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Travel Restrictions Extended At US-Mexico Border

Cover image for podcast episode

PHOTO BY DAVID MCNEW

Above: Traffic in the U.S. enters Mexico at the San Ysidro border crossing, the world's busiest, on June 27, 2008 in Tijuana, Mexico.

Restrictions on non-essential travel at the United States-Mexico border will continue for at least another month. Then, the median price for a home in San Diego County reached $750,000 in June, that’s another record. Plus, state law requires Coronado to plan for nearly 1,000 new homes to accommodate its workforce, but the city voted on a downsized plan. And, surfing’s debut at the Summer Olympics resurfaces issues over native Hawaiian cultural appropriation. And Cinema Junkie, KPBS' longest running podcast, returned from quarantine break last week with an episode on Marvel and a party on YouTube.

Speaker 1: 00:00 Travel restrictions at the U S Mexico border will continue August. Think

Speaker 2: 00:05 Of how many birthdays weddings funerals. This impacts. It really kind of starts to show the human toll.

Speaker 1: 00:12 I'm Christina Kim, with Maureen Kavanaugh. This is KPBS day edition. Bidding wars are breaking out amongst home buyers in San Diego. As housing prices continue to soar.

Speaker 2: 00:30 Half of the homes sold for more than 750,000 and half of the homes of the month sold for less.

Speaker 1: 00:40 Coronado is flouting California's affordable housing mandates and surfing becomes an Olympic sport this year, but will native Hawaiians be shut out? That's ahead on midday edition on non-essential travel at the U S Mexico border will continue for another month. According to the department of Homeland security, the travel limitations that were originally imposed in March, 2020 have kept families and friends apart and hurt small businesses. And while both San Diego county and the state of Baja, California have more than 60% of their eligible population, fully vaccinated us officials, point to surgeon COVID-19 infections on both sides of the border as the main reason for delaying reopening. Joining me now with Maura's Gustavo Solis, a reporter for the voice of San Diego. Gustavo. Welcome. Thank you. Okay. So can you remind us what exactly are the current restrictions, which were initially set to expire at midnight, who really is able to cross,

Speaker 2: 01:42 And now the officially the restrictions are for non-essential travel. What that means practically is Mexican nationals, or really just any non us nationals with valid tourist visas cannot come into the U S the restrictions still allow for the transportation of trucks, for people on student and business visas. And for Americans going south to TJ and via the waterloop and elsewhere, they can go south and come back as they please. So it mostly impacts non-nationals who are trying to cross the border into the U S

Speaker 1: 02:15 Did the department of Homeland security really give for extending the restrictions and other

Speaker 2: 02:19 Well, not many other than, than what you said, right? They're concerned about the spread of COVID, which is what they've been saying for more than a year. Now, that's where a lot of the frustration comes from just the lack of clarity on this coming from Washington, DC officials here in San Diego have asked repeatedly for some kind of checklist or roadmap or metric that we need to get to in order to reopen the border. And they just haven't gotten it. Officials in Mexico are asking the same thing. I reported last week on this push by the Mexican government to really increase vaccinations along the border region with the explicit goal of reopening the border to non-essential travel. But the U S government is just silent. They're not saying what we need to do in order to reopen it. And I think that uncertainty is really causing a lot of frustration, especially as this restriction keeps on getting extended month after month after month with no end site. My understanding is

Speaker 1: 03:13 Reopening of the border, as you just said, is really tied to vaccination rates. Is there a ratio of vaccination rates needed to be able to open the border?

Speaker 2: 03:21 No. No. And, and that's sort of the issue there. There's no magic number that the federal government has given to the public that says, all right, if we get to X percent of vaccination, and if Mexico gets to X percent of vaccination rates, then we'll reopen that doesn't exist. So it really has a lot of uncertainty.

Speaker 1: 03:38 Mayor Todd, Gloria, along with other leaders have implored the department of Homeland security to reopen the border saying if people can fly into Mexico, then why can't they cross over land? Do you have a sense of what's driving these somewhat uneven policies?

Speaker 2: 03:51 I think the mayor and he co-signed that letter with the mayors of Imperial beach, Chula Vista Cornado and county supervisor, Nora Vargas. They have a really fair point, right? It makes no sense that somebody can fly from Mexico city to LA and then drive down to San Diego. But someone from Tijuana can't walk across to San Diego, right? I mean that on its face sounds absurd. And the federal government hasn't really done a good job of explaining why

Speaker 1: 04:19 Is having on the region's economy? I know it's been particularly tough for small business owners who really rely on this border.

