New Year Means New California Laws, More Construction To Stabilize Del Mar Bluffs, Japanese In WWII Internment Camps See History Repeating Itself, And More
KPBS Midday Edition / December 30, 2019
With the new year, there are hundreds of new laws that will go into effect — some as a direct result of the devastating wildfires in 2018. Plus, more construction will start in January to stabilize the bluffs next to the rail line in Del Mar. Japanese Latin Americans interned during World War II see parallels with today’s anti-immigrant rhetoric. And, we listen back to the funk and soul sound of San Diego-based Rebecca Jade and the Cold Fact.
Speaker 1: 00:00 Hundreds of new laws will take effect in California in 2020 from measures dealing with health insurance to changes in how workers in the so-called gig economy are classified. Joining us to talk about some of them is legal analyst Dan Eaton. Dan, welcome. Thank you Jay. Good to be with you. So let's start with health insurance. Senate bill 78 mandates attacks on Californians who refuse to buy health insurance, right? Well, that's right. I mean, uh, you'll recall that, uh, Congress did away with the individual mandate of the affordable care act properly known as Obamacare and uh, the state of California just imposed reimpose the individual healthcare mandate, uh, because it's necessary, you're according to the legislature to protect the overall health and welfare of this stage resident and ensure that there is a stable and well-functioning health insurance market in this state and the fight over whether parents should be required to have their children vaccinated at resulted in legislation.
Speaker 1: 00:58 Two bills out of the state Senate will change how doctors deal with the issues of a vaccine exemptions. Understand Jade did a few years ago, the personal belief exemption was eliminated in California, which meant that the only assumption that parents could get was a medical exemption of what these new laws would do is to standardize the medical exemption form. Because the proponent found in the state found that there was a sharp increase in medical exemptions in the aftermath of the elimination of the personal belief exemption. So this would essentially require a immunization absent, uh, medical exemptions that are on a standardized form. And of course, one of the biggest stories statewide is California's housing crisis. Millions of Californians will have new safeguards against large rent increases, right? Well, that's right. I mean, what a AB 14, 82 would do is it would cap our rent increases statewide at 5% effective January 1st.
Speaker 1: 02:01 And this doesn't apply to a housing stock that was built within the last of 15 years, but understand that that's a rolling of 15 years. So in other words, the capital apply, uh, to a homes built in 2006, uh, apartment buildings, uh, built in 2006. Uh, the cap would apply in 2021 and uh, it would be rolling and so forth. So ultimately this is going to cap rent increases at five per cent a year, uh, retroactive to the rent that was in effect on March 15th, 2019. Understand that the bill also imposes the measure also imposes adjust just cause our requirement for eviction. San Diego assembly woman Lorena Gonzalez was the driving force behind the assembly bill five, which deals with how workers in so-called gig economy are classified. And this one has been pretty controversial. It has Jayden, I've written actually quite a lot about it in my log.
Speaker 1: 02:59 More column in the San Diego union Tribune. Understand that what AB five did was it codified the ABC test of the California Supreme court's landmark dynamics ruling concerning, uh, who can be classified as an independent contractor as opposed to an employee. The ABC test says that you're can't be classified as an independent contractor excused from the requirements of an employee unless you meet all three parts of this test. A, the hiring entity does not control or direct the worker and performing the work. Uh, in the manner normally exercise for employees. B, the work performed. It's outside the usual course of the hiring entities business out as it's not integral to the hiring entities business and C, but workers customarily engaged in an independently established trade occupation or business of the same nature as that involved in the work performed. Uh, this, uh, low diner is Fletcher's, uh, measure. Also, uh, would authorize city attorneys, uh, to go after noncompliant businesses and understand it doesn't just apply to a gig economy, uh, hiring entities.
Speaker 1: 04:00 It would go beyond that. And it'll be interesting to see how a city attorneys and private attorneys alike, uh, apply this law and how the, uh, courts apply the various exceptions. It will be interesting to watch, uh, how the legislature in the coming term, uh, it fixes some of the problems that have been identified, uh, by this measure. Another locally generated measure from a assembly woman, Shirley Weber, and this one restricts law enforcement officer's use of deadly force only when it's necessary in defense of human life. Tell me about that. That's exactly right. This is AB three 92 and it's to reduce the extent to which officers use deadly force so that it's not just if it's reasonable, if there are reasonable alternatives, the officer should use them and deescalate the situation. Understand that a dr Webber who used to teach at San Diego state was named San Diego San Diego for a year by the San Diego union Tribune.
