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Poway Water Woes Continues, Could GOP Stronghold City Council District 5 Turn Blue? And New Star Wars Ride

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Speaker 1: 00:00 The state blames Poway for the recent water fiasco and we are introducing you to the city council district five candidates. I'm Jade Hindman. This is KPBS mid day edition.

Speaker 1: 00:23 It's Friday, January 17th, the city of how we failed to provide pure, wholesome, healthful and pottable water by delivering untreated storm drain water to customers. That's the exact wording from the state water board in a citation to the city over its recent water woes. This citation includes three violation surrounding the incident that left the city without water for a week last December. The action from the state board also criticized Poway officials for statements they made to the media at the time about the water crisis. Joining us to talk more about this is KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman, who's covered the Poway water situation since it began. Matt, thanks for joining us. So can you first set us up a, remind us of how this all started,

Speaker 2: 01:07 right. If you remember at the tail end of November last year, um, it was a Friday morning and that's when residents started reporting that they were seeing Brown water coming out of their sinks coming in their bathtubs. You might remember seeing some of those photos on social media. Um, and after that happened, uh, the city of Poway started investigating, um, and they had found out, um, they didn't tell us until later, but they had found out, uh, shortly after that that, uh, one of their overflow systems that was connected to a storm drain got stuck. We later found out that a rope actually got stuck in their pal. He says they don't know how the rope got there. Um, but that basically, um, left this door ajar just enough so that storm water, we just got a big storm. Um, so a lot of storm water float into basically a treated reservoir. And that's why people were seeing that Brown water. Uh, the city of Poway issued a precautionary boil water notice. The state got involved in basically that lasted for a week until, um, the city, um, and the state could verify that the water was actually safe cause it was contaminated by that storm water. Um, and during that time to, you know, 200 businesses had the clothes, a handful were able to reopen, but really not, not a whole lot.

Speaker 1: 02:08 So the state water board issued three violations against the city. What do those violations cover specifically?

Speaker 2: 02:13 They cited them for three things. I mean basically for Val for violating California code of regulations. Um, the first one is that how we failed to protect its public water system from backflow contamination. The second one is that Poway and you've talked about this earlier, failed to provide pure, wholesome, healthful and potable water. Basically clean water. They failed to do that. And the third one, um, is in reference to that story that the KPBS broke is that, um, state regulations say that already treated water basically Poway Clearwell they call it should not be connected directly to storm drains and they are connected to storm drain. So that, that was the third thing, uh, that they found them in violation for.

Speaker 1: 02:47 You've reported that the repairs to the system are going to cost a lot of money. Has the city begun that process yet?

Speaker 2: 02:53 Right? Yeah, this, the state official, when we, when we had this store, he described it as a multimillion dollar capital improvement project. Um, so basically the city already made the short term fixes, right? I mean that, that thing with the rope that got stuck and left a jar about an inch and all the water pour through. They've since bolted that down so that it cannot open. So the short term fix done. But now we have this, you know, what's described as a multimillion dollar capital improvement project. Part of the citation actually includes markers where they have to submit design plans. I mean, you know, by April, 2020 submit a preliminary engineering report for a Clearwell bypass. So, um, part of the citation has other triggers where they're asking them to prepare this stuff. The sort of interesting part here is that the city of Poway, they can actually appeal this decision and they have some time to do that.

Speaker 2: 03:35 I've reached out to them yesterday and they said that they're still evaluating everything and seeing how they're going to move forward. They want to talk to their city council. Um, just as someone who has to wonder, you have to think of some of these triggers in terms of, you know, we want a design plan by this day. You know, we want this by this day. You have to wonder if some of that, um, that they're hesitant to because, um, that's going to cost money. They're going to have to pay some money for someone to do this design study. Um, they, the city did say is going to go before the city council, so it's a big decision for them to make. So we'll see if they, um, sort of accept the citation with these, uh, directives in here, um, or if they, um, try to fight it.

Speaker 1: 04:07 And the state water board also criticized Poway officials for statements made while the crisis was unfolding during the week in December when the water was shut off. At least part of that criticism is no doubt due to a statement made to you by Poway mayor Steve Voss. Uh, let's hear exactly what the mayor told you back then. We continually have great test results. I'm drinking the water. Uh, we need to get this lifted. So, Matt, what do you make of that?

