Chula Vista news & stories

Gandara to go on 60-day lobster fast

Former Sweetwater superintendent “earned the right to go to prison.”

The Sweetwater Union High School District corruption case crescendoed in the South Bay courthouse on June 27. Former Sweetwater superintendent Jesus Gandara was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs. He was sentenced to 220 ...

The piper must be paid

Corruption cleanup of South Bay schools continues

The corruption cases from three South Bay school districts — Sweetwater Union High School, Southwestern College, and San Ysidro Elementary — are wrapping up. On June 20, Greg Sandoval, former Sweetwater trustee and former Southwestern ...

Don’t trample the streetscape, Santa

Chula Vista plans the next Starlight Parade…probably around revamped Third Avenue

The Starlight Parade may be returning to western Chula Vista. For many years, thousands of families lined the sidewalks of Third Avenue waiting for Santa Claus to arrive; however, when economic times got tough, the ...

Droplets on the window

A surprise romantic evening at Romesco in Bonita

“When I woke up this morning, I never thought I’d be enjoying live accordion music with my dinner tonight,” David said. “Droplets running down a window,” I said, taking his hand. That’s something we say ...

You're gonna die

Chula Vista library to host "Death Café"

"Death Café" may sound like Goth night at a local dive bar, but it's an open event being sponsored by the City of Chula Vista to facilitate a public discussion about death and dying. Presented ...

New Sweetwater boardmembers pitch in to money pit

Exit from L Street property quagmire not so simple

When the Sweetwater Union High School District held its May 28 meeting, three County Board of Education trustees were sworn in to fill seats vacated by indicted Sweetwater trustees. A fourth county trustee, Lyn Neylon, ...

South Bay politiscape on election day

Rindone’s rich, Bensoussan gets big-boy help, McCann cries foul

Chula Vista’s election primary has been low-key. Most candidates have compiled modest campaign contributions and campaign mailers have been, for the most part, innocuous. One factor in the minor-key campaigning is that a candidate can ...

It’s worth dipping into

Down at the Chula Vista Marina, Ed continues on his big mussel jag.

"’ll meet you at the Galley,” says Joe into his cell phone. This was during one of the heat waves. He lives way east of El Cajon, so I knew he was pitching for the ...

John McCann for Chula Vista City Council? No, thanks

Law-enforcement committee opposes Sweetwater trustee's bid for seat

Whether it was during his time on the Chula Vista City Council or during his current residency as school-board trustee for the Sweetwater Union High School District, John McCann's list of political opponents has grown. ...

Sweetwater chaos reaches Judge España’s court

District argues that Cartmill and Lopez should be suspended from board

Sweetwater Union High School District board meetings have often been chaotic and indecisive. But did anyone ever imagine this chaos would be replicated in a South Bay courthouse? On April 24, when Sweetwater trustees Jim ...

“John McCann and Ed Brand should resign”

Reaction to Chula Vista City Council candidate’s press release

Sweetwater Union High School District trustee John McCann, who is running for Chula Vista City Council seat 1 in the June election, got an entire press release printed in the San Diego Rostra on May ...

No teachers’ union, no political agendas…

Chula Vista Elementary School District launches charter school

A new high-school charter is opening under the umbrella of Chula Vista Elementary School District. The high school will be housed on the small, for-profit United States University campus on Bayfront Boulevard. Bayfront High School, ...

Not a steak, but not a bad burger

Out of the way joint dishes it cheap and tasty

Walking into Cali Steak Burger Bar forced me into a little semantic introspection. What makes a burger a "steak burger"? For that matter, what distinguishes steak from other cuts of beef? And if you make ...

Corruption cut from Sweetwater schools?

Superintendent Ed Brand's contract up for automatic renewal

Will superintendent Ed Brand be the last cheese standing on the Sweetwater dais? Former trustee Arlie Ricasa resigned from the Sweetwater board in December 2013, shortly before pleading guilty to a misdemeanor in relation to ...

Guilty Trustees (is not, unfortunately, a band name)

Sweetwater district's Jim Cartmill and Bertha Lopez take misdemeanor raps

The San Diego district attorney’s investigation into South Bay corruption involving Southwestern College, Sweetwater Union High School, and San Ysidro school districts is essentially over. Sweetwater Union High School trustees Jim Cartmill and Bertha Lopez ...

Hey, Chula Vista Elementary School District, test this

Parent invokes Constitution to opt out student from Local Measures testing

Earlier this year, parents from several Chula Vista Elementary School District campuses submitted forms to opt their children out of all tests other than those devised by classroom teachers. Parents outlined their opposition to testing ...

Standardized tests shunned by South Bay parents

“My son had been experiencing headaches”

One night last year, Gretel Rodriguez was playing the word game Hangman with her son who attends HedenKamp Elementary in the Chula Vista Elementary School District. He chose an unusual word. When Rodriguez asked him ...

School officials Gandara and Sandoval plead guilty

But what about the sentences?

