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    A popular beachside pizza place will open a new location in downtown La Mesa this month, joining a wave of restaurants that have revived the area in recent years.

    Surf Rider Pizza Co. will open up shop on Nov. 7 at 8381 La Mesa Boulevard. This marks the fourth location of its kind, but the only Surf Rider that is inland. The other locations – true to the eatery’s name – are in Mission Beach, Ocean Beach and Crown Point.

    The restaurant – part of The Patio Group company (Fireside, The Patio on Goldfinch, Saskas) – specializes in East Coast-style pies by the slice or whole, baked in fire-heated brick ovens.

    On the menu, pizza enthusiasts will find 18-inch, cheesy beauties like the Bacon Rider and Spicy Vegetarian, plus salads, Stromboli and cheesesteaks.

    There’s also an in-house bakery that offers sweet treats like full-sized cakes, pastries and desserts. When Surf Rider Pizza Co. opened its first location the site was also home to an old bakery, which inspired the addition of fresh-baked goods to the menu.

    The La Mesa spot will boast a full bar serving classic cocktails, beer and wine, dubbed the “Himmelberg’s Bar,” named after a late friend of The Patio Group’s CEO. The bar will also pour the smooth citrus “Himmel Brew,” made by Mission Brewery.

    La Mesa Boulevard in the heart of downtown La Mesa is currently home to modern eateries like Bo-beau Kitchen + Garden, Farmer’s Table, City Tacos and FourPenny House, as well as longtime local spots like Johnny B’s Burgers and Centifonti’s Bar & Restaurant. The addition of new restaurants in recent years has revitalized the area as a hub for foodies in San Diego's East County.

    Photo Credit: Surf Rider Pizza Co./Facebook
    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.

    Surf Rider Pizza Co. will open its fourth location in San Diego on Nov. 7, this time inland in La Mesa.Surf Rider Pizza Co. will open its fourth location in San Diego on Nov. 7, this time inland in La Mesa.

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    A young woman shot and killed near a gas station in Fallbrook Thursday was a happy, driven person trying to distance herself from a “toxic” relationship, her family told NBC 7.

    Yesenia Becerril, 20, was gunned down along the 1100 block of South Vine Street near South Main Avenue at around 12:45 a.m. Thursday. Detectives believe the young woman’s ex-boyfriend, Oscar Rodas, 27, allegedly fired the shots that took her life.

    As of Friday afternoon, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department (SDSO) was still searching for Rodas in connection with the killing.

    NBC 7 and Telemundo 20 spoke with Becerril’s aunt and cousins Friday who described her as a caring person who was attending college, studying and trying to make something of her life.

    She could also light up a room.

    “She was an angel,” said Becerril’s aunt, Rosa Vasquez. “Wherever she went, she brought happiness. She never liked to see anybody sad. She was like my daughter.”

    “She was always smiling. She wanted to make other people around her smile,” her cousin, Christina Nuñez, added. “She was a very good person who never wanted to do harm to anyone. She just wanted to live her life.”

    Both Vasquez and Nuñez said Becerril had recently broken up with Rodas, but that’s not what he wanted. The pair had been dating for about six years, the aunt said.

    “She only wanted to study, and didn’t want to have a boyfriend,” Vasquez explained.

    Nuñez said Becerril always kept details of her relationship with Rodas private and never liked to talk about him with anyone close to her. This was concerning for the family, who said Rodas had gotten more aggressive and controlling over the years.

    “It was a very toxic and abusive relationship,” said Nuñez.

    The shooting of Becerril prompted several calls to 911. When deputies arrived at the scene, the victim was lying on the ground, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.

    SDSO homicide Lt. Rich Williams said several witnesses had stopped to help Becerril while paramedics arrived. Witnesses told NBC 7 the victim was shot once and then started running toward the gas station, where she was shot for a second time.

    The victim was taken to a local hospital where she died around 2 a.m. Hours later, detectives identified Rodas as the suspect in the deadly shooting.

    The untimely death of Becerril has left her family shattered. Vasquez said Becerril’s mother is “destroyed,” unable to understand why her daughter’s life was taken.

