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CBP Provided Munition Support To San Diego Sheriff During Protests, Trump Administration Will Reject New DACA Applications, And Students Calling For Disbanding School Police

Cover image for podcast episode

PHOTO BY MAX RIVLIN-NADLER

Above: San Diego Sheriff's Department deploying tear gas into the crowd of protesters in front of the La Mesa Police Department Headquarters on May 30, 2020.

Custom and Border Protection's participation in policing ongoing protests across the country has come under scrutiny from lawmakers. A letter to Sen. Kamala Harris confirmed CBP supplied munitions that San Diego law enforcement fired on protesters. Plus, even as the Supreme Court blocked its attempt to end DACA, the Trump administration announced Monday it will not accept new applications for the program and cut renewals down to one year. Also, students at San Diego Unified are calling for the disbanding of the San Diego Unified Police Department even as the department says it has made some progress in recent years. And, the city of San Diego is making it easier for residents to build tiny homes to increase the housing supply. Finally, from our archives, San Diego author Richard Louv on how animal connections can be transformative for both humans and animals.

Speaker 1: 00:01 Customs and border protection, supplied, munitions, and support during San Diego protests, I'm wearing Kavanaugh with Mark sour. This is KPBS mid day edition. DACA recipients react to the Trump administration's new restrictions on the program.

Speaker 2: 00:30 So this is essentially a dismantling of the DACA program. It's not a complete ending of the program, but it's definitely an attack on it.

Speaker 1: 00:39 They are cheaper, faster to build and tiny San Diego lawmakers give a thumbs up to tiny houses. And the celebrated naturalists talks about renewing our connection to the wild that's ahead. On mid day edition,

Speaker 1: 01:01 During protests in San Diego in may and June, we know that law enforcement requested the aid of national guard troops who were stationed briefly in the County. But what we didn't know was that during those protests over police brutality, San Diego County Sheriff's department and other local agencies were requesting crowd control munitions from a federal agency in response to questions from Senator Kamala Harris, customs and border protection says San Diego asked for less lethal munitions, airborne support and crowd control. Some of which were provided the Sheriff's department told KPBS that CBP did provide pepper balls and chemical agents, but says no border patrol personnel were used for crowd control. Joining me with more is KPBS reporter, max Rivlin, Nadler, and max. Welcome. Hi, what did the San Diego Sheriff's department tell you about why it contacted customs and border protection for help?

Speaker 2: 02:01 They told me yesterday that they reached out to customs and border protection because they were out of resources during these protests in late may and early June. So they had run out of things like pepper balls and tear gas, and we're interested in kind of other ways of supplementing their own forces. So if the Sheriff's department was dealing with crowd control, the CBP agents could be doing other tasks that would normally be done by the sheriff. So looking over the side of a protest or blocking roadways or things like that,

Speaker 1: 02:32 What do they say? They receive Trump from CBP and how did they use?

Speaker 2: 02:36 So the munitions that they requested munitions and the Sheriff's CA the County Sheriff's department confirmed that what they received were these pepper balls that were fired at protesters, a pastor by myself or porters. Uh, also these were fired at as well as, uh, chemical agents that CBP provided. Uh, the Sheriff's department did say that the chemical agents, which, uh, our tier desk was not up to standards that the Sheriff's department would use. So they didn't use it.

Speaker 1: 03:06 Seen border patrol agents turn up at protests in Portland and Seattle reportedly making arrests. There were the agents here involved in crowd control and arrests of protesters.

Speaker 2: 03:17 They were not, uh, there were no arrests by CBP that, uh, their CBP, um, announced, uh, none of the individuals, uh, showed up in federal court. Uh, and the Sheriff's department said that only they were the ones making the arrest. So they were involved in crowd control. Uh, they were at the County administration building during a protest and early June, they were shown on social media, posing above a trampled vigil for George Floyd and a social media post that was then arrested. So they weren't doing any actual arrest themselves. They were just, um, there to, um, basically provide support block roadways and show kind of a show of strength and support.

Speaker 1: 03:59 Now in the letter that Senator Harris requested from CBP, the agency said that other San Diego law enforcement agencies requested help from that agency during the protests. What have you been able to find out about that?

Speaker 2: 04:13 So there were two other agencies in San Diego that CBP said requested a, that was the San Diego police department and the San Diego Harbor police, the port of San Diego Harbor police. The police department said, no, we never requested help from, uh, customs and border protection. And that might've been done just by the Sheriff's department on our behalf, but we never requested, and we never worked with them during these protests. The Harbor police told me that yes, they did put in a request, but the request was basically for agents to come to areas at the airport where they were already stationed to a backup in case of any disturbances there, they said they never worked together with the border patrol agents and that ultimately they weren't really utilized.

