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Stories by Liz Swain

La Mesa council rejects cell-phone ban

"Mini computer" use to continue while members sit on dais

La Mesa mayor Art Madrid's city-council colleagues rejected his April 8 request to prohibit cell-phone use by councilmembers during forums, including meetings, town halls, and closed sessions. Madrid's proposal for city attorney Glenn Sabine to ...

La Mesa resident exposed to e-cigarette smoke at restaurant

Madrid retreats from total ban but still loses,

The La Mesa City Council on March 25 rejected Mayor Art Madrid's request to modify the city's smoking ordinance to ban electronic cigarettes in parks and other locations where smoking is prohibited. Madrid joined in ...

One chicken per 1000 square feet okayed in La Mesa

Art Madrid and the rooster on Maryland Avenue notwithstanding

The La Mesa City Council voted 4-1 on March 25 to amend the municipal code and allow people to keep domestic fowl such as chickens in single-family residential zones. Roosters are prohibited, and councilmembers called ...

Pipe project to prevent sinkholes in Allied Gardens

Replacement of steel-lined storm drains to last 11 months

The City of San Diego started work February 19 on a $1.9 million project to remove deteriorated corrugated metal storm-drain pipes and replace them with reinforced concrete pipes. In a February 27 interview, public works ...

Allied Gardens residents address parking problem

"A new one is people dressing in the street."

People who park on streets near Kaiser Hospital/Medical Center on Zion Avenue may find "a friendly reminder" from District 7 city councilman Scott Sherman on their vehicles. A packet containing the reminder (printed on yellow ...

Navajo planners consider pot shops in District 7

No recommendations preceding council approval of new ordinance

Navajo Community Planners, Inc., listened for about an hour February 24 to discussion of the proposed medical-marijuana dispensary ordinance, but the board made no recommendation about the regulation on the San Diego City Council' s ...

Druggie problem at La Mesa’s Northmont Park?

"Let the grass die. We need more police."

Citizens at the February 18 La Mesa Town Hall meeting at Northmont Elementary School told the city council that they were concerned about crime, particularly drug use, at nearby Northmont Park. The meeting, held in ...

Chickens may come to roost in La Mesa

Planning commission votes to recommend allowance of fowl

The topic of chickens and eggs came up before the February 19 La Mesa Planning Commission hearing on a zoning amendment to allow residents in single-family homes to keep poultry — excluding roosters. The meeting ...

Shadow-walk with Mission Trails photographer

Former bureaucrat David Cooksy gets outside, stays there

Birds in Mission Trails Regional Park displayed varied reactions when David Cooksy's camera made a beeping sound while focusing. Egrets became "panicky. They looked around; they thought it was a bird," Cooksy said during a ...

School traffic addressed at La Mesa meeting

“There are 40 moms [each driving] with one kid."

Three of the ten speakers at the City of La Mesa's Town Hall meeting on February 6 talked about the effect of school traffic in their neighborhoods. Two residents spoke about traffic around Rolando Elementary ...

Senior citizens considered by East County planners

Mobile-home residents likely to use ball field in emergency

Allied Gardens Navajo Community Planners, Inc., on January 27 voted unanimously to "support the idea in concept" of the Cliffs mobile home park's proposal for an emergency evacuation easement on land owned by the Allied ...

Pickleball vs. tennis in La Mesa

Players raise issues of court use and conversions

The La Mesa Community Services Commission on January 29 denied the USA Pickleball Association's request to remove the tennis court at Collier Park and replace it with four pickleball courts. Pickleball was created in Washington ...

Madrid out, Alessio in on SANDAG board

Other appointments made at La Mesa council meeting

The La Mesa City Council on January 14 removed mayor Art Madrid from the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) board in a 3-2 vote that designated vice mayor Kristine Alessio as La Mesa's primary ...

Suspected arson fire in La Mesa

Scorches porta potty at Sunshine Park

A fire reported at 5:41 a.m. on January 4 destroyed two portable toilets and the wood-shake roof of nearby restrooms at Sunshine Park, according to La Mesa Police Department lieutenant Ray Sweeney. Restrooms at the ...

Christmas praise for Del Cerro's Madra Dog

Statue owner sparks tree-and-gift drive for less fortunate

Janet Mika placed a Christmas tree near Madra Dog, the 30-inch tall rottweiler statue at the end of her Madra Avenue driveway, and posted a December 8 invitation on the dog's Facebook page. She invited ...

La Mesa considers ban on panhandling

Removed and rock-embedded medians don’t thwart practice

The City of La Mesa may ask Democratic assemblywoman Shirley Weber for help with a bill to ban panhandling on medians because Senate Bill 604 (a median-panhandling ban introduced by Republican state senator Joel Anderson) ...

