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79th Assembly District Special Election Is A Close Race

Cover image for podcast episode

PHOTO BY MATTHEW BOWLER

Above: A poll worker is pictured at a polling site for the 79th Assembly District special election, April 6, 2021.

La Mesa City Councilwoman Dr. Akilah Weber was close to being elected to the 79th Assembly District seat on Wednesday, a position previously held by her mother, Secretary of State Dr. Shirley Weber. Plus, how California’s restaurants are preparing for a June 15 reopening.. And California will soon allow indoor live performances and events in counties outside the state's most-restrictive reopening tier. Also, the City Council on Tuesday voted to go ahead with Measure C, a March 2020 ballot measure that seeks to fund an expansion through increased hotel taxes even though it didn’t quite garner approval from two-thirds of city voters. Then, a new state law, which allows tenants and nonprofits a 45-day window to match any bid made at a foreclosure auction, provides no money to fund the purchases. Finally, new music from San Diego bands and musicians.

Speaker 1: 00:01 Weber pulls ahead in the race for the 79th assembly seat.

Speaker 2: 00:04 If there is a runoff, we will definitely be in it. And if there's not, then we will be headed to Sacramento.

Speaker 1: 00:11 I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen kavanah. This is KPBS mid-day edition. As businesses reopened a look at how the pandemic has changed the outlook for San Diego restaurants

Speaker 2: 00:31 Every day, that goes by there's restaurants that are just on the edge and many of them fall off. So we fully expect that in between now and June 15, there will be more restaurants that just have to throw in the towel. Okay.

Speaker 1: 00:43 And the everyday struggles of a man coping with long haulers after COVID plus a breakdown of San Diego's measure C that's ahead on midday edition Lamesa city council, woman, Dr. Akilah Weber is leading the race for the 79th assembly district seat with 52% of the early vote count. That's the seat. Her mother, Shirley Weber held from 2012 until being appointed. Secretary of state in December the 79th district includes Southeast San Diego County, Republican Marco Contreras trails behind with 33% of the vote. If Democrat Weber's total remains above 50%, she'll be elected without a runoff. Joining me now is KPBS reporter max Riverland Nadler. Who's been covering the special election. Max. Welcome. Good to be here. How likely is it that we will see a runoff between Weber and Contrarez,

Speaker 3: 01:43 It's going to be really close because the rule is that Weber would have to break 50% plus one vote. And the number of outstanding ballots is 9,500 votes. Um, considering that, you know, there were 55,000 ballots cast, 9,500 would definitely swing any, um, total, a few percentage points. So it's going to be close.

Speaker 1: 02:05 And if there is a runoff, when would it be held?

Speaker 3: 02:08 It would be held on June 8th. So that would be fairly soon. And this seat again has been open since, uh, earlier this year

Speaker 1: 02:16 And what's party preference look like in the 79th district. I mean, if people were to vote along party lines, who would have the advantage

Speaker 3: 02:23 In the 79th district, there's, um, almost 135,000 Democrats, 66,000 Republicans and 80,000 people with no party preference. So that's really where the swing comes in. As we see increasingly in California, less people are identifying as Republicans, but more people are identifying as having no party preference.

Speaker 1: 02:44 Um, how did the other candidates in the race do

Speaker 3: 02:47 I think kind of stuck in line with what the understanding is for how many voters there are, uh, who vote for each party? The democratic votes were split up among three other candidates, not including Weber. So the TCM Mongolia who is backed by labor came in with only eight point 12% right now. Uh, Shane Parmalee, uh, she's a teacher. She came in with 5% and Aramaic glass Blake came in with just 1.2, 2%. Uh, so really this was a dominating performance on the democratic side by Dr. Weber. Uh, one thing to look at when it comes to the other candidates is Laetitia Mongolia was supported by labor in San Diego. She had gotten most of the endorsements and she really came, uh, low, uh, in terms of a vote total here. And that continues a streak for San Diego politicians who are backed by traditional labor coalitions. Um, a lot of successful candidates lately have been building broader coalitions ones that go outside of, of kind of the labor leaders and maybe make more of a connection to, uh, some rank and file members and, and build larger coalitions.

Speaker 1: 03:54 We know Dr. Akilah Weber is the daughter of Shirley Weber who previously held the seat, but remind us of who Dr. Weber is and what she brings to the team.

