It’s fall, and in many parts of the country the days and nights are getting cooler and wetter. But if you’ve lived in La Mesa for any length of time, you know that at this time of year outside temperatures can be very high. It may be difficult to remember the last time we saw rain. Because of our current multi-year drought, vegetation is extremely dry. This is also the time of year that Santa Ana winds tend to blow. Add high winds to dry vegetation and elevated temperatures and you have a formula for potential disaster. Californians know just how devastating a wildfire can be. But because we do know, we have an advantage. We can be prepared. Not just for wildfire, but for floods, earthquakes, and just about any disaster that comes along. Here are four steps you can take to help you and your family be better prepared for emergencies:
- Make a Plan – Include everyone living in your home in the planning process, and don’t leave out the kids. Then practice your plan.
- Build a Kit – Your kit should include enough supplies to last several days after a disaster, for everyone in your home. Make sure to include your pets!
- Stay Informed – There are many ways to stay informed during a disaster. There are also many useful apps you can download to your smartphone for free.
- Get Involved – Being involved is a great way to be better prepared. There are many local and national organizations that are involved in preparing communities to respond to and recover from disasters.
For detailed information of personal disaster preparedness and ways you can get involved in community readiness, please see:
Chief of Police Recruitment
The City is actively working to hire a new Chief of Police. Over the past few months, the City Council and staff have heard your feedback. We understand how important this position is to the community and we also understand your desire to offer your thoughts and suggestions. The City believes that the Chief of Police has an important role in both protecting the community and also taking an inclusionary approach to law enforcement.
We want our new Chief of Police to reflect the priorities and values of our neighbors and the community at large. Because of this, the City is interested in ensuring that the community, city council, and other stakeholders are involved in this process. The City is currently working to hire an executive recruiting firm to conduct a nationwide search. The selection process is expected to take several months and you will be hearing about more opportunities to participate through our social media and other media outlets.
Proposed Holiday Inn Conversion
The County of San Diego recently proposed to partner with a developer to purchase and retrofit the Holiday Inn into interim and permanent housing for the homeless. The project proposed 139 units for the homeless along with two caretaker units. The County and the developer proposed using Project Homekey funding provided through the State of California. The City was not made aware of the project until the County submitted its funding application. On September 15, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted to finalize its application but requested feedback from La Mesa regarding the project.
The City Council held a special meeting the following week on September 21 where it received approximately 160 public comments. Many residents supported the idea of helping the homeless but had questions about the project. At a September 22 meeting of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, the Mayor shared feedback offered by the La Mesa community. The County voted 3-2 to withdraw its application for Homekey funding and the project will not move forward.
Addressing homelessness is a very high priority for the City Council. Working with other cities and regional partners, as well as the HOME program discussed below, are steps the City is actively taking to more directly address this issue. The City will continue providing more updates on its efforts to address homelessness in the near future.
La Mesa Response to Homelessness
The City Council unanimously approved a brand-new program designed to help the La Mesa homeless population. The Homeless Outreach and Mobile Engagement program, or HOME, is modeled after the successful CAHOOTS program in Eugene, Oregon. HOME will allow non-emergency calls for service related to homelessness to be addressed by professionally trained outreach workers that specialize in de-escalation, trauma intervention, and mental health. This program will reduce the number of calls where law enforcement is dispatched and allows our police offers to focus on responding to high-priority calls for emergency services.
The HOME program includes a full-time outreach worker and mental health professional working together to connect our homeless residents to programs, services, and housing. Our goal is to ensure that our homeless residents receive the care needed and transition them to healthy and productive lives. Phase 1 of the program will start next month. The City hired People Assisting the Homeless or PATH to help us over the next year while we transition to the next phase. Phase 2 of the program will have our La Mesa HOME team working directly with the homeless out of a specially-outfitted van.
The City will have a dedicated web page, email, and hotline for residents who wish to learn more or contact us directly to provide assistance to the homeless.
City Council Approval of Police Oversight Board
The City Council recently accepted the recommendation of the Citizen Public Safety Oversight Task Force to introduce and adopt the first reading of an ordinance that would create a Police Oversight Board. The Community Police Oversight Board would have the ability to use an independent auditor to investigate serious incidents involving police such as shootings and investigate misconduct complaints. The purpose of the Oversight Board is to enhance accountability, improve transparency of law enforcement operations, strengthen police-community relationships and trust, and act as an adviser on matters related to public safety in La Mesa. The second reading of the ordinance is scheduled for the City Council meeting of October 13, 2020.
