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La Mesa neighborhood upset over proposed battery storage facility

"We feel completely blindsided in this neighborhood," said Amy Reichert.

LA MESA, Calif. — People in La Mesa are fighting against a proposed battery storage yard in a residential neighborhood.

The project will store renewable energy to support the grid under the management of the California Independent System Operator.

The proposed site is an approximately 8,000-square-foot vacant lot on El Paso Street.

A strip mall sits on one side of it. Homes are on the other side.

Gisele Abou Chacra has lived above the site for nearly 35 years.

She shared concerns with CBS 8, including its impact on her property value, the noise, fire risks, and potential dangers to her health.

There's already a sizeable electrical substation directly across the street.

"So, now we don't only have this on this side, we're gonna have this below this. So, we're all surrounded by radiation and whatever it is. And I don’t think it's safe," said Abou Chacra.

Not only that, but Abou Chacra said she and others weren't properly notified.

"They don't tell us anything at all! Nothing!" Chacra said.

Abou Chacra only recently found out about the project thanks to three minor signs posted by the city along the fence line, detailing a public hearing Tuesday night, when the council will vote on whether or not to vacate some of their unused lands, allowing it to be built here.

She and others, including Amy Reichert, believe the city should have done a better job of letting people know.

"We feel completely blindsided in this neighborhood," said Reichert.

City council member Laura Lothian agrees, telling CBS 8 she tried posting about the project to the city's homepage on their website but was blocked by a former and current city council member.

"When Amy Reichert called me and showed me the microscopic sign, I was embarrassed. I think the City of La Mesa had an ethical responsibility to let the neighborhood know what's going on," said Lothian.

CBS 8 contacted a spokesperson with the City of La Mesa and the Solana Beach-based company behind the project, EnerSmart.

The City spokesperson confirmed public notice is not required.

Meanwhile, EnerSmart's managing partner James Beach told CBS8 he wasn't aware of any concerns saying he contacted neighbors by phone months ago.

"It bothers me to find out from you that some neighbors are having issues because we did try to reach out to everybody and get ahead of this," said Beach.

Admittedly, Beach says some never responded.

As for the issues raised, Beach says a six-foot noise barrier wall is part of their plans, as is a riser for firefighters to access water on-site in an emergency.

CBS 8 also asked him about health concerns.

"Is this emitting stuff that can be detrimental to our health? No emissions, whatever. No water, no air, no nothing."

Beach says he's happy to speak with neighbors.

He will be at Tuesday night's hearing, where many neighbors plan to attend to have their voices heard.

It starts at 6 p.m. at La Mesa City Hall.

At CBS 8, we are always Working for You and our San Diego community. If there is something you would like us to investigate, please share your idea here or email us at workingforyou@cbs8.com.

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