BROWN ACT VIOLATION ALLEGED BY ALPINE PLANNING GROUP MEMBER; CRITICS CALL FOR REMOVAL OR PROSECUTION
January 25, 2012: Updated to include comments by Terry Francke, General Counsel at Calaware, who concludes this was not a Brown Act violation and a response from the San Diego District Attorney declining to prosecute the matter.
By Miriam Raftery
January 21, 2012 (Alpine) – Alpine Community Planning Group member George Barnett appears to have violated the Brown Act when he expressed his views on an agenda item in an e-mail to members of the ACPG’s Public Facilities Subcommitee meeting, a top County official has concluded. In the e-mail, Barnett voiced strong views regarding a hand-out by the East Alpine Property Owner’s Alliance on proposed land-use changes, calling its conclusions “nuts” and “needlessly alarmist.”
January 14, 2012 (Alpine) – The Alpine Community Network reports that a reader has alerted the publication to a possible attempt to read ATM users' personal identification number (PIN) codes with binoculars outside a local market.
The suspicious individual was reported in Alpine and drove a red Cadillac, however if the activity was a scam operation it could possibly target people in other communities.
January 7, 2012 (Alpine) – A multi-vehicle pile-up shut down I-8 east near Dunbar Road this evening, but the roadway is now open, CHP reports. The accident results in injuries to seven people, who were transported to Grossmont Hospital.
January 5, 2011 (Alpine) Responding to an alarming teen fatality trend in San Diego County, Alpine Sheriff’s Station will host “Start Smart” on Thursday, January 12 at 7 pm. at the Viejas Training Center, 5000 Willow Road in Alpine (first driveway on the left after the casino).
January 2, 2012 (Alpine)--The Alpine Fire Protection District has approved pension changes with the Alpine Fire Fighters Association. After months of negotiations, at a Board meeting on December 20, 2011 both sides agreed to a contract extension that makes changes to the pensions of current and future Firefighters employed with the District. All employees of the Alpine Fire District are members of the CalPERS retirement system.
December 20, 2011 (San Diego) -- Senior Volunteer Patrol (SVP) members are making sure the season is merry and bright for seniors who live alone. They will be delivering holiday baskets or hot meals this month to seniors enrolled in the Sheriff’s You Are Not Alone (YANA) program.
SDG&E SHIFTS HELICOPTER FLIGHTS AS EAGLE NESTING SEASON BEGINS; UTILITY SEEKS VARIANCE FROM STATE AND FEDERAL REGULATORS
Lakeside residents mourn loss of pristine views as towers dominate face of mountain listed as county scenic view corridor.
By Billy Ortiz and Miriam Raftery
December 2, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – December 1st marked the start of breeding season for Golden Eagles in San Diego’s East County. For SDG&E, that means the Sempra-owned utility company must provide a 4,000 foot no-fly buffer zone around Golden Eagle nesting sites.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that SDG&E has applied to federal and state regulators for a variance to extend flights by several days around eagle nests. But as of yesterday, flights near nesting sites remained halted or rerouted.
November 25, 2011 (Alpine) -- Gretchen Rossi of Bravo's hit reality series "The Real Housewives of Orange County" will join 11 other local celebrities at Viejas Casino on Monday, November 28 in a Celebrity Slot Tournament at Viejas Casino. 100 percent of the winnings from the tournament, which begins at 10:30 a.m., will be donated to the local Salvation Army.
The list of confirmed celebrities for the slot tournament include sports stars, TV news anchors and more:
November 18, 2011 (Alpine) – A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. today for Devon Sambhi, 16, and his father, Sunil Sambhi. The service will be held at the Alpine Community Center, 1830 Alpine Blvd., according to Tyler Smittle, general manager of the Ayres Lodge where Natalia Sambhi, mother and wife of the deceased, works.
November 17, 2011 (Alpine)—The San Diego Coroner's office has identified Patrick Strobel, 52 of El Cajon as the driver who was killed yesterday in Alpine.
Tree-lighting and ice show extravaganza light up the night tonight
November 11, 2011 (Alpine) -- Skate into the holidays on Southern California’s largest outdoor ice rink, now open at Viejas Outlet Center in Alpine. The nearly 10,000-square-foot rink, one of our region’s most popular winter playgrounds, will remain open through Jan. 8, 2012.
