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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Recycle your Christmas Tree

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Help divert green waste from the landfill by recycling your Christmas tree at the end of the season:  Trees will be picked up for recycling the first two weeks following Christmas through Jan. 10, 2014.

Residents with curbside collection can recycle their Christmas trees by placing the trees in their yard waste bins on their regular pick-up day. Trees must be cut into 4-ft sections and must fit into yard waste container. Ornaments, tinsel and tree stands must be removed before being recycling.

 Flocked trees cannot be recycled, but will be collected if cut into four-foot sections and placed into the regular trash cart.

Santee residents without curbside collection such as apartment complexes can drop off trees, from Dec. 26th through Jan. 10, 2014, at the Waste Management Recycle Center in El Cajon, located at 925 O’Connor Street, one block south of the West Bradley Avenue and Johnson Avenue intersection. The recycling center will be open 7:00am to 7:00pm Monday through Friday, and 7:00am to 12:00pm on Saturday.

For more information contact Ed Ruiz, at (619) 258-4100 ext. 128.



Thursday, December 19, 2013

Comment Period Opens on Walmart Expansion Project

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The city of Santee today issued a Draft Environmental Impact Report on the proposed expansion of the Town Center Walmart store and started the clock on a 45-day review and comment period.
Walmart has applied to increase the size of its store at 170 Town Center Parkway from 131,220 square feet to 180,339 square feet to offer a larger selection of groceries. The store would also expand its operation to 24 hours.
Walmart plans to create a new parking area on a 5.26-acre parcel south of the store.  This change in the parking lot configuration and other measures to minimize the effect of the project are identified in the environmental report.
The public has until 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 3 to comment on the document.  Copies are available for review at the Development Services Department at Santee City Hall, 10601 Magnolia Avenue, Building 4, on the City’s website at www.cityofsantee.ca.gov, and at the Santee County Library, 9225 Carlton Hills Blvd.
Written comments should be directed to Associate Planner Travis Cleveland, 10601 Magnolia Avenue, Santee, CA, 92071; or via email at tcleveland@cityofsanteeca.gov.  He can be reached at (619) 258-4100 ext. 160 for more information.
The proposed expansion project will be reviewed by City Council at a future public hearing, at which time the public may also submit comments.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Santee’s New Clean Water Manager

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ensuring the city of Santee complies with the Clean Water Act requires a person with multiple talents and the ability to switch hats when needed.
Newly hired Stormwater Program Manager Cecilia Tipton said she’s comfortable with the various roles she must play to keep the city in good standing with state water-quality regulators.

Cities are encouraged to increase the public’s awareness about the vital role individuals play in preventing water-borne pollutants from harming the watersheds that drains into the San Diego River.   In her role as teacher, Tipton has a strategy for making her message relevant.
“Tying our message to specific community interests (such as fishing at nearby reservoirs and the San Diego River) is important,” she said. “That way, you can get user buy-in; then it becomes important to them.”

Making the connection between clean water and recreational fishing would be easy if everyone realized how cumulative acts such as littering or dumping soapy water into the storm drain can adversely impact water quality.

“The typical person doesn’t stop to think about the different layers of how our water system works,” she said.
Beyond public education, Tipton also is required to be a local water-quality cop. If she sees a construction site without proper erosion controls, she must stop construction or take other measures to enforce the state’s strict rules on preventing sediment transport.

The section of the river in Santee is currently listed by the state as “impaired” due to excess sediment.

“With all the new development that’s going on in Santee, that’s one of our biggest priorities,” she said. “We’re definitely paying a lot of attention to that.”
In San Diego County, the state regulates stormwater under a regional permit that requires all 18 cities and the county to coordinate and standardize their local regulations. This requires Tipton to be a collaborator.

She developed these skills while she was employed for 8.5 years with the county’s Watershed Protection Program.  She was hired by the county after graduating from San Diego State University with a specialized Bachelor’s degree in geology, environmental politics and technical writing.
This May, the stormwater manager job became more demanding and complex when the state adopted new regulations requiring cities to increase inspections in residential neighborhoods.

“Before we would respond to residential complaints (about illegal dumping, etc.), but now we have to actually develop and implement a residential compliance program,” she said.
Tipton, whose first day on the job was Dec. 9, said her first weeks have been a flurry of activity.

“The days go by fast, that’s for sure,” she said. “It’s been go, go, go.”

Editor's note: Tipton is a Santee resident

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Keeping Them Honest with Sky Watch

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The sheriff’s department Sky Watch tower was recently moved to Santee Trolley Square to help deter car burglaries, purse snatching and other crimes during the holiday shopping season. The tower is equipped with an ultra-high-resolution camera that can record faces, license plate numbers and even a nametag on a shirt. Deputies don’t have to be in the tower; they can remotely connect to the surveillance equipment and radio observations to patrol vehicles. The tower is one of the tools used during Operation Holiday Watch, a special enforcement and crime prevention effort that runs from Thanksgiving to Jan. 2.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Bird of the Month: California Quail

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

We’ve seen this bird along the hillside trails above Santee City Hall. The California quail happens to be the state bird.
They have a distinct curving crest or plume, made of six feathers, that droops forward: black in males and brown for females; the flanks are brown with white streaks.

