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LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Racial Justice

Judge Says No To San Diego Businesses Looking To Resume Indoor Operations

Cover image for podcast episode

PHOTO BY MATTHEW BOWLER

Above: Cowboy Star restaurant on 10th Ave in Downtown on this photo taken Nov. 23, 2020.

A San Diego judge has denied a request by a group of businesses to be allowed to continue indoor operations, despite record numbers of coronavirus cases. Plus, the South Bay has been hit the hardest by coronavirus cases and those communities are also dealing with an economic crisis. Also, North County Transit is looking at a plan to extend the Coaster line to downtown San Diego, giving residents a chance to attend Padres games or Comic-Con by train. And, home prices in San Diego County have defied expectations during the pandemic, but recent figures suggest prices are stalling. Finally, a new project in East Los Angeles is looking to archive a local neighborhood’s soundscape and what it means.

Speaker 1: 00:00 No legal relief for San Diego businesses suing against the purple

Speaker 2: 00:05 That basically these places, when you have this amount of spread really become major vectors.

Speaker 1: 00:11 I'm Maureen Cavenaugh with Alison st. John. This is KPBS midday edition. San Diego, South Bay is still fighting the toughest battle against Corona virus. We're telling communities get out there and work provide for us. Uh, but did he get sick? Well, good luck to you. Plans to extend the coaster rail line to the San Diego convention center. And then first up and up and now flat, the curious ways the pandemic has affected San Diego home prices. That's ahead on midday edition To San Diego restaurants, and two local gyms have lost their bid to have purple tier restrictions lifted. The businesses asked a San Diego judge for a temporary restraining order to allow them to resume indoor operations. But judge Kenneth Madell ruled yesterday that the restrictions appear quote to have general support in science and reason. He denied the request even while acknowledging the economic harm. The closures are inflicting. Joining me is KPBS reporter max reveling Nadler, max. Welcome. Hi. Now tell us about the businesses filing this lawsuit and what they hope to achieve.

Speaker 2: 01:41 So the businesses filing the lawsuit include the gyms and the restaurants. One is a CrossFit gym. The others are a bar restaurant. All of them had gone along with the previous restrictions involving, um, lower occupancy, social distancing, wearing masks, things like that. Um, but they decided that when it came to the purple tier, which would, uh, in the Jim's case bar, all indoor operations and for the restaurant's case, make them move entirely outdoors that this was actually a bridge too far for them at this moment. And that basically because no widespread, um, outbreaks had occurred at their establishment, there was no reason for them to close.

Speaker 1: 02:20 So is there arguing against the purple tier restrictions that they're challenging the idea that indoor operations threaten public health?

Speaker 2: 02:29 Yeah, so they actually went back and looked at the record and saw what the County health department was saying, especially dr. Wilma wound's own words where she said, you know, the spread as of a few weeks ago was not coming out of restaurants in gyms. It was coming out of a social gatherings. It was coming out of large parties. It was coming out of people having to keep going back to work. Um, and that basically restaurants and gyms at that time could stay open. Obviously things changed, uh, because those spread really precipitously took off at the beginning of November. And now as we're seeing record numbers, um, the state obviously feels the need to start dialing back. What's allowed, even if they can't point at restaurants in gyms, specifically, they know from science that basically these places, when you have this amount of spread really become major vectors.

Speaker 1: 03:25 And I suppose that in essence is the state's argument in support of keeping indoor operations closed.

Speaker 2: 03:32 Yeah, I mean the state right now is an untrodden territory. The pandemic has never been worse even during our summer. Uh, you know, kind of, that was the first wave in California during the summer. Uh, you'd never saw something, uh, with the numbers that we're seeing now and the amount of spread that's happening. So the state, again, purple tier I think is kind of the beginning of the steps that they're going to be taken, but there's more on the horizon. As we see, uh, case numbers continue to increase and hospitals begin to fill up the judge in this case basically, um, acknowledged that under, you know, regular times this would be an undue burden on the businesses, but because of the extraordinary times that we're living in that the County is going to have to make tough decisions about what's allowed to operate.

Speaker 1: 04:21 What's the next step in this legal battle.