Speaker 2: 04:26 The border restrictions seem to be favoring big corporations at the expense of small businesses and mom and pop businesses are the example, like I said, right? The border is still open for trucks, freight trains. A lot of companies have moved out of California out of the U S and have manufacturing hubs in Tijuana. They can still do business as normal. They can still get out of paying higher wages in the us and still be in business. But for small shops along the border, who rely on consumer traveling from Tijuana to San Diego, they're they're really, really hurting. And the last figures I had was to date more than 200 businesses have permanently closed in San Ysidro. I think Jason Wells was on record saying that they're seeing a decrease in about 7.7 million in sales each week. So if you want an economic impact that sit right rough back on the envelope. Math is about 31 million in sales lost in San Ysidro. San Diego sales tax rate is 7.75. So that about a month rough math, it's about two and a half million dollars in lost sales tax revenue for San Diego. Obviously not all of that stays in San Diego. It goes to the state and the county, but that's 2.5 million of tax dollars that we're losing because of these border restrictions.

Speaker 1: 05:45 These economic impacts, which as you are outlining are large, this is also making it really difficult for families who live on both sides of the border to even see each other. What are you hearing about how families are coping?

Speaker 2: 05:56 Well, it's not just hearing, I see it in my own family, right? I mentioned the example of people flying from Mexico to LA and Donna San Diego. My grandma did that because that was the only way she could visit us. After we all got vaccinated, we hadn't seen her in a year. She's 88 and that took a toll on her, just traveling like that instead of just flying to Tijuana and walking across and to take time off work, to go and pick her up. That's the minor inconvenience for our family, but recognize that we're better off than most right. We had the means to get that plane ticket. But what if you're not in that position, right? That, that prevents you from seeing the family and it's taken a huge toll, a human toll here on the region, right? You think about San Diego, how many families have cousins or brothers or sisters living on separate sides of the border and they can't cross and see each other. They have to go to all these extra steps to see that. I mean, that, that takes a huge toll, like think of how many birthdays weddings funerals this impacts. And it really kind of starts to show the human toll speaking

Speaker 1: 06:56 With Gustavo police reporter for the voice in San Diego. Thank you so much. Yeah. Thank you.

Speaker 3: 07:10 Wars are breaking out among buyers as home prices in San Diego. Reach another record high in June. The median price for a home in the county reached $750,000 up about $150,000 from this time last year and extremely low inventory of homes for sale and low mortgage rates are two big factors driving prices up, but so is my Gracian from buyers coming into San Diego from even higher priced housing markets in California. Joining me is San Diego union Tribune, reporter Mike Freeman, and Mike, welcome to the

Speaker 2: 07:46 Program. They're happy to be here.

Speaker 3: 07:48 Remind us if you would, first off, what does median home price mean? Is that the average home price in?

Speaker 2: 07:55 No, it means that half of the homes sold for more than 750,000 and half of the homes of the month sold for less than that. So yeah, it's, it's kind of a way to take out the extremes, right? So if you had a $35 million purchase, the average would really shoot high, but in the media, and it's just one of the data points of both the metal

Speaker 3: 08:20 That include condos or just single family homes,

Speaker 2: 08:23 Condos, condos as well. So the median

Speaker 3: 08:26 Keeps climbing June's numbers are even higher than they were in may, right?

Speaker 2: 08:31 Correct. It's been a very hot summer. It's really driven again by the, you know, the low mortgage rates and, you know, also kind of their increased opportunities for people to work from home, coming out of the pandemic or wanting to work from home, coming out of the pandemic. And therefore, you know, it's kind of fueled this strong, strong demand for housing, particularly in the suburbs, right. Lower areas, um, where people can, um, you know, kind of have their castle and work from it. Is

Speaker 3: 09:00 That the theory about why people aren't selling?

Speaker 2: 09:03 Well, I think the, uh, the theory from the real estate agents I spoke to about what people aren't selling is, you know, if you sell, where do you go from there? So, you know, the idea is, is, or the notion is that, uh, you couldn't replace what you've got. You know, even if you sold for, you know, $750,000, you pocket that profit, um, uh, on your equity, if you wanted to live somewhere in San Diego county, you would have turned around and probably pay more. We've been

Speaker 3: 09:33 Talking about home in inventory being so low. Is there any way to express how low that inventory is? I mean, is it historically low? Is it, um, what, what are they talking about in terms of how low the housing inventory is? Is there any way that you can describe it?

