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LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Racial Justice | Election 2020

Gym Owner Charged For Violating Health Order, Election Security Questions Answered, Warming Ocean Threatens Giant Kelp Forests, And Financial Planning In Age Of COVID

Cover image for podcast episode

CREDIT: GOOGLE MAPS

Above: Ramona Fitness Center pictured in this August 2019 photo from Google Maps.

A Ramona gym owner was the first business owner to be criminally charged for flouting the county public health order. Plus, with the election three months away, some are worried about how the pandemic will affect the election process. Registrar of Voters Michael Vu answers your questions. Also, climate change is already putting California forests under stress, now a warming ocean is also threatening the underwater kelp forests. And, the pandemic has negatively affected restaurants, bars, hair and nail salons, but other smaller businesses are also feeling its effect, such as alterations and tailoring. Finally, with the economy struggling under COVID-19, advice from an expert on how to plan your personal finances.

Speaker 1: 00:01 San Diego files its first criminal charges against a noncompliant

Speaker 2: 00:05 Strategy that I think tries to say, look, the carrot, maybe hasn't worked. Here's the stick.

Speaker 1: 00:11 I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Alison st. John. This is KPBS mid day edition.

Speaker 2: 00:24 [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 00:25 The San Diego County registrar tackles questions about mail and voting.

Speaker 2: 00:29 We will be sending out a countywide Mandler to all registered voters and this week telling them and stating all the different changes that will be occurring with this upcoming election.

Speaker 1: 00:39 One of San Diego's underwater treasures is threatened by a warming climate and some tips on how to spend and how not to spend in this uncertain economy. That's a head on mid day edition.

Speaker 1: 01:01 After weeks of encouraging voluntary compliance. San Diego County has issued its first formal charge against a business for allegedly violating COVID-19 public health orders. Peter San Nicholas owner of Ramona fitness center faces five misdemeanor charges for keeping his gym and operation. After a shutdown order, it may be the first of many legal actions against noncompliant businesses and individuals by the San Diego County district attorney. That office says it's currently reviewing other cases of repeated violations of public health orders. Joining me is Greg Moran with the San Diego union Tribune, which covered the story. And Greg, welcome to the program. Thanks for having me. What is the gym owner accused of exactly?

Speaker 2: 01:47 Well, these are five misdemeanor charges. The actual charge is violating the, uh, state emergency services act. So this is the law that, uh, we're living under essentially, uh, as long as there is a state of emergency. Um, this is the one that gives, uh, the governor and executives and public health officials, all kinds of extraordinary power, uh, that we've seen in action of a past several months, uh, to manage, uh, an emergency a crisis, whether it, in this case, obviously the pandemic, the COVID-19 pandemic, uh, but it can also be used for earthquakes or floods or things like that. So he's, he's accused of breaking that law by not complying with the public health orders and shutting down his gyms.

Speaker 1: 02:29 What kind of penalty is San Nicolas faces?

Speaker 2: 02:32 So these are all misdemeanors. So there it's a maximum of six months in jail, which is I think highly unlikely and a thousand dollar fine. There are particularly onerous penalties. I think that the penalty is really, uh, you know, they sent a very strong signal to other businesses, to this particular businesses and others about complying with the public health workers.

Speaker 1: 02:53 Yeah. A UT reporter interviewed San Nicolas yesterday. How is he responding? It was very interesting. My

Speaker 2: 03:00 Colleague, Alex brigans who really reported this story out, talked to him at some length and he's saying, uh, I think what a lot of business owners are saying, which is like, look, uh, I shut down, uh, in March in the, in the first shutdown and I lost a lot of money. I think he said he lost up to a quarter of a million dollars. Um, and that, uh, he had this business, this fitness center and Ramona for 20 years. And then when he reopened, he was closed for, I think about three months, maybe 85, 90 days, something like that. We were open in early June and then he was told to shut back down again. And he, he was saying, look, if I had closed down, then I never would have reopened yet. His relatives who run businesses at daycare, I think, uh, which you know, is likely to shut down for good. So his response was East trying to run his business safely. He doesn't think he's endangering people. He certainly not says he's not doing it on purpose, but he is trying to run his business. He's trying to make a living. Uh, and he can't do that. If he's close.

Speaker 1: 04:03 Now, the County has allowed gyms to operate outdoors. Isn't that an option for him?

