La Mesa

EAST COUNTY MAGAZINE RECEIVES $100,000 GRANT FROM FACEBOOK JOURNALISM PROJECT

 

COVID-19 Local News Relief Fund aids over 200 newsrooms nationwide

By Miriam Raftery

East County Magazine has been selected to receive $100,000 through the Facebook Journalism Project COVID-19 Local News Relief Fund Grant Program.  Facebook announced that more than 200 news organizations will receive nearly $16 million in grants through the program as part of Facebook’s $100 million global investment in news.

Read more about our grant project here.  View an index of our grant works to date, organized by topic.


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WELCOME, LA MESANS!

Our La Mesa section covers the communities of La Mesa and Mount Helix.  Click here to read some fascinating facts about La Mesa and Mt. Helix.  Click here for links to city services, activities, shopping, business groups, farmers’ market,  schools, library, hospital, service groups, theaters, transportation, utilities, weather and more in La Mesa.


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CAMPO MAN CHARGED WITH BURNING HISTORIC RANDALL LAMB BUILDING IN LA MESA DURING RIOT

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photos and video by Jake Rose

December 2, 2020 (La Mesa)—La Mesa Police announce the arrest of Daniel Sandoval, 43, of Campo.  He is charged with arson and felony vandalism of the historic Randall Lamb building, which was set on fire during a riot on May 30-31 in downtown La Mesa, says Lt. Greg Runge.

The building had been designated a historic structure by the La Mesa Historical Society. Due to the extensive damage, it was declared a total loss.

Sandoval was arrested near his home yesterday, according to a news release issued by LMPD. He has been booked into San Diego County Jail on the warrant with bail set at $500,000.


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UNION BANK SURPRISES PINK ROSE CAFÉ OWNER IN LA MESA WITH $5,000 GIFT

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo by Sandra Small, La Mesa Chamber of Commerce
 
November 22, 2020 (La Mesa)  -- After Union Bank of La Mesa burned down amid civil unrest on May 31, Nadia Zamora, owner of the Pink Rose Café, organized on social media to collect messages of hope, love and peace. She and other volunteers hung those messages on a safety fence around the rubble of the burned bank. 

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MAKE THE HOLIDAY BRIGHTER FOR HOMEBOUND LA MESA SENIORS

East County News Service

 

November 21, 2020 (La Mesa) – The La Mesa Chamber of Commerce is seeking donated items to brighten the holidays for 24 homebound seniors in La Mesa. All items must be received by Friday, November 27, 2020, to be included in the senior gift bags and baskets.

 

All of the gifts are wrapped and placed in decorative baskets, so that our seniors receive these gifts with a festive flair. 


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‘TIS THE SEASON FOR HOLIDAY FAVORITES AT CASA DE PICO: TURKEY MOLE TAMALES, PUMPKIN FLAN AND MORE

East County News Service

Photo: Turkey Mole Tamales, courtesy of Bazaar del Mundo Restaurants.

November 19, 2020 (La Mesa) – This holiday season, Diane Powers’ award-winning Bazaar del Mundo Restaurants – Casa de Pico in La Mesa, Casa Guadalajara in Old Town, and Casa de Bandini in Carlsbad, are welcoming guests to enjoy special holiday dishes infused with authentic Mexican flavors. Each restaurant will offer an annual favorite for both dine-in and take-out orders: Turkey Mole Tamales, two handmade tamales filled with turkey, raisins, chopped pecans and apples, all topped with a mole sauce and sesame seeds.

With vibrant and spacious courtyards, the restaurant patios overflow with festive and colorful decor providing a visual feast for all, as well as ample outdoor heating and increased seating. In compliance with State guidelines, San Diego County has moved into the purple tier, limiting services to outdoor dining only and Powers is following a strict plan that will provide a safe environment for her customers.

The holiday menus are available through the New Year and vary by restaurant; with dishes including:


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HOLIDAY HAPPENINGS 2020

Photo by Jill Wellington via Pixabay

November 13, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- This holiday season is shaping up differently due to the pandemic – but several East County locations are still finding ways to celebrate the season with drive-through holiday light displays, socially distanced celebrating, and virtual visits with Santa. 