Parking solutions for Kaiser hospital in Allied Gardens

Residents ponder creation of permit district

The prospect of a residential permit-parking district on streets near Kaiser Hospital/Medical Center drew some 200 people to the November 26 Allied Gardens Community Council town hall at Ascension Lutheran Church. As City of San ...

Youth problems at La Mesa Oktoberfest recounted

More oompah bands suggested to deter juvenile attendance

At the November 12 La Mesa City Council meeting, police chief Ed Aceves spoke about the Anti-Defamation League counter-terrorism seminar that he attended in Israel last month. One councilmember referred to the seminar during the ...

La Mesa council term-limit proposal inches forward

Vice Mayor Alessio files petition papers; Mayor Madrid not pleased

A committee that includes La Mesa vice mayor Kristine Alessio filed paperwork at city hall on November 5 to launch a petition drive to place a term-limit measure on the November 2014 ballot. The committee's ...

Rodent patrol officer lives at Mission Trails’ park center

Six-toed cat has been on the job since July

The sun, in the form of Enyaa the six-toed cat, comes out at night at Mission Trails Regional Park Visitor Center. Enyaa ("en" as in "hen;" "yaa" rhymes with "caw") is the Kumeyaay word for ...

Chaldean businessman considers El Cajon mayorship

Ben Kalasho sought office before Mark Lewis resigned

Shortly after the October 17 East County Democratic Club meeting started, president Frank Tsimboukakis asked the El Cajon mayoral candidate to speak. "Not yet," replied 30-year-old Ben Kalasho, a 2012 El Cajon City Council candidate ...

La Mesa City Council postpones term-limit decision

Cost of placing measure on the ballot could cost over $15,000

The La Mesa City Council on October 22 voted 3-2 to postpone for 60 days a decision about whether to place vice mayor Kristine Alessio's term-limit measure on the November 2014 ballot. The delay allowed ...

San Carlos residents bandy about traffic solutions

"The fact you have to wait two seconds is not worth the life of my child."

Navajo Community Planners, Inc., on October 21, considered three San Carlos traffic issues. The planning group unanimously approved the installation of a four-way stop at Green Gables Avenue and Wandermere Drive, and a board majority ...

Navajo planners approve AT&T telecom installation

"Is this the best location?"

If the City of San Diego approves AT&T's lease proposal, work should begin next spring on a project that includes the installation of 12 antennas on the roof of Fire Station 31 in Del Cerro. ...

La Mesa chicken ordinance proposed by the Tweets

Family offers guidelines so they can get their birds back

Addie Tweet, age nine, and her six-year-old sister Ellie asked the La Mesa City Council on October 8 to approve a backyard-chicken law so their chickens can come home. Several months ago, the hens were ...

La Mesa City Council talks term limits

Vice mayor Kristine Alessio’s proposal

At the October 8 La Mesa City Council meeting, discussion of a proposal to put a term-limit measure on the November 2014 ballot led to protests from two residents, support from seven others, and the ...

All about the parking in La Mesa

Revenue and costs discussed at council meeting

This past June, the approximately 485 parking meters in downtown La Mesa generated $25,958; parking citations for meter infractions brought in another $6630, according to a report presented at the September 24 La Mesa City ...

Some San Carlos residents leery of Navajo Rd. plan

Cowles Mountain hikers prompt parking proposal

The majority of Navajo Community Planners, Inc., on September 16 voted to oppose a City of San Diego proposal to put 19 parking spaces on Navajo Road, a street where the speed limit is 50 ...

Meatball the bear’s first year in Alpine

Lions, Tigers, & Bears sanctuary says he still eats meatballs

Another move is planned for Meatball, the black bear named for his fondness for Costco meatballs. Also known as the Glendale Bear, he was transported from La Cañada Flintridge by the California Department of Fish ...

Costume-wearing Madra Dog draws visitors in Del Cerro

Rottweiler statue has a Facebook page

Madra Dog wore red, white, and blue for the September 11 Patriot Day observance. Two weeks earlier, the 30-inch tall, 300-pound statue of a rottweiler wore a birthday hat topped by a balloon. The decorated ...

Future road in Grantville to go through Toyota San Diego?

Traffic studies suggest dealership’s site is not optimally located

The Grantville Stakeholders Committee, a group that last met in July 2011, voted on September 5 to recommend that an environmental impact report should analyze the “Alternative D” land-use plan that extends Mission Gorge Place ...

Days of hope for El Cajon’s Second Street

Chaldean gas stations and convenience stores targeted?

The El Cajon City Council on August 27 unanimously adopted an ordinance to regulate the sale of alcohol that is consumed offsite. The law established a system that starts with a warning, and could lead ...

Mobile home homeowners can’t escape on Mission Gorge Road

How to get grandma off the roof

Navajo Community Planners Inc., on August 19 took no action on a request from the Cliffs Mobile Home Park residents to support their plan to obtain emergency evacuation easements on nearby Allied Gardens Little League ...

