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California Mask Mandate Ending

 May 13, 2021 at 11:10 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 The CDC is easing mask mandate, Speaker 2: 00:04 And the vaccine have really allowed us to regain a lot of the freedoms that we have lost. When the mandate went into place last year, Speaker 1: 00:11 I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen Kavanaugh. This is KPBS midday edition. Speaker 2: 00:24 [inaudible] Speaker 1: 00:24 How have the recent acquisition of apartment buildings could impact rent? Speaker 2: 00:29 When this collection went up for sale, there was a big concern that this is going to cause rents to go up. Someone's going to fix up the place and rents are going to rise for the residents that are living there. Speaker 1: 00:40 Our efforts to stop traffic deaths and the city working, and a list of five songs to enjoy from our arts editor, Julia Dixon Evans that's ahead on midday edition. Speaker 2: 00:49 Yeah, Speaker 1: 01:00 The CDC is issuing new guidance, allowing fully vaccinated people to ditch masks indoors in all, but the most crowded settings we have yet to hear from San Diego County officials on the announcement. But also this week, governor Newsome announced the state's mask mandate would end on June 15th, though. There will still be some rules about masks indoors. Meanwhile, it's been reported. San Diego County officials were left out of those state discussions. And after the state announcement said they have no plans to lift the mask mandate until case Wright's case rates dropped. Dr. Christian Ramers is a specialist in infectious diseases who oversees clinical programs at family health centers of San Diego. And he sits on the counties vaccine clinical advisory group. We spoke to him prior to the CDC announcement today. Here's that interview. Speaker 2: 01:50 Thank you, Jake. Good to be with you. Speaker 1: 01:52 What exactly will the state rules about mask wearing be on June 15th Speaker 2: 01:58 Boy? Well, I wish I knew exactly. Um, as you mentioned in the header that the County has not been involved in these conversations, and I think that over the coming weeks we'll work those out the trouble is it has a little to do with what the case rates actually are and what the vaccination rates are locally. So, you know, I think this is a major success story that we're even talking about this and the vaccines have really allowed us to regain a lot of the freedoms that we have lost when the mandates went into place last year. Um, but it'll have to be a negotiation between the state and the County about what the actual rules are. I can tell you from a scientific perspective, you know, masks are just one of the tools that we have along with distancing and vaccines. And we've been so impressed with the results of the vaccines and we're in a very different place than we were last year when we were worried about our health care system being overwhelmed. Most of the vulnerable people in San Diego have been vaccinated. And so the risk of us being overwhelmed is really low at this point. Speaker 1: 02:55 Hmm. And so we've been trending in this direction for a little now. So why do you think this sudden change over mask mandates? Um, now why do you think, uh, this is happening and, and were you surprised? Speaker 2: 03:08 Yeah, I think what, what the state is doing and what CDC is actually doing in, in their, uh, guidance is really trying to get it right where we make recommendations gradually as they are warranted. CDC is really in a tough spot because if they go too far and we have some resulting surges and outbreaks, it's really hard to walk things back. So they've been rather circumspect and rather, um, gradual in terms of their recommendation. Um, but I think it's going to head in the direction where as our vaccination rates, uh, approach herd immunity, or what we think is herd immunity that we can regain those freedoms Speaker 1: 03:43 Is San Diego County on board with this. Speaker 2: 03:46 Uh, you know, I think, uh, there's always a negotiation between the County and the state. Um, the science is the science and it certainly is leading us in that direction. I think what you're hearing from San Diego County officials is that same reluctance to want to not have to walk something back. You know, what we really don't want is to have things open up and people stop wearing masks and then us have some new unexpected twist or turn, uh, the variants pose a little bit of a threat here because they may reduce the effectiveness of the vaccinations just a little bit. Um, and then of course new outbreaks are really hard to contain once they start. Um, so I do think it's very reasonable to consider taking masks off in the outdoor environment. We know that being outdoors is very protective, but COVID, hasn't changed. You know, we're still seeing posts to a hundred, to 200 people a day and the disease, if anything has gotten worse, it's become more infectious in these new variants and everything. What has changed is that the environment and that the healthcare system is unlikely to be overwhelmed. And so it's becoming less sort of government mandates and more individual responsibility. Speaker 1: 04:47 Do you think getting kids 12 to 15 vaccinated could quickly drop the case rates and obviously increase the vaccination rates? Speaker 2: 04:57 Yeah, I actually