Santee City Council

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. “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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SANTEE LEANS TO CURFEW ON COUNCIL MEETINGS, GIVES CITY MANAGER NICE RAISE

By Mike Allen
 
November 15, 2019 (Santee) -- Public speakers at Santee City Council meetings currently may have to sit for more than three hours before they can state their beefs to the city in a public forum.
 
But the Council is considering changing that format, along with a few other things, including establishing a curfew on how long meetings run.

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SANTEE STILL WANTS COMMUNITY CHOICE ENERGY, BUT NOT WITH NORTH COUNTY ALLIANCE

By Mike Allen
 
October 28, 2019 (Santee) -- The Santee City Council voted for the second time to establish a community choice energy program, but put the brakes on joining a joint powers authority being formed with the cities of Carlsbad, Del Mar and Solana Beach.

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SANTEE BALKS AT JOINING JPA FOR COMMUNITY CHOICE ENERGY; APPROVES NEW HOUSING PROJECT

By Mike Allen

Photo: Renewable  energy sources; Creative commons via N.A.

October 10, 2019 (Santee) -- Santee is having second thoughts about joining a joint powers authority with several North County cities to obtain more electrical power from renewable sources.

The proposed entity is a community choice aggregation program for the cities, giving them the ability to buy more power from sources such as solar and wind. Local utility San Diego Gas & Electric would continue to deliver and maintain transmission lines and billing operations, but the CCA would be responsible for buying all power.


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SANTEE COUNCIL APPROVES EXTENDED STAY HOTEL, GETS INITIAL RESULTS OF BRANDING EFFORT

By Mike Allen
 
September 21, 2019 (Santee) -- Santee’s City Council approved a 122-unit extended stay hotel just west of the intersection of SR 125 and SR 52 on Mission Gorge Road at its Sept. 18 meeting.
 
The Council also heard an initial report from its contracted expert to help create a brand for the city as it attempts to boost its tourism and attract new businesses.

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SANTEE GETTING ON BOARD THE CCA TRAIN WITH COASTAL CITIES

By Mike Allen

September 19, 2019 (Santee) -- Santee and Carlsbad would seem to be strange bedfellows, given their geographical locations and the latter being twice the size in population. But the cities are moving closer to joining forces to form a new entity to purchase more of their power from renewable sources starting in 2021.


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SANTEE OPTS FOR COMMUNITY CHOICE, BUT DELAYS CHOOSING A PARTNER

By Mike Allen

August 30, 2019 (Santee) -- The Santee City Council agreed to adopt a community choice model for purchasing its future electricity but isn’t sure yet what the model will look like.


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SANTEE COUNCIL GIVES ITSELF A RAISE, WAIVES FEES FOR GRANNY FLATS

By Mike Allen

August 18, 2019 (Santee) — Santee’s City Council voted this week to give itself a 2.5 percent raise this year, and a similar one next fiscal year starting July 1, 2020.


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SANTEE CITY COUNCIL PLANS ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICT, ALSO DESIGNATES LIBRARY SITE FOR HOTEL

By Mike Allen 

By Mike Allen
 
August 15, 2019 (Santee) -- Executing one of its priorities set last year, Santee’s City Council has approved the concept of an overlay zone to an area centered around Town Center intended to attract arts and entertainment-orientated businesses such as night clubs, galleries, museums, theater and dance companies, plus other tourist-centric enterprises including hotels.

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SANTEE MULLS ALTERNATIVE WAY OF BUYING ENERGY

By Mike Allen

Photo: Howard Choy, EES Consulting

 

July 26, 2019 (Santee) -- Santee’s City Council took a more in-depth look this week at establishing a new entity that promises to provide energy at reduced rates while obtaining more of the power from renewable sources.


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SANTEE TELLS SANDAG TO KEEP HANDS OFF HIGHWAY FUNDS

By Mike Allen

Photo:  Hasan Ikhrata, executive director, SANDAG 

July 2, 2019 (Santee) -- Santee’s City Council heard first-hand this week about a massive, high-tech revamp to San Diego County's transportation system, but Council members weren’t impressed.

