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Thursday, April 26, 2012

City Moving Forward on Prospect Avenue Improvements

Thursday, April 26, 2012

City engineers and their team of experts are moving forward on the long-planned improvement and beautification of Prospect Avenue.

“Our design team has been in the field recently investigating various options for Prospect Avenue to accommodate a number of improvements that will make this street more attractive, safe and functional,” said principal civil engineer and project manager Carl Schmitz.

Prospect Avenue after improvements are completed
The intent is to create a “red carpet” for business expansion along this important commercial corridor along Santee’s southern border with Gillespie Field, the largest of eight general aviation airports operated by the county.
Prospect Avenue today
The project calls for revitalizing the appearance of a mile-long section of the street between Magnolia Avenue and Cuyamaca Street. The city intends to invest an estimated $20 million to install new sidewalks, parking, landscaping, lighting, underground the power lines, and improve surface drainage.

Local residents and businesses will have an opportunity to comment on the project a public meeting tentatively scheduled for June.  A set of alternative street alignments will be proposed this fall, followed by an additional public meeting. The city wants to begin construction in the spring of 2014 and complete the project in approximately a year.

Business owners and property owners directly affected by the project can contact the project manager at cshmitz@ci.santee.ca.us or by calling (619) 258-4100 ext. 175.

Additional Freeway Access Lane On Tap for Cuyamaca St.

One of Santee’s traffic headaches is about to get some relief.

City traffic engineers and Caltrans have approved the addition of a southbound left-turn lane on Cuyamaca Street that will ease delays for motorists heading east on State Route 52 during peak hours.

Currently there is a single southbound left-turn lane at this location. However, because of heavy demand during peak hours, motorists often have to wait through two or even three cycles of the turn-signal light.

Striping work to add a second left-turn lane, which will double the capacity of the southbound left-turn movement, is scheduled to be done overnight on Sunday, May 6.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Banners Opposing Power Plant Go Up in Santee

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Street banners proclaiming Santee’s opposition to the proposed Quail Brush power plant project have been installed at three gateway locations in the city.

The City Council agreed to put up the banners after unanimously approving  a resolution opposing the project on March 28.

The banners are now up at three locations: The 9500 block of Mission Gorge Road near the U.S. Post Office; Magnolia Avenue near the State Route 67 freeway; and at the intersection of Mast Boulevard and West Hills Parkway.
Update: On Thursday, April 26, the San Diego Planning Commission 
postponed the hearing to June 28.

One of the city’s concerns is that the project, originally designed to include eleven 100-foot-tall exhaust stacks and other bulky industrial structures, will not blend in well visually with the scenic hills along Santee’s western boundary with the city of San Diego.

Cogentrix Energy LLC of Charlotte, NC is proposing to build the natural gas-fueled, 100-megawatt generating station at an 11-acre site north of State Route 52 next to the Sycamore Canyon Landfill.

Before the plant can be built, Cogentrix needs the city of San Diego to rezone the property from open space to commercial. Cogentrix also needs a permit from  the state Energy Commission.

More information is available at the state Energy Commission website.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Replacing Metal Pipes Key to Sinkhole Prevention

Monday, April 23, 2012

Facts are stubborn things. Santee’s city engineers know that corrugated metal pipes installed here decades ago for storm water drainage, most put in place long before Santee was incorporated, are eventually going to corrode and collapse.

That’s why the City Council in 2010 approved a plan to inspect the city’s 6.75 miles of metal pipes and prioritize their replacement, starting with those in the worst shape. The city’s capital improvement program calls for spending $5 million on the project over the next five years, but work can only proceed as money becomes available.

A truck found a weak storm drain under Rancho Fanita Dr.
“We’ve taken a proactive approach,” said Principal Civil Engineer Julie Procopio. “The council has made it a priority to replace the unreliable pipes and has allocated significant resources  to address the problem.”

So far, the city has replaced or repaired five high-priority metal storm drains, including a 72-inch diameter pipe beneath Pebble Beach Drive
that collapsed during the record-setting winter rains of 2010-11.

But surprises will happen. Earlier this month, a large truck delivering a storage pod prompted a metal pipe to collapse on Rancho Fanita Drive, causing the vehicle to sink up to its rear axle.  Emergency repairs to that storm drain are expected to be completed in a few weeks.

Meanwhile, the city will continue replacing or rehabilitating metal storm drains in conjunction with major street resurfacing projects, a strategy that allows the city to avoid tearing up streets twice. In many cases, the corroded pipes are rehabilitated in place by retrofitting them with reinforced concrete, which is far more durable.

“We’ve finished fixing the very worst pipes, so we’ve moved on to address the next priority level,” said Procopio. “There’s another 10 or so under construction now.”

“By systematically identifying and fixing the most susceptible metal storm drains now, we should be able to prevent potential sinkholes before they happen,” she said.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Swim for Free and Learn About Water Safety

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ker-splash! That’s the sound of kids having fun on April Pools Day, a cooperative effort between the Santee Fire Department and the City of Santee Aquatics Center and Cameron Family YMCA.