do. And so I'm very much in favor of the ruling from the FDA and the CDC to allow 12 year olds and up to be vaccinated. I'm actually taking my 13 year old daughter in this afternoon for her first dose. And she's been ecstatic, uh, just waiting for this and waiting to regain some of the freedoms, like hugging her friends and having sleepovers participating in sports in school in person. Um, so, uh, you know, adolescents are part of the, of the population that is at risk of getting COVID and spreading COVID. And so the more people that we can get protected the better Speaker 1: 05:29 Are you finding a lot of vaccine hesitancy and how have your clinics been dealing with that? Speaker 2: 05:35 Yeah, I wouldn't say it's a lot, but there are, there's some people that are just absolutely no, they don't want to get a vaccine and that's fine. Their, their minds are not likely to be changed, but there's a lot of people that are on the fence. Um, and I think we've gotten to about a 50% level where we're, we're getting a lot of people protected. The next 25% is going to be individually conversations between healthcare and parents or healthcare providers and patients. I mean, a lot of people just have some questions, some people want to wait and see, I think we're sort of moving into the phase where we've wait, we've done enough waiting. And seeing we have over 150 million people in the us that have been vaccinated. And the safety record is just really, really good. These are incredibly safe vaccines. Um, and we're going to have more and more things like flying on airplanes, um, potentially, uh, you know, sports and, and all the regulations that we have. For example, the Padres, uh, having, having their whole testing protocol and everything, the more people are vaccinated, the better for us, all Speaker 1: 06:33 That hesitancy though, keep case rates from dropping and then stand in the way of relaxing mask mandates in the County. Speaker 2: 06:40 Absolutely. Yes. And that's what people like myself are very worried about is that there are definitely still pockets of people that are vulnerable for COVID. In fact, I'm in our monoclonal antibody infusion clinic right now, the only people we're seeing come in with COVID now are people that have not been vaccinated yet. So what I'm worried about is that we'll reach a point where people who have gotten vaccinated are protected and they're fine. And people that haven't are the ones that are continuing to suffer and continuing to allow these outbreaks to occur. The more cases that still occur, the more likelihood variants are going to emerge. And then we might be in more trouble. Speaker 1: 07:14 I want to circle back to the 12 to 15 year olds getting vaccinated. I understand your clinic, family health centers is vaccinating that age group today. Tell us about that. And where are your clinics? Speaker 2: 07:26 Sure. So a number of things had to happen before we were authorized to do this, the FDA earlier this week authorized this. And then the CDC is advisory committee on immunization practices met last night, but at 14 to zero, essentially for giving the green light here, our main vaccination centers, such as at Logan Heights, at city Heights and in Chula Vista. Uh, and then the diamond neighborhoods are all offering, uh, vaccinations for 12 to 15 year olds. Uh, parental permission is required. Um, but we're giving Pfizer at all the sites, um, which is the only one that's authorized. So, and essentially the dose is the same. The procedures are the same, uh, as for adult vaccinations for this age group, Speaker 1: 08:03 The most important question that everyone is asking, what do parents need to do or bring to get their children vaccinated? Speaker 2: 08:10 Yeah, so I, I do know at County sites they're being required to bring a proof of identification or at least a date of birth. Anything that can prove that the child is actually 12 years old, we've had some people with 11 and 10 year old children trying to sneak them in there. And that's not really allowed at this point yet. And then parental permission. There's a lot of flexibility with this. It can be written permission. Um, it can be, you know, the state has said that FaceTiming and actually having video permission, if the parent can't be right there is allowed and we want to get more people protected and don't want to put barriers up there, but we just do need parental permission in order to administer the vaccine. Speaker 1: 08:45 Right. I've been speaking with Dr. Christian, Ramers a specialist in infectious diseases who oversees clinical programs at family health centers of San Diego. Dr. Ramers. Thank you so much for joining Speaker 3: 08:56 Us. Thank you. Speaker 3: 09:04 The proposed sale of 66 apartment complexes to the Blackstone group for more than a billion dollars is being called one of the largest real estate transactions in San Diego history. KPBS reported earlier this year that the Conrad previs foundation was looking to sell its real estate holdings. And now it's 5,800 rental units are being snapped up by Blackstone. The proposed sale has already prompted some concern from elected officials over whether the units will remain affordable for working families. Johnnie Mae is San Diego union Tribune business reporter, Phillip Molnar, and Phil. Welcome to the program. Thank you so much for having me. The Blackstone group is based in New York, but