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La Mesa News

La Mesa Planning Commission

Posted by La Mesa Today on September 30, 2014 at 10:05pm 0 Comments

A Re-Tooled Park Station Returns

LA MESA -- The La Mesa Planning Commission expects a long night Wednesday as the retooled Park Station Project returns for another round of discussion and scrutiny.

The project, which lost its American Legion partner after the last hearing, will again ask the Planning Commission to consider approving a Park Station Specific Plan that would allow the 4.77 acre area to have development that will deviate from the downtown Village Specific Plan currently in place for that area.

The Park Station project being proposed by the landowners -- the Kitzman family -- is a mixed use development that would include condos or a hotel, retail and office space. The Kitzman's architects have proposed exceeding the city's four-story limits as the kind of "smart growth,'' transit-based project that regional planners love these days.

La Mesa residents, however, have been a bit cooler to the plan on the whole. While most residents see a need to develop what is essentially a very unattractive, underused "front door" to the community off Interstate 8, opposition seems to increase with any discussion of an increased height limit for this project. The first proposal asked permission for 190 foot towers. That has been reduced in the new proposal to 110 feet or about ten stories -- six higher than current zoning allows there.

Residents in homes on the slopes east and west of the project site have complained that high rise structures would greatly impede the view from their homes. Other residents have questioned whether high rises fit with a community that prides itself on being "small town" America. Yet, an area abutting a trolley line, surrounded by bus lines…

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Park Station Project

Posted by Suda House on September 30, 2014 at 8:30pm 0 Comments

'Common Sense Tells Me: No More Than Four!'

Park Station's fate will be determined tomorrow night by the La Mesa Planning Commission at 7 pm in the City Council Chambers. It has been an exceedingly long process for all concerned, both proponents and opponents and for me the learning curve from Scoping Meetings to EIR’s to Specific Plans has been an eye-opening education.

So driving to school today, passing the American Legion and getting on the 8 Freeway east it struck me that the solution to all this rests in the simplest problem solving application known to humanity --- common sense.

The American Legion had the common sense to see Park Station as “too massive for the City of La Mesa” and withdrew themselves as a co-applicant. Those who have served our country are to always be respected and who else would have the strength and courage to call this development what it is---too much for the citizens of La Mesa.

It’s common sense that if you stack housing units one on top of another, you will create “approved” density, but you will also create considerable problems with increased utitlities, costs for more police and fire, traffic congestion, not to mention noise pollution, trash and overall too many people in too little a space. All of which could cost more than any tax benefits implied or realized because more is more.

The Village Specific Plan, created over 20 years ago was common sense applied to a vision for a city that would not be overcome by highrises and big business, but would manage its growth to retain a place comfortable in its existence as an…

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La Mesa Public Safety

Posted by La Mesa Today on September 30, 2014 at 2:00pm 1 Comment

Police Chief Aceves To Retire

LA MESA -- With almost 30 years with the La Mesa Police Department, Chief Ed Aceves has decided to resign.

Aceves said today that he plans to retire as soon as a replacement can be hired.
"I expect it could take six months,'' Aceves said. He said he was retiring solely because it is time and does not have another job he is pursuing at this time.

City sources said neither of Aceves' two captains have expressed an interest in the job so it is likely La Mesa could go outside to hire a new chief.

Word of the retirement began circulating through political circles today. Aceves confirmed his two captains would not be seeking the job, but said the search for his successor would be in the hands of the City Manager.

"I intend to stay as long as it takes to name my replacement,'' he said.

Aceves came up through the ranks and received high marks for his work throughout his career before being named chief in 2011.

La Mesa Streetscape Project

Posted by La Mesa Today on September 26, 2014 at 1:48pm 1 Comment

City Shifts Work Off La Mesa Boulevard

LA MESA -- Even as they race to meet pre-Oktoberfest deadlines, city officials are taking steps to reduce the impact of the downtown Village streetscape project on the holiday shopping season.

City officials announced this week that work will continue through the holidays, but that phases involving Palm Avenue and Acacia will be next, rather than another La Mesa Boulevard section as was planned.

