La Mesa City Council

COUNTY SUPERVISORS WITHDRAW HOMELESS PROJECT IN LA MESA AFTER CITY’S CONCERNS OVER LACK OF TRANSPARENCY, BACKDOOR DEALINGS

By Miriam Raftery and Briana Gomez

September 24, 2020 (La Mesa) – By a 3-2 vote on Tuesday, the County Board of Supervisors voted to withdraw its application for state grant funding to convert the Holiday Inn motel on Parkway Drive in La Mesa into a Homekey transitional living and long-term supportive housing facility for the homeless and those at risk of homelessness.


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VIEW INTERVIEWS WITH LA MESA COUNCIL CANDIDATES KRISTINE ALESSIO AND LAURA LOTHIAN

By Miriam Raftery

September 10, 2020 (La Mesa) – ECM held ZOOM virtual interviews with La Mesa City Councilwoman Kristine Alessio and realtor Laura Lothian, who were unable to attend our candidate forum last week. The candidates discussed the major issues facing La Mesa including the city’s response to protests, housing and homeless, downtown redevelopment, help for local businesses, racial justice and policing and more. 


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2020 LA MESA CITY COUNCIL VIRTUAL CANDIDATE FORUM SEPT. 23 HOSTED BY METHODIST CHURCH

East County News Service

 
September 9, 2020 (La Mesa) - Six candidates. Two seats. Find out where La Mesa’s City Council candidates stand on important issues.

 

La Mesa First United Methodist Church will host a Virtual La Mesa City Council Candidate Forum on Wednesday, September 23, 2020, at 6:45 p.m. The forum will be held via Zoom and moderated by Pastor Christian DeMent.


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VIEW VIDEO OF LA MESA CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES FORUM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To view video of candidate forum full size, click here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tH6GkbU9ayo&t=3085s

Note: You can now view separate video interviews with Councilwoman Kristine Alessio and Laura Lothian, who were unable to attend the forum, here:  https://www.eastcountymagazine.org/view-interviews-la-mesa-council-candi...

September 6, 2020 (La Mesa) -- At East County Magazine's virtual forum for La Mesa City Council Candidates on Thursday, candidates offered their ideas for addressing the compelling issues facing the city including police/racial justice/public safety issues in the wake of protests and a riot, downtown redevelopment, housing, homelessness, budget priorities, COVID-19 relief and more.

Three of the six candidates running participated in the forum: Councilman Colin Parent, as well as challengers Allan Durden and Jack Shu. Mark Papenfuss said he had a family emergency but will schedule a Zoom interview soon. Laura Lothian and Kristine Alessio had schedule conflicts but have provided individual interviews posted above .

Below is information on all candidates running, listed in alphabetical order:


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LA MESA CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES TO APPEAR IN VIRTUAL CANDIDATE FORUM THURSDAY, SEPT. 3

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: La Mesa City Council candidates Allan Durden, Colin Parent, Mark Papenfuss, Kristine Alessio, Jack Shu, and Laura Lothian.  Four of the six candidates have agreed to participate.

August 29, 2020 (La Mesa) – Six candidates are vying for two seats on the La Mesa City Council. East County Magazine invited all candidates to participate in a candidate forum this Thursday, September 3 at 7 p.m. Have a question for the candidates?  You can send it to editor@eastcountymagazine.org by 12 noon on Thursday.

Four of the six candidates have confirmed they will participate.  Shown in the photo above, they are Allan Durden, Mark Papenfuss, Councilman Colin Parent, and Jack Shu.  Councilmember Kristine Alessio and Laura Lothian are not available but agreed to do an interview with ECM via Zoom, which we will post when completed.

The forum, held virtually via Zoom due to COVID-19,  will be live-streamed on Facebook here:  https://www.facebook.com/EastCountyMagazine   Video will also be recorded and posted at www.EastCountyMagazine.org after the forum. We thank the #FacebookJournalismProject for supporting our virtual candidate forums during the pandemic.

Below is information on all candidates running, listed in alphabetical order:


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READER’S EDITORIAL: ROAD MAP FOR LA MESA

An open letter to La Mesa’s Mayor and City Council

By Dave Myers

August 24, 2020 (La Mesa) --  I am a 27-year resident of La Mesa and also a retired San Diego County Sheriff’s Commander with 35 years in local law enforcement. In May of this year, all of us saw and experienced the horrific scenario that started out as a peaceful BLM demonstration taken over by criminals without police intervention and rapidly devolved into a nightmare of looting, violence, and the burning of downtown La Mesa.


