Pine Valley

WELCOME, MOUNTAIN DWELLERS!

Our Mountain Living section covers the mountain communities in San Diego's East County north of I-8 including Aguanga, Cuyamaca, Descanso, Guatay, Julian, Mount Laguna, Pine Valley, Ranchita, Ramona, Santa Ysabel, Shelter Valley and Warner Springs.


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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.

SOME CHURCHES AND RESTAURANTS FLOUT RULES, OTHERS COMPLY AS PURPLE TIER SHUTDOWNS COMMENCE

 

Story and photos by Jake Rose

Miriam Raftery contributed to this report

 

Photos, left: Parishioners at Skyline Church flock to indoor services, many without masks

November 15, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- Skyline Church in the unincorporated area of La Mesa and Shadow Mountain in El Cajon had full parking lots for Sunday morning services, despite new Purple Tier restrictions now in effect throughout the county.

Purple tier restrictions started at midnight Saturday, due to rising numbers of Covid-19 cases. Purple tier, or Tier 1, is the most restrictive level for California and comes into play when positive tests exceed 8%. Many non-essential business operations must close, places of worship, restaurants and gyms must move all activity outdoors, and retail must cut capacity to 25%.

With businesses already struggling after the initial lockdown followed by an overall slowdown due to the public’s worry about the coronavirus, this second lockdown has some businesses and places of worship around East County flouting the new restrictions.


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SOME BUSINESSES AND CHURCHES SET TO DEFY SHUTDOWN ORDERS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo,left: Major's Diner in Pine Valley, a long-time roadside stop for travelers also popular with local residents, could not survive another shut down in winter weather, the owner says.

November 13, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Several East County business owners and at least one megachurch have announced intentions to defy a new state mandate to shut down indoor services starting Saturday.  In addition, El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells says police in his city won’t prioritize enforcement of businesses that remain open despite public health orders.

Places of worship, gyms, restaurants and movie theaters are ordered to stop indoor operations under state mandates due to high rates of COVID-19 that have moved San Diego County into the purple tier.  Retailers are supposed to cut service to 25% capacity and any schools not yet reopened are prohibited from doing so.

Restaurants and bars have been tied to 9.2% of all COVID cases in San Diego County from June 6 through November 7, or 3,666 cases, according to newly released county health data. Even with many modifications, the most recent two weeks of data from October 25 to November 7 show 389 cases tied to restaurants and bars, or 10.01% of total new cases—more than any other specific business category.

Yet some restaurant owners say they’re done with shutdowns and would be unable to survive another shutdown as winter approaches.


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SDG&E PLANNED OUTAGES IN TRIPLE-DIGIT HEAT AND STORMS MAY ENDANGER SAFETY OF RESIDENTS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: New power poles in Pine Valley are made of steel, not wood, for fire safety, as part of the upgrades that SDG&E has been installing across inland San Diego County.

Updated August 23, 2020 9:40 a.m. with responses from SDG&E.

August 22, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Amid a record-breaking heat wave with monsoonal thunderstorms, flash floods and lightning-sparked fires forecast as potential added hazards, SDG&E has announced plans to shut off power for hours during the heat of the day on Sunday and Monday across much of San Diego County.  

The outages are to upgrade wood poles to steel, among other equipment upgrades or maintenance planned.

The NWS has warned that the intense heat  this week can be life-threatening for those without air conditioning, yet the power outage will leave any residents who lack generators without access to safe, cool spaces amid the COVID-19 pandemic when many public, air-conditioned places are shut down.

Rural residents with electric well pumps will also be left without water for people or livestock to drink, as well as for fighting fires, as many rural residents equipped with tanks and hoses have done in past brush fires, unless they have invested in generators. Downed communications including internet and in some areas, phone service also leave residents unable to receive emergency alerts despite a high potential for emergencies during the extreme weather conditions.


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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.

WATCH NOW: EAST COUNTY NEWSMAKERS, SHAKERS AND NEWSMAKERS FIRST VIRTUAL PROGRAM ON COVID-19 AND WILDFIRE SAFETY ISSUES

 

August 10, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – On Friday, August 7, East County Magazine took our “Newsmakers, Shakers and Newsmakers” community forum/webinar series virtual.  Thanks to the #FacebookJournalismProject for supporting our community news reporting and virtual events in the COVID-19 era.

Thanks to all of you who sent in questions via email and social media for Dr. William Tseng, one of San Diego’s top COVID-19 experts, who shared the latest facts on COVID-19 trends and what the medical community has learned since the pandemic beganWhy does San Diego have a lower death rate than the nation?  What are the facts and myths about this disease?  How accurate are tests?  How can you help save lives if you’ve survived COVID-19?  What will it take to end the pandemic and return life to normal in our region?  Listen in to hear Dr. Tseng's fascinating responses.