Speaking at Tuesday's City Council meeting, Public Works Director Greg Humora announced the schedule shift which will undoubtedly be a relief for the more highly trafficked shops along La Mesa Boulevard.

Work conducted over the last two months on the south side of La Mesa Boulevard east of Palm gave the merchants a firsthand look at how disruptive this renovation is for business. Sales fell off even as businesses took extraordinary steps to tell people they could make it through the maze of walkways and into their open shops.

Still, as the work along this stretch of the street winds up in time for next week's celebration of beer, brats and tchotchkes, which traditionally crowds the boulevard for three straight days.

The completed section of the street will give visitors a feel for the final product to come when they return in another year for Oktoberfest.

Humora pointed out that the work is on schedule and on budget. Work will resume along the main La Mesa Boulevard sections of the street after the first of the year.

You can click here to see the city's full project update with maps and links.…

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La Mesa Schools

Posted by La Mesa Today on September 27, 2014 at 7:20pm 0 Comments

Documentary Will Mark Brown Vs. Board Anniversary

LA MESA -- The La Mesa-Spring Valley School District will mark the 60th Anniversary of the Brown Vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision with a special showing of an educational documentary on the subject.
The showing will be Monday, Sept. 29th, at 5:30 p.m. at the La Mesa Community Center at 4975 Memorial Drive and tells the story of the struggle to end segregation in America's schools.

Dr. Emma Turner, President of the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District Board of Education, and the District Governance Team, will host the screening event, which will also feature the First Annual Student Speech Contest held in June of 2014. The topic of the speeches was “60 Years Later: What is the Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education?” Four student winners each received a $500 scholarship donated by Dr. Tuner and School Board Member Rick Winet.

Proceeds from this screening will help fund future scholarships for district students. More than 60 guests are expected and is open to the public.

La Mesa Politics

Posted by La Mesa Today on September 25, 2014 at 8:30pm 1 Comment

 

Apple mobile device users can see these photos by clicking here. 

Sharing Cake And Seeking Votes

LA MESA -- Politics in La Mesa is a gentle contact sport -- mostly handshakes and smiles between the candidates and the residents who show up for political events.

And on Thursday evening at the La Mesa Village Plaza condo project, this was a voting crowd. Some of these residents have been voting for some of these candidates for decades.

All five council candidates and both mayoral candidates showed up and gave five minute presentations tailored closely for an older audience that has been prominently on the record with concerns about downtown safety, Oktoberfest complaints and worries about trolley crime.

But this wasn't a night for formal presentations and public speaking. As soon as the residents could politely end the formal program, they did. What followed was the real hand-to-hand politicking that is indicative of these largely non-partisan local elections.

Cake was passed around and candidates jumped into the crowd looking for votes.

There was a lot of familiarity around the room, particularly in a year when virtually all of the candidates are life-long residents or can nearly claim to be.

One 95-year-old resident looked up from his chocolate cake and said: "I've known Art Madrid for 44 years. He's done a good job.'' But then he wondered aloud if there comes a time in some voters' minds when you need to step aside and let others take a chance.

Mark Arapostathis, the council member, school teacher and theater…

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Crime Watch

Posted by La Mesa Today on September 25, 2014 at 5:27am 0 Comments

Special Operation Targets Youth Alcohol Use

LA MESA -- The La Mesa Police Department was awarded a $21,668 grant from the California Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) to battle alcohol-related crime. La Mesa police used the grant to run a special detail that arrested local residents for supplying alcohol to minors.

The grant is one of 47 awarded in California to local law enforcement agencies through ABC’s Grant Assistance Program (GAP). The grants strengthen local law enforcement efforts by combining the efforts of local police officers and ABC agents. ABC agents have expertise in alcoholic beverage laws and can help communities reduce alcohol-related problems.

Since the ABC Grant was awarded, the La Mesa Police Department and ABC Agents have completed three Shoulder Tap Operations targeting underage drinking and those who provide alcohol to minors. These operations consisted of undercover officers monitoring over 24 hours of alcohol sales at local businesses. Listed below are the results of the operations.

