September 3, 2013 (Borrego) – The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning in effect through 5:30 p.m. for central San Diego County. At 3:54 p.m., Doppler radar estimated that heavy rainfall of up to two and a half inches had fallen northwest of Hot Springs Mountain in Cleveland National Forest. This area is drained by Coyote Creek, which empties just north of Borrego Springs.
Rapid rises in the creek are possible. In addition residents in and below recently burned areas and those living along streams and creeks should move to high ground. Do not attempt to cross swiftly flowing waters by foot or in your vehicle.
By Miriam Raftery
September 3, 2013 (San Diego) – Yesterday a local scanner tracking service reported several apparent shark sightings off Torrey Pines Beach. In the interest of keeping readers safe we posted the report promptly with no way to obtain confirmation on the holiday weekend.
ECM today has reached both state and city lifeguards who say they are unaware of any reports. It now appears our usually credible source was inaccurate and we regret the error.
We could not get verification prior to posting our initial report on Labor Day evening when we were simultaneously reporting on a live shooter on Mt Helix near my own home office, flash flooding in the backcountry, a wildfire in La Posta and additional weather-related incidents. This story was posted by a bleary-eyed editor in the early pre-dawn hours who got no sleep due to the shooting incident here including eight wakeup phone calls from emergency authorities that continued until 3:30 a.m.
For those interested in the history of shark attacks in our area and California overall, below are some fascinating facts.
By Miriam Raftery
August 27, 2013 (San Diego’s East County ) – A proposed tiered equine ordinance aimed at making it easier for backcountry property owners to stable horses will be on the agenda for Supervisors to consider on Wednesday, September 11.
“When it comes to allowing stables, we need to take a more sensible, tiered approach so more people can take part in equine activities,” Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who represents East County, has said. “As a former horse owner and long-time rider, I think these changes will also strengthen the economic vitality of our rural areas.”
Customers encouraged to save energy to earn credit on bills
August 30, 2013 (San Diego) – San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) has called a ‘Reduce Your Use’ event day tomorrow (Aug. 31) due to hotter-than-average temperatures.
While SDG&E has adequate electricity resources to meet the demand, residential customers can help reduce strain on the electric grid by reducing their electricity use tomorrow between 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. By doing so, they will be eligible to earn a bill credit of $0.75 per kilowatt hour saved.
Here are some quick tips to help save energy at home:
SDG&E offers programs to assist low-income ratepayers, those with medical needs, and FLEX alerts for energy savings
By Walt Meyer
August 31, 2013 (San Diego)--Although temperatures have finally climbed to the normal range for the end of August, so far it’s been a mild summer, with temperatures below average, and for much of San Diego County, having things a few degrees cooler means not having to turn on the air conditioning. Hot summer days pose the biggest challenge to keeping the juice flowing without brownouts.
While renewable promise a long-term solution, in the short term, with San Onofre offline, likely permanently, the generating power of Southern California will be severely tested in a heat wave. As the region moves deeper into what is likely to a bad fire season, blazes near power lines also pose another imminent threats to the fragile power grid.
There is another good reason to try to keep the A/C off and switch to renewable: starting September 1, SDG&E is imposing a major rate increase. The rate hike will affect Tiers 3 and 4, but not Tiers 1 and 2 at all, which means many ratepayers in more temperate areas may not see any increase, but those who are usually have rates in the higher tiers will see their rates go up.
September 1, 2013 (Spring Valley) -- La Mesa Police have located Ramon Leggs, 76, who was an at risk missing person. Below is the original missing person report.
Mr. Leggs suffers from hypertension, diabetes, dementia and he has difficulty walking. He is a resident at New Brighton Place, which is located at 9009 Campo Road in Spring Valley. He was last seen on 08/31/2013 at approximately 5:30 PM in the area of Bancroft Drive and State Route 94. Mr. Leggs left on foot. He has no money or cell phone.
Mr. Leggs is described as a Hispanic male adult, 5' 7" tall, 170 pounds, gray hair with a beard and mustache. He was last seen wearing a dark green t-shirt, blue shorts, long white socks and black shoes.
