One Dead, 15 In Custody After Suspected Smuggling Boat Dropped Passengers Off La Jolla Coast
Speaker 1: 00:00 The crisis behind a rise in deadly maritime smuggling. Speaker 2: 00:04 It's right here right now in our neighborhoods on our backyard. And we have a moral responsibility to deal with it. Speaker 1: 00:11 I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen Kavanaugh. This is KPBS mid-day edition. Some public health experts, warn lifting mask restrictions as risky. We're likely to see these networks of outbreaks among people who think that these precautions aren't necessary. Plus San Diego County takes on environmental justice and Julian was recently named a dark sky community that's ahead on midday edition Speaker 1: 01:01 For the second time in a week. And the third time this month, a suspected smuggling operation has occurred off the coast of San Diego. Early this morning, eight people were rescued from the waters off of the Hoya and the San Diego fire department has reported one death related to that incident. As these events become more common, there are more questions about why so many people are making the dangerous journey in the first place here to discuss the larger issues at play is university of San Diego professor of Mead EV welcome. Hi Jay. Nice to be with you. This morning's incident is the third of its kind this month. Why are we seeing such a marked increase in these kinds of incidents? Speaker 2: 01:39 Well, we've got what we've got as an overlapping set of crises and a really challenging situation. On the one hand, we've got a regional refugee crisis in central America and that, and that we've seen little bits of, uh, going back several years. Now, you could go back to 2014 when we had all the unaccompanied minors for the first time. You can think about the caravans from the fall of 2018. Uh, and we're seeing kind of another wave of that, but on top of that, we've got the crisis caused by the pandemic and the fact that the economic impact of that while it's what seems seems to have eased here in the United States, it's still really, really acute in Mexico and in central America. So we have sort of a new driver, um, uh, of migration. And on top of that, we've got some stuff that's very particular to, um, uh, specific places in the region. Speaker 2: 02:29 So we've got a series of hurricanes, uh, in central America and we've got an ongoing security crisis in Mexico. That seems to be getting worse rather than better. Uh, and then we've got a whole lot of political uncertainty in the region. So you sort of add all that up together and we have, you know, kind of a classic existing refugee crisis. Then we have more of an economic situation that's forcing people to migrate. So a lot of the single adults we're seeing right now, I think they're much more economic migrants than refugees. And then you have the fact that the border was shut down for a year and you have pent up demand and you have pent up demand in an immigration system. That's really overwhelmed to the breaking point. You know, we have 1.3 million pending immigration cases, uh, in the United States right now. That means that, you know, the wait for an individual hearing in a lot of places is five years. So if you put all that together, you've got some really desperate people, uh, who don't feel like they can wait and very, very little opportunity for them to come, uh, in a safer way. Speaker 1: 03:32 And as you mentioned, these maritime crossings are incredibly dangerous. Is there any particular reason why someone would attempt to cross by sea as opposed to over the border? I mean, what are the comparative dangers of those two methods? Speaker 2: 03:46 Yeah. You know, it's, it's, it's hard to show like sort of like a real honest risk analysis, but I think that's actually the point, the point is if you're a prospective asylum seeker, prospective migrant in Tijuana, you don't actually have the tools to make a rational risk assessment. What you have is a low level representative of organized crime coming to you and offering you a service it's as dangerous as crossing on foot in the desert and maybe in some cases more. So, I mean, there's a little more luck I would say at play in crossing Etsy because of the importance of weather conditions, you know, cause if you cross in a panga and you happen to make it, it might be a relatively smooth, but herring voyage. But if the weather goes wrong or an outboard engine goes out and you're in an open boat with no positive flotation out of sight of land on the Pacific ocean, you're in real trouble. Speaker 1: 04:40 It's important to note that these kinds of events don't come out of a vacuum and that an increase in activity at our borders is the result of everything from regional political instability to policy decisions made here in the United States in short, what kind of lessons can we learn now to ensure that we're not dealing with similar issues in the years to come? Speaker 2: 05:00 Um, we've gotta be less reactive and more proactive. I mean, I think that's the simple answer. I mean, in a situation like this, we should be declaring a refugee crisis. We should be mobilizing the full resources of FEMA to house and secure people. Uh, the reality is that most of the people who are coming here are either coming, seeking our asylum or coming to work. So it's not a threat to the United States. And if we look, continue to look at it through a security framework, and we're always worried about apprehending people, that's a really expensive and inefficient way to do it. Uh, we've got a set up some, you know, we need, we need refugee