doesn't already have significant real estate holdings in San Diego. Speaker 4: 09:51 That's right. Blackstone is a massive private equity company. It's often referred to as a private equity giant, and some of the biggest things they own in San Diego County are the hotel Del Coronado and Lego land. Speaker 3: 10:04 And can you give us a sense of where these new acquisitions, the 66 apartment complexes where they're located? Is it all over the County? Speaker 4: 10:13 It's basically all over the County. It's it's as far away as East County, a little bit into downtown, just basically all over the place. These are areas where Conrad previs himself. He was a real estate developer. You know, he had a large collection of real estate holdings across the County, and the foundation has been able to hold onto that for many years. And why Speaker 3: 10:35 Did the preface foundation want to sell them? Speaker 4: 10:37 So they say, if they sell all these apartments, they'll be able to use it for more grants to give out to the community. They've been very generous over the past couple of years. Uh, they gave more than 71 million to 112 organizations across San Diego County in March. And just one of those examples was they, they gave 15 million to the San Diego symphony. So they think they can do a lot more with this money than just holding onto the apartments. Speaker 3: 11:02 Okay. So when a new landlord comes in, the first concern is that rents will be raised. That concern was also reflected in a letter sent by some San Diego officials. Can you tell us about that? Speaker 4: 11:15 Yeah, that's right. Kate PPS was first to report on that. And basically as soon as these apartments went on sale, there was a lot of concern because they're sort of what they call naturally occurring, affordable housing. So they're not designated as subsidized housing. Like a lot of projects are in San Diego County. They basically are just old and you can't get that much money out of them. So they're actually a little bit cheaper for most residents. So when this collection went up for sale, there was a big concern that this is going to cause you know, rents to go up, someone's going to fix up the place and rents are going to rise for the residents that are living there. But you know, we live a capitalist society and there's nothing to say, Hey, Blackstone, you can't buy these things. You know, there, there was nothing on the books. Speaker 4: 12:02 San Diego itself didn't buy the units, the housing authority didn't buy the units. The state didn't buy them. And they were up for sale for a while and Blackstone came in and bought them. So there's not a lot anybody can do. I don't know how it's all going to shake out. Blackstone says it plans to keep the majority. We don't know how many that is of residents affordable for people that make 80% or less of the area, median income during its ownership. We'll have to see how that plays out, you know, and also Blackstone says it's eager to engage with the state of California in San Diego municipal government to explore opportunities for affordable housing in San Diego. Again, not really sure how that's going to work. Are they going to sell the stuff back, assuming for more to a municipal government, it's just a wait and see thing at this point, Speaker 3: 12:54 That statement by Blackstone, that they intend to keep the units affordable for those who make 80% or less of the area, medium income, is that a metric that was already in place or is this some new calculation by Blackstone? Speaker 4: 13:08 I believe it's a new calculation by Blackstone, just based on some, you know, criticism of the project early on back when KPBS first reported on it in February. I know from just off the record conversations and other stuff on background that a lot of developers had looked at this portfolio because, you know, it's a huge amount of apartments and there's a lot of possibilities for return and all this kind of stuff. But I think one of the reasons why developers passed on it in addition to needing a ton of money to pull off the deal was that there was that political pressure that these are going to become a lot higher rent than what they are right now. So as far as I know, Blackstone doesn't do this that often, but they did put that statement out there with their purchase, which I found quite significant Speaker 3: 13:55 And Blackstone says they also plan to add amenities. What kind of amenities? Speaker 4: 14:00 Basically, these are really old units. So they're going to be doing all sorts of stuff to fix them up, put in playgrounds, add maybe a little bit of open space kind of stuff like that. They also are going to partner with a nonprofit called Pacific housing. Typically Pacific housing works with subsidized housing mainly, but so what they're going to do for residents, they're going to have after school tutoring, financial literacy classes, health and wellness initiatives, and those are supposed to be at no cost. So that might kind of soften the blow on Blackstone's big Burgess. Speaker 3: 14:33 Now some pandemic eviction moratoriums are about to expire. What is Blackstone stand on evictions Speaker 4: 14:41 Blackstone says across their entire national portfolio that they haven't evicted anyone due to nonpayment of rent during the pandemic. So that might seem sort of like a good thing if you're in one of apartments and you're kind of