50TH ANNIVERSARY OF MARCH ON WASHINGTON FOR CIVIL RIGHTS REFLECTS ON PROGRESS FROM THE PAST AND CHALLENGES FOR THE FUTURE
By Miriam Raftery
August 29, 2013 (Washington D.C.) -- Fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his now-famous “I have a dream” speech to a crowd of marchers in Washington D.C. from across the nation in support of civil rights. That movement in 1963 led ultimately to signing of the Civil Rights Act.
Yesterday, a massive crowd of people filled Capitol malll for a commemoration of that historic event. President Barack Obama delivered a speech at the Lincoln Memorial, site of Dr. King’s famed oration.
“The March on Washington teaches us that we are not trapped by the mistakes of history; that we are masters of our fate,” the President said. “But it also teaches us that the promise of this nation will only be kept when we work together. We’ll have to reignite the embers of empathy and fellow feeling, the coalition of conscience that found expression in this place 50 years ago.” View video of the President’s speech.
Attorney General Eric Holder also spoke, alluding to the Supreme Court’s recent decision weakening the Voting Rights Act.
An ECM special investigation finds links between rise in dust storms across outhwest, Valley Fever epidemic, and installation of large-scale desert solar and wind projects
By Miriam Raftery
August 26, 2013 (Ocotillo)--A second dust storm has struck Ocotillo on Auugust 25, just two days after an earlier dust storm swept through the desert community. Dust billowed thousands of feet into the air, dwarfing a 500 foot tall wind turbines scarcely visible in the above photo. East County Magazine photographer Jim Pelley was in the midst of the storm and shot videos:
August 29, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – A flash flood watch has been issued for mountains, valleys and desert areas in San Diego’s East County and other areas in southwestern California. The watch is in effect for this afternoon through 10 p.m. this evening.
Slow-moving thunderstorms are expected to produce very heavy rainfall with flash flooding. Debris flows are possible in and below areas burned by recent wildfires.
August 29, 2013 (San Diego) – An unprecedented reduction in reservoir releases on the Colorado River announced on Friday, August 16 by the Bureau of Reclamation won’t cut water supplies to agencies in San Diego County or the rest of the Southwest during the 2014 “water year,” but the move does underscore the importance of continued conservation and water-supply diversification across the region.
August 29, 2013 (Santee) updated August 30, 2013 --– The family of Jonathan Heredia, 29, seeks public help to locate the Santee resident who has been missing since August 26. According to family, he suffers from mental health issues and depression.
Heredia is Hispanic with dark hair and brown eyes. He weighs 160 pounds and stands 5 feet 10 inches tall. He has a crucifix tattoo on his back with the words “our Lord” , a dice tattoo on his chest and a tattoo on his forearm that reads “69.” He was last seen wearing a black dress shirt, grey jeans, black jacket with grey on the back, and may be seen with navy blue shorts with white stripes on the side.
August 29, 2013 (San Diego) – Waste Management of San Diego’s curbside residential and commercial trash and recycling pick-up schedule will be delayed by one day throughout the week of September 2, in observance of Labor Day. In addition, all Waste Management operations will be closed on Monday, September 2, with normal operations resuming the next day
August 28, 2013 (San Diego's East County) -- A flash flood warning is in effect until 4:15 p.m. for east central San Diego County. Heavy rain and thunderstorms are occurring in and around the Chariot Fire burn area.
Doppler radar estimates up to 0.6 inches of rain has fallen in the burn area in about 30 minutes this afternoon. This is well in excess of U.S. G.S. thresholds for debris flows from this burn scar. Roads, trails and campgrounds located along drainages within or below the burned basins can be impacted by flash floods and debris flows. This includes areas along Highway S-2 and the great Southern Overland Stage route as wel as the Butterfield Ranch area.
By Miriam Raftery
August 27, 2013 (San Diego’s East County ) – California Highway Patrol Sergeant Dave Dreher has responded to East County Magazine’s inquiry regarding a truck with over-sized load that broke down, sitting for two weeks on State Route 94 in Dulzura before it was finally removed last week. Residents had complained of long delays and inadequate notification.
By Miriam Raftery
August 26, 2013 (Ramona) – The Ramona Water District Board is trying to oust one of its elected members. Last year, the board voted to change its meeting time from 4:30 to 2 o clock p.m. But the director, Kit Kesinger, was absent and says he can’t attend meetings so early in the day. He wants the board to change the time back to 4:30, when more members of the public can also attend.
