San Diego Ukranians Speak Out
“My 17 year old friend was shot by snipers for delivering vegetables to protestors in independence square.”—Vera Skop, San Diego
By Jessica Richmond
March 14, 2014 (San Diego)-- Since the February 28th takeover of the Crimean region in the Ukraine by unmarked Russian troops, Ukrainians have been asking, “Are we safe from Russian expansionism?” In San Diego, with a population of approximately 15,000 Ukrainians, this has become a sensitive topic. Sources from Ukraine confirm that family members at home and abroad are equally worried about the escalating encroachment of Russia on the sovereign Ukrainian territory of Crimea.
By Miriam Raftery
March 13, 2014 (San Diego) – Mayor Bob Filner was the latest of several San Diego mayors who resigned under public pressure. Filner pled guilty to a felony count and two misdemeanors following a long string of complaints by women alleging sexual harassment. But there was no legal requirement for a disgraced or disabled mayor to leave office, under San Diego’s Charter. In fact, the charter allows removal of a Mayor or other city official only through death, resignation or recall.
Now the San Diego County Grand Jury wants to see that changed. Today, the Grand Jury issued a report recommending that the City Council identify additional reasons for removing a public official and place a proposal to amend the City Charter on the ballot for voters to decide in a future election.
File photo: SWAT team
March 9, 2014 (San Diego) – FBI hostage negotiators are accustomed to tense situations –but normally not at their own home base. But after a man climbed a steel corrugated security gate and made his way onto the top of a building in the FBI headquarters at 10385 Vista Sorrento Parkway in San Diego, a stand-off ensued that ended this evening with the arrest of Lakeside resident William Durant, 36.
February 28, 2014 (Santee) – Are you ready for a rollicking evening of New Orleans-style festivities including the award-winning Bayou Brothers band, Cajun/Creole dinner feast, masks and beads for all guests, prizes drawings and silent auction with thousands of dollars in prizes? Then you won’t want to miss our East County Mardi Gras party March 12 from 6-10 p.m. at Pinnacle Peak restaurant, 7927 Mission Gorge Road in Santee!
Hear our radio interview with the Bayou Brothers (and some lively music) here: http://kiwi6.com/file/lk1mwrss4u
SOITEC FAILS TO DISCLOSE TRUTH ABOUT SOLAR PROJECT IMPACTS, HIRES FORMER SD PLANNER WHO WORKED ON SOITEC PROJECTS
Why doesn’t San Diego County end revolving door situation?
Photo: Soitec's Newberry Springs project, which promised minimal enviornmental impacts, graded all vegetation on the site.
By Miriam Raftery
Updated March 5, 2014 with clarifications from Soitec
March 1, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)—Developers frequently put “spin” on project descriptions to emphasize benefits rather than negative impacts. But certain statements by Soitec representatives regarding its proposed solar projects in Boulevard and a recent project in the desert fall into the “Pinnochio” category. In fact Soitec representatives misrepresented glare issues and the amount of land that is disturbed by their projects.
During a Soitec community meeting at the Manzanita Diner last month, ECM’s editor asked Soitec media and communications advisor Karen Hutchens specifically about a moratorium on solar projects approved by San Bernadino County Supervisors amid concerns about glare in Newberry Springs, where Soitec built a project very similar to its proposed Boulevard sites. Hutchens responded, “That had nothing to do with our project. The moratorium was passed before our project was even built.”
But Robert Berkman, head of a citizens group in Newberry Springs called CEQA-NOW, told ECM that statement was a bald-faced lie. “The moratorium came out because of the Soitec project—after it was built,” he said, adding that citizens invited Supervisors to visit the site. Supervisors said, “’`Good grief, what has happened here? ‘ “ Berkman stated. “The moratorium occurred because we were able to bring them out and say `This is an example of solar done wrong.’”
Soitec's Hutchens concedes that she erred in her statement on the timing of the moratorium, and agrees it was imposed after Soitec's project was built, but says Soitec's project was not the reason for the moratorium. ECM is seeking clarification from San Bernardino County's Land Services Department.
That's not the only disputed statement by Soitec.
By Miriam Raftery
February 28, 2014 (San Diego) – Opponents of the Tule Wind project in McCain Valley will have their day in court on Monday, March 3 in San Diego’s U.S. District Court. Then on April 25, a separate suit against the County over its wind energy ordinance and general plan amendment will also be heard.