Speaker 2: 04:32 Right. I mean, so when he made that statement, I mean he had said it to a couple of other stations before too, and I mean you can sort of see these sort of questioning, you know, the bureaucracy of Sacramento. I think you put it in another interview. Um, that, you know, the, he's seeing that the city's getting great testing results and we're just kind of waiting for Sacramento to lift this cause we're ready to go now. Um, the state kinda hit them hard on this saying, you know, and any water quality emergency that, you know, there needs to be clear and consistent communication, um, from the state and from the city. Um, and they, they sort of directed them, um, to the, you know, they said the city should ensure that its communications, uh, comply with requirements and they listed some state code. So they're definitely not, they didn't call out Steve Vos specifically, but they said statements made to the media. Um, you know, seemed to contradict what we were saying. Um, and that, you know, that that's a concern for the public because, um, you know, they say right here at risk confusing the public about the public health impacts of the, of this contamination.

Speaker 1: 05:21 A number of claims had been filed on behalf of businesses that lost money during the week. They had to remain closed. What's the status of that? And have Poway officials commented on them at all.

Speaker 2: 05:30 Right. So when we talk about claims, we're talking about a city process. So basically anyone who is affected by this. I mean, I think the city says that they have, you know, almost 1400, um, water connections. Water customers are so sorry. 14,000 water customers I should say. Um, basically they can all file a claim. I mean, last time I checked when we, um, got a public records request from the city, they had four of them. Um, people asking for just a couple hundred dollars to replace a filter in their fridge that they have for water cause they're, you know, unsure if it's contaminated. Not, um, where some businesses are asking for, you know, over $10,000 in lost wages, lost food. Um, and this is a long process. They have six months to file these claims. Um, we reached out to the city, they said that they are evaluating these claims and they want to let people know that it is gonna take a while for them to go through these. Uh, they are encouraging people to ask their insurance first if they're covered. Um, but a lot of people don't have boil water notices written into their insurances. Um, so that's why a lot of these businesses aren't, are not covered here.

Speaker 1: 06:23 I've been speaking with KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman. Matt. Thank you. Thanks Jade.

Speaker 3: 06:34 [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 06:36 if you live in Northern San Diego, including black mountain branch, Carmel mountain ranch, Rancho Bernardo and Rancho Penasquitos, you're represented by the district five city council member. Three major candidates are running in the March primary to replace termed out Councilman Mark Kersey. KPBS reporter Claire Traeger introduces you to each of them.

Speaker 4: 06:56 My name is Isaac Wayne. Uh, I'm running for San Diego city council district five. I'm Joe Levinthal. I'm running for district five San Diego city council.

Speaker 5: 07:04 My name is Marnie Von Milford. I am running for city council here in district five,

Speaker 6: 07:08 three candidates. Each with very different backgrounds.

Speaker 4: 07:11 I do a GIS and data visualization software company.

Speaker 6: 07:15 Isaac Wang also is a Navy veteran, has a degree from Duke in public policy and worked in urban design.

Speaker 5: 07:21 I grew up here and I care deeply about this community.

Speaker 6: 07:24 Marnie Von willpower is a deputy city attorney. She used to work as a lawyer for the national labor relations board and was in the peace Corps.

Speaker 4: 07:32 I started my own law firm seven years ago.

Speaker 6: 07:34 Joe Leventhal also served on the San Diego ethics commission love and is the only Republican in the race. The other two are Democrats. When we asked what was their top issue, they each gave different answers. We'll start with Isaac Wang.

Speaker 4: 07:51 Design safer streets. I think you see a, a lot of poor street design that leads to people driving faster. It leads to people running stoplights.

Speaker 6: 08:00 And how would he tackle safer streets?

Speaker 4: 08:03 Speed tables, roundabouts crosswalks, um, you know, angled parking. We, there's a lot we can do to our physical environment to shape safer streets.

Speaker 6: 08:11 Next. Marnie Von Wilbert

Speaker 5: 08:13 wildfire prevention will be a huge priority for me on the city council. Um, I know what it's like. The, my parents still live in a house that I grew up in just up the street from here and when they were evacuated and a couple of my friend's homes had already burned. It was terrifying.