Speaker 1: 04:57 There's a relatively new California law SB 54, which is aimed at removing California law enforcement from much of their cooperation with CVP were the requests of San Diego law enforcement during the protests in violation of SB 54.

Speaker 2: 05:12 So SB 54 is really looking at specifically how to get local law enforcement outs out of federal immigration enforcement. So it's moving in that direction. What it doesn't really cover is how much federal immigration enforcement and federal law enforcement could be involved in local policing. And I think that's something that people are really interested in looking at moving forward, because border patrol specifically in San Diego has a long history of getting involved through joint task forces and other means and local policing efforts. So SB 54 was super focused on immigration and specifically handing somebody over. Who's been arrested by local police and giving them to federal immigration enforcement for possible deportation. So while this didn't violate the spirit of 54, um, in any way, it, it definitely shows kind of a blind spot that exists for, for disentangling, these two agencies.

Speaker 1: 06:06 It doesn't the involvement of customs and border protection in internal American protests, whether here or in Portland violate or overreach their mission.

Speaker 2: 06:16 Yeah, that's definitely a subject of debate. The department of Homeland security's own definition, um, department of Homeland security of which CVP is a part, uh, its own definition of its rather expansive powers and the actual powers that are granted to it, uh, by Congress are often in conflict and it takes actual disclosure lawsuits, um, to get anywhere near those two, basically the responsibilities given to them and those that they consider to be their responsibilities to align at all. So DHS has a long history of using those lack of imposed limits to reach further and further into the interior and to expand its reach ever further. And it takes a lot of effort to get them to reign in. You've got to remember, DHS is a relatively young agency. It doesn't have the institutional memory that maybe the FBI does or the, you know, larger DOJ.

Speaker 2: 07:08 Um, it's still trying to figure out its role and into that kind of gap, it's able to expand its reach ever further. Uh, Tom Wong, a professor at UCFC, who I spoke with has been studying the interactions between local law enforcement and customs and border protection, as well as immigration and customs enforcement for some time. Here's what he had to say. I think this is gray area for what local law enforcement officials here in San Diego and elsewhere in California may or may not be able to do when it comes to reaching out to customs and border protection. Uh, for example, when there's a protest

Speaker 1: 07:43 Now, the Portland city council and acted laws to stop local law enforcement there from interacting with customs and border protection agents at their protests. And now Oregon's governor has announced that CVP and ice agents deployed for the protests are leaving the state. Could the California state legislature stop border patrol in interference in local protests by enacting new laws?

Speaker 2: 08:10 Yeah, I think California right now is really emboldened by a decision by the Supreme court, not to hear further Trump administration challenges to its sanctuary laws. This would be SB 54 and a few other laws that help disentangle local law enforcement from federal immigration enforcement. Um, I think this is something that legislators are definitely interested at looking into and feel as if they have now the backing of the courts. Um, that being said, you know, especially in a place like San Diego, CBP is such a part of the local law enforcement infrastructure. If you look at the requests that were made to CBP during these protests, the two most law enforcement agencies that made requests were, um, Detroit and San Diego. And because those are, you know, we don't think of Detroit often as a border city, but it most definitely is because these local law enforcement agencies have such a deep relationship to CBP in both areas. It's who they reach out to when they need assistance or have a problem. So disentangling, these two groups is going to be a really large task moving forward. So state legislators, if they want to look into that are going to have to draw some really bright lines over what is allowed and what isn't allowed moving forward, especially when it comes to serious first amendment considerations like protests.

Speaker 3: 09:27 I've been speaking with KPBS reporter, max Rivlin, Adler, and max. Thank you. Thank you.

Speaker 4: 09:38 Last month, DACA recipients and supporters cheered a Supreme court ruling that blocked the Trump administration's effort to kill the program. The deferred action for childhood arrivals system set up under president Barack Obama protects some 640,000 people from deportation and allows them to work legally. But now Donald Trump's acting secretary of Homeland security is restricting the program with an eye again toward ending DACA. Joining me is Delsa Garcia, a DACA recipient and San Diego immigration attorney, who was a plaintiff in the lawsuits before the Supreme court. Welcome back to midday edition. Thank you so much. Well, we spoke with you after the ruling, you were hopeful, the program would once again, be open to new applicants. What does this move by the administration mean for those who are looking forward to applying for the program?