Speaker 3: 04:02 Dr. Kilo Weber's right now with Lamesa city council, woman. She was also a doctor for many years. Uh she's um, really, you know, just entered politics a few years ago when she came to the Lamesa city council, but has been active there and kind of pursuing many of the similar, uh, priorities that her own mother pursued when she was a state assembly member,

Speaker 1: 04:24 Her mother, Shirley Weber created a lot of legislation to build on like police use of force, a state commission to look into reparations for the descendants of slaves. She was also big on education. Do you have a sense of if Dr. Weber plans to continue building on those issues?

Speaker 3: 04:41 Yeah, absolutely. And, and she's really promoted that she's going to bring her public health background into the conversation because her own mother was an educator. She was a teacher, she was a professor for many years. Whereas Dr. Akilah Weber's background is obviously in medicine. Here's what she had to tell KPBS about the differences, um, between them on these issues.

Speaker 4: 05:02 I am very much about developing healthy individuals, healthy families, and understanding that in order to do that, we must really deal with all of what we call social determinants of health. And so those do align with a lot of the things that my mother was dealing with. She dealt a lot with police reform and criminal justice reform, and we understand that those kinds of things, those stresses, those issues, that disproportionately impact certain communities also have a significant impact on their health.

Speaker 3: 05:29 She then continued on to say to KPBS,

Speaker 4: 05:32 When we talk about education, she was very adamant about closing the academic achievement gap as am I, um, I'm a mother of two African-American boys in elementary school, but I also understand that your education, your K through 12 education establishes your foundation on which you will have to build on later on in life, which determines your future health and the future health of your future families. And so it is extremely important to me that, that we close gap so that every child here in California, that graduates out of our public schools has equal opportunity, equal access.

Speaker 1: 06:06 Let's talk about Marco Contrarez remind us of who he is and what his appeal to voters in the 79th was.

Speaker 3: 06:13 It was running a very social media savvy campaign. He was, um, running, uh, as a, as a big open up California, uh, candidate. And he was against a lot of the lockdown and, and quarantine and social distancing, uh, requirements and suggestions that the local government had made. So he was running kind of in the standard lane of where the Republican party is right now, but I don't think he'll walk away feeling all that disappointed in, in, you know, the amount that he's gotten here. He really held on to the amount of Republicans that are in this district. And, um, he also is a member of a church that flouted social distancing guidelines. So I think he has a, an absolute base here. Um, and I don't know if he's gonna go away, uh, in terms of a political future in San Diego County, as the local San Diego County Republican party kind of looks for it's a new face.

Speaker 1: 07:07 Hmm. And do you have a sense of what the biggest issues are for voters in the 79th assembly district?

Speaker 3: 07:13 Everyone is focused on COVID-19 recovery. So a lot of small businesses went out of business. A lot of people lost their jobs and this entire district was hard hit by the COVID 19 pandemic itself from a health perspective. So it's going to need a lot of the, both, uh, federal funds and state funds that are now funneling down to the local level to actually have a big impact. And the state assembly member will play a huge role in making sure it gets.

Speaker 1: 07:38 And when will the election results be final?

Speaker 3: 07:41 Usually it takes a month to certify an election, but because there's only one, this one special election is going to be done very fast. They should have a certified winner by April 15th. So just eight days from now, and that would give them the requisite amount of time to actually have a run-off campaign, uh, for June 8th. So that's why it's being done really quick.

Speaker 1: 08:00 I've been speaking with KPBS reporter, max Rivlin Nadler, max, thanks so much for joining us. Thank you.

Speaker 5: 08:12 The pandemic shutdowns for businesses across California are almost over after a roller coaster year of partial openings and closings. The state has now set the date June 15th for an almost complete resumption of business activity restaurants, which are among the hardest hit sectors. Now have about 10 weeks to gear up for reopening, but how will the pandemic have changed the post pandemic outlook for eateries in San Diego and across the state? Joining me is John Condi, he's president and CEO of the California restaurant association and jot welcome. Thanks Maureen, for having me, did you expect the governor to scrap the tiers and move for reopening in?

Speaker 6: 08:56 Well, we expected it at some point, but, um, it came sooner than we had anticipated. So it was a welcome surprise for sure.

Speaker 5: 09:02 And what does this decision mean for the restaurant industry?

