Where Are San Ysidro’s Solar Panels?
By Barbara Zaragoza
The Union-Tribune reported that EcoBusiness Alliance said it would install solar panels at the San Ysidro School District by November-December 2015, but the company apparently hasn’t started the work.
As the article explains, in 2008 EcoBusiness Alliance contracted to install rooftop panels at seven San Ysidro campuses for free. The agreement said that the company would then sell $18 million worth of power back to the San Ysidro schools over a 25-year period.
Once the 2008 contract was made, San Diego Superior Court public records show that EcoBusiness Alliance was distracted by two lawsuits. In 2009 EcoBusiness Alliance’s partner withdrew from the company and, as a consequence, a complaint and cross-complaint were filed. In the cross-complainant, Bonita Marketing Inc., filed for promissory fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract alleging, among other things that the owners “have not secured financing that would allow EcoBusiness to perform its obligations under the Solar Power and Services Agreement.” The cases with Bonita Marketing Inc. were dismissed with prejudice.
Then in May 2010 Highway One Consulting LLC filed a lawsuit alleging that Manzana Energy entered into an oral agreement in which Highway One’s owner would help facilitate introductions for Manzana to build solar panels, but nothing ever materialized from the partnership. (EcoBusiness Alliance frequently does business under the name Manzana Solar and Manna Energy, according to the complaint.) That lawsuit was also dismissed with prejudice in 2011.
Also in 2011, the San Ysidro District’s law firm, Artiano Shinoff & Holtz, canceled the solar panel agreement with EcoBusiness Alliance, citing non-performance. The company sued for breach of contract and won a $12 million jury verdict plus attorney fees.
To keep the judgement from crippling the district, San Ysidro trustees brought in Edward Velasquez, interim Superintendent, who refinanced the Prop C school bond. Because solar panels were considered facility upgrades, EcoBusiness Alliance agreed to have the district pay upfront for the solar panels, costing more than $23.7 million, according to the Union Tribune.
The owner of EcoBusiness Alliance was quoted by the Union Tribune as saying: “November-December 2015: Ribbon Cutting. System Testing and Commissioning. Handover of System.”
However, the written contract does not have a timeline and the company owner says they are working diligently to deliver the solar project. The Union Tribune also noted, “Solar companies doing business in San Diego County said the $24 million cost for a system designed to produce approximately 3.6 million kilowatt hours a year appears high.” An Escondido solar company explained that the project would probably cost more like $7-10 million.
So why did San Ysidro trustees enter into this contract without a deadline and at such a high price? And, more importantly, where are the solar panels?
Read the full article here.
Chula Vista District 4’s Candidates May Be Carpetbagging
Joe Little from ABC 10 News began to answer a question I posed last week when I noticed Eduardo Reyes’ Ballotpedia said he had lived in Chula Vista/Bonita: Are Chula Vista’s District 4 candidates really from District 4?
Chula Vistans will vote by districts for the first time ever this coming June 2016. According to the city’s charter, the candidates must be registered voters of the City of Chula Vista and a resident of the Council district which that person seeks to represent at the time of filing the nomination papers.
However, when Joe Little interviewed candidate Eduardo Reyes–principal at Bonita Vista Middle School and President of the Chula Vista Elementary School District Board–Reyes said he moved into District 4 nine months ago. The San Diego County Assessor’s Office shows that he owns a home in Eastlake, although Joe Little was unable to confirm who actually lives there.
Dr. Reyes responded to Little’s questions by saying his opponent Rudy Ramirez moved to live within California’s 79th Assembly District specifically to run against Shirley Weber in 2012.
I took a trip down to the Assessor’s Office and confirmed the ownership of the Eastlake home by Reyes.
Ramirez’s 700 form shows him owning two properties in District 4. The Assessor’s Office shows that he has had a property in District 4 since at least 2013.
I also found that candidate Mike Diaz is listed as having a residence in District 4 since at least 2002. He worked as a firefighter in Escondido, not Chula Vista, and was the President of the Escondido Firefighters Association for a time.
The Assessor’s Office shows that candidate Emmanuel Soto moved into a District 4 house in January 2016, a mere four months ago. However, a Whitepages.com search shows that the young candidate moved from an apartment in District 4 to a home in District 4.
Promised 15-Minute Wait Times Replaced Instead By Increased Wait Times
Back in September 2014, the General Services Administration (GSA) had a grand plan to decrease wait times through their three-phase reconfiguration at the border. Traci Madison, the Regional Public Affairs Officer at GSA explained in an email: “Once Phase 1B of the San Ysidro construction project is complete this fall, 25 new lanes and 46 primary inspection booths will be available for Customs and Border Protection use. Our traffic model indicates that if all lanes and booths are manned and operated the expected border crossing time will dramatically decrease to less than 30 minutes.”
