Alpine Revitalization discusses major issues
By Susan Hogoboom
For The Alpine Sun
The Alpine Revitalization Steering Committee delivered its biannual report to San Diego County Board of Supervisor Dianne Jacob. Other local representatives and concerned citizens also chimed in on Friday, June 14 at the Crown Hills Community Association’s clubhouse in Alpine.
Jacob welcomed Sheriff’s Lieutenant Christine Harvel, who, in March, took over as commander of the Alpine sheriff’s station, a position formerly held by Jose Sanchez. Harvel said that sheriff’s station officials want to raise crime awareness; planning for an event about such awareness is in the works. At that time, the public will have the opportunity to tour the station and to enjoy a barbecue. Harvel stressed the importance of developing a sense of community and getting to know our neighbors. She also delivered a brief crime report, mentioning that the amount of arrests in Alpine has risen since the new hotel at Viejas Casino opened. She said this is to be expected.
Diane Haworth, owner of the new Alpine’s farmers market, said that, with the exception of the last event, attendance at the market has been great. She said vendor’s come from as far as the north county and that she has received a lot of compliments on the warmness and the friendliness of our community. The farmers market opened June 4 and runs every Tuesday, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Alpine Creek Town Center located at 1347 Tavern Road. Jacob suggested, though, that people should keep using the market for it to continue.
Jacob and Christine Connell, president of the Alpine Library Friends Association (ALFA), announced that library funding has tentatively been approved for the 2013-14 budget. A final vote for the new library is expected in the near future, but Jacob seemed confident, remarking, “Alpine will be the 13th new library.” The land, adjacent to the community center and within a two-minute walk of Alpine Elementary School, was purchased in 2009. ALFA is raising money for the project through its book sales at the Alpine Library Friends Bookstore, located at 2554 Alpine Boulevard. Plans for a celebration at the community center are in the works for July, at which time the public may view the conceptual plans, on view now at the bookstore, and a historical time line of ALFA and Alpine libraries. At the time this article went to press, Dianne Jacob was scheduled to be on hand at the event. In addition, public hearings are planned to take place on the matter. In the past, the application of bond money was unsuccessful. The bookstore fundraises through the sale of donated books and is trying to raise money for the fixtures, equipment and furnishings for the expected new library. Book donations are always welcomed. This all comes with the 100th anniversary of our first library in Alpine. Visit alpinelibraryfriends.org for more information.
Michael Long, a county project manager, discussed traffic concerns around Alpine. Only the first phase of pouring sidewalks around Alpine schools has been completed. Long said that the requirements from the state have become stricter, and officials want to see proof of community involvement, prior to application submittal for additional funds. He said proof of such community input would make the grant application easier. He said, “We need to move forward with the next phase of that.” A county engineer spoke and said that a peak traffic analysis has been conducted during school hours. School board member Joseph Perricone has already appeared at an Alpine Planning Group meeting to address school safety concerns.
Hope for a shuttle to service Alpine has dwindled, as there is no longer interest in a shuttle to serve commuters along Alpine Boulevard. The shuttle, which would have operated on non-fossil fuel, was once a goal of the Roads and Infrastructure Subcommittee. The shuttle would have run from Dunbar Lane to West Willows Road. It would have been funded by riders and by business owners.
Community officials said that children’s safety is a big concern. With the Alpine Elementary School’s parking lot overflow, schoolchildren were darting into the busy street to meet parents, whose cars were parked at a community development and at the Alpine Community Center. This has resulted in the installation of a gate at the community center, which has angered a lot of parents. Travis Lyon, a member of the Alpine Planning Group and the Parks and Recreation Subcommittee, wanted to make it clear that neither the homeowner association nor the Alpine Community Center was responsible for cars being towed and that the calls were made from citizens.
A local official said that completion of the removal of power poles and removal of the lines that still exist after the completion of Sunrise Powerlink (SRPL) is to be completed at the end of the month. Small areas around the former poles sites are being paved.
Maureen Austin, the founder and executive director of CHIRP for Garden Wildlife, Inc., a non-for-profit organization, said that the organization continues to beautify the boulevard through its “Gardens on the Boulevard” program. One of its most recent projects was planting plants outside the new Goodwill Industries of San Diego County thrift store. The object of the project is to beautify plots of dirt left in the aftermath of the SRPL project. The group has been committed to raising money through private funding and donations. If more business owners along the boulevard are interested, they should call (619) 445-8352 for more information. Austin said that the organization will take care of all the permitting but cannot notarize.
Are we on the road to a new chipping record? Neville Connell, president of the Greater Alpine Fire Safe Council (GAFSC), asks this question. The GAFSC’s chipping service has chipped for around 1,0000 households since it began. Last year, 787,000 cubic feet of brush were chipped. This is tantamount to a pile of brush that is three feet in height, six feet deep at its base, and 16 miles long! This year, GAFSC has chipped at least 487,000 cubic feet. However, Connell is concerned that chipping amounts will decrease after the grants from SRPL mitigation expire on July 15 of this year, the work completion date for those who applied and were accepted. GAFSC’s chipping service allows homeowners to reduce their need for watering. Also, the resulting mulch decreases fire risk. In addition, GAFSC renewed its defensible space assistance and rebate programs. Assistance to assist homeowners in being compliant with the defensible space rules is available for qualified low-income households, for qualified military personnel, and for qualified persons with disabilities. For more information and eligibility requirements, visit gafsc.org for more information.
Committee members discussed the recent grand jury report, which revealed that the community of Alpine is entitled to know whether or not a new high school will be built in Alpine. The Grossmont Union High School District (GUHSD) has already purchased the Lazy A Ranch site. Voters have already agreed to pay for the new high school with the passage of Proposition H in 2004 and Proposition U in 2008. On May 21 of this year, The San Diego County Grand Jury delivered the recommendation that GUHSD decide by December 31 whether or not to build the school. The grand jury recommended that, should GUHSD determine that it will build the new school, the bond money is deposited into an escrow account and a timeline be determined. The grand jury recommends that, should GUHSD not decide to build the school, it support unification. Over 3,000 signatures have been collected on a petition, supported by the Alpine High School Citizens Committee, to advocate unification.
Prior to the grand jury report, GUHSD had decided to indefinitely hold off on construction of the new school. Withdrawel of key architectural plans from the California State Department of Architecture has, to many keeping an eye on this issue, indicated that GUHSD had no intention of building the school.
Jacob concluded the meeting by expressing her ongoing concern of a possible recurrence of fires in our region, especially with the low rainfall totals. She said she carries with her, to each of her meetings, a map which highlights areas according to fire risk.
She says SRPL poses a fire threat and that she is going to “keep on fighting.”
All of these issues and events “have the town humming,” said Mary Kay Borchard, chair of the Community Development Subcommittee, before adding, “There’s still a lot to be done.”