Speaker 3: 10:27 Yes, unfortunately this is yet another attack by the administration against the DACA program. In generally speaking against our immigrant community from day one, this president threatened the DACA program and has attempted to, again, once more dismantle the DACA program, knowing that most Americans supported, uh, it's devastating, uh, as it's Acura Sapient, um, to hear that the administration is continuing efforts to dismantle a program that our livelihoods depend on. So it, what it really means is just yet another attack by this administration, with the clear messaging that it doesn't want us here in the U S

Speaker 4: 11:10 Now, given that renewals will not last just one year instead of two. What kind of barriers does that present for people in this program

Speaker 3: 11:18 For the administration to now come back and ask for us to renew our work permit every year, as opposed to every two years? Um, it's, it's going to be very difficult. We, we already have a difficult time coming up with the $500 to renew our work permit every two years, and now to come up with $500 every year to renew this work permit, it adds an extra layer of difficulty, um, uh, along with everything that we're experiencing right now, as a result of the world pandemic and the inability of this administration to address the problems that we're seeing on the ground specifically here on the border. And specifically with our immigrant community, it's clear that the numbers have dropped people that applied for the DACA program years ago are not necessarily all of them applying. And, and we know that finances is a big hurdle here in San Diego. We have various nonprofit organizations that are helping our community, but that's not to say that these programs exist across the U S. And so DACA recipients, particularly in States that are not immigrant friendly are going to have the most difficult time.

Speaker 4: 12:29 And didn't a federal judge in Maryland order the administration to admit new DACA applicants.

Speaker 3: 12:34 Yes. Um, and the administration has done everything to delay complying not only with the Supreme court order, but also complying with the Maryland orders. Um, that's exactly right. The Maryland, uh, courts did dictate to the DHS, um, and, uh, immigration service specifically to start accepting these applications. And instead the USDA and the DHS went ahead and issued this memo, um, stating very clearly that they're not going to be accepting new applications. Um, this is, this is, uh, this is a very shameful moment because, you know, you think that you take a case all the way to the Supreme court you win. And that the us is going to respect that, that the federal administration, um, receiving this order is going to respect the decision from the Supreme court. And, and that's, that's not the case. Obviously our efforts in court are gonna continue. We're gonna continue the litigation, um, here in California and the other teams in other jurisdictions as well, our con, well, I depress this issue, but it is a shame that, um, the Supreme court and the court in Maryland have, uh, indicated to DHS to follow these instructions and open the applications again, and they refuse to do so.

Speaker 3: 14:01 So, um, that is one of the arguments we will be making this, um, idea that the DHS is in contempt of these orders

Speaker 4: 14:10 And the Supreme court's ruling that the administration didn't have the authority and the program, cause it didn't have proper legal justification. Uh, you concerned that that leaves the door open for the administration to find a way to tightly rescind the program.

Speaker 3: 14:25 I think the administration is trying to figure out how to hurt us the most. And for now I think this, this is what this memo is about. This memo is very cruel and what it's doing, it's effectively cutting peop cutting off a lot of the programs. It's dismantling DACA in the sense that, um, it's, as it's applying burdens, for those of us that are already renewing it's, uh, outright denying you applications, it's making, you know, the impossible for us to travel abroad with advanced parole. Um, so this is a, an essentially a dismantling of the DACA program. It's not a complete ending of the program, but it's definitely an attack on it. And I think the government is trying to figure out how to end it completely, but because he was unsuccessful in doing so the first time around, I think that this is the best that they're gonna do.

Speaker 3: 15:19 Like, I think this is their best shot and they couldn't figure out how to get rid of the DACA program, knowing that it has existed successfully for so many years. Um, but I think that, um, this is not the end of it. I think we're going to take this memo as is through the courts and we're going to win again. And they're going to try again, especially from those folks that were, that had their applications in hand that were ready to apply for this program, they're devastated because the message that they're getting again, once more is, are not welcomed here.

Speaker 5: 15:53 Now, the immigration advocates have said DACA was never meant to be a permanent solution for young immigrants in the country. What is the end goal?

Speaker 3: 16:00 That's absolutely right. Doco is a compromise. We need permanent protection from deportation. And, and that in one way to get there is, uh, through the dream act, there is right now a dream and promise act that has passed already on the house. And that the Senate is specifically mission McConnell. Uh, under the direction of Trump refuses to put on this on the Senate floor for a vote, we think it would pass. So that is, that's the only, that's the only way we're going to truly protect DACA recipients. And these youth is by allowing a path to citizenship, allowing us to be fully integrated into the country. Um, not by forcing us to pay a work permit every year, but by allowing a path to citizenship so that we have a say on who we elect. We definitely do have to make a change with the presidency and, and in the Senate in particular, the otherwise we're gonna keep seeing attacks like this one against our immigrant community.

