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Local News October 29th, 2009

Lake San Marcos Man Killed Identified

Richard Steward, an 83-year-old man hit by a car and killed Friday morning, was on his daily walk with his wife in Lake San Marcos . He was hit by a 2007 Chrysler 300c about 8 a.m. while crossing at the intersection of San Pablo Drive at La Plaza Drive, said California Highway Patrol Sgt. Lew Hall.

The driver, 61-year-old Dennis Guseman, told investigators he was unable to see the couple because of a sun-glare problem, Hall said. The man and the woman were both taken to the hospital after the accident and Steward died a few hours later. The cause of death was a head injury, the Medical Examiner's Office said. Hall said the woman was not injured.

DUI/Drivers License Checkpoint Scheduled

The Escondido Police Department will be conducting a Sobriety / Drivers License Checkpoint in the City of Escondido on Saturday night, October 24th, 2009 from 6:00 PM until 1:00 AM.

The emphasis of the checkpoint will be to detect drunk drivers and those with suspended, revoked, or no driver license and to continue an education / awareness campaign on the dangers of driving impaired. This checkpoint is an effort to continue the Escondido Police Department’s commitment to traffic safety by reducing the number of people killed and injured in alcohol-involved collisions.

The checkpoint is being conducted in conjunction with the North County Law Enforcement Traffic Safety Council, the San Diego County DUI Probation Team, and Mothers against Drunk Drivers. Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Carlsbad’s Ponto Beach The Site Of Alien Arrests by US Border Patrol

U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested 20 Mexican nationals during an apparent maritime smuggling attempt early this Monday morning at South Ponto Beach in Carlsbad, Calif. At about 2:40 a.m., the patrolling agents spotted a panga boat as it landed ashore. The agents responded and apprehended 16 males and 4 females, all of whom are Mexican nationals illegally in the country.

Two suspected smugglers returned to sea aboard the boat before the agents approached the scene. The United States Coast Guard and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Marine Interdiction agents conducted a search of the area but were unable to locate the vessel.

While the group of Mexican nationals was being processed at a local Border Patrol station, biometric information identified a 26-year-old male subject, Carlos HENRIQUEZ-Perez, as a Mara Salvatrucha gang member, part of the notorious and deadly MS-13 gang. HENRIQUEZ is currently in federal custody, pending prosecution for reentering the U.S. as a prior deportee.

In San Diego Sector, the U.S. Border Patrol maintains a strong enforcement posture on the coastal borders to detect, apprehend, and deter smugglers of humans, drugs and other contraband.

Escondido Water Aqueducts to be Inspected

The San Diego County Water Authority will be performing inspections of the aqueducts located in Escondido starting on November 1, 2009, and finishing on November 11, 2009.

During this time they will have crews on Kendra Street and on Rincon Avenue in the area of Reidy Creek. The work may include flushing or draining water from the aqueducts in these areas. The Water Authority does not anticipate the discharge rate will exceed the capacity of the storm drains and their crews will monitor the draining to ensure no problems arise.

The Water Authority periodically inspects its pipelines to maintain the integrity of its delivery systems. The inspection takes place inside the pipe, requiring the pipeline to be shut down, drained, inspected, and refilled.

Vista Plans Off-leash Dog Area in Park

Vista's first dedicated off-leash park for dogs could be open by next spring in Brengle Terrace Park under a plan city officials are proposing. The Parks and Recreation Commission discussed the idea at a meeting this Monday at Brengle Terrace Community Center. Currently, dogs are allowed off-leash from 7 to 9 a.m. and from 4 p.m. until dusk at South Buena Vista Park, in the southern part of the city.

The new off-leash area would be in a fenced area near the horseshoe pits in Brengle Terrace Park, in north Vista. The off-leash area would be open every day from 7 a.m. until dusk. There have been public requests for a dog park there, for some time said Vista officials. The city's plan calls for the undeveloped piece of land to be fenced, and amenities such as water fountains for people and dogs to be added along with benches and tables, a mulch play surface and minor concrete work. The estimated cost for the work is $24,600.

Most other North County communities, including Oceanside, Escondido, Carlsbad and Poway, have off-leash dog parks. Officials believe such a park would be popular in Vista.