Speaker 2: 04:08 It would be, um, I don't know exactly why he, he didn't, uh, you know, avail themselves of that, but some can do it. Some can't you could be, you know, restricted in your sort of physical space or where you're set up or stuff. I'm not quite sure why he didn't go outside other than, uh, you know, all of us in San Diego County know that Ramona in the summertime, although a lovely community can be a little warm. So maybe, maybe that wasn't a viable,

Speaker 1: 04:35 The County says other referrals to the DA's office for criminal charges against business owners are pending. What sort of legal defense might businesses be able to use to fight back against these types of charges? Apparently in the article in the UT a defense attorney says that some of these laws are over-broad and could be challenged,

Speaker 2: 04:56 Right? That's always a good argument when the, when the government takes an action against somebody. This is a so, so that's clearly a defense you could say. Uh, I think also the, the attorney, Carrie Armstrong is a real experienced criminal defense attorney here in San Diego and a very good one. He, you know, kind of said, look, you have two things you could argue that it's overbroad. You can argue that it's inconsistent that there is this overlap and mismatch and mixed batch of, of, uh, local and state orders County to County, city to city within counties that really make compliance confusing, if not a possible, maybe advantages one over another. Um, so those, you know, those are the kinds of defenses that are available. And in some ways, you know, that line of argument is kind of playing out in other lawsuits that people filed primarily, you know, churches or faith based institutions, which are attacking the, the, the stay home orders is being, uh, different grads saying that they're discriminated against, but still kind of a similar case, which like this is an overreach of state authority, executive authority, uh, that is, uh, too strong for what's needed.

Speaker 2: 06:05 But also, um, improper, I would say the counter to that is I had done a story a couple of months ago about this emergency services act and how Newsome was, uh, governing under it and talking to experts in that law. It is an incredibly powerful law. It basically gives the governor almost carte blanche to govern in an emergency now is I don't think it was ever conceived that you would be a statewide emergency from Sandy syndrome to, you know, why Rica, but, but it gives him an enormous amount of authority. The legislature has expanded, amended changed that law has gone along with it. So this is the world. We have been the law that we have that is being enforced. So I don't know, you know, short of a legislative change, unless somebody really wants to challenge the basis of that law, which you could.

Speaker 3: 06:51 And do you think this case marks a shift in the way San Diego was handling enforcement of public health orders?

Speaker 2: 06:58 Well, I think so. I mean, I think it, it got to the point with this second, uh, surge, or maybe the continuation of the first ever. You want to look at it in COVID cases around the County, the noncompliance that you see a lot, uh, both kind of individuals not worry mass, but, but mostly from, uh, some, uh, business businesses, Jim seems to be a locus of this, uh, some restaurants, bars you're not complying. And the County trying for many weeks and months to get people to kind of voluntarily comply, to go along, as they said, you know, we hope that we'll educate them and people will obey the laws. I, the biggest just reached a point with someone like this, Jim, which I think the complaints Eddie had been cited like five times, uh, deputies have been out there five times saying, look, you know, you should be closed. Like you should be closed. And then at some point, you know, I think the County must've thought, Oh, you know, the hammer has to come down. Uh, and I think part of it too might be, um, you know, this is kind of a graduated step in, in, in this before it was sort of compliance than it was education, you know, now, okay, we'll take you to court. I mean, it's sort of a tactic or a strategy that I think tries to say, look, the carrot, maybe hasn't worked. Here's the stick

Speaker 3: 08:15 I've been speaking with Greg Moran with the San Diego union Tribune, Greg, thanks a lot. Election day is now three months away, but voting will start earlier and already questions are swirling around how safe and secure voting will be. We've invited our San Diego County, registrar of voters, Michael VU, to join us to answer questions that you, our listeners have sent in. So, Michael, thank you very much for being here. Thank you for having me. So of the questions that we got a very basic one here on Facebook is from Kathleen Paulette who asks, when can we expect to see our ballots arrive

Speaker 4: 09:02 In the mail? Well, as she has asked, we are going to send out ballots on October 5th. So that's always 29 days in advance of the election where we start sending out the mail ballot. And so voters should expect October 5th, where all of the ballots, the 1.8 million over 1.8 million mail ballots will be in the, at the us postal service. And then they'll start delivering from there

Speaker 3: 09:27 Months. So when will early voting actually start and what are our options for voting this year in San Diego?

Speaker 4: 09:32 Yeah. So with the whole pandemic dramatic things are happening or dramatic changes are occurring. And I think the least of all the dramatic changes is the fact that everyone's going to receive a mail ballot. And the reason why I say that is because 75% of the electric electorate has already signed up to receive a mail ballot because they've asked to be a permanent mail ballot voter. So we're really only extending it to the other 25% who generally go to a point place, or that's the only option that is out there. Where are the dramatic changes for us as well as the public is, is that the fact that the in person locations is where most of the changes will occur as a result of the pandemic. Instead of having, for example, the 1,548 precincts that we had in March, what we plan on having are much larger locations running for multiple days, in fact, four days. So October 31st through November 3rd at APM, which is election day, uh, at 235, what we call super polls sites.

