Jacob gets mayor’s endorsement
The 2016 election is still over a year away but County Supervisor Dianne Jacob’s campaign is already getting some support for her re-election to the District 2 office.
On Sept. 28, Jacob’s campaign announced that it had received the endorsement of San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.
“Although most of District 2 is outside of the city of San Diego, the neighborhoods of San Carlos, Allied Gardens, Grantville and Del Cerro are part of the district election,” Jacob said. “A portion of my district includes eastern parts of the city of San Diego, and I know Mayor Faulconer is respected by many of these residents, so his endorsement is a big step forward for our campaign,” Jacob said in a statement released by her campaign.
Faulconer cited his work with Jacob on a number of issues for his support of her re-election, especially their work on the Alzheimer’s Project, which works to accelerate research for a cure.
“I appreciate Dianne’s dedication to serving her constituents and her enthusiasm for addressing challenging issues facing our country,” Faulconer said in a statement.
Patrick Henry in top 500 high schools
In a new survey by Newsweek magazine, Patrick Henry High School in San Carlos is ranked in the top 500 high schools in the country.
Patrick Henry was one of six high schools in San Diego county to be listed in the Newsweek rankings, coming in at 169th in the nation when adjusted for poverty rates. Other San Diego schools that made the list include Kearny High in Kearny Mesa at 89th, Westview at 238th, Del Norte at 384th and Canyon Crest at 442nd.
The San Diego contingent was led by River Valley Charter School in Lakeside, which ranked 94th in the country because of its 100 percent graduation rate and 100 percent rate of students going to college.
A statement released by Patrick Henry says the school “prides itself on working hard at pushing students to the highest level and providing support along the way. This recognition further demonstrates [the school’s] commitment in helping [its] students reach their potential.”
Prop V work progresses at Grossmont, Cuyamaca
Energy conservation measures, parking lot and roadway repairs, and prep work for new facilities are among the projects completed or underway at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges that are being funded by the Proposition V construction bond.
The Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Governing Board was recently updated on the status of the $398 million construction bond approved by East County voters in fall 2012. The measure’s passage paved the way for the district to continue the work started with Prop. R – the $207 million facilities bond passed in 2002 that resulted in the construction or renovation of 13 major facilities at the colleges.
The groundwork is being laid for the first major projects to be built with Prop. V funds. At Grossmont College, design work is underway on an $82.7 million Arts and Communication Complex, with construction set to begin in February 2017. The facility will replace aging classrooms and include a new 350-seat theater and concert hall. An architect has been selected to begin the design process for the Science Math and Career Tech Complex, a $51.2 million project scheduled to start construction in September 2017.
At Cuyamaca College, a new $11.5 million facility is planned to be built in 2018 for the college’s renowned Ornamental Horticulture Department. The space where the department is currently located will be razed to make way for a $34 million two-story Student Services building near the core of the Rancho San Diego campus. That project is currently in the design phase and is scheduled for construction in 2019.
Also slated at Cuyamaca College are the track and field surfacing, the Exercise Science Building renovation, interim improvements to the existing One-Stop Student Services Complex, and reconfiguration to Building L.
Prop. V, combined with earmarked state funds and utility rebates, also funded three years of districtwide energy-related projects, which included: lighting fixture and controls upgrade for energy efficiency; lighting improvements in classrooms, parking lots and walkways; upgrades to more energy-efficient heating and air-conditioning systems; and replacing boilers and rooftop heating and air-conditioning (HVAC) units; and upgrading mechanical controls systems.
Prop. V funds were also used for the design phase of parking lot and roadway repairs and the installation of a new modular weight training classroom, both at Cuyamaca College.
Recently completed construction projects at Grossmont College include reconstructed tennis courts with better durability and improved fencing, along with parking lot and roadway repairs.
Governing Board president Bill Garrett said trustees appreciated the update on the facilities program so they are kept aware of the progress on improvements at the two campuses.
“We know there is much work to be done in preparation for the major construction,” he said in a statement. “We’re grateful for the public’s support of the critical facilities and technology upgrades critical to the success to our students in today’s high-tech, ultra-competitive world.”
Proposition V was the outcome of a two-year planning process during which a facilities master plan was developed, identifying more than $600 million in facility and technology needs at the two campuses, which enroll about 28,000 students.
A key part of Prop. V is the existence of an independent citizen’s bond oversight committee made up of East County residents with expertise in construction, procurement and finance, as well as representatives of business, senior and taxpayer organizations. Additional information about Prop. V can be found at propsrv.gcccd.edu/Pages/Home.aspx.
SDG&E wants rates to pay for 2007 wildfire costs
On Sept. 25, SDG&E asked the California Public Utilities Commission for approval to use rates to cover the costs of settling the 2,500 lawsuits related to wildfires in 2007. The utility initially faced $4 billion in claims arising from the fires, but the company settled as many as possible to reduce the customer cost impact, according to a statement released by SDG&E.
