Deadly Smuggling Boat Crashes Off Point Loma Coast
KPBS Midday Edition / May 3, 2021
AP PHOTO / DENIS POROY
Authorities are investigating a suspected human-smuggling operation involving a 40-foot cabin cruiser that overturned in coastal waters near Point Loma, killing four people and injuring more than two dozen. Plus, even as San Diego County COVID-19 vaccination crosses the 50% mark, public health officials are seeing a slow down in people getting vaccinated and that has them concerned. Also, in the Central Valley some people are hesitant about getting the vaccine and some of their reasons have nothing to do with the vaccine itself. And, part of the federal government’s response to the pandemic for businesses was a massive cash infusion called the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, but there was a vast disparity on how the money was distributed, often favoring businesses in wealthy, white areas. In addition, a wind farm project on the Campo Indian Reservation that would provide clean energy for 70,000 homes is in jeopardy because neighbors have sued to stop it from happening. And, KPBS film critic Beth Accomando has a preview of the second home edition of TCM Classic Film Festival that’s starting this Thursday.
Speaker 1: 00:00 A suspected smuggling boat capsized near point Loma
Speaker 2: 00:05 Smugglers left for any vulnerability. So in this case, they're turning to the Pacific ocean to snuggle people across the U S
Speaker 1: 00:11 I'm Jade Hindman. Maureen is off. This is KPBS midday edition As a new COVID variant emerges. So do concerns over vaccination, slowdowns
Speaker 3: 00:30 Things are not going to stay constant. So as, uh, the temperament of the general public changes, our strategies must change. And so that's what we are doing, and that's what we will continue to do.
Speaker 1: 00:41 And a vast disparity in how PPP loans are given out in San Diego and elsewhere. Plus a preview of the TCM classic film festival that's ahead on midday edition. First,
Speaker 3: 00:53 The news,
Speaker 1: 00:59 The coast guard has suspended its search for survivors. Following the crash of a suspected smuggling ship off the coast of point Loma, at least three are dead, and two dozen are injured after strong winds and a rough current pulled the overcrowded vessel into the reef, causing it to break apart. While border patrol agents say the incident looks like maritime smuggling. They still don't know anyone, citizenship legal status in the U S or any other identifying information and are still investigating the full details of the crash. Joining me to discuss this tragic incident and where the investigation is now is San Diego union Tribune reporter David Hernandez. David, welcome. Thanks for having me. So bring us up to speed and tell us the latest information on this crash.
Speaker 2: 01:44 Yeah, so we're still trying to sort out the number of people who survived and the number of people who died at this point, we have confirmed that at least three people died, others were taken to the hospital. So we're trying to get some updates in terms of, uh, the status of their condition and that may be changing. And we're also trying to find out more information about, uh, their ages, their nationalities, and their genders. So we're trying to track all of that today and any, any other information about how this boat made it all the way to the coast of point Loma,
Speaker 1: 02:16 As we've just touched on border patrol agents said every indication leads them to believe this vessel was a smuggling boat, but how did they come to that conclusion when they've also said agents have not determined citizenship legal status in the U S or any other identifying information at this time?
Speaker 2: 02:33 So what they said is that the circumstances in this case line up with what usually happens when smugglers pack migraines into boats and send them across the border with Mexico. So in this case, actually it wasn't a [inaudible] or panga boat, um, which is a small fishing boat that smugglers typically use. But nevertheless, it was, um, a boat that was well over crowded in this case about 30 people. So based on those circumstances, they said they have every indication to believe that this was, um, a smuggling vessel that was transporting migrants into the U S illegally.
Speaker 1: 03:13 So what led to the crash? Was it primarily harsh weather conditions or something else?