Speaker 6: 08:27 So what would she do about preventing wild

Speaker 5: 08:30 buyers? Want to make sure our firefighters have the resources they need to adequately cover our communities. Um, it never a fire stations that are needed make sure we can have our firefighters recruitment and retention crisis reduced so we keep good firefighters in our communities.

Speaker 6: 08:43 Finally, Joe Leventhal is number one issue

Speaker 4: 08:47 roads. Again, I think people still want to see more progress on our roads. I think there's more innovation that we need to bring to our, something as simple as roads.

Speaker 6: 08:54 What kinds of innovation?

Speaker 4: 08:56 Some cities in the country have started using Kevlar type material in the roads material, which helps them last longer. A UC San Diego right now is experimenting with a stretch of road that has recycled plastic in it.

Speaker 6: 09:09 But one issue stood out for all the candidates,

Speaker 4: 09:13 inclusive housing, uh, affordable housing.

Speaker 5: 09:15 I see the challenges that new families face trying to buy a home

Speaker 4: 09:20 homelessness. And I really do think the way we've been approaching the homelessness challenge is, is not working

Speaker 6: 09:26 yet when it comes to solutions. None have any new ideas. Here's Isaac Wang

Speaker 4: 09:32 and I think it's the, the regulatory Tory hurdles, um, the red tape that adds to a lot of the costs and that's where we can reduce a lot of the burden.

Speaker 6: 09:40 Here's Marnie Von Wilbert,

Speaker 5: 09:41 making sure that we're doing what we can to have the housing that everyone can afford to live in.

Speaker 6: 09:46 And Joe Leventhal who talked about homelessness, not housing affordability,

Speaker 4: 09:51 the underlying reasons people are homeless. Very, and I really think we need to have people on separate tracks depending on what that underlying reason is.

Speaker 6: 09:58 He says, for people dealing with a short term problem, like a lost job, they need permanent housing first. But others need treatment, not just housing. We also asked for any new ideas for the district. Isaac Wang has one

Speaker 4: 10:13 something called Asian night market. I think if we can really bring down the cost and make it easy to have small footprint businesses, we can see a lot of the small food vendors and small night markets that we see in a lot of other countries.

Speaker 6: 10:27 Marnie Von Wilbert says she also wants to work on setting up more transportation for seniors and veterans who need to get to the VA and Joe Leventhal says he bolster it and the police department in a specific way.

Speaker 4: 10:39 Maybe look at using our reserve senior volunteer patrol more than we are now. For some things like traffic management,

Speaker 6: 10:46 the top two vote getters in March will face off against each other in the election in November, Claire Trag, a sir KPBS news to see our stories on all the candidates go to kpbs.org/election

Speaker 1: 11:00 this is KPBS mid day edition. I'm Jade Hindman this weekend. The Rocky horror show opens at the OB Playhouse in Scripps ranch theater stages and early comedy from playwright John Patrick Shanley called Italian American reconciliation. Something else that opens this weekend though. Disney's new ride Galaxy's edge rise of the resistance it opened today. KPBS reporter benthic Amando was one of the first on it earlier this week and has more with Danny Beller Disney Imagineer and show programmer.

Speaker 5: 11:29 We're here at the rise of the resistance and you are an imagine year. Now some people may not be familiar with what that term means. So can you define that? Absolutely. Imagineer. What a cool title. Right. So, um, I think that the original description, at least as I understood it was it's a combination of imagination and engineering. So it's bringing that creative and technical together, which is one of the things that I'm lead a show programming team. And I think we are like that, that that bridge between creative and technical true Imagineers. So at riser, the resistance, the ride mixes a lot of different things together. Where does the, like, where does this all start? How do you decide what's gonna be on the ride? What's part of it, how big it is, what the storyline is? How does that process go? I think that process, I mean there's a lot of iteration that happens in the beginning when we're building an attraction like star Wars, rise of the resistance.