Speaker 6: 09:06 Well, I mean, in the sort of in the immediate future, it means restaurants will, first of all, have a date, uh, that they can focus on, which has been a great source of frustration, just not having any kind of certainty throughout this pandemic. So here is something that seems to cert. So, you know, um, on the list of things to do the top priority is getting the employees back. I mean, in many cases, retrained hiring employees, um, you know, uh, that let's say, I mean, a lot of restaurants have lost contact with many of their employees, so getting them to come back and retrain is critical and then firing up the supply chain. I mean, we've all sort of heard about, you know, the, the plight of the ketchup packet. Um, I mean, it's not just catch up, there's other, um, you know, commodities in the, in the food space that, um, you know, I think we're all trying to get a handle on what's available and, um, and really what consumers and how will consumers respond to the reopened?

Speaker 5: 10:02 Are you hearing from the members of the restaurant association? What are their big questions and concerns?

Speaker 6: 10:08 I think the challenge, the challenge is right now, um, getting employees to come back, um, and for, you know, there's multiple reasons why, um, that's, that's a challenge and in some respects it's because, um, many employees are, um, receiving unemployment benefits and they, um, you know, they are making a decision that it's more income for them to work less than a certain number of hours and continue to draw on those unemployment benefits. And at some point, of course, those run out. So we may see that change, but then also there's, you know, workers that were in the industry that have just left the industry altogether or moved out of the state or out of the area back in with their parents. So there's a whole lot of variables there, but that seems to be the, the top challenge for restaurants now. And then, you know, there's the unknown variables, uh, especially in areas where, you know, there's, um, a lot of, you know, pre pandemic tourist traffic when the tourists will be back in business districts, when will the business travelers come back? And then certainly even in the downtown urban cores where there's, you know, tall buildings with lots of workers, um, how many of them will be coming back in the office right out of the gate, you know, because our industry, um, you know, we service a lot of these areas and, you know, if there's no customers, no workers where a lot less of them, that's going to fundamentally change, you know, how restaurants, um, you know, adjust to the new normal,

Speaker 5: 11:37 I have a clear understanding of what guidelines will remain in place even after June 15th, for instance, will servers still be wearing masks?

Speaker 6: 11:46 It appears that way for now. I mean, and I guess we will see you at two months away that that, that could change. But, um, uh, but so far, uh, as our understanding is that there will be a, still be a mass requirement, which you, you know, I, for us it's, um, if that's what, what it takes to get us open, then, uh, you know, we, we accept that. Um, and I think that there is also an element to the pent up demand, certainly customers who are going to come back, uh, immediately, but, you know, there's going to be some, um, customers that are maybe a little more timid about getting back into a restaurant. And if, uh, the mask requirement helps them realize that it's safe, um, then we, we accept that. But for now, yeah, it looks like the mask will still be required.

Speaker 5: 12:31 And what about the plastic barriers of those plastic barriers installed during the pandemic? And what about spacing guidelines? Have you gotten any heads up about any of that?

Speaker 6: 12:40 We have not engaged, uh, the health departments since the announcement yesterday. Um, and, and I fully suspect that, um, each health department may do things a little differently. Uh, and, you know, I suspect in the coming days, weeks that, um, the County health departments will be hopefully, um, adjusting their, their protocols for, uh, how restaurants operate

Speaker 5: 13:07 10 weeks, you know, it was still quite a ways away. Do you think there are some businesses, some restaurants that won't be able to hold on that long?

Speaker 6: 13:13 Well, uh, you know, yes. I mean, you know, we hear every day, every day that goes by, um, there's restaurants that are just, you know, um, you know, on the edge and, um, and many of them fall off. So we fully expect that in between now and June 15, there will be more restaurants that just have to throw in the towel. Um, and that's, you know, we, we expected about 30% of the, uh, restaurants that existed prior to this pandemic would probably not survive. And, you know, I think after, after the opening, you're likely to see more restaurants closed and hopefully not a large wave, but restaurants that, you know, perhaps, uh, serve, uh, coffee and breakfast, you know, in an area where the need isn't that great, or the office workers haven't bounced back. So, um, yes, uh, I mean, um, there's likely to be more restaurants that go under, um, thankfully, um, this second round of PPP funding, um, is starting to, um, um, take hold in in California. And a lot of restaurants are, are receiving that funding. And, and, um, our hope is that that will help many of them survive, you know, for the next few months

Speaker 5: 14:24 And San Diego, along with some other counties have moved now into the orange tier. How does that change the restrictions on restaurants right now?