The suits were filed by the Protect Our Communities Foundation and Donna Tisdale. Tisdale informed ECM that it's important to have many East County residents attend these trials.
Photo, left: 2013 storm in East County's Boulevard community
February 27, 2014 (San Diego)-- As San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) crews prepare for periods of heavy rain, gusty winds and scattered lightning to continue, the utility is reminding customers to be on alert and prepare for unplanned power outages.
“As the region prepares for much-needed rainfall, SDG&E crews are ready to respond to any impacts the weather may have on our electrical system,” said David L. Geier, vice president of electric operations for SDG&E. “We’re committed to providing reliable electricity service to our customers but sometimes unexpected power outages may occur, especially during storms and high winds.”
The utility reminds customers to follow the following storm safety tips:
Photo courtesy ECM news partner 10 News
February 27, 2014 (San Diego) – San Diego Police Department will soon be headed up by its first female Chief. Assistant Chief Shelley Zimmerman will replace retiring Chief William Lansdowne, who steps down March 3. Lansdowne leaves office following a series of scandals including allegations of sexual misconduct by officers, so the choice of a woman to head up the department can be viewed as sending a strong signal that the city is serious about cleaning up the department's tarnished image.
Zimmerman has the support of Mayor-Elect Kevin Faulconer as well as the San Diego Police Officers Association.
By Nadin Abbott
February 26, 2014 (San Diego) Chief William Lansdowne has announced he will step down as the San Diego Police Chief effective on March 3. This comes amid a series of scandals involving the police force.
By Miriam Raftery
Updated February 27, 2014 (San Diego) – A powerful storm is set to sweep into the region Thursday through Sunday, bringing some of the most severe weather seen in decades, weather experts predict.
The National Weather Service has issued a high wind warning and a flash flood watch from late Thursday through Saturday night. Thunderstorms may bring waterspouts or even tornadoes, most likely in coastal areas.
Sustained winds of 25 to 35 miles per hour with gusts of 60 miles per hour or higher are forecast for mountain and desert areas in East County. Blowing sand and dust may reduce visibility.
By Miriam Raftery
February 26, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – Readers across East County have sent photos and video of a large controlled burn yesterday in Rancho Cuyamaca State Park, voicing outrage over the burning of habitat including mature trees, given than 99% of the pine trees in the park burned during the 2003 Cedar Fire.
Questions have also been raised over why the burn was allowed in windy conditions, why a helicopters was dispatched to use water from Lake Cuyamaca on a controlled burn, and why more notice was not provided to the public and the press that a major controlled burn was underway by State Parks in conjunction with Cal Fire.
BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS ENDS EIR ON SHU’LUUK WIND, BUT APPROVES EWIIAAPAAYP TRIBE'S LEASE FOR TULE WIND
By Miriam Raftery
February 24, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) -- It’s official: The Bureau of Indian Affairs has formally terminated the final Environmental Impact Statement for Shu’luuk Wind on the Campo Indian reservation in East County. The move comes after the Campo tribe’s General Council down the project and cancelled the tribe’s contract with Invenergy.
The BIA alo approved the Ewiiaapaayp Band of Kumeyaay Indian’s plan to lease Cuyapaipe Reservation lands for a portion of Iberdrola’s massive Tule Wind project. The Bureau of Land Management and County of San Diego previously approved portions of the project on federal and county lands.
Disturbing data suggests Golden Eagles appear on verge of extinction in our region
By Miriam Raftery
February 15, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) –A state inventory of California’ rarest animals, birds and plants reveals that Golden Eagle populations have suffered a precipitous decline statewide, including here in San Diego County. Statewide, only 141 element occurrences (eagle nests and foraging habitat) are listed in all of California. Locally, the inventory lists just 14 “occurrences” countywide—with only one nest remaining in East County.
“So much for Bittner’s estimates,” wildlife biologist Jim Wiegand with Save the Eagles International told ECM. David Bittner is the so-called eagle expert hired by major energy companies to justify wind projects locally. Bittner was convicted in federal court and sentenced in August to charges of failing to file data reports with the federal government and illegal taking of an eagle.
Wiegand has previously estimated local nesting sites at 10--a fraction of Bittner's recent estimates.