Robyn Herrick, community resiliency advisor with SDG&E, discussed their upcoming drive-through Wildfire Safety Fairs coming up in Alpine, Pine Valley and Valley Center. Get details here

Hear what you need to know to stay safe this fire season – and how you get free devices to help you stay in communication even while you’re evacuated.


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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.

SPEAKER OFFERS PERSPECTIVE ON WIFI RADIATION AND 5G AT PINE VALLEY PRESENTATION

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

Miriam Raftery contributed to this report

September 1, 2019 (Pine Valley) – How safe are wireless technologies including new 5G now being rolled out across our region?  Are the following useful to protect yourself against radioactive injuries: Y-Shield paint, a visit from a building biologist, EMF shielding curtains and fabrics, using airplane mode on your cell, turning off your router at night, and carrying around a portable, personal radiation detector?  


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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.

WIRELESS SAFETY EXPERT TO SPEAK AUG. 27 IN PINE VALLEY

East County News Service

August 4, 2019 (Pine Valley) – “Wireless Radiation: Keeping Safer in a Wireless World” will be the topic of a free lecture by attorney Dafna Tachover on Tuesday, August 27 at 6:30 p.m. in the Pine Valley Clubhouse (28890 Old Highway 80, Pine Valley). 

 


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SHERIFF'S ASTREA DEPUTIES HONORED FOR EAST COUNTY RESCUE

Aviation Association recognizes deputies for saving skier's life

East County News Service

July 24, 2019 (Pine Valley) -- They help keep San Diego County safe from high above the ground. Today, two deputies with the Sheriff's ASTREA (Aerial Support To Regional Enforcement Agencies) helicopter unit have been honored by the Airborne Public Safety Association (APSA) for the demanding technical rescue of a cross country skier near Pine Valley earlier this year.

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PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: DEEP SNOW

 

 

East County News Service

February 22, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) – “Yeah. I’m not going anywhere for a while,” Dave Hogan posted on Facebook. Snow outside his home between Pine Valley and Mt. Laguna measured over 19 inches.


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PINE VALLEY CELEBRATES OPENING OF NEW FIRE STATION

 

Another new fire station opened in the backcountry Tuesday, strengthening fire safety for a number of outlying communities.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony took place in Pine Valley and celebrated the opening of a two-story, 13,090-square-foot fire station that is almost double the size of the previous building. The structure is designed for full-time firefighters and replaces a facility that was built in 1974.


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ALPINE MOUNTAIN EMPIRE: SAN DIEGO’S SOUTHEAST REGION, WILDERNESS GATEWAY

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, top: Carrizo Gorge federal wilderness area

June 29, 2018 (Alpine) – Most visitors to San Diego County head to the beaches or the well-known mountain town of Julian. But the County’s lesser traveled southeast region, known as the Alpine Mountain Empire, includes vast tracts of wilderness, quaint mountain towns, a historic train, museums, Native America reservations, resorts, parks and lakes.


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THREE MEN IN TRUNK OF VEHICLE INJURED AFTER DRIVER FLEES PINE VALLEY BORDER PATROL CHECKPOINT

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo courtesy ECM news partner 10 News

April 24, 2018 (Descanso) – Three men in the trunk of an orange Mazda have sustained moderate to serious injuries after the driver failed to follow an order to pull over for a secondary inspection at the Border Patrol checkpoint in Pine Valley.   The driver fled through the checkpoint onto I-8 west at speeds over 100 miles per hour with Border Patrol officers in pursuit.


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SNOW AT LOW ELEVATIONS FORECAST

 

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

February 25, 2018 (San Diego’s East County) – A cold front is forecast to bring snow down as low as 2,500 feet in East County on Monday and Tuesday, potentially dropping up to six inches on Mount Laguna as well as two to four inches in Julian.  

Smaller amounts of snow could fall on Ramona and communities east of Alpine along Interstate 8, such as Pine Valley, Japatul and Descanso, so check weather reports and carry chains if driving in the mountains during these winter weather conditions. Mountain areas along State Route 94 in the Potrero/Tecate divide area could also be impacted.


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RETIRED FIREFIGHTER BECOMES HIGHWAY “HERO” IN EAST COUNTY

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Jose Estrada from Cal rans presents Dan Russell with an award in appreciation of his tireless efforts

February 15, 2018 (Pine Valley/Campo) – Dan Russell worked 27 years for the San Diego Fire Department. Now he’s a local hero for a different reason – working tirelessly to clean up trash along Interstate 8 and other roadways in East County.