Speaker 2: 04:23 So this was just for a temporary restraining order to make sure that the purple tier restrictions are appealed back. Now, the plaintiffs are entitled to a hearing on a preliminary injunction, and that's something that the judge even during the hearing showed that they were interested in having, well, basically continue to hear as the pandemic progresses, why these need to be rolled back for these businesses and basically set precedent for a challenge against the state's orders statewide. The judge was not closing the door on the fact that the pandemic could take a different path that, you know, basically more science could come in about these places, not being as serious effectors as County health administrators believe that they are, but, uh, you know, because they denied the temporary restraining order. It's a pretty high bar they're going to have to pass to get that preliminary injunction. And it remains to be seen whether the, um, restaurants will continue their legal battle against these restrictions. I know, you know, one restaurant involved hasn't set up for outdoor dining at all, and that leaves them in a really bad place economically. And these lawsuits take money.

Speaker 1: 05:27 This lawsuit was over the suspension of indoor operations for businesses like restaurants and gyms, but case rates are rising so fast in Los Angeles, that city is restricting outdoor dining and workouts. Can you talk to us a little bit about this?

Speaker 2: 05:43 Yeah, like I was saying before, I think there are a lot more restrictions in the pipeline, right? Because one thing that these plaintiffs were arguing was that businesses like retail stores are still allowed to operate in doors. And these are non-essential businesses, you know, clothing, general retail, and they feel like this is unfair, but I don't know how long that's going to last for. Especially when places like Los Angeles and San Francisco are beginning to look into stricter, uh, restrictions, ending things like outdoor dining ending outdoor workouts. I mean, you could go around San Diego gyms that have transitioned to outdoor, um, working out they're still very close to each other. Uh, and the science is still not necessarily sure when you have this amount of widespread, uh, coronavirus. We, this is unprecedented, right? So, uh, County health administrators are trying to keep up with this as much as possible.

Speaker 2: 06:33 And people shouldn't be surprised if more restrictions come down in the pipeline. That being said, it puts such a huge burden on these businesses, County supervisors, Nathan Fletcher, and Greg Cox yesterday announced that they were proposing $20 million to go towards businesses that were impacted by these shutdowns. And they're going to vote on that. So it's moving relatively quickly. They're going to vote on that tomorrow at the County board of supervisors meeting. So there could be some relief in the pipeline for this. Nobody I think is ignoring the fact that these are really untenable restrictions being put on these businesses. If they want to stay alive.

Speaker 3: 07:09 I've been speaking with KPBS reporter, max Rivoli, Nadler, and max. Thank you. Thank you. [inaudible] coronavirus cases are rising in San Diego, but the larger increases are happening among Latino communities in South Bay Latinos account for 60% of all cases in San Diego County, where they are just a third of the population, KPBS reporter Shalina Chet Lonnie says for many in low income communities, health takes a back seat to the stress of putting food on the table at a food donation stall outside of Sherman Heights, home, an elderly man sifts through bags of dried black beans, rice, and onion.

Speaker 2: 08:06 [inaudible]

Speaker 3: 08:06 Ooh, onions are delicious when peeled and paired with a squeeze of lemon, the man says to volunteer out of silly Mauricio. When a CEO says many like this man have relied on these food stalls that have expanded across the South Bay region since the pandemic started. And we feel the second Maricio says a lot of people who come here appreciate this help because they lost their jobs. Unemployment rates in places like national city are nearly double that of Del Mar and Poway, but it's not just unemployment. That's surging compared to those Northern cities, Imperial beach and Chula Vista have on average, three times the Corona virus case rate. You want me to [inaudible]? She says a lot of people don't like wearing masks, but they still like having gatherings. And there's more,

Speaker 4: 08:59 I can't. There was that [inaudible] [inaudible]

Speaker 3: 09:08 Maricio says people are too worried about paying their rents or putting food on the table for their children while they're concerned about their health. They are also scared that going to the clinic could lead to them. Missing a page

Speaker 5: 09:21 Check behind me are the hardest hit sip codes, uh, of COVID-19 positive cases in the entire County, uh, Chula Vista, national city, Christian

Speaker 3: 09:31 Myra's is standing at the top of grant Hill and Sherman Heights. He's the policy director for the labor union FCIU United service workers West. He says the community does have a lot of essential workers and businesses like grocery stores. Those stores keep the economy running, but workers are at high risk for contracting coronavirus, but he says those issues are part of a larger problem contributing to COVID cases here. And that's a historical lack of healthcare resources and low income Latino community

Speaker 5: 10:02 Not far from here is, uh, an abandoned hospital. For instance,

Speaker 3: 10:05 That's where San Diego general hospital shut down in 1991.

