A Marathon Before A Break

LA MESA -- The City Council will take a summer vacation and skip August's second meeting. The council members celebrated by conducting a five-hour marathon Tuesday, the highlight of which was denying a neighborhood's attempt to stop a new housing development in West La Mesa.

Residents in the area of a new, 15-unit housing development of single family homes on 2.5 acres along Stanford Avenue (see map above)  had raised concerns about whether the two-story homes would fit into the largely one-story neighborhood.

But the developer showed 3-D renderings of the proposed, fully-landscaped project. They had already persuaded the city's design and planning groups and it took the council only a few minutes of mulling to vote 4-1 to support the development. The one opposing vote was Ruth Sterling, the only incumbent council member seeking re-election this fall, who expressed concerns similar to the opposing neighbors before casting her vote.

In addition, the council Tuesday evening approved a joint permit request from the La Mesa Village Merchants Association and the La Mesa Chamber of Commerce to operate La Mesa Oktoberfest October 5, 6 and 7.

The joint permit represented a detente of sorts between the chamber and the merchants group who last year filed separate permits because the two groups didn't agree about how much of the event's expenses should be paid back to the city.

Tuesday, Mary England, the chamber executive, symbolically joined hands with the merchants and sang a virtual Cumbayá as the two groups headed into this year's beer and bratfest. The council clearly liked the renewed partnership between the two organizations.

The event is expected to draw the more than 400 vendors it attracted last year and will feature one main beer garden, a beer court and the usual collection of health foods and fine arts.

Tuesday's meeting also included the introduction of the city's new fire chief. Rick Sitta (see photo right) has taken over at the helm of the Heartland Fire Department that serves La Mesa, El Cajon, and Lemon Grove. He thanked the council for their support and promised to continue the combined department's short, but successful history.

The meeting also included Police Chief Ed Aceves' quarterly crime report, which chronicled the continuation of some of the lowest crime rates in the city's last 50 years.

Councilman Dave Allan praised the force which, despite its diminutive size, has managed to address a complex set of circumstances, including robbery sprees, the return of non-violent criminals from state custody and a burdensome mental health case load while still keeping the crime rates trending down.

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Comment by Russell Buckley on August 15, 2012 at 6:28pm

Chris - I think you left out the most important thing the meeting revealed. The quarterly budget update, intended to give the citizens of La mesa a picture of current successes and challenges,  failed to mention the $31 million unfunded CalPers liability run up by our City. It cost us $2.3 million in interest last year and about the same the year before. It will cost even more next year. Those are hugh sums of money that are in effect wasted. Surely our pension debt is a "challenge" that should not be ignored. Our leaders need to deal with it and let us know what they are doing. Despite past mistakes and the bind we are in, there are ways to do that.

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