El Cajon

WELCOME, EL CAJON RESIDENTS!

Our El Cajon Living section covers the city of El Cajon and unincorporated El Cajon areas including Fletcher Hlils and Rancho San Diego.

Click here for fascinating facts about El Cajon.  For community and city links, click here.


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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.

LA MESA EXTENDS CURFEW FOR NEXT FIVE NIGHTS, SANTEE AND EL CAJON HAVE CURFEWS TONIGHT

By Miriam Raftery

June 3, 2020 (La Mesa) – Following rioting, looting and fires on Saturday in La Mesa and continued civil unrest across our region, the City of La Mesa has announced an extension of curfews each night from June 3 through June 8 from 7 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.

El Cajon and Santee have also extended curfews through tomorrow morning.

Below is each city’s announcement, since hours and details vary:


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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.

SILENT PROTEST HELD AT EL CAJON HOME OF LMPD OFFICER IN ALLEGED USE-OF-FORCE INCIDENT

Story and photos by Kendra Sitton

May 30, 2020 (El Cajon) -- Around 100 protesters silently walked through an El Cajon neighborhood where organizers said La Mesa Police Officer Matt Dages lives. The group conducted a “Power Walk” this evening to let the officer know he is not invisible, according to organizer Covu.

East County Magazine could not independently verify that Dages lives at the residence.


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DOMESTIC ABUSE ADVOCATES SEE RISE IN FIRST-TIME VICTIMS

By Kendra Sitton

 

“The quarantine has created a lot of problems…A safety plan is no longer available [for some victims].” – Dilkhwaz Ahmed, License to Freedom

 

May 26, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) — After weeks of stay-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic, two local organizations supporting victims of domestic abuse are seeing a sharp rise in people seeking services for the first time. 


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UNIDENTIFIED BODY FOUND OFF HIGHWAY 67 IN EL CAJON

By Miriam Raftery
 
May 24, 2020 (El Cajon) – The body of a man who appeared homeless, according to California Highway Patrol, was found Wednesday afternoon alongside southbound state route 67, just north of the Interstate 8 interchange in El Cajon.

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WHEELCHAIR-BOUND MAN STRUCK, KILLED IN EL CAJON

East County News Service
 
May 23, 2020 (San Diego) – A 76-year-old man in a wheelchair was struck by a vehicle on the evening of Tuesday, May 19 while crossing the 1000 block of Broadway in an unmarked area.  

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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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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.

EL CAJON POLICE SEEK HELP TO FIND VANDAL AT CHURCH AND CAR DEALER: DAMAGE DELAYED DELIVERY OF PROTECTIVE GEAR TO HOSPITAL WORKERS

East County News Service 

Photos: Surveillance video

 

May 4, 2020 (El Cajon) -  El Cajon Police seek public help to find a vandal who damaged a church and car dealership, also breaking the windshield of a truck set to delivery donations of personal protective equipment to hospital workers, says Officer Sue Stoller.


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EAST COUNTY RESIDENTS AND BUSINESSES HUNKER DOWN TO WAIT OUT PANDEMIC: CITY LEADERS SHARE VIEWS ON REOPENING

By Emmet Pierce

Photo: Creative Commons via Bing

April 27, 2020 (San Diego’s East Count) -- Despite a growing desire to return to life as normal, East County residents and businesses are following the state’s COVID-19 social distancing guidelines, officials say.  But some mayors and local business leaders voice concerns over impacts on the business community from extended closures.


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COVID-19 CASES IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY RISE TO 3,141; HUNDREDS OF CASES IN EAST COUNTY

By Miriam Raftery

April 28, 2020 (San Diego) – Over the weekend, 98 new cases of COVID-19 were reported by the San Diego County Health and Human Services department. The jump follows the trend in several cities where rallies were held to end shutdowns. The Sheriff arrested several local protesters over the weekend for violating stay-home orders.