Speaker 3: 10:35 So there will be opportunity to vote in person starting October 31st. Um, how soon can people send in their balance right away after they receive them,

Speaker 4: 10:44 Uh, like any other prior elections, uh, once they receive them, they can vote them. And in fact, we encourage them to about their ballot to seal it, to sign it and get it back to us as soon as possible. Uh, and they can do so through the us postal service. Uh, certainly we will have double the amount of mail ballot drop off locations, starting the following. After the, we send out the mail ballots on October 5th, October 6th, we will have mail ballot drop off locations, 124 of them throughout the entire County, running all the way through APM on election day for a person to drop off their mail ballot. Or you can drop off your mail ballot at any one of our super poll sites, the 235, which we are in the process of solidifying, um, on election day or the three days leading up to election day at any one of those sites.

Speaker 4: 11:30 Um, but what I highly encourage voters to do is go through the U S postal service to return your ballot or to one of our mailbox drop off locations. Again, part of our campaign is vote, uh, about safer San Diego. Um, and part of doing that is to get it through the us postal service. One of our mailbox drop off locations. Certainly you can drop it off here, um, or at one of our, uh, polling site, super poll sites. But again, we're trying to lessen the amount of congregating of individuals that would take that on election day. We are trying to communicate to voters that again, don't wait til the last minute don't congregate in any extent, like what we're hearing from our public health officials to avoid doing that. And again, to those safer by voting your mail ballot.

Speaker 3: 12:15 So we have a question here from Margo Glasser.

Speaker 4: 12:19 This is Margaret Glass, they're from San Diego. My question is how will the anticipated delays and USP S mail delivery be handled to ensure that all votes are counted? So the state has passed a law, extending the timeframe for us to accept about two 17 days after election day. So long as the ballot is postmarked by election day.

Speaker 3: 12:41 So how does the registrar make sure that ballots aren't sent to people who, who can no longer vote for example, because they died whenever

Speaker 4: 12:49 Part of our program, which it goes back to a federal law called the national voter registration act. A lot of individuals do use the acronym, which is NBRA, uh, really our federal as well as state laws that dictate how we are to maintain our voter registration file. Um, based off of that, we clean our files and maintain our files, uh, strictly based off of those federal and state rules. So what we do is before we send out any ballots, what we're going to be sending is this County wide mailer, we run what is known as the national change of address against that, to see who has potentially moved and then correspond with them, individuals that have maybe passed away. Um, we cleaned out our respective voter registration file. It's not necessarily a perfect a system though, because there's some lag time associated with it. And it's not in real time where all of this information is coming to us and they automatically fall off the roads because we could potentially disenfranchise voters as well. That is, we would never send them a potentially a mail ballot. So we've gotta be very careful with that at the end of the day, though, every voter is given one ballot that they can vote on. And we turn back to our office. We find a situation where a person, we send out a mail ballot, but then their status changes. And so we have to suspend that ballot and reissued them a new one. No, that that second ballot has been suspended and we're tracking that ballot all mail ballots. No,

Speaker 3: 14:13 Here's a question from Candice Bremond.

Speaker 4: 14:15 Hi, my name is Candace Fremont. I live in university Heights and my question is assuming I get my ballot. And prior to the election, is there any way to check the status of that ballot? The answer to your question is yes, there will be a new service called where's my ballot that you can subscribe to. There will be push notifications to you. As soon as you subscribe, it's free of charge. And it's currently on our website, SD vote.com and it will push information as to the status of your mailbox as it's getting delivered to you. And then once you vote it and send it back, you can get push notification as it's its way back to our office, as well as a, when we counted the ballot.

Speaker 3: 14:55 No, I've seen some questions on social media about people worried about the signature. Um, Al ward writes. If we submit a mail in ballot, our ballot signature will be compared to the one on file. How can we update the signature on file? If we're concerned that our current signatures may not match our original one,

Speaker 4: 15:14 The best answer to your question is, is by registering to vote. Um, you can do so in a number of ways, the safer way, considering there's a pandemic is to do so online. And what will you will do is once you register to vote, it will pull your signature from the DMV and send that signature to us. Now, if you do not have a signature at the DMV, then it will prompt you to print it out, sign it and send it back to her. Our office will scan in that new registration form with your new signature. And that's what we'll compare your mail ballot against.

Speaker 3: 15:51 I know some people are concerned that their signature might not be recognized by somebody and their vote might get disqualified. Is that a worry?