nervous, but just to keep in mind that the California eviction moratorium ends on June 30th, I haven't heard anything to say it's going to be extended. San Diego County actually has their own eviction. That should go until sometime in August. So we'll have to see how that works out, but it's looking like a lot of those rental protections are beginning to sunset as the economy recover. Speaker 3: 15:14 And since we are speaking about rants up, what are they like these days as we're emerging from the pandemic and San Diego, are they higher? Are they lower? Speaker 4: 15:22 Rents are higher right now, actually during the first part of the pandemic, most of 2020 rents were flat. They were not increasing, which is very rare for San Diego, even during the great recession our rents were going up. So the fact that there was a brief period of time where rents were about flat, which means they didn't increase year over year was extremely significant for San Diego County. But in the last few months we've seen rents tick up in San Diego. So county-wide rents are up 5%, according to real estate tracker CoStar, that's about $1,940 a month average. So it's sort of interesting because if you look at these big nationwide reports on rent, San Diego is one of the few markets in the entire nature where rents have been increased. Speaker 3: 16:09 And when is the Blackstone deal expected to close, Speaker 4: 16:12 Expected to close in the next few weeks, Blackstone is saying in the second quarter, 2021, and by my calendar, that's about in six weeks, it's going to be over. So, uh, that is probably going to be in the next few weeks. Speaker 3: 16:27 Okay. Then I've been speaking with San Diego union Tribune business reporter, Phillip Molnar, Phil. Thank you so much. Thank you. This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Cavenaugh with Jade Heinemann in 2015, San Diego adopted vision zero a campaign to end all traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2025, but five years in the city has made little if any progress toward that goal. KPBS Metro reporter, Andrew Bo, and takes a closer look at why that is Speaker 5: 17:07 On November 18th, 2019 66 year old. My league was walking from her doctor's office to a pharmacy on Elka Hoon Boulevard in the little Saigon district, as she was crossing the street, not in a crosswalk, the driver of an SUV struck and killed her Speaker 6: 17:24 Mainly that was a tragedy and it reminded the city or reminded all of us that this elk home Boulevard is very dangerous. Speaker 5: 17:32 Tram lamb is president of the little Saigon foundation, a nonprofit that works to promote and beautify the neighborhood. She and other civic and business leaders have long been calling for more crosswalks and slower speeds on alcohol and Boulevard, which is one of the city's deadliest corridors. She sees Jay walking all the time and she understands why Speaker 6: 17:52 The distance between, um, to crosswalk, um, as very far. So that's the reason why as make it harder for people to pedestrian to cross the street. So they'd rather J walk and, um, that create a, uh, very dangerous, um, environment for the driver and also fond up pedestrian themselves. Speaker 5: 18:17 Lee's death is even more tragic because she died in an area where the city has already planned for safety improvements. A 2017 study recommended narrowing the lanes to slow down traffic, which often exceeds 40 miles per hour. It also recommended more crosswalks and to raised median, but none of the studies recommendations have been implemented, not even after Miley's death. Speaker 6: 18:40 These are dangerous situation that people have to live through every single day. And then all elected official is not doing anything about it. They actually going out there and talk to people and people reflect and voice their concern, but their concern is not being heard. Speaker 5: 19:00 This is despite the city launching a program in 2015 called vision zero. It's an ambitious goal of eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries within 10 years, but we're halfway through and the numbers haven't gone down in 2015, there were 58 traffic deaths within city limits in 2020 deaths went up to 61. Speaker 7: 19:22 We do see, uh, you know, year to year fluctuation. Of course we want to see, uh, all serious injuries and fatalities trending towards zero Speaker 5: 19:29 Everett. Hauser is a city traffic engineer. He says his department has done what it can within the budget that the mayor and city council have provided. That's included new crosswalks, bike lanes and other safety measures still. He admits it took a while for the vision zero program to ramp up Speaker 7: 19:46 Every year we conduct, uh, additional analysis, uh, evaluating high crash locations. And then as well as, uh, some of the latest we've done with our systemic safety analysis is looking at, uh, ways to improve safety city. System-wide across the city. Speaker 5: 20:02 We're not meeting the Mark. We need to do better. I've brought hopefully a new attitude, new energy to this issue. Mayor Todd, Gloria blames the halting progress on his predecessor, Kevin Faulkner, and what he calls a lack of urgency on making streets safer. Uh, the question is how much time do we have to actually effectuate those changes? My hope is to have as much time as possible because some of this stuff is difficult because it requires