    "She wants her girl," Vasquez said, sobbing. "I don’t know what my sister is going to do."

    The family has created an online fundraising account to help Becerril’s family cover funeral expenses. To donate, click here.

    The investigation is ongoing and anyone with information on this case can reach out to the SDSO’s Homicide Unit at (858) 285-6330 or (858) 565-5200, or Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.

    Photo Credit: Becerril Family Photo
    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.

    A photo of Yesenia Becerril, given to NBC 7 by her family.A photo of Yesenia Becerril, given to NBC 7 by her family.

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    The discovery of lead in the drinking water at a San Diego Unified school prompted school officials to shut off the water there, the district announced Friday.

    The water tested at several locations at Fletcher Elementary School, 7666 Bobolink Way, exceeded the SDUSD's standards, according to the district's drinking water sampling report.

    Parents were notified of the danger by the school's principal, Gina Camacho McGrath, in a letter dated Friday.

    "For families concerned about the potential exposure their students might have had, the school district recommends families contact their family doctor or local community clinic and request a lead blood screening," McGrath said in the letter.  

    The amount of lead at one location was nine times the district's standard and three times the state's and federal's standards. There are, however, no safe level of lead, according to the Centers for Disease and Prevention. 

    Lead can cause developmental, neurological and reproductive problems in children as well as adults, according to the CDC.

    The water at the school will remain shut off until the source of the lead has been identified and removed, McGrath said in the letter. Bottled water will be provided to students until the situation has been remedied, she said.

    The problem was discovered after the district started to test the water at all of its campuses in July 2017 after it adopted a new more stringent lead standard.

    The state's and federal's standards are 15 parts per billion, the district's new standard is 5 ppb, matching the Food and Drug Administration' standard for bottled water.

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    Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford said she was on a Delta Air Lines flight into Boston Tuesday night when she noticed that a passenger next to her was in distress.

    Stanford, who is an African American physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, said she was helping the passenger when her medical credentials were questioned by several flight attendants, even after she showed the flight attendants her medical license.

    "She is a highly sought after, highly talented physician," said Dr. Michael Sinha, a research fellow at Harvard Medical School. "She has two residencies and two fellowships under her belt."

    Shortly after the incident, Stanford sent several tweets about it.

    "As a black woman doctor who showed my medical license to help a passenger on DL5935 your flight attendant still did not believe I was a physician," she said in one tweet.

    In a statement, Delta said, "We thank Dr. Stanford for her medical assistance on board Republic flight 5935 IN D-BOS, and are sorry for any misunderstanding that may have occurred during her exchange with the in-flight crew."

    Sinha is an advocate for gender equity with degrees in medicine and law who works with Stanford through the American Medical Association and the Massachusetts Medical Society.

    "Myself and a couple of my colleagues really want this to become a national issue and to have this conversation again," he said.

    Sinha also said Standford participated in a bias-in-medicine symposium just over a week ago, with her friend, Dr. Tamika Cross — a black OB-GYN who also accused Delta of discrimination in 2016, which sparked the hashtag #whatadoctorlookslike.

    After the 2016 incident, Delta stopped requiring attendants to verify medical credentials.

    Shilpa Pherwani is CEO of Interactive Business Inclusion Solutions, which works with companies to provide employees with diversity and implicit bias training.

    The company is currently working with another major airline to audit its diversity policies.

    "Really look at training, that gets to how you are recruiting and hiring," Pherwani said. "How you do career development. How you're giving performance evaluations, feedback, how do you develop your people, is it an equitable environment?"

    In another tweet, Stanford said she spoke with Delta, which promised to address the incident and thanked her for being a Sky Miles member. She is unsure whether any further changes will be made.

    Delta also said the plane on which the incident occurred is operated by Republic, a Delta Connection carrier.

    "We are proud of Dr. Stanford for immediately coming to the aid of an ailing passenger but are dismayed that her credentials and qualifications were questioned," Massachusetts General Hospital President Peter L. Slavin said in a statement.

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    All lanes of northbound Interstate 805 in Chula Vista were closed Friday evening after a semi-truck caught on fire, the California Highway Patrol said.