Speaker 5: 12:24 There's a lot of conversations about what is the story we're trying to tell, what's the best way to tell it? What's the technology that tells that story? It is the most technologically advanced attraction that we've opened at Disneyland. And that's amazing. And that secret is to figure out how to tell that story. So sometimes there's ideas that we don't have a way to tell. Those are for future attractions. And then there's some where we know exactly the technology to tell. And that's kind of the cool thing. And I hope when you ride the attraction, you guys rode, right? I hope when you ride it, you're not thinking about that technology. You're just immersed in the environment that we're offering. So that environment mixes a lot of different things. There are, there's production design and props and video, all those things. What is your role in terms of kind of integrating all those different elements together?

Speaker 5: 13:10 Um, so show programmers, we bring all of the, like all of the disciplines work before us, the audio team and the lighting team and the video team, they all have all of their work. And I always say it's kind of like they've all worked on this for years and then we're the final tapestry that ties it all together. We cue those things together, we bring that figure finally to life because the audio animatronic has audio and the video is reacting to him and there's scenery nearby. And so my team does all of that timing to make that finally come to life. So while you were going through this process, was there a point at which you said, huh, can we do this and did it happen or were you told though, I know there are definitely moments in this process. One of the secrets I think of working in Imagineering is it's very collaborative.

Speaker 5: 13:55 There's a lot of conversations that happen. There's a lot of um, thoughts that we all sit down together and come up with the next step. Um, we had clear creative guidance from John Marina who is our creative director. But I think that it's also an opportunity for the team to say, what if we did this? What about this opportunity? There's a couple of things in the attraction that started as the same thing, but the timing adjusted a bit. We did a little bit of different logic in order to get a cleaner show for the guests. Now with something as complex as this, how do you build in kind of the confidence that this is going to run like hundreds of times every day for thousands of people? And like what's the complexity of, of that aspect of it? I feel like you're reading my mind. One of the things that I say is your programming's job is to deliver the creative show and make it reliable and maintainable, right?

Speaker 5: 14:47 So we build, we work with our world-class, um, maintenance teams and we start talking very early on about how can we get access to these things? How can we figure out how to make that better for them? So there's a lot of that conversation and especially on this project, they were part of our team very, very early in order to make sure that we're all talking and we're all working as one team. And in working on this, did you have a favorite part that you partook in or that you're particularly satisfied with? So I'm a bit of a nerd, so I really enjoy um, logic and how it all works together. And for me it's the beginning of the attraction when you talk to Ray and then you go into the next step, and I don't want to give too much away, but there's three or four spaces you're in before we actually put feet on an on a vehicle.

Speaker 5: 15:34 Right. That to me was a lot of fun working on figuring out the timing of that, how the show was going to carry through, how we have other shows that play if you get delayed in that show. So that was for me and my team, that was a ton of fun figuring that all out. So how many of these like delay videos did you have to create? There is, there's a lot of different places in the attraction where you can be paused before you're going on to the next thing. And there is a ton. I think, um, one of our animators said that, uh, we have animation for over an hour. You will not be in this attraction an hour, but there's a lot of different paths, there's a lot of different places you can go. So I think it's a really cool opportunity to see something slightly different every time and coming through Galaxy's edge as a fan, what is it that you enjoy about it?

Speaker 5: 16:19 For me, Galaxy's edge, I really enjoy the little touches. There is a creature that appears near the restrooms, which is one of my rights and it's just so great. And as a fan I love seeing those little moments that remind me. And then I saw a recent film and I saw that moment I was like, Hey you guys. So that was really cool. But then also, you know, I have to say it's, it's the satisfaction from work of seeing. I walked through just about an hour ago and there was a little girl using the force to bring that creature out and it was amazing and the timing worked perfectly. And to see that is also really special to see people enjoying the work that we did. All right. Well, I want to thank you very much for talking to me about rise of the resistance. Absolutely. I can't wait for everybody to have a chance to experience star Wars rise of the resistance at Disneyland. Now. That was Beth Huck Amando speaking with Disney Imagineer. Danny Beller about the new rise of the resistance attraction at Disneyland. You can see video of the ride on best cinema junkie blog@kpbs.org.

After a snafu that left Poway without potable water for a week, the state Water Resources Control Board issued three violations to the city, requiring it to correct the problem long term. Plus, with Mark Kersey termed out, San Diego City Council District 5, once a Republican stronghold, could turn blue. Two Democrats and a Republican are vying for the seat. And, there’s a new ride at Disneyland for StarWars fans.

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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.