a lot of process. And we are quickly running out of time. Frequently vision zero projects run into community opposition because of parking and traffic concerns. A protected bike lane might require removing parking. A wider sidewalk might require reducing the number of travel lanes. Tram Lam of the little Saigon foundation says if taking space away from cars means fewer people in her community. She's okay with Speaker 6: 20:48 It, but we need to start a redesign and rethink about our street and our CD to increase the quality of life for the people and make it as safe that there can be for everybody that using them because a street or sidewalk is not just only for car because off sell for people as well. Speaker 3: 21:14 Joining me is KPBS Metro reporter, Andrew Bowen, Andrew, welcome time orient. Thanks. Now give us a bit more background on the vision zero campaign. How did it start? Speaker 5: 21:27 The first vision zero program was in Sweden in the 1990s, and it started spreading across the U S in big cities. Uh, they started creating their own programs kind of around the 2010s San Diego's began in 2015 and at its core vision, zero is just a belief that all traffic deaths are preventable. Um, it's, you're you acknowledged that people make mistakes. Sometimes people break traffic laws, um, but, uh, we should just design our streets so that when people make those mistakes, uh, they don't cost you your life. Speaker 3: 21:59 And when you say the goal is to reduce traffic deaths on city streets to zero, is the focus really on pedestrian and bicycle deaths. Speaker 5: 22:08 Vision zero means zero traffic deaths, regardless of whether you're in a car or not. Um, but cyclists and pedestrians are the most vulnerable road users and they're the most likely to die from a collision. So vision zero is kind of meant to put a greater emphasis on their safety. It's also about correcting the inequity of the status quo. So most of our streets were designed decades ago when the speed and the convenience of driving was seen as more important than safety. And so that culture shift, especially among traffic engineers in city is really across the country is ongoing. I've heard anecdotes, for example, about people requesting some kind of safety improvement, maybe extending the, um, crossing time at a, at a, at an intersection for pedestrians. And the city will say, no, this will slow down traffic too much. So we're not going to do it. Speaker 3: 23:03 How does the city of San Diego calculate the number of traffic deaths each year? Speaker 5: 23:09 It doesn't include deaths on freeways because those are not within the city's right of way. But, um, on the city streets, um, San Diego, the San Diego police department maintains two separate databases of traffic collisions. One of them is much larger. It includes collisions where no one was injured or where maybe the injuries might be pretty minor. The other one is limited to serious injuries and deaths. And in reporting this story, I basically tried to cross-reference these two data sets, and I found a lot of mistakes. The city's official death count in its vision, zero strategic, uh, from which was released last December, actually overlooked collisions that resulted in more than one death. So a crash might kill two or three or four people, but, um, they counted it only as one. And this just had to do with basically the way that they structured their Excel spreadsheet. There were some other discrepancies as well say a person, uh, dies from their injuries in a crash weeks or months after it takes place that death might not appear in one data set, or it might not appear in either of them, Speaker 3: 24:15 Just the city acknowledged their statistics may be incomplete. Speaker 5: 24:19 They, uh, sort of, so I tried to get, uh, an explanation for all the different discrepancies I was given kind of a broad explanation. Like, well, some of these deaths might've occurred say on a private parking lot, which is not city a right of way. So they don't include that in their vision zero death count. Um, but I ultimately just wasn't able to get a complete explanation of all of the, um, discrepancies, uh, by the time I had to finish this story. Speaker 3: 24:45 Now, when mayor Todd Gloria says there was a lack of urgency in the Faulkner administration and moving toward the goal of reducing traffic deaths, what does the mayor referring to? Is he referring to a lack of funding, a lack of policy? Speaker 5: 25:01 I think what mayor Gloria was saying was he just didn't feel like this issue was taken seriously enough. And the data bear out that, you know, traffic deaths have not gone down significantly since 2015 city officials acknowledged to me that it took a while for this program to get up and running. Um, you know, I think he's been in office for a few months, so it it's fair enough to say I just got into office. Um, you know, we're still changing things and it's pretty easy to point the finger at his predecessor and say, you know, we've all of this data just shows his, his sort of lack of urgency. Um, you know, you say lack of funding, lack of policies. I think those are certainly a part of the equation. Um, you know, that that 2025 deadline of zero traffic deaths is just four years away. So, um, so it it's, it it's gonna, things are going to have to change very quickly. And, um, and yeah, I, I frankly agree with the mayor. There