    The truck fire was reported around 8:30 p.m. near the Main Street exit, the CHP said.

    Officers closed lanes at the Main Street exit until firefighters doused the fire, the CHP said.

    No one was hurt and the cause was of the fire was under investigation.

    No other information was available.

    Please refresh this page for updates on this story. Details may change as more information becomes available.

    Photo Credit: Charlie De

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    There are just over 50 shopping days left before Christmas.

    21 days till Black Friday.






    Stores are already setting up for the Christmas holiday but one thing you may not see as much this holiday season are discount signs.

    A strong economy could actually hurt bargain hunters, San Diego State marketing professor Miro Copic said.

    "People are seeing more money in their pocketbook," Copic said. "Real wages are up, more two-income households and fewer people are unemployed."

    That's a good sign for retailers who are predicting an increase in sales even higher than the last few years. But that doesn't mean shoppers will see early discounts.

    "There are going to be fewer items on sale and the depth of the discounts is not going to be as high," Copic said.

    Shoppers won't see the 50 percent to 75 percent discounts they've seen in recent years. There might be 35 percent or 45 percent discounts but that's much less than previous years, he said.

    There's also the possibility that government tariffs could also hurt bargain shoppers.

    While items in the store now won't be impacted, popular items coming late from overseas could be more expensive, Copic said.

    "You might see price increases toward the end of your shopping window and certainly at the beginning of 2019," he said.

    As for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Amazon is still the clear leader in online sales but Copic said there will be more online competition this year coming from stores such as WalMart, Target and Costco.

    Photo Credit: Bob Hansen

    Holiday shoppers.Holiday shoppers.

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    Entering the final weekend before election day, the San Diego County Registrar of Voters on Friday said the number of the number of registered voters is at an all-time high.

    On Friday, voters were lined up outside of the Registrar's office in Kearny Mesa to cast their ballots.

    “Voter excitement really hasn’t stopped since November of 2016," Registrar of Voters Michael Vu said. "We have an all-time high of 1.77 million voters.” 

    On Friday some were waiting well over an hour to cast their early ballot.

    “I’m actually leaving on a work trip to Dallas, so for me, it’s important to cast my ballot before I leave,” LouAnne Ferro of San Carlos said.

    Others were here because of the divisive political climate.

    “I'm really fatigued by all the divisiveness in the country and constant back and forth with people that you used to get along with over this," Cary Fitzgerald of La Mesa said. "If I sit back and do nothing, then I can’t be angry or anything if I don’t participate in a solution.” 

    There are 120,000 more registered voters compared to the 2016 election, according to Vu. And that number could grow because voters can still register up until election night, but only at the registrar's office.

    As of Thursday, the registrar received 350,000 mail-in ballots and that number is expected to grow throughout the weekend, Vu said.

    The office will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday and will stay open until 8 p.m. on election night.

    There’s been a shift in the political party demographics of those casting early ballots, which skewed Republican in years past, Vu said.

    Here’s the breakdown of the 350,000 ballots cast:


    • 38 percent are registered Democrats.
    • 36 percent Republican.
    • 21 percent Non Partisan.
    • 4 percent represent minor political parties.


    In San Diego County voters will consider 326 contests. That includes 485 candidates, and 52 local and state issues.

    Vu is recommending voters sending in mail-in ballots to avoid using the U.S. Postal Service and take advantage of 30 drop-off locations at local libraries and the Registrar’s office.

    “I would anticipate and recommend that you don't drop it off through the postal service because we want to make sure we receive it on time," he said. "Any mail ballot that is postmarked on Election Day and received three days after election day will be accepted as timely cast, however, if you're a voter out there, don't chance it.”

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    Several local churches say they are being overwhelmed with the influx of asylum-seeking immigrant being dropped off on the streets with nowhere to go.

    These churches' hospitality toward immigrants are needed more than ever as Immigration and Customs Enforcement releases detained families without any plans on where these asylum seekers should go or how they should get there.

    "There has been a definite uptake in the number of people that are needing assistance right now," Episcopal Dioceses of San Diego spokeswoman Hannah Wilder said. "My understanding is that ICE is dropping people off without any place to go without any food or money."

