A century after 249 East County residents voted on February 7, 1912, in favor of incorporating as the City of La Mesa, more than 150 people turned out two days ago for a town-hall meeting at the La Mesa Community Center.
Residents and business people prefaced their remarks to the city council and staff with praise for La Mesa; they then spoke about issues such as the arts, an animal shelter, transients, and the downtown Planned Business Improvement District (PBID), which will assess fees from business owners and provide downtown La Mesa with increased “maintenance, security, marketing, amenities, and related management and administration.”
Cassandra King was among the residents desiring more arts; she asked the city council to schedule more events. She also requested a local animal shelter; she’d had a previous experience that brought the issue to mind.
"Why is a cat in La Mesa sent to another town?" King asked. City manager David Witt responded that smaller cities like La Mesa contract with El Cajon for shelter services. Mayor Art Madrid said the city couldn't replicate every service.
Greg Williams spoke about the "vagrant problem": intoxicated people in the park, panhandling on medians, and difficulty navigating downtown. "When I take my 88-year-old dad to Swami's [Café], I don't need to jaywalk over vagrants," said Williams. City attorney Glenn Sabine said laws are enforced for public intoxication and aggressive solicitation; however, a ban on solicitation was "problematic" due to the state and U.S. constitutions.
PBID opponent Craig Maxwell also mentioned Swami's; he pointed out that the café, which opened in 2010, was one of a few new businesses in the Village, which is "not decaying." PBID supporter Kelly Wielbolt said that paperwork collection was continuing to determine if affected property owners want to form a district.