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LA MESA RESPONDS TO HOMELESSNESS

City Council approves Citizen Task Force recommendations
 
By Bonnie Baranoff, Chair, La Mesa Citizen Task Force on Homelessness
 
August 23, 2020 (La Mesa) - Homelessness in La Mesa isn’t new, nor is our community’s concern about or exasperation with it.  
 
In February 2019, a motivated City Council responded to local homeless advocate concerns by approving the formation of an Ad Hoc Citizen Committee consisting of five-seven residents.  In March 2019, the City Council selected seven community members with a variety of knowledge of and experience with the issue. On July 17, 2019, we came together for the first meeting of the Citizen Task Force on Homelessness.  

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COUNCIL CANDIDATE JACK SHU SHARES HIS VISION AND PRIORITIES FOR LA MESA

 

View video 

Hear audio aired on KNSJ radio

By Miriam Raftery

August 21, 2020 (La Mesa) – In an exclusive video interview, Jack Shu shares his visions for the future of La Mesa.  Shu has been an active advocate in La Mesa and countywide for over three decades on social justice issues, human rights, homelessness, and protect the environment.

A California State Parks Superintendent for 29 years, he also served as a peace officer within state parks. As past president of Cleveland National Forest Foundation, he worked at a state and countywide level to protect open spaces, reduce pollution and build healthier communities. In La Mesa, he helped establish the Citizens Public Safety Oversight Task Force on police issues, as well as a Citizens Task for on Homelessness. He’s served on the city’s wellness committee, on the board of Heartland Human Relations, and as a cultural diversity consultant.

In our interview, Shu laid out his vision for a more "vibrant" and inclusive La Mesa in all areas of the city.  "Let's aim higher. Let's do better," he said. 

Shu shared his thoughts on the key issues in  La Mesa including housing and homelessness, revitalizing neighborhoods across La Mesa and downtown, police and racial equity issues, public safety, and budget priorities.

Audio: 


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LA MESA MAY SEEK BOND TO FUND PARK UPGRADES, CONSIDERS TOWN HALL ON RIOT RESPONSE AND POLICING ISSUES

By Briana Gomez

July 18, 2020 (La Mesa) -- The La Mesa City Council Meeting on July 14 reflected an air of unresolved tensions, six weeks after rioting, looting and fires ravaged the community. The Council approved a grant application to help the homeless and addressed other issues, but concerns over police controversies and the riot response remained hot button issues with residents. 


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LA MESA PLANS TWO MEETINGS JULY 14: AGENDAS INCLUDE LEASE OF FORMER POLICE STATION SITE, HOMELESS GRANT, SEWER FEE CHANGES, AND FUTURE TOWNHALL ON PROTEST AND RIOT

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 10, 2020 (La Mesa) – The La Mesa City Council will hold two meetings on  Tuesday, July 14:  a special meeting at 5 p.m. followed by the regularly scheduled 6 p.m. Council meeting, both via teleconference.

At the 5 p.m. special session, Council will discuss whether to consider a potential ground lease of the old police station site at the southeast corner of Allison and Date avenues to USA Properties Fund for a housing project. A closed session conference with a real property negotiator will follow the special session.

During the 6 p.m. meeting,  the agenda includes:

  • A presentation by the Climate Action Campaign
  • Interviews with applicants for city boards and commissions
  • Shifting sewer service charges to the county property tax roll
  • Consideration of a grant application to the Permanent Local Housing Allocation Program fund homeless services in La Mesa
  • A proposal by Mayor Mark Arapostathis and Councilmember Akilah Weber to hold a future town hall meeting on the May 30 events that included protests, a confrontation at the police station, and an ensuing riot.

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LA MESA COUNCIL VOTES FOR INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION OF PROTEST AND RIOT RESPONSES; HEARS HEATED COMMENTS FROM PUBLIC

By Briana Gomez

Photo by Paul Kruze: Officers guarding City Hall, where the City Clerk's office was set afire during the riot  on May 30

The City of La Mesa held a heated livestream city council meeting Tuesday with council members socially distanced via zoom,  the first public meeting since the May 30 riots that followed protests for black lives.