camps in Mexico, frankly, we need positive screening of refugees. We need the ability of people who really feel like they need to flee their home countries to try to get help in a U S consulate or embassy abroad or in another third country. Speaker 2: 05:46 Uh, and we need to get together with our regional partners and deal with this for the crisis that it is. You know, the one thing that the pandemic has taught us more than anything else. And it's the lesson we seem not to want to learn is that we have a common interest screen. One world, a pandemic by definition is something that affects the whole world. This migration is not only related to the pandemic, but it's, but it's the other side of the same question. We're part of an integrated world. We cannot wall off this problem. And the seaborne migrants are a great example of that. If you want to live in an interconnected world and click to buy stuff and have it show up at your doorstep. And if you want to have somebody who's going to harvest your vegetables and clean your house and work in your restaurant, and you want to be part of a global civilization that we have to take care of the people who are on the margins of that, this the one good thing about this. If there's any silver lining, is that it shows us that lesson, that we're talking about a refugee crisis. It's not far away in some other continent that you know, comes up at the end of the news when ITN breaks in to talk about some, some someplace that none of us could find on a map it's right here right now, uh, in our neighborhoods on our backyard. And we have a moral responsibility to deal with it. Speaker 3: 06:54 Speaking with university of San Diego professor [inaudible] professor, Speaker 2: 06:58 Thank you so much for joining us. Thanks very much for having me Jade. Speaker 3: 07:08 Some of the confusion about the new mask requirements is over both the state of California and San Diego County have designated June 15th as the date fully vaccinated. Californians can go without a mask in most indoor settings. By that time it's expected that more than half of San Diego's eligible population will be fully vaccinated, but not everyone agrees that the vaccination numbers or demographics are where they need to be to keep everyone safe. Three public health experts, right invoice of San Diego that lifting the mass requirement at this time could result in further risk of infection for the most vulnerable among us. Joining me is one of the authors of that opinion, Rebecca fielding Miller, a UCLA epidemiologist and assistant professor at UC San Diego school of medicine's division of infectious diseases and global public health. And Rebecca, welcome back to the program. Hi there. Thanks for having me back again. Speaker 3: 08:07 Now you say that theoretically, you have no argument with fully vaccinated people being able to go without masks, but you say it's not that simple in the real world. What situations don't these new guidelines take into account? Yeah, that's, that's absolutely correct. And I think it's important to be clear that for people who are fully vaccinated, who are two weeks past their second shot, if they got Madonna or Pfizer or their one and done shot, if they got Johnson and Johnson, there is a very, very low risk of catching the virus and of passing it on to somebody else. The problem is when we look at who has and has not been vaccinated in San Diego County, there's some real differences by age and by demographics, especially race and ethnicity. And so when these new guidelines basically boil down to an honor code and we, we want people to, you know, be honest about their vaccination status in public, but we have no way of knowing. Speaker 3: 09:09 And we know that certain behaviors cluster together, people who are most likely to think that they don't need to get vaccinated, that it's not important. Those are the same folks who are going to think that it's not important to wear a mask. And also that it's not important to socially distance. And so we're likely to see these networks of outbreaks among people who think that these, um, precautions aren't necessary. And then it's also potentially more likely for that infection to spread to groups of people who haven't had the opportunity to get vaccinated yet. Now there is a hope that the, sort of the bonus of being able to take your mask off will inspire more people to get vaccinated. Do you think that's the case? You know, I, I can never rule it out. I'm sure there are a couple of people who maybe if they were teetering, um, this would push them over. Speaker 3: 09:57 But I think if you know the opportunity to not get COVID-19 and spread it to the people around you, hasn't big enough been a big enough incentive if, um, stickers and donuts, haven't been a big enough incentive then this, um, I don't see the opportunity to take your mask off as a real incentive, especially if there's not going to be a check, if you can just take it off anyway, and nobody will ever know, Cal OSHA is considering relaxing mask is and social distancing requirements for fully vaccinated workers. So do you think that's also opening the door to more problems? I worry about workers in particular, you know, a good friend of mine manages a CVS and it's not his job to have to arbitrate if somebody is vaccinated or not. If somebody comes in without a mask into his place of business, it's unclear how providers, um, employers would enforce vaccination status. Speaker 3: 10:53 We don't have a universal vaccine registry to check that against. And I worry that once again, people who are sort of at the highest