I’m back with your weekly North of the Fence: a summary of news covering the South Bay, San Diego (which includes San Ysidro, Otay Mesa, Imperial Beach, Chula Vista and National City). In sum: What isn’t happening at the border this week?
- President Donald Trump signed “orders Wednesday to start construction of a border wall, expand authority to deport thousands, increase the number of detention cells and punish cities and states that refuse to cooperate,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
- One element of the executive order — that he would withhold federal grant money from sanctuary cities — could effect San Diego. Is San Diego a sanctuary city? It’s not quite clear. Sara Libby at Voice of San Diego tackles the question. The answer, it’s complicated. But here’s a snipped of the article: “Plenty of websites have compiled lists of sanctuary cities, and San Diego lands on many of them. But the mayor’s office has said San Diego is not one.”
- Mayor Kevin Faulconer gave his “unwavering support” for San Diego’s close binational ties with Mexico, according to the San Diego Union Tribune. What will it mean going forward? That’s unknown.
- The Los Angeles Times further reported that Trump wants to empower police officers and deputies to act as immigration enforcers. What could this mean for Chula Vista, National City and San Diego? It’s all still unclear.
- Relations between President Trump and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto devolved this week, with the Mexican President canceling his trip to Washington planned for Tuesday. Trump then seemed to double down on the nascent feud, with The Hill and other news outlets reporting that he will ask Congress to impose a 20% tax on all imports from Mexico to pay for the wall.
- To understand how this might all affect our border region, check out an opinion piece I wrote for La Prensa San Diego way back in February 2015: Will Securing Our Borders Drive Us Into A Recession?
- Many of our elected officials, including Toni Atkins, Juan Vargas and Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher denounced the President. Read their statements.
- Chula Vista Mayor Mary Salas also said it was a cause for concern. “We need to remind him he’s not Putin and we’re not Russia,” she said.
- National City Mayor Ron Morrison told NBC 7, his city could lose almost $10 million in federal funding used for things such as public safety and housing.
- In addition, KPBS reported about San Ysidro’s local community setting up monitors to find out whether they are affected by pollution coming from the Port of Entry. Pollution due to wait times at the border and how it may effect children at the border has been an on-going issue.
- And if you think it’s just in Mexico, Snopes reported that some Canadian citizens trying to cross into the US for the Women’s March on Washington say border agents turned them back.
- KTVU reported that the California Immigrant Policy’s Center’s promulgated report that said, “…immigrants make up one-third of the state’s workforce and contribute $715 billion to the state’s gross domestic product annually. However, despite major financial contributions by immigrants, the study found that for all households headed by an immigrant, per capita income is only about $27,900 annually, a quarter less than overall per capita income statewide.”
And finally, what’s the largest concern for people living right at the San Diego-Tijuana border? Sewage. On January 12th I took a walk in Border Field State Park right during the rains, which led me right into the “delightful” sewage flooding in a road that has never been fixed. Environmental damage due to border wall building is a constant concern. Agreements with the International Border and Water Commission (IBWC) say that waters must flow freely between the two countries. Tijuana lies 300 feet above sea level and when it rains, trash, sewage and sediment drain down and over the border, contaminating the Tijuana River Valley and our beaches all the way up to Coronado. Take a look at the photos I took:
And just so people who were chanting “Build that wall! Build that wall” can see it once again (provided, of course, they’re reading the San Diego Free Press) — what am I missing? There’s already TWO walls. Here’s another picture:
Otay Mesa’s Brown Field Set To Expand
Brown Field Municipal Airport in Otay Mesa has wanted to create a billion-dollar project to develop. As the San Diego Union reports it “will include efforts to help offset greenhouse-gas emissions, as well as protect San Diego’s dwindling population of burrowing owls. Roughly $2.5 million in environmental projects accompanying the airport’s overhaul were announced Monday as the result of a legal settlement between developer Metropolitan Airpark LLC and a coalition of green groups.”
South Bay School Boards Are Concerned About Betsy Devos for Secretary of Education
The Chula Vista Star reported: “Three South County school districts – Sweetwater Union High School, Chula Vista Elementary School District and the National School District- have passed resolutions making every school in their district safe zones and resource centers for their students and families.
Creating safe zones on campus allows students of all genders, races, religions and sexual orientation to receive a quality of education without worrying about school officials reporting them or working with the federal government in enforcing the law.
