San Diego

NEW SDG&E RATES WILL MAKE SOLAR COST MORE--UNLESS YOU HAVE A BATTERY BACKUP

 

 

Hear our interview with Daniel Sullivan, founder of Sullivan Solar, by clicking the audio link

By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  Battery storage unit on garage wall

December 18, 2017 (San Diego’s East County) – Many solar customers are unaware of new time-of-use rates that took effect December 1st. In an interview with ECM on KNSJ Radio, Sullivan Solar founder and president Daniel Sullivan explains that if you bought solar between June 30, 2016 and Dec. 1, 2017, your rates will be going up sharply after a five-year grace period. Rates for use during evening hours are doubling; a typical family will pay 143% more than in the past. If you buy solar in the future, your rates will also be higher, starting immediately.

But there is a solution:  buy a back-up battery, which will not only lower your rates, but also provide backup power to keep your electricity on during future power outages. Back-up batteries, with subsidies, can be financed out for only about $20 a month – and you’ll likely save $100 a month on your electricity bill, says Sullivan. Rebates end in June 2018, so there's a strong incentive to get a battery soon before the rebates run out.

Audio: 

Interview with Daniel Sullivan, Sullivan Solar, on battery back-ups

HEAR OUR INTERVIEW: EMMA HIGGINS, GRID ALTERNATIVES

 

 

Company seeks donors to bring solar job training and installations for low-income homeowners to East County

December 18, 2017 (San Diego) -- Emma Higgins with Grid Alternatives in San Diego sat down with ECM editor Miriam Raftery on our KNSJ radio show recently to discuss how the nation’s largest nonprofit solar installer is offering solar installations free to low and moderate homeowners, saving 75-100% on their energy bills.

The organization also provides job training to qualified persons in need including veterans and refugees. Participants can earn an income while training and after completing the program, can make $19 an hour. 

Audio: 

interview with Emma Higgins, Grid Alternatives

SDG&E RESTORES POWER AFTER PROLONGED OUTAGES; RESIDENTS WHO SUFFERED STRESS AND LOSS WANT CHANGES FOR FUTURE

 

 

Residents angered at loss of water pumps, alarm systems, refrigeration, comunication and heat during outages up to a week in some areas that have suffered repeated outages

By Miriam Raftery

December 12, 2017 (San Diego’s East County) – SDG&E announced last night that it has fully restored power to all customers who were de-energized due to “public safety concerns” following a week-long red flag warning with strong gusty winds, low humidity and dangerous fire conditions.  An SDG&E media release states, “After crews inspected power lines all day in coordination with contract firefighters who were on hand to ensure a safe restoration process, power was turned on for all remaining customers. Field crews patrolled on the ground and in the air. Aerial inspections were completed by five helicopters in rural, mountainous areas."

Power remains out to 56 customers in the Lilac Fire zone in North County, where full restoration is expected early Tuesday evening. All 43 poles damaged in the fire will be replaced with fire-resistant steel poles and thicker, stronger wires, SDG&E indicates, adding, ““We understand that being without power, for any reason, is an inconvenience and we appreciate the patience we have received from our customers.”  For current information on outages and restoration times, visit sdge.com/outage.

Across East County,  many residents in rural, mountain and high desert towns have taken to social media to voice concerns over the prolonged outages.  Although SDG&E says it did provide advance notice to 170,000 customers of possible planned outages due to high winds and fire danger, before shutting off power to many thousands of homes, many rural residents say that’s not enough – and they want changes made. Below are highlights of residents' concerns and proposals.

LILAC FIRE HAS DESTROYED MANY STRUCTURES, 45 RACE HORSES KILLED

 

Update December 12, 2017  Now 95% contained, the Lilac Fire has destroyed 157 structures and damaged 64 more.  All roads are now open.

Update December 11, 2017:  The Lilac Fire is now 90% contained and all evacuation orders have been lifted.

By Miriam Raftery

Photo via Twitter

December 9, 2017 (San Diego) –The Lilac fire has destroyed 105 structures, injured at least five people and killed at least 46 thoroughbred race horses at the famed San Luis Rey Downs facility. 

