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La Mesa News Briefs – July 24, 2020

Candidates emerge in City Council race

The race for La Mesa’s two open City Council seats is starting to take shape. Although potential candidates have until the end of July to file papers, two challengers and one of the two incumbents have already made unofficial announcements they plan on running.

At a recent online meeting of the La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club, incumbent Colin Parent said he would seek reelection to the Council. Resident activist Jack Shu also announced he is running for a Council seat.

On it’s website, the San Diego County Republican Party announced it has endorsed local realtor Laura Lothian in the City Council race.

Incumbant Kristine Alessio — who left the Republican in 2017 citing the party’s unwillingness to confront President Trump’s racism following a white nationalist gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia — also confirmed in an email to the La Mesa Courier that she will seek a third term on the City Council.

Official launches of races for La Mesa City Council have traditionally begun after the filing period ends and more candidates may file papers before the end of the month.

 

Scam alert in La Mesa

A spike in scammers pretending to be from San Diego nonprofit Second Chance has caused alarm. While San Diego Second Chance does not employ door-to-door solicitors, unscrupulous imposters are asking for donations under their name.

Maureen Polimadei, the Donor & Volunteer Engagement Manager at Second Chance Program, has heard about this issue from dubious community members.

“Unfortunately, this is not the first example of fraudulent fundraising in San Diego,” she said in a press release.

Examples of reporters include solicitors knocking on doors, telling a story about how Second Chance helped them turn their life around and now they are helping Second Chance by asking for donations to support the programs. In other examples, these solicitors are trying to sell something, such as candy or magazine subscriptions.

Fake solicitors often present a badge or other documents that look real, but in this digital age, anyone can put together a sophisticated package. Polimadei recommends that anyone who has written a check to a door-to-door solicitor claiming to be from Second Chance put a stop payment on the check.

The San Diego Police Department posted the following advice on NextDoor.com: “All persons working as interviewers, solicitors, peddlers or vendors of merchandise, services, magazines, etc. are required to obtain a Police Registration Card. When operating, the card must be displayed on the front of their person…(San Diego Municipal Code 33.1402). This card is white in color, has a photo, tracking number, and identifying information along with official City of San Diego background/seal.”

Recent reports have located scammers in La Mesa, Carmel Valley, North Park, Solana Beach, and La Jolla.

 

La Mesa Disaster Recovery Fund checks delivered

In the first week of July, representatives of the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce and Chamber Foundation, La Mesa Chamber of Commerce, East County Economic Development Council, and several major donors distributed the first 27 checks from the La Mesa Disaster Recovery Fund to businesses damaged during civil unrest overnight on Saturday, May 30, and Sunday, May 31.

East County Chamber Foundation Board Chairman Patrick Howard said the group remained focused from the start on a single priority.

“We worked thoughtfully to make the process as easy and as fast as possible. We were overwhelmed by the support for these La Mesa business owners,” he said. “We made a promise to be fast, fair, and equitable, and we have delivered thanks to an exceptional East County partnership.”

La Mesa businesses receiving checks in Phase I registered and verified they had suffered physical damage or looting as a direct result of the activities of individuals.

GoFundMe transferred the current funding less its fees to the Foundation on June 25. Checks were immediately processed for distribution on Monday, June 29. Twenty-seven checks each made out for $5,000 were distributed that week. The remainder of the fund will be held for additional relief applications.

Additional donations will be distributed to eligible businesses in Phase 2 when GoFundMe releases all remaining money the week of July 27, with the intention of closing the fund by the end of July. As many as 50 businesses are believed to have suffered property damage or losses due to looting.

The La Mesa Disaster Recovery Fund was created using a GoFundMe page by the East County Chamber of Commerce Foundation to help businesses damaged or destroyed in the aftermath of opportunistic violence and looting following peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstrations in La Mesa on May 30. The fund reached $50,000 in a single day, and $100,000 by the second day. With additional corporate donations, the fund total has reached more than $240,000.

For more information, visit www.eastcountychamber.org.

 

Herrick Library opens with curbside pickup

Residents of the Grossmont Healthcare District can once again access the consumer health information collection at the Herrick Community Health Care Library, which reopened with curbside pickup service on June 30.

The news comes more than three months after the library’s closure in mid-March due to state and county restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Curbside services allow patrons to borrow from the library collection of books, DVDs, magazines, and pamphlets, all of which have a health focus.

“We curate resources that are designed to help people of all ages and backgrounds gain more understanding of their health, especially since time spent with healthcare providers can be limited,” said library director Rachelle Kierulff. “Making the library collection accessible in this way puts health and wellness information, personal stories and entertainment back in the community’s hands.”

Kierulff said the continued reopening of library spaces and services will follow state and county health orders and guidelines. Since its initial closure in March, library staff have been, and continue to be, available by phone and email to answer questions.

Herrick Library is located at 9001 Wakarusa St. in La Mesa. Curbside pickup reservation instructions, pickup hours, and safety information is available at www.herricklibrary.org.