Wipes, Clogs, and Pipes
Did you know that “flushable” wipes are not really flushable? Despite that claim, flushable wipes are not suitable for flushing and can snag in pipes and cause clogs in the sewer system leading to expensive maintenance costs to you and the City.
While many personal care, diaper, and home cleaning wipes advertise that they are “flushable”, testing shows that this doesn’t mean that they disappear or dissolve in water. Two different “flushable” wipes were compared to regular toilet paper in a water test and only the toilet paper disintegrated. After an hour of soaking, one wipe began to dissolve, but not completely until torn apart and the other did not degrade at all. When these wipes are flushed they can clog the sewer pipes, blocking the flow of waste water. Please dispose only toilet paper in the toilet and nothing else!
Put in the trash the flushable wipes in the trash before they wipe off some money off of you!
Holiday Season Fire Safety
To help everyone enjoy a fire-safe holiday season, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and Heartland Fire & Rescue are encouraging everyone to be aware of potential fire risks, and to take steps to minimize them.
While cooking fires are the leading cause of U.S. home fires and injuries year-round, Christmas Day ranked as the second-leading day for home cooking fires in 2016 (behind Thanksgiving Day.) On Christmas Day in 2016, there was a 73 percent increase in the number of home cooking fires as compared to an average day.
What you should know about home cooking safety:
- Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the stove or stovetop.
- Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, boiling, or broiling food.
- If you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly. Remain in the kitchen while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
- Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stovetop.
If you have a fire due to cooking:
- Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
- Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number after you leave.
- If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out.
- Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
- For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
Safety considerations for cooking with oil:
- Always stay in the kitchen when frying on the stovetop.
- Keep an eye on what you fry. If you see wisps of smoke like it is burning, immediately turn off the burner and/or carefully remove the pan from the burner. Smoke is a danger sign that the oil is too hot.
- Heat the oil slowly to the temperature you need for frying or sautéing.
- Add food gently to the pot or pan so the oil does not splatter.
- Always cook with a lid beside your pan. If you have a fire, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Do not remove the cover because the fire could start again. Let the pan cool for a long time. Never throw water on the fire.
- If the fire does not go out or you don’t feel comfortable sliding a lid over the pan, get everyone out of your home. Call the fire department from outside.
Avoid the CLOG by Eliminating FOG
Did you know that improper disposal of fats, oils and grease (otherwise known as FOG) into the wastewater system is the leading cause of sewer backups? When put down the drain, FOG can accumulate in collection pipes causing backups into homes and businesses and negatively impacting the environment. To comply with state and federal mandates, the City of La Mesa has implemented a Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG) Control Program to prevent FOG from entering the City’s sewer system.
FOG enters the sewer system from homes, as well as from poorly maintained grease traps and interceptors in restaurants and other businesses. Help protect the environment by doing your part to keep FOG out of the sewer system. Here are a few tips:
- Never pour grease, cooking oil or fat down the sink. Instead pour into an empty jar or coffee can with a secure lid and allow liquid to solidify before throwing away.
- Wipe out greasy pots and pans with a paper towel before doing the dishes.
- Scrape grease and food scraps from cooking surfaces, plates, pots and pans and utensils into a can or the trash for disposal.
La Mesa Urban Forestry
Trees provide a variety of co-benefits to our community, including improving air quality, reducing home cooling energy costs, increasing property values, and promoting personal health and wellness. For the last 38 years, the City of La Mesa has earned the designation of Tree City USA, recognizing the City’s commitment to growing and maintaining healthy trees.
The City remains committed to expanding La Mesa’s urban forest and was recently awarded two grants to update the City’s Urban Forestry Management Plan, plant 350 trees along the public right-of-way throughout the City and provide a free tree stewardship training to residents. Starting this Fall residents whose property frontage has been pre-selected for tree planting will receive a letter with the opportunity to receive a free tree if they meet certain requirements.
In preparation for future tree plantings, if you are a property owner and interested in a free tree along the public right-of-way adjacent to your property please visit www.cityoflamesa.us/trees to submit the Tree Request Form.
These efforts support La Mesa’s Climate Action Plan (CAP), which establishes a community-wide goal to cut emissions in half, and grow La Mesa’s tree canopy by 15% by 2035. For updates on the City’s Urban Forestry efforts and ways to get involved through surveys and upcoming virtual trainings and workshops, please visit our website at www.cityoflamesa.us/trees.