La Mesa News Briefs: Oct. 27 – Nov. 23, 2017

Oasis named finalist in Nonprofit Pitch Fest

San Diego Oasis, a nonprofit organization with office locations in La Mesa and Escondido, was named a finalist in ESET’s Nonprofit Pitch Fest.

Nonprofit organizations submitted essays on how their program would contribute to the next 30 years of innovation in their community. Out of more than 30 U.S.-based nonprofit organizations, San Diego Oasis was selected and will be awarded a $2,000 prize.

ESET (, which has been developing industry-leading IT security software and services, held the contest to help usher in its 30th anniversary.

“We are honored to be recognized and selected by ESET as a finalist amongst the wide range of worthy nonprofit organizations throughout the country who participated in the Nonprofit Pitch Fest,” San Diego Oasis president and CEP Simona Valanciute stated in a press release. “San Diego Oasis offers numerous technology classes at locations throughout San Diego County as a means of empowering those over the age of 50 to effectively use todays’ technology, and is especially pleased to be bringing a free Technology Fair to its members on Saturday, Nov. 11 at our Oasis location in La Mesa.”

MTS increases security

Last month, the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) upgraded its Security Staffing Plan to make the system safer by restructuring the composition of MTS’ security personnel and making changes to their deployment schedule.

“Passenger safety is a top priority for MTS,” Paul Jablonski, MTS chief executive officer, said in a press release. “The new security staffing plan will add a greater uniform presence on our system. This is another strategic step MTS has taken to boost system-wide security.”

Ricardo Favela, a code compliance inspector, checks a passenger’s transit fare during a routine inspection onboard an MTS Trolley. (Courtesy MTS)

The new plan increases the number of MTS Code Compliance Inspectors (CCI) from 34 to 64 employees. The additional CCIs will enable MTS to implement a beat system, where each beat will consist of three to five trolley stations patrolled by a “train team” made up of a security officer paired with a CCI. This new deployment strategy nearly triples the presence of CCIs at any given time.

In a related move, the number of contracted security officers will be reduced to make room for the additional CCIs. MTS has approximately 200 CCIs and contracted security officers patrolling the system.

The train teams will allow MTS to increase uniform presence during the day, maintain the same uniform presence during the night and give the system more access to greater enforcement capabilities. The beat system will allow security teams to patrol the same beat longer to improve familiarity at a limited number of stations.

This new security strategy builds upon the formation of the Joint Agency Task Force in 2015. This four-person team of police officers from different law enforcement agencies assists in patrolling the MTS system and provides support during special events, while helping bolster officer experience and powers of arrest.

Other efforts to boost system security MTS has made include:

Enhanced video systems on all trolleys and most transit stations.

Body cameras for code enforcement officers.

A canine unit to patrol trains and respond to reports of suspicious packages and bomb threats.

“Eagle Team” – a special unit to patrol late night trains on the Orange Line and UC San Diego Blue Line.

Joint security training exercises with partner transit and law enforcement agencies.

New multi-family development near Lake Murray

San Diego-based commercial real estate investment firm SENTRE has announced plans to develop a new apartment community called Villea at Lake Murray in La Mesa. SENTRE describes the future development as “a modern living experience rooted in classic California style.”

An artist rendering of the Villea at Lake Murray exterior (Courtesy of SENTRE)

The $10 million development at 5565 Lake Murray Blvd. is slated to open in fall 2018 and will feature 27 townhomes for rent, each averaging more than 1,000 square feet.

Each new home at Villea will feature attached garages, quartz countertops, stainless steel appliances, hardwood flooring, central heat and air, and in-unit washers and dryers.

Onsite amenities will include a clubhouse and lifestyle center, fitness center, spa, barbecue station, secured parking and community-wide wireless internet. Rental rates are expected to start near $2,500 per month for a two-bedroom, 2.5-bath townhome with attached two-car garage.

“We hope to infuse an urban edge into this traditionally suburban setting,” Doug Arthur, president and CEO of SENTRE, said in a press release. “We will offer spacious townhome residences with direct access garages in a lower-density yet highly amenitized site plan that is incredibly walkable to Lake Murray as well as high quality shopping and dining.”

Visit for additional information.

Discount rain barrels offered

Solana Center for Environmental Innovation and the San Diego Water Authority are encouraging people to save rainwater by offering discounted rain barrels this season.

Rain barrels help conserve water. (Courtesy Solana Center for Environmental Innovation)

The discounted 50-gallon rain barrels are available to pre-order online and cost $90 (retail price is $129). There is a $35 rebate through the San Diego County Water Authority’s Water Smart program, which brings the price to only $55 per rain barrel — a savings of 40 percent.

“Installing rain barrels is an easy way for people to make a difference,” Jackie Bookstein, community engagement coordinator at Solana Center, said in a press release. “You can get your rain barrels at Solana Center in Encinitas or during the Autumn Fest and Plant Sale at the Water Conservation Garden in El Cajon, which is a full day of family-friendly activities.”

Last winter, the San Diego region received some much-needed rain. However, one wet winter doesn’t make up for four years of historic drought. Even after last winter’s record rainfall, local government and water officials are urging residents to use rain barrels to capture the rain from their rooftops, which will save thousands of gallons of reusable water.

San Diego receives only 10 inches of rain on average each year; however, just 1 inch of rain yields 650 gallons per every 1,000 square feet of roof space. An informational video about rainwater harvesting can be viewed online at

East County residents can pre-order rain barrels online at and pick them up at the Water Conservation Garden — 12122 Cuyamaca College Drive West, El Cajon — during their Autumn Fest event on Nov. 4, between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Pre-order rain barrels for pick up at this event by Oct. 29.

Leave a Comment