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Stories by Susan Luzzaro

...and then a politician listened to people in need

Arc of San Diego clients express concerns to senator Marty Block

Individuals with developmental disabilities, their family members, and staff from the Arc of San Diego packed senator Marty Block’s office on January 22. “Finally, a legislator opened the door to us,” said Raquel Vasquez, an ...

Love garden: Autism recedes at home on the farm

Front yard, farmyard

“So, the whole of my front yard is 100 percent edible,” says Jeri. "There’s not one thing — not even the hibiscus, which can be used for tea — that is not edible. I have ...

Brace for culture change, Chula Vista

Sale of lots to developers to affect parking on Third Avenue

“Parking on Third Avenue is an issue and will become more of an issue,” said Chula Vista councilmember John McCann shortly before the council voted to sell two lots that provide parking spaces for the ...

Chula Vista condo plan misses mark again

"When a statement says ‘avoid,’ it doesn’t mean ‘prohibited.’”

On December 16, residents gathered a second time to review a proposed development on Third Avenue and K Street in downtown Chula Vista. Although city staff provided pastries and coffee, the mood of the crowd ...

Chula Vista's cleanup act

“I wonder if city politicians got contributions from the card club?

EyeCandy, a nude dancing establishment, opened in Chula Vista in October 2012. Seven Mile Casino, a gambling establishment, opened on the same street as EyeCandy in August 2015. EyeCandy is gone for good, and Seven ...

Vogue Theater for sale — not to be destroyed

Owners seek historic designation for façade

After more than 60 years in business, the Vogue Theater in Chula Vista closed its doors in July 2006 — and people have been waiting for it to reopen ever since. The single-screen theater opened ...

Gambling good. Stripping bad.

Chula Vista fetes casino as FBI investigates it

Travel Interstate 5 through the South Bay and you will notice the flashy billboards beckoning you to Seven Mile Casino. Located on Bay Boulevard in Chula Vista, the casino is an extravagant piece of work ...

Chula Vista goes all 21st Century

Council votes to require electronic filing of disclosure statements

Chula Vista has tiptoed closer to transparency. On November 3, the city council approved an ordinance that compels elected officers and candidates to electronically file economic interest statements, also known as Form 700, and campaign ...

Chula Vista considers all-mail voting

City council seat appointment in January bites city in seat

Chula Vista opted for democracy-on-the-cheap last January when they filled a council vacancy through appointment rather than special election. Then, shortly after Steve Miesen was appointed to mayor Mary Casillas Salas's open seat, Chris Shilling, ...

Development-crazy on Chula Vista's west side

There's plenty wrong with plans for Third Avenue, say residents

A five-story building with 80 condominium units has been proposed for the northeast corner of Third Avenue and K Street in downtown Chula Vista. When the proposal was brought before the public in mid-October, it ...

Nonprofit bingo hall proposed for Chula Vista

South Bay PR wiz and La Jolla real-estater join forces

Many media outlets recently bid a sentimental farewell to Chula Vista’s Fun-4-All, a micro-sized amusement park that had offered kids batting cages and boat rides since the 1970s. But some unexpected entrepreneurs may fill the ...

Big trouble in Eastlake III

Homeowners association battles property-management company

If you live on the eastern side of Chula Vista, you likely belong to a homeowners association. The association governing Eastlake III and its 32 neighborhoods, located in the Otay Lakes area, has been a ...

Next up: Sweetwater's sodbuster supe

School district selects someone with no past ties to the district

On March 12, the Sweetwater Union High School District met in closed session to interview three candidates. They selected Phil Stover to serve as interim superintendent until the search for a new superintendent is completed. ...

Something is not right at Sweetwater

New head of SD chapter of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People speaks

Dr. André José Branch became president of the San Diego chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in January. The professor at San Diego State University’s College of Education has a ...

There won't be a test and there will be a party

South Bay parents get together to opt their children out of standardized testing

Over 50 parents and teachers from throughout the county packed a Chula Vista home on a recent Saturday (February 21) for an “opt-out party.” Kristin Phatak and Heather Poland, educators and parents who believe that ...

Fix the cracks, leave the potholes

Road repair dilemma in Chula Vista

Screaming the loudest for road repair is a waste of time.

Transparent as mud in Chula Vista

Parents say (again!) they weren't included in charter high school decision

Silver Wing Elementary parents showed up at a special board meeting on February 26 in hopes of convincing Chula Vista Elementary School District trustees not to construct a charter high school on their elementary campus. ...