La Mesa Holiday in the Village Dec. 5

La Mesa will host its annual Holiday in the Village on December 5th from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., including a holiday craft market, with modifications approved by county health officials.


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ANDERSON TAKES RAZOR-THIN LEAD OVER VAUS IN SUPERVISOR RACE; SANTEE COUNCIL CANDIDATES ALSO IN NEAR TIE

Update November 22, 2020:  Joel Anderson now leads by 284 votes over Steve Vaus, with 7,500 ballots left to be tallied countywide.  In Santee, Dustin Trotter is ahead by just seven votes over Samantha Hurst.

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 11, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – With 33,000 votes countywide remaining to be tallied, but far fewer ballots left in individual races, the latest update from the San Diego County Registrar of Voters shows several major contests in East County are still too close to call.

In the important race to fill retiring Supervisor Dianne Jacob’ district 2 seat, former State Senator Joel Anderson has taken a scant seven-vote lead over Poway Mayor Steve Vaus. 

Santee’s City Council race to fill an open seat, meanwhile, has Samantha “Samm” Hurst retaking the lead over Dustin Trotter by just two votes after being tied just one day earlier.


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LA MESA HISTORICAL HOME TOUR GOES VIRTUAL WITH HOMES THROUGH THE AGES OVER THE PAST CENTURY

By Miriam Raftery

November 10, 2020 (La Mesa) – On November 14 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., La Mesa Historical Society invites you to join President Jim Newland for a look back at the first 14 years of the La Mesa Home Tour.  This free event celebrates the city’s architectural gems from the Gilded Age to the Space Age.  It will be streamed live on the Society's Facebook page. RSVP to receive a reminder notice.


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CAMPAIGNING AMID A PANDEMIC: LEADING COUNCIL CANDIDATES SHARE EXPERIENCES AND GOALS

View the interview at https://youtu.be/4zjc_ssHY8g

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Former Lemon Grove Councilman George Gastil is poised to regain his seat.

November 7, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Who are the potential newest faces on East County City Councils—and what was it like to campaign amid a pandemic?

ECM invited all non-incumbents leading in East County City Council races as of November 5 for a Zoom interview to share secrets of their apparent successes and what they hope to accomplish if they win their elections to become the newcomers on local councils.


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PARENT, SHU LEAD IN LA MESA CITY COUNCIL RACE

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: left to right: Allan Durden, Colin Parent, Mark Papenfuss, Kristine Alessio, Jack Shu, Laura Lothian

November 3, 2020 (La Mesa) – Councilman Colin Parent and Jack Shu, both endorsed by the Democratic Party, are leading in the La Mesa City Council race with 25.15% and 24.76% respectively in a field of six candidates with two seats up for grabs.  If the current lead holds, incumbent Kristine Alessio may lose her seat.

While some feared an anti-incumbent backlash in the wake of the May 30 riot, that does not appear to have impacted the leaders in this race.  However, both Parent and Shu supported formation of La Mesa’s Citizens Police Oversight Board and a citizens advisory committee on homelessness. Parent appears to have weathered controversy over developer donations over a proposed homeless shelter that was later withdrawn by the county. 

Shu told ECM, ""The early results look very good but I'm waiting for more ballots to be counted before presuming anything.  However, there is a clear message that La Mesa is ready for positive change. I'd like to thank the community for the tremendous outpouring of support we've received and my campaign team and volunteers who did a phenomenal job."


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TWO ARRESTED FOR ARSON ON CHASE BANK BUILDING DURING VIOLENT MAY PROTEST IN LA MESA

Source: Joint news release issued by La Mesa Police Department, San Diego Police Department, and San Diego FBI

Photo by Jake Rose

November 3, 2020 (La Mesa) - – Two men are in custody, charged with arson and looting, in connection with destructive fires intentionally set in La Mesa during a protest that turned violent in May.


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LA MESA ADDRESSES YOUTH IN THE AGE OF COVID

By Briana Gomez
 
Image via Alexandra Koch from Pixabay
 
November 1, 2020 (La Mesa) -- The City of La Mesa Community Relations and Veterans Commission and the Youth Advisory Commission hosted a zoom summit Wednesday on youth in the age of COVID.