Another 1,500 structures remained threatened today, Cal Fire reports. Firefighters are holding the fire at 4,100 acres, but full containment may take until December 21st.

The good news is that overnight, firefighters made good progress in increasing containment to 20 percent. Winds were calm this morning but picking up later in the day, with a red flag warning remaining in effect until 8 p.m. Sunday.

RESIDENTS VOICE ANGER OVER POWER OUTAGES

Photo, left: Map of outages in San Diego County as of 7:45 a.m. today.

December 8, 2017 (San Diego's East County) -- SDG&E has sent warnings to 170,000 San Diego County residents to be prepared for power shutdowns due to the high fire danger posed by strong Santa Ana winds. The utility has already shut off power to thousands of homes in communities across our region including portions of Alpine, Bonsall,  Boulevard, Campo, Cuyamaca, Descanso, Fallbrook, Jamul, Julian, Mount Laguna, Potrero, Ramona, Santa Ysabel, Vista and more.

The utility has warned residents that their power could remain off for several days until it can be safely restored. The shut-offs, meant to prevent powerline fires such as those that ignited the 2007 firestorms, are sparking concerns and outrage among some residents, particularly in rural areas. 

Electric well pumps don’t work with the power out, leaving no way to provide water for people or livestock.  Some rural areas lack cell phone service, leaving people with no way to learn about wildfires or other emergencies, unless they have a backup generator. Many residents are also shivering in cold temperatures dipping into the 40s at night, some left without electric heating.

GOVERNOR DECLARES EMERGENCY OVER LILAC FIRE IN NORTH COUNTY

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo courtesy ECM news partner 10 News

Update December 8, 2017 8:45 a.m.:  Cal Fire reports the fire has burned 65 structures but remains at 4,100 acres. Evacuation orders now extend west to Camp Pendleton.  Four civilian injuries and two firefighter injuries have occurred. 

December 7, 2017 (San Diego) – Governor Jerry Brown has issued an emergency declaration over the Lilac Hills Fire, which has scorched over 4,100 acres in the Fallbrook-Bonsall area. The County has also declared an emergency.

The devastating blaze is burning southwest and is still zero percent contained.  It started at 11:15 a.m. west of I-15 and north of Lilac Road on the Pala Mesa.

By this evening, at least 20 homes have burned, County Emergency Services reports. That includes numerous residences in the Rancho Manserate Country Club community.  An estimated 5,000 more residences are threatened.  Two people suffered burns and have been taken to a hospital.

Dozens of horses have died including many at the San Luis Rey training center, Times of San Diego reports. In Bonsall, numerous horses were let loose, running wildly through billowing smoke, a photo posted by Horses so Fine on Instagram states, adding, “Pray for them.”  Community volunteers have come forward to help save many horses and the Del Mar Fairgrounds has opened facilities for livestock including horses.

WINDS TOPPLE TREES, TIP OVER TRUCKS

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 7, 2017 (San Diego) -- High winds roaring through San Diego County today have wreaked havoc. 

In Carlsbad, a tree fell onto an elderly man and killed him.  Santa Ana winds knocked a semi-truck and trailer onto their sides on I-8 east, shortly before high winds forced closure of I-8 east of Alpine.  A sign truck was nearly blown off the towering Pine Valley Bridge.  In Lakeside the community Christmas tree toppled over; Lakeside's Chamber of Commerce posted a photo on Facebook, vowing to restore it after the winds die down.

Strong winds also led SDG&E to shut off power to thousands of homes in communities across the region, with some slated to be without power for days.

RED CROSS OPENS EMERGENCY SHELTERS DUE TO POWER OUTAGES

December 7, 2017 (San Diego) -- The American Red Cross is opening two emergency shelters this morning at 9:00 a.m. in support of residents impacted by power outages. The shelters are in El Cajon and Escondido. ECM has contacted the County to ask why shelters have not been opened in mountain and rural areas, where many of the outages have occurred and ratepayers have been advised power could remain off for up to five days due to the high winds and extreme fire danger.