Speaker 2: 09:52 Well, they, I mean, the MLS has data that showed that the inventory in San Diego county for homes and condos was actually, you know, that's the number of homes for sale listed for sale, uh, was actually less than a month. And typically two years ago before the pandemic, San Diego had 5.5 months of inventory, uh, you know, available. So some 10,000 listings on single family and some 3000 listings on condos and townhomes. So, you know, now it's down to 2000 homeless things and 1000 condo listings. And so the inventory is just very, very thin right now. And

Speaker 3: 10:35 San Diego has failed to hit the state targets for new home construction. Hasn't it? How far behind

Speaker 2: 10:41 Then the same limits? The target was about 88,000 units and the city builders delivered about 4,200 units, um, on some updated figures that I've found this morning. So it's still, you know, 50% below what the target was. How

Speaker 3: 11:00 Has that low inventory playing out in actual real estate sales in San Diego? What typically happens when a house goes on the market these days?

Speaker 2: 11:09 Well, from what realtors have told me is that, you know, particularly in a, you know, a new property that is highly sought after coming on the market, I mean, it just launches a bidding war. Um, and people are coming in and bidding above the asking price. And in one anecdote, a realtor told me her clients bid, uh, $10,000 over the asking price on a, you know, kind of a newly listed hot property. And, and they didn't get it because, you know, someone else bid 45,000 over the asking price. And that home was like right in the sweet spot of the median price homes. I think it was a 7 75 or thereabouts price. So you get people at routinely at doing, um, over bids. Wow.

Speaker 3: 11:56 W what about young couples who might be looking for a starter home, have those prices risen dramatically

Speaker 2: 12:01 Too? Well, that, that has been a kind of the category. Again, anecdotally from re realtors has been the category that has been the hardest for people to, to break into because that's where a lot of the overbidding is happening. Buyers who are stretching to reach, um, the median to get into a home

Speaker 3: 12:18 Reporting that buyers from orange county and elsewhere in California are also driving home prices up in San Diego. Why is that happening?

Speaker 2: 12:28 Yeah. Well, if you look at the median prices up there it's even higher. And, you know, San Francisco is another sort of situation. And, and again, um, uh, from, uh, what I was told is, you know, if you're in, uh, in those regions and, you know, your money just goes a lot farther down here, you can, instead of getting a smaller place or, you know, a townhome and attached to home, um, you know, down here, you can get a single family home for less. So

Speaker 3: 12:54 Do we have to wait until San Diego can build itself out of this low inventory housing market? Or are there other factors that might start to stabilize the market?

Speaker 2: 13:04 Well, there are clearly other factors that would, would start to stabilize the market because building would be, it would be a long, long process, right? Um, but clearly higher interest rates if inflation really takes hold and, and, uh, interest rates start to rise that that clearly will put a damper on the demand. Um, so the, you know, that's one of the things, and I mean, there's just, you know, general, uh, economic conditions, you know, we're, we're coming out of the pandemic and it ended up in a hot market. So that, that could be an issue, uh, if, if their economic conditions start to slow. Um, and another thing too, and, and kind of, um, in a different tack, there is, I was told anecdotally that, you know, home construction is really been slow, new home construction, you know, in part, because there was a lumber shortage earlier this year, right. And things are very, very expensive. Um, building materials and hard to find labor. So construction employment, I understand this now back to pre pandemic levels, but, you know, still hasn't really taken off. And so, you know, that's slowed it down to, you're not seeing a lot of the new home inventory coming on. What's

Speaker 3: 14:17 The forecast for San Diego real estate for the rest of the year.

Speaker 2: 14:21 Well, according to the core logic people, they, they continue to think that this is going to continue. CoreLogic economists estimated that there'll be 11% price gain, uh, between now and May, 2022 in the median,

Speaker 3: 14:37 San Diego union Tribune, reporter Mike Freeman. And Mike, thank you so much. Thank you. This is KPBS day edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Christina Kim in for Jade Heinemann Karnataka with its beautiful beaches and historic hotel is one of California's top tourist destinations, but for the many low wage workers who keep the island running, living there as next to impossible state officials last year ordered the city to plan for a lot more affordable housing. But as KPBS Metro reporter, Andrew Bowen explains the city is not on board with that change.

Speaker 2: 15:22 Bye

Speaker 4: 15:26 Ivanka, Lena [inaudible] kisses. Her ten-year-old son, Ricardo goodbye as she leaves for work. But I see how their lives with her husband and three kids and a small mobile home in Chula Vista. She works as a room attendant at the hotel Del Coronado. She says, she'd love to live in the community where she works, that would let her ditch her commute across the bridge and bike or walk to her job.

Speaker 5: 15:51 I love this place. This is beautiful. It's quiet, clean. We have the beach. So everything is awesome here. Add to those

Speaker 4: 16:00 Perks. Coronado's low crime rate and good schools and parks, but on a hotel worker's salary, there's no way, but I see how they could afford to live in Cornado where finding a two bedroom home for less than $3,000 a month is a steal. As soon as she's off, I

Speaker 5: 16:16 Just feel that I have to leave and come back to my home. But this is like my second home, because I pass more hours in the island, then my home, but I can not live in here. I just come and work and I have to go back.