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READER’S EDITORIAL: LA MESA CANNOT TRUST COLIN PARENT

By Aaron Amerling

 

October 29, 2020 (La Mesa) -- Over the past four years, it has become apparent that the citizens of La Mesa can not trust Colin Parent to do what is in the community's best interest, and only what’s in his personal or donor’s best interests.


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FRAZIER FARMS MARKET BRINGS NEW NATURAL FOODS STORE TO LA MESA

East County News Service

 

Photos, top, by Miriam Raftery 

 

October 26, 2020 (La Mesa) – La Mesa Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting October 20 at the new Frazier Farms Market at the corner of Jackson Drive and Fletcher Parkway.

 

“We are pleased that they had the vision to open their third market in La Mesa. We were thrilled to welcome this family-owned business to our community,” says chamber president Mary England.  La Mesa Mayor Mark Arapostathis joined the celebration along with Frazier Farms owners Norman and Kathe Frazier and their sons Matt, Nick and Alex Frazier.


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LA MESA ADOPTS COMMUNITY POLICE OVERSIGHT BOARD

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo: Councilmember Akilah Weber led efforts to establish the police oversight body
 
October 25, 2020 (La Mesa) – By a 3-2 vote on Oct. 13, the La Mesa City Council approved creation of a Community Police Oversight Board. The board is empowered to retain an independent police auditor and to direct investigation of serious incidents involving police, such as shootings or major misconduct complaints. 

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COVID RATES REMAIN LOW IN MOST REOPENED EAST COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICTS

Cajon Valley, first to reopen, has most cases.  Three other districts report cases; others lack transparency in disclosure.  

Update October 31:  The Cajon Valley Union School District has added a breakdown by schools of its COVID cases, which now number 15 students and 2 employees  (17 total) at 11 schools. 

By Miriam Raftery

October 21, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – How safe is it to send your child back to school amid a pandemic, or for teachers to provide instruction inside classrooms?

East County Magazine has checked out the websites of all districts in East County to determine how many cases have been reported at schools that have reopened thus far, and how transparent each district is in making this information easily available to parents, teachers and staff.

To date, the County Public Health Department has not reported any outbreaks (defined as 3 or more cases tied to a single location) at any East County elementary, middle, high school or community college district. However some school districts do have cases among both students and staff. It is unclear whether cases were contracted on campus, or how many others may have been exposed.

In some districts, information on schools with COVID cases are being publicly disclosed, but not in others. Asked about this discrepancy, County spokesman Michael Workman said, "A change in the order regarding schools is being discussed and may be in place soon. The state guidance referenced above covers school notification. It’s too early to say what our health order change may say."

Here are the results of ECM's investigation.


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ART MADRID SPEAKS OUT: FORMER LA MESA MAYOR SHARES POINTED VIEWS ON CIVIL UNREST READINESS, CITY POLITICS AND MORE

By Miriam Raftery

October 18, 2020 (La Mesa) – Art Madrid has served La Mesa for more than 44 years, including 24 years as Mayor, 10 on the City Council, and 10 on city boards and commissions.  Since 2014, when Mark Arapostathis won the mayoral race, the customarily outspoken Madrid has stayed out of city issues—until now.  

“I’ve never said anything since I left office, maybe one comment,” Madrid told ECM in a phone call this week. But after the May 30 racial justice protest and riot, controversies over housing for the homeless and more, he’s decided to speak out. “If you look at the effectiveness of the Council in taking a leadership role, it’s absent,” he said. Madrid believes that assessing what happened on May 30 amounts to “dealing with the symptom, not the cause” of racial tensions in the city.

Madrid , who is Hispanic, knows first-hand what it’s like to be a target of a racial hate crime. 


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COUNCILMAN PARENT LOSES POLICE UNION ENDORSEMENT AFTER VOTE FOR POLICE OVERSIGHT BOARD, ALSO DRAWS SCRUTINY OVER DONATIONS

By Miriam Raftery

October 15, 2020 (La Mesa) – The La Mesa Police Officers Association (LMPOA) announced yesterday that it has withdrawn its endorsement of Councilman Colin Parent.  The LMPOA cites several reasons for its withdrawal, which was announced the day after Parent cast the deciding vote on a 3-2 Council decision to establish a police oversight board.  Parent joined with Mayor Mark Arapostathis and Councilmember Akilah Weber to pass the measure over the objections of the LMPOA, which had requested the ordinance first go through a meet-and-confer process so that the officers’ union could request changes.