Speaker 5: 10:09 And when you have a population of folks who have been left to fend for themselves for a long time without adequate services, then this happens.

Speaker 3: 10:18 Atlas of healthcare project found that 87% of the region 7,000 hospital beds are in the city of San Diego and cities North of San Diego leaving fewer than 900 total beds in South Bay cities. Ramirez says people in South San Diego County have always figured out a way to persevere, but with the Pinto

Speaker 5: 10:38 We're telling communities get out there and work provide for us. But if you get sick, well, good luck to you.

Speaker 6: 10:45 Uh, I've worked very closely with the South County, uh, elected officials.

Speaker 3: 10:49 Cox is the outgoing supervisor for district one, which covers South Bay County officials say spread is high in this region because of the concentration of essential workers. They also say cross border traffic may contribute to higher rates. Coq says, officials have reached out in Spanish and increased access to tests.

Speaker 6: 11:06 We've got over 50 testing sites. On some days we had as many as 63 different testing sites.

Speaker 3: 11:12 The County has tried to offer assistance for rent and food.

Speaker 6: 11:15 We're doing everything we can. Can we do more? Yeah.

Speaker 3: 11:18 Yeah. Incoming County supervisor Nora Vargas agrees Vargas is from the district and will be the first Latino woman to hold that seat. She says support must include practical solutions like financial assistance

Speaker 4: 11:32 Means, uh, people have better opportunities to access, for instance, CalFresh, EBT, uh, emergency cards so that people can have that access to that food. Right now,

Speaker 3: 11:41 Vargas was an executive with planned Parenthood for 20 years. She says it's important for County leaders to build trust,

Speaker 4: 11:48 Just an email and a text. It's actually getting out there in the community and having conversations. She says people

Speaker 3: 11:54 In South Bay who are worried about feeding their families, won't be able to focus on their health care. Especially if those health care resources are scarce.

Speaker 1: 12:03 Joining me is KPBS reporter Shalina Chatwani and Shalina welcome. Hey, thanks for having me. Is there also some truth to the idea that for many of the reasons you outlined South Bay residents tended to have more underlying health issues even before COVID

Speaker 7: 12:21 Sure. Yeah. There's a lot of research that points towards committees in this area. Having more underlying health conditions like asthma, but it's important to know. Um, and Christian Ramirez, who I interviewed in the feature brought this up, which is that many of the health conditions in this community are results of the community being so close to heavy industry and being closer to higher amounts of toxic air pollution, which can cause respiratory illnesses also food insecurity can contribute to issues like diabetes. Also think about stress, especially for people who live paycheck to paycheck. And we know that stress can increase risk for health problems like heart disease. So yes, there are underlying conditions within this community, but it's also related to the two economic disparities.

Speaker 1: 13:06 Now the County I know, has already launched COVID outreach programs aimed at the Latino community in the South Bay. They've, uh, approached, uh, this outreach with radio online TV ads, and they've increased testing sites. The sites that supervisor Cox was talking about, have the efforts had any impact

Speaker 7: 13:28 All of these efforts help. But what I'll note is that the County of San Diego really started intensifying that outreach, um, at the end of July. And that's sort of after the fact, right? Like the pandemic really took hold in April and by July, there were more than 24,000 confirmed coronavirus cases already at that point, 60% of those were among the Latino population. So these efforts are good, but some of my sources like Christian Ramirez say, it's going to take much more than that, especially in a community that is already so distressful of the government for a number of reasons. And that's what Nora Vargas, who's the incoming district. One County supervisor said as well. She says, you know, it's not going to be just an email or a text or even just advertisements. It's about getting out into the community and actually talking to people and convincing them that it's okay for them to quarantine or it's okay for them to seek health services. And it's not going to put them out of work.

Speaker 1: 14:27 What kind of resources are available for people in national city, Chula Vista and other South Bay communities, people who are struggling to pay rent and keep up their housing.

