Spring 2021 Newsletter
Chief of Police Recruitment
The City retained an executive search firm called Teri Black and Company to lead the recruitment of a new Chief of Police. Prior to posting the recruitment, the executive recruiting gathered feedback from the La Mesa community on its ideal qualities for the next Police Chief. Feedback included input from the City Council, the Citizen Public Safety Oversight Task Force, City staff, the Police Department, and focus groups with community leaders. A community meeting was held on December 7, 2020 and an online community survey was also conducted.
The Chief of Police Recruitment was open between January 13 and February 15, 2021, and 25 applications were received. The City conducted a first round of interviews with the most highly qualified candidates. Two interview panels were utilized for these interviews: a community stakeholder panel and a professional panel. The stakeholder panel included representatives from: the La Mesa Community Police Oversight Board, the La Mesa Citizen Task Force on Homelessness, the local School District, the La Mesa business community, the La Mesa Police Officer’s Association, and the faith based community. The professional panel included executives working in local government in the San Diego region.
An announcement will be made later this month. For updates on the Chief of Police recruitment, please visit the City’s website: www.cityoflamesa.us/1647/Police-Chief-Recruitment.
Community Police Oversight Board
Last year, the City Council adopted an ordinance establishing the Community Police Oversight Board. The CPOB is a community-based board comprised of local residents that will work with our police department to address complaints and review the way in which investigations are handled. The board is comprised of 11 members representing a cross-section of the community. Members represent the four police beats in the City along with representatives from the faith-based community, Helix Charter High School, the La Mesa Spring Valley School District, a young adult, an older adult, and an advocate for those experiencing homelessness. The CPOB will work with the La Mesa Police Department to review policies and procedures to ensure our officers are using the best training and policing standards.
Last year, the City Council hired an independent consultant to review the City’s response to the May 30 Civil Unrest. The purpose of that review was for the community to receive an objective analysis of the incident and identify opportunities for improvement in the future. That report was presented earlier this year to the City Council. The CPOB also recently received a presentation from the consultant. The report provides recommendations on policies that focus on de-escalation and community-oriented policing. The CPOB will work with the La Mesa Police Department to implement these recommendations. The CPOB meets every first and third Wednesday of each month. More information on the CPOB can be found on the City’s website: www.cityoflamesa.us/1644/Community-Police-Oversight-Board.
The City Council adopted the Homeless Action Plan which was collaboration between the Citizen Task Force on Homelessness and staff. The City worked with the Citizen Task Force on Homelessness to develop the recommendations in the adopted Homeless Action Plan. The Homeless Outreach and Mobile Engagement Program or (“HOME”) is an important component of the Homeless Action Plan which includes programs to prevent homelessness, address homelessness, and develop additional regional housing opportunities.
HOME is a service-oriented program that uses mental health and outreach professionals that work directly with those experiencing homelessness. The program partners a social outreach worker and a clinician (specializing in mental health issues) to respond to calls related to homelessness. Their goal is to build trust and work with the homeless one-on-one to offer services and housing. The program helps the homeless obtain basic documentation that makes them eligible for social security insurance, medical benefits, and works to place them in transitional or permanent housing.
HOME shifts the focus from addressing homelessness through law enforcement to social work and behavioral health assistance with the goal of housing individuals. HOME allows our police officers to focus on law enforcement activities. The HOME program reduces the need for law enforcement to respond to non-emergency calls for service. As a result, police officers can focus more on priority emergency calls and community-oriented policing.
Since November 1, 2020, the HOME program has housed 26 people experiencing homelessness including three children. During the first two months, the program responded to 110 calls for service. HOME will be able to respond to at least 1,000 calls per year over time and will significantly reduce the need for a law enforcement response. Residents may contact the HOME through the hotline at 619.667.1475, by calling police dispatch at 619.667.1400, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information on HOME: www.cityoflamesa.us/1646/HOME-Program.