Speaker 4: 15:59 I actually, there's a couple of laws that protects a voter. So once we check a signature off of the mail ballot against that on file, if we find out that it does not match, we are actually legally obligated to notify the voter that they have the ability to cure their signature by signing an affidavit and getting it back to our office.

Speaker 3: 16:19 Rhonda chaise asks if I mail my ballot back right away, does it get counted as soon as it's received, or is it held until the, all the ballots come in and if it's held, how secure is it from fire or

Speaker 4: 16:31 So we have the ability once we send out the ballots and then we receive boated ballots bag, uh, to be able to signature verify it, first of all, we check it and make sure that it's the person who has voted this male ballot. And then what we have the ability to do is then extract and scan and tabulate that ballot AF after it's been received, once it's been verified. Um, and that's frankly, we can start as soon as the mail bouts come back to our office, that's a change in the law I should mention because we would normally be able to signature verify, uh, but could not extract and scan in that ballot until the 14th day prior to an election. But now with the change in the law, we can do it as soon as we receive it.

Speaker 3: 17:12 So what does that mean for election night? How many of the ballots that have already been received will have been counted?

Speaker 4: 17:17 Well, we're hoping to get as many mail ballots into the APM, a release on election night, but that will be really depend on voters. If they return it sooner to our office, the better it's going to be, because then we can, again, signature verify it, extract it, scan it into the system and then be able to report a API. But if it's too late for us to be able to get through those respective processes, then we most likely will have to wait until the post election day process and election results updates for it to get counted. How conclusive do you expect

Speaker 3: 17:50 The results to be on election day?

Speaker 4: 17:52 Well, with mail balloting being the predominant way that voters vote these days, it will depend on how many voting mail ballots have been returned to our office for us to be processed. And then ultimately get into the count. These days it's really extends out much further than just election day. So we're hoping that many of them there are wide gaps. That's always an election officials. Prayer is, is that there are wide margins regardless of who's winning, but at the end of the day, as we know that voters hang onto their mail ballots and they don't return them until closer to election day, we're hoping that's not the case this election, but if it happens to be the case, you know, these close contests could go all the way up until we certify the election, which is 30 days after election day.

Speaker 3: 18:35 No, we've got a question here from one of our listeners who says a couple of months ago, I submitted an online application to volunteer at the polling booths anywhere on election day, but I haven't received a reply. Do you still need any

Speaker 4: 18:46 Well, we are looking at that right now in terms of our poll worker force. As you can imagine, this pandemic has co created across issues across the entire spectrum. Uh, we're not immune to that from an elections point of view in terms of conducting any elections. Uh, really what we're doing right now is, is kind of assessing how we're really going to conduct the election. Uh, we won't have your traditional neighborhood polling places on election day as voters have been accustomed to. Uh, as I mentioned earlier, is, is that polling locations that we will have will be consumer consolidated, which we're having much larger facilities that we would need to operate from for social distancing purposes to keep everyone safe and healthy. Um, and as a result of that, we're having to change the dynamics of how we recruit poll workers, as well as training for workers.

Speaker 4: 19:36 Um, before in a traditional point place world, we would need 9,000 volunteer poll workers in this super consolidated world where we're thinking about 235 super sites, uh, we're going to need around 3,500 individuals across four days. That's a big change for our normal poll workers. The other considerations that we have to take in to account is, is that as opposed to working one day, it's going to be an eight day affair, four days to work potentially two days worth of training. Normally it's a two hour onsite training and as well as the site's set up one day and that breakdown the following day. So it's an eight day at minimum commitment.

Speaker 3: 20:15 So any last words of advice,

Speaker 4: 20:17 We will be sending out a countywide Mandler to all registered voters this week. So voters should expect it within the next couple of weeks in their mailbox saying and telling them and stating all the different changes that will be occurring with this upcoming election. I think the most important aspect with this upcoming election is to right now is to everyone to, uh, check their status of their residence address as well as their mailing address, which will be on this mailer of what we have on file for them. And if it's different

Speaker 5: 20:48 Than they, these individuals would need to reregister devote with our office by simply go to SD vote. Dot com only takes two minutes. We've been speaking with Michael VU, who is San Diego counties, registrar of voters. Michael, thank you. Thank you. This is KPBS mid day edition. I'm Maureen Cavenaugh with Alison st. John. The warming climate is putting environmental pressure on California forests that have towered over the golden state for thousands of years, KPBS environment reporter Eric Anderson says underwater forests are facing the same kind of threat

Speaker 6: 21:33 It Parnell. Didn't have to walk far from San Diego Scripps pier to find strands of giant kelp washed up on the beach. The red system is called the hold fast that holds the kelp plant to the bottom right there. You can see that they really aren't roots. The Scripps institution of oceanography biologist says that's how the algae stays anchored to the ocean floor. Once anchored, they grow up, basically it puts out these stipes and each individual state puts out these blades that then make it up to the surface for it to photosynthesize up near the surface. Small gas filled bubbles, carry the long stems to the surface where the blades can soak up. The sunshine. Darnell says giant kelp can grow up to two feet a day, making it one of the fastest growing, living things on the planet. The canopy depends on how much bottom hard bottom is located at depth here off San Diego.