Speaker 4: 16:33 CLO circumstance is hardly unique. Coronado is one of many high-end tourist destinations in California, where low wage workers, staff, pricey, hotels, shops, and restaurants, but can't afford to live where they work. State lawmakers have tried to fix this by requiring cities to zone for dramatically more housing than ever before. Last year, the state ordered Cora natto to plan for 912 new homes over the next eight years. More than half of those homes are meant to be affordable for low income housing. We are

Speaker 6: 17:05 Essentially trying to comply with an absurd in, uh, not sensible. Uh, state law is requiring us to be here.

Speaker 4: 17:13 Order from Sacramento to add more housing was not well received in Coronado mayor, Richard Bailey and the city council last month voted to draft a smaller housing plan on Tuesday. The council unanimously approved a plan with about a third of the homes that are required. Bailey said at last month, council meeting the number the city picked is real.

Speaker 6: 17:35 Um, it's not based on a pie in the sky number from the state, uh, which had no basis in reality whatsoever, did not take into account our existing land use, uh, size, not take into account available space, our existing infrastructure, our sewage, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. This number does that

Speaker 4: 17:49 Core. Natto sued to get a smaller housing allocation, but lost. It's currently appealing that decision. But in the meantime, Cornado thumbing its nose at state housing law carries risks. The state can Sue the city into compliance. What

Speaker 2: 18:03 Happens in San Diego is going to be a little bit of a foreshadowing of what happens throughout the state. John

Speaker 4: 18:09 Wizard is with the San Francisco based nonprofit YIMBY law, which sues cities to enforce state housing laws. He says small wealthy cities across California are preparing similar fights to get out of their housing obligations. But San Diego county is the first region to go through that planning process. That means Cora Nado could be a test case for how aggressively the state cracks down on scofflaw cities for wizard. It's not just a question of following the law. It's a question of fairness and equity. And

Speaker 2: 18:40 When Cornado says, we don't have to do with the state told us we don't have to do our fair share. We don't have to pull our weight, but everybody else does. What Cardona was saying is that we're special. And that we don't believe that you deserve to live here.

Speaker 4: 18:53 Yvonne Halina [inaudible] the hotel worker who can't afford to live in Coronado has a similar message for the city's leaders.

Speaker 5: 19:00 I will say to them that everybody deserves a very nice home because we are working hard and, um, our families deserves a very good place to live to

Speaker 3: 19:20 Joining me is KPBS Metro reporter, Andrew Bowen, Andrew. Welcome. Hi Maureen. So Coronado is basically an island. Would the city have to build more high rises to accommodate nearly a thousand homes?

Speaker 4: 19:35 Absolutely not. Although you might think so if you've been following this story and hearing what some of the residents and city officials have been saying throughout the process, uh, most of the city's residential areas are zoned for single family homes. So a very low density, um, low building Heights, things like that. And in a very high opportunity, highly sought after city like Coronado. That's basically the equivalent of saying nothing can be built here except for mansions because even smaller homes, um, very often sell for more than a million dollars. So those areas could be rezoned for apartments. You raise the density, um, not, you know, to, uh, the scale of a high rise, but maybe a mid rise apartment. You can fit quite a bit of homes into something like three or four stories, but a single family home zoning is, uh, kind of like a third rail in local politics, certainly in Coronado. So when single family neighborhoods are untouchable, then that really limits where home builders can add more housing. And so pushing all of the new housing to just a couple of lots as Cornado is trying to do here, ironically makes, uh, high rises, uh, kind of more or less.

Speaker 3: 20:43 And what a Carnados city leaders saying about why they don't want to increase density.

Speaker 4: 20:49 Well, city leaders and residents alike have been railing against these new housing obligations from the start, uh, years ago in the public meetings that the city has held in written comments that the city has received from residents. People will say things like this will increase traffic. It will block our views. It will lower our property values. It will make parking more scarce. And one of the most common phrases you hear is that this will destroy our community character. It's not always clear what people mean by that community character. Uh, sometimes they seem to be just talking about the architectural style. You know, they like their historic homes. There are a lot of those in Cornado other times it seems like community character is more referring to the people and who can afford to live in Cornado now versus who would be able to afford to live in Cornado. If there were more of a range of options, things like duplexes and smaller apartments and things like that,

Speaker 3: 21:44 Isn't there an additional element advocating racial equity and fairness in the state mandate to build more houses in communities like Coronado and our city leaders are addressing that issue in any way. Yeah.