Speaker 5: 17:06 Well, it's an election year. We'll see what happens. I've been speaking with DACA recipient and immigration attorney. They'll say Garcia, thanks very much. Thank you.

Speaker 3: 17:21 This is KPBS mid day edition. I'm Maureen Kevin Hall with Mark cellar as activists nationwide call for the defunding of police departments. The same reckoning is occurring in schools at San Diego. Unified students say police have no place on their campuses, but the districts police department has made some progress. In recent years, KPBS education reporter Joe Hong spoke to students and experts about whether police can play a role in wellbeing.

Speaker 6: 17:51 San Diego unified is one of the few school districts in California with its own police department. It's 41 officer force costs the district about $9 million each year, less than 1% of the district's overall budget. Some schools have as many as four officers at a time between campus students say that makes their schools feel like prisons, but the police department has made some progress in how it interacts with students. In the past 12 years, arrest rates at the district have gone down by more than 50%. The most dramatic progress has been with Latin next students in the 2007, 2008 school year, about 1.2% of Latin X students were arrested or detained by school police in 2018, 2019. That number dropped less than half of a percent. In fact, the disparity in rest in detention rates between Latin X and white students was eliminated by 2015. This may be because the district has invested in alternative methods of school discipline since 2012, the national conflict resolution center has trained teachers and principals at San Diego unified in restorative justice practices designed in part to keep students out of the criminal justice system.

Speaker 7: 18:53 The practices that we use, uh, with Latin X students, um, it's not so much different from any other groups within the schools. For instance,

Speaker 6: 19:02 Barbara Hall is the director of alternative juvenile justice

Speaker 7: 19:05 At the center. We've seen, uh, cases, uh, come from San Diego school police, where we have shown that recidivism completely drops when they're being diverted to a community land opportunity, rather than concentrating on traditional punishments,

Speaker 6: 19:20 Despite successes with Latin X students. The rest rate for black students is about 1.1%, three times, as high as other groups, the historical mistreatment of people with black and Brown skin by police is why Latin X students have joined the fight to defund the police at San Diego unified.

Speaker 7: 19:36 Personally, I don't feel safe with the police presence.

Speaker 6: 19:39 Federico Mondragon is one of the students leading the defund school police San Diego organization. While the data might show evidence of less discrimination against land next students by police, Omar and fellow student advocates say that at any investment in polices this investment in student wellbeing,

Speaker 7: 19:55 Those funds go into more, um, more police officers when it could be going to social and economic mobility programs. It can, it can be going to college readiness programs, you know, we need to do better. And we haven't really,

Speaker 6: 20:09 The district is not considering eliminating the police department, but there are those working to create a middle ground.

Speaker 5: 20:14 The word that ended up coming to mind in that space was deescalation.

Speaker 6: 20:18 Michelle Ferrer oversees the restorative justice program at San Diego unified. Since she started at the district two years ago, she said, she's been inspired by how open the district's police chief has been to restorative justice.

Speaker 5: 20:29 And if you talk to chief Marquez, he's always, um, candid and honest about, um, the ways in which officers in the past were trained, right? And that there's a shift happening and he's, and he believes in the framework,

Speaker 6: 20:43 Police chief, Michael Marquez, wasn't available for an interview. The police captain Joe Florentino said the department's approach to policing has changed dramatically since he started 20 years ago. For example, if a student is caught carrying a knife at school, the consequences today are a lot different from what they were before restorative justice. But now instead of sending that student to court, um, what we'll do is we'll send them to either the national conflict resolution center out. We have contracts with say San Diego, different diversion providers so that the student can go through a program to realize the dangers of carrying a knife. Florentino said he wants to hear from more students about their concerns about policing, but student activists maintain that the San Diego unified police department needs to be defunded, not reformed

Speaker 1: 21:29 Is KPBS education reporter Joe Hong and Joe. Welcome. Thanks for having me no arrests and detentions of Latin X students have gone down dramatically over recent years at San Diego unified. But what about the arrests and detentions of black students? Have they gone down to, or have they, as you say, been stuck at that 1.1%,

Speaker 6: 21:52 They have kind of been stuck. And in fact, in, in recent years, uh, they've seen kind of an uptick. Um, there were, uh, just under 1%, but in 18, 19, they were back up at about 1.1%. So you really haven't seen the same success that you've seen with Latin X or Hispanic students

Speaker 1: 22:13 Saying about the fact that black student arrests are three times higher than any other group.