Anza Borrego Foundation calls for halt to fast-tracking of all major energy projects;
Cleveland National Forest Foundation says EIR violates CEQA, fails to examine less harmful alternatives such as rooftop solar
By Miriam Raftery
February 15, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)—The Anza Borrego Foundation (ABF) and a law firm representing the Cleveland National Forest Foundation (CNFF) have submitted comments warning of dire consequences from Soitec Solar’s proposed massive solar projects in the Boulevard community. Both urge the County to put the brakes on the proposed projects, which they warn would cause irreparable harm to wildlife and ecosystems not only in rural Boulevard, but in Anza Borrego State Park and Cleveland National Forest.
February 15, 2014 (Jacumba)—Wayne Brammer sent in these photos of SDG&E’s new Eco Substation in Jacumba. The project is (so-named for hooking up to industrial-scale renewable energy projects. But to most backcountry residents, the project is an ecological disaster that destroyed the landscape and used three times more water (90 million gallons total) than SDG&E estimated.
“This thing is a monster and they’re wasting water all over the place, not just here but all the way to Boulevard,” writes Bramley, referencing other energy projects in the pipeline. “We really do need to separate from the city and have our own county,” he concluded, linking back to a reader’s editorial on this issue.
Photo: Proposed Chaparral County, shown in green
By Libby Belle
Why rural East County communities should secede from San Diego County
February 14, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – In more ways than I can count, San Diego Supervisors have shown disdain for the people of East County, the environment, and the character of our communities. Supervisor Dianne Jacob is a notable exception, fighting to protect us from fire hazards and destructive energy projects. But time and time again, she’s outvoted by four Supervisors who don’t live in East County, and don’t care if they destroy what makes our region special.
So why should we continue to give them our tax dollars?
Let me list just a few of the ways that the County has abdicated its responsibilities to East County residents:
Water Authority Declares Drought Watch Condition
What's the latest?
The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors on Thursday unanimously called upon the region’s residents, businesses and institutions to increase water conservation efforts in response to severe drought conditions across California.
The Board formally activated the agency’s Water Shortage and Drought Response Plan to preserve stored water reserves in Southern California and help keep more water available for other areas of the state more significantly affected by the drought. The Water Shortage and Drought Response Plan outlines orderly, progressive actions the Water Authority can take to avoid or minimize impacts caused by escalating water supply challenges. It was last activated in May 2007 and deactivated in April 2011.
At the same time, the Board also approved notifying the Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that the region is at Level 1 Drought Watch of the region’s Model Drought Response Ordinance. In coming weeks, member agencies will consider what specific actions are necessary for their communities. Typical voluntary conservation steps at Level 1 include:
- Repairing leaks quickly
- Washing paved surfaces only when necessary for health and safety
- Eliminating inefficient landscape irrigation, such as runoff and overspray
- Irrigating only before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m.
- Using hoses with automatic shut-off valves for car washing and irrigating areas that aren’t on automated irrigation systems
- Serving and refilling water at restaurants only on request
- Offering hotel guests the option of not laundering their linens and towels daily
- Using recycled or non-potable water for construction activities when possible
Gov. Jerry Brown declared a statewide drought on Jan. 17, 2014, because areas of California have been hit hard by low water supply availability after two consecutive dry years and the start of a third. The governor’s declaration directs state agencies to expedite the processing of voluntary water transfers, enact a statewide water conservation campaign, implement water-use reduction plans at all state facilities and take other actions to provide assistance to farmers and communities that are damaged economically by dry conditions.
The Water Authority does not anticipate water shortages for San Diego County in 2014 because of local investments in water supply reliability projects and programs, a long-term decrease in regional water demand and adequate water storage in Southern California. Those investments include independent water transfers that will provide the county with approximately 180,000 acre-feet of Colorado River water this year. (An acre-foot is about 325,900 gallons, enough to meet the needs of two average single-family households of four people for a year.) Starting in early 2016, the Water Authority expects to begin purchasing local, drought-proof water supplies from the nation’s largest seawater desalination plant under construction in Carlsbad. The project is expected to deliver up to 56,000 acre-feet of water each year, enough for 112,000 households.
In addition, the Water Authority is executing a $3.1 billion Capital Improvement Program to further improve regional water delivery and storage capacity. Major projects include raising San Vicente Dam in East County by 117 feet to provide 152,100 acre-feet of additional storage, and connecting Lake Hodges to the region’s imported water distribution system.