Speaker 4: 21:58 One of the biggest new requirements from the state is that cities have, as they update their housing elements, which is what this is officially called. They have to affirmatively further fair housing. What the government never did was attempt to make up for all of the centuries of, of legal, uh, discrimination and segregation. Things like barring people of color from living in certain neighborhoods. You know, it's no accident that core nod who is more than 80% white. So, uh, this requirement of affirmatively furthering fair housing, it requires every city of Coronado included to take actions that proactively undo the damage and the inequity and the segregation that was caused by those past policies. And this is an area where the state, uh, state housing officials, as they were reviewing, reviewing Cornell does draft housing element. They saw big shortcomings in what the city had proposed, but again, as with the number of the city, just decided it wasn't going to do what the state had asked. Now

Speaker 3: 22:57 You say Carnados first attempt at suing to get the housing mandate reduced, lost in court. Coronado is appealing. It's lost in court is a drawn out legal battle part of the city strategy of non-compliance. Yeah.

Speaker 4: 23:13 Uh, so basically, um, the city is banking on the assumption that state housing officials are going to be really busy dealing with a number of cities like Coronado that are, um, either pushing the bounds of what's allowed or just, um, completely ignoring them altogether. Uh, the, the existing lawsuit, um, does have, you know, a ways to go before it's heard before a judge and the court of appeal. There are other ways that the city can kind of draw out this process. And there was a council member who month as the city council was, um, deciding it wanted to scale back its housing plan council member. Michael Donovan said that with our existing lawsuit, with all of the other things that the state has going on, it'll probably be a couple of years before we really see the consequences of not having a certified housing element. And those consequences could be the city loses authority over land use a developer could come in and Sue the city, get a building permit from a judge and build whatever they want. Pretty much wherever they want, if they own that property.

Speaker 3: 24:18 San Diego is apparently the first region to try to update its housing plans to accommodate the new state housing mandates what's happening in the rest of the state.

Speaker 4: 24:28 Well, as I said, there's a, you know, a number of cities that are pushing back against these new requirements. San Diego is the first county in the state to go through this new process under these new rules. And so it's, um, definitely, uh, testing the state's patients and the state's, uh, aggressiveness in terms of how, how much they want to crack down on these cities. But yeah, there are cities in LA county, in the bay area that are all fighting these higher, uh, mandates for housing. And many of them are just saying, they want to fight this as long as possible. Some of these things, you know, I think that the, the end of the road is coming, uh, and the state may eventually just be able to get what they want because there's, um, very clearly, uh, you know, the state government has authority over local governments, uh, but things can, can be drawn out for a few years and that's likely to happen in Coronado.

Speaker 3: 25:20 I've been speaking with KPBS, Metro reporter, Andrew Bowen, Andrew. Thank you. Thank you, Maureen

Speaker 1: 25:34 Critics of governor Gavin Newsome say his COVID-19 restrictions were unfair and damaging to small businesses. Thousands of which permanently closed during the pandemic. Now as KQBD politics reporter guy Mazzarati explains Newsome is emphasizing his small business roots. As he faces a recall election in September in

Speaker 4: 25:52 Calaveras county tucked in the foothills of the Sierra in California's gold country, nearly one in five voters, signed a petition to recall Newsome the third highest rate of any county in the state and small business owners like Gretel's to scorn. You were at the heart of the campaign, really

Speaker 7: 26:09 Great, like Calavera shirt to score your owns the pickle patch

Speaker 4: 26:12 Restaurant in San Andreas and mingles on Maine, a store in downtown angels camp,

Speaker 7: 26:18 Just an eclectic group of snarky items that make people laugh when they come

Speaker 4: 26:22 In, when the pandemic hit to score new clothes or shop, but felt big business was getting a pass

Speaker 7: 26:28 Places like Walmart and Costco that are open all the time. Serving hundreds of people, super contradictory

Speaker 4: 26:38 Newsome had set up a color-coded system to restrict business activities, which he credits with saving. But to scorn, you felt,

Speaker 7: 26:45 I kind of just got to the point where I was just tired of the, oh, it's it's red. Oh, it's purple. It's green. Oh, it's blue. I would say, I don't know what color the rainbow we were in this

Speaker 4: 26:54 Time. So when the governor declared a second, stay at home order in December to scorn you and other local business owners in Calaveras decided to ignore it. So I

Speaker 7: 27:02 Just stopped listening and I just went about business as usual to

Speaker 4: 27:05 Scorn, you stayed open for outdoor dining, with a new item on the menu, a petition to recall the governor. Sometimes

Speaker 7: 27:12 They came in just to sign that they didn't have lunch. They didn't buy anything. They just came in to sign it.

Speaker 4: 27:17 Recall organizers say 900 business owners across the state offered petition signings in their shops. Others went viral with their outrage. You might remember Angela Marsden and LA area restaurant owner, whose business was shuttered while film production continued. Right?