Speaker 7: 14:38 The County did, um, work to provide some relief in the early days. And of course there's relief that, you know, came from the cares act. Um, but a lot of that is not very long lived, um, and likely not for families that are living in South Bay. So, uh, there was, you know, millions and rental assistance relief, but of course that was over oversubscribed and it didn't last, very long, only like held up rent for around two months or so. Um, and EBT cards already exist for needs like food, but folks that are undocumented or on DACA, which is a type of immigration status that allows you to stay in the U S legally, you can't get that relief. Um, if you have that immigration status. So a lot of people in this community are relying on help from their neighbors, from food stalls, like the ones that I had in my story, but others may be out of luck was issues like paying rent because for those people, um, that that type of aid may not exist. So they can reach out to the legal aid society of San Diego to seek some help. Meanwhile, politicians like Nora Vargas are saying, we need to re up financial assistance, more debit cards that can be more broadly available and can be used by more people.

Speaker 1: 15:51 Yeah. As we head into Thanksgiving and the holidays, one of the concerns about the number of coronavirus cases increasing in the South Bay in particular.

Speaker 7: 16:03 So from a scientific or healthcare perspective, we need to flatten the curve everywhere, not just South Bay in order for hospitals to be prepared to care for people who desperately need to be in the ICU or need ventilators. Um, so the hospital systems are connected if there's a surge in one hospital, um, whether that's in South Bay or another part, those people are probably going to be asked to be transferred to another hospital. So everything is interrelated. Um, so at this point, we need to be concerned that people will not socially distance, um, during the holiday season and that there will be more outbreaks and that will be too much for a hospital system to handle.

Speaker 1: 16:45 I've been speaking with KPBS reporter Shalina Chad Lani. Shalina thanks. Glad to be here. Thanks. This is KPBS day edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Alison st. John on his first day in office president elect, Joe Biden says he'll create a task force and is promising to reunite migrant families separated at the border by the Trump administration, but as KQ ETS, Michelle Wiley reports that will be easier said than done at the final presidential debate in October Biden, strongly condemned the Trump policy that led border agents to take children away to prosecute parents and deter migration

Speaker 8: 17:37 Ripped from their arms and separated. And now they cannot find over 500 upsets of those parents and those kids are alone.

Speaker 1: 17:47 In fact, it's a lot more 500 families since Trump took office, more than 5,000 children have been separated. And while thousands of parents have been located, that leaves many, many kids still in limbo over three years later, as part of a lawsuit, settlement, advocates and lawyers are still trying to find parents who lost their kids in 2017. Often the only way is through lengthy searches on the ground in central America, because the government didn't keep track of families and hasn't provided good contact numbers.

Speaker 6: 18:20 So we couldn't even begin the searches, uh, you know, by phone, trying to contact these families

Speaker 1: 18:25 As ACLU, lawyer legal learnt, who represents the parents in the ongoing lawsuit against the Trump administration. Biden has said, he'll prioritize reunifying these families, but so far he hasn't offered details. Gellert says there are some things that would help, like allowing parents deported without their kids to return to the U S legally.

Speaker 6: 18:46 They have been through so much. And I think the least we can do now is to provide them with some status.

Speaker 1: 18:52 He also suggested the government create a fund for the families to get trauma counseling and other health care. And he says, Biden should stop the separations that are still happening. The federal judge who blocked Trump's original policy has allowed border officials to take kids. When they believe a parent is unfit or a danger that's happened to more than 1100 children. Sometimes Gellert says for minor reasons,

Speaker 6: 19:20 We do not want the times of separation decisions that occur under the Trump administration made by CBP and ice officials, where they are unilaterally declaring without evidence. Most of the time that the parent is a danger to the child,

Speaker 1: 19:34 He and other advocates say separation decision should be based on child welfare standards. And more recently separated families should be included in the lawsuit, but even families who had some legal protection from the case are still suffering as a result of the Trump policies and the terrible choices they were forced to make. Erica Pinero is the director of litigation for Altra lotto, a California nonprofit working on behalf of immigrant families. She told this story of a Guatemalan man who came to the U S with a seven-year-old son to seek asylum in 2018. The boy was taken from him at the border. And though the man suffered violence and discrimination back home Pinero said it was unlikely. He would qualify for protection. He ultimately made the painful decision to accept deportation while his son stayed in the U S with an aunt.