The event, scheduled from to on Saturday, April 28, is intended to raise awareness about water safety and measures that parents can take to prevent accidental drownings.

The Aquatics Center is allowing kids to swim for free and participate in games, crafts and educational activities focusing on water safety.

Members of the Santee Fire Department will bring training mannequins to demonstrate proper CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation) techniques and will stage a water slide accident and mock rescue. They’ll also demonstrate the correct fitting for a life jacket.

“There were two drownings East County last summer and we’d like to reduce that number to zero,” said Santee Fire Captain Brad Peterson, who brought April Pools Day to the region about seven years ago.

“While many cities have regulations requiring child-proof fencing around private swimming pools, there are older homes in East County where people still don’t have fences and gates,” Peterson said.

In Santee, April Pools Day is being held simultaneously with the YMCA’s nationwide Healthy Kids Day, an event aimed at encouraging kids to stay active during their summer break from school.

The YMCA plans to hold a fun/walk run, and other activities intended to instill the message that physically active kids stay healthier and do better in academics.

The aquatics center is located at the eastern end of Town Center Community Park at 10123 Riverwalk Drive.The phone number is (619) 449-9622.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Quail Brush Developer Mulling Changes to Project

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A firm vying to build a natural gas-fired power plant on Santee’s western border is “considering making some modifications to the profile of the proposed project,” in response to public criticism,  according to an April 16 report from the California Energy Commission.

Cogentrix Energy of North Carolina is redesigning the project to lower the proposed 11 exhaust stacks from 100 to 70 feet and group them into two clusters, said Eric Solorio, the agency's siting project manager.

Lowering the stacks will require Cogentrix to do new modeling to show the predicted path of emissions from the plant, and grouping the stacks into two clusters will require changes to the project's grading plan, Solorio said.  Studies to gauge the effect of the redesign will take about six weeks to complete, he said.
As currently proposed, the 100-megawatt electrical generating facility would include eleven 100-foot-tall exhaust stacks, a 30-foot-tall water tank and other two-story structures spread over an 11-acre site near the Sycamore Canyon landfill.

In March, the Santee City Council unanimously approved a resolution opposing the power plant “unless and until all effects of the proposal are fully disclosed, analyzed and mitigated (to) reduce effects to a level of insignificance in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act.”

In addition to obtaining a permit from the Energy Commission, Cogentrix Energy needs approval from the city of San Diego to rezone the site from open space to industrial. The San Diego City Planning Commission has rescheduled its public hearing on the proposed rezone for April 26.

The Energy Commission also plans to hold more public hearings on Quail Brush, but not until the applicant provides more information about the project, the report states.

 Energy Commission officials recently cancelled a public hearing originally scheduled for April to allow themselves more time to review additional information requested from the developers.

“Once staff receives the applicant’s outstanding data responses and evaluates the information, then staff will schedule and notice future workshops, as needed, in order to address substantive issues,” the report states.

 Energy Commission officials said they have received numerous letters from the public, most of which “express concerns about potential environmental impacts of the proposed” project.

In March, nearly 200 people attended an informational workshop hosted by the Energy Commission, which also received a petition containing more than 1,000 signatures of people opposed to the project.

You can read the entire report here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Got HHW?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

“Household hazardous waste” sounds like something that oozes from a stinky factory or landfill, but guess what?
In reality, such waste  is often common items available at your local supermarket or hardware store, products such as paints, cleaners, oils, batteries, and pesticides.
Such products, many of which are toxic, corrosive or flammable, can do serious harm to the environment if they are dumped down the drain, spilled onto the ground or tossed into the trash can.
Be vigilant. Protect your family and our natural environment. Store household hazardous waste in closed containers and recycle them at a household hazardous waste facility.
Santee residents can dispose of their household hazardous materials at no cost by calling the Waste Management Inc. customer service center at (619) 596-5100 to set up an appointment.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Happy Trails: Santee Plans for Multi-use Trails

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

If you hike, bike or ride horses, Santee is planning trails to accommodate your mode of  movement.

This preference for multi-use trails is memorialized in Policy 3.4 of the Trails Element of the city’s 2009 Bicycle Master Plan, which states:  

“The City should include both hiking and bicycle trails in any trail system; equestrian trails shall also be considered.”

Recently, some folks have questioned the city’s commitment to this policy.  They’ve submitted a petition signed by those who favor additional horse trails in Santee, including a route along the San Diego River.

More than five years ago, city planners plotted the route of a future equestrian trail along the city’s northern boundary to provide access between Lakeside and Mission Trails Regional Park. The proposed northern route would cross through the future Fanita Ranch neighborhood and allow mountain bikers, hikers and equestrians access to Mission Trails Park. This route through the hills surrounding Santee would offer the best scenery and views for mountain bikers, hikers and equestrians.