Springtime Fire Preparedness
Springtime can be wonderful here in La Mesa. Winter rains have saturated the hillsides and wildflowers are in bloom. It’s easy to forget that those hills will soon become brown and tinder dry and we have the ever present danger of the earth moving beneath our feet. It happens every day, we know that it’s happening, though most of the time we never even feel it. These are the risks we accept when we live in Southern California. We know that it’s not a matter of if wildfires or earthquakes will happen, but a question of when will they occur again. These potential disasters are very real, but we can reduce our risk if we are prepared for them. Here are three things you need to do to be better prepared:
- Make a plan – What will you do and where will you go? Your plan doesn’t have to be complicated, in fact simple is best. Once you’ve written your plan, practice it.
- Build a kit – You don’t have to put your kit together all at once. You can build it piece by piece. Add something once a week and soon your kit will be ready to go.
- Stay informed – It can be television, the internet, or old reliable radio. Have more than one way that you can keep up to date with the latest disaster information.
We’re not just talking about large disasters either, but ways that you can protect yourselves and your property from home fires and carbon monoxide.
- Have working smoke alarms in every bedroom, common areas, hallways and stairways.
- Keep a carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home, especially near sleeping areas.
- Be sure to test your alarms and detectors regularly.
All it takes to protect you and your family is a little time and research. The following is a short list of websites to help you get started:
La Mesa Prescription Drug Drop Off Site
On April 24th from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. the La Mesa Police Department, working in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Administration, is hosting a prescription drug drop off site in the parking lot of the police station, located at 8085 University Ave.
The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications. This effort is designed to prevent pill abuse and theft by getting rid of potentially dangerous, expired, unused, or unwanted prescription drugs in a safe manner. Studies show that most teens who have abused prescription drugs get those drugs from their own homes or from the homes of friends. Bring your outdated, unused or unwanted prescription pills, ointments, or liquids; no questions asked! Go to www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov and click “Got Drugs?” for more drop off locations.
The City recently hired True North Research (“True North”), an independent survey research firm, to conduct a statistically valid citywide sample survey to better understand how La Mesa residents feel about the way the City is providing vital services, understand where the City should spend resources, and assess opinions on a variety of topics such as public safety, traffic and City services. The City conducts the community survey every two years. With the interview phase now complete, True North was able to survey 1,257 randomly selected respondents in the City, exceeding the goal of completing 800 surveys. True North is now in the process of tabulating the survey results, which will be presented to the City Council at an upcoming meeting. The results of the 2021 Community Survey will also be posted on the City’s website at www.cityoflamesa.us/531/Public-Opinion-Survey where residents can currently find results from past surveys.
Organics Recycling Coming Soon
Starting April 1, 2021, La Mesa residents can begin placing food scraps and food-soiled papers in their EDCO green waste cart! The City of La Mesa and EDCO are committed to complying with California State laws that require mandatory commercial and residential organic waste recycling (AB 1826 & SB 1383) and work towards the City’s Climate Action Plan measures and goals. Organic waste (food scraps, yard waste, and food-soiled papers) is rich in nutrients that can be recycled and provide a number of environmental benefits, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing healthy soils.
EDCO recently completed construction of a new state-of-the-art Anaerobic Digestion (AD) facility to recycle the region’s organic waste. As a result, residents can commingle yard waste (leaves, grass trimmings), food scraps (banana peels, egg shells), and food soiled papers (pizza boxes, napkins) into the green waste cart. The AD facility will produce natural fertilizers for local farms and renewable natural gas to power EDCO trucks.
The organics recycling program will begin with single family residences and will roll out for multifamily apartments and commercial businesses this Summer. Residents can request a free kitchen caddie to collect food scraps in their kitchen and move the material into the green cart. To request a kitchen caddie and for more information or questions about the new organics recycling program, please visit https://la-mesa-city.edcodisposal.com/.
Calling All La Mesa Artists!
With utility boxes lining La Mesa Boulevard and University Avenue, the La Mesa Park and Recreation Foundation’s Arts Alliance and City of La Mesa have several opportunities for local artists to showcase their skills and help to brighten La Mesa. There are over 15 utility boxes in need of being refreshed or completely cleaned and repainted. Artists will be responsible for providing paint and supplies to bring their pre-approved masterpiece to life. The goals of the program are to enhance the beauty and vibrancy of the City, deter unsightly graffiti, and bring art to unexpected places.