Here’s what Wikipedia says about them: The California Quail is a highly sociable bird that often gathers in small flocks known as "coveys". One of their daily communal activities is a dust bath. A group of quail will select an area where the ground has been newly turned or is soft, and using their underbellies, will burrow downward into the soil some one to two inches.They then wriggle about in the indentations they have created, flapping their wings and ruffling their feathers, causing dust to rise in the air. They seem to prefer sunny places in which to create these dust baths.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Churches Rally to Clean Up Santee

Saturday, November 16, 2013

More than 40 volunteers from local churches pitched in Saturday morning to remove trash and debris along major roads intersecting with State Routes 52 and 125
The volunteers collected 30 bags of trash that together weighed more than 200 pounds, along with four abandoned shopping carts.

The massive cleanup, organized by the Santee Ministerial Council, was the first to include members from several churches including Newbreak, Sunrise and United Methodist.

“Our vision is to unite all the interfaith groups in Santee and work side-by-side to beautify our community,” said Marsi Walker, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who helped organize the cleanup.

The areas cleaned up Saturday morning are right-of-ways owned by the State Department of Transportation (Caltrans), which historically has relied on community groups, volunteers and businesses to keep roadways tidy through its “Adopt-a-Highway” program.
Santee is trying to establish a Right-of-Way Adoption program aimed at cleaning areas near freeway onramps and offramps created when State Route 52 was extended across the city in 2011.

When landscaping along the new section of SR 52 is completed in 2015, Caltrans will rely more heavily on volunteers for trash removal.
“We want to get ahead of that and make sure we can keep those areas looking nice and trash-free and weed-free,” said Santee’s Parks and Landscape Supervisor Annette Saul.

Anyone interested in helping out should contact Saul at asaul@cityofsanteeca.gov

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Santee Wins Grant for River Trail

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Santee’s effort to complete a continuous trail along the San Diego River has received a boost from the State Department of Parks and Recreation, which has recommended  the city for a $247,830 grant under the Recreation Trails Program.
The Walker Preserve along the San Diego River

The grant will be used to partially offset the cost of constructing a 1.3-mile long multi-use trail along the river east of Magnolia Avenue to the city’s boundary with Lakeside. The area, known as the Walker Preserve, has been off-limits to the public  for decades while it was being used for industrial sand mining.
“This grant ensures  that Santee will continue to make progress on the San Diego River Trail, which when completed, will be a major recreational amenity and improve our standing as a walkable and bicycle-friendly community, ” said Community Services Director Bill Maertz.

Construction of the Walker Preserve Trail is expected to start in 2014. When it is finished,  Santee will have completed approximately  3.5 miles or about  80 percent of the city’s portion of the San Diego River Trail.

Santee was one of six communities statewide - and the only one in Southern California - to win the state’s endorsement for a total of $1.47 million in 2014 Recreation Trails Program grants.  In all, the state received 56 grant applications for proposed projects  totaling $20.7 million. The trails program is funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Bird of the Month: Raven

Thursday, November 7, 2013

We found this guy at Town Center Community Park.

They're sometimes called the Common Raven or the Northern Raven. But there’s nothing at all common about the raven, which is the largest passerine (perching) bird and highly intelligent.

 Ravens are different from crows in that they are larger, have heavier beaks and sport shaggy feathers around the throat. In flight, crows have cut-off tails, while ravens have rounded wedge-shaped tails.

 Ravens thrive in a variety of climates and are opportunistic, feeding on everything from road kill to grain, insects, small mammals and human garbage.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Olive Lane Closure

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Olive Lane south of Mission Gorge Road will be closed for three days beginning Friday, Nov. 15 to allow for replacement of concrete gutters and pedestrian ramps.

Letters will be sent out this Friday (Nov. 8) to businesses and residents on Olive Lane notifying them of the closure. The city will place electronic message boards near the intersection on Monday, Nov. 11 to warn motorists.

Driveways leading to the Vons shopping center and Goodwill Thrift Store will remain open during construction. (See photo illustration).

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Emergency Lane Closure on Southbound Magnolia Avenue

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Heavy runoff overwhelmed a storm drain construction site early this morning, forcing the city of Santee to close a southbound lane about 6 a.m. on Magnolia Avenue at Mission Gorge Road.
The lane closure hampered the early morning commute for motorists heading to State Route 52.

“We apologize for the inconvenience, which we know caused headaches for motorists trying to get to work,” said a city spokesman.
The problem occurred when heavy storm surge caused erosion that undermined trench shoring put in place for a storm drain replacement project that will continue through December.

Motorists are advised to avoid the area if possible until the traffic lane is fixed, which is expected by the end of today.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Let the Bidding Begin: Prospect Avenue Enhancement Project

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Prospect Avenue today
With design work completed, Santee is now seeking bids for the construction of the Prospect Avenue Corridor Enhancement, a $25 million project to revitalize the industrial zone next to Gillespie Field.
“We’re pleased that the project has advanced to the bid phase, and that we’re on track to start construction in January 2014,” said Carl Schmitz, a principal civil engineer and project manager.
The bidding process is being coordinated through the San Diego Association of Governments’ website, which can be accessed here.
The project, which is expected to take a year to complete, calls for upgrading a mile-long section of Prospect Avenue between Magnolia Avenue and Cuyamaca Street. It’s been a complex process because of the need to acquire private property to expand the city’s right-of-way.
Improvements will include new sidewalks, curbs and gutters, along with attractive drought-tolerant landscaping. Overhead utility wires will be undergrounded and utility poles removed. New street lighting will be installed and storm drains will be upgraded to eliminate flooding.