Speaker 6: 22:18 So I've spoken with a couple of board members and I don't think, unfortunately anyone's surprised about sort of the disproportionate impact on black students. I mean, you see this in both suspension rates and expulsion rates as well, but, you know, I was speaking with Richard Berrera the school board vice president. And, you know, he said this was unacceptable. And this is something that the district is hoping to address in the coming months

Speaker 1: 22:45 And are the most frequent violations that lead to student arrests and detentions.

Speaker 6: 22:49 This is really interesting, you know, so back in 2007, 2008, 2009, the most common reasons for at rest and attentions were things like loitering or possession of a weapon. But in recent years you see arrests or I guess more detentions for mental illness, sort of skyrocket. And in the past two or three years, that has been sort of most common reason for a student interacting with a police officer. And this raises a lot of questions and this is something that I'll be looking into in the coming weeks. So I hope to have more on that for you,

Speaker 1: 23:23 The students you spoke with says he doesn't feel safe with the school police presence. Why, Oh, what did he say makes the police a threat?

Speaker 6: 23:31 Yeah, I mean, this was a lot next student and I told him about this sort of positive trend in the data, um, that showed that Latin X students were being arrested less each year. But, you know, you said it's not really the, the data doesn't really reflect student experience. He told me that he has sort of these kind of tense encounters with police on campus, where he might just be going to the bathroom and the police will stop and ask him what he's doing. And it's not so much that police are a threat, but it's more just like students are wondering why they're on campus in the first place. You know, this is a place where they're supposed to go to learn, but, um, a police presence doesn't really cultivate that, that sort of welcoming environment

Speaker 1: 24:20 And students leading the fight to defund school police at San Diego unified, they're saying police funding could be diverted into social and economic mobility programs. But if the police only account for less than 1% of the district's budget would diverting those funds make a big impact.

Speaker 6: 24:40 That's tough to say. I think the students would say that look, it's less than 1% of the school's budget or the district's budget, but it's still $9 million. And the students sort of argument is that any investment that you're making in lease is really a disinvestment in sort of student wellbeing with $9 million you could pay, you could pay for a significant number of, of school counselors.

Speaker 1: 25:03 Okay. So historically black and Brown students have been victims of what's been called the school to prison pipeline. They they're arrested or expelled from school and then headed into a life of crime. We've been hearing about that for years, our school officials now working to stop that.

Speaker 6: 25:19 Yeah. So at San Diego unified, especially for the past, uh, eight years or so, um, the district has invest stated in what's called restorative justice programs where instead of automatically suspending expelling or, uh, arresting a student, they'll lie more on counseling services to sit down with both the student. And, uh, if there's a, if there's a victim and to really talk things out. And in one example, you know, if a student brings a weapon to school, it's not really just about arresting that student, it's fast. And why did you bring a weapon to school and really getting to the, to the root of the problem?

Speaker 1: 25:56 What argument do school officials make about why the school police are needed in the first?

Speaker 6: 26:02 Yeah, so a school shootings come up a lot, I think following 2018 and sort of the high profile, uh, school shootings that occurred districts across the country really amped up security on campus and that bringing police onto schools, but the students I spoke with, they sort of say, you know, that's not the right approach. What students called for a, if you recall, in 2018 was creating more gun regulation and they don't really see more police presence on campuses as a solution to it.

Speaker 1: 26:34 Is there any dialogue planned between student activists and the school police

Speaker 6: 26:39 Last week? Actually the school district held a, what was called an work stuff.

Speaker 8: 26:44 It was sort of a public sort of school board meeting where the school board hel, uh, heard from student leaders about their concerns about not just policing, but creating a more diverse, uh, sort of workforce of the district, meaning, meaning teachers, you know, a lot of students say that they'll go through school and graduate and not have a teacher who looks like them. And it's, it's all for students installs some sort of, part of the same problem, you know, creating this welcoming environment for them so that I could be workshop was last week. And this is sort of an ongoing conversation that will be, um, taking place the school year.

Speaker 1: 27:19 I've been speaking with KPBS education reporter, Joe Hong and Joe. Thank you.

Speaker 8: 27:23 Thank you.