However, the current drought conditions reinforce the importance for all San Diego County residents and businesses to live a WaterSmart lifestyle by avoiding water waste and following water-efficient practices. Go to www.WaterSmartSD.org to take advantage of these programs or check out several handy tips to learn what you can do.
Roughly 85 percent of the San Diego region’s water supplies come from the Colorado River Basin and Northern California, while about 15 percent are generated locally. The Water Authority is closely monitoring conditions in key watersheds and preparing for the possibility of another dry year.
In recent California history, significant droughts spanned 1976-77, 1987-92 and 2007-11. Following the early 1990s drought, the Water Authority adopted a plan to enhance the reliability of the region’s water supply by diversifying its water sources. That strategy helped offset a significant portion of mandatory water supply cutbacks imposed on the region between 2009 and 2011.
Efforts by residents, businesses and farmers across the region to improve water-use efficiency also are helping to stretch available supplies. Total regional use of potable water in fiscal year 2013 was 24 percent lower than in fiscal year 2007, or roughly 174,000 acre-feet per year – enough to serve about 350,000 households annually.
California and the rest of the Southwest have been very dry since 2012. Most of the major reservoirs on the State Water Project – including Lake Oroville and San Luis Reservoir – are well below their historical averages for this time of year. The state Department of Water Resources’ snow survey in late January showed water content levels at 12 percent of normal. The longer the dry conditions continue, the more likelihood California will experience another below-average year of statewide runoff.
In the Colorado River Basin, this winter has produced near-average snowfall, generating much needed water. However, 11 of the past 14 years have been dry in the Colorado River Basin, and the river’s two main reservoirs collectively are less than half full.
Local conditions in San Diego County also are dry. Precipitation at Lindbergh Field was 43 percent of normal between Oct. 1 and Jan. 31, 2014.
Presentations to the Board of Directors
- See more at: http://www.sdcwa.org/drought-response#sthash.n1XuhfI3.dpuf
County Water Authority
February 13, 2014 (San Diegio)--The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors on Thursday unanimously called upon the region’s residents, businesses and institutions to increase water conservation efforts in response to severe drought conditions across California.
Update: This hearing has been cancelled. Details pending.
Hearing March 17; public comment Feb. 14-21
February 13, 2014 (Spring Valley)--The California Department of State Hospitals (DSH) has recommended the placement of Terry Stone, a Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) at 2919 Millar Ranch Road in Spring Valley. This address falls within the jurisdiction of the Rancho San Diego Sheriff's Station.
Terry Stone was convicted of molesting several children between the ages of 6 and 11.
By Miriam Raftery
February 13, 2014 (Boulevard) -- The County has announced it will extend the deadline to March 3rd for public comments on Soitec Solar's draft programing environmental impact report for four industrial-scale solar projects proposed in rural Boulevard, following an overwhelming public response during the initial comment period.
The bulk of those responses were highly critical of the projects, some casting doubt on water estimates made by project consultant Dudek, which has severely underestimated water usage recently on several other high profile projects. Others voiced concerns over impacts on wildlife, view sheds, and loss of rural character.
Below is the notice sent by the County:
By Nadin Abbott; Miriam Raftery also contributed to this report
February 12, 2014 (San Diego) Republican Councilmember Kevin Faulconer was elected as the next San Diego City Mayor in the special election by a substantial margin. The Registrar of Voters final tally has Kevin Faulconer with 12,7296 votes, translating to 54.53% of the vote, and David Alvarez with 11,4478 votes, translating to 45.47%.
Faulconer’s election opens a vacancy on the Council—and an opportunity for Democrats to pick up a consolation prize. The Democratic-controlled Council will name Faulconer’s replacement, which is expected to give Democrats enough votes to override a mayoral veto. Still with San Diego’s strong mayor form of government, Faulconer will have many options for implementing his policies without Council approval.
SDSU water expert concludes Soitec’s 4 projects will use more water than rainfall can replace, placing entire ecological system at risk; other experts confirm serious water concerns
By Roy L. Hales; Miriam Raftery also contributed to this report
(photo: Dead trees from well pumping that lowered water table elsewhere illustrates what experts and residents fear could occur in Boulevard.)
February 9, 2014 (Boulevard)—Hydrology experts are casting serious doubts about the credibility of water use claims made by Soitec Solar for four massive solar projects proposed in San Diego’s rural East County.