 On-street parking and bicycle lanes will be installed on both sides of the street. Traffic signals will be upgraded and a dual left-turn lane will be added.
The project will improve the appearance of Prospect Avenue and make travel safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicular traffic.
The city anticipates the improvements will serve as a catalyst to attract new businesses and jobs to this important industrial corridor of Santee.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Concept Plan for New Park

Monday, October 21, 2013

City staff is seeking direction from the City Council  on a conceptual  plan to develop a linear park at the eastern terminus of Mast Boulevard as an alternative to extending the road to Lakeside.

If the Council approves the concept and decides to move forward, the project will undergo the normal public review process.

That will include an “open house” style public meeting with displays and graphics, as well as public hearings before the Santee Parks and Recreation Committee.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Santee Turns Mast Park into a Classroom

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Shannon Quigley of SD River Foundation with 4th graders
Santee city staffers  teamed up with the San Diego River Park Foundation to be guest teachers during a recent field trip with local fourth graders along the San Diego River.

The science-oriented excursion took place at Mast Park, where students from Rio Seco Elementary School learned about the river’s wildlife, water quality and ecology.

Fourth graders from teacher Heather Glanz’s  class took photos and notes, which they took back to the classroom to expand on what they had learned in the field.
Shannon Quigley of the River Foundation showed students the proper way to take water samples from the river and test them for acidity, dissolved oxygen and water clarity.
Simulating how pollutants enter the river
“I loved when we were all at the river dipping our samples and waiting for the temperature to normalize and counting to 60 together out loud,” Quigley said.
Santee Storm Water Program intern Nicole Sabay provided a lesson on how trash and pollutants carried by storm drains end up in the river and affect the water quality and wildlife.
 To illustrate how pollutants enter the river, Sabay  had students pour liquid into a plastic tube (simulating a storm drain) that emptied into a large plastic basin with rubber ducks and plastic fish.
Sarah Hutmacher and Shelsea Ochoa  from the River Foundation gave a lesson on native plants and leaf adaptation, allowing the kids to inspect the flora up-close with magnifiers.
“Through hands-on exploration of native plants, insects, and water quality, we hope to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards,” Hutmacher said.
Arborist Annette Saul, Santee’s Parks and Landscape Supervisor, explained the benefits of native trees and plants.
 “It was really fun to see how excited the kids were to be in an outdoor classroom,” Saul said.  “The students were able to understand how the river, native plants and trees are all connected in our local environment.”

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

City Expands Opportunities for Night Tennis

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The installation of new light timers has doubled the number of lighted courts the general public may use in the evening at Santana High School.

The original timer that controlled lighting for four courts has been replaced by two timers that light as many as eight courts.  The new timers, which were bought with city park improvement funds, allow each block of four courts to remain lighted for one hour. The lights can only be activated from sunset to 10 p.m. A green strobe light tells players when the timer is close to turning off the lights. Players can extend play for an additional hour by pressing a demand switch

The city previously limited the number of lighted courts to four to save on electricity costs. The original timers caused the lights to remain on until 9 p.m. regardless of when they were activated, and the courts often remained lighted for hours after players had left.
“We anticipate the new timers will be more efficient and at the same time allow the public greater opportunities to play tennis during peak times,” said Recreation Services Manager Sue Richardson.

Santee’s Public Services crews also installed new light bulbs and cleaned the lenses on 50 fixtures, which means the lights should be brighter for tennis buffs. 

The tennis courts at Santana High School are available after school hours to the general public through a joint use agreement with the Grossmont Union School District.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Santee Bird of the Month: Anna’s Hummingbird

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Anna’s are among the most common type of hummingbird  found in Southern California. It’s the only one in North America with a crimson-red crown, but only the males have that colorful feature. The one pictured here is a female Anna’s, which is less colorful because it needs to camouflage itself from predators. These birds feed on nectar from flowers and on insects.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Clean Sweep for Santee

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The city of Santee will soon have the cleanest fleet of street sweepers in San Diego County.

Beginning in October, Santee’s  135 miles of public streets will be cleaned by mechanical sweepers powered by either propane or compressed natural gas. These same sweepers will also use reclaimed water rather than drinking water.
The greener street sweepers are part of a citywide effort to embrace sustainable practices that simultaneously help the environment and reduce costs for electricity, water and other resources.
Vehicles powered by natural gas are cleaner than diesel vehicles and produce 80 percent fewer ozone-forming emissions than gasoline vehicles.

Other California cities that use street sweepers powered by natural gas include Beverly Hills, Anaheim, Palo Alto, and Los Angeles.
Santee was able to get the greener street sweepers by asking for costs comparisons of alternative fuels versus traditional fossil fuels when it solicited bids for street sweeping services this summer. The firm with the lowest bid, Gardena-based CleanStreet , said it could provide sweepers fueled by natural gas or propane at the same cost as sweepers that use gasoline or diesel.  The City Council awarded contract to CleanStreet on Sept. 25 that runs through June 2015.

The benefits of street cleaning are more than you may realize.  The sweepers not only pick up unsightly paper and plastic from our streets, they also clear debris that can block storm drains and remove tiny metal particles and other hazardous waste that pollute rivers and streams.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What is Castlerock?

