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Roundtable: Oaks Falling To Beetles; District 4 Race; Immigration Reform; One Paseo Is Huge In CV

Andrew Keatts, a reporter for Voice of San Diego, talks to KPBS about the proposed One Paseo development that is stirring up Carmel Valley folks.

A little bitty beetle is making a meal of San Diego's oak trees -- and could kill them all. The race for City Council District 4 is wide open. Immigration reform may really be coming. And a proposed development is stirring up Carmel Valley folks.


Mighty Oaks Fall To Tiny Beetle: The tiny goldspotted oak borer beetle, as big as a grain of rice, has wiped out over 80,000 oak trees in San Diego County since 2004.

Most of the affected trees are in the Cleveland National Forest. The 150-year-old trees die within 3-5 years after the beetles deposit eggs in the bark. The larvae hatch and eventually cut off supplies of water and nutrients to the trees.

The beetle probably came to San Diego from Arizona, where it has many predators. In San Diego it has no natural enemies, but has millions of trees to infest. It will take years for scientists to identify and import a predator to San Diego.

Some ecologists have described the situation as an ecological collapse in the making. Oaks produce acorns, which are essential food for deer and rodents and woodpeckers. Dozens of species of birds live in the trees, which provide shade and keep the area damp, allowing unique plant and animal species to flourish.

All that is now in danger.

District 4 Seat Up for Grabs: San Diego City Council District 4 has been represented by an African American councilmember for nearly 50 years. But that political fact may be history in the future.

Although most of the candidates trying to replace Tony Young in the March 26 special election are African-American, the ethnic makeup of the district is changing. A new report by the National University System Institute for Policy Research finds that the district’s African American population has declined 36% over the last 20 years, while ethnic diversity has increased.

Asians and Latinos now outnumber both African Americans and Caucasians in the district, and their voter registration numbers have increased significantly.

Among the declared candidates are Dwayne Crenshaw, Executive Director of LGBT Pride, who has run for the seat before; Myrtle Cole, regional coordinator of the United Domestic Workers Local 3930; and Bruce Williams, an aide to Councilmember Tony Young.

One Paseo And Carmel Valley: Developer Kilroy Realty wants to put some 1,400,000 sq. ft. of mixed-use development on a vacant parcel of land in Carmel Valley.

The parcel, at the corner of Camino Real and Del Mar Heights Rd., is across the street from the up-scale, ultra-busy Del Mar Highlands Town Center and has remained vacant for a couple of decades while the surrounding area has been heavily built up.

The 23-acre parcel is currently zoned for 500,000 sq. ft. of office-only development. The opposition to the densely packed project centers on increased traffic and density and proposed building heights. The developer has promised mitigation in the form of $20 million for schools, facilities, infrastructure and city services.

For the project, One Paseo, to be built as proposed, the city plan will have to be amended. The first meeting of the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board to discuss this project was Thursday.

Immigration Reform Getting Closer: It looks as if the push to reform the nation's immigration laws may begin in just a few weeks.

President Obama has put reform of the nation’s immigration policy prominently in his goals for his second term. Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have expressed a desire to do something about the status of the approximately 11 million immigrants here illegally.

The questions are what can be done, who will be the major players in the immigration reform debate, and how will the new policy affect the undocumented and state and federal fiscal health.

One area expected to undergo big changes, especially in San Diego, is construction, which currently employs both documented and undocumented workers, who receive vastly different wages and benefits.

Alisa Barba, the senior editor at Fronteras, talks to KPBS about the push to reform the nation's immigration laws.

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