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San Diego Still Awaiting State’s Guidance On Reopening, Firefighters Taxed To Limit With Wildfires, Uber And Lyft Get Reprieve From Appeals Court And Summer Music Series

Cover image for podcast episode

PHOTO BY ALEXANDER NGUYEN

Above: Man walking out of 7-Eleven in Bay Park on Aug. 1, 2020. The business, like many others in the county, is requiring customers to wear a mask before entering the premises to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

San Diego has been off the state’s COVID-19 monitoring list for several days now but the state hasn’t provided the framework for businesses reopening. Plus, California firefighters are taxed the limit fighting the heat and wildfires. Also, when elder care homes aren't ready for a disaster, local first responders get the call for help but they're already overburdened, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. In addition, Uber and Lyft got a reprieve from the appeals court to continue operating in California pending their appeals of Assembly Bill 5. And, Veterans Village has a non-veteran at the helm for the first time. Finally, this week’s edition of the Summer Music Series features Jesus Gonzalez, known for his experimental style and looping techniques.

Speaker 1: 00:00 San Diego supervisor, Nathan Fletcher says the County must balance the risk and reality of COVID.

Speaker 2: 00:05 We don't want to end up in this Seesaw on the list off the list open-close type situation.

Speaker 1: 00:11 I'm Alison st. John, along with Maureen Kavanaugh, this is KPBS midday edition.

Speaker 2: 00:24 [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 00:25 Thousands are evacuating and Northern California as wildfires multiplying. Things are very challenging. This year.

Speaker 2: 00:31 We see fire season come up every year and it seems to get longer and longer

Speaker 1: 00:36 Will call to Uber and Lyft go unanswered tomorrow. And we'll cool down and relax with the latest episode in our summer music series. That's all ahead on KPBS midday. Additionally,

Speaker 1: 01:00 Now that San Diego was off the States COVID watch list. The focus turns to reopening the County has given the go ahead for 19, mostly private schools who were seeking waivers from the watch list to reopen as soon as the 1st of September, when and how businesses will be allowed to reopen for indoor activity has yet to be determined with the County saying consultations with the state will take place this weekend. As more places prepare to get back to business, the County is trying to address the critical issue of childcare with new grants being announced today and County officials are facing mounting pressure to release more information about where community outbreaks are occurring. Joining me is San Diego County supervisor Nathan Fletcher and supervisor Fletcher. Welcome to the program. Thank you, Maureen. It's good to be here. First of all, tell us about the new grant opportunity announced today and how that will help parents get back to work as San Diego reopens.

Speaker 2: 01:59 Well, as a parent, I know how vitally important childcare is and have really worked hard. My office has pushed a number of initiatives to try and help childcare. We did $10 million. We drew down for childcare vouchers a months ago, a million dollars to help our summer camps up and running. And now we're looking at $35 million in grants that will go directly to childcare providers. They have great challenges, limitations in the number of kids, uh, restrictions on how they operate limitations on parents' ability to pay. And so this $35 million will be directly, uh, use to try and get more childcare centers up and running to be able to safely care for more children.

Speaker 1: 02:34 Looking at the wide range of businesses in the County County says it will be developing a strategy with the state to begin a phased reopening of indoor business activity. What would the basic structure of such a plan look like?

Speaker 2: 02:49 Well, we have to wait and see, this is a state determination. Uh, they gave the order to close the indoor operations of those, those sectors that were highest risk. Uh, and so we don't know exactly what it'll look like. Uh, my sense is it'll be something that, that really takes into account that the risk there, the, the risk to COBIT is not the same in all of the entities that were closed. And so I think it'll take into account that, and I think it'll take into account the reality that we just came off the state watch list and our cases went down significantly because we took this action. And if we immediately or irresponsibly undid all of those actions, it's only logical that our cases would spike once more. And so figuring out how do we get it as much of our economy up and running as possible while ensuring that we slow the spread. Uh, so we, we don't want to end up in this Seesaw on the list off the list open-close type situation. So it really is trying to strike that balance

Speaker 1: 03:41 In order to put together a new reopening plan. You're probably going to have to understand what went wrong with the old one. So what do we know about what caused the spikes that caused the second shutdown?