The disease has spread rapidly in East County, where El Cajon now has 181 cases, La Mesa 71, Santee 29, Lemon Grove 28, Lakeside 22, Ramona 14, Jamul 6, and Alpine 4.  The communities of Ranchita, Boulevard, Potrero, Julian and Pala each have 2 cases; Borrego Springs, Descanso, and Tecate each have at least 1 case. View an interactive map with the latest updates on local cases by community.


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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.

EL CAJON POLICE SEEK HELP IN HOMICIDE INVESTIGATION

East County News Service

Photo: Victim Tony Montantes

April 21, 2020 (El Cajon) -- The El Cajon Police Department is asking for the public’s help in identifying and locating the suspect(s) responsible for the murder of 41-year-old Tony Montantes. On March 16th at approximately 9:55 p.m., Tony Montantes was standing on the sidewalk in the area of E. Main St. and S. First St. in El Cajon when an unknown suspect fired several gunshots at him. As a result, Montantes was struck multiple times. Despite life saving measures by El Cajon Police officers, paramedics and hospital staff, Montantes was pronounced dead. The suspect(s) were last seen fleeing the area in a vehicle.


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42 NURSING HOME PATIENTS IN EL CAJON DIAGNOSED WITH COVID-19: VIRUS HAS CAUSED 7,000 DEATHS TIED TO NURSING HOMES NATIONWIDE

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Creative Commons via Bing

April 18, 2020 (El Cajon) – COVID-19 is having a devasting impact on nursing home patients. Nationwide, over 7,000 nursing home-related deaths have occurred, the New York Times reported on Friday in a headline that referred to the facilities as “death pits.”

Today, the California Health Department for the first time released statistics on coronavirus cases in nursing facilities. Locally, the hardest hit area is El Cajon, where 42 patients have been diagnosed with the virus in three nursing homes:  Country Hills Post Acute (19), Bradley Court (12), and Avocado Post Acute (11).


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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.

EL CAJON CITY COUNCIL APPROVES MAJOR RESPONSE TO COVID-19: $1 MILLION TO AID RESIDENTS, HOMELESS, AND BUSINESSES

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Video Coverage

City of El Cajon press release on COVID-19 actions

 

April 17, 2020 (El Cajon) -- The El Cajon City Council unanimously voted on Tuesday to set forth a major million-dollar effort to support local residents, businesses, and the homeless during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic crisis, extending after the state declares the emergency over.

The City Council approved a dozen programs to help the community including:

  • Providing residents assistance with utility bills and rent
  • Delaying sewer bills through June and eliminating any late sewer fees in 2020
  • Assisting seniors to access groceries
  • Promoting and financially supporting existing food distribution throughout the community
  • Setting up a business resource website and reaching out to businesses
  • Waiving late business license renewal penalties
  • No longer enforcing banner and temporary use regulations at business sites
  • Providing additional homeless shelter opportunities, providing transportation to the homeless to access regional resources
  • Providing free on-line recreation classes, discounted structured recreation classes after the emergency declaration has been terminated.

In addition, the City Council adopted a resolution strongly recommending that owners of rental properties in the City to refrain from raising rent for a 60-day period beginning Apr. 15.


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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.

ANOTHER "PHOENIX" TRANSFORMATION COMING SOON TO EL CAJON: OLD SALVATION ARMY BUILDING DEMOLISHED FOR MIXED USE DEVELOPMENT

By Robert Gehr
 
April 16, 2020 (El Cajon) -- The former Salvation Army Thrift Store at the corner of Main Street and Magnolia Avenue (101 East Main St.) in El Cajon is being demolished to make way for a future mixed-use building.
 
This once busy location has been vacant and dilapidated for many years, damaged by an earthquake that occurred on Easter Sunday in 2010.  It is now in the final phase of demolition.
 
This site in the heart of downtown El Cajon is the future home of a mixed use building. Lower floor will be for commercial use of an as yet undetermined business, with about 11,000 feet of space, with 15 residential units above.
 