Speaker 6: 14:33 Well, I mean, th that's, um, you know, it was just yesterday, I believe that, uh, San Diego moved into the orange chair, uh, which is, um, significant for our industry in that, um, usually the, when you talk to restaurant owners and he asked them at what, at what capacity are you profitable? And, you know, the answer usually is around 50%. So as these dining rooms have been limited at 25%, and, you know, some restaurants may be lucky enough to have a parklet or a sidewalk or a parking lot that they could use for outdoor dining, but, but, uh, for the most part at 25% capacity, they're losing money. Um, uh, you know, moving to 50% will certainly increase the odds that restaurants can survive to that point where we get to June 15 and restaurants are open, you know, uh, at full capacity. Uh, but you know, getting to 50% is significant.

Speaker 5: 15:25 And I've been speaking with John Conde, he's president and CEO of the California restaurant association, John. Thanks a lot.

Speaker 6: 15:32 Thank you,

Speaker 5: 15:40 California will begin allowing crowds at events like conferences and live performances. The relaxed restrictions apply to both indoor and outdoor events and come as more Californians, get the COVID 19 vaccine cap radios. Mike Haggerty talked with politics, reporter Nicole Nixon, who detailed the upcoming changes

Speaker 7: 16:00 Counties in the red orange or yellow tears can begin hosting larger events, both indoors and outdoors, beginning April 15th. There are a lot of events that fall under these new guidelines, including private gatherings, like receptions events, like conferences and conventions and live performances like theater and sporting events. But there are also a lot of varying rules and capacity limits. It's pretty confusing. Um, but something new with these restrictions is that the state is allowing events to increase their capacity. If they require attendees to prove that they're fully vaccinated or that they had a negative coronavirus test within the previous 24 hours. Now tell us more about these.

Speaker 5: 16:45 So the limits, how many people are we talking about an event like a baseball game?

Speaker 7: 16:51 Yeah, well, it depends on a few things. One of them is what tier your County is in another is the venues regular capacity. So for example, here in Sacramento County, we are in the red tier. That means that Mike, if you and I were to go to an outdoor baseball game, the stands could only be up to 20% full. Then if we were to go to a live theater show, that's indoors, um, at a bit of a smaller venue, those seats could be 10% full. But if the theater company decided to make everybody show proof of vaccination or negative test at the door, then they would be able to fill their theater up to 25% capacity. Okay. And then if we were still bored and we wanted to go to a Sacramento Kings game, we would both have to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test. And the seats indoors could only be 20% full. And that rule requiring proof of vaccination that becomes optional in the orange or yellow tiers.

Speaker 1: 17:51 You're right. That's a lot. The CDC is warning that even though people are getting vaccinated, we should still keep our guard up in the pandemic. Are there concerns that the state's moving too soon to allow crowds?

Speaker 7: 18:04 Yeah. Sue Deedee Myers, uh, the governor's economic advisor. She said that even with these new guidelines, California will still have some of the strictest pandemic rules in the country. But officials say that they're watching these case trends around the country, and that's why they want to make testing and vaccinations part of the state's plans to reopen moving forward.

Speaker 1: 18:26 And what are businesses saying about these new guidelines?

Speaker 7: 18:30 Yeah. A lot of groups are really happy about this. As you can imagine, um, the Sacramento Kings put out a statement, they say, they look forward to welcoming fans back to the golden one center in the near future. But one group is still upset by this it's the convention organizers. They are still waiting for official industry guidelines from the state about safety rules for trade shows and conventions. And they say that they're at a big disadvantage because other States have begun allowing those kinds of events already.

Speaker 1: 19:01 That's cap radios, politics, reporter Nicole Nixon, talking with anchor Mike Haggerty. You're like listening to KPBS midday edition. I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen Cavenaugh. While most Californians are celebrating governor Newsome's reopening announcement. Seeing it as the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, many have forgotten about the thousands in the state who are feeling symptoms of the virus months after they were initially diagnosed. One of the long haulers is Charlie McKone who lives in San Francisco, sunset district, a seemingly healthy 32 year old. He first started feeling symptomatic in March of 2020 when he was short of breath and still has bad days and weeks, the California report hosts all Gonzalez spoke to him about some of his everyday struggles as he copes with not knowing if things will ever get back to normal form.