risk are going to face the most harm from this, then, you know, the overall percentages of people who've gotten vaccinated is looking pretty good. But tell us more about what you say those numbers. Don't tell us that that is the whole story about communities that are being left behind. Yeah, so San Diego County and the state of California really have done an amazing job. When we look at the numbers, I think as of today, about 65% of eligible, San Diego ones have gotten at least one shot. So I, I do think it's reasonable that we will get to that 70% Mark pretty soon. But if we look at the data and we look at how different groups by race ethnicity have gotten vaccinated, we can see that only 31% of African-American San Diego, teens 12, and over have gotten vaccinated compared to 52% of white San Diego. Speaker 3: 11:54 Um, we can see there's a really big gap between, um, vaccine uptake in folks who identify as native American. And so even though in the aggregate, these numbers are small. I think only about 3% of the population is African-American in San Diego. Those 3% of people are still important. And we want to make sure that we're not leaving anybody behind as we move forward as a society. So even though we see good numbers of fully vaccinated people, if unvaccinated people also decide to take off their masks, what kinds of risks are we looking at? One of the biggest concerns is we know that there's a lot of these variants they're called variants of concern. So this one that we saw first in the UK, [inaudible] that now makes up about 60% of cases in San Diego. This variant that we're seeing associated with outbreaks in India. Speaker 3: 12:45 Um, uh, the variant we've seen first identified in South Africa, and we know that some of these are a little bit better at evading the antibodies that the vaccine makes. And so the more opportunities the virus has to replicate, the more opportunities that has to replicate it in a way that can help innovate the vaccines. And so if there are clusters of people spending time together, um, who are unvaccinated, who are, um, sort of, uh, helping the virus replicate with in themselves that provides more opportunity for these variants to come about that could potentially escape the vaccine for everybody. And put us back at the beginning. Again, you wrote this piece in voice of San Diego with two other public health colleagues. Do you all intend to keep your masks on in indoor settings after June 15th? I certainly do. Yeah, in public and for a couple of reasons, one, you know, I've gotten my vaccine. Speaker 3: 13:42 Um, my husband has gotten his vaccine, but I have a three-year-old. Um, and she is not fully vaccinated. She's three. She goes to childcare. Um, the children she spends time with are not fully vaccinated. And while it's a very, very, very small chance, there is still a chance that, um, I could catch the virus and I could potentially pass it on to her, um, or to the kids in her daycare. And I want nothing to do with that. Um, and also, like I said, it's not retail staff or Barry [inaudible] job to know if I'm vaccinated or not. And if you know me having to wear a mask for an extra five minutes helps somebody else feel a little bit less afraid about their own vulnerability or the vulnerability of somebody they care about. Then that's a really easy choice to make. For me. I've been speaking with UCF epidemiologist, Rebecca fielding Miller, Rebecca. Thank you so much. Yeah. Thank you. This is KPBS mid day edition. I'm Maureen with Jade. Heideman the new members of the San Diego County board of supervisors continue to take County government in new directions. On Wednesday. The board voted unanimously to create an office of climate and environmental justice. It's mission is to consider the impact of climate change and pollution on every community in San Diego. Future actions by the board on environmental issues will be informed by input from the new office. And joining me is San Diego County supervisor Nora Vargas. Welcome to the Speaker 4: 15:23 Program. Thank you. Thank you for having me Speaker 3: 15:25 Now. I believe you propose the creation of this new office. Why did you do that? Speaker 4: 15:30 Yes, I did. Uh, you know, for too long, I believe non-profit organizations, particularly in South County have been taking the lead on these issues related to environmental justice in our communities and organizations like the environmental health coalition and Casa Familia have been doing extensive work to understand and mitigate the problems of, of, um, the contamination and pollution in our communities. And I think it's time, uh, now more than ever for government to actually take responsibility and, and take the lead on these issues. And so the best way to do that is to ensure that we have an office that's dedicated right to environmental and climate justice. What I keep saying is that your zip code should not determine your health and wellbeing. And so we know that everyone in the County of San Diego has a right to clean air, safe, drinking, water, and access to open spaces. And it is our responsibility as a County to take that lead. And that's exactly what this office will do Speaker 3: 16:27 While you all were considering this, what examples to the board here about the impact of pollution on effected communities, Speaker 4: 16:36 Particularly what has happened in communities of North of Oklahoma, North of lemon Grove, spring Valley and Sweetwater communities. Um, you know, those communities have been identified by our, you know, general plan as having higher exposure to industrial and hazard waste to so