Castlerock site with Mast Boulevard at right
Castlerock is a housing development in the city of San Diego by Pardee Homes. It includes up to 430 housing units (283  single-family houses and 147 detached condominium units) on 203.64 acres located in the East Elliot Community Plan Area.  The project also includes a 4-acre public park and a multi-use trail for pedestrians and bicyclists. Approximately 45 percent of the property (94.8 acres) will be preserved as open space as part of Mission Trails Regional Park. The property, which is designated for residential use, is north of Mast Boulevard between West Hills Parkway and Medina Drive along Santee’s northwest boundary.  The project has two options; one if the development stays in the city of San Diego and another if it is annexed by the city of Santee. 

Has the Castlerock development been approved?
The San Diego City Council voted in favor of the project on Sept. 16, 2013. The council agreed to both options (annexation, no annexation). This means the project can be developed whether it remains in San Diego or is annexed by the city of Santee.

Can the city of Santee impose new conditions on the development now that it has been approved by the city of San Diego?

No.  The property is not in Santee’s jurisdiction. The city of San Diego had the final say on the development of the project. The only question before the Santee City Council is whether it should annex the property, a question the council is scheduled to consider at its regular meeting on Oct. 9. 

Can the city of Santee refuse to annex the Castlerock property?

Santee can refuse to annex the site. However, Santee fire fighters and sheriff’s deputies would by default be the first responders to any emergencies. Without annexation, Santee would incur those service costs but receive no property tax revenue to pay for them.

What would happen if Santee annexes the Castlerock Property?

If the property is annexed to Santee, the city would be responsible for providing the full array of municipal services, including fire protection and law enforcement, to the new community. 

From a government standpoint,  it would be more efficient for the city of Santee to provide emergency services,  and for Padre Dam Municipal Water District (PDMWD) to provide water and sewer services, because the project is not in close proximity to the city of San Diego’s infrastructure.

What is the next step if Santee chooses to annex Castlerock?

To initiate annexation proceedings, the Santee City Council and the Padre Dam Municipal Water District board would have to file an application with the Local Agency Formation Commission, an independent agency.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Steak and Egg Eateries Not Going Away

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Rumors of the pending demise of Santee’s Pinnacle Peak Steak House and the Omelette Factory on Mission Gorge Road are premature.


Staff at Pinnacle Peak includes (L to R) Amber Rahlf, Sandy Wike, Toni Petroro (owner) Katie McBride, Anthea Cullington, Christina Nelson, Brian Hoffman, Amir Adieh, Stuart Pollmann

and Cody Bennett

The two restaurants on Mission Gorge Road are open for business and should continue satisfying hearty appetites for months to come.

Some folks have apparently misunderstood the ramifications of the City Council’s vote on Aug. 28 regarding a conceptual redevelopment proposal for two properties totaling 3.76 acres where the restaurants are located.

The headline in the next day’s newspaper said: “Two longtime restaurants on their way out in Santee,”  and, unfortunately, people got upset. 

The council’s action gave the property owner,  Hattie Davisson Properties L.P., permission to apply for a rezone from neighborhood commercial to medium-high residential  and authorized city staff to evaluate the request.

That action does not forecast how the council will ultimately decide the issue, it merely signals the start of a review process that could take up to a year to complete.

Toni Petroro, owner and manager of Pinnacle Peak, said she has assured customers she will find a new location if the rezone is approved. She’s concerned that loyal customers will think she’s closing and drop her eatery from their dining routine.

Pinnacle Peak has been in Santee the past 30 years and the Omelette Factory has been in business since the early 1990s.


Pinnacle Peak’s website is here: http://pinnaclepeaksteakhouse.com/Santee_Location.html

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

SD Council to Consider Castlerock Development

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Eastern side of Castlerock development site
A proposal by Pardee Homes to develop up to 430 homes north of West Hills High School will be considered by the San Diego City Council at a public hearing scheduled for Sept. 16 at 2 p.m.

The hearing will be held at the Council Chambers on the 12th Floor of San Diego City Hall, 202 C Street in downtown San Diego.

Pardee has offered two development plans, one if the property is annexed into Santee and another if it is not.  The annexation option calls for the construction of 283 single-family houses along with 147 multi-family units, along with a 4-acre park  and two miles of pedestrian trails. About 90 acres of the 204-acre property would remain as open space.
On July 11, the San Diego Planning Commission voted 4 to 2 to recommend approval of the annexation option to the San Diego City Council. The final decision on annexing the property rests with the Santee City Council.
Questions or comments on the proposed development should be directed to the city of San Diego’s project manager, Jeannette Temple at (619) 557-7908 or jtemple@sandiego.gov.

Cut and paste the link below to view the full public hearing notice: http://docs.sandiego.gov/citybulletin_publicnotices/PublicHearings/PN-035-200459-091613-Castlerock.pdf
Cut and paste the link below to view a site map of the development.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

County to Drop Mosquito Control Pellets

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A county vector control helicopter on Wednesday, Aug. 28 will be dropping anti-mosquito pellets at various spots along the San Diego River including Santee.
It will be the eight mosquito pellet application so far this year, with a final drop scheduled for Sept. 18.
Local drop sites include Town Center, Carlton Oaks, Sycamore Creek and Lake Kumeyaay, as well as three locations in Lakeside.

