 12

By Miriam Raftery

October 10, 2021 (La Mesa) – On Tuesday, October 12 at 6 p.m., the La Mesa City Council will consider several key matters including:

  • A hearing on the proposed leasing and development of the former police station site at 8181 Allison Avenue for a mixed use development including apartments ITEM 10.pdf
  • Second reading of a proposal to establish an Arts and Culture Commission ITEM 8.pdf
  • Rezoning 9000 Wakarusa Street from residential to commercial, at the request of Sharp Grossmont Hospital ITEM 9.pdf


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EL CAJON MAY OPPOSE COUNTY’S PROPOSED MICROENTERPRISE HOME KITCHEN OPERATIONS

By Miriam Raftery

October 10, 2021 (El Cajon) – On Tuesday, October 12, the El Cajon City Council will consider a city staff proposal to ask County Supervisors to opt out of the state’s Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations (MEHKO) program. The proposal before the City Council, item 12 on the agenda, comes after Supervisors Joel Anderson and Nora Vargas introduced a MEHKO measure in September that was approved in concept by Supervisors, as ECM reported

The county measure asked staff to draft an ordinance by January 12 to legalize home kitchen operations to prepare, sell and serve up to 30 meals per day, or 60 meals per week and earn a maximum annual revenue of $50,000. Meals would be limited to foods that are consumed the same day that they are prepared.


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GOVERNOR NEWSOM SIGNS FIVE OF SIX NURSING HOME REFORM BILLS

East County News Service

October 9, 2021 (Sacramento) -- This week, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law five out of six reform bills that respond to the tragic conditions nursing home residents face in California and the growing public awareness during the pandemic that residents are often being neglected, abused, mistreated and exploited, as Cal Matters recently reported.

Known as the PROTECT Plan (Prioritize Responsible Ownership, Treatment, Equity and Corporate Transparency), the reforms are the product of a dedicated group of legislative champions: Senator Henry Stern and Assemblymembers Al Muratsuchi, Eloise Gómez Reyes, Ash Kalra, Reginald Bryon Jones-Sawyer Sr., and Adrin Nazarian.

The Governor signed the following measures:


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COUNTY TAKES STEPS TO PROTECT LOCAL BEACHES FROM OIL SPILL

By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  tar balls via Ready San Diego

October 8, 2021 (San Diego) – The San Diego Office of Emergency Services today announced that tar balls have been found as far south as Mission Beach, believed to be from the Orange County offshore oil spill. Today shoreline cleanup and assessment teams are checking beaches from Oceanside to San Diego to guide cleanup operations. The teams will be sampling water, soil and air and testing will occur in the coming days.


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PREGNANT SAN DIEGO WOMAN DIES FROM COVID-19

Pregnant women with COVID have a 70% higher risk of death than people who are not pregnant, according to the CDC

By José A. Álvarez, County of San Diego Communications Office

October  8, 2021 (San Diego) - An unvaccinated woman is the first pregnant San Diego woman to die from COVID-19, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.


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PUBLIC SERVICE WORKERS REJOICE AS FEDS FORGIVE STUDENT DEBT

By Suzanne Potter, California News Service

October 8, 2021 (Sacramento) -- Hundreds of thousands of teachers, nurses, social workers, military officers and others in public service can breathe a sigh of relief tonight as the Biden administration announced major reforms to the public-service loan forgiveness program.


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SUPERVISORS TAKE STAND AGAINST SEXUAL PREDATOR PLACEMENTS IN COUNTY

By Miriam Raftery

October 8, 2021 (San Diego) – By a unanimous vote, San Diego County Supervisors adopted a proposal by Supervisor Jim Desmond to oppose all future placements of sexually violent predators in the county until state law is changed to allow participation by local governments – including veto power.

“For too long, San Diego County communities have been living in fear knowing a sexually violent predator could be placed in their neighborhood,” Desmond said in a statement, calling policies “flawed.”  He added, “I would not vote to put a sexually violent predator next door to my family and I will not vote to put a sexually violent predator next door to your family.” Desmond's district includes Borrego Springs, where a hearing on proposed release of sexually violent predator Merle Wakefield has been postponed until February 2022.

It is unclear, however, whether the state will honor the Supervisor’s action, since placement power ultimately rests with the Department of State Hospitals.