Speaker 2: 03:18 What we do know is that the conditions were pretty rough as one, uh, lifeguard Lieutenant put it, it was windy and the waves were pretty strong. Another official said, you know, strong enough to slam a boat into, into the reef there along the debris of national monument. And so it sounds like the boat was drifting towards the shoreline. And eventually it kind of just got caught up in our rip current that was pretty strong and crashed into this reef. And then it just broke apart
Speaker 1: 03:46 PB and other law enforcement agencies teamed up to patrol the coast this weekend, what prompted that decision?
Speaker 2: 03:53 So they are seeing a great increase in the number of people detained during smuggling attempts at sea. And given this increase, they decided to partner with some of their agencies like the coast guard to try to monitor the ocean for any smuggling attempts. And, uh, that, that was happening over the weekend while, while this incident unfolded. And, um, it's important to know. I think that, you know, officials were asked whether this boat was on their radar and they said that it wasn't, they noted that again, it wasn't, um, the type of boat that smugglers usually use. And they think that maybe this boat was trying to blend in with other commercial traffic.
Speaker 1: 04:33 So then it's safe to assume that there was no interaction with CPB or any other law enforcement agency, uh, before this
Speaker 2: 04:40 Crashed, they had not made contact with this bow or they, they essentially hadn't seen it out at sea before it wasn't on their radar until lifeguards in San Diego got a report of a boat that was drifting toward the shoreline.
Speaker 1: 04:53 Do you have any idea of what's driving more, uh, people to try to cross by sea rather than like,
Speaker 2: 05:00 You know, during the Trump administration, we saw a lot of talk of the border on land and, you know, talk of a border wall. And essentially as the Trump administration tightened border infrastructure on land, we did see according to data, human and drug smugglers increasingly turned to the Pacific ocean. And, uh, that's something that one of the border patrol officials pointed to yesterday during a press conference on this crash. And he essentially said that smugglers love for any vulnerability that they may think there is. So in this case, they're turning to the Pacific ocean to smuggle people across the U
Speaker 1: 05:35 S so tell me about the rescue effort.
Speaker 2: 05:38 It appears to me now that there were quite a number of people who jumped in to help in terms of like pulling people who had kind of made it close to the shoreline, but once authorities got a sense of what they were dealing with in terms of like a number of people, they sent out, uh, lifeguards on personal watercraft, like jet-skis, and they also sent out some rescue boats and essentially some of the people on the boat were able to make it to the shoreline. Others were trapped in the rip current. So it was a lot of coordination that had to go into this. And even once they had pretty much rescued everyone, they could see, they still kept a coast guard, helicopter crew overhead to just monitor and make sure there weren't other victims.
Speaker 1: 06:21 Have we seen similar incidents to this one in recent years,
Speaker 2: 06:25 We have, I mean, not none, this tragic, uh, in recent memory, but you know, even last week, there was an incident where there were 25 people packed on small boat panga. In that case, it's not uncommon for that to happen. Usually the boat makes it to shore and sometimes people are detained, but there have been other similar incidents. In recent years,
Speaker 1: 06:49 I have been speaking with David Hernandez who covers crime law enforcement and public safety for the San Diego union Tribune. David, thank you so much for joining us. Thanks for having me
Speaker 1: 07:05 New COVID-19 cases, continue to decrease as vaccinations increase. That's true here in San Diego County, where 1 million people have been fully vaccinated and it's also true across the nation, but there is still concern. Public health officials are worried. A new variant first discovered in India has now been found in the U S as vaccination rates seem to be slowing KPBS health reporter. Matt Hoffman is here with more Matt welcome. Hey Jake. So do we know how significant the decrease in demand for vaccinations is? I mean, are we able to administer the shots we are allotted here in the County?
Speaker 2: 07:42 Yeah. So officials say that the demand obviously is dropping, you know, for the first time here, but they say that it's not dropping significantly. Actually, uh, around two weeks ago, we saw a big spike in the amount of vaccines that were delivered here. Uh, we were getting around 200,000 a week and then that jumped to 300,000 last week. We were told that that's not increasing. So we're still at around 300,000 doses delivered per week. So maybe that initial allotment of that extra a hundred thousand made some leftovers. So they're starting to see some Slack in the appointments, which may have led to them opening up walk-ups at some of those vaccination sites.
