Santee City Council

JUDGE TELLS SANTEE TO RESCIND FANITA RANCH VOTES

By Mike Allen

April 12, 2022 (Santee) -- Fanita Ranch, the 3,000 unit housing project that was approved by the city of Santee two years ago, received another setback last week when a San Diego judge ruled the City must rescind all the legal permits for the construction.

The judgement by Superior Court Judge Katherine Bacal made last month and filed April 6, calls on the city to vacate a series of resolutions that gave Fanita Ranch the green light in September 2020. Bacal faulted the city and its contracted experts for creating an inadequate environmental report about all the impacts from the project, particularly the lack of safe evacuation routes in the wake of an emergency such as a major wildfire.


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SANTEE INVOKES EMINENT DOMAIN FOR TRAFFIC IMPROVEMENT PROJECT

By Mike Allen 

March 27, 2022 (Santee) -- One of the more controversial powers government agencies wield is eminent domain, the ability to acquire private property even without the owner’s consent for a project determined to be the public’s best interest.


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SANTEE MOVES TOWARD GIVING VOTERS A SAY ON LEGALIZING CANNABIS BUSINESSES

By Mike Allen

Photo:  Santee Vice Mayor Ronn Hall

March 11, 2022 (Santee) -- While it’s legal to use and even grow marijuana for personal use statewide, the sale of the still-federally prohibited drug is not permitted in Santee.

That could change given the path that the City Council has been on since last year, when it began exploring the potential of allowing some type of marijuana-linked business within its 16.5 square miles.


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SANTEE ASSESSES ITS DIVERSITY, CONSIDERS WAYS OF CHANGING DURING RECENT WORKSHOP

By Mike Allen 

Photo:  Richard Marks speaking

March 3, 2022 (Santee) -- As a city with one of the smallest minority populations in San Diego County and one that experienced some well-publicized racist incidents in recent years, Santee’s leaders realized they had to do something.


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SANTEE COUNCIL DENIES PERMIT FOR NEW GAS STATION/MINI MART ON PROPERTY TIED TO KALASHO FAMILY

By Mike Allen

File photos: Lina Charry and Ben Kalasho

February 25, 2022 (Santee) -- Santee apparently has enough gas stations, or at least enough on a stretch of Mission Gorge Road near the confluence of State Routes 125 and 52.

At its Feb. 23 meeting, a reduced City Council shot down a proposal to build yet another station under the Arco brand, a car wash and mini-mart on an oddly shaped, less-than-an-acre parcel at 9015 Mission Gorge Road.


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SANTEE COUNCILMEMBERS WEIGH WHETHER TO LEGALIZE AND STRICTLY REGULATE MARIJUANA BUSINESSES

Prospect of a pro-pot industry ballot measure leaves some members fuming

By Mike Allen

Photo:  Kathleen Lippett

October 14, 2021 (Santee) -- The Santee City Council held a third workshop Oct. 13 examining whether to allow cannabis businesses in their city, while making it clear they aren’t fond of the prospect


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SANTEE COUNCIL GIVES ITSELF RAISES AS PART OF $50M OPERATING BUDGET

By Mike Allen 

June 24, 2021 (Santee) -- Santee City Council has approved a $50 million operating budget for its 2021-22 fiscal year, including 1.5 percent raises for city staff and the five Council members.


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SANTEE ASKS ISSA TO OPPOSE GUN CONTROL BILL

By Mike Allen

 

June 2, 2021 (Santee) -- On the same day that a San Jose rail yard employee fatally shot nine of his co-workers before killing himself, the Santee City Council unanimously voted to send a letter to Congressman Darrell Issa opposing a bill in Congress that would place more controls on gun ownership, including more stringent background checks.


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SANTEE PUTS BRAKES ON COMMUNITY CENTER AND COMMUNITY CHOICE ENERGY PROGRAM

By Mike Allen
 
Photo:  llustration of the long-planned Santee Community Center, via HMC Architects
 
May 14, 2021 (Santee) -- The ongoing pandemic has forced everyone, including local elected officials, to reevaluate their previous plans.
 
That’s what happened May 12 when the Santee City Council pressed the pause button on two long-planned decisions, building a community center and joining a Community Choice Aggregation program.

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SANTEE GETS ITS OWN TV CHANNEL, ANNOUNCES SUMMER EVENTS AND GRAPPLES WITH NEW STATE ORGANICS RECYCLING LAW

By Mike Allen
 
All photos from concerts in 2019
 
May 3, 2021 (Santee) -- Santee is creating its own television station, one that will provide viewers with round-the-clock content on all things Santee related.  The Council also voted to boost the city’s budget by up to $25,000 at its most recent City Council meeting.