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SUPERVISORS ADOPT PLANS TO HELP AFGHAN REFUGEES

By Miriam Raftery

Photo courtesy of the Pentagon: U.S. troops help evacuate Afghan refugees

October 8, 2021 (San Diego) – San Diego Supervisors voted unanimously this week to adopt a proposal by East County Supervisor Joel Anderson to have the County Office of immigrant and Refugee Affairs work with refugee resettlement agencies to assist with a wave of Afghan refugees arriving in our region. The board also approved Anderson’s plan to ask the federal government to spend part of $9.5 billion in frozen Taliban assets to pay for refugee resettlements.

In addition, Supervisors approved a proposal by Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer to create an Afghan Resettlement Task Force.

With the Taliban takeover of the country, those who helped American troops as translators or in other capacities faced risk of death if they remained, as did women’s rights and human rights advocates. Many fled Afghanistan with few personal possessions.

Anderson stated, “I am thankful that my colleagues recognize the importance of this measure that will ensure San Diego County is ready to welcome these refugees into our communities.” He added that his East County district has a large population of Afghans and others with Middle Eastern heritage.”


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TAR BALLS FOUND ON SAN DIEGO BEACHES, COUNTY OFFICIALS WARN AFTER OIL SPILL IN ORANGE COUNTY

By Miriam Raftery

Photo courtesy City of Carlsbad

October 7, 2021 (San Diego) – After a massive oil spill off the coast of Huntington Beach in southern Orange County on Friday, San Diego County’s Health and Human Services Agency has issued a warning of tar balls washing ashore on North County beaches. County officials advise residents to avoid contact with tar balls, if seen.

The County of San Diego Emergency Operations Center is activated and is monitoring the situation. 


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JUDGE BLOCKS OTAY RANCH DEVELOPMENT, ORDERS COUNTY TO REVERSE APPROVAL DUE TO WILDFIRE DANGERS

By Miriam Raftery, East County Magazine

October 7, 2021 (Proctor Valley) – A San Diego Superior Court judge today ordered the County of San Diego to vacate its 2019 approval of portions of the Otay Ranch Village 14 and Planning Areas 16/19 in Proctor Valley south of Jamul near Chula Vista, due to the danger of wildfires in an area that has already had many severe fires.

Judge Richard S. Whitney found that the County’s environmental impact report failed to assess the increase wildfire risk, nor offer any mitigation to reduce those increased risks if the controversial master-planned community were built. 

California Attorney General Rob Bonta intervened on behalf of the people of California to support a lawsuit filed by environmental groups challenging the project.  Bonta praised the decision, stating, “Today’s ruling by the Superior Court affirms a critical fact: Local governments have a responsibility to address wildfire risks associated with development projects at the front end. Doing so will save dollars—and lives—down the line.”


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TWENTY ATTORNEYS GENERAL FILE COMPLAINT WITH POSTAL COMMISSION TO BLOCK DEGRADING OF POSTAL SERVICE DELIVERY STANDARDS

East County News Service 

Photo: Creative Commons by ND via Bing

October 7, 2021 (Oakland) -- California Attorney General Rob Bonta today joined a coalition of 20 attorneys general in an administrative complaint to ensure proper agency consideration of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s full 10-year strategic plan, which attempts to permanently slow U.S. Postal Service (USPS) delivery standards for first-class mail nationwide. 


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CDC WARNS COVID-19 CAN CAUSE PREGNANCY COMPLICATIONS AND STILLBIRTHS, OFFERS VACCINE GUIDELINES

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: CC by SA-NC via Bing

 

October 6, 2021 (Atlanta) – If you’re pregnant, you are at higher risk for severe COVID-19. Not only can expectant mothers suffer more serious complications, but so can their unborn children. COVID-19 can increase the risk of bleeding disorders, high blood pressure, maternal death and stillbirth, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control warns.


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PASSAGES: REX COLE, GOLF PRO AT LOCAL COURSES

East County News Service

October 5, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – Rex A. Cole Sr., a PGA golf professional and instructor at several local golf courses, passed away on August 25. 


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RAIN BRINGS URBAN RUNOFF TO BEACHES

Source: County of San Diego

 

October 5, 2021 (San Diego) -- The San Diego County Department of Environmental Health and Quality (DEHQ) has issued a General Rain Advisory to avoid water contact at all coastal beaches and bays due to recent rainfall. Swimmers, surfers and other water users are warned that rain brings urban runoff, which can cause bacteria levels to rise significantly in ocean and bay waters, especially near storm drains, creeks, rivers, and lagoon outlets. Urban runoff may contain large amounts of bacteria from a variety of sources such as animal waste, soil, and decomposing vegetation. Bacteria levels can remain elevated after a rainstorm depending upon the intensity of the storm, volume of runoff and ocean conditions.