Speaker 1: 08:13 So how has this decrease in demand being addressed?
Speaker 2: 08:16 Yeah, it's like a, the health officials have to sort of change their tactics as they listen to the ebb and flow of the public here, you know, as they start to see this decrease in demand, they say that they want to make it easier for people to get vaccinated here's County, public health officer, Dr. Wolf
Speaker 3: 08:32 Things change. Things are not going to stay constant. So as, uh, the temperament of the general public changes, our strategies must change. And so that's what we are doing and that's what we will continue to do.
Speaker 2: 08:44 Um, and, and some of the strategies that health officials have outlined is extending hours at some of the sites to 8:00 PM. For some of those people that may not be able to get there when they close a little bit earlier, I'm also looking at the possibility of adding 24 hour location
Speaker 1: 08:56 And to Wootens point of making the process easier. Some vaccination clinics in the County are no longer requiring appointments. How's that?
Speaker 4: 09:04 Yeah. It's about two dozen sites throughout the County, including some of those mobile sites and, you know, County officials last week, describing it as definitely a good thing, you know? Um, it's another way for them to try to make it easier for people to get appointments. You know, they really feel like that a lot of people were sort of frustrated at, at, at the onset, even when we go back to about, you know, two, three weeks ago, when appointments opened up for everyone aged 16 and older, um, there was sort of a sense of frustration of people not being able to find appointments right away. Um, and so they're hoping to bring some of those people back. Um, they are starting a targeted campaign as well for people aged 16 to 34, which they describe as young people where they feel like that there's not necessarily where they don't want to be vaccinated, but it's just not easy for them to get vaccinated.
Speaker 1: 09:44 We've heard of some people who get Pfizer or Madrona getting their first shot, but not their second. Um, what have public health officials said about that? Yeah.
Speaker 4: 09:53 Yeah. 5 million, uh, people, uh, nationwide the CDC says have missed their second doses, which is a small fraction of the total number of doses delivered. Uh, in San Diego. I did ask public health officials that last week. Um, they said that they didn't have the number, but they don't believe that it's, um, anything, you know, out of control or anything crazy. Um, now we'd love to find what that is. Um, and so they said that they're working to try to get us the data and we know Jade for those people who don't get that second dose, the, the overall effectiveness of the vaccine goes down
Speaker 1: 10:21 And Wooten has also said, the County is now targeting younger people for vaccines. Where are they in that process? And what's the goal there?
Speaker 4: 10:29 Yeah. So I mentioned earlier that they are doing a targeted campaign for those ages 16 to 34 as the vaccination rates for that group is a little bit lower. Um, and we know overall, you know, when you look at the, some of the counties breakdown is the age 16 to 19 group, that's the lowest, uh, percentage vaccinated that we are seeing there. And then Dr. Wooten pointed out, you know, in the coming months, you know, maybe just about a month away, uh, we could start seeing some, uh, approvals for vaccinations for even younger people. We're talking about aside from 16 and 17 year olds, which need parental permission to get vaccinated. So not only the teen wants to get vaccinated, but the parent, um, we've seen some of these events at school sites where they're signing permission slips, uh, aside from those, the parent, we need to go with them, but Dr. Wouldn't also hinting at, um, those vaccinations coming for students aged 12 to 15 at once that happens, you know, we have this goal of 75% of the population vaccinated. It comes summer, come July, but she says that that bar is going to change. That goal is going to change once the vaccinations are opened up for people aged 12 to 15
Speaker 1: 11:24 CSU schools, including SDSU are requiring vaccinations, once emergency authorization for the vaccine is made official. Do you expect other schools to follow CSU lead?