The season kicks off with a lighting of the Viejas holiday tree at 6 p.m. on Friday, November 11, followed by a free Extravaganza on Ice Show with professional skaters--plus a visit from Santa Claus.
By Miriam Raftery
“How many more children are going to have to die before we get a high school in Alpine?” – Rose Urdahl, Alpine resident
Update November 11, 2011: Mother discharged from hospital
November 10, 2011 (Alpine) – A double tragedy has struck an Alpine family. This morning, Granite Hills High School student Devon Sambhi was ejected and killed in a roll-over accident. He would have been 17 on November 22. His mother, Natalia Sambhi, was air-lifted to a hospital. She was driving rolled off I-8 and landed on Old Highway 80 at Dunbar Lane. According to CHP, a tire problem may have caused the crash.
Now Sambhi's father, Sunil Sambhi, has died following a second accident close to the location where his son lost his life.
November 10, 2011 (Alpine) – A SIG Alert has been issued and Old Highway 80 is closed in both directions due to a fatality accident this morning just west of Dunbar Lane.
November 8, 2011 (Alpine) – Sue Roff, director of the Alpine Community Center, will once again be cooking up a Thanksgiving meal for seniors who are alone or can’t travel to be with family for the holidays. Volunteers will deliver the meals to home-bound seniors, along with gift bags filled with items donated by local merchants.
By Miriam Raftery
November 6, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) –“This is a historic time for East County,” Jo Marie Diamond, president and chief executive officer of the East Count Economic Development Council (ECEDC) told guests at last week’s “Sky’s the limit” bus tour of East County. Three busloads of business leaders rolled through our region's urban, suburban, and small town communities, learning some surprising facts along the way.
If you haven’t traveled through East County in a while, you may be surprised at the many recent changes.
COUNTY EXPANDS BAN ON SUNDAY HELICOPTER FLIGHTS, BUT RESIDENTS COMPLAIN NOISE CONTINUES AS SDG&E PUSHES FORWARD ON POWERLINK
By Miriam Raftery
November 6, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – On Friday, the County Department of Planning and Land Use announced a new amendment to noise variances granted to SDG&E for Sunrise Powerlink construction.
Due to residents' complaints, the County has banned Sunday flights over the Carveacre area, according to LeAnn Carmichael at DPLU. The County is also considering requests from other communities seeking broader bans on Sunday flights in the Alpine and Lakeside areas.
COUNTY AMENDS VARIANCE TO STOP SUNDAY HELICOPTER FLIGHTS ON POWERLINK FOR PORTIONS OF LAKESIDE AND ALPINE
Community meetings planned in Boulevard, Lakeside and Alpine
By Miriam Raftery
October 22, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) –After receiving 23 complaints about Sunday helicopter operations on Sunrise Powerlink construction, the County has amended its variance. The original variance allowed work Sundays through November, as well as on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
The amendment covers portions of two areas: Lakeside/El Monte and the Bell Bluff/Japatul area of Alpine.
October 19, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – Residents along the construction route for SDG&E’s Sunrise Powerlink Project have lodged noise complaints with the County. Now Supervisor Dianne Jacob has asked that the County revoke a waiver given that authorized SDG&E to fly on Sundays and a holiday weekend. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) also granted permission for the extended hours on federal BLM lands.
“It sounds like the Vietnam War zone out here,” bemoaned Lakeside resident Milt Cyphert, a veteran.
October 18, 2011 (San Diego) -- Want to find out firsthand how the Sheriff’s Department works? Hear how Sheriff’s Detectives and Deputies work with Crime Analysts to catch the bad guys? See the Sheriff’s K‐9 Unit in action. Learn about the split‐ second and life-‐or‐death decisions deputies make on the job every day.
“It shows the reflection of the people that are honoring the reflection of the service that their neighbors gave for this great country, exemplified by a beam of light from God,” observed Hinrichsen, a veteran whose own name is also on the wall.
Editor's Note: ECM received many complaints from readers in Alpine and Lakeside who are irate over Sunday helicopter flights for Sunrise Powerlink construction and say they were not informed. SDG&E says flights were authorized by the County for Sundays through November as well as on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Alpine Planning Group member Lou Russo and others have asked the County to revoke permission.