has been a lack of urgency in all of this. Um, there are quicker, uh, you know, we've seen pedestrian and bike projects get multiple delays. Um, lack of funding is a big part of the, of the picture as well. Speaker 3: 26:14 And you say other cities are finding faster ways to slow down traffic, then undertaking major street renovations. Can you describe maybe how that can be done? Speaker 5: 26:25 Absolutely. So let's take the example of a bowl bout. So this is where at an intersection, you extend the sidewalk so that it reduces the distance that a person is actually in the intersection. And in that same space that's used by cars and it, uh, also kind of pinches the lanes so that when you're driving through that intersection and you see that bowl bout of the, of the sidewalk, um, you, you tend to slow down. Those are typically done, or the conventional way of building. Those is with concrete. You actually pour the concrete and make a bigger sidewalk. Other cities have decided, well, that costs a lot of money. Sometimes it takes a while to get all that funding together. So in the interim, let's do it with paint and let's do it with bollards, basically just plastic or metal poles that you stick in the ground. Speaker 5: 27:13 These can be extremely fast and cheap and that this more innovative or less conventional approach to street design just really hasn't taken hold in San Diego. Uh, I think it's, uh, I I've been told by the mayor's office that they're working on strategies and different designs that, that traffic engineers can learn how to adopt and implement and everything. Um, but you know, we haven't seen it yet. It's, it's, it's gonna take a while for all of those. Um, I'll, it shouldn't take a while, but, uh, but it, it, it has taken a while for those more innovative methods to really take hold here. Speaker 8: 27:48 And is there any work being done to change neighborhood resistance the way you described to these changes? Speaker 5: 27:55 You know, I think that ultimately, um, it is a difficult thing for, uh, politicians who are ultimately accountable to their constituents to, to say, you know, we're not going to prioritize parking or speeds over safety, but you know, it, it has to happen if the city is really serious about ending traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2025, they have to start thinking more about safety and less about the speed and convenience of driving. Speaker 8: 28:30 I've been speaking with KPBS, Metro reporter, Andrew Bowen, Andrew. Thank you. Thank you, Maureen, Speaker 1: 28:45 Keeping small businesses open can be a challenge and the pandemic proved to be too challenging for some especially locally owned bookstores. Many are closing that chapter and neighborhood storefronts and shutting their doors, waterworks bookstore. And the Hoya has been in business for 125 years. The last 70 in the same building on Gerard Avenue, the owners believe it's the oldest family owned bookstore in America, but then the building's owner accepted and unsolicited $8.3 million cash bid from someone wanting to buy the building. Suddenly its very existence was up in the air until a local group decided to buy it back. Our producer, Pat Finn spoke with John Wilkins, a feature writer for the San Diego union Tribune about what has turned into a happy ending here's that interview. Speaker 8: 29:36 So these days we're used to hearing about independent bookstores and other small businesses closing. And yet here we have an entirely different outcome for a Warwick's in LA Jolla. So John start by telling us about where Wix for those who don't know what's its history. Speaker 9: 29:54 Well Warwick's has been on Gerard Avenue there in that same spot for almost 70 years. It was started back in Minnesota by William Warwick, back in 1896. And he opened the store there, moved it to Iowa briefly and then came to LA in 1939. And it's been in that same location since 52. And now we're in the fourth generation of the family that has owned the bookstore, Nancy Warwick and her sister. Cathy are the current owners who took over in 2001. Speaker 8: 30:22 That's pretty remarkable. So this current chapter in the Warwick saga bill begins when Nancy was negotiating a new lease. So what happened? Speaker 9: 30:34 That's right. She was negotiating a new lease. She thought they were getting fairly close to some kind of a lease. You know, everybody's been a little bit nervous about doing anything long-term because of the COVID pandemic. Everybody's a little bit uneasy about what the future will bring, but she thought they were getting close. And then she got word that the owners, longtime family and loyal to, you know, the Cory family, which could own that building for over a hundred years, they were going to sell it for 8.3 million and Nancy Warwick was given 15 days to beat that offer or a facing uncertain future with a new landlord. Speaker 8: 31:06 Well, coming up with, uh, 8.3 million in two weeks is not an easy task for most anybody. And then Jack McGrory found out that we're working for probably have to leave. So remind our audience of who Jack McGrory is. Speaker 9: 31:23 Well, Jack McGrory was a long time, uh, manager at the city of San Diego. So he's been a mover and shaker in the community for a long time. He now works for a real estate investment company and he is a customer of Warwick's. He heard about this deal going down with the