The rice-sized pellets contain two types of bacteria that, while harmless to humans and wildlife, kill mosquito larvae before the insects can develop into biting adults.
The county Department of Environmental Health pays for the program to help control West Nile virus, which is spread to humans by mosquitoes that have fed on infected animals. The virus was detected in dead birds that were found earlier this month in Encinitas and El Cajon and in July in Carlsbad, Ramona and Lakeside.

Click here for more information on West Nile virus

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Traffic Tangles Along Magnolia & Mission Gorge

Thursday, August 22, 2013

We know, it’s been gnarly. Motorists recently have had to practice aloha  (patience and kindness) while driving in southeast Santee along Magnolia Avenue and near the Magnolia intersection with Mission Gorge Road/Woodside Avenue.

Magnolia Avenue looking north from Mission Gorge

The traffic cones and delays are the result of two different projects.  The repaving work along Magnolia is being done by a contractor for SDG&E, which is upgrading electrical capacity to accommodate the expansion of the Las Colinas Women’s Detention Facility. It should finish up tomorrow (Friday).

The new road excavation work on Magnolia south of Mission Gorge is the start of a city funded storm drain replacement project. This work will take place mostly at nighttime and continue through November.  Thank you for your patience.

Businesses and Apartments Can Keep Santee Green by Recycling

Recycling coordinator Ed Ruiz
Business owners and those who manage multi-family housing such as apartments have been required to participate in California’s mandatory commercial recycling program since July 2012.
To comply with state law, businesses that generate at least 4 cubic yards of solid waste per week and multi-family housing of five units or more must arrange for recycling services.
Businesses and multi-family housing complexes in Santee can comply by choosing any of the following options:
  • Arrange for the pickup of recyclable materials with Waste Management Inc., the city’s franchise trash hauler;
  • Arrange for the pickup of recyclable materials by a non-franchise hauler who must provide the service at no cost to the property owner;
  • Apply for an exemption at Santee City Hall and take responsibility for hauling your recyclable waste to a recycle center.
Owners of commercial businesses and managers of multi-family housing complexes may require their tenants to source separate their recyclable materials to aid in compliance with state law.
More information is available by contacting City of Santee Recycling Coordinator Ed Ruiz at (619) 258-4100 ext. 128.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Fixing Drains Before the Rains

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Project site on De Vos Drive
Storm drain upgrades are among the most under-appreciated improvements a city can undertake, but they make a huge difference when winter rains hit.
This week, a 6-member crew from Southwest Pipeline and Trenchless Corp.  of Torrance, CA began installing new linings inside old metal storm drains that have deteriorated.

Today,  workers were refurbishing a 30-inch storm drain that runs between homes on De Vos Drive near Carlton Oaks Elementary School.
Installation requires workers to place a sock-shaped felt lining inside the pipe. The special sock, which is fabricated at the firm’s headquarters, is pushed into place first with water and then with air. The sock is impregnated with an epoxy resin that is activated when steam is injected into the pipe. The resin hardens in two to three hours, creating a new lining inside the pipe.

The process is quick enough that workers can arrive in the morning and be gone before dinner time, sparing residents the inconvenience of  road closures and heavy equipment that would otherwise block traffic.  It also allows the city to rehabilitate storm drains without expensive and annoying excavation work, said company president Justin Duchaineau, who came to check on the project site.
Justin Duchaineau of Southwest Pipeline & Trenchless Corp.
On Thursday, the crew from Southwest Pipeline  will be fixing a 36-inch diameter metal storm drain beneath Carlton Oaks Drive. The company, which was awarded a $775,576 contract in April, will return in September to rehabilitate a 60-inch diameter storm drain.

This summer, the city awarded more than $2.4 million in construction contracts to fix deteriorated metal storm drains or replace those that are beyond repair. The goal is to upgrade obsolete portions of the city’s drainage system to avoid calamities such as pipe failures and sink holes.  Santee has 6.75 miles of corrugated metal pipes (CMPs)  that were installed before the city incorporated in 1980.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Accident Statistics Offer Insight on El Nopal-Mast Blvd. Issue

Thursday, August 15, 2013

El Nopal's sharp curves in Lakeside 
Critics claim that a traffic hazard has been created on El Nopal because the city of Santee has not completed a proposed connection of Mast Boulevard eastward into the unincorporated community of Lakeside.
This argument relies on the assumption that the cause of the accidents occurring on El Nopal will somehow disappear if and when the city and county pave the 1,000-foot gap of Mast Boulevard that exists today.

Critics refer to El Nopal as a “detour” route around the missing link of Mast Boulevard. In fact, El Nopal is a decades-old residential collector street that will remain in existence regardless of what happens with Mast Boulevard.

It should be noted that Lakeside’s portion of El Nopal has two sharp curves, which is where many of the accidents have occurred.
State accident statistics compiled over the last decade show that a majority of accidents on El Nopal were the result of speeding motorists.

From 2002 to 2012, there were 46 traffic accidents (including one fatality) along the county’s stretch of El Nopal between Los Ranchitos and Riverford roads where the “S” curves are located.  Less than 6 percent of those collisions were serious-injury accidents. The lone fatal accident occurred in 2004 and involved a motorcycle rider.
During the same 10-year period, there was one fatal accident and nine other vehicle collisions in Santee’s jurisdiction along El Nopal from Magnolia Avenue to Los Ranchitos Road.  The lone fatal accident occurred in 2005 and involved a motorcyclist who was under the influence of alcohol.