Speaker 1: 04:57 As a result of her work on this measure, and lots of cities in California had their own minimum wage laws, but a new state mandate will have it rising to $13 an hour from most workers. Is that right? That's right. The bottom line is that this is part of a longstanding measure that increases the minimum wage incrementally. Ultimately, the minimum wage will be increased to $15 an hour giving a raise to a number of workers, uh, in an era where there is very, very low unemployment. I've been speaking with legal analyst, Dan Eaton. Dan, thanks so much for joining us. Sure. Happy new year, Jay. Happy new year.
Speaker 1: 00:00 The crumbling Bluffs in Del Mar are threatening the coastal railway line that carries about 50 trains a day, keeping thousands of passengers and millions of tons of freight off interstate five North County transit district, which operates the line was forced to close it briefly earlier this month after yet another bluff collapse brought the train tracks to within feet of the cliffs above the beach to find out how things are going. We invited Steven Fordham, who's director of railroad engineering at North County transit. Thanks for coming in, Steve. Thank you very much for having me. So it's my understanding that North County transit and SANDAG have spent between what, 10 and $15 million in, in the last few years on shoring out these Bluffs. We've initially had. We've done, we've completed three projects that began in the mid two thousands and finished probably around 2010, 2011 timeframe. And so we are proceeding with a, uh, Damar bus for project.
Speaker 1: 00:52 We basically just started numbering them down, our buffs one, two, three, four and so on. And Del Mar bus for, uh, we've completed design. They've awarded a contract to a construction company in that project, we'll be starting this January, 2020 and that's a fairly small project, only about three and a half to $4 million in cost. And that's basically fixing some aged, um, storm drain infrastructure and then repairing some seawalls that currently exist, uh, at the beach level. Okay. But SANDAG has estimated that if the Bluffs were to collapse and the line had to be closed, it would cost about $300 million over 12 months to reroute the passengers and all the freight, the cars and everything that, that use that line. So faced with those numbers, I mean hundreds of millions, um, what kind of investment is being made right now to see that it doesn't happen? So in conjunction with the Domar bus for starting, um, construction in January, we're moving forward with the design for Daimler bus five, which are the, essentially repair all of the existing or improve all of the existing, um, drainage structures that currently are located in the Bluffs, dealing with some storm water run on from city streets.
Speaker 1: 02:05 And then in addition to that, it would add additional, uh, piling along all of the Bluffs for greater lateral stability there. And then we would also do some additional drainage fixing and do some studies for, um, improved a geotechnical study that hasn't been done in about 20 years. So in addition to that, we would proceed with, uh, hopefully finding funding for Damar Bluffs six, which is bluff toe protection and adding additional measures in order to, um, mitigate sea or wave action from the ocean and got sea level rise to continue level. There's several things that contribute to the Bluffs, whether it be rain, irrigation, runoff, inclement weather, um, people accessing the beach from the Bluffs, rodents. And then of course, uh, seismic events. The times that they seem to collapse is during the rainy season. Last year, beginning of this year, we lost about 30 feet off the Sandy Bluffs right next to the beach.
Speaker 1: 03:00 But then this most recent one was much closer to the tracks. It left him, but you know, two, three feet away from the edge. Yeah, we had, we had a significant rain event at Thanksgiving, so we probably got about two months worth of rain in about two days and there's a significant amount of water that runs on to the Bluffs. And in that it, it was, it overwhelmed some of the um, storm drains and that basically the water just kind of pawns up and then seeps through the ballast, which is the large fist size aggregate or rock that's, that holds the track bed together and then it overtopped and kind of rushed and, and drained over the edge of the Bluffs and caused some erosion. I know you've put in hundreds of these soldier piles, these three over 230 of them in these columns sort of stabilize their Bluffs.
Speaker 1: 03:44 But I mean, forgive me for asking, but if the cliffs were the crumble between the soldier pals with that hold up the line, basically what they're done and the repair that we did in early December, um, those piles are about anywhere from about 10 to 12 feet on center and they're designed to have a wall built between them. And that's exactly what we did with our repair. So it has had the engineers come up with any more uh, effective solutions because it doesn't seem like what you're doing so far has prevented the Bluffs from crumbling there. The, there's, um, that would have to be involved to, to mitigate everything, whether it be people accessing the Bluffs, the sea level rise, all, all of those, those, those factors that, that, that affect the bluff erosion that would have to be dealt with. So we would have to do additional say, uh, structures at the bottom to prevent, say, toe erosion of the bluff.