Only a fence between them

High-schoolers and elementary students share same Chula Vista campus

At Silver Wing Elementary School on February 18, parents crowded into an auditorium to hear about Chula Vista Elementary School District’s plans to build a two-story high school charter on the elementary campus. Many Silver ...

The garbage man challenged

Chula Vista councilman's ties to waste services company prompts scrutiny

On January 13, the Chula Vista City Council — in the wake of an acrimonious standoff — selected Steve Miesen to fill the council seat vacated by Mary Casillas Salas when she became mayor. Although ...

Land sakes, Sweetwater, get it together

School district’s real estate dealings in disarray and doubt

On January 26, Sweetwater Union High School District’s facilities director Tom Calhoun sent an email to Marc Litchman that surprised many. Litchman holds the title to some Sweetwater property through the nonprofit corporation known as ...

Catching up with John

New councilman served summons challenging his right to the seat

The makeup of Chula Vista’s city council continues to be shaky. In November, councilmember John McCann won a seat by receiving two votes more than his contestant, former mayor Steve Padilla. But, the match is ...

Don't mess with Texas' labor pool

Sweetwater district launches search for permanent superintendent

On January 26, newly elected trustees of the Sweetwater Union High School District played to a packed house and a packed agenda, but the biggest upset did not come until after 10:00 p.m., when interim ...

Okay…we'll take Steve

New Chula Vista councilmember's past hints at future

After two rough-and-tumble meetings, on January 13 the Chula Vista City Council settled on Steve Miesen to fill the seat vacated by Mary Salas. Salas’s council seat became available when she was elected mayor in ...

Condition: bleak

"Eye-opening" real estate report for Sweetwater Union High School District

Sweetwater Union High School District’s new trustees are picking their way slowly through real estate land mines bequeathed to them by the previous administration. On January 12, the district held a workshop on several items, ...

Horton's at the door

Former Chula Vista mayor doesn't get broad support to fill council seat

An edgy Chula Vista council meeting on January 8 ended with the council’s failure to appoint anyone to the seat vacated by Mary Casillas Salas when she was elected mayor in November. At the same ...

The vote swinger

County registrar of voters Michael Vu's past and present

No fewer than five media outlets reported on January 2 that attorney John Moot filed a lawsuit challenging the San Diego Registrar of Voters to count 15 provisional ballots from the November election. In the ...

Everyone need not apply

Over 40 residents vie for Chula Vista council seat

In June, Chula Vista voters approved Proposition B, which allows the city council to appoint an applicant to a seat that “will sit vacant for more than 13 months but fewer than 25 months.” When ...

Lost the election, won the plum

Airport authority appoints former I.B. mayor Jim Janney

On December 1, four South Bay mayors met in National City to appoint a new member to the board of directors of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority. The four mayors were: Ron Morrison ...

It would have been prudent...

Sweetwater board advances plan for townhomes on district property

At the regular November 20 Sweetwater Union High School district meeting, lame-duck trustees authorized the district to proceed with entitling 1130 Fifth Avenue in Chula Vista for 135 townhomes. The project, which is called the ...

Ed's gone, but this Sweetwater shenanigan isn't

District's real estate deal “a bad marriage from which neither can escape.”

“I’m not leaving the Sweetwater folks $34 million in the hole,” said Marc Litchman, a controversial figure who holds the title to Sweetwater Union High School District land. While Litchman’s statement might appear friendly to ...

Dollars and nonsense in Chula Vista

Planning commissioner objects to adding 1562 more residences

Chula Vista is changing the general plan (again) to increase housing density (again) in eastern Chula Vista. On November 4, the city council passed a resolution amending the general plan to increase the density for ...

iPads are great for porn and video games

Not so much for learning.

Some Sweetwater librarians, teachers, and parents continue to question whether the district’s iPad initiative is a boon or a costly boondoggle. Similar to Los Angeles Unified School District, which recently canceled a contract to buy ...

It takes a Village card room…

Raided gambling house’s owner used to employ Chula Vista’s Mayor Cox

The Village Club Card Room, located in Chula Vista, was one of two establishments raided by the FBI on October 29. In addition to the card rooms, 10News reported that a federal search warrant was ...

Good ol' boys' and girls' club

Who's running the Chula Vista elementary district board? Who's next?

The Chula Vista Elementary School District board has long been viewed as a closed system. Trustees have often been appointed first, elected later; other seats appear to be an inheritance. On October 23, San Diego ...