these and higher levels of air pollution. And so, uh, this is, uh, this is a County wide problem, right? We ha we know from the American lung association, uh, and their reports that in ocean side, more than, you know, a foreign one of people, uh, actually, or living where pollution levels frequently make the air too dangerous to breathe. And in my district and modern Logan and national city, our communities are, you know, ranking top 5% for diesel air pollution in this state. And, and children's asthma hospitalization rates are three times more than the County average, you know, and, and the thing about it is we are very proud of being a border community, right. Speaker 4: 17:28 Um, and we talk about it all the time. But as a result of that in San Ysidro, our residents, um, have been exposed to pollution from vehicles that wait four hours at the port of entry. And so, um, we need to be able to take all of these things into account in this office. We'll be able to really look at things from a perspective of, you know, gathering data, using data, to make decisions we really investing, um, you know, through programs and services from a less lens of environmental justice and really investing in our communities that for too long have been doing the work. What I'm looking for is systemic change in our County, right? This shouldn't be about one supervisor and one boat. This is about long-term systemic change for communities that have been impacted for way too long. Speaker 3: 18:13 Well, so specifically will the new environmental justice office, will it do assessments of impacts on poor communities? Will it be doing its own pollution studies? What will it be doing? Speaker 4: 18:25 Yeah, so it's the environmental and climate justice, uh, office. And so for instance, we will look at data and look at the cumulative impacts of emissions and toxins and the community, the communities, public health, and wellbeing. We're going to look at the County programs through the lens of environmental justice and be very specific, right. Um, when we bring in communities and hear their concerns and make sure that we're implementing policy that reduces exposure, like for instance, to pollution, the office is also going to be able to work with our community partners to be able to do groundbreaking work in the field of advocacy. I think, you know, us coming together with our community partners to advocate at the federal and state level to bring additional resources into our communities, it's going to be very powerful. You know, the work that that I am leading at the County is really looking at everything from a public health care perspective and, and the environment and climate, um, are really at the core of, of how we look at the work that we're doing as we're moving forward. Speaker 3: 19:24 You know, I want to take up something you were saying before about the, the change, the shift that's taking place at the County. Many people say this new office for climate and environmental justice would never have been approved under previous boards of supervisors. How would you describe the shift that's taking place on the priorities of the board of supervisors? Speaker 4: 19:45 Well, I always say to folks why representation matters is not just a hashtag. What we bring to the table is really when you, when you, you know, being as someone who is by national, someone who grew up in this community, um, who has worked at, you know, and, and partner with communities on both sides of the border and in our region, right? I've been on the ground doing this work with organizations like the environmental health coalition for decades and Casa familiar. What we, what happens is we bring a different perspective, right? And together as a board, we're able to elevate, um, issues that may have not been elevated by folks who have not, you know, have, have had these lived experiences. And so I think that's, what's the power of having folks who are from the community, represent us and who understand the needs of the community. Speaker 4: 20:33 And in partnership with community, we are able to bring these initiatives forward that are going to have a longterm, um, impact, uh, for the wellbeing of our communities. And I think that's, that's the big difference, right? That we are, um, bringing up these initiatives that otherwise would have never been heard of because the folks who were on the board before might have had not, might not have been exposed or have had those experiences in the past, I've been speaking with San Diego County supervisor, Nora Vargas. Thank you so much for taking the time out. Thank you. Speaker 1: 21:14 Lost 1 million more jobs than men. Last year. In fact, women were so disproportionately affected by job loss during the pandemic, it was called the sheet session as catchy as the term may be. It highlights all the ways inequality in the workforce impacts women. Jane Gross is vice president of client services at San Diego workforce partnership. She wrote a recent opinion article in the San Diego union Tribune about what it will take for employers to create equity in the workplace and bring women back. She joins us now. Shana, welcome. Thanks for having me. So first let's dig into the inequalities women face in the workforce and how the pandemic made those worse. Speaker 5: 21:56 Well, I think we can all think of, um, friends or family members when, you know, schools shut down, we kind of looked at each other and said, what are we going to do now? And it fell often, uh, to women to figure out with their employers what they were going to do. You know, I'm going to stay home and watch