Small Problems, Big Hopes at Town Hall Meeting

MURRAY MANOR ELEMENTARY - The second and final town hall meeting was conducted here Thursday night and, once again, the issues raised by citizens were more numerous than substantial.

Many of the 40 or so residents raised concerns about speeding, petty crime near trolley lines and both treatment and management of the impact of homeless and group home populations.

Lacking controversial complaints from citizens, the meeting evolved into a primer on the operation of police and other city departments.

Police Chief Alan Lanning explained the workings of Special Enforcement Unit that targets crime hot spots and offered a civics lesson in civil rights in discussing the limits police face in handling homeless populations who have been the target of citizen complaints. Police need a legal reasons to deal with homeless activities, Lanning said, but there are behaviors that police can respond to.

"People may be homeless but we have the same expectation of them to be law abiding citizens," Lanning said.

Similar concerns were raised about group homes that house mentally ill and parolees and on occasion have been disruptive neighbors. City officials promised to follow up on the concerns about these homes but again said the state has more control of these populations than do the local officials.

Public Works staff explained the city's method of establishing priorities for street reconstruction and other projects, but even this sometimes sticky issue raised no heat.

Only one citizen made reference to the Park Street Station Project that was.roundly criticized at a recent public hearing.

That project could feature an 18 story tower and a mix of commercial and office space along Baltimore near University.

Again city officials assured all that they would be notified when the Park Sation project officially comes up for formal council consideration. They also assured residents that mixed use projects like this do get a formal environmental impact study, one of which is now underway for this project.

The evening ended with each City Council member thanking the residents for coming and taking a moment to remind their constituents of good things occuring within the city.

Mayor Art Madrid boasted about La Mesa's "Village'' commercial district, which he said would rival downtown's trendy Little Italy when redevelopment efforts begin to take shape. Others mentioned the new library and the new fire station currently under construction. It will house the La Mesa portion of the new combined fire operation being consolidated with El Cajon and Lemon Grove.

City officials will consider all the comments from citizens at this and the previous town hall meeting in setting priorities at upcoming planning and budget meeting.

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Tags: Government, Town Hall Meeting

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