    One of the drop-off areas used by ICE is in the East Village, about 1 1/2 block away from the San Diego Bus Station where the Greyhound buses arrive and depart.

    A lot of the immigrants end up trying to buy a ticket to get to wherever their family is around the U.S.

    "We know that people are being dropped off and we are going to meet them where they are and taking them to shelters and providing for their needs," Wilder said.

    The Episcopal Dioceses has assigned 10 of their churches as shelters. It is receiving an average of 50 people per day at each of the 10 locations. For safety reasons, Wilder is not releasing their locations.

    In a statement to NBC 7, ICE said on Oct. 23 it started to cut back on post-release procedures for apprehended families, meaning there is no post-release plan.

    ICE said this new protocol is a result of a large number of intakes and asylum requests the agency's been receiving. 

    "You're scared they have been through hell," Wilder said. "Frankly, they are. They start to shake when you come near them. They're so frightened."

    A man working near the East Village drop-off point said he's seen people get dropped off daily for the past four days.

    The migrants don't speak any English and on several occasions, he's lent them his cell phone to contact families in the U.S.

    The Episcopal Dioceses said it is in desperate need of toiletry and cash donations. Donations may be dropped off at Good Samaritan Episcopal Church in UTC area, 4321 Eastgate Mall. 

    Photo Credit: NBC 7

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    Emergency medical response times have markedly improved in the city of San Diego following years of troubling delays in ambulance service.

    American Medical Response (AMR), which provides ambulance service for the city, now meets the expected emergency response time on 93 percent of calls, according to a city report. For urgent calls, AMR met the city's goal on 95 percent of calls. For non-emergency calls, the response time goal was met or exceeded on 97 percent of calls. Those statistics cover the time period from July 1 to Sept. 30. 

    "The urgency is no longer there for the push (to improve)," Fire-Rescue Chief Colin Stowell recently told a city council committee. "That sense of urgency out on the streets is not there anymore."

    Stowell said better response times are the result of increased hiring and better planning, with an emphasis on determining what calls are true emergencies, as opposed to urgent and non-emergency requests that don't require an immediate response.

    ARM's customers are paying for this improved service. According to the Fire-Rescue Department, AMR recently increased its fees by 24 percent.

    Early last year, ambulance response times were so slow that the city's Chief Operating Officer sent AMR a list of demands it must meet to keep its city contract.

    The city also formed a task force to review its Emergency Medical Services system.

    Those experts analyzed more than 340,000 emergency calls, paying special attention to response times and staffing levels.

    Earlier this year, NBC 7 Investigates confirmed paramedic and EMT staffing levels were low and daily positions were not being filled, according to staff rosters obtained by the Investigates team.

    AMR's contract with the city ends in 2020, but when the system was in crisis last year, AMR agreed to a possible early termination.

    Stowell now told the city council committee there's no rush to find a new provider given the improvements in response times.

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    A man was found dead inside a Santee mobile home that caught fire early Saturday.

    Deputies and firefighters tried to rescue the man in the home, but they couldn't reach him in time.

    The Santee Fire Department was called to the mobile home park on Mission Gorge Road, just off State Route 52 at about 1 a.m.

    A San Diego County sheriff's deputy arrived soon after the fire started. That deputy tried to go in and rescue the man who was inside, but the smoke was just too thick.

    When fire crews arrived, they went into rescue mode immediately. Firefighters eventually made their way inside and found the body of a man described as 73 years old.

    It's believed the man lived in the mobile home by himself.

    An investigation has been launched into what caused the fire.

    No other information was available.

    Please refresh this page for updates on this story. Details may change as more information becomes available.

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    Police are searching for a suspect involved in an armed robbery at a Chevron gas station in Mountain View Saturday morning.

    A man entered the store, pointed a handgun at an employee, and demanded money, according to the San Diego Police Department.

    The cashier complied.

    The suspect took two packs of cigarettes and an unknown amount of money, according to SDPD.

    The reported robbery happened on National Avenue just before 4 a.m.