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SANTEE DIVERSITY PROGRAM GETS OFF TO ROCKY START WITH CLAIMS OF HYPOCRISY

By Mike Allen
 
April 22, 2021 (Santee) -- Spurred by negative press resulting from two ugly incidents involving racist maskers inside local grocery stores and later, violent clashes at demonstrations following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the city of Santee set out to deal with its image as a less than welcoming place for minorities.

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SANTEE HOLDS VIRTUAL DISTRICT 4 TOWN HALL ON WED. APRIL 7

East County News Service

Photo: Councilman Dustin Trotter

April 6, 2021 (Santee) – Santee Councilman Dustin Trotter and Mayor Minto will host a special District 4 town hall meeting on Wednesday, April 7 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. The meeting will be held virtually.  


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SANTEE COUNCIL SETS PRIORITIES TO REAP REVENUES, INCLUDING POSSIBLE LEGALIZATION OF CANNABIS BUSINESSES

 
By Mike Allen
 
March 30, 2021 (Santee) - While other East County cities such as La Mesa and Lemon Grove tap into taxes that legalized marijuana shops generate, Santee has staunchly kept these enterprises illegal.
 
But that could change. At its most recent meeting, the Santee City Council announced a list of 11 priorities it wants to address in the next two years. At No. 11 was one to “consider economic development and regulatory options for cannabis businesses in the city, with a funding ordinance for the November 2022 election.”

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SANTEE COUNCIL GETS UPDATE ON PADRE DAM’S BIG PROJECT

By Mike Allen
 
March 27, 2021 (Santee) -- Padre Dam Water District wants to keep everyone in the loop about its massive sewage reclamation project, especially the city where the project is located -- Santee.

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SANTEE DELAYS RESPONSE ON COUNTY NEEDLE EXCHANGE PROGRAM, AMENDS CURRENT FISCAL YEAR BUDGET UPWARDS

By Mike Allen

 

Photo: needle exchange; CC by SA-NC

 

February 28, 2021 (Santee) -- Santee wants San Diego County to conduct comprehensive research about its recently resumed needle exchange program before the Santee City Council weighs in on supporting or opposing the formerly banned program.


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SANTEE RECOUNT ENDS, HURST CONCEDES TO TROTTER

By Miriam Raftery; Michael Allen also contributed to this story

Photos by Erik Herrara

December 15, 2020 (Santee) – Yesterday’s recount in the Santee District 4 City Council race took place at the Registrar of Voters.  Each candidate picked up one additional vote from ballots that were not previously opened or counted, but it didn’t change the outcome. Dustin Trotter officially has 3,920 votes – a mere five vote margin over Samm Hurst, with 3,915.

The San Diego County Democratic Party agreed to terminate the recount after only minimal changes in the vote count once untallied ballots were examined. 

According to Assistant Registrar of Voters Cynthia Paes, a little over 1,000 ballots were recounted, out of around 8,000 cast in district 4.  The full-day recount involved about 25 staffers. Both sides challenged ballots; out of nine that were uncounted and unopened, and after adjudication by Registrar Michael Vu, three were opened and counted.  Besides one vote found for each candidate, a third untallied ballot was opened and found to have neither candidate marked in the Santee Council race.


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SANTEE COUNCIL GRANTS LANTERN CREST 50 NEW UNITS, DEFERRAL ON IMPACT FEES; APPROVES CHANGE ORDER FOR TV STATION

By Mike Allen
 
Photo:  50 unit addition to Lantern Crest Senior Living.
 
September 10, 2020 (Santee) -- The Santee City Council unanimously approved a 50-unit addition to the Lantern Crest Senior Living nursing home that included granting the developer a zoning change as well as deferring the payment of about $1 million in impact fees.

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SANTEE COUNCIL AND MAYORAL CANDIDATES FORUM SET FOR SEPT. 10

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left to right: Mayor John Minto and challenger Stephen Houlahan; City Council candidates Samm Hurst and Dustin Trotter

September 5, 2020 (Santee) – East County Magazine will host a forum on Thursday, Sept. 10 at 7 p.m. for candidates running for Santee Mayoral and City Council races. To date, Mayor John Minto and mayoral challenger Stephen Houlahan have both agreed to participate.  In the race for an open City Council seat, Samm Hurst has confirmed she will participate; Dustin Trotter said he had a scheduling conflict for the forum. All candidates in both races have also now done separate interviews with ECM reporter Mike Allen, which will be posted soon.