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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever. In light of COVID-19 we cancelled our monthly East County Dining Club fundraisers. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.
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Click Read more for a herculean looking bulldozer, and more!
 

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CAJON VALLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT FILES RESTRAINING ORDER AGAINST BOARD TRUSTEE JILL BARTO

 

CVUSD contends Barto interfering at school meal handouts; claim disputed by CVUSD Personnel Commission member

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

April 16, 2020 (El Cajon) The ongoing legal clashes between embattled longtime Cajon Valley Union School District Board member Jill Barto continued last week when the district lobbed another salvo at her by filing a temporary restraining order (TRO) against her.

The injunction enjoins Barto from being present at the district's student food distribution efforts at its schools. Like other districts around the state, Cajon Valley continues to provide meal services to its 17,000 students, although it has shut down regularly scheduled instruction at its schools until further notice. According to a video release produced by the district, it produces 4,000 lunches a day at its child nutrition center.


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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.

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: YELLOW ROSE

East County News Service
 
April 12, 2020 (El Cajon) -- Robert Gehr sent in this photo of one of many beautiful roses in bloom right now which surround the white Gazebo at Judson Park at the corner of Magnolia & Park Ave., near downtown El Cajon.

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COVID-19 CASES RISE ACROSS EAST COUNTY

 

By Miriam Raftery

April 7, 2020 (San Diego's East County) -- El Cajon now has 74 cases of COVID-19 reported, accounting fo 5.3% of the total cases in San Diego County, as of yesterday's figures released by County health officials.

The cities of La Mesa, Lemon Grove and Santee have 23, 13, and 16 cases respectively.

In the uincorporated communities, 157 cases are reported including 63 in communities not identified, 34 in Spring Valley, 12 in Lakeside, 8 in Ramona, 2 in Jamul, 1 in Alpine, and  a case or two each in even remote area such as Ranchita, Borrego Springs, and Descanso.


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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.

COVID-19 OUTBREAK LINKED TO PHARMACY IN EL CAJON; COUNTY DEATH TOLL RISES TO 15

By Miriam Raftery

April 2, 2020 (San Diego) – Over 849 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in San Diego County. Of those, 1.4%, or 15 people have died, according to  County health officials. The county has identified several cluster outbreaks, including an outbreak in East County linked to the PalmCare Pharmacy in El Cajon,  NBC-7 reports.

A 25-year-old pharmacy tech who worked there , and who  had hoped to become a doctor, died last week at his family’s home in Riverside County. The pharmacy’s customers included many in East County’s Iraqi Chaldean community.


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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.

POLITICIANS DONATE PIT BULL EMOTIONAL SUPPORT THERAPY DOG TO ECM CONTRIBUTING EDITOR PAUL KRUZE

 

By I.M. Skerd, ECM Special Correspondent

April 1, 2020 (El Cajon) -- A generous group of El Cajon politicians and school board members have come together with donations to the East County animal rescue group RescuingCujo.com to give a pit bull emotional support dog to East County Magazine Contributing Editor Paul Kruze. In addition, a fundraiser for the good cause was held by members of the former Julian Cuyamaca Fire Protection District (JCFPD).

Kruze, has covered many high-stress stories including the rise and fall of former El Cajon City Councilman Ben Kalasho, controversies in the Cajon Valley Union School District (CVUSD), and a firestorm over takeover of the JCFPD by the County of San Diego Fire Authority, along with other hot local issues.


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EL CAJON MAYOR BILL WELLS HOLDS VIRTUAL TOWN HALL MEETING

Answers Wide Variety of Questions Submitted By Local Residents     

by Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Complete Video

March 30, 2020 (El Cajon) -- El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells on Tuesday evening held a first-of-a-kind virtual town hall meeting via the city’s website answering a wide variety of questions submitted by local residents on a live basis through the city’s website and social media sites.