Two major players in the South Bay corruption case, former Sweetwater superintendent Jesus Gandara and former Sweetwater trustee Gregorio Sandoval, both plead guilty to a conspiracy felony and a misdemeanor in a Chula Vista courthouse ...

Ed talks out of school

Sweetwater High teachers complain of class size, move one step closer to strike

The imminent strike action of teachers, librarians, and nurses in the Sweetwater Union High School district has gone one step forward and two steps back. On March 27 Superintendent Ed Brand called a press conference ...

Savoie Eatery hits Otay Ranch

An unexpected bid for fine dining supremacy from a Mexican seafood dynasty

Coming from the group behind the Karina’s Mexican Seafood restaurants, Eastlake’s new Savoie Eatery is...interesting, to say the least. Savoie has prime real estate in the Otay Ranch Town Center mall, which puts it in ...

Rankled by Sweetwater district meeting cancellation

Teachers, public, and a trustee espouse importance of dialogue before strike

A Sweetwater Union High School District board meeting was scheduled for March 17. The trustees were to consider several contentious issues: the annual evaluation of superintendent Ed Brand (which is months overdue); negotiations with the ...

Sweetwater trustees to vote on property sale

But the land is already listed for sale?

On March 17, Sweetwater trustees will vote on whether or not to sell district property deemed "surplus." The property, located at 435 Third Avenue in Chula Vista, was originally purchased for new district headquarters; proceeds ...

Sweetwater district teachers vote on strike

Healthcare cost, salary, class size, classroom safety at issue

Sweetwater Union High School District teachers will be taking a strike vote March 13–14. The vote, according to Roberto Rodriguez, president of Sweetwater Education Association, is to authorize the association’s board of directors to go ...

Community garden springs up in Chula Vista

“It's about people…. The kids don’t even know where their food comes from.”

Scrawny saplings are in the ground in rows — apple, peach, avocado, tangerine — and a gardener says you may be able to pick fruit from these trees two years from now. Landscaping tools are ...

Chula Vista candidates declare intent to run June 3

“Here’s hoping someone of substance steps up [for mayoral seat.]”

Chula Vista candidates were slow to step up for the June 3 municipal election. Many waited until the last day, March 7, to turn in their nomination papers. Cheryl Cox will be termed out as ...

Chula Vista receives EPA award

For climate mitigation and adaptation strategies throughout the city

This week the City of Chula Vista received the Environmental Protection Agency's Organizational Leadership Award for reducing greenhouse emissions. Only two other organizations nationwide — the University of California, Irvine, and the Sprint telecommunications company ...

Big plans for Chula Vista’s Vogue Theater

Opened in 1945, dormant since 2006

The building permit to renovate the Vogue Theater has been issued by the City of Chula Vista, giving the green light to bringing the currently dormant historical building back to life. Janice Kluth, the senior ...

Port district holds SD Bay master-plan forum

How about opening a southern entrance?

The San Diego Unified Port District is embarking on the first phase of a comprehensive master plan for the San Diego Bay, which is expected to take a total of five to seven years to ...

Sweetwater district meeting marked by chaos

Four-member board leads to bottlenecking on votes

Sweetwater Union High School District slid deeper into the tar pit February 18. After former trustee Arlie Ricasa was obliged to retire in December, the four-member board was unable to come to a consensus on ...

Plans for Chula Vista’s Orange Avenue park discussed

Concerns expressed for homeless habitués and leash-free dog area

The City of Chula Vista held a meeting in the Orange Avenue library February 12. Three representatives from the city, including landscape designers, explained to a roomful of residents the timeline for the construction of ...

County board of education occupies Sweetwater

Superintendent Ed Brand and nearly all board members not in attendance

On February 6, the San Diego County Board of Education held a meeting in the Sweetwater Union High School District boardroom to receive community input on the issue of area representation within the Sweetwater district. ...

Castle Park Middle School principal punches back!!

“Who is this Susan luzzaro bitch?!”

Throughout 2013, the Reader reported on Castle Park Middle School’s extracurricular priorities: recruiting Sweetwater students to Alliant, a costly private university; extending the Steven Hawking charter school into the Castle Park Middle site; questionable spending ...

Judge España goes easy on Southwestern College VP

Nicholas Alioto's felony reduced to misdemeanor

South Bay residents expressed disenchantment with decisions being handed out in judge Ana España’s South Bay courtroom on January 30; then, España reduced former Southwestern College vice-president of business affairs Nicholas Alioto’s felony to a ...

Sweetwater Union and Chula Vista Elementary districts to merge?

“It is a very complex process, and there are more questions than answers right now."

School-district unification raised its controversial head again at a January 28 Chula Vista City Council meeting. Councilwoman Mary Salas, who is a candidate for Chula Vista mayor in November 2014, moved to agendize a council ...

Classroom shenanigans in Sweetwater school district?

Teachers and public question need for charter school at Castle Park Middle

Administrators at Castle Park Middle School created controversy in August 2013 when they spent thousands to improve the school’s appearance for secretary of state Arne Duncan’s visit. Another controversial Castle Park makeover is now under ...