Speaker 7: 27:33 And Gavin Newsome is responsible for every single person that doesn't have unemployment that says not have a job and all the businesses that are going under. Thanks

Speaker 4: 27:43 In parts of the anger of these small business owners, Newsome is facing the most important political challenge of his career. But as the governor tells it a quarter century ago, he was in the same shoes as the store owners in the nineties, Newsome ran a wine shop in restaurants and felt politicians were out of touch with the needs of small business. So he complained to the mayor of San Francisco,

Speaker 8: 28:06 Angry with me and set me up by making me tear the parking and traffic commission. And here I am. It's all Dan connected

Speaker 4: 28:12 Being the frustrated store owner was Newsome's original political pitch. Two decades ago, his

Speaker 9: 28:18 Experiences in small business, he felt like he could help people using those experiences. Ellie

Speaker 4: 28:25 Shaffer ran Newsome's very first campaign, his 1998 run for supervisor. Unlike your average shop owner Newsome had ties to some of San Francisco's wealthiest and most well-connected families. He still

Speaker 9: 28:37 Ran up against roadblock after roadblock about starting his small business and his philosophy, you know, at the time was like, if I'm running up against these roadblocks and I have the leg up that I have, what are other people who don't have these advantages running up against now

Speaker 4: 28:55 As business owners, face months of back rent after a year of digging into personal savings and watching inventory go bad Newsome is directing billions of dollars in grants to help those businesses get back on their feet. And he argues that he still gets it, that he uniquely understands their plight after all, to find the last governor who went straight from running a business into politics, you'd have to go back roughly a century at a visit to a San Francisco restaurant. Last month I asked Newsome, if that history made him feel a special responsibility to small business owners across the state,

Speaker 8: 29:30 The point of pride it's personal for me. Um, you know, I can't express to you how many extraordinary things have happened in my life because I had the privilege to be behind a serving other people

Speaker 4: 29:43 Back in Calaveras county, Gretel to scorn yet isn't convinced,

Speaker 7: 29:48 I don't know if Newsome ever can be considered one of us.

Speaker 4: 29:52 And now the governor has less than a month until voting begins to convince California shop owners, that he still understands what they're going through. That

Speaker 1: 30:01 Was KQBD reporter guy karate [inaudible].

Speaker 1: 30:12 This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Christina Kim in for Jade Hyman with Maureen Kavanaugh for the first time, surfing is on the Olympic stage on Friday, the ocean sport beloved by many San Diegans will be underway as the newest event at the summer games in Tokyo. And while fans are rejoicing, some are raising concerns that a native Hawaiian cultural practice has been co-opted into the multi-billion dollar industry that it's become joining me now for more on this is Isaiah helic knee Walker, a professor at Brigham young university, Hawaii and author of the book waves of resistance. Isaiah.

Speaker 2: 30:46 Welcome. Good morning. So

Speaker 1: 30:49 Can you just start off by telling us a little bit about the history of surfing? What are surfing's origins?

Speaker 2: 30:54 So surfing probably originated in other Pacific islands before the first Hawaiians actually came to the islands of Hawaii. They were part of a larger group of people that we call the Oceania or Morna people of the Pacific ocean. And so along with that tradition of comfortability in the ocean came this playfulness of, you know, spending time riding waves. So in Hawaii, it was a national pastime practiced by both men, women, commoners chiefs. We sometimes refer to surfing as the sport of Kings, which is partly true. Yeah, because Kings did surf, but so did everyone else such

Speaker 1: 31:31 A rich history? So how did the sport come to be what it is today, which is a multi-billion dollar industry that is world?

Speaker 2: 31:39 I think we can point to, I mean, speaking of Olympics is what we, who we call the father of modern day. Surfing is a Hawaiian man named duke Kahanamoku and duke Kahanamoku when he traveled the world in the Olympics and he ended up winning multiple gold medals and mostly his freestyle event, he took surfing with him and he ended up spreading surfing to places like Australia, the east coast of the United States, along with many other Hawaiians, as they came to California and shared the art of writing waves or what we call [inaudible], we're able to kind of start to spread that and eventually, you know, surfing is awesome. It's a great feeling. It's it gives you a real connection to the ocean and it's a healthy pastime and it's attractive. So I think it was just a matter of time before the world got to enjoy what the Hawaiians have been enjoying for centuries. Illusion of surfing

Speaker 1: 32:28 In the Olympic games is seen as somewhat of a double-edged sword for native Hawaiians, who might be happy to see it be included, but are also reminded about Hawaii's complicated history. Can you tell us a little bit more about

Speaker 2: 32:39 Tension? It's an interesting story, and I love the fact that that right now, because of the Olympics and surfing, you know, there is a lot more attention looking at Hawaii and it's in this history, but essentially when Hawaii was occupied, essentially in 18 93, 3 18 98, there was basically an illegal overthrow of our, of our government, which was a monarchy run by a Hawaiian monarchs. And many of those monarchs actually were surfers. What, what happens is as Hawaii becomes occupied by the us military, essentially for Pearl Harbor, the situation on land becomes much more complex and challenging for native Hawaiians, as they're finding themselves increasingly marginalized in political spaces, social spaces, economic spaces, and so surfing remain kind of that really cool space. And interestingly enough, the surfing world recognized that. And for the last a hundred years, the surfing world has seen Hawaii as an independent entity, as far as surfing goes.