August 26, 2013 (San Diego) – The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors on Thursday said the agency is advancing plans that align with recommendations issued by the San Diego County Grand Jury in its May report, “Reduce Dependence on Imported Water.”
August 26, 2013 (La Mesa) – The City of La Mesa began a process that minimizes root intrusion in its underground sewer system. Roots can enter the sewer through joints in older sewer pipes. Performing the sewer root foaming work is contractor Pacific Sewer Maintenance Corporation.
Work began on August 22, 2013, and it will last between 30 to 45 days. There should be no disruptions to individual or business sewer services.
By Miriam Raftery
August 25, 2013 (Borrego) --A flash flood watch has been elevated to a flash flood warning today for north and central areas of East County, where heavy rain and flash flooding is occurring. Heaviest rains are from Shelter Valley north to Borrego Springs, including areas burned by the Vallecito Fire and Banner fire.
Debris flows and flooding are occurring in these areas. A SIG ALERT has been issued for Highway 78, which has been shut down in the San Felipe/Monument Valley area, where boulders have washed into the roadway. At Tarantula Wash, one-way traffic controls will remain in effect for several days until roadway repairs can be done, according to the CHP website.
Campgrounds may be impacted by flash floods and debris flows. Excessive runoff will also cause flooding of small creeks, streams, country roads and farmlands nearby.
A flash flood warning remains in effect for a broader area in our local mountains and deserts. Monitor the news to learn if this becomes elevated to a flash flood warning, which means flooding is eminent or occurring.
“Today we had the worst flash flooding we have seen in years,” Bob Kutscher, a resident of Borrego Springs on Velite Drive, a main floodway for the Hellhole Canyon watershed wrote in an e-mail to ECM. Here is a video that he shot of the flash flood on his roadway this afternoon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ky2fhdoiHpA.
August 24, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Thunderstorms and heavy rain are forecast for mountain and desert areas in East County. A flash flood watch has been issued from Sunday morning through Monday evening.
In addition, debris flows may occur in areas burned by recent wildfires including the Banner, Chariot, Chihuahua, Eagle, Felipe, and Vallecito fires.
By Miriam Raftery
August 23, 2013 (Ocotillo ) – It looked like a scene out of the 1930s, when factory-scale farms removed topsoil in the Midwest, creating dust storms that swept across the western states, reducing vast areas to a Dust Bowl. Is history repeating itself?
Residents of Ocotillo and other desert communities across the Southwest have recently voiced worries that industrial-scale wind and solar projects that stripped bare the earth would cause dust storms. Yesterday, a monster-scale dust cloud rolled across Ocotillo, blackening the sky and obscuring even the wind turbines that tower 500 feet above the town.
By Miriam RAftery
Photos by Richard Campbell and Billy Ortiz
August 23, 2013 (San Diego's East County)--A tropical storm system has moved into our area, bringing thundershowers, humid weather and dramatic lightning displays across East County’s mountain areas .The storm system is expected to weaken Saturday, but more thunderstorms and lightning are forecast Sunday through Tuesday across East County’s mountain and desert areas. (View video of lightning over Descanso on the Brush Fire Partyline’s Facebook Page)
In addition, a blowing dust warning has been issued by the National Weather Service for desert areas in San Diego and Imperial Counties.
STUCK TRUCK REMOVED TWO WEEKS AFTER BREAKDOWN IN DULZURA, BUT RESIDENTS DEMAND ANSWERS TO SERIOUS PUBLIC SAFETY THREATS POSED
By Miriam Raftery; photo by Donnie Durfee
Rural residents are demanding answers and improved communications after a truck with an oversized load broke down and blocked traffic on State Route 94 for over 50 hours. Even after the road was cleared, the big rig remained on the shoulder at Marron Valley Road in Dulzura for two weeks before it was finally removed.
Media was not warned and no Sig Alert was issued to alert residents prior to the oversized load taking to the highway, even though the slow-moving, extra-wide load obstructed traffic in both directions along the main evacuation route for residents in areas including Jamul, Deerhorn Valley, Potrero, Barrett Junction and Tecate.