The hour-long webcast addressed such subjects as the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, how the city is addressing the needs of the area’s homeless population during the crisis, the city’s refusal to shutter local gun shops, resident evictions and foreclosures, law enforcement response, and other topics.


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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.

EL CAJON RELEASE BODY CAM VIDEOS OF SHOOTING

 

By Miriam Raftery

View video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjF2UYCYNcw&feature=youtu.be . Warning: video contains graphic images and language, viewer discretion advised.  

March 23, 2020 (El Cajon)—El Cajon Police have released body camera footage from multiple officers of the non-  lethal shooting of a car theft suspect, Keith Crenshaw, 21, on February 12th. The videos confirm that after waking up the suspect sleeping in the vehicle, officers repeatedly warned him to put his hands up, even after the suspect repeatedly said, “Shoot me!”

The incident began after Phoenix Police called to request that ECPD recover a stolen car identified via an auto-license reader.  Officer Stanley and his trainee, Officer Jabrael, arrived at 544 South Johnson and Officer Sandoval along with a civilian approached from the rear.

After verifying the license, Officer Jabrael approached the driver’s side but the door handle was missing. When the suspect awoke, Officer Stanley repeatedly ordered him to put his hands up and not to reach into his shirt. At one point he asked for a less-lethal weapon. But before he could obtain one, the suspect repeatedly stated, “Shoot me! Shoot me! Shoot me!”

Officer Stanley and another officer can be hear continuing to try and convince the suspect to put up his hands.  Officer Stanley stated, “No, I do not want to kill you. Let me see your hands.”


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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.

BLOOD DRIVE MARCH 25 AT CVS IN EL CAJON: BLOOD SUPPLY IS RUNING LOW

East County News Service

March 21, 2020 (El Cajon) – Blood donations countywide are running very low due to the coronavirus, since many locations normally visited by the bloodmobile are shut down. Donating blood is considered “essential” and is an exemption to the Governor’s stay at home order.

The American Red Cross will join with State Senator Brian Jones and other local leaders in a blood drive on Wednesday, March 25 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the CVS parking lot, 575 Fletcher Parkway, El Cajon.


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EL CAJON CITY MANAGER DECLARES STATE OF EMERGENCY IN RESPONSE TO CORONAVIRUS, WILL LIVESTREAM PUBLIC MEETING MONDAY

By Miriam Raftery

 

March 13, 2020 (El Cajon) – El Cajon City Manager today declared a state of emergency for the city. The City Council must meet to ratify the declaration.  A special meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 16 at 11:30 a.m. and will be livestreamed so that people can attend the meeting remotely.

 


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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.

EAST COUNTY REALTORS WILL PROTEST EL CAJON PROPOSAL TO HIKE PROPERTY TAXES WITH SEWER BILL

East County News Service

March 7, 2020 (El Cajon) – The Pacific Southwest Association of Realtors (PSAR), one of San Diego’s largest real estate trade associations for realtors, has announced it is planning to protest a proposal by the El Cajon City Council to add sewer charges to property taxes paid by El Cajon homeowners. PSAR members say they will voice their opposition at the next city council meeting at 3 p.m., Tuesday, March 10, at city hall, 200 Civic Center Way, El Cajon.


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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.

ATTEMPTED KIDNAPPING OF BABY AT PARKWAY PLAZA

By Miriam Raftery

February 24, 2020 (El Cajon) – A suspect is in custody after an attempted kidnapping of a one-year-old girl yesterday afternoon outside of the Parkway Plaza regional shopping mall in El Cajon.

According to witnesses, the man tried to grab the baby from her mother at 3:18 p.m.. Witnesses gave officers a description of the man, who had fled the scene.

El Cajon Police officers located a man closely matching the description nearby. Witnesses identified the detained man as the suspect.


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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.