By Roy L Hales
February 10, 2014 (Boulevard)--Yesterday, we reported how three authorities state Soitec's consultant is wrong, Boulevard does not possess enough water for their proposed solar project. Now a video from the February 6 community meeting, at Boulevard, reveals that Soitec's consultant, Dudek, recently underestimated the amount of water needed at SDG&E recent ECO substation project by more than three times what would be the final total. (The original estimate was 30 million gallons and the actual amount was closer to 100 million gallons.) Dudek is also alleged to have seriously underestimated the amount of water needed for the Ocotillo Wind Project. If this is true, how can we assume that Dudek's estimates for the Boulevard project are correct?
February 2, 2014 (San Diego’s East County )—An urgent winter weather message has been issued by the National Weather Service as a low pressure system sweeps into San Diego County bringing cold air, rain west of the mountains. Two to four inches of snow are possible above 4000 to 4500 feet. There is a chance of thunderstorms and over coastal areas, possible waterspouts tonight through Tuesday.
While rain is good news for our drought-parched state, a winter weather advisory means travelers may face difficulties.
February 1, 2014 (San Diego)--The Sheriff's Department plans to execute a winning game plan with increased DUI patrols across the county to stop drunk drivers on Super Bowl Sunday, the biggest day of the year for football fans.
Increased DUI patrols by deputies will start at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 2 and continue through 5 a.m. Monday.
More alcohol-related car crashes happen on Super Bowl Sunday in California than on any other Sunday in January and February, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.
SAN DIEGANS TO HOLD VIGIL MONDAY FEB. 3 URGING OBAMA TO DENY KEYSTONE PIPELINE PERMIT FOLLOWING NEW STATE DEPARTMENT REPORT
Photo: 2013 rally in San Diego
By Miriam Raftery
February 1, 2014 (San Diego) – A final environmental impact statement released this week by the U.S. State Department on impacts of the Keystone XL Pipeline has alarmed environmentalists, who are organizing rallies nationwide on Monday, February 3. A candlelight vigil urging President Barack Obama to deny a permit for the controversial pipeline to pump tar sands oil across America will be held Monday night at 6 p.m. in front of the federal building at 880 Front Street in downtown San Diego.
January 31, 2014 (San Diego)--If you're not a sports fan--or just can't bear to watch the SuperBowl after the Chargers were excluded, cheer up! While the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks duke it out on the (freezing cold) field in New Jersey this Sunday during Super Bowl XLVIII, San Diego County residents can soak up the sunny weather and take advantage of County activities that totally trump TV touchdowns.
Whether you love hiking, biking or just exploring San Diego, there’s plenty to do across the County this weekend instead of watching the Super Bowl. The County offers ten alternatives; all events take place on Sunday. Most of them are free--and most are in East County.
January 30, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – East County Magazine has been awarded the World Council for Nature’s 2013 award.
“A number of articles published in East County Magazine have been brought to my attention,” Mark Duchamp, Chairman of WCFN, a global organization based in Spain, wrote in an e-mail to ECM’s editor. “The work you do informing people of the threats against nature in your county is commendable. The World Council for Nature wishes to honor your publication with the WCFN award for 2013.”
January 30, 2014 (Carrizo Mountain)—The Jacumba Hikers will be hitting the trail this Saturday at 8 a.m. for an “extreme” hike to Painted Gorge/Carrizo Mountain. Heat and movement over time has created fantastic shapes and colors as the sun illuminates and plays shadows upon this geologic wonder.
January 30, 2014 (Boulevard) -- Is a "green" energy project really green if it destroys these beautiful scenes? Soitec wants to industrialize our backcountry with over 8,000 solar panels, each 30 feet high, scraping the earth bare and destroying sensitive wetlands and wildlife habitat. Thanks to Teresa DeGroot for documenting what will be destroyed unless Supervisors vote down this project, one of several industrial-scale energy projects proposed as part of the "energy zone" that elected officials seek to create in East County's rural and wilderness areas. Area residents want to see green energy projects located in urban areas where power is used--not in pristine areas such as these that are located along state designated scenic highways. Click "read more" to view more photos.
By Miriam Raftery
January 25, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – For the first time ever, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has ordered that supplies of water from the Colorado River and Glen Canyon Dam be slashed.
The Colorado River is the most important water source for the Southwest-- and it accounts for about 60 percent of San Diego County’s water supply. It’s under increasing pressure from a growing population in southwestern cities amid extended dry conditions.