… Russian National Dies In Otay Dentention Facility, and More Trouble For South Bay School Officials
By Barbara Zaragoza
Door Between The U.S. and Mexico Opened
Border Patrol allied with Border Angels–a non-profit organization that advocates for humane immigration reform–and opened the door at the U.S.-Mexican border in Friendship Park. This is the third time Border Patrol has allowed it.
Gabi Esparza was able to reunite with her mother for three minutes by the door. Esparza lives in the United States while her mother is waiting to enter the U.S. They hadn’t been face-to-face in nine years. (CNN Money)
Russian National Dies At Otay Mesa Detention Center
The Times of San Diego and the Imperial Beach Patch reported that a 46-year-old Russian national died at the Otay Detention facility of heart disease. He was in ICE custody as of April 24 after crossing the San Ysidro Port of Entry. Officials found that he had been previously deported and took him to the detention facility. He was waiting for a meeting with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. His residence was listed as Lancaster in the Los Angeles area.
First School In SD County To Be Named After A Japanese-American
The Chula Vista Elementary School District will have a new school at 1644 Santa Alexia Avenue in Otay Ranch Village 2. (The new development in eastern Chula Vista.) The Union Tribune reported back in March 2016 that 1,094 are expected to reside there. The school will accommodate 800 students and space for portables if expansion is necessary. The project is $47.5 million and ground breaking will take place on June 1st. The school is expected to open July 2017.
Until this week the school needed a name. On Wednesday, May 4, the district approved the name Saburo Muraoka Elementary School. Ken Muraoka, the grandson of Saburo, pioneered the effort.
According to They Made Chula Vista History:
Saburo Muraoka came to Chula Vista in 1915 and started farming. He helped create “tents” that protected celery and cucumber plants from harsh weather, a technique that eventually would be used on farms all across Southern California.
The bombing of Pearl Harbor changed the lives of the Muraoka family. Saburo Muraoka was arrested immediately and eventually sent to military stockades and prisons far from his family and the West Coast. Saburo was jailed in Montana, Oklahoma and Louisiana.
Then on April 1, 1942, all Japanese-Americans living in San diego County–including women and children–were ordered to leave their businesses, farms and homes in just one week. Saburo Muraoka’s family was among those who reported to authorities. Soon after they were taken to “war relocation centers”–fenced and guarded camps–where they were forced to live from 1942-45 when the war ended.
He also was one of the founders of a Sister City program between Chula Vista and Odawara, Japan, and supported student exchange programs between the U.S. and Japan. He died in 1983. (Updated 5/9/2016)
Bad News For Tijuana River Mouth
The Tijuana Estuary is our most important natural resource in the South Bay. It is the largest coastal wetland not crossed by a freeway in Southern California. It is also home to many endangered species. But lately, TRNERR has reported problems at the Tijuana River Mouth. In their last newsletter, they explained:
You may have heard that the Tijuana River Mouth closed to tidal circulation on around March 28th, 2016. The last time a closure happened was during the 1983 El Niño year. Storm surges and currents deposited sand from the north to block the mouth of the river again this year. Many of the other lagoons in the County close every year because their rivermouths are restricted by the coast highway and railroad.
In 2012, approximately 30 acres -three feet tall- of sand were deposited on the beaches in Imperial Beach north of the estuary as part of the SANDAG 2012 Regional Beach Sand Project. This material contributed to the mouth closure. According to our data logger near the end of Seacoast Drive in Imperial Beach, the level of dissolved oxygen in the water, critical for fish to breathe, started to decrease around April 7th. That happened because no oxygenated ocean water was entering the marsh. Then the estuary became flooded with polluted water from runoff from the watershed. This water started to flood the south end of Seacoast Drive during the evening of April 10th. The river mouth was reopened on April 11th, using heavy equipment to move enough sand to let the perched water flow out to sea.
This closure resulted in poor water quality conditions as over 1000 acres–one foot tall–of sewage contaminated water flooded the estuary with runoff from the watershed. This caused the dissolved oxygen (DO) in the water to drop to zero (milligrams per liter) (see DO graph below) and a widespread die off of fishes and invertebrates in the estuary followed including several leopard and smoothhound sharks and shovel-nosed guitar fish. After only 19 days, however, the river mouth was blocked off again on April 30th so Refuge staff is staying on top of it to attempt to keep it open.
More South Bay Hot ‘Sauce’:
- The Union-Tribune reported that a complaint was filed against three Chula Vista Elementary School District trustees–Eduardo Reyes, Leslie Bunker and Francisco Tamayo–alleging they made campaign violations connected to reporting donations and spending on the 2014 school board election. Eduardo Reyes is principal of Bonita Vista Middle School and is currently running for city council of District 4. You’ll remember that Joe Little at 10News reported last week that Reyes may be carpetbagging because his primary residence is listed in Eastlake, which is not located in District 4. Reyes denies the claim, saying he moved to District 4 nine months ago.
- Recently, the Eastlake III HOA sued ECHO (the Eastlake III Concerned Home Owners). Their day in court will be on May 11. In the meantime, a community member from Eastlake Trails posted on Next-door: “If you have been wondering exactly how much the current majority on the Eastlake III HOA board has blown on the multiple high-priced lawyers they’ve been using, this post is for you!” (See the list here.) According to ECHO, their total legal expenditures from August 2015 to March 2016 is $89,165.34. You can also read the lawsuits on their Facebook page.
- The Rohr Drop Hammer that stood along Third Avenue next to Memorial Park was removed last week. The historic item was relocated to Bay Boulevard Park. It comes on the heels of the Chula Vista Heritage Museum building being demolished only a few weeks before. The city approved removals create more park space. (San Diego Union Tribune)
- According to the Times of San Diego, two people were hospitalized on May 1st when a toxic gas leaked into a Costco store in Chula Vista.
- After more than twenty years of derailment, San Ysidro has been promised a new public library. The land and funds are there and the building should be completed by 2019. (San Diego Reader)
- Imperial Beach plans to bulldoze an RV park and erect 184 townhouses and 3 single-family homes. The demolition of the RV’s has been delayed, but residents departed within the last few weeks. (San Diego Reader)
- Did you know that Brown Field airport is the largest remaining burrowing owl colony in San Diego County? Marty Graham reports, “Under the watchful eyes of the firefighters, the owls go about their lives. They are oblivious to the millions of dollars spent on them, to their impact on the Otay Mesa economy, and to the wishes of habitat managers who have owl habitat and no owls.” (San Diego Reader)
- SANDAG’s newsletter announced that U.S. and Mexican officials gathered in Otay Mesa during the month of April to highlight more than $1.3 billion worth of transportation projects on the American side of the San Diego-Tijuana border. Importantly, SANDAG wrote: “Mexico is California’s number one export market. Each year the Golden State exports more than $25 billion in goods to Mexico, or 14.5 percent of California’s total exports. Inadequate roadway infrastructure along the California-Baja California border costs the U.S. and Mexican economies more than $7.2 billion economic output and more than 62,000 jobs each year. Border congestion also harms air quality and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.”
- The Union Tribune reported this week that Chula Vista is mulling over building a state-of-the-art library within the Millennia project. Actually, the library and fire station have always been part of the plan. You can check out my article this week about the Millenia Project and also our Great Eastern Expansion.
Ken Muraoka says
In the story about Saburo Muraoka can you please mention that he was wrongly put in jail. It sounds like he was a war criminal, when he was not.
Barbara Zaragoza says
Hi Ken! It was a direct quote from “They Made Chula Vista History: Saburo Muraoka”: http://www.chulavistaca.gov/home/showdocument?id=7579
I updated and added the full paragraph, if that helps.