DANCING WITH THE STARS LIVE TOUR COMING TO SYCUAN ON MARCH 26

Tickets are now on sale

 

Source Sycuan

 

February 21, 2019 (El Cajon) -- America’s favorite dance show is going back on tour this winter with “Dancing with the Stars – Live Tour 2020.” The longest tour to date will be dancing through Sycuan Casino Resort on March 26 at 8 p.m. The all-new production will feature fan-favorite professional dancers wowing audiences with every type of dance style as seen on ABC’s hit show Dancing with the Stars.


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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.

JUDGE ORDERS KALASHOS TO PAY $300,000 SETTLEMENT IN FRAUD AND HARASSMENT CASE FILED BY BEAUTY QUEENS AND TACO SHOP OWNER

One plaintiff, attorney Lina Charry, has refused to settle

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Ben Kalasho and Zhala Tawfiq, dethroned pageant queen who accused Kalasho of posting faked nude photos of her online in retaliation for a business dispute

February 1, 2020 (El Cajon) – Former El Cajon Councilman Bessmon “Ben” Kalasho and his wife, Jessica Kalasho aka Jessica Deddeh, have been ordered by  San Diego Superior Court Judge Kenneth Medel to pay  $300,000 in a civil fraud, defamation and sexual harassment lawsuit.

The suit was filed by former Miss Middle East Beauty Pageant contestants Zhala Tawfiq and Paris Kargar as well as by Three Brothers Taco Shop against the Kalashos, the pageant, and the former San Diego East County Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce that the Kalashos founded.  The settlement money is to be divided equally among the three plaintiffs, according to the judgment


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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.

LIBERTY CHARTER HIGH SCHOOL PROPOSAL DRAWS OPPOSITION FROM RANCHO SAN DIEGO RESIDENTS; TRAFFIC IS MAIN CONCERN

Debbie Beyer, Literacy First Director, faults planning group for not allowing rebuttal testimony. “They got it so wrong,” she says.

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

January 31, 2020 (El Cajon) -- Initial plans to build a charter high school on an empty lot near Chase Avenue and Jamacha Road hit a major stumbling block when the Valle de Oro Planning Group unanimously voted to reject a mitigated negative declaration for the project proposed by Literacy First Charter Schools

With the January vote, the next step for Literacy First will be a vote by the Valle De Oro Planning Group on Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. at the Otay Water District Headquarters meeting room. After this vote, the proposal goes on to the San Diego County Planning Commission on a future determined date, and then on to the San Diego Board of Supervisors.


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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.

PICKUP TRUCK PLUNGES DOWN EMBANKMENT, KILLING DRIVER FROM SANTEE

By Miriam Raftery

January 28, 2020 (El Cajon) – A Santee man is dead after the 2016 Dodge Ram pickup he was driving crashed down an embankment and struck a boulder last night around 8:46 p.m.

According to Officer Travis Garrow with the California Highway Patrol, the driver, 46, was traveling east on La Cresta Road in unincorporated El Cajon east of Forester Creek “at a high rate of speed” when he lost control and plunged off the side of the roadway.  The vehicle became airborne before overturning down an embankment and striking the boulder.


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EL CAJON CITY MANAGER CHALLENGES OTHER EAST COUNTY CITIES AND COUNTY TO SERVE HOMELESS INDIVIDUALS

Graham Mitchell Provides Year End Status Report of city’s efforts  

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Complete Video: https://youtu.be/LybwvTl7E8Y

Powerpoint presentation: Homeless Program Update (Jan 14, 2020).pdf

January 27, 2020 (El Cajon) -- El Cajon City Manager Graham Mitchell has challenged other East County cities and the County of San Diego to address the current crisis level of homeless individuals, as El Cajon has during the past year.

In an overview of its efforts at the first council session for the year, Mitchell told councilmembers that the city has spent $640,000 on programs directed to people who have made El Cajon streets their home. While the city will be spending that much again this year, Mitchell challenged the smaller cities around El Cajon (Santee, La Mesa, and Lemon Grove) to make similar efforts.

“We are doing far more than what our neighbors have been doing,” Mitchell said.


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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.

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