 

The Council appeared united in telling a team of three professionals from the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), the regional transportation planning agency, to keep its hands off any committed funding to expand the key highways to the city.

 

"Everybody here is excited to hear about bold, new ideas," said Councilwoman Laura Koval. "But we also want you to know that we're still moving forward with our plan...and we're still going after funds to complete our highways."


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SANTEE COUNCIL GETS WARNING ON ITS FINANCIAL FUTURE

By Mike Allen
 
June 14, 2019 (Santee) -- Santee’s finance director, Tim McDermott, rolled out a balanced budget for the next fiscal year for the City Council to review at the June 12 Council meeting, but warned the city is facing future deficits unless changes are made.

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SANTEE APPROVES BOND FINANCING FOR WESTON IMPROVEMENTS

 
 
By Mike Allen
 
May 28, 2019 (Santee) -- Santee’s City Council approved the final phase May 22 on about $9 million in bonds that will be issued next month to pay for improvements and city services to the controversial Weston residential development, formerly called Castlerock.
 
The special tax bonds are completely supported from property taxes paid by the residents of Weston, which is located just west of Santee Lakes and off Mast Boulevard.
 
No city funding will be used to repay the bonds, which are being issued through two separate community facilities districts via a mechanism commonly used by many cities in California called Mello-Roos.
 
The actual amount of issued debt won’t be known until the debt is priced and sold in early June, but likely will come in at about $8.9 million although the special financing districts controlled by the city of Santee has the power to issue up to $9.5 million in debt.

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HIGHER DENSITY CONDO PROJECT PRODUCES HAND WRINGING IN SANTEE

Santee Drive-In Theatre is one possible site for low-income housing

Council also approves feasibility study on community choice energy option, with two other cities

View Powerpoint presentation

By Mike Allen

January 24, 2019 (Santee) --Believe it not, Santee needs new housing, particularly affordable type, and more rental stock to handle demand from folks who cannot afford to buy houses.

But where to put housing geared to low income earners, and how that construction will impact other properties are not easy subjects, as was revealed at the latest City Council meeting Jan. 23.

The agenda item that prompted much frustration and hand wringing was a proposed residential condo development on a parcel owned by the county. City Ventures, a large Irvine-based developer, recently obtained the 22-acre parcel which is now in escrow. The company wants to build 365 new units at the site, which is just east of Town Center Community Park, behind the YMCA.


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SANTEE COUNCIL JANUARY 9 AGENDA INCLUDES CLIMATE ACTION PLAN, COMMUNITYCHOICE ENERGY AND FANITA RANCH-RELATED ISSUES

 

By Miriam Raftery

January 6, 2019 (Santee) – Santee City Council has several important items on its agenda for the next meeting on Wednesday, January 9 in Council Chamber (10601 Magnolia Ave., Santee).  These include the city’s climate action plan, a proposal for more developer funding of the city’s subarea plan, and a presentation on a community choice option for Santee residents to purchase power from the city instead of SDG&E.


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CONSERVATIVES SWEEP IN SANTEE

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Zack Gianino and Evlyn Andrade-Heymsfeld await final election results in Santee

November 6, 2018 (Santee) – A grassroots effort to elect slow-growth, progressive candidates to the Santee City Council appears unsuccessful, with a conservative slate leading handily for all three seats and two Republican incumbents headed to reelection.

This was Santee’s first election since dividing the city into districts instead of at-large elections.


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THREE CANDIDATES VIE FOR OPEN SEAT IN SANTEE DISTRICT 3: HEAR OUR INTERVIEWS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Zack Gianino, Laura Koval, and Lynda Marrokal

November 4, 2018 (Santee) – There will be at least one new face on Santee’s City Council soon, since District 3 is an open seat with no incumbent.

Three candidates are running in a race where development issues, traffic, and the city’s looming deficit are key issues.  They are Zack Gianino, a community college district liaison, Laura Koval, parks and recreation director at Santee Lakes, and Lynda Marrokal, a retired manager. 

Hear our in-depth interviews with all three candidates by clicking the audio links (Gianino, Koval, Marrokal) and scroll down for highlights.

Audio: 

Zack Gianino interview
Laura Koval interview
Lynda Marrokal interview

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