building being sold by Steve of lawyer, who is a real estate broker, who was the gentleman who was negotiating the lease for Nancy Warwick. So he is also, he, he and his family were also customers of the store. So the guy who had a personal interest in what was going to happen there. So they immediately began phoning around to people. They knew in the community who they thought might be interested in, perhaps helping out and pretty soon, uh, in short order they put together a group of about three dozen people. Most of them from the Hoya who agreed to put up the money to outbid the other, the other group. Speaker 9: 32:15 And by the golden, that speaks to the way, uh, small businesses and bookstores in commute in particular can have a particular special place in communities. You know, they're places where people go to exchange ideas to be together. Uh, so, uh, when, when one of them is threatened, communities will sometimes rally to try to save them. And we've seen that happen before in San Diego. You know, if you remember book catapult in self-park park a couple of years ago, um, one of the co-owners there had serious health problems and it looked like, um, the star was going to have to close and a bunch of other booksellers and community mentors got together and volunteered their time to work in the store and keep it open. So bookstores have a special place in the hearts of many people in communities. Speaker 8: 33:00 So many small bookstores have not been able to be saved. W what's been the dynamic about this because many have gone under recently, but this started before the pandemic, right? Speaker 9: 33:13 Yeah. I mean, it's been, it's been going on for a while on the pressures on small businesses in general are our bookstores are not immune to those, but of course, bookstores have been under serious threat for some time since 1989. Um, you know, there were about maybe 4,000 bookstores in America back then by 2008, we were down to about 1400. But, uh, since then, uh, in the last decade plus of those numbers have rally, we're now probably over 2,500 bookstores in America and the bookstores have done that by emphasizing the things that they do best the hand selling, where you go into a store and a bookseller will chat with you for a few minutes and find out what your interests are, what kind of books you've enjoyed in the past. And we'll steer you to some titles and they've emphasized, uh, author events and other things in the stores, humidity set, rallied around them. Speaker 9: 34:04 We remember, uh, books like Warren Brock's, uh, bookstore downtown, you know, there used to be seven or eight bookstores downtown. There are any now, you know, there used to be almost a dozen bookstores along, uh, Adams Avenue in normal Heights. You know, in recent years we've also seen bookstores come in, you know, verbatim and, uh, North park diesel has opened up a branch in Del Mar you mentioned run for cover and ocean ocean beach, which went out of business as a physical store, but it's still online and supply books. And in point Loma mysterious galaxy Clermont looked like it might have to go out of business when it lost its lease as well. A couple of local residents stepped up to buy that bookstore and move it to midway district. Speaker 8: 34:46 Yes. I I've been getting emails about save mysterious galaxy buy books online from them. Speaker 9: 34:54 Yeah. You know, in the pandemic of course has been really hard on bookstores too because cause retailing shutdown. So those are special things that I mentioned earlier that had helped, uh, rally the fortunes of bookstores. They lost those kinds of things. They couldn't do author events. They couldn't do the hand selling in the same way, but again, communities across the country have rallied. Um, and uh, they have turned to online ordering for a lot of these bookstores. In fact, some bookstores in other cities have reported, uh, that, that the pandemic year was one of the best years they've ever had. Speaker 8: 35:25 Well, that's amazing. I've been speaking with John Wilkins of the San Diego union Tribune. John, thank you so much. Thanks for having me, Pat. Speaker 3: 35:46 This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Jade Hyman. We are starting to emerge from the world of purely virtual arts and culture events, but it still might be some time before we get anywhere near a sense of back to normal, especially for live music, venues, nightclubs, and rock and roll tours, even. So San Diego musicians continue to record and release new music and KPBS arts editor and producer Julia Dixon Evans is here to talk about some brand new songs from local bands and welcome Julia. Speaker 10: 36:20 Hi Maureen. Thanks for having me. Speaker 3: 36:22 The San Diego music awards recently announced their 2021 nominations who caught your attention on that list. Speaker 10: 36:29 Well, some of the results are a bit predictable, but there were still plenty of new acts and discoveries. For sure, for me, first timer Kelly Nash was one of them. He was nominated for best R and B funk or soul album for his latest CP called transcendence. It was released in November, but might've escaped a lot of people's notice. It's a really great five song release and a standout for me as the ballads stolen Speaker 11: 37:07 [inaudible] Speaker 10: 37:07 Lilting and effortless and such a good showcase for Nash's really excellent and