At this time, SDG&E reports more than 5,000 customers are without power. Extreme fire weather continues in San Diego County today.

Per County Emergency Services, here are the shelter locations:

SDG&E SHUTS POWER OFF TO 1,326 CUSTOMERS: MAY BE DOWN FOR DAYS

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 6, 2017 (San Diego’s East County) – Tonight SDG&E has shut off power due many areas across East County and North County due to “an extreme weather event with high winds and dry conditions,” according to SDG&E’s website, which warns, “Current conditions indicate that power may remain out for several days before it can be safely restored. If your power is out, please be sure you have adequate emergency supplies on hand for an extended period of time and check here for the most current information on expected restoration times.”

The action comes just days after the California Public Utilities Commission ruled that SDG&E cannot bill ratepayers for its uninsured losses from the 2007 firestorms, when state regulators found its power lines responsible for three major fires.

SDGE WARNS 170,000 TO BE PREPARED FOR POWER OUTAGES AS HIGH WINDS HIT AREA

Public urged to use caution to avoid infernos like those scorching Los Angeles and Ventura

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Thirdiphoto: Skirball Fire created hellacious conditions that shut down the 405 freeway today near the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

December 6, 2017 (San Diego’s East County) – High winds fueling devastating fires in Los Angeles are set to hit San Diego County tomorrow, with gusts of 70 mph or more in some areas. Currently no fires are burning in San Diego County, though smoke from a fire in Mexico is visible near the border.  But the situation could turn perilous quickly if new fires start.  National Weather Forecaster Alex Tardy says Santa Ana winds could blow a fire in the inland area all the way to the coast.

RED FLAG WARNING: CRITICAL FIRE WEATHER

 

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

Updated December 4, 2017

December 2, 2017 (San Diego) – The National Weather Service in San Diego is warning of prolonged, critical fire conditions in all areas of our county starting Monday morning through the end of the week. 

A red flag alert is in effect for coastal, mountain and valley areas through Thursday due to low humidity, above average temperatures and strong offshore winds.  A high wind warning has also been issued, with Santa Ana winds at 20 to 30 miles per hour and gusts up to 55 miles an hour forecast.

ALL LANES ON SOUTHBOUND I-5 CLOSED SUNDAY AND MONDAY NIGHTS

 

 

 

East County News Service

November 17, 2017 (San Diego) — Caltrans crews will close all southbound lanes of Interstate 5 (I-5) from the Interstate 805 merge to La Jolla Village Drive Sunday and Monday night from 9:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. the following morning for bridge work.

All motorists will be detoured to southbound I-805, to westbound State Route 52, to the SR-52/I-5 interchange.

Crews will be working on two separate bridge projects. One is the construction of the Gilman Drive Bridge project, the other is bridge maintenance at the I-5 Sorrento Valley Viaduct, this pavement work will take place on the main lanes of I-5.

THE STARS HAVE LINED UP FOR PERFECT MOUNTAINTOP CAMPING CLOSE TO HOME IN SAN DIEGO

 

 

Backcountry hidden pleasures:   Our guide to unique lodging adventures in San Diego’s beautiful backcountry

By Jack Riordan

Photo, left: The Desert View Trail at the Burnt Rancheria Campground is a very easy and dog-friendly one mile scenic loop through the campground to a rewarding view of the desert floor below.  Photo by Jack Riordan.

November 1, 2017 (Mount Laguna) -- Nestled in the pines, beneath a blanket of starlight, you’ll find Burnt Rancheria.  As part of the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area in the Cleveland National Forest, this lush east county campground sits at 6000 feet above sea level, offering dream-like mountain scenery, as well as an easy escape from the day to day life in the city.

HEAR OUR INTERVIEW WITH ANDREW ZELT, 50TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT CANDIDATE

 

By Miriam Raftery, East County Magazine

October 17, 2017 (San  Diego’s East County) -- Recently we sat down with Andrew Zelt, a Republican challenger running against Rep. Duncan D. Hunter in the 50th Congressional District. He’s a sergeant in the Sheriff’s Department, where he’s spent his career, and a resident of Rancho San Diego.