    SDPD Robbery Unit is investigating.

    Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers (888) 580-8477.

    No other information was available.

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    A Poway High School student was arrested Friday for threatening to bring a gun to school, according to the San Diego Sheriff’s Department.

    Deputies said a group of students began arguing at school when one of them threatened to shoot the others.

    The student was charged with making criminal threats and was booked into Juvenile Hall.

    He was arrested at his home.

    Deputies did not find a firearm, according to SDSO.

    No other information was available.

    Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.

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    Daylight saving gives most an extra hour of relaxation, but for one clock museum in Vista, it can be a time of stress.

    The West Coast Clock and Watch Museum (WCCWM) has hundreds of clocks that need to be wound and set back an hour with the season.

    Going backwards can be harmful for many antique clocks, so losing an hour actually means gaining 23, which takes even more time, said Andre Perreault with the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors.

    Perreault said the task takes about three hours.

    His fellow collector, John Ginzler calls it “a nightmare.”

    But the biannual chore may be done away with if Prop 7 is passed this November election.

    If Prop 7 passes, lawmakers can start discussing changes to the time change, though it doesn’t guarantee daylight saving will end. If Prop 7 fails, daylight saving will remain as is.

    WCCWM on Santa Fe Avenue has various clocks that span multiple centuries.

    Perreault and Ginzler are both retired and volunteer with the local chapter of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors.

    It’s the largest clock museum on the west coast.

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    Some San Diego eateries are struggling to fill positions in the kitchen as a labor shortage is felt across California, restaurateurs tell NBC 7.

    The California Restaurant Association said the hiring hurdles are a problem happening across the state. Locally, some restaurants are finding workers in short supply to fill line cook positions – from fine dining to the most casual of eateries.

    This includes Damien Devine, the owner of Torpasta, a unique restaurant in San Diego’s Midway District that specializes in a Torpedo-inspired creation of the same name. The “Torpasta” is a hollowed out garlic bread stuffed with different kinds of pasta.

    Devine’s eatery has been in business for the past 15 years but, recently, filling tables – and those sandwiches – has been easier than filling the kitchen.

    “It’s hard to find anybody, and the people I do find, seem to be very flakey,” he told NBC 7.

    Across the bridge at Coronado’s Maretalia, Blue Bridge Hospitality Executive Chef Tim Kolanko feels the same hiring pain.

    “Finding skilled help is really hard, and what’s happening is the pay scale is escalating pretty quickly, with minimum wage hikes and the shortage of skilled help,” Kolanko explained.

    The executive chef oversees several restaurants across San Diego and said competitors are getting creative in their mission to lure potential employees.

    “People are offering signing bonuses – this is to an hourly employee,” Kolanko said.

    The California Restaurant Association told NBC 7 the whole state is feeling the labor shortage – especially in dense urban areas like San Diego.

    Despite the challenges, Devine and Kolanko are eager to hire committed workers.

    “If they want something long-term that will support them and their families for a long time, this is the kind of place to be,” Devine said.

    Kolanko said his company is all in.

    “We show them that we’re going to invest in them – we invest our time, our training in them – and show them that this is a career, and we’re going to progress them in their career,” he said.

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    A signal fire allegedly set by a person on Otay Mountain near the San Diego-Mexico border grew to a 1-acre blaze Saturday, officials confirmed.

    Cal Fire Battalion Chief Preston Fouts said initial reports came in around 11:30 a.m. from people near Otay Lakes Road who saw smoke stemming from Otay Mountain near the Pio Pico Campground.

    Fouts said crews attacked the fire both by ground and air. Air tankers and helicopters were able to quickly contain the blaze. No homes were threatened and roads remained open in the area.

    The battalion chief said the cause of the fire is under investigation but officials believe someone traveling on the mountain set a signal fire, possibly to get help for someone who was hurt, and the blaze grew.

    Fouts said at least one person involved in the fire was hurt; that person was treated by paramedics at the scene. A firefighter also suffered a rolled ankle while responding to the fire.

    Further information about the person who started the signal fire was not released. U.S. Border Patrol agents were also investigating the incident.