The forum will be virtual on Zoom. You can watch the livestream at https://www.Facebook.com/eastcountymagazine and send questions to editor@eastcountymagazine.org. A videotape of the forum will be posted later on www.EastCountyMagazine.org and the forum will also be broadcast at a later date on KNSJ radio.

East County Magazine thanks the #FacebookJournalismProject for a grant to help support our virtual candidate forums during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Below are details on the candidates (listed in alphabetical order for each seat) and key issues:


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HOMEFED YANKS FANITA RANCH PLAN BEFORE COUNCIL VOTE

 

By Mike Allen

 

Cancelling Magnolia extension, as proposed, would remove key evacuation route for wildfires, critic says

August 30, 2020 (Santee) -- Fanita Ranch, the 3,000 unit residential project planned for Santee’s northwest quadrant, is being delayed by developer HomeFed Corp. to make some significant changes, including removing an extension of a key arterial serving the project.

In a letter posted on the Fanita Ranch Facebook page last week, Jeff O’Connor, the company’s vice president, said HomeFed requested the delay “to remove the extension of Magnolia Avenue from the project in order to direct those funds towards the improvements to SR-52.”


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SANTEE ADOPTS RESOLUTION DENOUNCING RACISM, CONSIDERS INCLUSIONARY HOUSING LAW

 

By Mike Allen

June 25, 2020 (Santee) -- Santee’s leaders decided they needed to make a public denunciation of racism, hate speech, and intolerance in response to a flurry of recent ugly incidents in their predominantly white city.

At the June 24 City Council meeting, Mayor John Minto said the unanimously passed resolution condemning racism will be a guiding principle as the city confronts its past.

“We acknowledge that we’ve had problems but we’re not going to allow those problems to stop us from moving forward and doing better,” Minto said.


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PROTEST AFTERMATH: SANTEE COUNCIL SAYS IT HAS TO DO BETTER JOB

By Mike Allen

June 14, 2020 (Santee) -- Santee’s City Council looked at itself in the mirror after a fortnight of national protests and rioting following the death of George Floyd, and found the reflection wasn’t all that great.

Stunned by an outbreak on several nights of blatant racist taunts and violence, allegedly by outsiders, the leaders of the predominantly white city said they need to conduct some serious soul-searching about their attitudes regarding race.

“Maybe this city has buried its head in the sand for too long,” said Mayor John Minto during the Council meeting held virtually on Zoom. “If the perception that (racism) is here, then it’s here.”

Councilman Rob McNelis, who has often publicly denied allegations of racism in the city, said he took full responsibility for being among those who did indeed ‘bury his head,’ unwilling to look at how many people of color say they are treated.


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SANTEE EXTENDS PANDEMIC RENT RELIEF TO JUNE, REVIEWS PLANS FOR COUNCIL CHAMBER RENOVATION

By Mike Allen

May 29, 2020 (Santee) -- Santee’s City Council voted unanimously May 27 to extend a moratorium on evictions of both residential and commercial tenants impacted by the coronavirus to the end of June.

The Council enacted an urgency ordinance installing a moratorium on evictions April 8 that was set to expire May 31. The city took the action despite the fact that the state of California already has executive orders in place barring evictions of tenants who can show they have been negatively impacted by the lockdown of all non-essential businesses starting March 19.

Councilwoman Laura Koval said given the fact that so many residents are unemployed, and have yet to receive their first check from the state, it’s necessary that the city provide them with some safety net.


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SANTEE COUNCIL RESPONDS TO RACIST MASK INCIDENTS, SIGNALS CHALLENGE TO TERM LIMIT MEASURE

 

By Mike Allen

Video by Ana Nita: discussion on racial incidents

May 16, 2020 (Santee) -- In the wake of two nationally-publicized racial incidents inside local grocery stores earlier this month, the Santee City Council voted on May 13 to confront the issue by expanding a community police board that will develop strategies for addressing intolerance. The incidents involved shoppers who wore masks with hate symbols during a county health order mandating masks in stores to prevent spread of COVID-19.

Mayor John Minto, who publicly denounced the incidents soon after they occurred, said he spent many hours talking with residents about what happened, and is convinced the city cannot ignore or simply shrug it off.