Speaker 2: 33:37 So for example, right now we have Krista Maura and John John Florence surfing for the United States team and in all realms of competition from the ISA, which is currently the governing body of the Olympics to the NSA, to the WSL, to all these different competitive entities have respected Hawaii as its own nation. So when the Olympics was announced that it would be having surfing in the Olympics, we knew that it would be an, you know, a struggle for Hawaiians to have that same designation. We did submit an application to the IOC requesting that, uh, Hawaii be considered its own independent entity. So

Speaker 1: 34:16 What is the next step there? Where did you make any gains about potentially having, you know, the Hawaiian flag be represented when these athletes

Speaker 2: 34:23 Are surfing? The Olympics has a kind of a different way of, of recognizing, uh, you know, a national status, but in their bylaws, they state that if you, if you're a nation has been recognized by the international community as an independent state. So another Hawaiian kingdom government ploy was recognized, actually it was one of the first non European countries recognized as an independent state in the mid 1850s. We had many treaties with, you know, the United States, but also a lot of most European countries that entered into treaties with, you know, Hawaii recognizing it as an independent state. So when we applied, we were hoping to use that as part of our distinction, but we have been recognized by the international community as an independent state, not only anciently or in the 1850s, but even more recently in a particular court case in the Hague. So we were hoping that the IOC would consider at least evaluating our application and we haven't had much success yet, but we're hoping for the next Olympics that maybe Hawaii will have a shot. Well,

Speaker 1: 35:24 As we all watch on Friday, what do you want people outside of Hawaii to really know about this sport and keep in mind as we watch the athletes.

Speaker 2: 35:32 I love the fact that surfing is, you know, a global sport and entity, and it is something that has been shared with Hawaii, uh, with, from Hawaii throughout the world. And it's not necessarily a bad thing. I don't want to get the idea that like, this is a horrible thing and that Hawaiians are upset about that. It's more so just understanding where the roots of surfing are from and respecting it. And I think most surfers, when they come to Hawaii, they have that feeling of respect. And also that our athletes, even though, you know, they are surfing for the United States, which I know they're, they're very proud of. They're also carrying the Hawaiian flag in their hearts,

Speaker 1: 36:06 Isaiah heli Cooney. He Walker a professor at Brigham young university, Hawaii. Thank you so much. Thank you.

Speaker 3: 36:23 Cinema junkie is KPBS his longest running podcast and it returned from quarantine break last week, since Marvel's black widow just opened and Comicon starts this week, the latest episode celebrates pop culture by looking at the Marvel cinematic universe. Here's an excerpt from the podcast featuring host Beth Mondo and her guest professor Arnold T Blumberg,

Speaker 7: 36:52 Dr. Arnold T Blumberg has the distinction of teaching. The first of its kind course on the Marvel cinematic universe. Back in 2015 at the university of Baltimore, the class was called media genres, media marvels. So Arnold, what did the course description for this class say?

Speaker 10: 37:08 Well, it grew out of the similar course that I had already been doing for years on the zombie genre. That was the first time I had done sort of a genre specific course and U B. And that had been very successful. So a few years into that, I came to them with media marvels, I thought, okay, I think they would probably go forward at this point. Cause the zombie course was doing well. And in some ways it was even easier to set up because at that point we were just getting up to age of Ultron when I did it.

Speaker 11: 37:39 Hello, I am Jarvis. You are ultra global peacekeeping initiative designed by Mr. Stark. This feels wrong.

Speaker 10: 37:58 It wound up fitting perfectly into basically a 16 week semester of giving them the historical background of Marvel in the comic world, where the characters come from a little bit of grounding in mythology and, and heroic literature of the past. And then we started going through every film from iron man up to the present. And the semester ended with everybody going to the Senator theater for a screening of age of Ultron. It was great

Speaker 7: 38:26 When you set up this course, what was the response like from both students and administrators?