The two Councilmembers who voted against the police oversight board,  Kristine Alessio and Bill Baber, have both been endorsed by the LMPOA previously.

Officially, the LMPOA offered these reasons for withdrawing its endorsement of Councilman Parent.  “Ever since he aggressively sought and received our endorsement earlier this year, Councilmember Parent has become untrustworthy and unreliable. Whether it was his lack of transparency with the citizens of La Mesa regarding the homeless housing facility, or his broken commitment to protect the rights of workers, we can no longer in good conscience continue to recommend to the citizens of La Mesa that Colin Parent deserves your vote.”


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LA MESA COMMISSIONS TO HOST EVENT ON YOUTH IN THE AGE OF COVID-19 OCT. 28

Source: City of La Mesa

 

Photo: CC by SA

 

October 15, 2020 (La Mesa) - The City of La Mesa Community Relations and Veterans Commission along with the Youth Advisory Commission have scheduled a round table discussion event titled LIVABLE LA MESA: Youth in the Age of COVID-19, to take place on Wednesday, October 28 at 6:00 p.m. The goal of the 90 minute virtual event is to foster a dialog on how changes due to COVID-19 have affected the everyday lives of families. Panelists from the La Mesa Spring Valley School District and the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency will be on hand to provide tips and tools.

 


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LA MESA HOSTS ANNUAL PARK APPRECIATION DAY

Source:  City of La Mesa

October 15, 2020 (La Mesa) - The public is invited to participate in the City of La Mesa’s annual Park Appreciation Day on Saturday, October 24, 2020 from 8:00 a.m. to noon.  Projects are arranged for households to remain socially distanced while helping beautify La Mesa parks and public spaces. Volunteers are requested to sign-up ahead of time for their project at http://bit.ly/ParkAppreciation2020  or by calling 619.667.1300.


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

KRISTINE ALESSIO RUNS ON HER EXPERIENCE, OFFERS POLITICAL INDEPEDENCE ON LA MESA CITY COUNCIL

By Miriam Raftery

October 11, 2020 (La Mesa) – East County Magazine held a video interview via Zoom with Councilwoman Kristine Alessio, since she could not participate in our recent candidate form. She is one of six candidates running for two seats on the La Mesa City Council.

A native of La Mesa, she’s served on the Council since 2012 and was previously a planning commissioner. She holds a law degree and has been the city’s representative on SANDAG. She is also a former board member on the East County YMCA and East County Boys and Girls Club.  As candidate not aligned with a political party, she says she can represent all La Mesans, equally and fairly. She says La Mesa needs experienced leadership in the COVID-19 pandemic, a business friendly environment, public safety and preservation of neighborhood character.

Scroll down for highlights, or click here to view the full video interview:   https://youtu.be/GU7MibN3GlI


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

LAURA LOTHIAN AIMS TO BRING BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE TO LA MESA CITY COUNCIL

By Miriam Raftery

October 11, 2020 (La Mesa) – Laura Lothian is one of six candidates running for La Mesa City Council. ECM recently held a video interview via ZOOM with Lothian, she since was unable to participate in our candidate forum due to a scheduling conflict.

A realtor with a business in the downtown village, she is running to bring a business perspective to the City Council. She wants to reduce regulations and provide more freedoms for business owners. Beautifying the village area is also a priority of hers. Lothian serves on the La Mesa Village Association board  and has previously run for both council and mayor.

The interview covered a wide range of issues including the needs of local businesses, beautifying  La Mesa, police issues, housing and homelessness, and more.

Scroll down for highlights of our interview, or click here to view the full video interviewhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HCss3QqeEk


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MARK PAPENFUSS AIMS TO HELP LA MESA FORGE A NEW PATH

By Miriam Raftery

October 11, 2020 (La Mesa) – Mark Papenfuss, one of six candidates running for the La Mesa City Council, missed our candidate forum last month due to a family emergency but participated in a separate interview on Zoom.