By Tom and Judy Myers
October 17, 2011 (Alpine)--Sunday should be a day of relaxation, a chance to regenerate our spirit and our psyche. Now more than ever, Alpiners need this. We have had our nerves jangled since the beginning of the year with all the construction banging and clanging in our once quiet and peaceful mountain town.
by Millicent Arko
October 16, 2011 (El Cajon) --The Alpine Education Foundation invites the public to join in its second annual Fall Festival at Summers Past Farms, 15602 Olde Highway 80, in El Cajon. Festivities take place on Sunday, October 23 from 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
By Paul Gonya
Editor’s note: In an article on Alpine Planning Group Member George Barnett’s resignation, Mr. Barnett stated that he considered his greatest accomplishment to be getting two developers off the planning group's board: http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/node/7330 . He did not identify those planners by name.(Mr. Barnett later rescinded his resignation: http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/node/7362). Now one of the individuals he referenced, Paul Gonya, claims that his circumstances were portrayed inaccurately by Mr. Barnett. Mr. Gonya states that it's not true that he was found guilty in a civil trial. While true, he did plead guilty in a criminal (not civil) trial to grand theft embezzlement charges, as the Alpine Sun and Union-Tribune reported: http://www.thealpinesun.com/archive%202009/May%207/as%20inside.html and http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2009/may/01/bn01plea18624/?metro. A settlement was reached in a civil trial:
http://www.thealpinesun.com/archive%202007/December%2020/as%20inside%202.html However Mr. Gonya states that there is more to the story. Below is his statement.
October 9, 2011 (Alpine)--Mr. Barnett’s statement regarding “two former Alpine Planning Group members being found guilty in a civil trial involving fraud and embezzlement” is emphatically untrue. More important, Mr. Barnett fails to mention that the defendants in the case filed a cross complaint for fraud and misappropriation of funds against the plaintiffs when the business partnership fell apart in 2006.
September 18, 2011 (Alpine) – Lions, Tigers and Bears invites the public to savor wining and dining under the stars to benefit the big cat rescue facility in nonprofit. In addition to wine and food provided by PRP Wine International and Chef Drew, visitors will have an opportunity to win a drawing to feed one of the big cats including lions, tigers, and a leopard. This “wild” event will be held Saturday, October 1 from 6-8 p.m. at 24402 Martin Way in Alpine.
September 24, 2011 (Alpine) – Alpine Community Planning Group member George Barnett resigned following last night’s meeting, Barnett has informed ECM. “It’s time for me to move on towards other community service activities I wish to pursue, and for others to pick up the baton at the Alpine Community Planning Group,” he said.
September 23, 2011 (Alpine) –On the site of a run-down ex-chicken farm in Alpine, Sol Orchard wants to harvest sunshine.
Representatives from Sol Orchard seek a major use permit to build an 18-acre solar energy farm on High Glen Road, about four miles southeast of the Tavern Road and Japatul Valley Road intersection. Capable of producing 2.5 megawatts (MW) of power, the project is all part of a new San Diego Gas & Electric initiative to build small-scale solar facilities that together would generate up to 200 MW power locally.
By Miriam Raftery
September 23, 2011 (Alpine) – A proposed 150-room hotel adjacent to the Viejas Casino would be “great for our guests and great for the community,” said Viejas public affairs director Robert Scheid at last night’s Alpine Community Planning Group meeting. The $36 million project would generate 450 construction jobs and upon completion, 45 employees at the hotel, said Scheid.
Photos by Captain Brian Boggeln
September 22, 2011 (Alpine) – A dog that fell and became wedged inside a rocky, 15-foot deep crevasse in the 2600 block of Big Wheel Way is free and in good health, thanks to the extraordinary efforts of Alpine firefighters.
SUNRISE POWERLINK REPORT REVEALS DOZENS OF SERIOUS INCIDENTS, INCLUDING FIRES CAUSED BY CONSTRUCTION
ACPG meeting Thursday includes Powerlink issues as well as proposals for a solar farm, a hotel, zoning changes, and a new park for Alpine
By Miriam Raftery
September 21, 2011 (Alpine) – An already hot agenda for tomorrow night’s Alpine Community Planning Group meeting (set for 6 p.m. at the Alpine Community Center) just got hotter.
On September 19, Aspen, environmental consultant to the California Public Utilities Commission on the Sunrise Powerlink project, released a report on construction and compliance activites for the high-voltage power line. The report reveals over 30 cases of non-compliance and serious incidents including fires, diesel spills, accidents, ignoring monitoring requirements, and heavy objects falling from helicopters--again.