Speaker 10: 38:31 Uh, university itself was already certainly the department that handled the media literacy stuff. They understood where I was coming from and where the benefit was and using a Shondra as a lens for talking about anything socially, culturally, and otherwise. So that part was fine and they were totally receptive to that. As far as the students are concerned, the interest was immediate as you might expect. But what I did find right out of the gate on that one, from what I can remember was that in some respects, I think it worked even better quicker than the zombie course did in the sense that it felt like everybody clicked in immediately to the idea that we're not just doing this frivolously

Speaker 8: 39:13 Potentially field agents. This is Steve Rogers. We're

Speaker 10: 39:15 Not just sitting here talking about the films. We're going to look at them in a substantial way and try to figure out, you know, what they mean, what they're reflecting. And

Speaker 8: 39:26 It worked really well. I know I'm asking a lot, price of freedom is high and always has it's price. I'm willing to pay if I'm the only one then. So be it

Speaker 7: 39:44 I'm willing to bet I'm not. So what kind of public response did you deal with

Speaker 10: 39:50 Their response publicly was exactly what you think it would be far as I'm concerned. The people that started attacking it for, oh, is this what our tax dollars are going for? Oh, this is why American children are falling behind. Or that that's just the kind of just complete willful ignorance that has led to such an incredible lack of critical thinking and the kind of media literacy we desperately need, especially in a world where organizations are doing everything within their power to manipulate people into believing false hoods. And of course they very well know how critical thinking immediate literacy works. So these courses are not just a fun way of teaching students. They're vital and actually they're vital for much younger. They shouldn't be teaching these just in colleges. We should be teaching media literacy from the beginning and we don't. But apart from the usual kind of garbage you get online about, you know, why would people waste a semester that actually the response was still for the most part. Pretty nice. I mean, one

Speaker 7: 40:50 Of the things about a class like this that I think is great is that so often you'll get students who kind of glaze over at the idea of classes that have a very kind of academic sound to them and to take something that they already have an inherent interest in just seems like a great way to capture their interest and get them to come to class very eagerly. And it seems like a gateway to teaching that, you know, teachers should embrace and then the public should appreciate absolutely.

Speaker 10: 41:30 That's the fundamental thing that's at work. There is you have like a steep slope at times to get kids engaged and particularly to get them involved in conversation about all sorts of things, whether that's race and gender and other politics and cultural issues and social issues. And if they're already excited about the fact that they get to talk about things, they love, the one thing you find out pretty quickly is there discussion about those things. It's usually not very empty. It's usually very substantial. I remember like the zombie class walking dead to just debut. It was literally the first season of walking dead when we first started that class. And naturally one of the first things I did was let's watch the show every week and we'll talk about it. And there was that one particular episode that really hit one of those early points. I mean, not subtly where they had the women were doing the laundry at the, like the river's edge

Speaker 11: 42:32 Again, in the question, the division of labor here,

Speaker 12: 42:34 Can someone explain to me how to win the wound up doing all the hair to McDaniel work, the world ended and you get the memo.

Speaker 7: 42:40 It's just the way it is.

Speaker 12: 42:43 I do miss my name tag.

Speaker 10: 42:45 It was like a whole episode about, is this what we're going to do? Are we going to devolve back to these ridiculous gender roles for things and the conversation in the class after that episode, wasn't like, oh, it wasn't the zombie thing. Cool. Or that was a fun part, but incredibly deep and charged and very informed discussion about everybody's opinion about that. And that's why you do something like this. Can you imagine trying to get those kids to talk about things like that without that entryway? I mean, that's, that's how it works.

Speaker 7: 43:15 And what was it that made you decide to tackle Marvel and not DC? Was it strictly because of what films were coming out at that particular moment? Well,

Speaker 10: 43:23 Partly, I mean, I was always a Marvel kid, so I mean, I've certainly read my sheriff DC stuff and I'm certainly in some respects because of my other work, having worked at, uh, the Overstreet comic book, price guide, and, and I'm certainly very familiar with DC stuff, but Marvel has always been where emotionally I'm connected. I knew I could speak to that material with, with a conviction that I probably couldn't necessarily give as much to the DC, although I've taught courses in superhero mythology too, and use plenty of Superman, wonder woman, Batman, all that kind of stuff, because it's vitally important for that part of the history of it all. But you know, there's something to be said for the fact that the Marvel cinematic universe that they started building was just so incredibly successful and cohesive and fascinating. And DC has continued to demonstrate that when it comes to comic book movies, Marvel seems to be the only one that really knows how to make it work. And I'll be happy to continue to defend that particular perspective on it. So it was a little personal is also a little bit, this is a nice single narrative through line. We can look at through a whole semester

Speaker 3: 44:32 Cinema journal. He podcast comes out every other Wednesday. You can register for this Thursday's free YouTube cinema junkie relaunch party at kpbs.org/cinema.

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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.