Speaker 4: 11:35 You know, I, I think it's going to depend on when that emergency authorization youth, uh, use goes away, you know, is that coming in a month? Is that coming in a couple of weeks? I think that's going to affect the whole decision. And then also too, you're going to have to look at, you know, I'm sure that there's, you know, the state can decide, Hey, do we want to make this for, you know, all, all school districts statewide. And then it may up to individual school districts where they say, you know, do we want to require all of our students to get vaccinated? Um, it's something that I think is going to be coming up at a lot of board meetings, uh, in the next few weeks.
Speaker 1: 12:02 Well, last week you reported that the vaccination numbers didn't include members of the military and their families. Why is that? And is there an effort to include them?
Speaker 4: 12:11 Uh, it's basically just kind of separate systems, you know, the federal government, they have their system of tracking. And when I say the federal government, I mean, you know, department of defense, they have their system of veteran's affairs. They have their system, you know, the States and the counties, they have their individual reporting systems. Um, and so the effort to include them, uh, it was spearheaded by a County board chair, Nathan Fletcher, um, also Congressman Scott Peters, um, and they were able to get that data. And basically, um, we know that from the act of service members, about 60% of those stationed in San Diego have received at least one dose. Um, and of those active, uh, service military members, about 50% are fully vaccinated. And we know J that there's a lot of DOD dependents, other DOD retirees that are not active duty military. Uh, there's about 328,000 of them, uh, here in San Diego. And, uh, we know of that group, about 30% of them are harshly vaccinated. And that 30% number may seem a little bit low, but federal officials basically say like, if I'm a dependent of an active duty service member, and if I go get a shot, like at a super super station, I would have to self-report that. So they think that numbers are a lot higher because people are getting vaccinated elsewhere.
Speaker 1: 13:17 And there are plans for those numbers to soon be included in the counties overall numbers,
Speaker 4: 13:22 Right? And we know that the VA has delivered around 70,000 of these vaccinations and those numbers are already included. And the, uh, we saw a couple of percentage point increase in our goal. Uh, and then we know that yes, those DOD numbers have yet to be included, but we know that they should be in the coming weeks. And also, uh, Jade what's also important too, is that, um, County officials also Scott Peter's office is telling us that the DOD has committed on a bi-weekly basis to be updating health officials on those numbers, which are critical. You know, it's so many such a large military population here, uh, to actually, you know, being able to gauge the waters accurately in terms of the vaccination progress.
Speaker 1: 13:57 I've been speaking with KPBS health reporter, Matt Hoffman, Matt, thanks so much for joining us shade counties across the state are dealing with vaccine hesitancy and how to address it. And the central Valley, the Fresno County department of public health is diverting COVID-19 vaccines allocated to the County elsewhere because of low demand that California reports, central Valley reporter Alex Hall has more on why some are unsure about the vaccine and what public health experts say can be done.
Speaker 5: 14:28 31 year old Selia Maldonado has made three appointments to get the COVID-19 vaccine since late March, then she's canceled every single one of them, which she feels guilty about. I feel like there's no clear answer to my concern. It's driving me crazy. Those concerns predate the Johnson and Johnson pause. She says and include fears about lack of data on long-term side effects, especially when it comes to pregnant women who get the vaccine. Although the CDC says there is no evidence getting vaccinated causes problems with pregnancy.
Speaker 2: 15:03 I just fear that unknown. I know this can happen to me if I get COVID, I don't know exactly what can happen to me from getting this back.
Speaker 5: 15:14 She feels ashamed to bring up those doubts and fears to friends who have already gotten vaccinated. And she says she doesn't fall into the categories, typically associated with vaccine hesitancy
Speaker 2: 15:27 NPR the other day. And there was a report like, Oh, the people who are not vaccinated are right-leaning of Angelicals and this and this and that. And of course, they put Latino people in there and I'm like, well, that's the group of people I'm in, but I'm not by any means. But Trump is, I am a liberal. I feel like I should be on the side of getting your vaccine, but I'm just not.