La Mesa Oktoberfest without the rides

Will keep unaccompanied underage kids out of beer garden.

The city council on August 13 unanimously approved a special-use permit for the Oktoberfest that will be held October 4-6. There won't be any carnival rides at the event sponsored by the La Mesa Chamber ...

La Mesa mobile-home park allegedly a “druggie” haven

"We're prisoners here," says resident

A woman at the August 13 La Mesa City Council meeting asked for help curtailing drug activity at the Mohawk Street mobile-home park, where she has lived since 2000. "For the past eight years or ...

Ride-along with San Diego’s Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol

Welfare checks and stolen cars

As members of the Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol (RSVP) for San Diego Police Department's Eastern Division, Gregg and Melody Stoner's accomplishments include recovering 62 stolen vehicles since May 2012. That's when a license-plate reader was ...

Dog-washing world record claimed in El Cajon

250 dogs in an hour

Five four-person teams at the Barking Lot bathed 250 dogs in an hour during an August 11 “Dog Wash-a-thon” that raised more than $4500 in pledges for the nonprofit rescue organization. The fundraiser "shattered" the ...

Rooftop solar users worry SDG&E will raise rates

Don’t worry, the corporation assures

There are no plans to raise rates for rooftop solar users, SDG&E spokeswoman Stephanie Donovan said in a July 30 interview. "There is nothing in the current proposed rate design," she said. The prospect of ...

Gillespie Field pilots prompted to become “good neighbors”

Fletcher Hills residents seek dialogue

Some Fletcher Hills residents want Gillespie Field airport to consider adopting the Scottsdale Airport pilots’ "Good Neighbor" pledge, a statement that pilots voluntarily sign to declare they are "sensitive" to community concerns such as noise. ...

Allied Gardens hosts speech by U-T chief John Lynch

On Filner, Obamacare, Chargers stadium, and the “media company”

U-T San Diego CEO John Lynch referred to mayor Bob Filner several times during his talk at the July 23 Allied Gardens Community Council town hall meeting at Ascension Lutheran Church. Lynch also spoke about ...

Development coming for vacant land at Gillespie Field

October deadline for contractor proposals

The County of San Diego on July 19 published a request for proposals to develop 31.47 acres of industrial property at Gillespie Field, vacant land located at the northwest corner of Cuyamaca Street and Weld ...

“Aerotropolis” plan for Gillespie Field?

Or how about a Chargers stadium?

The East County Economic Development Council’s “strategic aerotropolis roadmap” for land surrounding Gillespie Field airport could include proposals for hotels and a facility for veterans to certify for civilian employment, development council president Jo Marie ...

San Carlos Library ready for a rebuild

Only $3 million needed to start construction

The Friends of the San Carlos Library organization is linking the promotion of the branch's upcoming 40th anniversary celebration to increasing awareness about plans for a new library. The 9500-square-foot branch opened on January 9, ...

La Mesa SANDAG meeting considers the future

Jobs and the future of Gillespie Field discussed

According to the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), the region's population will increase by 1.25 million people by the year 2050. Between now and then, close to 500,000 new jobs will be created. A ...

Big sendoff(s) for Monsignor Michael Gallagher at Our Lady of Grace

Hundreds show for services June 22 and 23

Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church parishioners spent two days saying goodbye to Monsignor Michael Gallagher, the priest retiring after serving for 27 years as pastor. Receptions followed weekend services, and 600 people attended the ...

Lemon Grove recycler works on gift for EDCO

Piñata made from receipts

During the public-comment portion of La Mesa City Council meetings, people may speak for three minutes on any non-agenda item. At the June 11 meeting, a woman wearing a button with the message, "I [heart] ...

La Mesa City Council members hold Saturday meeting

Voted against by Mayor Madrid and Councilwoman Sterling

The June 8 "Community Dialogue on La Mesa's Fiscal Future,” hosted by La Mesa City Council members Ernest Ewin and Kristine Alessio, attracted eight people and consisted of conversation that extended 30 minutes beyond the ...

New San Diego City Council members’ budget requests

Reopening of Kumeyaay Lake, new fire station, and more

The June 10 San Diego City Council 2014 budget deliberations will include requests from two new councilmembers for funds to reopen the Mission Trails Regional Park campground known as Kumeyaay Lake. Fifth District councilman Mark ...

La Mesans gather to discuss village plan

Divided on public restroom issue

During the interactive portion of the May 30 community workshop on La Mesa's Downtown Village Specific Plan Update, about 100 people spent an hour visiting five stations devoted to issues related to the update. The ...

La Mesa City Council meeting minutes: awards and crime report

Violence down, thefts up

At the May 28 La Mesa City Council meeting, police chief Ed Aceves joined vice mayor Mark Arapostathis in distributing school safety-patrol awards to fifth- and sixth-graders in the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District. The ...