Enough nepotism and cronyism

Vocal Sweetwater board endorsements from the Coxes don't sit too well

As the Sweetwater Union High School District elections loom closer, Chula Vista mayor Cheryl Cox and county supervisor Greg Cox are flexing their political muscle in the campaign. On October 14, many residents who live ...

McCann's plan a sham?

Chula Vista council candidate proposes hiatus on tolls for SR-125

South Bay campaigning has been getting down and dirty recently, but John McCann, a Sweetwater Union High School trustee who is running for Chula Vista City Council, has chosen another route to the seat, chumming ...

Sweetwater board candidate stumps on civility

If he wins, Jim Cartmill will take the dais as a probationer

Campaigns usually don’t get ugly until election day nears, but disgraced Sweetwater former trustee Jim Cartmill, has already come out mud-slinging — against community advocates. Cartmill is running for seat 3 in the Sweetwater Union ...

These are the monsters, Mayor Cox

Fire safety, traffic hazards, lack of parking, overcrowded schools in Chula Vista

High-density housing developments and master-plan changes often provoke a fuss from residents — but opposition usually evaporates once a city makes a decision. Opponents to the Lake Pointe development in eastern Chula Vista, however, don’t ...

Busy week at Sweetwater school district

Gandara released, consultant relationship dissolved…L Street property?

On September 5, the U-T reported that former Sweetwater Union High School District superintendent Jesus Gandara was released from jail on August 26. Gandara was sentenced to seven months in the county jail on June ...

Sweetwater cash cow improperly milked

District trustees vote to divert funds earmarked for students

Several years ago, the Reader published an article on cell-phone towers, safety concerns, and the Sweetwater Union High School District. This old story has a new twist. When the story was published three years ago, ...

Pimp hand strong in Chula

Lincoln Club members, their candidates and cozy South Bay relationships

The San Diego Lincoln Club, which defines itself as a pro-business political action group, has endorsed two Chula Vista candidates for the November general election: Jerry Rindone for mayor and John McCann for city council. ...

New blood for Sweetwater district?

Board candidates attend meeting, declare opposition to real estate deals

Sweetwater Union High School District called an unscheduled meeting August 13 to review its “asset utilization plan” for selling district-owned property and purchasing a new administrative building. The district has three properties that it is ...

Olympic committee to palm off training center?

Chula Vista residents leery of cost and potential uptick in traffic

Several years ago, Forbes magazine panned Chula Vista as one of the most boring cities in the country. The city has few attractions to lure tourists or entertain residents — and now faces the possibility ...

Sweetwater district’s mellow ruse

Schools deteriorate while the board arranges to pay for a new HQ

The district hopes to turn a profit on three pieces of property it owns by making them “shovel ready” for high-density residential developments. One property, located on Third Avenue, was put on the market; July ...

Democracy costs, even in Chula Vista

Mayor Cox and council's Bensoussan told to not second-guess the electorate

In 2012, voters in Chula Vista overwhelmingly passed Proposition B, a proposition that amended the city charter. At an August 5 council meeting, mayor Cheryl Cox, supported by councilmember Pamela Bensoussan, proposed putting a portion ...

33% of the profit? No problem — hey!

Sweetwater district’s real-estate deal with E2ManageTech? Juicy

New information obtained by the Reader confirms critics’ worst fears about the Sweetwater real estate deals. E2ManageTech, hired by the district to make several pieces of Chula Vista shovel-ready for high-density housing has reiterated to ...

Sweetwater land deals — the beef goes on

“Who decided to build town homes on this property and why?”

Remember Sweetwater Union High School District’s dalliance with the Christian University -- Grand Canyon, in January 2013? Remember when the district made a bid to take over part of the National City Adult Education Center ...

Cartmill for Sweetwater board — get real

Former trustee who pleaded guilty to run for same seat

On April 24, former Sweetwater trustee Jim Cartmill pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. Cartmill had accepted gifts over the limits set by the Fair Political Practice Commission from contractors doing business with the district. As ...

We don’t want the stinkin’ charter expansion

Castle Park Middle School parents and teachers resist trustees’ push

Diane Ince, a Castle Park Middle teacher, spent her summer trying to raise the awareness of interim Sweetwater trustees regarding the expansion Stephen Hawking charter school. Ince attended the May 28 board meeting, a meeting ...

Who’s minding the jewels?

Meanwhile, behind the scenes of the Sweetwater property sell-off

Sweetwater Union High School District is selling off the family jewels — the district property — but where is the transparency? And is former superintendent Ed Brand still the prime mover on property deals? Sweetwater ...

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