my child, or I need these flexible hours. Um, and, uh, in addition, you know, I think it's important to recognize that not all women in the workplace are moms, you know, many are, um, but women in general tend to be in, um, lower wage, frontline jobs that were most impacted by the recession. Things like hospitality and retail. Um, and so they were losing their jobs or working jobs on the front lines, more exposed to, um, you know, COVID and the things that we were all trying to stay home to avoid. Speaker 1: 22:46 And the U S Bureau of labor statistics really paint a picture for us. Can you talk about the numbers and what they reveal? Speaker 5: 22:55 Yeah, well, um, you know, back in December, they came out and said that, um, in the last month the women had lost 156,000 jobs while men had gained 16,000. Um, and you know, that's not to say that men didn't lose jobs, but they gained more than they had lost overall. And I just think that that's such a stark contrast to show that women are in the kinds of jobs that were most impacted or that women were most likely to step away from the workforce. Speaker 1: 23:29 And earlier you noted many women in the workforce are balancing the challenges of work and caretaking, what type of adjustments have some women had to make during the pandemic? Speaker 5: 23:40 Well, we know that, um, 94% of workers who in went part-time because of childcare needs were women. Uh, so that's, you know, women having to say, I'm going to step back from my career from my job, uh, so that I can take care of my family or sometimes elder care also, I think is really important. Um, the other thing that I think women have really been, um, challenged with always, but particularly during the pandemic is something I've been looking a lot into is, um, the mental load of motherhood. So all of the invisible labor of the thinking and the planning, and, you know, even in the most supportive and progressive households where couples split the chores evenly. And I have to say, I'm very lucky to have a supportive spouse and supportive parents. Um, it's the woman who is thinking about, you know, Oh, school's going to be closed for week in June. I need to make plans. Or Friday is costume day or, um, so-and-so's birthday is coming up. And that mental load, I think on top of all of the mental strain of the pandemic is really, um, impacting women, much more district proportionately than men. Speaker 1: 24:50 And right now, you know, more people are getting vaccinated, schools are looking to reopen. And so our businesses, it seems like we could soon return to a sense of normal. Um, but as we turn this corner, how do you think the workforce may be changed moving forward? Speaker 5: 25:06 Yeah, well, I mean, I think return to work is very dependent on school reopenings um, and, and we're going to see those, uh, continue to be intertwined. I know, um, my husband is a teacher and, uh, when there's one child that's sick in the classroom that entire class closes for two weeks. So even though they've gone back to school, um, and you know, they're meeting in person and at any moment, all of a sudden we have to figure out, Oh, what does childcare look like for these two weeks? And I think we're going to need employers to be flexible and to understand, um, that transition. I think we also, um, have learned that working at home, um, you know, women are incredible and we're able to juggle a lot of things. And so when people are asking for flexible schedules or, um, sometimes predictable schedules is, is what might be more helpful, um, or the ability to work from, uh, to continue to work from home. We've proven that those are very effective and productive, and we're going to need employers to, to work with us, um, and to work with the workforce overall, to implement some of these temporary things that we've put in place and make them more permanent. Speaker 1: 26:15 And you say that the Xi session must be followed by a Shi covery in order for the economy to really bounce back. What do you see happening if employers don't get this right? Speaker 5: 26:28 Well, I think we miss the opportunity to have diverse voices at the table. And, um, women bring with them a wealth of knowledge and experience and insight, and we can be inadvertently, um, sort of, Speaker 6: 26:44 You know, losing that, that perspective and that diversity at the table. And, and we know that when women are engaged in the workplace, there is, um, more productivity, better product. You know, anytime you have diverse voices at the table or diverse representation, the end product is better. Um, and, and more representative of the community in which you work or the community, in my case, at a nonprofit, the community that we serve. And so I think, uh, if we don't pay attention to figuring out ways to get women intentionally back to the workplace, uh, we'll really be missing out on that voice. Speaker 1: 27:19 I've been speaking with Shana gross vice president of client services at San Diego workforce partnership. Shana, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you for having me. Since the pandemic began, workers in the grocery delivery business have been trying to organize to get more protections and benefits workers at the venture capital backed Bay area company, imperfect foods just voted to form a union, but as KQ ed, Sam Harnett reports, their efforts, can't be a model for all on-demand grocery delivery workers. Speaker 7: 27:55 Imperfect foods has always pitched itself as a company, trying to make the world a better place, want to know an easy way you can stock up on grocery items. You