Here’s the breakdown of how the 46 accidents occurred over the past decade along the section of El Nopal containing the two sharp curves:
  • Traveling at unsafe speed -- 54.3 percent
  • Driving on wrong side of road – 19.6 percent
  • Driving under the influence  -- 13 percent
  • Improper turning – 8.7 percent
  • Right of way violations – 4.3 percent

Completing the gap on Mast Boulevard between Lakeside and Santee would cost the city of Santee $4.5 million. The county would have to spend $1.7 million to complete the Lakeside portion.
Even if the city completed the Mast Boulevard connection to the east, the sharp curves along Lakeside’s portion of El Nopal, which is governed by the county, would still remain.  The county’s transportation master plan envisions no future improvements for El Nopal, which is described as “a 2-lane road…sufficient to meet projected traffic volumes.”

Moreover, connecting Mast Boulevard through to Lakeside would increase traffic on the Santee side by an estimated 35 percent.  Completing this connection also would funnel truck traffic serving the industrial parks in Lakeside into Santee’s residential neighborhoods and past two high schools.

Completing Mast Boulevard would offer a convenient route for a few, but it will expose many Santee residents to higher traffic volumes and greater truck traffic.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Live from Santee: Country Hunk Tony Suraci

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Catch a rising country heartthrob at this Thursday’s free concert at Santee’s premier live venue

Tony Suraci is a dynamic vocalist who can mimic the voices of country music’s greatest “outlaw” superstars, including Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash.
If they cloned Eddie Vedder with Kenny Chesney, the result would be Tony Suraci.

He’s been playing sold-out shows at the Belly Up and other local night clubs. And now he’s headed to Las Vegas for a career-changing gig at the Hotel M Resort.

But before he pursues fame and fortune in Sin City,  Suraci and his band of accomplished sidemen will play at 6:30 p.m. at the outdoor performance stage at Town Center Community Park, 550 Park Center Drive. It’s his first appearance in Santee, so he deserves a warm welcome.

Bios posted on the web say Tony has worked as both a musician and actor, including a role on Melrose Place. He’s also appeared on stage in comedy, drama and dance productions since the age of 9. He can play guitar and piano, but he also has something you can’t learn: charisma.
Click here to view a YouTube video of Suraci strutting his stuff.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Bird of the Month for August – Snowy Egret

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A member of the heron family, the snowy egret  has a slim black bill and long black legs with yellow feet.   They are about two feet  long with wingspans of three feet. We found this one foraging for food in Woodglen Vista Creek near Mast Boulevard.

The cheek area in front of the eyes  is yellow but turns red during breeding season, when they regrow fancy plumes that give them a shaggy look. They range from the lower Great Lakes and southwestern U.S. to South America.

They can be found in fresh or saltwater habitats located inland or along the coastline in marshes, swamps, shorelines, mudflats and ponds. They eat fish, crustaceans, insects, frogs and small reptiles.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Santee Adopts Pro-active Approach to Transient Issue

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The city of Santee has taken a proactive approach with transients who set up illegal camp sites along the San Diego River and other greenbelt areas.
While efforts are made to connect the homeless to food, shelter and social services, the city actively discourages people from living permanently in the riverbed.

Transient encampments cause a host of problems, including increased risk of wildfires, pollution of the river from human sewage and garbage, and the perception that the community is not safe.

Sweeps Conducted Every Two Months

Deputies from the San Diego Sheriff’s Dept. conduct sweeps of the riverbed approximately every two months to locate illegal camp sites and tag them with eviction notices.
“We give them notice that they are trespassing and allow them seven to 10 days to vacate and remove their property,” said Deputy Mark Snelling with the Community Oriented Policing Unit. “If they are present when the deputies are tagging the camp sites, we can cite them for illegal camping.”
When deputies return a few weeks after the initial sweep, anyone found living at the tagged camp sites can be arrested for trespassing.

“Sometimes they move and sometimes they don’t,” Snelling said.

 43 Citations Issued in First Half of 2013

In the first six months of 2013, the sheriff’s deputies in Santee issued 43 citations for illegal camping.

After deputies have issued the illegal camping citations, the Santee City Attorney’s office pursues the charges by appearing in court to prosecute the illegal camping and related offenses. 

“This enforcement mechanism is an effective way to address issues of local concern and is a vital part of an overall strategy to ensure the high quality of life enjoyed by Santee’s citizens,” said City Manager Keith Till. “We strive to address conditions detrimental to public health and safety by actively enforcing the municipal code though the criminal prosecution of code violations.”

In addition to prosecuting illegal camping citations, the city’s attorneys obtain “stay away” orders prohibiting transients and chronic campers from returning to the riverbed in Santee.  Judges have the discretion to ban repeat offenders from re-establishing camp sites in same geographic area as a condition of suspending a fine or a jail sentence.

In addition to legal services, the city also incurs costs to have public service staffers clean up the camp sites in the riverbed after the transients have left.

“It’s very labor intensive, basically all hand work with pickup sticks and trash bags” said Public Services Supervisor Sam Rensberry, who cleans up the sites with help from another staff member. 

“I can’t sugarcoat it. It’s hot, sweaty and disgusting,” Rensberry said.  “The smell is terrible. There are ants, bugs, human waste and sometimes needles left behind.”