 He shared his views on ideas for La Mesa’s downtown village, improving racial justice and public safety, housing and homelessness, the pandemic, and the need to in his words, help La Mesa “rise from the ashes” after a riot and fires by forging a new path for the future.  He touts his business experience and the need for leaders who are free of conflicts of interest or developer donations.

Scroll down for highlights from our interview, or click here to view the full video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugPdqOtqHCY&feature=youtu.be


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LA MESA-SPRING VALLEY SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION, PART ONE: AREA 4

By Robin N. Kendall

Photo:  Area 4 candidates Emma Turner, Abu-Bakr Al Jafri, and Sarah Rhiley

October 7, 2020 (La Mesa-Spring Valley) -- Two out of five trustee seats will be on the ballot this year for certain residents of the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District. One seat is held by current Board President Dr. Emma Turner, who is running for re-election against four opponents in Area 4. This area includes Bancroft, Sweetwater Springs and Loma Elementary Schools. Five candidates are running, and three sent in responses to our questionnaire.  Scroll down to view responses from Emma Turner, Sarah Rhiley, and Abu-Bakr Al-Jafri.

The other trustee seat was filled by Jim Long, whose term has expired. That seat will be filled by a newcomer from Area 5 which includes Avondale, Rancho, and La Presa Elementary Schools, as well as STEAM Academy and Kempton Literacy Academy. The Area 5 race will be covered in part two of this series.


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GROSSMONT HEALTHCARE DISTRICT AND CHAMPIONS FOR HEALTH HOSTING FREE DRIVE-THRU FLU SHOT CLINIC THIS SATURDAY MORNING

East County News Service

October 9, 2020 (La Mesa) – This Saturday, October 10, 2020, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. the Grossmont Healthcare District is partnering with Champions for Health and County of San Diego to provide free flu shots to the East San Diego community. To reduce the chances of a severe COVID-19 and flu combination, receiving this season’s vaccination is more crucial than ever. Everyone qualifies to receive a free flu shot, including those uninsured or underinsured, pregnant women, and children 9 years of age and older. Fresh produce distribution and giveaways for kids also available while supplies last.           


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

DRIVE-THROUGH HALLOWEEN TRICK OR TREAT WITH LA MESA POLICE AND HEARTLAND FIRE

By Miriam Raftery
 
October 8, 2020 (La Mesa) – Spooked by COVID-19?  La Mesa Police Department and Heartland Fire, which serves La Mesa, invites children to don costumes and enjoy a Halloween Drive-Thru Trick or Trick event on Saturday, October 31 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the police station parking lot.

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LA MESA-SPRING VALLEY SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION, PART TWO, AREA 5

By Robin N. Kendall
 
October 8, 2020 (La Mesa-Spring Valley) -- Voters in the southern part of Spring Valley will have a choice of four candidates to fill the open seat for trustee on the La Mesa Spring Valley School District Board. The seat was previously filled by Jim Long, whose term has expired. This part of the district is called Area 5 and includes Avondale, Rancho, and La Presa Elementary Schools, as well as STEAM Academy and Kempton Literacy Academy.

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LA MESANS SHARE CONCERNS OVER PROTEST AND RIOT RESPONSE IN VIRTUAL LISTENING SESSION

By Miriam Raftery
 
October 7, 2020 (La Mesa) – La Mesa residents voiced their concerns over the La Mesa Police Department response to the May 30 civil unrest and riot, also offering suggestions for future improvements in an online listening session held last night by Hillard Heintze, the firm hired by the city to conduct an independent investigation. 

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LA MESA CREDIT UNION ROBBERY SUSPECT IN CUSTODY, CASH RECOVERED

East County News Service

October 3, 2020 (La Mesa) – A suspect accused of brandishing a knife and demanding cash from a teller during robbery of the Navy Federal Credit Union on Grossmont. Blvd. in La Mesa on September 30 is in custody.

After the robbery around 10:02 a.m., the suspect fled the scene in a vehicle with an undisclosed amount of currency. He was located driving away from the area by responding La Mesa Police Department officers and followed to the 4500 block of Winona Avenue in San Diego, where a traffic stop was initiated.


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