Speaker 8: 19:59 I still have shortness of breath. Chronic chest tightness is severe fatigue and, you know, orthostatic hypotension and autonomic disorder that has come out of this. And so, you know, talking to me, looking at me by Katie, doesn't look that bad, but the reality is I can't do this for very long and I feel it in spades afterwards. And so all of my energy right now, it goes through getting through the Workday that I am completely flattened at the end of the day. And then Friday through Sunday, I am just a wreck because I'm trying to get through your Workday. Cause it's the one thing I'm trying to hold on to right now. So today is relatively a little bit of a better day, but I can, as I'm talking, it still feels like I have a band around my chest. It feels like a morning, like a 40 pound backpack. And I've become accustomed to that. My life has turned completely upside down. I don't know if I'm going to be better in six months or three years, or if at all. And none of my doctors can tell me that either, you know, I'm somebody who was this time, last year, biking, 10 miles a day. And I'm trying to figure out today whether I can do my 10 minute walk or whether that's going to cause a severe crash and I'm going to pay later.

Speaker 9: 21:12 So what have the doctors been able to tell you?

Speaker 8: 21:17 What they have told me is there is so much we don't know. And the short answer is we don't know what's going on. What we do know is that one, you have post COVID syndrome or post viral syndrome that we are still learning a lot about too. We are 95% confident that there is no significant organ damage. However, there's now reports coming out, that there is a lot of microvascular damage in these patients that can't be detected on traditional heart and lung scan. So I'm not, you know, the cases of fully closed there. And three, we think you're going to get better. However, we know that there is a cohort of patients who develop those viral syndromes who never get better.

Speaker 9: 22:02 How is this affecting you mentally this many months into this,

Speaker 8: 22:07 I've had, you know, to be Frank, a few nervous breakdowns along the way. And I think that time around Thanksgiving was the hardest thing. And I was like, I may not get better anytime soon, but then it starts to creep in your mind. Oh, you know, around the year, Mark, I'm definitely going to be feeling a little bit better. February was the worst month I've had. And so now I'm trying to cope with and set expectations for my work, for my long-term relationship for my family, that I have no idea what the future for me, it looks like right now. And I'm trying to come to terms with that, but it's been a really long arduous journey to get to that point. And I am having to force myself to do things like meditation, where it's uncomfortable to do that because of my physical symptoms.

Speaker 9: 23:00 And I, I assume it makes it particularly hard, but for you and your loved ones and your family, because it is, it is such Terra. Incognita right. There's no analog to this. You can't say, Oh, this is like something else out there in the medical world

Speaker 8: 23:13 To be very morbid. You know, let's say you come down with something like cancer. I think the difference with that is I don't think in any, I'm not trying to, and by any means, you know, compare that to you, come down with a sickness, you're either going to get better or you're not. And I think to now there is some just sort of finality to that. Like, okay, I'm going to do my best, but eventually this is going to end one way or the other. I think what is so difficult is that there is no end in sight for this. And that's why I do feel like it it's like being stuck in purgatory is that I've, I'm sick. And I don't know when or how this is ever going to resolve. And meanwhile, there are no treatments, therapies, or rehabilitation that can even help me manage my symptoms. Totally. McKown thank you so much for sharing your story and for your time. And I wish you the very, very best, thank you so much, Saul. And for shedding a light on what is probably the most important after falls or this pandemic that was San Francisco resident, Charlie McComb,

Speaker 5: 24:15 Who has been living with the symptoms of COVID-19 since March of 2020, he was speaking to the California report, host Saul Gonzalez,

Speaker 5: 24:35 Generally speaking, ballot measures, win or lose depending on the vote count, but then there's that little known third outcome limbo. That's where San Diego's measure C has found itself since last March measure C if you'll recall, was the ballot measure to expand the convention center and provide funds for infrastructure and homelessness by increasing the hotel occupancy tax voters overwhelmingly approved it, but not by the two thirds vote thought necessary. Now in light of a series of court rulings, the San Diego city council has decided to validate a win for measure C and prepare a court case to defend the decision. Joining me is KPBS Metro reporter Andrew Bowen. Andrew. Welcome.

Speaker 10: 25:21 Hi Marine. Thanks.

Speaker 5: 25:23 So since measure C did not get the two thirds votes such tax hikes usually need people thought it was defeated. What's changed.