The total cost of the settlements was about $2.4 billion, the majority of which were paid with liability insurance or recovered from third parties. SDG&E is proposing that its shareholders cover $42 million, or 10 percent of the cost.
The utility wants the remaining $379 million to be paid by increases in customer rates over the next six years. A residential customer who uses 500 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month would see his or her bill go up about $1.70, SDG&E said.
Since 2007, SDG&E has installed over 170 weather stations throughout its service territory to enhance operational and system safety and improve situational awareness to reduce the potential for utility facilities to be used as an ignition source. Every circuit that serves the high-risk “fire threat zone” in the back country has at least one weather station that provides wind speed, direction, temperature and humidity every 10 minutes — critical information needed to evaluate the possible impact of weather on system operations. All of this data is available to the National Weather Service, fire agencies and the general public.
“With technology, we now have access to so much more information than we had then about the truly unprecedented strength of the Santa Ana winds in 2007, when we had to rely on just a handful of weather stations,” said Steve Vanderburg, senior meteorologist for SDG&E. “As part of the research to develop the Santa Ana Wildfire Threat Index, we looked at the hourly weather data over the past 30 years in Southern California and then overlaid the fire weather history. What we found is that the winds in 2007, near where the Witch Creek Fire started, were blowing at more than 90 mph — that’s almost as strong as a Category 2 hurricane.”
In 2008, when deciding where to install the first of its new weather monitors, SDG&E looked for areas with strong wind activity. As a result, one was placed in west Santa Ysabel, which is one of the windiest spots in the back country and close to the ignition site of the Witch Creek Fire.
A final CPUC decision is expected in the first quarter of 2017. Customers would not see any bill impact before then.
By law, SDG&E is required to serve all customers in its service territory regardless of where they live. California courts have found that utilities like SDG&E are automatically responsible for damage linked to their equipment, regardless of fault or negligence, even where the utility equipment is only one of several concurrent causes. Many factors outside of SDG&E’s control — most notably the Santa Ana winds — played a major role in the ignition and spread of the 2007 wildfires.
Regulators in past cases have ruled that costs reasonably incurred by a utility in fulfilling its obligation to serve all customers can be recovered in rates.
Wildfire risk in your neighborhood?
As San Diego County enters the perilous fall wildfire season, residents can now tap into a new online map to learn the level of fire risk in their immediate area.
The digital tool, which went online on Sept. 30, allows San Diegans to search the county by address or place name to learn the degree of wildfire hazard and how to better prepare for an emergency. Many of the county’s biggest blazes have struck in the fall, fed by Santa Ana winds and tinderbox conditions in the backcountry.
“Wildfire is a year-round threat in our region, but fall can be especially brutal,” Supervisor Dianne Jacob said in a statement released by the county. “The online map is an eye-opening reminder of the risks we face, but it also provides critical information on fire protection and preparedness.”
A link to the new Wildfire Hazard Map can be found at ReadySanDiego.org. It draws on existing data collected by California fire officials to assess conditions on properties statewide.
“The more you know, the better you can protect your family and property when the next wildfire strikes,” Board of Supervisors chairman Bill Horn said. “This new online map offers personalized information about your neighborhood and if you’re living in a high risk area.”
The map shows large areas of the county, mostly in the backcountry, are in “high” to “very high” hazard zones, as defined by state officials. Other areas fall into the “moderate” category or are not considered a serious risk.
When an address or place name is entered, the map provides the hazard designation, along with related links and information, including the name of the fire protection agency for that location, the closest fire station and a detailed guide to fire preparedness.
Many addresses also provide contact information for the local Fire Safe Council, a network of nonprofits that promote fire safety and preparedness.
The map is available on both desktop and mobile devices.
Since the fall of 2003, when a string of devastating fires swept the region, the county has spent at least $320 million to beef up backcountry fire protection, including investing in new engines, stations, aircraft and a better trained firefighting force.
PHHS student semifinalist for National Merit Scholarship
Patrick Henry High School senior Ian Rodney is in the running for one of the best, and most lucrative, scholarships in the country.
Rodney is one of about 16,000 semifinalists in the 61st annual National Merit Scholarship Program. These high school senior semifinalists will compete for some 7,400 scholarships worth a combined amount of more than $32 million that will be awarded in the spring.
To become a semifinalist, students must show above exceptional results on their PSAT exam, which they took in October 2014. Finalists will be picked based on SAT scores, academic record, a student essay, school recommendation and extracurricular activities.
About 90 percent of semifinalists become finalists and roughly half of the finalists are awarded National Merit Scholarships.
In addition to Rodney becoming a semifinalist, Patrick Henry had eight more students who were recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Program for their excellent results on their PSAT qualifying tests but were unable to continue in the competition –– Olga Broshteyn, Jabril King-Mahdi, William Mason, Madison Nelson, Brianna Pinto, Kaitlyn Samms, Diwash Shrestha and Michael Wehrmeyer.