Speaker 2: 03:52 Well, from my perspective, that's clear, we open too many things too fast. Uh, I was very concerned and, and that was matter of public record that I thought we were opening too many things too fast, uh, in particular high intensity, high exposure settings, like bars, uh, indoor dining of non-household members. Um, and, and I, I think it was just too much too fast. And, you know, in fairness, we're not the only place that, that, that, you know, did the similar type thing. Uh, but I think the lesson learned out of that is we just have to move much slower, uh, because not only in protecting life and our health care system, but in protecting our economy, it's more important. I believe that we have a smooth, steady reopening than a herky jerky start stop. And so my hope is we can really learn the lessons from before. Move a little bit slower, a little bit more cautiously, take a step, monitor the impact of the numbers. Take another step, monitor the impact of the numbers, and really try and try and get through this as smoothly as possible.

Speaker 1: 04:47 And if we are looking at a sort of phased reopening like that, how much time would you like the County to allot to see if a certain reopening caused a spike in cases,

Speaker 2: 04:57 Let's see what the state comes out with. Let's see what the state and working with our public health officers determined as the proper number of days. Uh, and then, uh, and then I think when we have that guidance from the public health experts, I think, I think we can, we can go from there.

Speaker 1: 05:09 Now. One thing the public health department and County officials are being asked to do is release more information about where community outbreaks occur. And that pressure is not just coming from reporters. Our listeners have been asking why when an outbreak is documented, can't the public be informed about where it is?

Speaker 2: 05:28 Well, it's a fair question. I certainly understand it. We could, theoretically you could disclose the outbreak location, uh, in the entire state of California. There's only one jurisdiction that does that. And it's Los Angeles County. Now Los Angeles County makes no significant effort to do contact tracing, uh, and robust case investigations. They've kind of been overwhelmed and given up. And the reason the public health experts have given me as to why we don't release the specific outbreak location is because it undermines the cooperation we get with business. So if there is a threat to the public, meaning there's a danger to the public, then we would share that information and tell folks to avoid that, that scene. But if we're working with the entity and we don't think that there's a threat to the public, uh, they've determined, it's more important to maintain that cooperation.

Speaker 2: 06:12 A common analogy is if police officers were required to publicly disclose, disclose every single witness who ever talked to them, you would very quickly run out of any witnesses. And so it's been a hallmark of public health that when you're doing case investigations, if entities are cooperating and giving you information, you won't disclose the location. If there's no danger to the public, it would really create a, a shaming and would probably undermine our cooperation. Uh, but it's something we can always relook and revisit and we'll continue to try and be as transparent as we can, uh, while taking action that we think slows the spread and actually save lives.

Speaker 1: 06:46 You used that word. Isn't this really becoming an issue of transparency between the County and the public when it comes to their safety?

Speaker 2: 06:53 No, I think it's an issue of tactics. If we want to believe public health experts, and we want to trust doctors and scientists, when they tell us you can release this information, but you will undermine our ability to respond to a pandemic. I believe we have to listen to them. Now, if the public health experts and doctors come and say, you know what, we can release it. Then I would support that. But they, when they tell us that that, that if a situation is a danger to the public, we will make that available. If it's not, then we need to protect the confidentiality of getting good, reliable information. Then I trust that. And so we don't know where we are. I trust our public health experts. I trust our scientists. They tell me this is a hallmark of pandemic, disease, investigation, and response. Um, and so I have to give them the benefit of the doubt in this situation.

Speaker 1: 07:36 Is it possible that the County will revisit the policy and begin providing the public with that information?

Speaker 2: 07:43 If the public health experts come in and have a fundamental change of what they think is in the public health interest, then we certainly could, or if there's some legal action that requires to do it, then certainly we would comply with that.

Speaker 1: 07:55 How do childcare providers apply for the grant program that was announced today?

Speaker 2: 08:00 The, we have a website it's in partnership being administered by the San Diego foundation. And so if they go to the San Diego foundation website, uh, they can apply for the grants. It's going to open on Monday on the 24th, and then we'll be open for a 10 day period of time where we're, where entities can apply. And there's varying grants available, uh, based on the, the type of childcare entities.

Speaker 1: 08:22 How concerned are you about the number of childcare providers that may have to just fold up shop because of all they've been through for the last six months?

Speaker 2: 08:32 Well, I'm very concerned. Uh, they, you know, I talked to childcare providers, I talked to the individuals who are doing it and they tell me where we're not gonna fail our kids, but they need help. And that was why I thought it was so vitally important, uh, to bring forward and action, to have us make an additional $25 million investment, uh, in providing direct help and assistance to the providers, uh, so that they could up and running.