To comply with recent court rulings, the city takes any personal property left behind by illegal campers to the public services headquarters.  If it is not claimed in 90 days, the property is thrown away.

 Transient Population Difficult to Estimate

It’s difficult to estimate the number of people camping in the riverbed at any given time because the population is constantly in flux, said Deputy Snelling.

Volunteers with the Regional Task Force on the Homeless inspected Santee in January and tallied 18 people living unsheltered or in their cars. However, at least one local official estimated there may be 30 to 35 people illegally camping in the riparian area along the river.

A survey in April 2013 by the San Diego River Park Foundation identified 160 active encampments along 30 miles of the San Diego River from the El Capitan Reservoir to the Pacific Ocean.

Authorities say the population of illegal campers generally falls within three categories: Chronic homeless who do have local families or connections; transients who hopscotch from city to city; and alcoholics and drug addicts who can be as young as teenagers.

 Most Do Not Have Violent History

“Most of the people camping in the river bottom have alcohol and drug dependency issues, but for the most part they do not have a violent history,” Snelling said.  “There is a criminal element that lives out there, but it’s a minor percentage.”

 Transients camping along the river are themselves at risk. They can be swept away by flash floods. Their living conditions are basically unsanitary. They are also vulnerable to being assaulted.

“There has been more violent crime committed against the homeless than they have perpetrated themselves,” Snelling said.

 The San Diego River Park Foundation, a nonprofit conservation group, has been documenting the effects of homeless encampments along the San Diego River for more than a decade.

Rob Hutsel, the foundation’s founder and executive director, said the encampments have been found to be a “significant source” of pollution to the river.  The foundation’s most recent survey estimated that transient camps along the river account for 35 percent of the trash sites and 71 percent of the trash volume by weight.

“Over the years, our volunteers have come across significant numbers of hypodermic needles, latrine sites and other public health issues, and numerous fires have been started where people are living along the river,” said Hutsel. “We want to get people the assistance they need so they aren’t living in this condition.”

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Public May Comment on Proposal for 70-foot-tall Toyota Dealer Sign

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The city of Santee has initiated a 30-day public review and comment period on a “negative declaration” issued in connection with a pending permit to erect a 70-foot-tall electronic sign at a Toyota dealership at Fanita Drive and State Route 52.
Toyota Certified Center on Fanita Drive

The Toyota Certified Center of Santee at 8871 Fanita Drive has applied for a conditional use permit to erect the sign, which would be visible to motorists from both State Route 52 and State Route 125.

Written comments on the environmental document, which will be accepted through August 12, may be emailed to the city at kmallory@cityofsanteeca.gov,  or by mail directed to: Department of Development Services, Santee City Hall, 10601 Magnolia Ave., Santee, CA 92061
City planners concluded that the illuminated sign would not result in significant environmental impacts and noted in the document that the sign’s orientation towards SR-52 will minimize “interruption of community-level views to hillsides and ridgelines.” The sign would be approximately 20 feet higher than a 50-foot-tall flag pole already at the dealership.

The sign would be an illuminated digital message board similar to signs used by other car dealerships in the county, including one by the same dealership in El Cajon.   The sign proposed for Santee would be 16.5 feet wide and 19.5 feet long, creating 321 square feet of advertising space on each side of the sign.

The interior portion of the sign would include an LED screen about 8.7 feet by 17.3 feet

The pole holding the sign would be mounted on a 5-by-3 foot base that would be decorated with tile.
The City Council will consider approval of the negative declaration when a public hearing on the project is scheduled later this year.

The negative declaration may be viewed online by clicking here.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Help Santee Recycle

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Chances are there is something in your garbage can that isn't really garbage. More than half of what the typical consumer throws away can be recycled, reused or converted into new products.

Senior Analyst Ed Ruiz likes to recycle 
Waste prevention and recycling programs have been in place since 1989, when the state asked local governments to reduce half of the waste stream going to landfills.  Santee exceeded that diversion requirement, as did the rest of the state, which achieved an overall recycling rate of 58 percent.

Last year, the state raised the bar by asking cities to divert at least 75 percent of their waste from landfills by 2020.

To meet the new goal, Santee needs residents and businesses to be more vigilant when it comes to recycling.

Here’s what you can do: Take another look at your trash.  Are there items that can be recycled?  If so, it's time to separate them.

Yard waste, which makes up a large part of California's waste stream, can be recycled in your own backyard through mulching and composting. In addition to saving landfill space, you'll save on buying fertilizer.  Placing vegetable food scraps in a compost bin can also reduce your volume of garbage.

Make recycling a habit at home and at work.  To learn more about what can be recycled, call Waste Management Inc. at (619) 596-5100 or Santee City Hall at (619) 258-4100 Ext. 128.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Santee’s Bird of the Month: Wood Duck

Monday, July 8, 2013

Male wood duck at Santee Lakes
With its ornate plumage, the male wood duck (shown here) is among the most easily recognized waterfowl species in the U.S. As is true throughout most of the bird world, the female is more drab because of the need to be camouflaged from predators.

Unlike most waterfowl, wood ducks perch and nest in trees. They are one of the few duck species with strong claws that can grip bark and perch on branches.

Wood ducks feed primarily on plants, but will also consume seeds, fruit and insects.