Speaker 1: 27:30 After years of opposition to the concept of tiny houses, the San Diego city council last week unanimously approved the use of tiny movable homes on private property. The houses, which range from 100 to 400 square feet are usually faster and cheaper to set up and backyards. Then granny flats and advocates see the small living units as part of the solution to San Diego's housing crisis. The estimated monthly rent for tiny house would be about $900. Johnny May have San Diego city council member of Scott Sherman, and it Councilman Sherman, welcome to the program. Thank you for having me and Ellen stone is here. She's a founding member of the San Diego chapter of the American tiny house association and Ellen, welcome to the show. Thanks for having me Councilman Sherman. When did you get interested in tiny homes as a housing option in San Diego?

Speaker 8: 28:24 Uh, we probably started in my office, uh, two, two and a half years ago. Once we saw a presentation at a homeless committee, uh, about tiny homes and their advantages. And then we started thinking, okay, not only we can use it in the homeless round, but it also will help in the, in the rental market realm to provide affordable housing for people. So we've been working on it for quite a while, Georgia Gomez, his office started the ball rolling, and then we picked up the ball and ran it through to the, to the finish line. To me, it just makes a whole bunch of sense, uh, on how we can at least start dealing with the affordability issue that we have here at the city without taxpayer subsidy and without all the other issues that go with it. This just was a win win all the way around.

Speaker 1: 29:08 And you went to an event that was put on by Ellen that showed you what tiny homes looked like and how and how they, they could be an option for San Diego.

Speaker 8: 29:18 Is that right? Yeah. Yeah, that was the one up in Del Mar. We went up there and looked at everything that they had to offer, talk to about the advantages and pluses of movable tiny homes. And we'd done a bunch of work at the cities with accessory dwelling in it to make it easier to build those here at the city and to get those done and remove the regulations, but tiny movable, tiny homes kind of fell through the cracks. So put together a bunch

Speaker 9: 29:42 Of regulation, work with the industry and came up with a proposal. They've got a unanimous vote right

Speaker 1: 29:47 Now. If you could counsel me, what are some of the differences between tiny houses and granny flats, granny flats, of course, which homeowners can already add to their property.

Speaker 9: 29:57 Right. Um, tiny homes and movable, tiny homes are built on a chassis basically, and can be rolled into a backyard and hooked up and used as a, as a rental accommodation. Now we did a bunch of regulations that prevent you from, you know, getting your, your basic RV and putting it out there and calling it a tiny home. Most of the regulations required pitch roofs and certain construction standards that exclude the vast majority of any kind of RV type situation. These are true little homes that are made just to roll and put in the backyard or side yard and get them set up to where you can rent them out to help with your mortgage. You can put your Kinlaw in there or, or a caretaker who's on the property. You know, there's so many advantages to it.

Speaker 1: 30:41 Ellen, how do these tiny homes compare with granny flats when it comes to speed of being able to put them up and how much they cost?

Speaker 9: 30:50 So the American tiny house association is very happy with everything that's been happening in California around accessory dwelling units or branding plots. Um, but we were really excited by this other option that would allow you to move the tiny home in, on wheels. So it's getting built offsite while you can make the improvements to your land. And, uh, that can take, you know, one to three months, depending on where you're getting your tiny home belts. And that cost can be between a couple thousand dollars, um, for the, um, improvements to your property, uh, to maybe 10,000 tops. And then the tiny homes themselves range between 65 to 85, if you want a lot of, uh, comfort, so you can go even higher. But, um, that's a big difference from the cost of, uh, the granny flats, which can be, um, upwards of a hundred to 150,000 and take anywhere from 12 to 18 months to complete. So there's definitely a place for them, um, the granny flats, but it's nice to have options for people who perhaps can't afford, you know, alone for that much, or have the time to put, put in

Speaker 1: 32:16 Right now, Ellen, I understand that you want to live in a tiny home. Can you give us an idea of what the space is like inside one of these very small houses?

Speaker 9: 32:26 Well, that's just the thing, it's a magical experience when you go into one, because you wouldn't think that something under 400 square feet would be doable, especially for a couple like my husband and myself, but when you walk in the design is most of them are designed so effectively that the space can be utilized for multipurposes and you can have either a bed on the same level. If someone, you know, has mobility issues, or you can have a loft, which I'm very excited about, that can be up high and you have additional space. So, you know, there's no one size fits all tiny house or moveable tiny house. And I think that's part of what I love about them is that you can, you can create them to the, to the needs and the interests of the person who wants to live there. And ours will have lots of beautiful windows and, you know, a space for my little dog,

Speaker 1: 33:27 You know, but besides Ellen Councilman chairman, who do you think tiny homes will?