Speaker 3: 08:56 And, you know, in the early days of this, Maureen, we, we drew down $10 million to provide vouchers for parents, uh, so that they could, they could access it. Uh, but I think we have to come back on the back end here and provide actual help and support to the location so they can get up and running. And these are small businesses as well. I mean, they're not only vital to parents' ability to go back to work, but they're also employers and we want to do everything we can to help them.

Speaker 1: 09:21 I've been speaking with San Diego County supervisor, Nathan Fletcher. And thank you so much.

Speaker 3: 09:26 Thank you, Maureen.

Speaker 1: 09:30 The major fires in Northern and central California continue to explode in size. The L N U lightning complex in Napa and Sonoma counties has more than doubled in size since yesterday in all nearly 350,000 acres have burned as a loose ring of fires surrounds the Bay area, thousands of enforced to evacuate and the larger Bay area has been engulfed in smoke causing the air itself to become dangerous. Johnny Mae is Cal fire spokesman, Thomas chutes, and Thomas, welcome to the program. Thanks for having me. We heard from governor Newsome yesterday that the major complex fires are a combination of these smaller fires. These hundreds of smaller fires caused by lightning strikes. Do firefighters have to use different techniques to fight these kinds of fires?

Speaker 3: 10:21 Definitely, you know, operationally on the, on the ground where we're still fighting the fire the same way, um, getting water out there, cutting line around it. But when you have hundreds of fires, every little fire, even if a fire is only a few acres, our goal is to keep it as small as possible so that it doesn't become a burden. And to do that, it draws resources from the ground and from the air. And, and so, um, really moving those resources around and, and trying to best prioritize these fires is, is a huge challenge for us. And, uh, we're, we're really, we're bringing in all the resources we can to try and help us with that.

Speaker 1: 10:53 Have firefighters achieved any containment on these major fire complex?

Speaker 3: 10:58 Some of them, yes. You know, um, earlier, uh, the Apple fire was burning before we really saw a lot of the lightning strikes that fire's looking very good now, um, the, the river fire up in Monterey County is, is looking better. Um, the, the tricky part is a lot of times we'll get containment around the area where the fire started. Um, but it continues to grow in a certain area. And so, um, we slowly work our way around to, um, that the head of the fire to ultimately try and stop it. But when we have conditions, when we have weather conditions, um, like we're having with these high temperatures, um, a lot of those areas, we're in a red flag warning. And so everything's kind of coming together to, to, um, really drive that fire. And that, that really, uh, that really hurts us when we're trying to build containment line around the fire and it continues to push in certain directions.

Speaker 1: 11:46 Right. Can you explain how this intense hate that we've been having? How does that affect the fire and how does that affect refining?

Speaker 3: 11:54 A lot of these fields have already dried out over the past few months. You know, we haven't had any really good solid rains in a lot of these areas. So you have timber that that's already dead or dried out. You have the grasses that have already cured. You have the brush with where the fuel moistures are, are incredibly low. And so the fire is able to take advantage of that. And when you have the air temperatures that are very high, um, it's really able to make some significant runs. If you add that in with the topography on these areas where it's very rural, um, running up Hill fire can run up Hill very fast. It ends up preheating the, the fuel in front of it, um, with all the hot gases. And so all these, um, things kind of come together, you get a little bit of wind on it just to make things worse. And these fires are really able to, to grow very significantly as, as we saw last night, um, as these fires were really, uh, starting to take off and grow in acreage,

Speaker 1: 12:46 Has San Diego sent resources up North to help fight the fires

Speaker 3: 12:51 We have, you know, we we've obviously felt the temperatures down here. It's, it's very hot and sticky and miserable, but, um, we, we haven't had, uh, quite the same conditions that they have up there for one, our, our lightening activity was, was far less significant. We did have a fire start, uh, last week, um, up in the Warner Springs area. But, um, generally speaking, we haven't nearly seen them at Mount of a thunderstorm activity. So, um, we were able to send a lot of resources. San Diego is a very big unit. We have 40 stations. And so we were able to, to send up 27 engines to assist, um, the North with all their lightening fires to do that. We've had to bring on, um, a lot of extra help. So we've held all firefighters on duty. We've staffed up all the extra equipment. We have, um, extra crews, extra dozers to help, uh, help supplement to make sure San Diego is still covered in case we do get a fire. Cause, uh, we certainly do still have the potential down here to have a significant incident. Right.

Speaker 1: 13:48 How severe would you say our risk of wildfire is right now?