Speaker 6: 22:27 We have the two largest kelp forest off the West coast because we have hard bottom that the kelp can attach to. And over in large areas under water, the giant kelp forests off the coast of LA Jolla and point Loma can be spectacular. Biologists have compared them to an underwater forest of sequoias, but unlike the giant trees, kelp grows fast and dies fast. These young kelp that were videotaped just off the shores of San Diego are already reaching Skyward. And the cool Pacific ocean plants can quickly reach lengths of a hundred feet, but their life span is pretty short in this vital, but delicate ecosystem. Cornell says the kelp provide food and habitat to the kelp forest. The bottom half hosts a lot of habitat for species that live in the kelp forest over their entire lifetime. Cornell says giant kelp in San Diego is under siege storms and sea urchins have taken a toll, but the potentially more devastating issue is heat.

Speaker 6: 23:33 That's on full display at the end of Scripps pier where Sean Bruce was one of many people who performed a daily ritual. So the sample we take is about two feet off the bottom, two to three feet off the bottom. The heavyweight ensures that no matter the surgery or the swell that day, um, it'll stay in a fixed position. He's taking temperature readings of the ocean and those daily temperature readings show that the ocean has been warming here since the mid 1970s, temperatures hit a sustained peak in 2015 and 2016, and then set records just two years later, the heat is devastating for the fast growing kelp Cornell shared a video of a Rocky barren seabed near LA Jolla that has yet to recover from those heat waves. It's a Rocky area that should be full of kelp. And the problem is not limited to Southern California, Australia Tasmania, um, especially up in new England, um, also in Europe.

Speaker 6: 24:33 And so it's a phenomenon that is affecting these ecosystems in both Northern and Southern hemispheres. Mark Carr studies, evolutionary biology at UC Santa Cruz. One of the consequences that warm water temperature has is it reduces the nutrient availability, um, to the algae and shallower water Southern California kelp are not yet at the point where they're struggling to survive, but the iconic underwater habitat is at risk. Climate science predicts oceans will continue to warm and data confirms that the trend has been underway for some time. The concern is whether we're now Glenda's start to experience more and more of these heat waves over time. Script's a researcher at Cornell says the iconic kelp may already be in trouble and that could have a dramatic impact on the regions near shore habitat. They host hundreds of species themselves and are provide. They provide shelter, habitat, and food for many, many species and losing the kelp forest will make the ocean a little less appealing to humans who dive in the underwater forests. We'll remove a small slice of the state's coastal tourism economy. Joining me

Speaker 1: 25:52 Is KPBS environment reporter Eric Anderson and Eric. Welcome. Thank you. Now for those of us, who've never seen an underwater kelp forest. Can you describe what that looks like?

Speaker 6: 26:04 Well, I have to be honest here. I've never actually been in the water in a kelp forest before, but I've seen pictures and I've seen videos and a small representation at the Birch aquarium that big fish tank that they have, uh, the massive fish tank that has that like little stadium seating section in there that's designed to represent what a kelp forest would look like. And basically what it is is these huge long strands of kelp that reach from the floor of the ocean all the way up to the surface. Uh, and then you have all these different, uh, fish species that are, uh, both on the ground, on the floor of the, and swimming among the kelp, et cetera.

Speaker 1: 26:46 And what makes the waters off San Diego's coast, such a good place for kelp forests to grow?

Speaker 6: 26:54 Uh, mainly it's, uh, two things. There is plenty of food there, uh, and there is what, uh, biologists refer to as a Rocky substrate, which basically means that the floor is hard. There are rocks, uh, particularly in a couple of locations where you find the big kelp forest off the region off the coast of point Loma and off the coast of LA Jolla near where the children's pool is. There's a Rocky bottom there that allows the kelp to kind of grab on and hold on and, and grow toward the surface.

Speaker 1: 27:25 And what are some of those species that get their sustenance from San Diego's kelp forests?