“I’ve been doing it now for 12 years,” says Russell.  “I would say I average five hours a day, six days a week.  I pick up just under a thousand pounds a month…real close to 10,000 pounds a year; over 100,000 pounds since I got started.”


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CONTROLLED BURN NEAR PINE VALLEY STARTS TUESDAY

 
 
East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts
 
January 15, 2018 (Pine Valley) -- If you see smoke  over East County  on this week, be aware that Cal Fire San Diego will conduct its first controlled burn of the year starting on Tuesday. Ignition is set to begin by mid-morning and is expected to take place over several days until complete.
 
The planned 100-acre burn on Corte Madera Ranch south of I-8 near Pine Valley is part of Cal Fire's vegetation management program to help prevent future large wildfires. Smoke will be visible throughout the county.

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NEW PINE VALLEY FIRE STATION CONSTRUCTION SET TO BEGIN

 

County officials take part in a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Pine Valley Station 44.

December 13, 2017 (Pine Valley) -- County and fire officials broke ground Wednesday on a new $8.2 million fire station that will serve the Pine Valley community for the next 50 years.

“This new station helps deliver on our promise to boost wildfire protection in our most fire-prone communities,” said Supervisor Dianne Jacob, chairwoman of the Board of Supervisors. “Since the deadly Cedar Fire in 2003, the county has spent $460 million on fire and emergency service improvements in the backcountry — and this new station builds on that.”


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TIKI OASIS – INTERNATIONAL INTRIGUE 2017

 

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

August 13, 2017 (Pine Valley) -- Pine Valley resident and artist Norm Daniels has this to say about the use of a tiki torch: “To me it means warm, backyard memories.”

Tiki torches were well represented at the 2017 Tiki Oasis-International Intrigue, a four-day event held at Mission Valley’s Crowne Plaza hotel from August 10-13. This Tiki Oasis is the largest and longest-running tiki festival in the world.


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WHITE CHRISTMAS: SNOW FORECAST DOWN TO 3,500 FEET

 

Sheriff warns of snow jams

Readers, send us your snow photos! editor@eastcountymagazine.org

East County News Service

December 22, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – A winter storm in the region is dropping heavy rain across our region, with snow forecast to dip down to 3,500 feet by Saturday. That includes Pine Valley, Descanso,  and Julian,  with  six inches or more possible atop Mt Laguna.

Strong winds of 60 miles per hour or more are expected in some mountain areas.

The Sheriff offers this advice if you plan to visit these areas:


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PINE VALLEY DAYS JULY 29-30 FEATURES PARADE, MUSIC FESTIVAL AND MORE

East County News Service

July 7, 2016 (Pine Valley) --Pine Valley Days will take place July 29th and 30th in the mountain town of Pine Valley.  A highlight of the two-day festival is a parade along Old Highway 80 through Pine Valley on July 29th starting at 9 a.m. featuring horses, bagpipes, clowns, cars, dragons, marching bands and more. 

Other activities include a craft village at the Pine Valley County Park on Saturday, a Friday night deep pit barbecue and dancing in the park after dark, plus a burrito breakfast on Saturday and a music festival.


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MAN ARRESTED AT PINE VALLEY CHECKPOINT AFTER 2 MEN FOUND IN TRUNK

 

East County News Service

March 31, 2016 (Pine Valley) -- U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested a 31-year-old man after he allegedly attempted to smuggle four Mexican nationals last through the Border Patrol checkpoint near Pine Valley on March 25th.


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PINE VALLEY, PLAY BALL!

 

 

 

East County News Service

February 20, 2016 (Pine Valley) -- Pine Valley is celebrating the grand opening of a multi-use field for baseball and soccer events.


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PINE VALLEY MAN ARRESTED FOR MURDER

 

 

Update January 23, 2016 -- The Medical Examiner has identified the victim as Donnie Chipp, 28.  Cause of death was a stab wound to the chest.

East County News Service

January 22, 2016 (Pine Valley) – Pine Valley resident Douglas Kell, 20, has been arrested and charged with murder.


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PINE VALLEY BORDER PATROL AGENTS FIND TWO MEN IN TRUNK

 

August 27, 2015 (Pine Valley)--U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested a man at the Interstate 8 checkpoint last night who had two undocumented immigrants locked inside his car trunk.