Speaker 1: 04:33 We had a, there's a, we had a bluff collapse in North of Moonlight beach this summer. That was very unfortunate where there's some fatalities involved, but that's where the ocean washed out the base of the bluff. And then it kind of overhangs cantilevers over the beach and gets heavy and then falls off. And that's kind of what we're, we would try and prevent with the Damar Bluffs six project. It just seems that from the perspective of the person traveling along the train tracks that things are getting worse relatively fast. And I'm wondering if the plans to protect those tracks are actually evolving fast enough to meet the threat? I believe so. We have, uh, there's fortunately Senator Tony Atkins provided a state funding grant for uh, SANDAG and TTD to do work on the Bluffs. That's a $30 million grant, just 30 million over five years. We've asked for all of that money up front in order to proceed with Damar plus five sooner than later, which is probably about a $30 million cost, somewhere around 25 to $30 million to do the work that would finally stabilize the Bluffs for the next day, 20 to 30 to 40 year timeframe when a potential alternative route is explored.
Speaker 1: 05:36 Well, I mean, that would seem to be the best solution would be to get the trains off the Bluffs and put them underground, but that would cost about three, three to $5 billion. And initially planning at all as to when you would even start planning. They would start doing some of that planning and thinking about that in this, during the the Del Mar Bluffs six project where you'd have to do the analysis, there's probably land takes that need to occur with that in additional to probably a large amount of environmental clearance. And then actually finding the, the right of way to put, um, you know, a combination of either elevated track at grade track or tunnels in that location. And it's not one tunnel, it's three, one for northbound, one for southbound and one to, you know, remove people should a train break down or something like that.
Speaker 1: 06:20 And the, and this plan [inaudible] when does that going to happen? Uh, that is, we hope to go to design with that as soon as the design for five is complete and we moved towards five and construction designs. Yes. Hopefully sooner than that. I see. I said it depends on funding. We've applied for several funding grants, whether it's through the, the, uh, state transportation improvement program or the transit and inner city rail Capitol program. And then on a federal level, there's the, the new acronym is the better utilizing investments to leverage development or build grants, federal money, federal money. Right. And finally, Steve, you know, uh, I guess travelers can expect to see some closures next month when you do the next phase. Yes, we have six absolute work windows a year and potentially even more. And that's to basically do a construction where we would actually have to take a section of track out or do something that would prevent train movement.
Speaker 1: 07:10 And that is for several of the other construction projects that we have in the corridor are mainly the mid coast corridor transit project, which is doing some significant workforce down South will be expect to see the tracks close in February. Um, yeah, we have to spend the rains. Sweet. Well we'll have to quote, we'll have to closures. We'll have, uh, we have an enclosure in January and these are already pre selected a couple, uh, two years out just to allow for construction. But should we need to do, we've done a, a vast majority of work in the last month when we had this large storm at Thanksgiving. And so we have people that are during, prior to during and after rain events, we have a, what's essentially called a rain event action plan where we have, um, our maintenance of way contractor essentially is, um, monitors the Bluffs 24 hours a day, seven days a week until to make sure all drainage, um, any kind of drainage issues are taken care of or brought to the attention of everyone else in order to, to, to find some mitigative measure. Well, Steve, thanks for bringing us up to date on that. Thank you very much for having me. Steve Fordham is the director of railroad engineering at North County transit.
Speaker 2: 08:27 [inaudible].
Speaker 1: 00:00 Thousands of families who've come to the United States to seek asylum in recent years have ended up in detention centers, hearing about kids and parents locked behind barbed wire fences, hits close to home for one woman from the San Francisco Bay area. She spent years of her childhood in a South Texas internment camp during world war II. KQ EDIS. Judy Small recently joined her on a pilgrimage from California to a place called crystal city
Speaker 2: 00:25 president Roosevelt said, and they statements a day that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii from the air.
Speaker 1: 00:32 The Japanese military bombing of Pearl Harbor would change the course of Libya Yamamotos life forever. She was born in Peru to parents who immigrated from Japan decades before the family owned several thriving businesses in the coastal city of [inaudible]. Then one year after Pearl Harbor police and Peru arrested Libya's father, she was seven years old. Now she's 84 and she's on a bustle. That group of people who all share a connection to the crystal city internment camp. All these years later, Libya recalls in detail. That moment her father was loaded onto a truck and driven away subs. I would ask my mother, where's she going? And she said, shit, didn't you know, this is when you see coming back. The U S government had pressured Latin American countries to turn over thousands of people of Japanese, German and Italian ancestry under the pretext of national security. I learned about this little known chapter of world war II history 20 years ago when a friend told me that's what happened to his family.