Speaker 6: 27:31 Yeah, there are a lot of things that a live in and around and on the kelp forest sea urchins are often there. Um, you find things like a sea stars and enemies, crabs jellyfish. There are also lots of different kinds of rockfish that live, uh, in there. Uh, uh, seven Guild sharks, you'll see them in, uh, LA Hoya, uh, swimming, uh, through the kelp forest. You also see things like sea otters and occasionally a killer whale will look for refuge inside of a kelp forest. And then things that you may not think about that also rely on calc art, birds, crows, and starlings, and, and others who feed on the, uh, flies that are generated as some of that seek help washes up on the beach. So they're all also, uh, tied to the kelp forest as our goals and eat grits and even blue herons.

Speaker 1: 28:22 Well, so far this summer water temperatures have been unseasonably. Cool. Does that help kelp growth?

Speaker 6: 28:30 It does. In fact, a kelp grows better when the water is cooler and that's one of the things that has kept kelp thriving here off the coast of the California shoreline. It's the fact that the Pacific ocean is a very cool ocean and the temperatures are very cool. And that's what really is kind of at risk here with these increasing water temperatures, these long spells of warmer water that really sort of interrupt the growth, the ability of the kelp to grow. And in some cases they actually, uh, Boris the kelp forest to shrink because they don't thrive very well. Uh, in that warmer water,

Speaker 1: 29:06 Are there signs then that the kelp forest and San Diego are already in trouble?

Speaker 6: 29:11 Yeah. And I think the thing that most biologists will point to is that a big heat wave back in 2015 and 2016, they called it the blob. It was this just long, long swath of a super warm ocean water along the coast. It lasted long enough that it kept the kelp from kind of regenerating and areas that it normally would. And we talked to ed Parnell at scripts, and he says, you can still see areas that where the kelp was just eliminated and it just hasn't quite grown back. Um, and it doesn't help that there have been subsequent, uh, heat events like in 2018.

Speaker 1: 29:49 What are the main concerns of the script scientists you talked with about the future of kelp forest here in San Diego?

Speaker 6: 29:57 Well, kelp forests are kind of this iconic, uh, underwater feature. I know a lot of people don't typically see a kelp forest in its full glory, but it's this habitat that is very rich. Um, it generates a lot of nutrients. It feeds a lot of different species and it helps with the diversity of life, uh, along the California coast. And the concern is, is that if this habitat really gets restricted or shrunken or goes away, uh, that it's going to really hurt the ability of the under sea environment to be as diverse as it possibly can be.

Speaker 1: 30:33 You know, Eric, it seems that we're surrounded with so many more immediate problems these days. What would we lose if these spectacular underwater forests were to die off?

Speaker 6: 30:45 Well, you would lose that visual appeal. Of course, kelp forests are a wonderful place for people who are interested in scuba diving to go and see wildlife. Um, but you lose a little piece of California as well. Help forests have been there for hundreds of years, and they've not only drawn a species in the ocean to them. They've also drawn people to them as well, who are just kind of amazed by the majesty that these underwater areas can be. I mean, you can see these long strands of calc reaching from the floor of the ocean, to the, the ocean surface and, and all this different activity, uh, in that habitat. And that would be going away. And not only would we be less rich for that, but it would really kind of change the underwater sphere just off the coast of California.

Speaker 1: 31:35 And I've been speaking with KPBS environment reporter Eric Anderson, Eric, thank you. My pleasure.

Speaker 3: 31:48 The online review service Yelp estimate some 29,000 California businesses on its site have closed since the pandemic started more than half for good, for those who remain open businesses way down and they're doing what they can to stay afloat. KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman introduces us to one of those owners. Tammy spoon says, who says, she's trying to keep the lost art of alterations alive in LA Jolla,

Speaker 1: 32:12 The simplest button, you know, to the most ornate wedding dress, we'd do it. We'd do it all. This is our livelihood and it's my mom started it, you know, 30 years ago. I don't want to close and it's going to be the last resort Kiki's alterations was started

Speaker 3: 32:34 By now, 83 year old kicky spoon yet.

Speaker 6: 32:36 So came to the United States after growing up in, I learned

Speaker 5: 32:40 From Greece, the tailoring I'm very happy. What I'm doing. A lot of our clients, we actually are doing their grandkids.

Speaker 7: 32:47 Kiki's daughter, Tammy has taken over majority of the responsibilities.

Speaker 5: 32:51 More easier. I work less. I come late

Speaker 7: 32:56 When the pandemic first hit Kiki shut down for three months,

Speaker 5: 32:59 March, April, may, busiest busiest season may is the biggest. That's where I make most of my income. When you were totally closed, we are closed. Yeah.

Speaker 7: 33:09 Since reopening in June, business has been down nearly 75%

Speaker 5: 33:13 Where income doesn't pay the rent, but I do stay open because I don't want to lose my customer base. I want to let them know that I'm here, that I'm open, um, that I'm ready to do work. It's just no, one's traveling. No one's going anywhere.