Speaker 10: 25:33 Well, there's been a series of changes over the last four years in how courts have interpreted the existing law that governs citizens' initiatives. Uh, it really all started with a Supreme court decision in a case out of the city of Upland, about two hours North of here in San Bernardino County, and this involved a citizens initiative to legalize medical marijuana dispensaries, without going too deep into the details. The Supreme court basically found that citizens' initiatives are not subject to the same rule as ballot measures that are proposed by government agencies. They didn't explicitly say anything about taxes and what threshold is needed for approval of attacks. But subsequent rulings have led us further down that path and got us closer to that potential outcome.

Speaker 5: 26:20 Now, how exactly does the city council's vote revive this measure? What needs to happen now?

Speaker 10: 26:26 Well, because of the lingering ambiguity, we haven't gotten a decision from the Supreme court, uh, saying, you know exactly what threshold is needed for these types of taxes. The city is going to ask a judge to confirm its decision or to validate it. If it gets a favorable decision, the trial court, it will then start collecting these additional hotel taxes. It can start issuing bonds to actually start construction on this long, uh, desired, uh, expansion of the convention center, uh, whatever the outcome of the trial court, that decision of course can be appealed. So it could be a while before we have complete clarity on, um, on measure C.

Speaker 5: 27:06 Now the convention center has been closed to events for a year now, and the hospitality industry has suffered a great deal since the pandemic do supporters think measure C is going to help that

Speaker 10: 27:19 They do. And they argue that this would be a shot in the arm for the tourism economy, as it tries to recover from, uh, the, the shutdown, uh, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. I think whatever boost to actual hotel occupancy that we might see from a larger convention center probably wouldn't happen until the actual convention center is expanded and we can start hosting bigger conventions. Uh, so, you know, the, there would definitely be, uh, additional economic activity say from the construction, uh, and the actual, um, jobs that come from that. Um, we could also again see more immediate funding for homelessness and affordable housing, which is the second largest area of funds that a measure C would actually give money to.

Speaker 5: 28:05 Now, there were three members of the city council who voted against validating measure. C why did they vote? No,

Speaker 10: 28:12 They say and point out correctly that the city's ballot materials and out to voters said that measure seeing needed a two thirds majority. And that was based on kind of a conservative interpretation of what the courts had decided at that point in time, they say, you know, voters were told this measure needed a super majority, and that the council deciding a year after the election, otherwise is a betrayal of the democratic process. Now supporters of the council's action on Tuesday argue that the California constitution and the court's interpretation of the constitution certainly matter a whole lot more than whatever is in, uh, the ballot materials that voters receive. And they say that no one really votes yes or no on a tax measure based on what the threshold for approval is. Rather, they just base their decision on whether they think the tax is a good policy or not.

Speaker 5: 29:07 How close did measure C come to getting that two thirds, majority vote

Speaker 10: 29:11 Very close. It w it passed with a little over 65% of the vote. So tantalizingly close to that two thirds, majority that it needed, and that perhaps gives a political booths to supporters of measure C it makes it tougher to argue that the council in declaring that measure C is approved is really betraying the will of voters. When the overwhelming majority of voters, uh, supported measure C um, opponents would just counter that. It doesn't really matter how close to the two thirds majority they came. It doesn't matter whether measure C is good or bad policy. It just matters that they can see that the city is consistent with, um, what it's telling voters and kind of sticks to its argument that it, that it made a year ago when ballot materials were submitted.

Speaker 1: 29:57 And do city leaders think this issue will wind up before the state

Speaker 10: 30:01 Supreme court? Well, so far the Supreme court has declined a, uh, to review a case out of San Francisco that would have kind of settled this question. Uh, there are some other cases that are, that have made, uh, gotten decisions at the trial court level that could be appealed up to the court of appeal. And let's say two courts of appeal come to different conclusions. Then I think the Supreme court would step in. Um, but it's possible we could get clarity with no Supreme court ruling. Uh, it really just depends on, on how all of those different courts throughout the state of California, uh, come down on, on these issues. And I've been speaking with KPBS, Metro

Speaker 1: 30:39 Porter, Andrew Bowen, Andrew, thank you. My pleasure, Maureen, A new state law designed to stop real estate speculators from scooping up foreclosed homes in mass during the pandemic is failing a K Q E D investigation found one controversial company, Wedgewood, Inc, as gone on a buying spree, acquiring hundreds of homes, often flipping them for big profits during the pandemic KQ EDS, Aaron Baldisari reports,

Speaker 11: 31:15 Jocelyn foreman rents, a single story, 1970s tract home in the East Bay city of Pinole. This is my room right here. It's a simple home tan with Brown trim set back from the street. It has a steep sloping, backyard, and a roof that leaks when it rains.