The Council unanimously voted to have an outside investigator review police, fire department and other city agencies’ actions during the protest and rioting that ended with multiple businesses looted, vehicles burned, two banks and a historic building burned down.  

Council members reviewed their agenda before public comments, most of which criticized the La Mesa Police Department for its recent treatment of the black community, perceived mismanagement of what began as a peaceful protest, and for not preventing the city from burning down during riots that ensued.


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LA MESA APPROVES REOPENING SOME PARKS, WAIVING BUSINESS LICENSE FEES, AND RELIEF WITH CARES ACT FUNDS

By Jake Zawlacki

May 17, 2020 (La Mesa) -- On May 12th, the La Mesa City Council unanimously approved three considerations brought to the Council to aid businesses impacted by COVID-19, reopen some parks, and allocate federal CARES Act funds to help the homeless and others.


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LA MESA CITY COUNCIL HEARS BUDGET UPDATE; PROPOSAL BY ALESSIO FOR FUNDS TO HELP SMALL BUSINESSES WILL BE HEARD MAY 12

By Iris Neal

May 4, 2020 (La Mesa) – A general fund financial forecastpresented to the La Mesa City Council on May 28 revealed significant anticipated impacts on city revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Council also heard concerns raised by Councilmember Kristine Alessio over financial hardships faced by small businesses, but voiced skepticism over her suggestion for city funding to help businesses survive the shutdown and postponed consideration of the proposal until Tuesday, May 12. 


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LA MESA CITY COUNCIL TAKES ACTION IN RESPONSE TO CORONAVIRUS, SHUTS DOWN GATED PARKS

By Iris Neal

April 17, 2020 (La Mesa) -- Discussions of park closures and easing of parking restrictions were on the agenda at the La Mesa City Council’s meeting on Tuesday, April 14.

To maintain social distance, the city planned to stream its first ‘live’ meeting in more than a month on its website and via a Facebook Live feed, as well as simultaneously broadcast on government access channels. Sadly, things didn’t go as expected due to technical difficulties, but officials conducted business anyway.


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LA MESA CITY COUNCIL HOLDS TOWN HALL MEETING THIS THURS. JAN. 23

 
January 23, 2020 (La Mesa) --Tonight, the La Mesa City Council will host a Town Hall Meeting. This open-forum session provides an opportunity for citizens to share their concerns, ideas, and opinions on issues in their neighborhood and throughout the City. The meeting will be held  at Maryland Avenue Elementary, 5400 Maryland Avenue, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.
 
The Town Hall Meeting is intended as a means for citizens to learn about City services, state what they like about La Mesa, how they envision the future of their city, and to express concerns. Members of the City Council and City staff will be present. Additionally, information will be available about the City’s Climate Action Plan, crime prevention, emergency preparedness, and recreation classes.

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LA MESA COUNCIL APPROVES CANNABIS ORDINANCE AND GRANTS TO IMPROVE WEST LA MESA

By Miriam Raftery
 
September 28, 2019 (La Mesa) – A citizens-led effort to clean up their blighted West La Mesa neighborhood has borne fruit. On Tuesday, the La Mesa City Council unanimously approved two pilot programs offering grants to businesses in the area to improve the streetscape. 

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LA MESA COUNCIL TO CONSIDER RECREATIONAL CANNABIS BUSINESSES AND REVITALIZATION GRANTS TUESDAY

By Miriam Raftery
 
Updated September 24 with statement from CASA opposing the measure
 
September 23, 2019 (La Mesa) – Is it high time to legalize recreational adult-use cannabis sales, commercial cultivation, manufacturing, testing and delivery in La Mesa?   If so, should revenues be used to help property owners near illegal pot shops that caused problems for neighbors?  Those are among the burning issues on the La Mesa City Council’s agenda this Tuesday.

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FARMER’S MARKET DECISION REACHED BY LA MESA CITY COUNCIL AS TENSIONS RISE

Council votes 3-2 to keep market downtown, but have Beevers Farmers Market run the event instead of merchants’ group

 

By Allan Acevedo

 

July 27, 2019 (La Mesa) – As foreshadowed at the previous La Mesa City Council meeting, the banner agenda item at this week’s meeting was the fate of the much-beloved farmer’s market. Its location, time, and management were up for debate because the current agreement ends July 30th.