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CHARGES FILED AGAINST TWO FORMER CHRISTIAN YOUTH THEATER WORKERS FOR ALLEGED SEXUAL ABUSE OF STUDENTS IN EL CAJON

By Miriam Raftery

File Photo: CYT production of Les Mis in the Mount Helix amphitheatre.

October 4, 2021 (El Cajon) – Two men have been charged with felony sexual assault against students at Christian Youth Theater in El Cajon.

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan today announced that David Hott, 34, has been charged with two felony counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a 13-year-old child in 2007.  Brad Christian Davis, 40, is charged with  a felony count of sexual penetration by a foreign object involving at 16-year-old in 2010.

San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit thanked victims for their “courage in coming forward,” adding, “We must hold these individuals responsible for their actions, so they don’t have the opportunity to harm more children in the future.”


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THOUSANDS MARCH IN SAN DIEGO TO SUPPORT AND PROTECT REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS FOR WOMEN

By Henri Migala, Miriam Raftery (photographs and video by Henri Migala) 

 

October 4, 2021 (San Diego) – An estimated 10,000 people participated in the Women’s March in San Diego on Saturday, October 3, joining similar events in nearly 500 cities across the nation.  This year, organizers titled the event “March for Reproductive Rights” including protecting access to safe and legal abortions. Many voiced concerns over the erosion of those rights in recent years and fears that conservatives on the Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade. 


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PASSENGER, 83, DIES AFTER COLLISION IN EL CAJON

By Miriam Raftery

October 3, 2021 (El Cajon) – A white pickup truck struck a dark sedan this evening at the intersection of Broadway and Graves Avenue in El Cajon, injuring two senior citizens. The sedan’s driver, an 86-year-old woman, was hospitalized with minor injuries and her passenger, an 83-year-old man, died at the hospital of his injuries.


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WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR A COVID-19 BOOSTER SHOT? CDC EXPANDS LIST

By Miriam Raftery

October 3, 2021 (Washington D.C.) – If you’ve been fully vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19 for at least six months, you’re eligible for a booster shot now if you are in any of these categories, according to new information published September 30 on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control website:

 

  • 65 years and older
  • Age 18+ with underlying medical conditions (the list of conditions is long and includes common conditions such as high blood pressure and being overweight)
  • Age 18+ who live in long-term care settings (such as nursing homes)
  • Age 18+ who live in high-risk settings (such as homeless shelters)
  • Age 18+ who work in high-risk settings  (including school employees, healthcare workers, first responders such as police and firefighters, food and agricultural workers, manufacturing employees, prison employees, postal service workers, public transit workers, and grocery store employees.

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STUDENT COVID VACCINATIONS: CALIFORNIA BECOMES FIRST STATE TO REQUIRE THEM FOR KIDS 12 AND UP

By Joe Hong, CalMatters

CalMatters is a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters

October 3, 2021 (San Diego) - In another aggressive effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 and ensure schools remain open, Gov. Gavin Newsom today announced a vaccine mandate for students ages 12 and older, making California the first state in the nation to require students to be fully vaccinated for in-person instruction.


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STATE SENATOR BRIAN JONES DISCUSSES HIS LEGISLATION SENT TO GOVERNOR, WILDFIRE SAFETY AND OTHER TOPICS

By Miriam Raftery

View full video of Zoom interview 

Hear audio from our radio show on KNSJ (updated with status on bills signed into law)

Updated October 7, 2021 with status of bills signed or vetoed

October 3, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – Last week, East County Magazine editor Miriam Raftery

Interviews State Senator Brian Jones (R-Santee) via Zoom.  The Senator discussed his legislative accomplishments in getting several bills passed by the Legislature and onto the Governor’s desk.

 Several have been signed into law, including a measure to help homeless students get resources, a bill to protect foster children from human trafficking, and another to require that conservancy hearings remain private unless a judge finds a compelling reason to make them public.

Others remain pending, including a bill require personal protective gear for social workers during a pandemic, and more.