Speaker 3: 13:52 So significant? Um, you know, a day like today where the, the moisture is higher, there's a little bit higher humidity. The fire's not gonna run quite as severe as it, it would, um, potentially in the North or later on in this season. Um, but, but it is still significant. We have the, um, the potential, the CDs fires run in San Diego. We have a lot of the same conditions. We have very dry fuels out there. Um, we have, uh, the topography that, that works against us. And, uh, ultimately if, uh, if, if we get it in a certain area where we're not able to get a ton of resources on there, um, we're going to be competing with some of these other fires to get additional firefighting resources there. So, um, for us, it's, it's really imperative. We always try to keep them small and we do a very good job at doing that. Um, but, but ultimately, um, this, these next couple of weeks, it's going to be imperative that we stop these fires small and don't, um, allow them to grow into large incidents because that's when it's going to be, um, uh, become quite the burden and quite the challenge, trying to get resources

Speaker 4: 14:52 Down here

Speaker 5: 14:55 With Cal fire spokesman, Thomas chutes. Thank you so much for your time.

Speaker 4: 14:59 Thank you. I appreciate it.

Speaker 6: 15:05 This week. We're reporting on the startling number of elder care homes in places across California at heightened risk of wildfire, a KQBD investigation found this has more than one third of all these facilities in the state when elder care homes aren't ready for a disaster local first responders get the call for help, but they're already overburdened, especially during the coronavirus pandemic here. We're the next in our series, older and overlooked are KQBD science reporters, Danielle Venton and Molly Peterson.

Speaker 5: 15:34 It was a windy day in August two years ago, a CHP officer had died that morning, near a freeway in Fairfield. Lisa Romero went to see the makeshift Memorial on a Hill behind it. She noticed a ribbon of orange flame Romero knew older. People lived over that way with nothing between them and the fire. She went to offer help.

Speaker 4: 15:54 I saw a man, he looked a little panicked. He was outside.

Speaker 5: 15:58 Dan worked at loving place, a small assisted living facility on Hancock drive.

Speaker 4: 16:02 And he told me, he said, I have a lot of residents inside. I only, you know, I have my car. I'm going to have to get them in. Some of them are not ambulatory.

Speaker 5: 16:11 Marrow is a nurse. She knew what that meant. So she went inside the care home to help bring people out.

Speaker 4: 16:17 We started to gather their belongings. And then I remember one lady wanted to call a family member. So I helped her call a family member.

Speaker 5: 16:24 The fire kept coming closer. Romero says eventually she flagged down police and asked them to call nine one one.

Speaker 4: 16:30 And everybody worked together. The police, the good Samaritan, the person that was running the home, I believe we sent two ambulances, right?

Speaker 5: 16:38 Jimmy Pearson is the president of medic ambulance.

Speaker 4: 16:41 And then they need it for when we got there, but it was too late.

Speaker 5: 16:44 Pearson's Cruz Romero and others got the four residents out to save shelter

Speaker 4: 16:50 Right up to across the street from that house and easily could have

Speaker 5: 16:53 In the end, Romero was there for hours. So it was another volunteer. So were the police, it was exhausting.

Speaker 4: 17:01 It was unbearable. Like you could barely even open your eyes. It was so strong and I've never been that close to a fire

Speaker 5: 17:07 After a complaint about that evacuation state inspectors verify that loving place had a plan, but they concluded that the staffer on duty wasn't adequately trained and wasn't able to follow the plan. When the emergency came. [inaudible] analysis found that loving place is one of more than 150 care facilities at heightened risk for wildfire in Solano County. This year with the Corona virus still spreading Pearson says places like that should be prepared.

Speaker 4: 17:34 Talk about a second surgery or second wave. And they saw a massive fire, which is going to happen. You're living in fire world and, you know, pandemic world.

Speaker 5: 17:45 The pandemic has reached skilled nursing facilities in fire prone areas. The Sierra foothills to the suburban fringe, more than half of those facilities have reported coronavirus outbreaks. One way to protect older and disabled people in care homes is to demand more scrutiny for their emergency plans. Kathy hire a gerontologist from the university of South Florida says climate driven storms have forced Florida to do just that.

Speaker 4: 18:10 There's a real effort to make sure that that communication occurs so that people can talk to each other during a local emergency ask for help, ask for supplies, tell them that they need to evacuate or whatever.

Speaker 5: 18:25 And for assisted living in particular hires, co-researcher Lindsay Peterson points out that States bear primary responsibility.

Speaker 4: 18:32 There is no federal mechanism to regulate assisted living. If it's going to happen, it will only happen on the state or local.