Speaker 9: 20:26 So the only choices are, bring your child back to a situation where you are receiving deadly threats or leave them in the United States, um, and potentially never see them again.

Speaker 1: 20:37 Despite the difficult task ahead, Panera's hopeful that Biden is committed to repairing the damage.

Speaker 9: 20:42 We see a definite opportunity with the Biden administration, much more, an opportunity

Speaker 10: 20:48 Than we would have had with the Trump administration. DOJ was fighting reunifications every step of the way, but she says it remains to be seen

Speaker 11: 20:56 Who will be on the next president's task force and how far they're willing to go to make these families whole again,

Speaker 10: 21:04 Michelle Wiley

Speaker 11: 21:20 Catching the train to the San Diego convention center could be a possibility within five years under a new plan that would extend the coaster beyond the current Terminus at the Santa Fe Depot. The so-called low sun rail corridor through Los Angeles and San Diego is the second busiest rail corridor in the country. If extended people from Los Angeles or North County could buy a ticket to the Padres game or Comicon and arrive on the doorstep of those events by train, Tony Krantz is chair of the North County transit district board. Tony, thanks for joining

Speaker 10: 21:53 Us. You're welcome. Thanks for having me.

Speaker 11: 21:55 So now there's actually a lot of things happening at the railway line down the San Diego coastline. Isn't there, the number of trains going up and down is expected to double how often will trains run and how soon could that happen?

Speaker 10: 22:07 Well, the low sand corridor has been in existence since the 1880s, and, and as it has evolved, there are currently three major uses of that corridor. One is freight. The other is inner city, which is our Pacific surf liner operated by the state. And then finally the line that the service that North County transit district operates, which is the coaster running from Oceanside down into San Diego. And that is known as a commuter rail. And it will be our goal is to have a service during peak hours, which is the morning and evening commute, times of 30 minute headways. And then off peak times would, uh, have trains every running every hour. So we've recently purchased some new train sets and are getting new locomotives and refurbishing our existing coach cars so that we can provide this service. Uh, it had been planned pre pandemic. And so we've had some changes, uh, as we're working our way through the COVID-19 crisis. And, um, it is our hope that as the vaccine is implemented throughout the County, that we'll see some more ridership increases and then we will increase the service levels.

Speaker 11: 23:29 So you were saying they could be every half hour at peak times and every hour, uh, other times, how soon could that happen?

Speaker 10: 23:35 We have enough of the new locomotives to get started on the, uh, improved service times. Uh, but we do require two new train sets, which I believe are to be in, uh, in 2022. Okay.

Speaker 11: 23:48 So for people who say the ridership has dropped, especially during COVID and there's no need for this, how would you respond to that?

Speaker 10: 23:56 Well, I would respond that it's the old proverbial chicken or egg argument, which, which comes first. Um, I think having, uh, the proper time schedule and headways is a critical part of attracting ridership. And, uh, I do believe that there are people that are more than willing to ride the coaster service if it was a more dependable service in terms of, uh, being able to, uh, plan your day around it, a service that runs more frequently. So I am in the camp that says public transportation is a critical part of a region that is capable of moving people around it and improving the service is really important to me, as well as I think everybody on the North County transit district board agrees that these are important improvements that we need to continue to work towards.

Speaker 11: 24:49 Okay. So the plan is to extend it to the convention center right now, it stops at the historic Santa Fe Depot at the foot of Broadway. A lot of people in North County would like to see an extension to the airport, but the plan instead is to the convention center. Why is that?

Speaker 10: 25:04 You know, as I mentioned that the rail line has been, uh, was built in the 1880s, uh, you know, the old land grant history of, uh, the essentially very good deals for the railroad men that were operating at the time. And what we're doing is we're taking, you know, we're using the existing corridor to expand our services. The reality is that there is currently no right away to the airport for coaster trains. And so, um, the ability to expand to the airport would be limited by the costs that it would, would, uh, be to acquire the right of way to operate over there. There is talk about running trolley service directly to the airport, but right now the shuttle services that take passengers from the terminals to the rental car facility, I think is a excellent opportunity to extend that shuttle service to old town and, uh, pick up Kosta riders at old town so that they could conveniently get to the airport by the shuttle service. Um, there is currently a MTS bus nine, nine, two that runs from the Santa Fe Depot over to the airport. And it is not a difficult ride. The challenge currently that we have with airport service by the coaster is that we don't have trains that run frequently enough. So it's really not very convenient to try and plan a trip to the airport by room,

Speaker 11: 26:31 Although that could change from the number of trains increase. Of course. Yeah.