Speaker 1: 01:36 I wasn't a reporter back then and I started to help some of the Japanese Latin Americans who were demanding an apology from the U S government. That's how I first met Libya. Who recalls that a month after her father disappeared, he managed to send a letter for her sister's birthday. He had clothes pressed flowers at least, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I can't give you any birthday presents so they still have to do it. He'd been put to work in a U S army camp in Panama if the family wanted to see him again. Authority said they'd have to board a ship to the United States. Libya, her mother and two siblings joined other wives and children at the dock. Unsure of what? Lay ahead and can. We saw the soldiers lined up with guns. We thought as soon as we go to ICC, they're gonna kill us. I was so afraid. None of the families were allowed visas and the soldiers confiscated any passports. They arrived in new Orleans were immigration agents, told them they had entered the U S illegally. They sent them to a [inaudible] [inaudible] facility for quote enemy aliens,
Speaker 3: 02:44 a propaganda film by the us department of justice shows families arriving by train. Here is a party of women and children arriving in crystal city following their voluntary decision to join husbands and fathers in detention.
Speaker 1: 02:58 Libya's family feel like their detention
Speaker 4: 03:00 was voluntary. They would spend the next four years locked in the camp along with thousands of other people from Latin America. I actually traveled to this area of Texas earlier this year to report on a new wave of families. The U S was detaining thousands of mothers and their children's seeking refuge from violence in central America had been taken into custody by immigration and customs enforcement and placed in a private prison. That prison in a town called dilly was just 45 miles away from where Libya's family was detained during world war II. Ice had denied my request to visit the facility, so one day last winter I stood outside the fenced enclosure with an immigrant advocate named Katie Mirza. Yeah, you can pretty much see the tops of the light posts. There's flood lighting at night, so people say it's even hard to sleep.
Speaker 1: 03:50 Crystal city internment camp was also surrounded by high fences and flood lights, but not anymore. When Libya's bus arrives. The only recognizable site in this now barren field is a water tower.
Speaker 4: 04:02 That was our central point that was, that was talking about art and there's the base of a reservoir. The parents converted into a swimming pool to make the hot summers bearable. They added a rope in the middle where they to the by the deep end, the shallow part, and then they added a diving boards.
Speaker 1: 04:21 Two girls drowned in the pool, one of them Libya's friend now Libya joints, other former detainees in their families for a ceremony to honor the girls and 15 other people who died. At the camp.
Speaker 5: 04:33 Oh J
Speaker 1: 04:38 Buddhist minister Ron Kobata from San Francisco asks participants to honor the fortitude of the detainees with incense and white carnations at an altar.
Speaker 6: 04:47 The dedication of our predecessors who endured this experience, but not with just pity and resentment, but with determination so that their offspring will not have to endure that same tragedy,
Speaker 1: 05:07 but Libya and the other pilgrims see tragedy unfolding again.
Speaker 4: 05:11 Oh no, never.
Speaker 1: 05:20 The next day, she speaks to a crowd at a rally in San Antonio.
Speaker 7: 05:24 Lately when I, I hear the immigrants getting separated by the children and parents, I feel so bad for them.
Speaker 1: 05:34 The forced separation from her father in 1943 is still painful.
Speaker 7: 05:38 We said goodbye to him not knowing where he was being taken openly we ever will see him again. It was a very, very traumatic day for me.
Speaker 1: 05:49 After several months of separation, Libya was finally reunited with her father in crystal city. That's when they learned the U S plan to deport the family to Japan, but Libya, his father had become too ill to travel. They stayed in the camp a full two years after the war ended. In 1947 an attorney at the ACLU of Northern California finally got them released with the help of a church group. The family was able to settle with an aunt in Berkeley. Libya remembers a Japanese minister picked them up at the train station. He drove up university and all them lights.
Speaker 1: 06:26 Whoa. You're just amazed though. This beautiful lies Lebbeus family lost all their property and Peru and were not allowed to return. She says her parents worked menial jobs in California for the rest of their lives. Finally, in 1998 the Japanese Latin Americans won a settlement $5,000 each and a letter of apology from president bill Clinton. While many thought it was insufficient, it was the first official acknowledgement that the U S had violated their rights. Now, Libya says she's praying that president Trump will see that his treatment of immigrant families is too harsh and that children are paying the price. I'm Julie Small.