Speaker 5: 18:41 And Kathy higher says Florida law requires longterm care homes to get approval for disaster plans from emergency officials and regulators to check up on them. And if they don't find it,

Speaker 4: 18:51 They find either the assisted living or the nursing home for not having that.

Speaker 5: 18:57 But in California, we don't do that when loving place got in trouble for failing to carry out an emergency plan or train its staff. Regulators couldn't even issue fines for those deficiencies. No law requires the state office of emergency services or County emergency managers to look at the plans, care homes make for wildfires or any other threats. My colleague Danielle Venton has been looking into how California response to disasters. She picks up the story. Callow ESS vans. Taylor says evacuations are always risky for disabled and older people. During the pandemic. It's especially important for facilities to have watertight plans.

Speaker 4: 19:35 We have to have it in our minds, but we're people together and shoving them off in a hurry to one location might present an equal way or life threatening

Speaker 5: 19:45 Taylor's job is to make sure that emergency response plans include people who might otherwise be overlooked because of the pandemic. He says Calloway, yes. Now recommends more spacing among evacuees at shelters and even renting trailers and hotel rooms to keep people separate, but he can only offer guidance, not rules about planning for evacuations, a blueprint, but state policy is that locals are responsible. The County officials

Speaker 4: 20:13 Do what it is. They believe that the interest of the individuals from that community, okay, what's the money look like for these things

Speaker 5: 20:20 For godly as the emergency manager for Sonoma County, he says the state expects more from disaster response than ever before. And so does it

Speaker 4: 20:28 20 years ago, if you sounded an air horn and you put a pillow on a cot in the gym, do you recover? That was the entire scope of your service set in recently,

Speaker 5: 20:38 State officials have spoken more about emergency preparedness for vulnerable populations. KQBD has found that 77% of Sonoma County care are in areas that heightened risk for fire. And when that wildfire breaks out and their plans are inadequate, the County has to divert from its other work mid disaster to step in, but godly doesn't have the authority to require better planning.

Speaker 4: 21:02 Our relationship is one of certainly encouraging these facilities to step into that role, that responsibility more fully develop realistic emergency plans, not just hypothetical's it's sit in a binder on the nurses.

Speaker 5: 21:18 Godly says the county's role is to warn vulnerable people when they need to get out of the way Sonoma was criticized for inadequate warnings. During the 2017 wildfires. Last year, the County began placing thousands of weather radios in schools and care homes where they can broadcast warnings and alerts some light up to warm. The heart of hearing others, use attachments to shake the bed of a sleeping person alerts also go out through text messages, emails, wireless, emergency alerts, and high, low sirens that signal evacuations and godly says in pandemic times, work like this and extra staff time is costing more money. How much more as a guest godly is now trying to get 10 shelters ready for any disaster to allow for distancing where usually he would just need one.

Speaker 4: 22:12 Okay. That's 10 times the amount of work and logistics, staffing levels and training for staffing. So it's a significant cost. It's not just buying two bottles of hand sanitizer and Paul and a good,

Speaker 5: 22:23 And he worries that despite his warnings and preparations, a nine 11 call to County services is still the backup plan for underprepared facilities.

Speaker 4: 22:33 Technology is great, but it does not reel a bed out of a home into a appropriate ambulance

Speaker 5: 22:39 What's needed. He says is a longterm shift Californians and their leaders need to plan for disasters as a way of life. Not a last minute scramble even if right now. And partly because of the pandemic, most local governments don't have the authority or funds to do that. I'm Danielle Venton and I'm Molly Peterson. KQBD news

Speaker 6: 23:03 KQBD is data journalists. Lisa pickoff white also reported this story tomorrow. How to protect elders who live independently when it comes to an emergency [inaudible] you are listening to KPBS midday edition. I'm Alison st. John with Maureen Kavanaugh, Uber and Lyft have said, they'll shut down in California tomorrow. Unless a judge lifts a ruling requiring them to change their driver's status from independent contractor to employee. It's a standoff between the two rideshare companies and the state they've been battling over how ride sharing drivers should be compensated. Since bill AB five went into effect in January challenging, a basic premise of the so-called gig economy, Sarah Libby, managing editor of voice of San Diego joins us now to explain how that might affect us. Welcome Sarah,

Speaker 7: 23:58 Thank you for having me. So

Speaker 6: 24:00 Does this mean that people who normally rely on Uber and Lyft may have to find alternatives

Speaker 7: 24:05 Tomorrow? It certainly seems so. There had been a little speculation as to whether the companies were bluffing, but at least Lyft for its part has said definitively that they do plan to shut down operations beginning Thursday night. And so, um, it's not clear whether Uber will follow suit, but you know, at least Lyft has said they're going for it. So no sense

Speaker 6: 24:25 Know assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez was the author of the initial bill AB five that began this battle over whether the ride share companies should classify their drivers as independent contractors or employees. So briefly, how would her bill affect rideshare drivers pay and benefits?