Speaker 10: 26:35 That is our goal. Yes. So once we, once we increase frequencies, we think there will be more people that will exercise the option to public transit to the airport. And, you know, they may use nine, nine two, but I think again, that the possibility of extending the shuttle bus that serves the car rental facility would be even more attractive because it would allow people to get off the train at, at old town instead of continuing the ride, which is not a long ride. It's about five minutes further to go from old town to the Santa Fe Depot. But as you're traveling by train past the airport, it's a little frustrating if you're late for your flight or that sort of thing. So I just think it would be beneficial to be able to get off at old town and have the option of, of taking a shuttle bus, which, uh, those shuttle buses travel on the inside of airport property. So they're not fighting with traffic on Harbor drive and that sort of thing. So it's a, I think going to be a little bit more of an advantage

Speaker 11: 27:39 Is a trolley line currently running to the convention center. Why can't people just catch the trolley there?

Speaker 10: 27:44 Well, I think that, you know, they, uh, Santa Fe Depot is very busy and most people riding public transit prefer to have a single seat to their destination. So, um, anybody considering a trip from North County down to the gas lamp or the convention center or to a Petco park for a Padres game or concert is going to, you know, think twice probably before deciding to take the coaster because of the need to find that extra ride to get to those destinations. So once you eliminate the need for finding a second seat to get to your final destination, you will attract more writers. And there, the railroad is currently there. It's a pass-through for Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight trains that go as far South as a national city. So it's not like we're adding new track. It's like there will be an improvement of track. And the proposal is to foot. The platform basically is the only thing that's missing so that people can get on and off, uh, the coaster trains. And that would be between first and fifth avenues and, and make riding the coaster from North County, much more convenient

Speaker 11: 28:51 Speaking with Tony Krantz chair of the board of the North County transit district. Tony, thank you so much.

Speaker 10: 28:56 Thank you.

Speaker 11: 29:05 COVID-19 has affected the housing market in some counter-intuitive ways. Prices in San Diego of homes continued their upward climb for the most part during the quarantine, but recent figures suggest San Diego County home prices stove last month here to talk about whether this is a trend that will continue, or what analysts predict for the uncertain coming months in San Diego is union Tribune, reporter Phil Mullner Phil. Welcome to midday. Thank you so much for having me. Okay. Let's start with the, the median price of a home in San Diego last month. That's where all homes, condos, single family townhomes. What was the average that's right. So

Speaker 12: 29:42 The, the median home price was $650,000, which was kind of interesting because that's the same price. It was last month. And, you know, in San Diego, it's kind of funny because something small like this that happens is a big deal where maybe if you're in Minnesota or Michigan, it's not that big of a deal. You know, sort of, we wrote a few months ago, how rent prices had only gone up about, or they were flat about 0%. And that was a big story. That rent prices hadn't gone up that much. So this is sort of in that same vein because San Diego home prices have been shooting up like crazy all year, especially since the pandemic began. So it was kind of shocking to see an October that we didn't see this gigantic jump again.

Speaker 11: 30:27 Yeah. So what do you think was behind that? So

Speaker 12: 30:30 I think according to a lot of the experts I talked to is that our home prices went up so rapidly in July, August, September, October. It just finally slowed down a little bit to catch up. However, what I will say is a lot of the analysts are expecting home prices to increase still in the next coming months, because a lot of the same factors are still present that have driven home prices to record territory.

Speaker 11: 30:56 Oh, I just wanted to talk about single family homes, which the median price is 730,000, which is pretty high. How is that trending and what would the average monthly mortgage be for that?

Speaker 12: 31:06 Oh my God. Well, there's a lot of different ways to look at how much, how much it could cost, but yes, 730,000 just to keep in mind. That is the highest that it's been in all time in San Diego for a resale single family home. And if you looked at the monthly cost of a mortgage, assuming 20% down, which is very hard to do 30 year fixed rate loan, that would be around $2,430 a month for your mortgage payment. Now, if you looked at that about a year ago and you looked at what the median home price was then compared to the interest rates, then it's only up a little bit. So it would have been about $2,390 a month last year at this time. So the monthly payment for a home is sort of around the same area. The only problem though is your 20% down payment would be now 130,000 compared to 114,000. About the same time last year.