won't find anywhere else, Speaker 1: 28:04 All supporting a great cause. It's called imperfect foods. The grocery delivery service on a mission to build a better kinder food system Speaker 7: 28:12 And perfect food started by letting customers purchase produce. That's not quite perfect and would otherwise end up donated to food banks or even in the trash, the pitch didn't just attract customers, but also employees like Oakland, resident Christian and ski. Speaker 6: 28:25 For me, one of the big draws of coming to work for this company in the first place was it's explicitly green mission. Speaker 7: 28:32 Also he'd be an employee, not a contractor like grocery delivery workers for Instacart or Amazon owns whole foods. Speaker 6: 28:37 Yeah. It's like one of the good differentiators right out the gate of imperfect foods versus other companies. Speaker 7: 28:43 The pandemic business has been booming. The company just received another $95 million in venture capital, bringing its total investment up to 229 million. But as the company has grown, so has tensions with workers. Speaker 6: 28:57 They were unorganized. That's what bugged me. The most. Speaker 7: 29:01 Susan Gomez is a delivery worker in Sacramento like Zinsky Gomez voted for the union. He says one of the issues was the way the company started pushing drivers to work. Saturdays. The company said Saturdays weren't mandatory, but several drivers I spoke with said it was made clear. They were expected to work. Speaker 6: 29:16 Well. Sometimes I have to go to East Bay MSF and work or Mercedes or Reno. They'll send you over there. And you know, you get like a hundred plus boxes. We were getting out late and, uh, we had to be ready to for the next day, Speaker 7: 29:32 She used to Gomez says they didn't get raises or any extra hats. Speaker 6: 29:36 We didn't get it, not even a dollar more or anything. So that's what was getting me mad. And a lot of people that we see them growing, but we don't, you know, we don't, we don't go with them. Speaker 7: 29:49 Employees voted to join the United food and commercial workers union. It was a title election, 28 workers in favor 23 against the company, challenged the results with the national labor relations board and LRB, which is a common anti-union delay tactic. The company declined an interview with KQBD, but in a blog post, the CEO wrote we can and will do better at collaborating directly with our employees and resolving our issues. Speaker 6: 30:15 This is definitely not the first supposedly ethical company that is funny. And you drive, it happens all the time. Ruth milkman. Yeah. Speaker 7: 30:21 As a labor sociologist at the city university of New York, after a month, the NLRB throughout the company's challenge and certified the union that makes imperfect foods and outlier among venture capital backed grocery delivery companies, where most workers don't even have an option to form a union that's because proposition 22 makes it illegal for app companies to classify their workers as contracts Speaker 6: 30:44 Under current lot gig workers. If they're independent contractors or, or even if they're misclassified as independent contractors, they're not covered by the national labor relations act at all. So they actually do not have legally the right to collective bargaining. Speaker 7: 30:57 The way prop 22 was written political analysts say it's nearly impossible to overturn, but change could come at the federal level through something called the pro act. Speaker 6: 31:07 Oh, it would, it would, it would totally wipe out prop 22. Speaker 7: 31:11 Winston is a professor of labor history at UC Santa Barbara. He says the Breaux act would make it harder for employers to fight union drives. It would also allow contractors to unionize, but because of their razor thin margin in the Senate, Democrats would need every single Senator to support the legislation right now, not everyone is on board, but even if the ProAct doesn't pass Lichtenstein says what just happened at imperfect foods could be helpful for app workers in California who want a form, a youth, Speaker 6: 31:39 If a group of workers who do the same work, who are defined as employees unionized, that will have a large impact on, on both the, the sort of the impulse for the other workers to unionize and also in a legal and political, uh, realm as well. Speaker 7: 31:56 One's department of labor has already openly rebuked proposition 22. And now with imperfect foods, it has an example of workers at a venture backed grocery delivery company who are not only employees, but also have a union Speaker 1: 32:09 That was KQ D Sam Harnett reporting many important events of our lives like weddings and Kings and ghettos were put on hold during the pandemic. And it hit the event, industry hard KPBS reporter Alejandra, Ron gal talks with some Chula Vista merchants who are eager to get back to work along third Avenue in downtown Chula Vista since a row of restaurants, businesses. And it's Speaker 5: 32:40 Also a go-to spot for people looking to planning wedding or celebration. These businesses are picking up following a brutal year of pandemic restrictions from party photographers. There was no business for us to party bus rental companies, churches are closed. Restaurants are closed, dress shops, tuxedo shops, DJs, catering companies, and entire industry completely shut down. Speaker 8: 33:05 It was so sad and I was so scared of losing my business. And this is a family business where my kids helped me. Speaker 5: 33:13 Hernandez is the owner of illusion hall. She says the party venue she's been running for a decade was