“They are putting underground [cables] in, which means that they shut the power off periodically,” said John M. “Literally, like ten minutes ago, a guy from SDG&E was giving out handouts to everybody …. but I haven’t read it yet.”
On May 4th at about noon, I spoke to John, the co-owner of the Laguna Mountain Lodge in Mount Laguna.
“SDG&E also turns off our electricity when there’s high winds and a lack of humidity,” he said.
It was about 70 degrees out, with 20 percent humidity and 25 mph winds.
In 2006 he and his brother took over the lodge with cabins, hotel rooms and a convenience/gift store. It’s located on the Sunrise Highway (which is accessed from I-8 eastbound), at the highest point of Mount Laguna 6,000 feet above sea level. It’s an hour drive from downtown San Diego.
“You can listen to the wind trying to pick out an eerie rhythm blowing through the pines,” said Duane D. “It smelled great when we walked some of the trails, then we went up the street to where the church is no longer operational, and then looped back.”
Duane and his wife, drove in from Bay Park to visit their friends. After their hike, they ate lunch at the Pine House Cafe & Tavern, a half-mile south of John’s business.
“The power outage didn’t happen while we were there, but it will happen again,” Duane said. A Pine House staff member said that they missed electricity a whole weekend one time and were supposed to get compensated, but when they tried to claim, they were denied.”
“The last time that happened was at around January,” John said, “electricity was off for 30 hours and some people in Julian were out for longer than that. We have some small generators and let them run our refrigeration, we closed the store up and sent anybody that’s staying with us home.”
At the time, John used about 25 gallons of gas to power the generators. The closest gas station to them is 11 miles south in Pine Valley.
“We are getting ready to put some backup generators so we can keep the store open, but that’s not going to power all of the rentals.”
In January, their motel rooms rent for $95 and cabins rent from $110 to $205. In summer, the prices drop $5 per rental.
John expects more power outages come summertime is their neck of the woods. “There’s only 55 of us that live here,” he said, “and there are two restaurants that are basically open on weekends, and that's it.”
With life in the back country, you have to plan ahead anyway. It’s 40 miles to anything (north) after us.”