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PINE VALLEY WATER SHAREHOLDERS AIR CONCERNS IN TOWN HALL MEETING; BOARD LOCKS OUT SOME SHAREHOLDERS AT LATER OFFICIAL SESSION

 

By Miriam Raftery

Here audio, recorded by Bob Turner:  bob turner 1.WAV

August 5, 2015 (Pine Valley ) –At a town hall meeting convened by disgruntled shareholders in the Pine Valley Mutual Water Company on August 2nd, over 100 people turned out to discuss a controversial water sale to Rough Acres Water.  A petition asking the water company to terminate the Rough Acres contract was passed out at the meeting and many attendees picked up copies of the petition.  

But at an official water company meeting on Tuesday, two nights later, shareholders who didn't RSVP were turned away by armed law enforcement officers, much to the dismay of residents/shareholders seeking to voice their concerns to their elected board.


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TOWN HALL MEETING IN PINE VALLEY AUG. 2 OVER WATER DISTRICT'S MURKY ACTIONS

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 28, 2015 (Pine Valley)—Angered by the inflammatory and possibly unlawful actions of Pine Valley Municipal Water Company’s chairman Flip Boerman and board, Pine Valley residents/shareholders will convene a town hall meeting on August 2nd at 3 p.m. in the Pine Valley Community Center.


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SHAREHOLDERS REVOLT IN PINE VALLEY’S WATER DISTRICT

 

Update: Hear a podcast of our radio story on this (originally aired on KNSJ) with audio clips from the Pine Valley Mutual Water Co. Shareholders meeting here:

http://k003.kiwi6.com/hotlink/snd5v902dn/PineValleyShareholdersStory.mp3

By Miriam Raftery

Photos by Bob Ames Smith: Pine Valley Creek, several years ago and now, after 4 years of drought

 

July 15, 2015 (Pine Valley) –With water running short across the state, tensions are building where local water districts are being asked to share precious water supplies with neighboring districts and developers.

Directors of the Pine Valley Mutual Water Company found themselves in hot water with shareholders, who staged a revolt over their board’s decision to sell up to 5 million gallons of water to the newly formed Rough Acres Water Company in Boulevard.  Rough Acres Ranch wants to build an industrial scale solar facility on its property that needs massive amounts of water—and Boulevard doesn’t have enough.  

But when Pine Valley shareholders—the residents who rely on water from Pine Valley wells – found out about the secret sale, tempers at the latest shareholder meeting reached the boiling point, as a tape provided to East County Magazine by Charlene Ayers, leader of the Ranter’s Roost online discussion group on land use issues locally, makes clear.


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PINE VALLEY DAYS: PARADE, CRAFTS, MUSIC AND MORE JULY 24-25

 

July 9, 2015 (Pine Valley) --The Mountain Empire Men’s Club will present Pine Valley Days on July 24th and 25th.  This mountain town’s annual summer event includes a parade rolling out on July 25th  at 9 a.m., plus other activities both days at the Pine Valley Park (28810 Old Highway 80, Pine Valley).


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BORDER PATROL FINDS SMUGGLED IMMIGRANTS IN TRUNK AT EAST COUNTY CHECKPOINT

 

East County News Service

Photo: U.S. Border Patrol

July 7, 2015 (Pine Valley) -- U.S. Border Patrol agents at a checkpoint on I-8 near Pine Valley found three undocumented Mexican immigrants in a vehicle trunk and arrested three American citizens on Monday.


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BORDER PATROL AGENTS ARREST SEX OFFENDER ON BUS IN PINE VALLEY

 

East County News Service

January 14, 2015 (Pine Valley)-- Earlier today, U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested a fugitive and convicted sex offender with an outstanding warrant after he confessed to being wanted by authorities during a routine stop of a bus in Pine Valley.


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FLASH FLOOD ALERTS and ROAD CLOSURES IN EAST COUNTY; FIRE IN BORREGO

 

 

Update 2:45 p.m.: Viejas Grade in Alpine is closed at Willows due to an ATV accident with injuries.

Photo by Brett Staubaum: Smoke from Borrego tree farm fire and thunderheads overhead

August 21, 2014 (San Diego's East County)--The National Weather Service has issued two separate flash flood alerts due to thunderstorms in the East County.  This is the second day in a row of stormy weather; yesterday over 200 lightning strikes occurred countywide, including 95 on land and 129 over coastal waters.

The first storm cell today was reported about 23 miles south of Borrrego Springs, and the cell is nearly stations. It is producing flooding on sections of the S-1, (Sunrise Highway), as well as Pine Valley. Some of these areas were burned during the Chariot Fire, so there is a danger of mudslides as well. 

There is a second cell that is affecting I-8 and it is slowly moving towards the Mexican border. Both alerts are to remain in place until three this afternoon.

In addition, CHP reports a lightning fire in Borrego at the Borrego tree farm; a road closure in the area has been lifted now.


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