Speaker 5: 15:48 The central Valley is home to some of the least vaccinated counties in the state that includes Fresno, where Maldonado lives in an effort to get more people vaccinated. Local health officials here are now focusing education and outreach in neighborhoods where people haven't gotten a shot.
Speaker 2: 16:05 We do this a lot, right? We want to make, we want to find that
Speaker 5: 16:08 Dr. Rishi coil of Columbia university is leading a team. That's looking at the language around vaccine hesitancy on social media and online forums to figure out what drives it. He says he suspicious of survey data that looks simply at demographics because it oversimplifies the problem.
Speaker 2: 16:27 There's Somali immigrants in Minnesota that are vaccine hesitant, right? There are rural GOP populations that are hesitant. There are left leaning, natural healing, aficionados that are vaccine hesitant. And I think the one size fits all or the blaming one group for the phenomenon, we'll end up kind of putting us in the problem that we're in, where we don't know how to tackle the problem. Cause we don't even understand it. I really hate the term back
Speaker 5: 16:56 Or Kiersten Gibbons. Domingo of UCSFs says that labeling racial groups or people with certain political ideologies as hesitant, doesn't explain people's specific concerns or how to address them
Speaker 2: 17:09 In the end. I think most of the people who we put that label on are people who want to get their questions answered, right? And I think it is a little bit of a cop out for us to label people as hesitant when all of the issues we're talking about are ones that we in public health should be working harder to think about overcoming
Speaker 5: 17:28 Providers can do. So as Dr. Lisa, Rosenbalm a cardiologist and assistant professor at Harvard who has studied COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy is here. People out answer their questions.
Speaker 2: 17:40 It's just so intuitive to us. When you're trying to convince people to do something, to craft a message, the real work has to be done
Speaker 5: 17:50 On the ground, talking to people, making them feel heard, making them feel understood. And I don't think any messaging campaign can overcome that, especially to reach people like Maldonado for whom a change in messaging won't necessarily have an impact only more data. And to get their time to see the COVID-19 vaccines are safe.
Speaker 1: 18:13 That was the California reports, Alex Hall, you're listening to KPBS midday edition I'm Jade Hindman Maureen Kavanaugh has the day off a centerpiece of the federal government's response to the pandemic was a massive cash infusion for businesses called the paycheck protection program or PPP, but KPBS, investigative reporter Claire Traeger says there was vast disparity in how that money was given out in San Diego and elsewhere favoring wealthy and white areas.
Speaker 5: 18:43 The Corona family had long dreamed of opening a Mexican restaurant in their hometown of Imperial beach. And in early 2020, they were on their way. Then came the pandemic.
Speaker 6: 18:54 When we were getting ready to open, it was already, you know, everything was closed and everything was completely different for us.
Speaker 5: 19:02 Corona opened for takeout orders in April, but still struggled to make rent. So when the federal paycheck protection program or PPP was announced, Corona immediately went to her bank to try to get them
Speaker 6: 19:15 Funding. And they said, I wouldn't, I didn't qualify for the one they were offering because my business was so new.
Speaker 5: 19:20 The Corona family story is one that became all too common in San Diego County and throughout the country during 2020, a half a trillion in federal dollars were sloshing through the economy through the program. But relatively few were ending up in the pockets of business owners in underserved places like Imperial beach. The primary reason for this inequity is that PPP loans were distributed by banks and many small minority owned businesses, lack existing banking relationships. It says Mark Herbert, a small business
Speaker 7: 19:56 When you build a program and just bolt it on top of our existing commercial financing system, um, it's going to exacerbate the problems that had already existed even before the pandemic
Speaker 5: 20:07 Show vast inequity in San Diego County lenders gave 61% of loans to businesses in majority white census tracks and just under 12% to businesses in majority Latin X census tracks. So, yeah, we've been in business for eight years. Well, Corona was barely hanging on in Imperial beach, Molly Boyd, the owner of Brill hair lounge in Carlsbad was facing her own crisis in March, 2020. She like hairstylists everywhere had to close her salon. Her clients didn't take it. Well, everybody started panicking, not only like health wise, but like I have to look good. I mean, we are in California. She also applied for a PPP loan from her usual bank and was put on a waiting list. Her friends told her about a bank that had no waiting list and she quickly got funding, but Boyd doesn't see inequity in the process you didn't put in the time and the work and the extra that you needed to in order to stay afloat. Then you're just going to, again, you're just complaining. It's hard to say like, Oh, you didn't have internet. Like it's, it's 2021. Like everybody has internet. And if you don't have it, then he better get a new phone.