“We have to understand why and where it’s happening,” Minto said. “We’re going to triage it, find out where most of the worst symptoms are, and bring people together.”


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SANTEE EXTENDS EVICTION BAN TO COMMERCIAL TENANTS

By Mike Allen

Photo, from top left: Rob McNelis, Laura Koval, Stephen Houlahan, John Minto, Ronn Hall, and Bill Maertz, Santee Community Services director.

April 9, 2020 (Santee) -- Santee’s City Council amended a law it passed earlier this month banning evictions of residential tenants hurting from effects of the coronavirus. The amended version now includes commercial tenants.


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SANTEE HALTS EVICTIONS OF RESIDENTS, BUT NOT BUSINESSES, DUE TO CORONAVIRUS IN FIRST VIRTUAL MEETING

By Mike Allen

March 26, 2020 (Santee) -- Responding to a still-evolving global pandemic crisis, the Santee City Council has approved a 60-day temporary suspension on evictions of tenants in the city who prove their financial situation has been damaged by the coronavirus.

The Council approved a temporary moratorium on evictions at its March 25 meeting by a 4-1 vote, with Councilman Rob McNelis opposed. It was the first ever gathering that was done using teleconferencing technology allowing the five elected members and other staffers to “meet” from remote locations.


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SANTEE IDENTIFIES WHERE IT CAN BUILD NEARLY 2,000 NEW HOUSES

By Mike Allen
 
Photos Credit: City of Santee
 
March 15, 2020 (Santee) -- Santee identified 37 different properties that could accommodate 1,949 new houses as part of a state mandated program to spur the building of affordable housing.
 
At its March 11 meeting, the Santee City Council reviewed the sites identified by city planners as most likely to handle the new units. The majority of the sites are zoned as single family residential, but by increasing zoning densities, a much higher number of living units could be built, which ultimately is the goal, city officials said.
 
Yet the prospect of change, even if it’s financially beneficial, caused some owners to voice their anxieties.

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SANTEE COLLECTS BETTER THAN EXPECTED TAXES, HAS $1.5 MILLION SURPLUS TO SPEND

By Mike Allen

Photo by Mike Allen: Left to Right: Councilman Rob McNelis, Councilman Stephen Houlahan, and Councilman Ronn Hall.

 

March 2, 2020 (Santee) -- As some East County cities grapple with dwindling revenue and even contemplate disincorporation, Santee appears to be improving its bottom line, thanks to better than expected revenue from property and sales taxes.

At its Feb. 26 meeting, the Santee City Council got an update on the city’s financial situation and discussed how it might best use a projected $1.5 million in surplus funds at the end of the current fiscal year in June.

The city usually adds most of any net profits from its operations to its reserves, but because the reserve balance now exceeds the prescribed target of 20 percent of the city’s operating budget by about $1.5 million, the council can allocate this money to other uses, said Tim McDermott, Santee’s finance director.


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HOULAHAN DECLARES CANDIDACY FOR SANTEE MAYOR

By Mike Allen

February 10, 2020 (Santee) -- Santee Councilman Stephen Houlahan wants a larger say in molding the city’s future and has declared his intention to run for mayor, opposing incumbent Mayor John Minto.

Houlahan says the main issue motivating him to throw his hat into the ring is the disturbing trend by a majority of his Council colleagues to consistently undermine Santee’s General Plan and approve higher density projects.


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COUNCIL ADOPTS ITS SUSTAINABLE SANTEE ACTION PLAN

By Mike Allen
 
January 12, 2020 (Santee) -- The city of Santee is, like most small cities in the state, strapped for funds. Councilmembers are unhappy about complying with the many mandates promulgated by what they view as the big, bad guys in Sacramento.
 
The City Council finally got to scratch one lingering mandate off its list last week when it unanimously approved its Sustainable Santee Action Plan.
 

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SANTEE GETS ITS NEW BRAND AND LOGO

Council also votes to sell library parcel and change meeting schedule

By Mike Allen

December 17, 2019 (Santee) -- It’s simple, has the key elements that distinguish the city, and features some nice colors, advocates say. They indicate that the strapline---that’s the tag line that goes below the new logo--is catchy: Do More, Due East.

Santee’s brand, logo and ideas for how it can be used were unveiled last week in a presentation before a City Council that gave the effort mostly a thumbs up, although a majority weren’t gushing about the results of a nine-month process that will end up costing nearly $100,000, and thousands more when replacement cost are factored in.

The logo change ties in with the city's 40th anniversary coming up in 2020.


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