Zelt says he’s running because he can no longer support Hunter, who is under investigation by the Justice Department for  allegedly using campaign donations for personal use. (Hunter has denied wrongdoing but did repay his campaign around $60,000 for vacations, payments to his child's school, oral surgery, jewelry and other expenses.)

“My top priority is listening to the people, finding out what are some of the things that affect you, your day to day lives, and then expand on that to the nation," he says, adding, "What are some of your concerns about the way our nation is going?”

  Hear our in-depth interview at the audio link, which originally aired late this summer on KNSJ radio, or scroll down for highlights.

Audio: 

Interview with Andrew Zelt, candidate for 50th Congressional District

HEAR OUR INTERVIEWS: CHIDA WARREN-DARBY, SAN DIEGO VOICE AND VIEWPOINT EDITOR

 

East County News Service

October 13, 2017 (San Diego) – Recently,  we sat down for a two-part interview with Chida Warren-Darby, co-publisher of the San Diego Voice and Viewpoint newspaper. Chida is one of the youngest  black co-publishers in the U.S.

In part one, she discussed her experience as a survivor of domestic violence and her participation in “Walk a Mile in My Shoes”, a YWCA event to help domestic violence survivors.

In part two, she talked about issues impacting the African-American community in San Diego, from police use of force to the process for choosing a new San Diego Police Chief.

Audio: 

Chida Warren Darby interview part 1: domestic violence
Chida Warren Darby interview part 2: African-American issues

FATAL ELEPHANT TRANQUILIZER FOUND IN COUNTERFEIT PAINKILLER PILLS

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

October 11, 2017 (San Diego) – Carfentanil, an elephant tranquilizer drug 5,000 times stronger than heroin, is turning up in street drugs marketed as opoid  narcotic painkillers such as Oxycodone, as well as in tainted heroin.  

The drug is so deadly that just a couple of granules the size of salt crystals will cause death, even with medical intervention, authorities warn. It’s turning up in street drugs locally and nationally, including drugs sold by dealers and on the Internet’s dark web—and deaths are skyrocketing as a result.

CALIFORNIA SURVIVORS OF LAS VEGAS MASS SHOOTING CAN APPLY TO STATE FOR HELP

 

 

 Residents Eligible for Mental Health Treatment, Medical Expenses, Funeral and Burial and More

 The California Victim Compensation Board (CalVCB) is encouraging residents impacted by the mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival on Sunday, October 1 in Las Vegas to contact them at 1-800-777- 9229 for assistance, guidance and aid.  

The massacre killed 58 people and injured over 500 victims.  San Diego attorney Jennifer Irvine was among those killed; several other San Diego County residents were injured, NBC 7 reports.

Help is available for survivors of those who were killed, anyone who was injured and those in attendance at the concert, as well as their immediate family members.

CPUC TO HOLD HEARING SEPT. 28 LOCALLY ON PROPOSED DECISION REGARDING WILDFIRE EXPENSE REIMBURSEMENT FOR SDG&E

 

Update:  The CPUC has announced it will hold this agenda item slated for the Thursday morning hearing, meaning no vote will be taken on this agenda item.  Public comment will still be accepted before all five commissioners at the start of the mornng hearing .

Public comment will also be taken during an all parties meeting later in the day, but not all commisioners will be present at the later meeting. See more details at the end of this story.

By Miriam Raftery

September 26, 2017 (San Diego) –The California Public Utilities Commission will hold a public hearing Thursday at 9:30 a.m. in the Chula Vista City Council Chambers  (276 Fourth Ave., Chula Vista) on the CPUC’s proposed decision to deny SDG&E’s application to charge ratepayers $379 million for recovery of its uninsured losses related to the 2007 Witch, Rice and Guejito wildfires.  A similar request for $594 million was previously denied in 2012.