Speaker 11: 32:09 It does seem like in this pandemic, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Is that reflected in the, in the price of luxury homes in San Diego, are they whizzing up faster?

Speaker 12: 32:20 Luxury homes still are kind of going up slower, but sort of what you said about like the haves and the have nots. We're seeing that at an extreme level in San Diego because our economy is so we have so many jobs in tourism and restaurants and those folks have been harder than ever. Whereas we see this other side of the market, if you're able to work from home and you've kept your job and you may have some ties to the stock market you're doing really well. And those are the kinds of people that are buying houses in this market. The people that were working paycheck to paycheck, even before the pandemic, they were not in the home market to begin with in our very high prices here in San Diego. And they're kind of left out from this entire conversation.

Speaker 11: 33:10 Well, obviously a lot has changed since last month. How could the news of a change of the administration in Washington, DC, you know, a new president affect the housing market here.

Speaker 12: 33:20 There are a lot of policies from president elect, Joe Biden that could make things a little more in favor of renters. It sort of depends on what happens with the Senate. If it's going to be Democrat controller or Republican control, he might have difficulty passing a lot of it. But what I will say is a lot of his policies could benefit renters. The biggest one is he wants to extend the expansion of section eight, which is housing vouchers for very low renters. So in San Diego, about 16,000 households received section eight every year, but there are 80,000 households on the waiting list. So one of his things is to really expand section eight, so that could pump up a lot of money into the rental market. He's also proposed a renter's tax credit, and that is sort of interesting. I'm not totally sure how it's going to play out if it gets passed, but it's sort of based on a policy idea out of a housing program at UC Berkeley, which basically says if you're a household spending more than 30% of your income on rent and utilities, you would receive a tax credit when you file your return.

Speaker 12: 34:32 Now, what we know about San Diego County is there is a lot of people, even up to 25% that are spending more than half their income on rent. So this could have a big impact on the fortunes of renters in San Diego County,

Speaker 11: 34:46 Right? Of course, rent depends on the price of the home that the landlord has bought. And if those prices keep going up, that's pressure on rent, just going back to the changes, what would the appearance of vaccines on the horizon do to the housing market?

Speaker 12: 35:01 Well, the housing market, it's sort of similar to the stock market in that it's forward thinking. So in some ways, one way you could look at it is because we don't really know how it's all going to play out. But one thing is it could give potential home buyers, more confidence in the market and be more willing to buy a home, knowing that they're not presumably going to die or get really sick. However, another way it could react, which I think some potential home buyers would be happy about is right now. One of the things driving up prices is we have very few on the market in the month we're talking about right now, there was around 5,000 houses at, which is just crazy considering we're the fifth largest County in America. It's a very, very slow amount of homes for sale. So one of the reasons we don't have a lot of listings is a lot of people that were looking to sell their home, have held off in this environment because they don't want a bunch of potential buyers with presumably COVID-19 walking through their house. You know, it's very cautious way to look at it, but that's one thing we're seeing is still a lot of sellers. I talked to real estate agents all the time. A lot of sellers are just waiting to put their homes on the market because they don't want those people coming through, or they might incorrectly be thinking that they can't get enough for their house, but you could get a lot for your house right now,

Speaker 1: 36:29 Phil, thanks for keeping such a close eye on this for us. Thank you so much. This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Alison st. John, a new project called sounds of California is collecting music and cultural expression from across the state. It's spearheaded by the Alliance for California, traditional arts in conjunction with the Smithsonian. They commissioned 10 original songs from local artists about Boyle Heights, a long time immigrant neighborhood, East of downtown Los Angeles. That's been gentrifying the California report magazine host to Sasha Coca talks with musician quetzal Flores. Who's been helping to curate the project.