Speaker 7: 33:31 They'd get a PPP loan, which helped cover some expenses. And the owners are applying for a County relief grant, but the possibility of closing is something weighing heavily on everyone.

Speaker 5: 33:40 Oh yeah. Very much so. And sometimes I cannot sleep in that. I'm thinking what's going to happen the next day. Then I called Tammy. Anybody came, who have any business? Oh, mommy, don't worry. When want people came up to people, she's excited. She's getting her hair. I do have some weddings. And, um, which is a great treat for me. I came in for my second fitting and, um, getting ready for my wedding August 22nd. So it's coming up.

Speaker 7: 34:10 Allie fauna and her fiance. David Adams had been planning a nearly 200 person wedding for more than a year.

Speaker 5: 34:15 Yeah. I was going to be the whole, whole ordeal, but had to, had to make the tough decision. Just push it off

Speaker 7: 34:22 For a little bit. Now the couple is opting for a small backyard ceremony with plans for a bigger bash sometime next year, different books.

Speaker 5: 34:28 A lot of us are in the same boat. So yeah,

Speaker 7: 34:31 Tammy says the majority of our clients have opted to delay their weddings while others are going smaller,

Speaker 5: 34:36 Less groomsmen, less bridesmaids, where we get a lot of the business through the bridesmaids. And if less people are going, they're not as formal.

Speaker 7: 34:44 Endemic has brought some other changes too. Some consultations are now done over video chat and Tammy has pivoted to making face coverings. She says she can make them out of almost any material

Speaker 5: 34:54 I've made mass for brides. So use some of the fabric from their wedding dress to make them a matching mass

Speaker 7: 35:00 With no signs of coronavirus slowing down. Kiki's has some tough months ahead of them, but they're just hoping that the whole industry tailoring and alterations can survive the pandemic.

Speaker 5: 35:10 There is a need for alterations. I think I just have to stick it out another, probably another year. And, uh, hopefully we'll have some funding and, um, to keep going, you know, to keep it open because tailor shops are needed, you know, the clothes aren't gonna amend themselves. It's a lost art.

Speaker 7: 35:34 Matt Hoffman, K PBS news.

Speaker 3: 35:51 You are listening to KPBS midday edition. I'm Alison st. John with Maureen Kavanaugh life has definitely changed due to the coronavirus. And that includes the money we have going in and out of our bank accounts. San Diego counties, unemployment rate is estimated to be 16% compared to just over 3% before the pandemic. If you are one of the 250,000 people in the County, you've lost your job. You're sure to thought about how you'll manage, but maybe haven't thought about how a budget could help. Even if you are still employed. There are good reasons to reassess how we manage our money to avoid financial problems down the line. Joining me to discuss budgeting during a pandemic as Paul Lynn, who was a financial advisor with a wealth consulting group and an advisor to the San Diego financial literacy center, a nonprofit that provides free financial services to the community. Paul, thanks for being with us. Thank you for having me. So now, if you're one of those, who've lost a job as a result of the pandemic. What can you do to take stock of your financial situation? It's very easy to feel completely overwhelmed. Isn't it?

Speaker 8: 36:53 It absolutely is. And one of the things I encourage people to do first off is measure what matters. And this is something that's always applied in the past. It's going to continue to do so moving forward. But I think the things that we're going to be evaluating these days are just different than what was important before. First off, if you've lost an income or even two household incomes, I would make a point to really figure out which government programs you're eligible for, namely unemployment insurance and things of that nature. You have to have some semblance of cash flow coming in. Once you're able to determine what you can do as far as earning that additional cash coming in. Now, you really have to be great about putting that budget in place. And I know that people cringe when they hear the B word, but I think if you reframe it in your mind as having a money plan, that you're more likely to take some action and feel better about it, as opposed to see it feeling like you're punishing yourself with scarcity.

Speaker 3: 37:53 It's really scary not being able to pay bills, you know, like, like rant or electricity or water. I mean, is there any point in calling the people that you cannot pay?

Speaker 8: 38:02 Absolutely. You know, one of the first things we'll do with a budget is we divide the categories of your spending into needs and wants. And I think it's easy for most people to understand about the wants and how to cut some of those subscriptions and memberships come to mind as things that you can forego during this time. But as far as the needs go, this time presents an opportunity for you to work with a lot of your creditors, landlords companies that you owe some money to, and really negotiate some terms with them and just make and a good faith effort that you're willing to pay them when you can. And these days people are surprisingly accommodating when it comes to things. And all you have to do is make a phone call. The worst thing they can do is say, no,

Speaker 3: 38:47 The try, huh? I'm supposing that you can't afford your expenses. Particularly since the additional $600 in federal benefits has expired, or perhaps you're waiting for your unemployment to come through. What, what are your thoughts on putting expenses on credit cards?