    Photo Credit: OSTV

    The scene of the Border Fire on Nov. 3, 2018.The scene of the Border Fire on Nov. 3, 2018.

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    Dozens of teenagers from across the county came together for a challenge: to find solutions to a big problem.

    The event is called a "Hackathon," which is a part of Smart City Saturday.

    The issue they discussed on October 24 was youth sex trafficking. It was held at San Diego’s Central Library.

    The event’s founder, Sarah Hernholm, said the event aims at bringing young people from all different walks of life together to solve problems that impact them.

    The teenagers involved in the event said at the end of the day there was an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment.

    “You actually did something very amazing in a span of, like, six hours with, like, five kids,” said Diego Martinez, a participant from Hemet.

    When the day begins many of the nearly 50 teens don’t know each other.

    “At first there's, like, that hesitation that, like, what's happening, who are these people, and then the next thing you know they're sharing ideas and talking and they're connecting,” Hernholm said.

    The teenagers are put into groups, each led by a coach from a local university.

    They received a crash course on the topic and even heard from survivors of sex trafficking.

    Jordan Bockert, a student from Santee, said the personal testimonies from survivors were especially impactful. “It was amazing,” she said. “It was so breathtaking to hear from actual survivors, ‘thrivers,’ and actually get to be a part of something bigger than myself.”

    The experience was emotional and empowering for the young people.

    Hernholm said making these connections helps inspire ideas. “So first they connect, and then the inspiration comes for the solution,” she said.

    The groups prepare their ideas that they then present and defend before a panel of judges.

    NBC 7’s Monica Dean served on the panel of judges, along with leaders from Breaking the Silence Together, PCI Global, Shyne San Diego, Social Impact and Innovation UCSD, and North County Lifeline.

    Gracie Semmens, a student from Pacific Beach said she now knows how to recognize the warning signs of sex trafficking and will be more empowered to speak up in the future: “We're capable of making a change we're not voiceless,” she said.

    The presentations from the teenagers included the following ideas:

    • A social media campaign
    • A public service announcement
    • An interactive video game that creates awareness
    • Updating school curriculum educating kids about trafficking & how to spot it
    • Distributing the national trafficking hotline number in bracelets, stickers, and hygiene products
    • An app that uses music and mapping tools to improve mental health and access to resources

    Smart City Saturday is teaching teens a powerful and inspiring lesson: that their voice matters.

    “I just want teens to know that they are loved, valued, and that their ideas should be heard, and I will do whatever it takes to make sure that happens,” Hernholm said.

    Smart City Saturday is hosted by Whatever It Takes (WIT). WIT is a one-of-a-kind college credit social entrepreneur course offered to high school students.

    The program was launched in San Diego but will soon be offered in several other cities across the United States.

    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.

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    Did you attend an NBC 7 and Telemundo 20 event in the community? Find photos from the events here.

    Photo Credit: NBC 7

    NBC 7 and Telemundo 20 celebrated Dia de Los Muertos in Old Town San Diego on Nov. 3, 2018. The event runs through 9 p.m. Saturday and returns Sunday. Come by our booth to say hello!NBC 7 and Telemundo 20 celebrated Dia de Los Muertos in Old Town San Diego on Nov. 3, 2018. The event runs through 9 p.m. Saturday and returns Sunday. Come by our booth to say hello!

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    One of the most closely watched congressional races in San Diego County, and the nation, is the 50th district, where Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar is trying to flip a district that has voted Republican for decades.

    Campa-Najjar is blasting Rep. Duncan Hunter’s campaign, with the help of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. The pair campaigned together in Escondido Saturday.

    Polls show Campa-Najjar is running neck and neck with Hunter. The Republican incumbent is not used to such close races.

    “He’s indicted. He’s a security risk because of his indictment, because of his other unethical behavior,” Campa-Najjar said. “That’s why he was stripped of his Armed Services Committee so the truth is on our side.”

    Hunter is accused of misusing campaign funds. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

    Late in the campaign, Hunter has come under fire for his attack ads that try to paint Campa-Najjar as a security threat because of his family background.