on the verge of bankruptcy. Speaker 8: 33:21 Some people don't know, but I had to take the decision to work as a waiter. Uh, I, I, I never believe that I turned to that, but I was trying to find a job. Speaker 5: 33:31 She also ticked out a $60,000 loan for her business. Speaker 8: 33:35 Yes. And when the loans start coming up, I qualify for a loan. And that helps me. That was like my, um, key to continue in this business. Speaker 5: 33:45 After a year of canceled events, Hernandez is scheduled to host a string of parties starting this summer Speaker 8: 33:51 Ready mom, because now I am very, very busy because I had 50, almost 50 events waiting. Speaker 5: 33:58 She marked the turnaround with an open house on Sunday, giving clients a feel of what their dream day can look like. Angelo dosha has a tuxedo shop across the street from illusion hall. He says the reopening of the party halls is a good sign. As he knows, people will be looking for formal wear, Speaker 6: 34:17 But able today, more people coming up, more people coming in. Now, Speaker 5: 34:21 The majority of Roche has income comes from quincenera as a celebration of a girl's 15th birthday. He says 90% of his clients are Latino. Speaker 6: 34:31 Yes, his son, teen, especially for the spiny people. It's very important to have that kind of thing. Speaker 5: 34:37 Rochester says it's loyal customers that are keeping him afloat out of 50 events. He had scheduled last year. He says only one asked for their money back. And the remainder 49 have rescheduled for this year. Speaker 6: 34:51 My costume at our old customers, I have a customer for 20 years, 20 years, they come in back. They do some quinceanera later on. They come in for the wedding, layered on. They come in for another event. Speaker 5: 35:05 Other store owners aren't as fortunate Mito [inaudible] the owner of Margo's boutique says he has an entire demographic of clientele. He hasn't been able to reach about 30 to 40% of my customers come from Tijuana to look for dresses here. It's a lot of people [inaudible] says he's had several customers looking for prom dresses. It's an added bonus. He wasn't expecting to see this year with the uncertainty of high school. As the Speaker 8: 35:38 Event industry begins to salvage what's left of this year. Hernandez says she's just grateful to have made it through. Now. I I'm. I'm happy that I didn't stop. I'm happy that I didn't go to bankruptcy, but it's going to take us maybe year and a half or two years to go back to that idea where we was before anemia, Alexandra, and Hill KPBS news. Speaker 3: 36:11 This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Jade Hyman as pandemic restrictions ease up many San Diego ones. Can't wait to get back into the bright nightlife of the city, but for one area of the County, nightlife has gotten darker and a lot more beautiful. The town of Julian was recently named an official dark sky community. Just the second one in California after Borrego Springs, after a lengthy preparation, including enacting new outdoor lighting ordinances. Julian received the designation from the international dark sky association. Now, in addition to Julian's traditional rustic charm, visitors can gaze at a new clearer vision of the heavens journey may is Lisa will. She's physics and astronomy professor at San Diego city college and resident astronomer at the fleet science center. Lisa, welcome Speaker 9: 37:05 Come to the program. Thank you for having me on, Speaker 3: 37:08 Can you try to describe the difference between looking up at the night sky and San Diego with what it looks like and Julia, now that it's a dark sky community. Speaker 9: 37:18 When you go outside at night in a large metropolitan area like San Diego, the light pollution washes out the faintest stars in the sky. So if you and I were to go outside tonight, while they're cooperating and look up at the sky, we would see, um, a couple of dozen, several dozen of the brightest stars of the sky, but we'd be losing out on the fainter details, uh, the Milky way going across the sky, the fainter stars that build up the constellations. And it's just, it's a very different experience. You're almost overwhelmed by the number of stars there are because we're just not used to seeing that many from a city. And that's what having a designated dark sky community like Julian will make available to people. Now Speaker 3: 38:01 Adding that dark sky designation is quite a process. So what did Julian have to do to get Speaker 9: 38:07 Well, Julian hoped to follow in the footsteps of Borrego Springs, which is the other community in California that has their dark sky designation. Um, and they saw what Borrego Springs did, but they had to go even further because it turns out to that San Diego County has been kind of lagging behind the times in terms of lighting ordinances. So they had to work with the County to get lighting ordinances approved, but also that sometimes fixing light pollution can be kind of simple, like making sure the light is directed where you want it to, um, changing the color of the lights from the sort of bright blue led lights that we're all getting used to, to the warmer colors that don't scatter as much in the nighttime sky and cause air glow. So, um, that's how they worked to try to make their sky darker. I'm going to ask you, Speaker 3: 38:56 You're just a little bit more about what light pollution, how it affects our ability to see the stars, because going out in the city at night, looking up the sky is beautiful. I mean, it, it's pretty, you see some stars, but when you go to a dark sky community or you go out