Chula Vista Elementary School District trustee and principal at Bonita Vista Middle School Eduardo Reyes said it is not known yet how Trump would change the public education system across the United States but local school districts must be prepared just in case there are changes.”
Update on Chula Vista’s Coming Growth
- The San Diego Union Tribune reported: “The first of three campus designs for a commercial project in east Chula Vista has gotten unanimous approval by the City Council. Called “Think,” the seven-acre project would cater to educational companies. It is located south of Birch Road between state Route 125 and Eastlake Parkway, in the Otay Ranch Community.”
The Millenia Project is a vast development in eastern Chula Vista. I received a tour of the Millenia Project and wrote an article back in May 2016 that explains more.
- Chula Vista also has wanted to build its University. However, Councilmember Patricia Aguilar announced on Wednesday that: “The California Legislative Analyst’s Office has issued a report concluding that neither a new University of California nor a new Cal State campus is warranted at this time. The report was completed at the behest of California State Assemblywoman Shirley Weber. Assemblymember Weber represents the district that includes the site for a future university in Chula Vista. The city, of course, will continue efforts to attract a quality university to Chula Vista. The focus of the city’s efforts is establishing a joint U.S.-Mexican university.”
- And yet, the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Center hopes to see steady revenue. Recently, Chula Vista took ownership of the property and changed the name from the “Olympic Training Center.” The San Diego Union Tribune reports more extensively.
- Plus, oh no! Third Avenue Village Association announced on Monday that the Chula Vista Farmer’s Market cill permanently close after 22 years.
Chula Vista’s Storms Wreaked Havoc: State of Emergency Declared
The City’s Office of Communications sent out a Press Release about the recent storms:
“Chula Vista sustained extensive damage in the rain storms the weekend of January 20-22, which caused downed power lines, fallen trees and large tree branches, flooding, gas leaks and blocked roadways. At least 300 trees were damaged or fell in City in parks, fields, and roadways resulting in the closure of one-third of the City’s parks. Rohr Park suffered 58 fallen and destroyed trees and is closed indefinitely. Other City parks may be opened this weekend once they are deemed safe for public use.
Council member Patricia Aguilar said on Thursday: “The Chula Vista City Council just unanimously approved a resolution to ratify a declaration of local state of emergency due to the storms that hit our city last weekend. With hundreds of trees uprooted and significant damage to some of our parks and roads, this will assist the city in obtaining county, state and federal financial aid to help cover some of the associated costs.”
National City’s Third-Grade Girls At Palmer Way Elementary School Alleged Misconduct By Teacher
Lawyers for three girls who allege they were sexually abused by their teacher are seeking a new trial after a civil jury cleared the National School District of negligence in its handling of the accusations made more than three years ago.
Court documents filed by attorney John Gomez claim the jury was prejudiced against the plaintiffs by testimony that should not have been allowed in the case. He also alleges lawyers were hobbled by being barred from questioning teacher Alejandro Ochoa about the claims of sexual abuse.
The district was sued for negligence in 2014 by the girls, who accused Ochoa of touching them inappropriately and exposing himself to them.
The plaintiffs were identified in the complaint as Isis R., Tamar R. and Vanessa T. They were all students in Ochoa’s third-grade class at Palmer Way Elementary School in National City in 2013 when Isis R. told her mother about the alleged conduct.
Three Notable Events
- A Celebration of Champions is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 25, to mark the ownership transition of the former U.S. Olympic Training Center to the City of Chula Vista. The City is joining together with Elite Athlete Services to hold a public event that includes a Fun Run throughout the now named Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center (CVTC) campus, a City of Champions ceremony and festival. A free festival with Olympic sports demonstrations, walking tours of the CVTC, music, food trucks, and more is happening from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- San Ysidro’s Coral Gate Park will have a beautification project on Saturday, January 28th from 9am-12pm. For a map and more information, check here.
- The Chula Vista Heritage Museum (of which I am a board member) in the Civic Center Branch of the Chula Vista Library will open a new exhibit on Rohr Aircraft Corporation this Sunday, January 29. Stop by at 2:30 to hear historian and professor emeritus Steven Schoenherr’s talk on the history of Rohr and stay for the opening of the exhibit at 3:30.