Sweetwater district corruption trial postponed

Defense attorney Pfingst requests delay

In a Chula Vista courthouse on January 24, Paul Pfingst, defense attorney for Jesus Gandara — the former Sweetwater Union High School District superintendent indicted on corruption charges — asked for a postponement of the ...

Final competition of Chula Vista robotics league

A game slightly reminiscent of basketball

The Vex Robotics League of Chula Vista held its final competition for the year at Sweetwater High School on January 18. While many praise robotics programs for their connection to the new educational buzz word ...

Chula Vista park trail stuck in bureaucratic muck

Fairy shrimp discovery leads to quagmire of legal pondering

The county and the Sweetwater Authority are still trying to figure out which agency is going to be responsible for moving a closed trail around a newly discovered patch of fairy shrimp, an endangered species. ...

Picket at Sweetwater trustee Cartmill's home

Superintendent Brand on Hawaiian holiday…skipping his evaluation?

Sweetwater teachers who are on the verge of a strike over health benefits, class sizes, and campus safety issues picketed board president Jim Cartmill’s house early January 18. There are only 30 days left for ...

Man suffers fall on Chula Vista trolley platform

Commuter back-up on southbound platform

Shortly after 3:30 p.m. on Friday afternoon, January 17, paramedics and firefighters responded to a report of a man who had succumbed to a head injury after a fall. The incident occurred at the Palomar ...

Free spay clinic for South Bay dogs

Only for chihuahuas and pit bulls, whose populations have boomed

Increases in the chihuahua and pit bull populations have led the Chula Vista city government to offer a free spaying clinic specifically for South Bay owners of those breeds of dogs. “A serious pet-overcrowding issue ...

No process yet to replace Sweetwater trustee Ricasa

Only three board members show up at special meeting

No one was surprised to see that the Sweetwater Union High School District board failed to agree on a process to replace former trustee Arlie Ricasa at a January 14 special meeting. (Ricasa pleaded guilty ...

Defendant bites back, sues IRS

Government said Three Rivers Provider Network founder stashed away money

In March of last year, a curious lawsuit was filed in superior court against the Internal Revenue Service; the plaintiff was "John Doe Company." Now, two healthcare-related publications, Healthcare IT News and Modern Healthcare, have ...

No tough justice for former Southwestern College official

John Wilson’s 16 counts reduced to a single misdemeanor

South Bay judge Ana España and district attorney Bonnie Dumanis do not appear to be on the same page. In a widely viewed January 2012 news report, Dumanis declared that “the widespread corruption uncovered in ...

Homeless in Chula Vista

Increase of over 16 percent from ’12 to ’13

In November, shortly before Thanksgiving, the City of Chula Vista sent heavy equipment and personnel to clean out homeless encampments in the Lower Sweetwater Valley. Tractors and trucks worked all day and then returned about ...

Chula Vista resident files class action lawsuit against Target for network breach

One San Diego resident has taken aim against big-box retailer Target and the retailer's recent admission that their credit card database had been compromised, revealing the credit card and pin numbers for nearly 40 million ...

Few details on Sweetwater district's student-data-sharing deal

Was South Bay Community Services "holding up money" for agreement?

A data-sharing agreement between Sweetwater Union High School District and South Bay Community Services/Promise Neighborhoods continues to be withheld from the Reader and the public from whom the data was collected. South Bay Community Services ...

Chula Vista's UltraStar theater to close

Bye-bye, dollar hot dogs and bargain tickets; hello AMC

There will be less options for low-budget South Bay moviegoers in 2014 when the UltraStar Cinemas movie theater in Chula Vista shuts down early in the year. "We've been purchased by AMC," said Cheryl Dodge, ...

Sweetwater school district invites more suspicion

Former felonious port commissioner David Malcolm appointed to committee

The Sweetwater Union High School District has four pieces of property it wants to sell. At the December 9 board meeting, Tom Calhoun, the executive director of facilities for Sweetwater, gave a presentation on asset ...

Sweetwater trustee Arlie Ricasa to resign

“I accepted gifts...with a value of $2099 and I did not report them."

Sweetwater Union High School District trustee Arlie Ricasa, who had initially been charged with 28 felony and misdemeanor counts in the South Bay’s schools corruption case, pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor today, December 18. Early ...

Santa and Grinch visit Sweetwater District meeting

Teacher negotiations at impasse, trustees may resign Friday

The continued presence of three JDS security guards at Sweetwater Union High School District board meetings is a monthly reminder of the deteriorated relations between the district, the public, and teachers. Even with the presence ...

Former South Bay schools officials have day in court

Sweetwater and Southwestern administrators make pleas in corruption cases

On December 6, readiness conferences began in the South Bay courthouse at 1:30 p.m. and lasted until 4:00. All of the Sweetwater Union High School District and Southwestern College defendants appeared in court with the ...

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