Nine local businesses were visited. 47 citizens were solicited to purchase alcohol for a minor. Of those 47 contacted, 12 were arrested for supplying alcohol to minors.

In an effort to keep the community and our youth safe, the La Mesa Police Department and ABC will continue these operations through July of 2015

La Mesa City Council

Posted by La Mesa Today on September 24, 2014 at 5:52am 0 Comments

City Opens Its Books Permanently

LA MESA -- Amid an otherwise long but routine meeting, the City of La Mesa took a large step into the direction of more open government Tuesday.

The city's Finance Department unveiled a new computer program that will allow the public to watch city spending in virtual real time.

Called "OpenGov,'' the system literally opens the city's books, showing revenues and expenses unfold across the multi-million dollar budget.

While the information is not expected to draw regular attention from the rank and file voter at all times, it was clear that this level of transparency was appreciated by elected officials who often have to wait for quarterly reports and department analyses to understand how city operations are moving along.

"I really love it,'' City Council member Kristine Alessio said.

This new service is readily available on the city's website and can be accessed by CLICKING HERE or on the graphic above.

In other action, the council members interviewed candidates for the city's Youth Commission. This event each year restores the faith in the future of La Mesa youth as one after another accomplished, overbooked and civically involved young people list resumes and grade point averages that exceed virtually all in the room. And they are still teenagers. The council will decide at its next meeting which of the applicants will serve on the advisory board.

The council also heard an appeal from a Planning…

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La Mesa People

Posted by La Mesa Today on September 22, 2014 at 2:30pm 3 Comments

Police Captain Pens A Book On Healing

LA MESA -- On a warm August evening in 2011, a local man -- a parolee -- threatens his wife and children and then heads out into the La Mesa street to confront arriving police officers with his shotgun.

Shots ring out, the man falls. Almost as quickly, the event is categorized as "suicide by cop'' and it fades from local memory as if it were another episode of Law & Order.

In a culture in which police stories have become a main staple of evening entertainment, perhaps it is natural that local tragedies can pass so quietly from the news.

But not everyone can turn so quickly from such events. There is no network or channel to change for some. There is no escaping the fact that, for a few, that day's work included firing bullets into an angry man and causing his death.

La Mesa police Captain Dan Willis (photo above) has used this La Mesa shooting as a cornerstone in a book he has written to help "first responders" confront the reality of their difficult work. The book, Bulletproof Spirit: The First Responders Essential Resource for Protecting and Healing Mind and Heart, was recently published by the New World Library and it gives the police, firefighters and paramedics a step-by-step method of acknowledging the trauma they have witnessed and taking the steps to heal themselves and their families from the inevitable impact of their work.

For the lay reader, however, the book's true impact isn't fully felt until Chapter 11: One Officer's…

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Crime Watch

Posted by La Mesa Today on September 20, 2014 at 5:59pm 0 Comments

Report Of Shots Fired In West La Mesa

LA MESA -- Police reported just before 5:30 p.m. that they were working on a report of shots fired between vehicles in the area of University Avenue and Yale Avenue. There were no reports of injuries immediately after the incident, but police cruisers and police helicopter resources were searching for the perpetrators.

No other information was immediately available.

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HousingWire

New HUD Secretary outlines his vision for last years of Obama Administration

Source: HousingWire

Julián Castro, the new Housing And Urban Development Secretary, emphasized in a recent speech some internal reforms at HUD, including outcome metrics, transparency, and greater accountability. He also addressed creating opportunity across the country and stated, “We’ll spend the next two-and-a-half years expanding opportunity for all Americans. The best place to start is homeownership. In fact, it’s time to remove the stigma associated with promoting homeownership. When done responsibly, it strengthens communities and boosts our economy.” Read the full story: http://www.housingwire.com/articles/31382-new-hud-secretary-outlines-his-vision-for-last-years-of-obama-administration

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60 Years After Brown vs. Board of Education at La Mesa Community Center

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60 Years After Brown vs. Board of Education at La Mesa Community Center

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