A template is provided with all applications that can be hand drawn or digitally produced to show artwork concepts for approval. In addition, proposals for updating art mural panels in the Walkway of the Stars will be considered. All artists are invited to help celebrate our community and share their skills that make La Mesa the "Jewel of the Hills". For more information or to complete an application visit https://lamesaparks.org/call-for-artists/.
La Mesa Celebrates Earth Month with a Scavenger Hunt, April 3-24
This year marks the 51st anniversary of Earth Day which is celebrated on April 22. Earth Day is recognized as the largest civic event in the world and aims to raise awareness around environmental sustainability and reminds each of us that we need to take action now to protect our earth. The City affirmed its commitment to environmental sustainability when City Council adopted the Climate Action Plan (CAP). The CAP establishes a long-range roadmap to decrease energy and water waste, create safer streets for bikers and pedestrians, increase recycling, promote clean renewable energy, reduce vehicle trips, and increase the urban tree canopy. These efforts help drive down harmful emissions and support La Mesa’s vision of a community with a safe and healthy environment every day of the year.
La Mesa Celebrates Earth Month this year with a fun, educational and interactive Scavenger Hunt. Simply download the Scavify app, search for “La Mesa,” and then start completing challenges. The more challenges you complete, the more points you earn and the higher chance of winning prizes. Prizes and swag bags will be provided on the last day of the challenge. More details provided when you sign up on the app.
Scavenger hunt ends April 24, 2021, so get scavenging! More information can be found at www.lamesaparks.org.
Spring Aquatics Programs
Spring aquatics programming is coming at the La Mesa Municipal Pool. Programs will include group swim lessons, youth swim lessons, and adult water exercise classes.
Group Swim Lessons include Starbabies and StarTots (6 months to 2 years of age), Preschool (3- 5 years), Youth (6 – 14 years) and Stroke School (6 – 14 years, must pass a safety benchmark prior to enrolling. Due to current health guidelines, an adult must accompany each child in the water for Starbabies/tots, Preschool, and Youth.
MWF $55 Res/$65 NonRes
Sat $40 Res/$50
Session 1 April 5-23
Session 2 April 26-May 14
Session 3 May 17 -June 11 *No Class on Memorial Day
Session 4 April 10 - May 8Session 5 May 15 - June 12
Summer swim lesson registration will begin on May 1 at 7:30 AM.
Youth Swim Team is a monthly program for participants to learn and refine the competitive strokes and develop an understanding of basic training principals such as using a pace clock, starts and turns, and racing. This program is a great introduction to competitive swimming in recreational environment. The cost for residents is $40 per month or $50 per month for nonresidents.
Silver (Beginner) Tuesdays & Thursdays 4:00-4:45 PM
Gold (Intermediate) Tuesdays & Thursdays 5:00-5:45 PM
Adult Watercise/Water Walking is an ongoing water exercise class to reduce stress to joints and muscles by using the natural resistance of movement through the water. A continuous course as attendance permits. Currently, registration is not required. The cost for residents is $8 per class, or $10 per class for nonresidents.
Tuesdays & Thursdays 6:00-6:45 PM
For more information visit www.cityoflamesa.us/swim or call 619.667.1494.
Reservable Site Park Permits are now available for up to three (3) households to gather based on current Public Health guideline for private gatherings. The three household's total guest count cannot exceed 24 people, including children. To request a Reservable Site Permit, first login to your account with your email address and password, then search by the area, type, location of the facility you would like to reserve. Reservable Site Permits can only be reserved 7 or more days in advance. To reserve online visit cityoflamesa.us/parkpermits or call 619.667.1300.
The new session of spring recreation programs begin April 5th. Current programs include traditional day camp, preschool, dance, sports, and martial arts, all in person in accordance with Public Health guidance. Register online at cityoflamesa.us/register or call 619.667.1300 for more information.
Traditional Day Camp is being offered at the La Mesa Community Center for grades K-8. School online schedules are accommodated throughout the day. Activities before, between and after school include crafts, games and themed activities. 6:30 AM - 6:00 PM. The program runs weekly, including during spring break with options for varied schedules as students return to their schools for in person learning. $170 for La Mesa residents or $180 non-residents. Specialty day camps are also offered during spring break for ages 4-13.