Planning Commission Approves Merriam for 2,700 Homes

A huge housing development, proposed for a mountainous, undeveloped area north of Escondido just west of Interstate 15, won the support of the county's planning commission last Friday, on a 5-2 vote. The commission agreed to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that it approve the Merriam Mountains project, north of Deer Springs Road, and adopt the needed zoning changes for the development. The final decision will be up to the supervisors who will likely consider the issue before the end of the year.

The project calls for the construction, probably over 10 to 15 years, of as many as 2,700 homes on 2,327 acres. The project would also include a commercial area, numerous parks and a fire station in the master-planned community. The plan calls for $60 million of road improvements. The Planning Commission decision was a blow to opponents, including the owners of the famous Golden Door Spa just to the south of where the community would be built.

Golden Door founder Deborah Szekely told the commission this month that should the project win approval, the spa would be forced to close because of noise from years of construction, as well as traffic noise from nearby widened roads. The spa depends on its quiet, peaceful environs, she said.

Yesterday, commissioners Adam Day and David Pallinger said they didn't think it was right that government make decisions on what might be best for one business over another. Pallinger said he didn't believe the project would force the spa to close. Along with Day and Pallinger, also voting for the project were Chairman Bryan Woods and commissioners John Riess and Leon Brooks.

Commissioners Michael Beck and Peder Norby voted against the project. Under current zoning laws, the area where Merriam Mountains would be built would allow 345 single-family residences. Norby said the project goes against guidelines established by the county. “Why have a General Plan if we approve projects like this?” he asked.

Rancho Bernardo Suspect Arrested in Woman’s Stabbing Death

Jennifer Lee Jones has been identified as the Rancho Bernardo woman who was stabbed to death while her mother listened on the phone. Clues from the woman's final telephone conversation with her mother before being stabbed to death Thursday in her apartment helped lead investigators to a suspect — the woman's next-door neighbor, police said.

Richard Saldivar, 40, was arrested about 8:20 a.m. Friday morning after police interviewed him through the night. He was booked into jail on suspicion of murder and was scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday of this week in San Diego Superior Court.

The victim was a 28-year-old woman who lived alone in a ground-floor apartment for 2½ years, said San Diego homicide Lt. Kevin Rooney.

Saldivar was detained hours after the slaying in the parking lot of The Overlook apartment complex, where police found him in a car with his wife and two young children, Rooney said. A spokesman for the District Attorney's Office said detectives have not handed the case over to prosecutors.

Saldivar is unemployed and had lived at the complex for several months with his family, Rooney said.

The victim was talking on her cell phone with her mother, who was in Ohio, about 4:45 p.m. Thursday as she walked through the parking lot of her complex on Avenida Venusto. The mother told police that she heard a man's voice, followed by a screeching or yelling sound. The woman then lost contact with her daughter. She tried to call her back but was unsuccessful, so she contacted San Diego police.

“We were able to talk to her a little more in detail about the content of the conversation. That helped us focus on Saldivar,” Rooney said.

Officers entered the victim's apartment, using a master key, and found her body, which had been repeatedly stabbed. Residents at the complex, which backs onto a golf course, were shaken by the violence. Many said they did not know Saldivar or his family.

Escondido City Council Ponies Up More Money for Arts Center

The Escondido City Council last week approved $306,500 in additional funding for the California Center for the Arts, Escondido, to cover its 2008-09 deficit. The money will come from the city's shrinking emergency reserves. The city owns the arts center, which opened in 1994, and is responsible for all its losses and debts even though a nonprofit foundation operates it.

Councilwoman Marie Waldron pulled the arts center item off the consent agenda — where items are passed routinely — for discussion because she said she opposes using more reserves. She cast the dissenting vote in the 4-1 funding decision.

Councilman Sam Abed also said he was concerned about the continued deficits at the center, which has operated in the red since it opened, except for three years. The city has always paid off the deficits.

This fiscal year, the council said enough. The city is struggling because of the recession and has had to lay off employees, cut compensation and services and use reserves to try to balance its budget. Council members decided they no longer wanted to be saddled with the arts center's deficits, as well.

The council decided to split the center into three components — the theater, the conference center and the museum — so that the city could change the management of each component to minimize losses. But the foundation's board resisted the idea. Members of the council's arts center subcommittee are negotiating with the board.

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