Speaker 7: 24:42 Yeah, so AB five laid out a three part test that was based on a Supreme court decision guiding when employers should consider a worker and employee. And many people argue that Lyft and Uber and other good companies don't meet that test. And so they would be forced to consider their workers, employees, which means that they would be entitled to benefits workers' compensation and unemployment insurance. One important thing to remember is that the bill also allows for part time employees. So it's not necessarily that they'd have to make drivers full time employees, but they would have to give them things like benefits.

Speaker 6: 25:21 The companies have been fighting it out in court. How has it played out so far?

Speaker 7: 25:25 Yeah, there have actually been a lot of lawsuits on top of the most recent one that's causing all of this drama. Some of the good companies have so sued to overturn the law. And on the flip side, prosecutors have sued the companies for violating the law and almost universally the courts have cited against the companies. And they've said that AB five is legal and that the companies appear to be violating it. No, yes.

Speaker 6: 25:51 Yesterday San Diego mayor Kevin Faulkner asked a judge to lift the injunction that prompted the companies to say, they'll stop service. Even though they've known for a couple of years, that this was coming down the pike. So, so what is the mayor hoping to gain by that?

Speaker 7: 26:04 Yeah, his letter to the court is kind of walking a fine line. He framed it as, you know, wanting to prevent this big disruption caused by the ride, share companies, suspending their services, um, and giving lawmakers and the companies time to come to a solution. The problem with that of course is the AB five is the solution that the lawmakers came up with. So there is a similar lawsuit filed by the San Diego city attorney against Instacart, a grocery delivery app. That's kind of in the same situation where a judge ruled that this company is likely violating the law and should make its workers, employees. And that injunction has put on hold while the case plays out in court. Um, which means Instacart can keep operating as usual. So it seems like the mayor just wants to see the same thing happen here, but

Speaker 6: 26:54 Elliot has actually filed a suit against the rideshare drivers too. Right. So in some ways it looks a little bit like the city of San Diego has got a divided front illness.

Speaker 7: 27:02 Yeah, absolutely. So, uh, Mara Elliott, uh, is one of the prosecutors who filed this lawsuit against Uber and Lyft. And like I said, she also has a filed suit against Instacart saying that they're violating the law and she's arguing that those companies aren't just harming their workers, but that they're also harming other businesses that are playing by the rules. And so both her and the mayor are arguing that they're the ones sticking up for businesses, but they clearly have much different interpretations of what that means.

Speaker 6: 27:36 And assembly woman Gonzalez weighed in on Twitter about the mayor's request. What was her response?

Speaker 7: 27:42 Yeah, she, I'm certainly not shy about waiting and on Twitter to things. Um, she said she was disappointed in the mayor's decision and she also questioned some of where he's getting the numbers that he put out. And so it doesn't seem like they're likely to see eye to eye on this issue anytime soon,

Speaker 6: 28:00 No voters of course are going to have a chance to weigh in on all this in November was proposition 22, which is from the rideshare companies, what is the solution that it offers

Speaker 7: 28:11 They want to be exempted from the requirements of AB five. And they've said that, you know, to compensate, they are willing to give their drivers some additional perks and benefits. Um, but certainly not to the extent that AB five would require as far as unemployment insurance and workers comp and the ability to, you know, set their hours and a lot of the flexibility that they're seeking.

Speaker 6: 28:40 So Sarah, if the ride share companies do stop operating tomorrow, what alternatives do consumers have these days? I mean, we don't see taxis around much more. Do we?

Speaker 7: 28:50 Yeah. I mean, some companies, um, I'm sorry, some cities have actually formed nonprofits that have, you know, offered similar services under a different model. Um, and so perhaps that's a possibility in San Diego though. It wouldn't happen right away. And then on top of, you know, taxis, I suppose people would be forced to use public transit.