 

City OKs outdoor dining by executive order

The City of La Mesa issued an executive order on July 9, which temporarily allows the use of public and private outdoor areas by eating establishments for dining, provided those establishments obtain written authorization from the Director of Community Development and comply with all social distancing and other COVID-19 related health orders and all other city, county (e.g., emergency orders), ctate (e.g., Alcoholic Beverage Control) and federal laws (e.g., Americans with Disabilities Act). This executive order was issued following state a mandate to suspend indoor dining for San Diego County due to rising COVID-19 cases that went into effect July 6.

There is no city fee charged or permit required for businesses that receive authorization to use public and private outdoor areas for dining. Businesses interested in obtaining written authorization for temporary use of public and private outdoor areas should contact Allyson Kinnard, Senior Planner at akinnard@cityoflamesa.us.

 

Water Purification Program receives $86 millions

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s (MWD) board of directors recently approved the East County Advanced Water Purification Program for its Local Resources Program (LRP), providing approximately $86 million in funding for this important water supply project.

“MWD’s Local Resources Program is absolutely essential to the success of the East County AWP Program. The MWD Board’s approval is a crucial piece to making this important water supply project a reality for East County and we thank the board for their continued commitment to the LRP program and local supply development,” remarked Allen Carlisle, East County AWP Joint Powers Authority (JPA) Program Administrator and Padre Dam Municipal Water District CEO/General Manager.

The East County AWP Program is a regional water and wastewater solution and projected to have significant regional benefits. The program will be one of the first potable reuse projects in the State of California to use the new Reservoir Augmentation regulations. The program will provide up to 30 percent of East County’s drinking water demands — almost 13,000 acre-feet of water and eliminate the discharge of 15 million gallons of partially treated wastewater into the Pacific Ocean.

The program uses four advanced water purification steps to produce water that is near-distilled in quality. After treatment, the purified water will be blended with water in Lake Jennings and treated again at the R.M. Levy Water Treatment Plant before being distributed as drinking water.

The East County AWP Program has successfully competed for more than $200 million in low interest loans and grants from the State of California and is committed to meeting operational start dates of early 2025. The program’s financing plan assures ratepayer affordability through the mix of LRP incentives, grant funding and low interest loans from the state and federal government as well as financing from the municipal bond market.

East County AWP Program partners have invested tens of millions of dollars over the last five years to advance this Project. The MWD Board’s decision to approve targets for local supply development has inspired and encouraged these investments. The East County JPA is currently in the process of awarding almost $400 million dollars in contracts for three design and construction packages for Project infrastructure.

This program is a collaborative partnership between Padre Dam Municipal Water District, the County of San Diego, the City of El Cajon and Helix Water District. For more information about the East County Advanced Water Purification Program, please visit www.eastcountyawp.com.

 

BBB warns of quarantine puppy scams

Families spending more time at home have turned to the internet to look for a pet. Scammers advertise on websites for pets that don’t exist and are never shipped. The coronavirus pandemic has given scammers more opportunities to ask for money upfront. Scammers also make excuses as to why buyers can’t see the pet in person before heartbroken, would-be pet owners figure out they have been conned.

Better Business Bureau Serving the Pacific Southwest (BBB) warns consumers as an increase in puppy scams have nearly doubled during the past few months. Victims claim to have lost hundreds to thousands of dollars in deposits, specialty crates, COVID-19 sanitation, insurance, shipping and other fees. Since January 2020, BBB has received a total of 61 puppy scams reported on BBB Scam Tracker, and a loss of over $30k just in the Pacific Southwest region. BBB recommends the following tips to avoid getting caught in this tear-jerking scam:

Visit the pet in person. Proper precautions can allow visitation with a possible pet, such as maintaining social distancing and wearing facial masks. Consumers can also ask to see a puppy over a live video chat. Use reverse image search to locate if the picture of the puppy appears on different sites.

Avoid payment methods that cannot trace the seller. Methods that offer no recourse and no way to get money back for victims of fraud include wire service, gift cards or apps such as PayPal or Zelle. Credit cards may be accepted but fraudsters will steal the information to use it in other scams.

Research breed prices. Purebred dogs advertised at discounted prices may be fraudulent. Look out for additional fees for services such as vaccination, shipping, special crating or Covid-19 related charges, which could be a sign of a scam.

Reach out to local animal shelters. Adopting from verified shelters alleviates potential scam threats. Shelters are looking for families to adopt or foster, which helps reduce overcrowding at facilities. Humane Society of the United States refers consumers to local shelters.

Report scams to BBB Scam Tracker and the Federal Trade Commission. Consumers also can report to petscams.com, which catalogues puppy scammers, tracks complaints and endeavors to take down fraudulent pet sales websites.

To schedule an interview, or to speak with a BBB Public Relations Specialist, please email pr@bbbcommunity.org or call 602-212-2204.


Source: La Mesa Currier

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