versatile vocals. And I especially love the use of crunchy guitar layered over some synth, Oregon. And it also has a nice summary dose of doo-wop backing vocals. Speaker 11: 37:34 [inaudible] Speaker 3: 37:38 By Kahlil Nash from his San Diego music award nominated EAP transcendence. Next is some experimental pop who tell us about the San Diego based duo Valcom and their new album linchpin. Speaker 10: 37:52 Yeah. Vacuum is the musical project of Natalia Padilla and Kelly Riddick with Mexican and Israeli roots and linchpin is their debut falling. That album is sweeping it's inventive and it's lash. I instantly thought of Cocteau twins, maybe a dash of Bjork when I first listened to it. And my favorite track is the latest single called golden love. It has really stunning and layered vocals against a pretty textured backdrop of electronics downs and the lyrics are fragmented and really poetic. And while it's a love song and kind of a quieter option, it also feels like the heart of the album, the entire album is beautiful and there are even a few recent videos for some of these tracks and they're all really well-made, it's definitely worth checking out those videos. Speaker 11: 38:59 [inaudible] Speaker 3: 39:01 That's golden love by them from their debut album linchpin. We moved now from experimental pop to sound art, Mexico city born and San Diego based Francisco. Emma has a new album of compositions called treatise on violence. Tell us about that. Speaker 10: 39:19 Yeah. So Francisco, who many of us know as Francisco Morales, the gallery director for the front gallery in Santa Sedro, he took a bunch of sound recordings while he was at that bread and salt space in Logan Heights. And then he built those sounds into songs into these compositions. And each piece has really distinct like a separate movement. And the larger work is about the ways violence exists in society. And my pick from the album is time. It's the closing track and it's a reflection on incarceration and what being incarcerated does to our concept of time. The vocals are by Monica Camacho and it's pretty mesmerizing. It's gentle at first, just a solo repeated vocalization of the word time, but then it feverously builds into something that's kind of transport Speaker 3: 40:30 Time from Francisco MAs brand new release, treat us on violence. And speaking of time, how about something that's very of the moment from the strawberry moons. Their new song is called love in the time of virus. Speaker 11: 40:56 [inaudible] Speaker 10: 40:57 The strawberry moons are an indie pop group featuring vocalist Amy Jacobs. And they just put out this new video love in the time of virus. It's very COVID era, but it's not too cheesy or silly about which I personally welcomed. It's warmly funny and also devastatingly sad all at the same time. The video is kind of this time capsule for this really strange period. Not necessarily because of anything specific, but because it's just really kind of dark and lonely and not afraid to lean into heartbreak. That's very 20, 20, 20, 21. To me, there's this refined melancholy to it. And it's really just a beautiful way to Mark this time period. Speaker 11: 42:03 [inaudible], Speaker 3: 42:03 That's love in the time of virus by the strawberry moons. And finally, how about some soul? Julia, tell us about the one thing by Cory Gillis. Speaker 10: 42:14 This one is part of the Alfred Howard writes songs with friends series, which is now really close to 100 songs deep. This was written by Howard, along with Quin Devoe and performed by singer Corey Gillis. He was part of the San Diego gay men's chorus. And I have to say it's an instant favorite from this whole project, which is saying a lot because of the songs with friends series has consistently delivered such incredible songwriting into the world this last year. And this soul Anthem is deceivingly simple, but it has plenty of power and heart. It's a love song if a little bit more thoughtful with a paired down production that really just lets the song shine through. And when Alfred Howard posted about this on Instagram, I have to paraphrase somebody in the comments who said Grammy awards. Listen, Speaker 11: 43:02 I have perfect. [inaudible] Speaker 3: 43:25 That's the one thing by Corey Gillis, part of the Alfred Howard writes songs with friends project now for more music and arts recommendations, be sure to sign up for the weekly KPBS arts slash arts, where you can also find links to stream or to buy any of these tracks. I've been speaking with KPBS arts editor and producer, Julia Dixon Evans. Julia, thank you so much. Thank you, Mark. Speaker 11: 44:08 [inaudible] the one thing that's true. [inaudible].

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The CDC issued new guidance that says fully vaccinated people can ditch masks indoors, in all but the most crowded settings. This follows Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement that the state’s mask mandate would end on June 15 though there will still be some rules about masks indoors. Plus, a massive affordable-housing apartment complex sale is prompting concern that the properties won’t remain affordable. And, Warwick’s bookstore in La Jolla has been in business for 125 years, but after the building it’s located in was sold, its future was uncertain until the community stepped in. Finally, discover new music for May from San Diego acts.