Speaker 8: 33:32 Oh, you know, if I look back when I was fresh out of high school and starting in college, you know, and I was looking for a place to rent, you know, I couldn't afford a place of my own to rent back in those days, but so I had to rent a room from somebody and share it with, with roommates and those types of things, you know, those types of people would be more than comfortable in a tiny home that they could afford. You, you look at caregivers that could be in here. You look at people who are very low income, who would actually have a place that they can afford and put their them and their families there. If the house that is the right size. So I think it appeals to a whole bunch of different people, especially those who are just getting into the market for housing. It's a perfect solution.

Speaker 9: 34:15 Yeah. The new, um, entry level housing market.

Speaker 1: 34:19 Why do you want to live in a house? That's so small. Ellen, what are the advantages?

Speaker 9: 34:23 Isn't that such a great question. You know, it's one of the things that pops up in people's minds, right, right off the bat, when they hear about people's desire to live in a tiny home, there's a lot of different reasons. One of the things is of course the affordability. The other thing is that, um, it really helps you be thoughtful and mindful about the things that you have in your life. You know, when you have a limited space, maybe you don't do as much shopping. Um, however, I have seen some tiny houses that have hidden spaces for shoe lovers. Um, there are some women that just cannot give up their shoe collections and that's fine. Um, but that's one of the things I'm really drawn to. And I think the other part is that concept of really being able to make a house work for me in a way that is affordable. Um, and not as time consuming as doing a remodel for a house, there are certain things that I really like and would love to have in my home. And, um, those things would be really expensive to remodel, uh, in a regular sized house. And they're not, they're not as expensive. They're pretty easy to do if you're building a tiny home. Well, I've speaking with San Diego

Speaker 1: 35:38 City council member, Scott Sherman and Ellen stone, founding member of San Diego chapter of the American tiny house association. I want to thank you both so much for speaking.

Speaker 10: 35:49 Oh, thanks for having me. Thanks for having me.

Speaker 1: 35:51 Hmm.

Speaker 10: 36:00 I'm Mark Sauer with Maureen Kavanaugh and you're listening to midday edition on KPBS, starting in the 1920s. Every generation in America from the greatest generation to generation X has been more isolated than the last. So writes San Diego County based author, Richard lube, and a column this week. Feelings of isolation are amplified. Of course, during the COVID-19 pandemic, one solution writes lube in the Los Angeles times is to bolster our connections with animals. That was the subject of his latest book. Our wild calling, how connecting with animals can transform our lives and save theirs. I spoke with Lou who's also cofounder of the children and nature network in December when his book was published, here's that interview. We spent four years researching and writing this book. I start with your original idea. What did you set out to do here? Well, this is a lesson and never write a book based on a feeling.

Speaker 10: 36:55 I had a feeling I'd done a bunch of books on the, what I called nature deficit disorder, last child in the woods and all of that. But I was on an Island on Kodiak Island. One day when my son and I was walking along a trail and a S and a Fox, a big Fox. These are the largest foxes in the world, or some of the largest stop me dead in my tracks. I was glad it was a Fox because I should have been looking up. I was counting my money for the tip for my son, who was my guide because there's a lot of Alaskan Brown bears there. And I looked in this Fox's eyes. He wasn't moving. And I thought, is this guy rabbit? Am I in trouble? The whole book is, it's very difficult to explain what people feel when they have that kind of encounter and what that is.

Speaker 10: 37:43 And I collected hundreds of stories from people who had had similar encounters or relationships with wild animals or domestic animals over time. Well that there are, as you mentioned this, and I segue into my next question, there's a number of transformative encounters between people and wild creatures in the book. Give us a couple of examples that really stand out to you. But one of them is Paul Deighton oceanographer at Scripps institution of oceanography. One of the great guys ever. He was on the bottom of the ocean once when he was a student and he was collecting samples and he felt something very large come above him and stop. And he looked up and he saw a big tentacle coming down, then another tentacle. And this was a 12 foot long, a wingspan of a octopus, one of the giant octopuses. And it came down and got him and he couldn't get out of its grip. And without going into all the detail, he kicked off the bottom as best as he could. And they went up and up in the spiral of water. And as they did the octopus moved around Paul's body and he could feel the razor sharp beak on his neck as it moves.

Speaker 4: 38:48 I mean, this animal could have killed him.

Speaker 10: 38:50 Yeah. And at some point, as they were going up in the water, he says, Paul said, we made a nonaggression pact. Right. Then they hit the surface, both of them. And he ripped off his mass because he had re realized at the bottom that he was almost out of oxygen. And he's looking down into the water under the surface. And here's that octopus still looking at him. And then it turns around in a disappears into the darkness. What does Paul do? This is the best part of the story. What does Paul do? He puts the mass back on and he chases the octopus back down into the, why did you do that at all? And he said, he doesn't know. He just didn't want that moment to end.