Speaker 12: 31:30 And then that room is my daughter's room, where my grandson is. And then, uh, her twin lives in the other room.

Speaker 11: 31:37 Foreman is an outreach worker at the Berkeley unified school district. And she'd been renting the house for more than two years. When she found out it was going to be sold at a foreclosure auction.

Speaker 12: 31:46 Like the first thing that I thought when that letter came was, where am I going to sleep? Whose house can I call?

Speaker 11: 31:52 So foreman did something pretty unusual. She went to the auction, it was early March. There were a handful of people in plastic chairs, clutching folders and holding cell phones. The bidding began at $175,000. They just kept going

Speaker 12: 32:06 And higher and higher and higher. And, and I was like, Oh my God,

Speaker 11: 32:10 The winning bid was for $600,000 and amount. She couldn't dream of matching.

Speaker 12: 32:16 Oh my goodness. You know, a little bit of me felt like this was going to happen. I went back to the car and I knew that I was, you know, this was going to be a journey.

Speaker 11: 32:27 The winning bidder was Wedgewood Inc. A Southern California real estate company that brags about having flipped more than 30,000 homes, including one really controversial house in Oakland we're group of black homeless mothers occupied a house that Wedgewood had bought and kept vacant. They called themselves moms from

Speaker 1: 32:45 How's that

Speaker 11: 32:50 The protest ended in January last year when the moms were evicted and Wedgewood agreed to sell the home to a community land trust, the controversy also sparked a new state law that went into effect in January. It gives tenants of foreclosed properties, as well as non-profits and exclusive 45 day window to match the top bid at an auction. Kevin Stein is the deputy director of the California reinvestment coalition

Speaker 13: 33:15 And SB 10 79 was an effort to kind of open the door, to create an opportunity for families, for tenants to attain wealth through homeowners.

Speaker 11: 33:26 But the law didn't include any money to help people like foreman buy those foreclosed houses. So it hasn't had the impact advocates had hoped for since the pandemic began. Property records show Wedgwood alone has funneled more than $150 million to buy at least 276 properties in over 20 counties across California. Almost all of them were single family homes, just like foreman's house in Pinole. Stein says this kind of buying is a repeat of what happened after the 2008 housing bust. When corporate home buyers scooped up foreclosed single family properties by the thousands.

Speaker 13: 34:06 And we think this is a big problem. It was a lost opportunity. We don't want to lose the opportunity. Again,

Speaker 11: 34:12 Wedgewood didn't agree to an interview, but in a statement, the company said that by buying renovating and flipping the homes, it's doing a service to the community company, founder and CEO, Greg Geyser did send us an email in it. He told us he didn't know anything about foreman's house in Pinole, except that somebody lived there and his company had bought it to form in though the home has been a lifeline before she moved in two years ago, foreman and her five children were homeless and couch surfing with relatives.

Speaker 1: 34:41 This is it right here. So I said, no repeatedly to myself. I'm not going anywhere. Your grandson is not sleeping on somebody's floor. That's not going to happen.

Speaker 11: 34:53 So foreman's in a race against time. She only has until April 18th, she's working with a community land trust to purchase the home together. They'll need to raise $600,000 to match Wedgwood's bid.

Speaker 1: 35:07 And that was KQ EDS. Aaron Baldisari reporting. You're listening to KPBS midday edition. I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen Cavenaugh each month. KPBS arts editor, producer, Julia Dixon Evans pulls together a playlist of five new songs to put on your radar. Mostly locals ranging from indie to metal to classical and jazz. Julia, me now

Speaker 14: 35:38 To give us a taste of each of those

Speaker 15: 35:40 Band's welcome, Julia. Hi Jade. So first up is local

Speaker 14: 35:45 Indie singer line who has a new EAP out called black sheep.