some rural places, it's a whole different experience. Speaker 9: 39:17 Yeah, it really is. And I think it's a statement about how few people actually get that experience anymore. If you remember, there was several years ago, there was that large power outage over all of Southern California. And I had students, you know, contact me saying I'd never seen the sky like that. We should schedule a power outage like this once a month, when you go outside at night, a light pollution affects your ability to see the sky in a couple of different ways. Uh, first of all, there's just the glare, uh, bright lights, uh, don't ever let your eyes get dark adapted. Um, and what I mean by that is that your eyes can see better. The longer you're outside in the dark. It takes about 15 minutes for your eyes to get truly dark adapted. So if you're in a place with a lot of clutter of lights, your eyes never get truly dark adapted so that you can see the fainter stars in the sky. Speaker 9: 40:05 But the bigger problem in large metropolitan areas like San Diego is a sky glow where the lights of the city, uh, the light gets scattered in the air above the city and it causes what we see as light domes in the distance. And so, you know how, if you're coming into a large city, you can see the sky get brighter in the direction of the city before you ever see any of the buildings in the city. That's over us all the time in a large metropolitan area. And it just makes the fainter stars invisible to us. So we really only see about the couple of brightest stars in the sky. If you're really truly surrounded by light pollution, is Julian's dad, Speaker 3: 40:43 Dark sky, uh, going to help astronomers at Palomar or other observatories? Speaker 9: 40:49 Well, it certainly doesn't hurt when you're at a observatory and you look out at the horizon, you can see the light domes above cities in the distance. And so any city that makes an effort to decrease the light pollution will be a help to the professional observatories of the area. Uh, so in San Diego County, we have a Palomar, we have a Mount Laguna observatory, and any efforts will help that, uh, the astronomers at those facilities see the night sky better. And what about Speaker 3: 41:17 Amateur sky gazers do you expect this will increase visitors Speaker 9: 41:21 To Julian going to certainly hope so, because if you've never had a chance to see a truly dark sky, it's amazing. Most people who live in a city have never seen the Milky way itself, uh, have shown that up to 99% of people living in the United States, don't actually see a truly natural nighttime sky because we all live in cities or close enough to cities that their light pollution is changing. The sky that we see now, Speaker 3: 41:47 You're the fleets resident astronomer and are involved with the local astronomy on tap group. Do you foresee holding events in Julian in the future because of this new dark sky designate? Speaker 9: 41:59 Oh, I would love to. And, uh, you know, Julian already has, uh, people up there dedicated to bringing astronomy to the public, like with their, uh, their star party that they have done and will continue to do. And so, yeah, I'm looking forward to going up there and, uh, experiencing the night sky. I don't say that I can't quite do from here in San Diego Speaker 3: 42:21 Now next week, I believe that there will be a lunar eclipse. Would Julian be a good place to see it? Speaker 9: 42:28 Yes. And so there is a total lunar eclipse on Wednesday, May 26th. Um, it will be visible early in the morning, so it might be hard for some of us of the totality of the lunar eclipse will be from around four 11 in the morning till four 25 in the morning, our time. And it will be partially eclipse before and after that. So Julian might be a great place to go for this because we've had a lot of Marine layer and may gray, uh, here in coastal San Diego. And so if you want a good view of the lunar eclipse, you may need to get away from the coast. So yeah, Julian would be a great place. Speaker 3: 43:01 Do you need to bring a telescope or can you really see things with your naked eye? If you're out in that dark sky community, Speaker 9: 43:08 There are so many things that you can see with the naked eye when you're outside and get dark adapted under a truly dark sky. Um, as we're heading into summer, that's when the Milky way is it's brightest, that band of stars that shows the plane of the galaxy at our sky, you can actually pick up some star clusters faintly with the naked eye, uh, that you can't see, uh, in the city. And so it is completely different. Starlight can be bright enough for you to see by, you know, and that's just not something we ever experienced in a city. Now, Speaker 3: 43:42 Julian and Borrego Springs are official dark sky communities and Anza, Borrego park is a dark sky park. Is there any chance we're about to see a whole sort of dark sky region in San Diego? Okay. Speaker 9: 43:56 You know, I would really love that and there's, uh, not just because of preserving the night sky for all of us to experience, but light pollution is incredibly impactful. It wastes energy because a lot of that light is not necessary. It's not being directed into the places where the light is wanted. Um, it impacts wildlife and, um, health. And so I would love to see a greater movement towards understanding light pollution as the problem that it is. Speaker 3: 44:25 I've been speaking with Lisa will, she's physics and astronomy professor at San Diego city college and resident astronomer at the fleet science center. Lisa, thank you very much. Speaker 9: 44:36 Thank you.