During the blockage, residents were forced to detour up to 90 miles, causing delays of many hours. Yet a SigAlert was not issued until seven hours after the road was completely blocked by the mechanical breakdown. Even before the breakdown, the oversized, slow-moving load obstructed traffic in both directions. The load was about 231 feet long – yet posted signs indicate the maximum truck length allowed is 75 feet. So why was this rig allowed to take this narrow route with many hairpin curves when straighter, wider routes to its destination were available?
August 21, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – A tiny wasp from the other side of the world has been drafted into a big role in San Diego: protecting the multimillion-dollar citrus industry from a potentially devastating threat.
Tamarixia radiata is being enlisted throughout southern California because it literally sucks the life out of the Asian citrus psyllid, which spreads a disease fatal to all types of citrus trees.
August 18, 2013 (El Cajon) – At 11:51 p.m. Saturday night, Heartland Fire & Rescue crews in El Cajon, with assistance from Cal Fire, responded to reports of a fire in the 3-hundred block of Wisconsin Avenue. As fire crews arrived on scene, smoke was seen coming from apartment #3, at 314 Wisconsin Avenue.
August 17, 2013 (San Diego’s East County ) -- Monsoonal moisture will create a slight chance of thunderstorms over San Diego County mountains and deserts Sunday afternoon and evening, the National Weather Service reports. Any thunderstorms that occur will be capable of producing dry lightning, gusty winds, and locally heavy downpours.
By Miriam Raftery
August 17, 2013 (Santee) – An environmental group has lodged a formal complaint over a proposed electronic billboard in Santee, contending that the sign violates city laws and further, should require an environmental review.
The LEC-powered video billboard proposed by a Toyota dealership would stand 70 feet tall and be 321 square feet in size. It would tower above the junction of highways 125 and 52.
By Miriam Raftery
August 16, 2013 (Ramona) – The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investigating ""sextortion" threats allegedly made against 19 people including Cassidy Wolf, a former Ramona contestant who won the title Miss Teen USA on Saturday.
According to NBC Today Show’s website, Wolf said she received an anonymous e-mail several months ago from a blackmailer who claimed to have stolen images from the webcam on her home computer. The hacker reportedly threatened to publish the images unless Wolf would provide nude photos.
August 15, 2013 (San Diego's East County) -- Husqvarna this week announced a recall of its closed-course/competition off-road motorcycles due to crash hazard. The motorcycle's throttle cable can malfunction so the rider loses speed control, posing a crash hazard, according to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission.
August 15, 2013 (Santee) – State Senator Joel Anderson and District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis will hold an East county Public Safety Town Hall on August 22, beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the West Hills High School Theatre at 8756 Mast Blvd. in Santee. The top priority for parents is protecting their kids from danger. With new dangers arising daily, it can be difficult to get the information needed to keep children safe.
Prosecutor contends Bittner more concerned with economic gain than well-being of raptors;
Bittner data used to justify wind and other energy projects in San Diego/Imperial Counties, Mexico & elsewhere
By Nadin Abbott and Miriam Raftery
August 13, 2013 (San Diego)—U.S. Magistrate Judge David H. Bartick sentenced John David Bittner of Julian, president of the Wildlife Research Institute in Ramona, to three years probation and a $7500 fine. Bittner pled guilty to unlawful taking of a Golden Eagle without a permit and failing to file any data reports for a four-year period on birds that he had banded. The government could have imposed up to a $100,000 fine and a one-year prison sentence, but instead hope to induce Bittner to turn over years of missing data as a condition of probation.
"We support the Justice Dept’s vigilance in prosecuting Bittner for his serious transgressions and unlawful behavior,” said Donna Tisdale with the Protect Our Communities organization. ““When unethical and basically corrupt experts like Bittner side with industry over avian protection—our beautiful birds literally get clobbered with the blunt end of the turbine blade.”
But she suggested that the fine amounted to a slap on the wrist in light of the more than $600,000 that Bittner’s Wildlife Research Institute raked in through consulting fees for corporations. Iberdrola and Pattern Energy hired him to write reports justifying their wind projects, Tule Wind in McCain Valley and the Ocotillo Express Wind Facility. Sempra Energy also hired Bittner as its eagle consultant for its massive Energia Sierra Juarez Wind in Baja California.