Speaker 4: 39:26 Yeah. And you've got a number of, of those kinds of encounters in the book where people look an animal in the eye, and these are wild animals. And some of them are deadly animals. You know, you've got you talk about a polar bear. Who's tracking a pair of women, experienced very experienced women, way out on the ice. And this is the deadliest of the bears. Of course it is. They didn't want to shoot it. They had a gun and could have shot it, but they didn't and they just engaged and it worked out for them.

Speaker 10: 39:51 And it doesn't always work out. I mean, I'm not saying that nature is safe. I never say that. In fact, that's one of his attractions. One of the reasons that this has an effect on people's physical health, mental health, even cognitive functioning is because of all, when we feel off, it's usually because we've stepped out of our comfort zone and it often involves danger. This awe I think is essential for the development of our children, for our feeling fully alive. Uh, and that's what people describe again. And again, even if they were scared. In fact, sometimes, especially

Speaker 4: 40:26 If they're scared, now you write about a kind of magic that sometimes happens in these encounters that we're talking about. I want to quote your wonderful line here. That whisper of recognition between two beings when time seems to stop. And what do you mean by that? How are the, the experience described by the people who've had them this magic

Speaker 10: 40:45 I'm Martin Buber. And I always have to be careful not to say Justin Bieber, uh, Martin Buber, the great, um, uh, philosopher, uh, wrote a great essay called I, and, and he said that you and I don't really exist. What exists is right here in between us. It's the relationship. He considered that a kind of electricity that some people call God, whether you're religious or not many people who are not religious in this book have felt that. So in the book, I call that the habitat of the heart. And I think there are two habitats. There's the physical habitat that many of us work very, very hard as we should to protect. And then there's this other habitat, the habitat of the heart. We don't hardly do anything to protect and nurture that in our kids or in ourselves. Here's the deal. If one of those habitats goes, so does the other one, we've got to start paying attention to that because what we're doing now, isn't working recent studies show that almost a third of songbirds in the unite in North America have disappeared since 1970. You know, what are we doing? What are we so, so clearly treating animals as data is not working. We have to make this deeper connection.

Speaker 4: 41:55 Well, that brings me to the question I have on the climate crisis. Of course, it imperils all living things. You note a world wildlife fund report showing wildlife population shrunk by 60% worldwide over the past half century alarming die-offs of bees, birds. As you mentioned here, constantly making news, you've got a proposal that some, certainly the dwindling number of climate skeptics would see as radical. Explain how you'd like to see the earth divided.

Speaker 10: 42:20 Uh, well, there's a couple of radical ideas that one, I think you're referring to is half of earth. Now, uh, EO Wilson has written a book about that. He didn't come up with that concept basically in order to preserve the biodiversity we need for our survival on this planet, we need to have about half of earth set aside for, for awhile wildness. That doesn't mean the Northern hemisphere and the Southern hemisphere. That means that there'll be a kind of a checkerboard, hopefully connected with wildlife corridors and all of that. Not necessarily excluding people, the Adirondack park in New York is a great example. How people brought back that forest after had been decimated by logging. They still live there in small hamlets. It's a different kind of distribution of population and they make their living there. It's not impossible to make your living in a place like that.

Speaker 10: 43:08 We need that, but we need a lot more cities as of 2008. More people in the world live in cities than in the countryside. Huge moment in human history. We don't talk about very much right now, but wild animals are moving into cities in very large numbers. We're moving into their territory, but they're moving in with us too. What are we going to do about that? We've got a choice either. We're going to exterminate all those animals coming in, or we're going to love them. We're going to learn to coexist with them. Uh, one of the ideas is to create a wildlife, uh, watch groups, which are kind of like neighborhood watch, but you know, the parents and the kids and the, and the, and the, um, uh, retirees at the corner would watch the animals that are coming in and moving out as climate change chases, uh, changes as well as the domestic animals. They do two things. One is that they protect people from the aggressive animals and they would teach her neighbors don't feed the animals. For example, for example, the other thing they would do is learn about those animals and have a relationship with those animals and deepen their lives deep, deep in their sense of being alive.

Speaker 4: 44:18 Well, I've been speaking with Richard Lewis author of our wild calling, how connecting with animals can transform our lives and save theirs. Thanks very much.

Speaker 10: 44:26 Well, thanks, Mark. Good to see you again.

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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.