We’re fortunate to have a year-round population that resides near Lake 5 at the Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve. These birds nest in holes in trees or in nest boxes put up around the shoreline of a lake.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

City of Santee Changes Its Internet Domain Name

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The city of Santee has changed its domain name to www.cityofsanteeca.gov

 The change was done to standardize the city’s web presence and be consistent with other city websites.

 The city’s former domain name, www.ci.santee.ca.us, will remain functional but will hopefully fade away as the public’s use of the new name becomes more dominant.

10,000 Expected to Attend Santee Fireworks Event July 4

Photo from Santee Salutes 2012
An estimated 10,000 people are expected to attend this year’s Santee Salutes, an annual 4th of July celebration sponsored by Waste Management Inc. and coordinated by the City of Santee Community Services Department.

 Held at Town Center Community Park East beginning at 3:30 p.m., the event features live music and carnival-style attractions, gourmet food trucks and a spectacular fireworks show at 9 p.m. by Fireworks America.

At 6 p.m. Santee Mayor Randy Voepel will lead a patriotic ceremony with the Heavy Helicopter Squadron 462 color guard from U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

“Each year we try to add new attractions to enhance the experience, but Santee Salutes will always be a family oriented event with a patriotic theme,” said Cherie Meek the city’s special events supervisor.

New rides and attractions this year include a privately owned fire truck, laser tag games, a mini-Ferris wheel, a mechanical bull and mechanical surf board ride and rock wall climbing. Parents can avoid waiting in line at the California Health Network Fun Zone by purchasing tickets in advance at the Elite Events and Party Rental website: http://www.sdelite.com/Santee-Salutes-4th-of-July-s/208.htm

To reduce congestion at the conclusion of the fireworks show, the city is adding an extra half-hour of free live music by the 80z All Stars, an ‘80s music tribute band, until 10 p.m.

“Instead of everybody rushing off all at once, patrons can stay at the park and listen to some live music while the roads clear out,” Meek said.

To help offset the cost of the event and support youth sports programs, the city is charging $5 to park at city owned parking lots.  Preferred parking closest to the fireworks is $15. A portion of the revenue is shared with local youth sports leagues that provide volunteers who collect the parking fees.

Patriotic T-shirts and glow necklaces will be available for purchase.

Attendees can park for free at the Costco parking lot and take a free shuttle to the park. The shuttle service will be available from 3:30 to 11:00 p.m.

Prior to the event, the City of Santee Aquatics Center and Cameron Family YMCA will be open from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The following streets will be limited to resident traffic during evening hours: Bilteer Drive, Bilteer Court, San Remo Court, San Remo Drive, Conejo Place, Magnolia Park Drive, Cottonwood Avenue, Verde Vista Lane, Day Creek Trail and Leavesly Trail.

Area residents are encouraged to safely secure dogs or bring them inside.

This community event is made possible through the financial support of Waste Management, the California Health Network and in-kind donations from radio station KSON, Bob’s Crane Service, Cottonwood Electric Cart Service, Rice RV and Lekos Electric.

Additional information is available at the city’s website: www.cityofsanteeca.gov
or by calling the Special Event Hotline at (619) 258-4100 ext. 201

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Busted: Deputy Nabs Suspect in City Hall Fuel Thefts

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Good old-fashioned detective work by the San Diego Sheriff’s Department has resulted in the arrest of a 38-year-old Santee man on suspicion of siphoning gasoline from government vehicles parked at Santee City Hall.

The suspect, Chans Milstead, was arrested June 9 and taken to the downtown jail, where his bail was set at $50,000.

Gasoline thefts from city vehicles have been a chronic problem at City Hall.

A break in the case occurred in the early morning hours on Memorial Day (May 27), when video surveillance cameras recorded images of two men prowling the City Hall parking lot. One of the suspects, a man with a goatee, was carrying a large green gas container and a section of hose. A second man, who appears to be younger, was wearing a sweatshirt bearing the name and logo of an El Cajon middle school.

A “wanted” poster made from the video images caught the attention of a Santee sheriff’s investigator, who recognized the bearded man as the person the deputy had recently arrested on various charges, including possession of illegal drugs and a felon in possession of ammunition.

After obtaining a search warrant, the deputy searched the suspect’s car and found a section of hose similar to the one depicted in the City Hall video. Also found were items authorities describe as “burglary tools.”

Investigators would like to talk to the second man in the surveillance video who was wearing a hooded sweatshirt. Anyone  who has information about him should contact the Santee sheriff’s station at (619) 956-4000 during regular business hours.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

New Ordinance Aims to Keep Parks Family Friendly

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A new city ordinance takes effect next week that bans the consumption of alcoholic beverages at Town Center Community Park during weekdays, Monday through Friday.

The intent of the law, which will be effective Monday, June 10, is to maintain a park-friendly atmosphere for children and families.

Consumption of alcohol is allowed on weekends and legal holidays, but beverages in glass containers or kegs of any size are not permitted. Alcohol is also allowed during special events that  have been issued a permit by the city.
The City Council voted for the ordinance in April after council members became concerned that drinkers were intimidating the public and deterring families from using playgrounds and other facilities at Town Center Community Park.

The same restrictions on alcohol have been in force for several years at Mast Park.

The public can report problems at city parks by using the Sheriff’s Department non-emergency number, (858) 565-5200.