    Garcetti is Jewish and a veteran. He fired back at Hunter’s attack against Campa-Najjar.

    “They are racist. They are about everything we stand against. They’re about the politics of division,” Garcetti said.

    Ammar-Campa has received several high-profile endorsements.

    Republican Duncan Hunter has made few public appearances since his indictment. He is relying on volunteers and a loyal Republican base in the 50th district.

    “I agree with him on almost all the issues, whether it be protecting our borders, whether it be fiscal responsibility, whether it be overall support for our President,” said Brian Melonakos, a Hunter supporter.

    Melonakos believes Republicans in the 50th district are very motivated. Hunter still has a lot of support, despite his federal indictment.

    “He deserves his hearing in court,” Melonakos said.

    There are currently 139,636 registered Republicans in the 50th district according to the Registrar of Voters. That is much higher than the 94,699 registered Democrats.

    A transfer of power will likely have a huge impact locally and in Washington, D.C.

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    Residents in a quiet Rosemont neighborhood near California State University, San Marcos, say they are sick of students parking in front of their homes for days at a time.

    The problem has gotten to the point where the city of San Marcos is stepping to find a solution. One of the solutions the city came up with is not making those residents happy either.

    The city will soon start implementing parking permits for residents. It’s a pilot program where participating households will get two parking permits and guest passes.

    “I prefer to have some regulation, cause right now there is none, zero,” Xin Kaczmarek said. “Anybody can park here — anyone. We have a small community so we notice and recognize those cars." 

    The pilot program is expected to go into effect in early January and while it is in the testing phase, permits are free for residents. Once the year is up, and if the program gets approved, residents will have to pay for the permits.

    A permit will cost a home $156 and guest permits will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis, costing another $10 for a daily pass.

    There are 150 street parking spots, of which, 136 may be taken by resident permit holders so guest permits will be limited.

    Some residents aren’t happy about having to pay to park in front of their own homes.

    “I might then be forced to go look for somewhere else [to live]," Brian Gondar said.

    Kaczmarek agreed.

    “If they implement this payment for the parking permit, then yeah, I’m pretty sure it will raise some concerns.”

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    The wheels are turning toward a smoother commute on Interstate 5 as SANDAG breaks ground Friday on a stretch of new carpool lanes in the north county.

    It’s the start of a three-year construction project to alleviate traffic.

    Anyone traveling on I-5 between Encinitas and Carlsbad knows it’s a nightmare during rush hour.

    “This whole stretch of the freeway here will end up getting really, really packed," Andres Chavez said.

    Right now, the carpool lane heading north on I-5 ends at Manchester Avenue.

    “The traffic on the coast is backing up as it is,” Patrick McCarroll said. “There's no good way to get to and from work now."

    The new construction will add 8 miles of carpool lanes in each direction between Manchester Avenue and Palomar Airport — 16 miles in total.

    The current stretch between Encinitas and Carlsbad currently has four lanes of traffic, the carpool lane will be the fifth.

    Once it’s finished, “you're going to have carpools, HOV lanes in the median area," Caltrans director Laurie Berman said.

    The near future, however, could mean more brake lights.

    The construction of the new carpool lanes will happen over two stages.

    In Stage 1, crews will work in the median.

    In Stage 2, with the median complete, crews will start widening the sides of the freeway.

    During both stages, existing lanes will be narrowed, creating less space for drivers who will be urged to slow down. The project will likely create more traffic in the short run.

    "It'll be a little pain for a few years but, in the end, I think it'll be a big win for all," Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall said.

    The carpool lane construction is part of the larger North Coast Corridor Program and will cost roughly $250 million, most of it coming from SB1, the transportation funding bill signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in April 2017.

    “It should allow people to travel north and south on the freeway without running into so many bottlenecks," Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear said.

    Drivers seemed receptive to the long-term benefits, they just hope it helps.

    "I drive a lot in L.A.,” Jeff Scott said. “There's carpool lanes in L.A. that are just as jam-packed all the other lanes."

    Once this project is completed, the next phase of freeway widening will begin with additional carpool lanes added between Palomar Airport Road and state Route 78.

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