Speaker 13: 37:24 Boyle Heights is a community of immigrants since its inception. You had these communities that literally could not live anywhere else and had to live in Boyle Heights or Compton or other parts of the city that were designated for that through red lighting. [inaudible]. So when we look at what's happening in Boyle Heights and how the economic powers within the city of Los Angeles are positioning themselves to gentrify Boyle Heights, to displace people, to pray on economic opportunity in a place that that has been the sanctuary. You know, there's this history of defiance and resistance to power, to the oppressive tactics of capitalism, of patriarchy and white supremacy. These are songs where you're commissioning work by artists from the community about their community. I'm thinking about the song by Eddie called and they're landing. [inaudible].

Speaker 14: 38:56 I mean, it details even really specific street corners in Boyle Heights, specific establishment, but it also Chronicles of a migration story from the fauna to Boyle Heights.

Speaker 13: 39:07 And because story is the story of many people that live in Boyle Heights right now. And so she really was able to tell her personal story, the story of her family, a story of her parents arriving from the [inaudible] being homeless in the city and looking for a place and finding home in Boyle Heights. So much of the narrative that's been told about Boyle Heights is that, Oh, it's just a community of poor people and there's gangs there and bad schools. And when we're able to control that narrative and tell our own narrative, and you put the narrative in the hands of artists, they tell beautiful stories that tell powerful stories of deep connection, deep history, and also a resilience. There's a great story that I was told by a friend where a Eastern European woman would walk by my friend's house every day, one day she stopped and she said, Hey, little girl, come here. What is that smell? I pass by your house every day. And that smell, it just reels me in. She says, Oh, my mom was making tortillas. So she brought her a tortilla with some butter on it. The woman was like, this is incredible. Can we exchange? I make sour cream. I will bring you a batch of sour cream every week. And you give me tortillas and we'll exchange. And these two women became best friends and commodities and, and you know, we're connected for the rest of their lives.

Speaker 14: 40:36 Boyle Heights is a place of ridges stories, crossing stories, never ran well. There's a song in this collection that captures some of that cross-cultural connection between communities from Nobuko Mia motto.

Speaker 13: 40:55 So Nova is an 80 year old Japanese American when she was a very young girl. She and her family were incarcerated during the incarceration of Japanese Americans by the U S government. And so coming out of camp, they landed in Boyle Heights,

Speaker 14: 41:11 Four years, they get dense. And now we're back to start from zero and moms, Kathy. So encouraging, stitching up,

Speaker 13: 41:20 Seeing her mother Ristich their lives back together, healing from the trauma of, of being forcibly removed and incarcerated. Novaco was a trained dancer who landed in Broadway and did many musicals and, uh, landed a part also in West side story, she is an elder, a community elder, and she holds a very important perspective. The cross-generational dialogue within these compositions, that was going to be key, right? So we have someone like on Helicon mottos, who's in her early twenties. That's a pretty broad, uh, perspective.

Speaker 8: 42:05 [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 42:06 Let's talk about Anhelica Mata sung mariachi Plaza. It's it's one of the songs in his collection. That's bilingual, both in English and Spanish, and it also blends different genres of music

Speaker 8: 42:31 [inaudible]

Speaker 13: 42:32 So on Elica is the child of two prominent mariachis in Los Angeles. She can go from this very sort of lush ballad, like a introduction, and then into this mariachi piece that has that fervor and that intensity and that pride

Speaker 8: 42:54 [inaudible]

Speaker 13: 42:55 Her tradition or main tradition is mariachi music, but she's a lover of all kinds of music. She loves Brazilian music. She loves jazz. And then lyrically, you know, she loves her neighborhood

Speaker 8: 43:13 [inaudible].

Speaker 13: 43:13 And oftentimes what happens is in the process of gentrifying a community, there's any ratio of culture and the people to really center the culture that exists now. And the people is a way of reaffirming our existence. It's the mirror that people can look at and say to themselves. I matter I have value and my value is not determined by how much money I make, but instead all of the deep, deep connections that I have to people in this neighborhood. And the sounds that remind me that I belong

Speaker 8: 44:06 [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 44:06 Gets on Flores from the Alliance for California, traditional arts, the sounds of California project, we'll launch a public archive in the spring where you can hear sounds from many vibrant communities across the state. Meanwhile, you can check out the songs from Boyle Heights. We've got a link at our website, California report.org.

Speaker 8: 44:39 [inaudible]

Speaker 15: 44:40 That was California report magazine, host, Sasha Coca.

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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.