 

The discussion on the Community Choice Aggregation Technical Feasibility Study was tabled for the next meeting because of the anticipated length of the farmer’s market discussion. The study will cover the feasibility for La Mesa to produce and sell clean electricity from renewable resources to residents, potentially in conjunction with other local cities.



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LA MESA CONSIDERS LEASING FORMER POLICE STATION SITE TO HOUSING DEVELOPER

By Miriam Raftery

July 3, 2019 (La Mesa) – The La Mesa City Council will hold a special meeting on Tuesday, July 9 to discuss whether to consider leasing the former police station site at the southeast corner of Allison and Date avenues to USA Properties Fund.  


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FPPC SENDS WARNING LETTER TO BILL BABER, LA MESA COUNCILMAN AND SAN DIEGO ETHICS COMMISSION MEMBER

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

May 18, 2019 (La Mesa) — The California Fair Political Practice Commission has sent a warning letter to Bill Baber for failing as treasurer of the Better East County Committee to file a timely 24-hour contribution report during the November 6, 2018 election. Baber, a La Mesa City Councilman and member of the San Diego Ethics Commission, could be fined up to $5,000 per violation, the Feb. 6 letter states.  


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TRANSPARENCY CONCERNS PLAGUE LA MESA COUNCIL OVER GRANNY FLAT ORDINANCES

 

 

By Allan Acevedo

 

March 16, 2019 (La Mesa) – What a difference two weeks makes. The La Mesa City Council heard robust public comment from diverse perspectives concerning the approval of two so-called “granny flat” ordinances. On narrowly won passage from a divided Council, while the second passed unanimously.


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LA MESA APPROVES GRANNY FLAT ORDINANCE AND CREATION OF CITIZENS COMMITTEE ON HOMELESSNESS

 
 
By Allan Acevedo
 
February 28, 2019 (La Mesa) – With a packed agenda, the La Mesa City Council addressed concerns of increased homelessness, the ongoing housing crisis, and the City’s action plan to meet 2020 and 2035 greenhouse gas reduction goals.

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LA MESA HEARS MAYOR’S STATE OF CITY ADDRESS; CITY MOVES CLOSER TO FORMING COMMITTEE ON HOMELESSNESS

 

Council also approves changes to traffic-calming procedures, making it harder for neighobrhoods to approve speed humps



By Miriam Raftery

January 10, 2019 (La Mesa) – Heeding the urging of citizens for form a task force with citizens’ involvement to address homelessness,  La Mesa Mayor Mark Arapostathis at Tuesday’s City Council agreed to take action—taking the first steps toward forming a committee to address the issues.

“It’s beyond just setting up ways to work with faith-based centers,” the Mayor said, referencing local churches helping to feed and provide temporary shelter to homeless people. He said the city also needs to look at “how to help people not become homeless.”


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SLAMMED: LA MESA RESIDENTS AND COUNCILMEMBERS VOICE ANGER, FRUSTRATION OVER SKETCHY REPORT ON OFFICER’S USE OF FORCE AT HELIX HIGH







By Miriam Raftery

January 9, 2019 (La Mesa) – La Mesa’s Mayor, Councilmembers and members of the public voiced frustration and at times, anger at the outcome of an independent investigation commissioned by the city into use of force by La Mesa police school resource officer Scott Wulfing, who was shown on video knocking a handcuffed female student to the ground at Helix High School in January of last year.

Attorney Scott Tiedemann gave the presentation on the report prepared by Barry Aninag of B.A. Investigations, a former Irvine police commander. Aninag reportedly interviewed some 20 witnesses—but the public and council will not be permitted to read the report or statements from any of those interviews, due to confidentiality laws protecting investigations into police misconduct.  Those witnesses did not include the student, Brianna Bell, who was knocked down, and who has filed a lawsuit against the city.

Nor did the report include any details on what transpired on campus before the take-down show on the video. The report also had zero information on whether any investigation was conducted by the school or the school district, or results of any such inquiries.