Border crossers like me remember that by December 2014 wait times had indeed decreased to about 15 minutes. So what happened?
In a report released by the South County Economic Development Council, they found that average wait times rose to 61 minutes this year from 52 minutes in 2011.
This week KPBS reported about the increased wait times, also saying, “The council surveyed more than 3,000 pedestrians and found that more than 50 percent of them were U.S. citizens, up from 38 percent in 2011. Meanwhile, the share of pedestrians who were Mexican citizens shrank from 44 percent to 32 percent.”
McCann Gives ‘State of the District Report’ — and then doesn’t report about his district
Last week Chula Vista Councilman John McCann delivered a State of the District address in front of about 100 people at The Venue at Eastlake. McCann talked about the Olympic Training Center, the Millenia project, a new tower at Sharp Medical Center and the bayfront development. However, none of these projects are in McCann’s district. (Chula Vista Star News)
The Olympic Training Center, the Millenia project and the possible new University are all within District 3. Come November, District 3 residents will vote for either Jason Paguio or Steve Padilla. One of those new councilmen will represent the interests of what I call The Great Eastern Expansion. (For the next three weeks, I’m writing a series about District 3 and Chula Vista’s great expansion to the tune of 60,000 new residents within the next 20 years.)
A Fourth Sex Crime At Mar Vista High School
Two weeks ago ABC 10 News broke the story about employees having sexual relations with underage students at Mar Vista High School. Last week, I reported that people in Facebook groups and in the comments section of Greatschools.org were posting this had been a trend for many years. Whether Mar Vista High School students were targeted by pedophiles who came down to the IB school, seeing it as fertile ground to “groom” students living at the border, or this happens everywhere and people don’t speak out enough, thanks to one father who called the police, the pedophiles are being routed out. The administration is cracking down on the problem. ABC 10 News was right there to report on a fourth Mar Vista High School employee placed on leave in connection with a sex crimes investigation at the school.
Nesting Birds May Delay Progress For Old Otay Mesa Road
Remember the Old Otay Mesa Road that was supposed to be built about 10 years ago when San Ysidro High School opened? Residents complained that the road was in such poor shape, students had to walk to school in unsafe conditions. After clamoring, including by reporter Liam Dillon at VOSD, the road is finally getting massive upgrades, including a necessary sidewalk.
However, nesting birds may delay the work. This week, the City of San Diego’s engineering department kept residents abreast of what’s going on:
“Significant progress has been made on the Old Otay Mesa Road project… thousands of cubic yards of dirt have been removed from the site in order to re-align the road and accomplish the installation of two walls. A brow ditch has been completed above the walls and about 170 linear feet of storm drain has been installed along with three storm drain cleanouts and one curb inlet.
Construction projects must comply with state regulations regarding nesting birds within 300 feet of the project area. A Cooper’s hawk’s nest was discovered on the eastern end of the site. The project team is working closely with the consultant, retained for these issues, but the hawk’s nest has the potential to cause delays on the project.
While Otay Mesa Road is closed during construction, a temporary pedestrian path was installed and is open. However, safety concerns prohibit bicyclists from using the road at this time.”
Lots More Going On This Week:
- There’s a “sweet spot” for digging drug-smuggling tunnels and it happens to be located between the Tijuana Bridge and the border by Otay Mesa. (Los Angeles Times)
- Brooke Binkowski wrote VOSD’s Border Report, telling the story of 30-year-old Iraq veteran Daniel Torres who was deported after he lost his wallet. Thanks to Hector Barajas and the ACLU, he finally took the oath of citizenship. His story could potentially open the door for other honorably discharged, deported veterans.
- San Ysidro’s Casa Familiar is setting up 12 air pollution monitors within their area to see how three freeways and the U.S.-Mexco border impacts air quality on its school children and neighborhood residents. (Voice of San Diego)
- San Ysidro’s Achiote Restaurant will pay $27,500 to settle a male-on-male sexual harassment lawsuit. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accused the restaurant of subjecting young male Mexican American workers, aged 19-21, of being secretly videotaped while using the men’s bathroom. When a 24-year-old man complained, he was demoted and his work hours reduced. The Times of San Diego has the full story.
- A no-confidence vote was case for the Superintendent, Katie McNamara in April after labor negotiations went into an impasse last January. The South Bay Union School District has now presented an offer that includes a 5% salary increase. (Union Tribune)
- South Bay Hospitals, among others, were graded by the Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit founded by employers and health care providers. They gave C grades to Paradise Valley Hospital in National City and Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center. Scripps Mercy Hospital of Chula Vista got a B grade. (IB Patch)
- And finally, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez was in National City! The Lineal Middleweight World Champion out of Guadalajara is set to fight in Las Vegas against Amir Khan. Monday afternoon the defending champ greeted fans and international press at House of Boxing training center in National City. (7 San Diego)