SDG&E sought to recover those losses through a Wildfire Expense  Memorandum Account (WEMA).  The proposed decision against SDG&E has drawn praise from some, including Supervisor Dianne Jacob, but concerns from others including a fire survivor and intervener in the case.  Some ratepayer advocates also warn that the CPUC could  change its mind on the proposed denial of SDG&E’s WEMA application or postpone action following ex-parte lobbying efforts by the utility company.

VOTER's WATCHDOG: CITIZENS OVERSIGHT FILES OPPOSITION TO AB-840, SAYS AMENDMENTS WOULD GUT ELECTION AUDITS IN CA

 

Watchdog group that won lawsuit says last-minute amendment inserted by election officials would allow 40 to 70 percent of ballots to be omitted from audits

By Miriam Raftery

September 1, 2017 (San Diego) --- Citizens' Oversight, a nonpartisan group that focuses on election integrity, announced today that it has filed written comments in opposition to CA AB-840, a bill which will make drastic changes to the one-percent manual tally of elections, which would omit 40% or more ballots from the scrutiny of this important audit process. Local Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher (D-San Diego) is a coauthor of the bill.

ECM asked Vu late Thursday for comments. Vu replied via email, “The amendment came through and is sponsored by the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials (CACEO) and is supported by the Secretary of State and the County."

COUNTY PLAN TO SHORTEN AMBULANCE RESPONSE TIMES PRESENTED IN CREST TO FEW COMMUNITY MEMBERS

 

 

Improvements proposed after ECM investigative series on ambulance response times in unincorporated areas

 

By Kendra Sitton

 

August 30, 2017 (Crest) — Last week, County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Administrator Andy Parr met with local communities to ask for input on EMS’s plan to improve ambulance service to the rural parts of San Diego because "the status quo of 30 min is no longer acceptable."

 

The updated plan goes before the Board of Supervisors on Oct. 10. If approved, when the contracts of the three ambulance companies expire in the next few years, they will have to comply with the new plan which will shorten response time.

 

The actions follow a five-part special series by East County Magazine published  in 2015, investigating slow ambulance response times in some unincorporated areas and changes in county ambulance providers. (See links to our five-part series at the bottom of this article.)

LOCAL RESCUE PERSONNEL HEAD TO HOUSTON TO ASSIST IN EPIC FLOOD

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Texas National Guard,  U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Zachary West

August 29, 2017 (San Diego) – Rescue personnel from the San Diego region including East County are heading to Texas, where  Hurricane Harvey, a category 4 hurricane since reclassified as a tropical storm,  has dumped the heaviest rainfall ever recorded on the U.S. mainland—50 inches or more in places.

Much of Houston, Texas is submerged beneath a swath of floodwaters 50 miles wide.  so much rain fell that the National Weather Service had to add new color coding to its maps.

At least eight people have died.  An estimated 1.7 million  have evacuated  in Texas and Louisana as the storm continues its destructive path, according to the White House website, with many people still awaiting rescue, trapped amid rising waters. Now, a levee south of Houston in Brazoria County has broken and residents in its path are ordered to get out immediately. 

READER’S EDITORIAL: WHITE SUPREMACIST VIOLENCE IS NOT FREE SPEECH

 

 

Statement by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of California

 August 17, 2017 (San Diego) -- Our country’s greatest strengths are the diversity of its people and the principles of equal dignity and inclusion that unite us all. There are troubling events planned in our state in the coming weeks. This is an incredibly painful and difficult time for millions of Californians. 

For those who are wondering where we stand – the ACLU of California fully supports the freedom of speech and expression, as well as the freedom to peacefully assemble. We review each request for help on a case-by-case basis, but take the clear position that the First Amendment does not protect people who incite or engage in violence.

TRUMP SHIFTS STANCE ON KKK AND NEO-NAZIS, HAS CANCELLED FUNDING TO COMBAT THEIR RECRUITING EFFORTS

 

 

Update August 17, 2017 -- President Trump has backed off his words from Monday  in an angry speech to reporters  yesteraday, where he claimed counterprotesters were "very violent" and that there were "good people" on both sides. His appeasement and excusing of those in a march with Nazi flags prominently displayed has appalled many, prompting resignation of numerous CEOs off his business advisory panel which Trump dissolved as more and more quit in protest over his racial views. Watch video on CNN.