A multi-use/equestrian trail along the San Diego River would be more complicated and costly to achieve. A riverfront trail would have to avoid impacts to protected wildlife habitat. It would require an underpass at Cuyamaca Street to avoid horses having to cross a busy, 4-lane arterial street.
“The city’s master plan for trails calls for additional paved trails along the San Diego River, but that doesn’t preclude the possibility of a parallel multi-use/horse  trail,” said Community Services Director Bill Maertz.
“It’s not an either/or situation.”

Monday, April 9, 2012

Eggcellent Turnout at Eggstravaganza

Monday, April 9, 2012

The popularity of the old-fashioned Easter egg hunt has not diminished.

An estimated 8,000 people turned out Saturday, April 7 for the 9th Annual  Spring Eggstravaganza event at Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve.

“It was probably our biggest attendance ever,” said Cherie Meek, special events supervisor for the city of Santee. “The venue was overflowing with happy families.”

The first two hours of the event were covered live by San Diego Channel 6 weekend weather reporter Brooke Landau.

About 17,000 plastic eggs were left for children to gather during 40 egg hunts held throughout the day. All children participating in the hunts received goodie bags.

More than 50 community volunteers provided valuable assistance at the event, which was co-sponsored by the city of Santee and the Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve.

“We are grateful to our partners at Santee Lakes for making this such a successful event,” Meek said. “This shows mutual cooperation between two agencies can benefit the community.”

Professional Society Honors Two from Santee

The California Park and Recreation Society district for San Diego and Imperial Counties recently honored two Santee area professionals for their contributions to the community.

Chris Myers

City of Santee Recreation Coordinator Chris Myers was honored with a Recognition Award for the district’s outstanding part-time professional. Myers oversees the Woodglen Vista Skate and BMX Park, coordinates teen programs, supervises city hall facility rentals and is also an apprentice with the Public Services Division.

Allen Carlisle
 Allen Carlisle, general manager of Padre Dam Municipal Water District, was presented the full-time professional Recognition Award for his previous work at Padre Dam’s Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve. During his decade-long tenure as the agency’s park and recreation director, Carlisle oversaw the completion of 20 capital improvement projects, including an RV storage facility covered by solar panels, 10 rental cabins, RV park renovations and a boulder-climbing adventure course.
Both honorees were applauded for having an active role in achieving the society's goals to strengthen community image, support economic development, promote health and wellness, protect environmental resources, and provide valuable recreation experiences.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Draft Annual Action Plan for FY 2012-13 CDBG funding available for review and comment

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The City of Santee fiscal year 2012-13 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) One-Year Draft Action Plan will be available for public review and comment between April 5, 2012 and May 4, 2012 

The One-Year Draft Action Plan provides details of the projects and programs proposed for CDBG funds for FY 2012-13. On May 9, 2012, the Santee City Council is scheduled to consider all comments received, approve the projects and programs for FY 2012-13, and authorize an application to Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for CDBG funds.  The CDBG total allocation for FY 2012-13 is $269,940 plus an additional $109,379 in carry-over funds for Public Facilities activities. On February 22, 2012 and March 14, 2012, the City Council heard comments for the FY2012-13 Draft One-Year Action Plan during public hearings.

The Draft One-Year Action Plan is posted on the city website.  Comments and requests for additional information may be directed to:
Melanie Kush, Department of Development Services
10601 Magnolia Avenue, Santee, CA 92071
or electronically at mkush@ci.santee.ca.us.  
(619) 258-4100 ext. 167

FYI: Quail Brush Power Plant

The Santee City Council on March 28 unanimously endorsed a resolution opposing plans to build a 100-megawatt, natural gas fired power plant in San Diego near Santee’s western boundary. The project, known as the Quail Brush Power Plant, is proposed for 10 acres along the road leading to the Sycamore Canyon landfill. 
A group of local residents has organized under the name Stop the Santee Power Plant. Extensive discussion about the project can be viewed at the group’s website: stopthesanteepowerplant.org

Before it can move forward, the project must be granted a licence from the California Energy Commission, and the site would have to be rezoned by the San Diego Planning Commission from open space to industrial. Licensing documents filed with the California Energy Commission are available online here.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Calling all Eggheads

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Eggstravanza, East County’s most popular springtime family event, is coming to Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve, 9310 Fanita Parkway, this Saturday, April 7.

Photo courtesy of JSR Imaging
The event, which runs from to , includes a variety of modestly priced activities that have made it a favorite among families with children.

Children from ages can hunt for specially labeled eggs that can be redeemed for prizes. To make it fair, separate hunting grounds will be set aside for children 3 years and younger. All children must purchase a 50-cent wrist band to participate in an egg hunt and to be eligible for a goody bag. Cash only. Egg hunts, which will be held continuously throughout the day. Space is limited and participation in the hunts is first come, first served.

There will also be a live DJ, food, pony rides, a petting zoo, crafts, inflatable play areas, face painting, carnival rides and the opportunity to pose for photos with a live bunny. Parking inside the recreation preserve is $5.

Information about the event, which is co-sponsored by the city of Santee and Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve,  is available on the city website or by calling the City of Santee Special Events Hotline at (619) 258- 4100 ext. 201.