By Jay Wilson
Special meeting called to address issues
Del Cerro residents recently suffered a despicable home invasion crime that resulted in the death of one woman and major injuries and trauma to a second woman. This definitely impacted everyone living in and near Del Cerro, and still does.
I received a call from Liz Saidkhanian, the Community Outreach Director for Councilmember Scott Sherman suggesting a special (Del Cerro Action Council) DCAC meeting which was held on June 23 at Temple Emanu-El.
DCAC chairman Mark Rawlins opened the meeting by thanking the overflow audience in the Synagogue. “We hope to receive some clarification this evening and a path to a solution,” he said and then introduced Sherman.
“I share your concern and tonight we want to hear from you and receive information from the representatives from the city’s and SDSU’s police departments,” Sherman said. The SDSU administration was invited, but declined.
On a side note, in the spring of 2015, I met SDSU president Elliot Hirshman at a meet and greet for him in Del Cerro. He stressed his interest in developing a strong relationship with Del Cerro. A month after meeting Hirshman, I contacted his office and requested a meeting that would include DCAC board members, the councilmember’s office, and residents regarding Adobe Falls. I was informed by Megan Collins, his chief-of-staff, that they did not believe this was an appropriate time to meet with community members and that the SDSU administration would instead be meeting with the councilmember.
Saidkhanian informed me a meeting is now scheduled with the SDSU administration.
At the June 23 special meeting, Captain Bernie Colon, who heads up the city of San Diego Police Department’s Eastern Division, expressed his condolences to the family for their loss and emphasized the impact a crime of this type has on the police officers. He stressed that his division works closely with SDSU’s Police Department.
“The city has the responsibility of the streets and residents, and SDSU is responsible for their 30-plus acres that includes a major portion of Adobe Falls,” he said.
Caltrans is also responsible for a portion of Adobe Falls. I have requested a map of the entire Adobe Fall area and it will be posted on the delcerroactioncouncil.org website as soon as it is available.
Colon stressed the importance of community members contacting the police when they see something that does not look right.
“If it is not an emergency, call the business office at 619-531-2000 and 911 if it is an emergency,” he said. “This was a good example. Neighbors called 911 and two off-duty police officers responded immediately; their actions most likely saved the life of the second victim. The Police Department has taken steps to decrease greatly the waiting time when dialing the business office. Neighborhood Watch works and Community Relations Officer for Eastern Division, John Steffen, will help you establish your Neighborhood Watch.”
Steffen, who grew up in Del Cerro, can be reached by phone at 858-495-7971 and by email at JMSteffen@pd.sandiego.gov.
Captain Colon then introduced the head of the Homicide Division, Captain Dave Nisleit, who said that because of the ongoing investigation, there is little he can say at this time so as not to contaminate the case. He did say the suspect is in custody and he is quite confident the suspect was not a transient from the Adobe Falls area.
Colon also introduced the 12 officers present, including Assistant Police Chief Todd Jarvis, and SDSU Police Chief Joshua Mays. Chief Mays reiterated the cooperation between his department and Captain Colon and his officers. “You will see more SDSU officers in the area during the summer because school is out and we can devote more time to the area,” he said. “My staff is not large and we serve the entire campus 24/7.”
Nicole Borunda, the Community Relations Manager for SDSU also spoke. One concern is the storm drain tunnel that runs from the SDSU side under Interstate-8 and comes out at Adobe Falls. The initial plan was to block the entrance, but because of the potential buildup of debris during a storm, the tunnel cannot be secured in any fashion. She also said she is working with the neighbors adjacent to Adobe Falls and with the property owners adjacent to the south end of Millpeak to close off that area with a fence. To contact Borunda, call 619-594-2078 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The lieutenant for Eastern Division who oversees the Navajo Area, referenced the Quality of Life squad that was formed specifically to deal with homeless problems around Del Cerro and other Navajo communities.
Virtually every one of the more than 200 people attending the meeting reiterated concern for the lack of action, particularly by SDSU. Hopefully the meeting scheduled between Councilmember Sherman and the SDSU administration will answer some of these questions and we can move forward with long-term resolutions. One possibility is that SDSU could transfer ownership of their Adobe Falls property to the city, which in turn could develop the area as an open space park with trails, creating a much safer environment.
A suggestion at the meeting resulted in DCAC chair Rawlins creating a petition supporting the SDSU property at Adobe Falls be transferred to the city of San Diego, which you can download from our website delcaerroactioncouncil.org.
DCAC meets again on Thursday, July 28 at 7 p.m. at Temple Emanu-El. The board is expecting a positive update from SDSU, Councilmember Scott Sherman’s office and from our Police Department.
—Jay Wilson is secretary of the Del Cerro Action Council. Reach him at email@example.com.