The Senator also spoke out on concerns over what he views as not enough clearing of forest lands to prevent devastating wildfires, even though funds for the clearing have long been allocated. In addition, he raised criticisms over the state’s homelessness policies and concerns about crime.

Audio: 


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EAST COUNTY MAGAZINE WINS MORE JOURNALISM AWARDS IN TWO COMPETITIONS

 
By Miriam Raftery
 
October 3, 2021 (San Diego's East County) -- East County Magazine's reporters, columnists and photographers are winners in two major journalism competitions.
 
Congratulations to these ECM award winners in San Diego Press Club's Excellence in Journalism contest: Briana Gomez, Helen Horvath, Henri Migala, Paul Levicow, Miriam Raftery, and David Shorey. We'll find out what they won Oct. 25 at a virtual awards presentation.
 
The Society of Professional Journalists' San Diego Chapter has awarded Jake Rose second place for his photo essay, "Witness to Chaos" and a third place photo award to Henri Migala for his image, "Protester faces off against police." Both winning entries were for coverage of the La Mesa racial justice protest and riot that followed.

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COMMUNITY CHAMPIONS CELEBRATED AT EAST COUNTY MAGAZINE’S AWARDS PRESENTATION

 

Photos:  Left: Secretary of State Dr. Shirley Weber with East County Magazine Editor Miriam Raftery.  Center: Slack Key Ohana.  Right: Jamul Casino Manager Mary Cheeks accepts Community Benefactor Award on behalf of Chairwoman Erica Pinto; Paul Gomez speaks at presentation of Briana Gomez Award for racial and social justice.

 By Miriam Raftery

October 1, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – A sell-out crowd turned out on September 25th at Jamul Casino’s “The Rooftop” venue to honor East County Magazine’s Community Champions awards recipients.

The awards, presented during a tropical-themed Party in Paradise, included winners and honorable mentions in Healthcare, Public Safety, Environmental and Wildlife Protection, and Humanitarian categories, as well as a special Community Benefactor Award for Jamul’s tribal Chairwoman Erica Pinto.

In addition, the Briana Gomez Racial and Social Justice Award (named after ECM’s multicultural journalist who lost her life in a car accident) was presented to three recipients: Secretary of State Dr. Shirley Weber, Rev. Shane Harris with the People’s Association of Justice Advocates, and Buki Domingos, a founder of San Diego’s Racial Justice Coalition and an advocate for human trafficking survivors.

Audio: 


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BIDEN TAKES STEPS TO PROTECT DREAMERS, AIMS TO REOPEN DACA APPLICATIONS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo via San Diego Immigrants Rights Consortium

October 1, 2021 (Washington D.C.) – A federal district court judge in July declared the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program illegal in part because the Obama administration did not allow public comments by publishing the rule in the Federal Register. Judge Andre Hanen let stand the program for those already enrolled, but blocked new applications.

So now the Biden administration’s Department of Homeland Security has published the regulation, which is open for public comments until November 29.  The department has also appealed the court decision.


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MARCH FOR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS SATURDAY, LEGISLATION IN CONGRESS AIM TO PROTECT ABORTION ACCESS

By Miriam Raftery

October 1, 2021 (San Diego) – In the wake of restrictive laws and fears that the Supreme Court may overturn Roe v. Wade, a March for Reproductive Rights is slated to be held Saturday, October 2 at 10 a.m. at San Diego’s Waterfront Park. The march is one of 500 marches planned nationwide in the wake of restrictive laws in several states and fears that the Supreme Court may overturn Roe v. Wade. Details are available on the event’s Facebook page.

Numerous other states have enacted abortion restrictions and Missippi is reportedly preparing to ask the conservative majority on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs. Wade. These actions have galvanized both anti-abortion activists and abortion rights supporters.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has passed legislation that aims to protect most abortion access. Among San Diego’s Congressional delegation, Democrats Sra Jacobs, Mike Levin, Scott Peters, and Juan Vargas voted in favor, while Congressman Darrell Issa voted against.


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SUPERVISORS CONSIDER CHANGE TO WITHDRAW PERMITS AFTER TWO YEARS OF INACTIVITY

Source: County of San Diego

September 30, 2021 (San Diego) - The County of San Diego has provided notice of intent to amend the County Zoning Ordinance and County Subdivision Ordinance to automatically withdraw inactive permits after two consecutive years of inactivity. The proposed ordinance amendments can be reviewed at https://www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/sdc/pds/Public_Review_Non-CEQA.html


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