Speaker 15: 35:51 Yeah. Line is Annie lane. She has been putting out music pretty steadily, and it's always downloadable for free. This new three track release. Black sheep is really pared down and really lovely. And I'm pretty sure she recorded it at home in golden Hill. She builds a really subtle soundscape with keyboards and it leaves plenty of room for her vocals and dreamy harmonies. Spoons is the opening track. There's some really shows off her knack for lyrical scene setting. It's kind of part vignette, part memory part, almost like a photograph. And she has a kind of sadness that's specific and some have relatable too. This is my favorite track, but the entire EDP, it has a runtime of barely seven minutes. So it's worth every second.

Speaker 14: 37:25 [inaudible] very nice mellow song there. Next up is some operatic noise rock from directs. Tell us what this means, Julia.

Speaker 15: 37:37 Yeah, so that's their self-professed descriptor and it's, it's really hard to top that to describe them. Uh, they have a new self-titled EPE out. It's put out by our records and that's one of my favorite. So cow based labels and yes, this album can be noisy. My favorite tracks, the opener spirits, this one is melodic and it's powerful. Kind of like a ballad and yeah, it's definitely on the more theatrical side of metal

Speaker 14: 38:35 [inaudible]

Speaker 15: 38:46 Direx. His voice is beautiful and bewitching, but mostly it just refuses to be boxed into a genre in a good way. Like if you don't like metal, that's fine. You might still like this. And if you don't like the theatrical sweeter stuff, that's also fun. You should listen to. Anyway. I just kind of love how, when the song ends you're left with the sense of the wilderness, like what was that? The track fades out with the line. I will always be queen repeated and yeah, that, that feels right. I love this

Speaker 14: 39:41 [inaudible].

Speaker 15: 39:43 And speaking of the theatrical San Diego native Jay Breckenridge has been forced to take a break from his career on Broadway during the pandemic and returned home to release some music. Tell us about his latest track. Yeah. So this is Josh Breckinridge raised in fall brick, and he was most recently in the Broadway production of come from away. If you remember, that was a LA Jolla Playhouse premiere, but while Broadway shut down, he's focused on his forthcoming album called monotony and that's coming out this summer. He has this really great blend of pop R and B. And yeah, there's a dash of musical theater kind of show tune vibes, and there to the latest single Y O U is about accepting and loving yourself. And it's really fun. It's lively. And it's really honest.

Speaker 14: 41:09 [inaudible]

Speaker 15: 41:09 I have to recommend the video. Also, you can find that@kpbs.org, because it also shows off his acting and his dance talents to you. It's a great one.

Speaker 14: 41:23 [inaudible] was permanently [inaudible] phenomenon. Choose while you press pause, no rush for the rush

Speaker 1: 41:49 And local indie band twin ritual has new music out and new single called metaphor. What do you like about this?

Speaker 15: 41:57 Yeah. Twin rituals formed of Laura Levin Hagan of Les Chateau and bassist Anthony Ramirez of glass spells. So I'm going to go ahead and call this a super group. They haven't put out a lot of music since their 2018 debut, which was excellent. So it's just really great to see new work from them. This year metaphor is energized and it's buzzing and Laura 11 Hagan's vocals give everything this, this crystal clean and fervent touch.

Speaker 14: 42:48 [inaudible],

Speaker 15: 42:50 It's a pretty sonically complicated song, but the overall whole of it is really approachable. And I got to say, it's kind of a banger, a sad synthy banger.

Speaker 1: 43:01 That's always an interesting twist on things. And finally, some piano music. In fact, an album of piano music recorded in a single take. Tell us about San Diego's Kelly Einbinder.

Speaker 15: 43:14 So she's a self-taught improvisational musician. Uh, she only discovered the piano in college and is a spectacular performer. This album is called music for stuck bodies, and it will release on April 8th. And she wrote in her album notes about how the piano has been a respite from chronic illness for much of her life. This first track is out now for a preview it's called under the belly of a whale and it's spelled binding and lovely. The airplane can be intense, but it also lets up when it needs to. So we can breathe in and settle in the power in her music is never unrelenting. There's so much mystery and curiosity here. And I really can't wait to hear the full album in one single take.

Speaker 1: 44:17 Right? You can learn more and find links to each of these tracks on our website@kpbs.org. I've been speaking with KPBS arts editor, producer, Julia Dixon Evans. Julia. Thank you.

Speaker 15: 44:29 Thanks for having me, Jake

Speaker 14: 45:07 [inaudible].

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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.