By Miriam Raftery

Rally organizer tells HBO Vice reporter on video, "A lot more people are going to die."

August 15, 2017 (Washington D.C.) – President  Donald Trump on Monday issued a strong statement denouncing groups by name  that participated in the Charlottesville, Virginia gathering of radical racist hate organizations, at which a Nazi sympathizer plowed a vehicle into a crowd of protesters, killing a woman and injuring 19 others.

the president's announced came two days after the attack – and following a barrage of criticism including leaders in both parties who faulted Trump for not specifically denouncing white supremacism earlier.

"Racism is evil -- and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans," Trump said Monday."Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America," he added.  View the President’s full statement: http://www.10news.com/news/national/trump-expected-to-condemn-hate-group... .

TRANSGENDERS OUT OF MILITARY? NOT SO FAST

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Congressman Scott Peters

July 27, 2017 (San Diego) – President Donald Trump’s tweets yesterday stating that he is reinstating a ban on transgender people in the U.S. military do not have the force of law.

Now, the Chairman of the Joint Chief’s of Staff says the military won’t take action until Trump sends directives to the Pentagon. In addition, San Diego Congressman Scott Peters has proposed an amendment to a major defense appropriations bill that would block discrimination against transgender people in the military--and even many staunch conservatives are voicing support for transgender troops.

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR CANDIDATE GAYLE MCLAUGHLIN IN SAN DIEGO JULY 20

 

 

East County News Service

July 19, 2017 (San Diego)—Gayle McLaughlin, former mayor of Richmond, California, says she’s running a corporate-free progressive campaign for Lieutenant Governor of California.  She will hold a town hall meeting to discuss her campaign on Thursday, July 20 at 7 p.m. at the IBEW 569 hall, 4545 Viewridge Avenue, Suite 100 in San Diego.

SHERIFF'S BODY CAMERAS APPROVED BY SUPERVISORS

 

East County News Service

July 19, 2017 (San Diego) — The San Diego County Board of Supervisors this week unanimously approved more than a million dollars to equip Sheriff's Deputies with body-worn cameras.

The Sheriff's Department will officially roll out its body-worn camera program next month at the Alpine Sheriff's Station and Ramona Sheriff's Substation. From there, deputies countywide will receive the cameras within four to five months.

TWO DOZEN RUNAWAY 4TH OF JULY DOGS REMAIN UNCLAIMED

HOMELESS SAN DIEGANS FILE CLASS ACTION SUIT AGAINST CITY OF SAN DIEGO

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 18, 2017 (San Diego) – Ten homeless San Diegans have filed a class action against the city of San Diego, challenging citations targeting the homeless as unconstitutional.

Homelessness in the city spiked 10% over the past year, according to the January 2017 Point in Time homeless count. Most of those—5,612—were unsheltered. There are not enough beds and local shelters have long waits. San Diego is also the fourth least affordable city in the nation for housing, making the situation even more bleak for homeless people here.

COUNTY TO HOLD COMMUNITY MEETINGS ON OUTSOURCING ANIMAL SERVICES

 

 

Only meeting in East County is tomorrow, July 19 in Ramona; cities and unincorporated areas affected since County will stop providing Animal Services to six contract cities

East County News Service

July 18, 2017 (San Diego)-- Residents in unincorporated areas can give their input on what animal services they’d like to see during three upcoming community meetings. The County is considering outsourcing work done by the Department of Animal Services to another entity by next July, but wants residents’ feedback first on what services they expect and any suggestions.

An independent external consultant will run the three meetings in Ramona, Fallbrook and Bonita. The first one is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 19 at the Ramona Library. Note: East County Magazine has asked the county to provide a second meeting in East County since this  is inadequate notice to meet deadlines for our  weekly newsletter and radio show, as well as for the print weekly newspapers in East County. 

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