Speaker 6: 29:13 We've been speaking with Sarah Libby, managing editor of voice of San Diego. Thanks so much for joining us, Sarah. Thanks again,

Speaker 7: 29:21 I didn't breaking news. A state appeals court has granted an emergency stay that will prevent the shutdown of Uber and Lyft ride hail services that was set to begin at midnight across California. The nonprofit veterans village has a new president CEO

Speaker 8: 29:42 Following the departure of Kim Mitchell in November, the organization, which created stand down runs programs for homeless veterans or veterans in need of drug treatment. The new leader of the organization spoke with KPBS, military reporter, Steve Walsh, and here's that interview.

Speaker 9: 29:59 So Akilah Templeton, you're the new president and CEO of veterans village. You're the first non-veteran to run veterans village venerable organization. It's been around founded by Vietnam events. What made you decide to spend your life working with veterans

Speaker 8: 30:15 Over the course of my career, I've worked with several populations who have experienced homelessness who have experienced poverty and hunger, but the veteran piece, I think just really struck a chord with me because of the, uh, the irony there. Right. And, um,

Speaker 9: 30:35 Irony. The irony is what

Speaker 8: 30:38 For me, the irony is just in, you know, the reality that we actually have homeless veterans in America.

Speaker 9: 30:47 Are you able to do everything, um, drug treatment, um, outreach to homeless? Are you able to keep every one of your programs up and running right now?

Speaker 8: 30:56 Uh, I think that we are doing what we can, the best that we can. And so I think there are certain, you know, elements of all of those things that you've mentioned that have certainly, uh, survived. Uh, we are doing outreach, we are providing groups, but we're doing it differently. And so, uh, we may not have a situation where you can have, you know, 10, 20, 30 veterans, uh, uh, in a space, but we're, we're finding ways to do

Speaker 9: 31:25 You were running a temporary shelter on point Loma that's since shut down. Are we going to see this veteran's village changing or are we going to see a new direction the next few years?

Speaker 8: 31:38 Well, you know, certainly I think all organizations, uh, experienced some level of change and evolution. Right. And that's a good thing, right. It just means that, um, the needs are changing. The demands are changing and it's up to us to adapt. Does that take time? Yes. Well, we already headed down that road. Yes. Uh, but then the unexpected happened, right. COBIT happened. And so, um, it may take us a little longer.

Speaker 9: 32:08 So there are a number of veterans that are housed right now over at the convention center because of COVID-19 what role are you playing in trying to get a more permanent situation for those veterans? Yeah.

Speaker 8: 32:21 So, uh, so very soon I'll take my first visit down to the convention center, uh, to actually see, uh, what's happening firsthand. But I can tell you that even though this is only week three, that was actually my priority coming into the door. And so, uh, we've been working diligently, uh, over the past couple of weeks to, um, collaborate with, uh, other agencies with landlords. Uh, we're looking at some of our programs and we think that we have some, some pretty solid options for moving some of our veterans, uh, from the temporary shelter environment environment into permanent housing. And what's the biggest impediment there. Do you have enough landlords who are willing to take those fits well? You know, I think the challenges are the same everywhere, right? There is a low inventory of affordable housing. There are eligibility requirements, there's bureaucracy and paperwork and, uh, and all of that. And so, uh, each situation is different. We are certainly looking at each case, uh, each individual, each veteran you're not full here, right?

Speaker 10: 33:34 Is this a place where it goes,

Speaker 8: 33:37 Uh, this is an option. And so actually we've, uh, done plenty of outreach at the shelter. We are working with veterans to determine, uh, if this is the best fit for them. And so for those veterans, uh, willing to come and enroll in some of our existing programs, we have certainly presented them with that opportunity. Thank you so much for talking to them. No problem.

Speaker 10: 34:02 That is Akilah Templeton. The new head of veterans village speaking with KPBS, military reporter, Steve Walsh, you're listening to KPBS midday edition. I'm Alison st. John with Maureen Kavanaugh nature may very well be the origin of music, bird singing, wind whistling, water flowing. All these sounds create a relaxing symphony that can give us a grand perspective beyond what we see on our tiny screens and relief from the stressful sounds of traffic, blaring TVs and crowds during what seems like a never ending quarantine music and nature are some of the few things that help us feel normal. So let's introduce our next guest hastens Gonzalez, whose music draws inspiration from nature and so much more here's his song never been so happy.

Speaker 11: 36:01 [inaudible]

Speaker 10: 36:02 Here's what's Gonzalez. Thank you so much for joining us on midday edition.

Speaker 11: 36:05 Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure.

Speaker 10: 36:07 So talk to me a bit about what inspires you. What makes you make music?