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LA MESA COUNCIL TO HEAR REPORT ON POLICE USE OF FORCE AT HELIX HIGH, APPEALS OF MARIJUANA DIPENSARIES, AND MAYOR’S STATE OF CITY ADDRESS

By Miriam Raftery

January 6, 2019 (La Mesa) – At the La Mesa City Council meeting on Tuesday, January 19th, Mayor Mark Arapostathis will deliver his state of the city speech. Afterwards, the Council agenda includes several hot topics.

Council will hear a report on the independent investigation into a controversial use of force by a La Mesa Police school resources officer at Helix High School in January of last year. A video showed the officer knocking a handcuffed female student to the ground.  According to the city, the student declined to speak with the independent investigator and has filed a lawsuit against La Mesa.  

Council will also hear results of the Neighborhood Traffic Management Program and vote on whether to accept the report, which includes a 2019 work plan and ranked list of streets for traffic calming measures.

Council will also hear appeals involving two medical marijuana dispensary applications. 


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RESIDENTS FLOOD LA MESA CITY COUNCIL WITH COMPLAINTS OVER PROPOSED PAROLE FACILITY

By Miriam Raftery

December 12, 2018 (La Mesa)--  Following the swearing in of newly elected Councilwoman Akilah Weber and reelected Councilman Bill Baber, the La Mesa City Council heard public comments last night from numerous area residents concerned about a state parole office proposed in a new building on Grossmont Summit Drive next to the Brigantine restaurant, other businesses and home.


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WEBER, BABER LEAD IN TIGHT RACE IN LA MESA

 

Update November 7, 2018:  With 39% of precincts tallied, Weber and Baber maintain the lead with 27.43% and 25.94% respectively over McWhirter at 24.79% and Myers at 21.84%. 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Dr. Akilah Weber and her sons at Democratic Party celebration downtown

November 6, 2018 (La Mesa) — One of the closest races in East County is unfolding in La Mesa, where incumbents Bill Baber and Guy McWhirter face tough challenges from physician Akilah Weber and retired Sheriff’s commander Dave Myers.  Weber is currently in first place with 27.06% of the vote, narrowly leading over Baber at 26.22% and McWhirter at 25.03%, with Myers at 21.68%.  But only five of 33 precincts have been counted as of midnight.

The offices are officially nonpartisan, but Weber and Myers are endorsed by Democrats while Baber and McWhirter are backed by Republicans.  The “blue wave” that swept Democrats into control of the House of Representatives thus far appears to have split in La Mesa.


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FALSE AND MISLEADING HIT PIECES TARGET DEMOCRATS IN LA MESA

Updated with comments from Councilmembers Baber and McWhirter, plus additional information on the Public Safety Advocates PAC.

By Miriam Raftery

November 4, 2018 (La Mesa) – A flurry of deceptive mailers have been sent to Democrats in La Mesa, where two Democratic candidates, Dr. Akilah Weber and retired Sheriff commander Dave Myers are challenge Republican incumbents Bill Baber and Guy McWhirter.  

One mailer paid for by the Baber-McWhirter campaign urged Democrats to vote – on the wrong date. (The election is Tuesday, November 6th.) The flyer had photos endorsing Republicans McWhirter and Baber as well as Mayor Mark Arapostathis, who is running unopposed. Baber says this was his mistake. "It was a typo. I wish I had Miriam as my editor!" he quipped. His campaign later sent a corrected copy, which he forwarded to ECM.

Two other mailers were sent by the “Public Safety Advocates” PAC in Encinitas and include negative information on the two Democrats, including false statements about Weber


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DR. AKILAH WEBER ANNOUNCES RUN FOR LA MESA CITY COUNCIL

 

East County News Service

July 18, 2018 (La Mesa) – Dr. Akilah Weber, a physician who is the daughter of Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, has announced she is running for the La Mesa City Council.

If elected, she says her three top issue priorities will be public safety, health and wellness, and housing affordability.


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LA MESA CITY COUNCIL DOES ABOUT FACE ON POT DISPENSARY; REJECTS PLANNING COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION

 

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

April 25, 2018 (La Mesa) -- The La Mesa City Council on Tuesday night gave a unanimous thumbs down, turning its back on an earlier La Mesa Planning Commission conditional use permit approval of a marijuana dispensary in the La Mesa Medical Plaza near 70th and El Cajon.


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