Speaker 8: 39:01 If you're lucky enough to be able to get a credit card with 0% APR or something of that nature, that can be a reasonable way for you to still be able to meet those expenses, using a little bit of borrowed money. You just don't want to get into a habit of accruing large amounts of double digit APR sorts of debt. It's like the opposite of an investment. It grows in the opposite direction. So as long as you know that this is a temporary move that you need to make, and that you can motivate yourself to pay that off as soon as you're able to do so, it can be a stop gap measure for you to utilize. Even if you have to use the credit card a couple of times,

Speaker 3: 39:43 How about borrowing from retirement accounts?

Speaker 8: 39:45 One of the things that the cares act allows people to do is to take a Corona virus related distribution. And the definition of that is pretty broad. But in essence, you can take up to a hundred thousand dollars as a withdrawal from a 401k or an IRA or other similar retirement plan. And you don't have to pay a penalty for being younger than 59 and a half ordinarily. If you are younger than that age, you would pay 10% on top of income taxes to what you were already subject. They've waived that as a result of the issues that are related to having to access retirement funds, the other nice part about it is you can actually spread the taxes out over the course of three years. Now, a lot of people might not be that concerned about taxes in 2020, but it would be really nice to have the ability to take a large amount of money from our retirement plan, which was really supposed to be future money and use it for a short term need while also spreading out the taxes over a few years, to give yourself a break.

Speaker 3: 40:49 Now, what are you telling your clients who are currently employed still? How might expenses have changed in ways that that subtly add up over time?

Speaker 8: 40:56 You know, I think that a lot of people who still have their incomes will find themselves spending a lot less on leisure expenses, vacations, and things of that nature. Maybe it would make sense to use this unique opportunity to redeploy those funds towards more productive purposes. If you're not in a position of scarcity and you're able to do a little bit of planning and foresight, maybe this is the year to do Roth conversions or to look at more advanced financial planning strategies with all this money that used to be allocated towards lifestyle expenses that really no longer present themselves these days.

Speaker 3: 41:34 Some bills might go up though, because you're at home a lot, for example, electric bills, there might be other things that catch you on unexpectedly.

Speaker 8: 41:42 That's totally true. And I think it goes really back to measuring what matters. You know, people say that what gets measured gets improved. So you should really figure out whether or not your home lifestyle is going to be something that is higher these days than what you were used to, and then make cuts in other areas as appropriate. It's really all about putting forth an effort. The whole concept itself is very basic and it's something that most people know inherently, but it's prioritizing doing the exercise and taking the time to actually do it.

Speaker 3: 42:17 World bank says, this is going to be the worst recession since world war two. So should people be saving more if they can,

Speaker 8: 42:25 You're in a position to save. This would absolutely be a great time to prepare for future opportunities. People have said many things about many markets and predictions that have, have, have come in many different ways. There have been lots of surprises this year. It always makes sense for you to have cash for buying opportunities or to hold out during the hard times. And I think that it's correct to always be in that mindset anyway, no matter what situation you're presently in, you're always going to have a future. So needing to put some money away for your future is a certainty. It's a necessary step that we all should take. So if you're in a position where you've been largely unaffected, as far as your income goes with respect to the pandemic, then I think it makes a lot of sense for you to still continue saving towards your longterm goals.

Speaker 3: 43:16 So Paul bottom line, what's the best thing that we can do to protect our financial situation at this time.

Speaker 8: 43:23 The best thing that most people can do right now is to prepare themselves mentally in a, in a healthy way, not to view this as a crisis, but more like an opportunity where we'll still take the time to make a plan and take deliberate action steps. The world is different now, but a lot of the principles remain the same. What you tell yourself in your mind usually becomes true. In reality, if you tell yourself that you have a little bit of abundance and that you've got the ability to still make ends meet well, having a reasonably enjoyable lifestyle, those things will happen. If you tell yourself it's the end of the world and that you're not going to have enough money to do all the things you want to do, and that you'll be very unhappy, that's going to happen as well too. So I think it's more of a mental game than it is an academic exercise.

Speaker 3: 44:11 Been speaking with Paul Lim, who is a financial planner and an advisor to the San Diego financial literacy center. Paul, thank you

Speaker 8: 44:18 So much. Thank you.

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KPBS Midday Edition

KPBS Midday Edition is a daily talk show hosted by Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon, keeping San Diegans in the know on everything from politics to the arts.