Speaker 11: 36:13 I love nature. I love poetry. I read a lot of Rumi and happies, I think there are a lot of lessons that we can take from nature and just our human experience in general. A lot of, a lot of my vocals are inspired by blues, sometimes African music, a lot of classical Indian music, but there's also overtone singing, which originated in Mongolia. I believe those are very inspiring elements in my music.

Speaker 10: 37:06 It seems like nature is definitely one of your big influences. Has that been the case ever since you began?

Speaker 11: 37:12 It was, yeah. I, you know, it's interesting. I'm not religious anymore, but I was and reading a lot of stories about angel singing and stuff in the Bible when I was little really mystified to me. And so that was a huge inspiration as well. Um, but nature definitely, um, came through and, and sparked something deeper in me.

Speaker 10: 37:34 What is it that you hear in nature that inspires you to start making music?

Speaker 11: 37:39 Just the way the natural elements sound? I mean, there's, there's, there are rivers, there are insects the way the wind blows through trees and it goes much deeper than their sound. It's more, it's more of a feeling

Speaker 10: 37:52 We're going to listen to your song. Harmony Grove. Tell us a bit about what inspired this song.

Speaker 11: 37:58 So harmony Grove was inspired by a hike. I took in the Elfin forest

Speaker 10: 38:04 And this of course has elephant forest right here in San Diego County,

Speaker 11: 38:08 Indeed. And it was just the perfect day. There was, it was kind of a rainy hazy day and the sun looked so beautiful behind the haze. And I was just so moved by the whole entire experience that I had to write a song about it. [inaudible]

Speaker 6: 39:14 That was harmony Grove by Hazel it's Gonzalez. So now a lot of your songs are inspired by, by some of your favorite places in San Diego. Tell us about your song kingdom of God, and then we'll listen to,

Speaker 11: 39:26 So I went to Mount Laguna, which is about maybe 40 minutes away from where I live. It's this beautiful forest. I went there one day, many years ago, and just sat with the forest in quietude and came to this really beautiful realization that if the kingdom of God was anywhere, it's here in this very moment. And so that's what inspired the song. Mount Laguna sitting in that little dinner, I went up there, recorded the song, recorded the guitar during the daytime and the vocals at night time. So that I get the frogs and the birds to sync together in one song [inaudible]

Speaker 6: 41:10 That was kingdom of God by his was Gonzalez. Now sometimes you do live shows and I want to ask you, what are they like?

Speaker 11: 41:19 So in my life shows, I use a, I use a Looper, which allows me to layer lots of sounds in real time. I'll layer, guitar, layer, vocals, shakers. Beatboxing. So watching me live is kind of because you get to see things just happen spontaneously. Cause I improvise a lot of what I do.

Speaker 10: 41:38 Have you always made music? I mean, how old were you when you began?

Speaker 11: 41:42 So I started playing music when I was eight years old, very young age. Did you have much formal training? Uh, no. I, I, so I learned by ear. I decided to just pick it up on my own. My mom offered me guitar lessons, vocal lessons, but as a kid, I didn't really want any of those things.

Speaker 10: 42:00 Why weren't you interested in informal music lessons?

Speaker 11: 42:04 I just, I felt like I felt like lessons would make it more of a, of a knowledge rather than a feeling. And I was a little kid at the time, so it felt natural for me to just play with music and just play with the unknown aspect of it all.

Speaker 10: 42:19 It seems to me that your music is particularly helpful at a time like this, where there's so much stress surrounding the pandemic. Are you hoping that in some ways you're able to help people get through, make it through this time?

Speaker 11: 42:34 Absolutely. I think music is a strong medicine, especially for times like these. And, uh, I'm hoping that I am contributing in some way to the big, to the bigger picture and helping people relax and relieve a little stress. Maybe not take themselves too seriously.

Speaker 10: 42:54 Here's is what do you hope people will experience while they're listening to your music

Speaker 11: 43:00 To inspire others and to inspire myself by constantly acknowledging that we are living in something very special here. This thing that we call life is very miraculous and I hope that my music and my life touches upon that for myself and others.

Speaker 10: 43:18 We've been speaking with hazers Conzalez who is a local San Diego musician hazes. Thank you so much for being with us.

Speaker 11: 43:26 Thank you so much for having

Speaker 10: 43:34 To hear the full interview. See a video of this comes out as performing and for links to his music, visit kpbs.org/summer music series

Speaker 11: 44:31 [inaudible] [inaudible]

Speaker 12: 44:45 [inaudible] [inaudible].

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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.