Speaker 8: 21:23 A lot of individuals don't have wifi. They don't have a computer. They don't have a tablet.
Speaker 5: 21:28 Carol Beach, Councilman Matthew Labour Gonzalez represents the area that got the lowest rate of loans. He says the challenges go beyond internet connections and phones. Many have few, if any employees and their prior experiences with banks and other lenders have been more negative than others
Speaker 8: 21:47 Positive. Some of the individuals may have, um, felt a little, you know, inferior. As far as applying
Speaker 5: 21:53 Recent months, the federal government has tried to give out money more equitably, including setting aside a two week period where only small businesses in low-income areas can apply. But in the meantime, business owners like Corona in Imperial beach are looking to the future and hoping for a recovery that will keep them afloat. Right now, she works another full-time job while running the restaurant and taking care of her kids.
Speaker 8: 22:21 We have good days and bad days, I think more bad than good. Right now
Speaker 5: 22:24 She's getting ready to open for in-person dining in the next few weeks and hopes new customers will come to sample her dad's specialty
Speaker 8: 22:36 Salmon,
Speaker 5: 22:37 Soup, Clair, tracer, KPBS news.
Speaker 1: 22:41 Do you use our searchable map to see what areas of San Diego got the most loans go to kpbs.org/ppp. And for more on this story, Maureen Kavanaugh spoke with KPBS, investigative reporter, Claire Tresor here's that interview. You say that one of the problems with getting a PPP loan for minority owned small businesses is that fewer of them have relationships with banks. I'm wondering why is that?
Speaker 5: 23:09 Well, this is actually something that I covered in the past pre pandemic, um, in a story that I did a few years ago, I found that between 2012 and 2016, only about one in five businesses in low-income areas of San Diego County received a bank loan compared to almost four in five businesses in high-income areas. And when I did the story, I found there were multiple reasons for this from bad credit to maybe a business owner, having fewer assets, um, and concerns from banks about lower profits in lower income neighborhoods. But also at the time I spoke with business owners in areas like city Heights, who didn't even actually try to get alone. And that was because of fears or S you know, stigma about going into debt.
Speaker 9: 23:58 Okay. So could it be that one reason fewer loans went to minority communities is because many of the businesses in those communities are family run or are too small to have employees, the PPP loans were geared toward payroll protection for employees, right?
Speaker 5: 24:17 Yeah, that's right. Um, and, and that could be part of the reason the loans say that 60% have to go to covering paychecks, but that can still include yourself or family members, but for people who are sole proprietors, I think some of them thought that it would be better to just shut down the business and go on unemployment, especially early on when they were offering those, uh, big checks for unemployment. But I also spoke with a tax accountant in Imperial beach, who said, some of his clients really did want to apply for a loan to keep their business going, but because they were maybe gig workers or were paid in cash, um, they didn't always have the necessary documentation
Speaker 9: 24:59 With fewer businesses getting PPP loans in minority communities did more businesses fail in those areas than in majority white districts.
Speaker 5: 25:09 Well, you know, this is something that I would love to know. Uh, I'm I've been working on this, trying to find out exactly how many businesses closed during the pandemic. You would think that that would be an easy question. It's a bit of a complicated question. So kind of stay tuned on that in the story here, we're talking about the actual rate of percentage of businesses that got loans. So using both census data and post office data compiled by the nonprofit news organization reveal, we had an estimate of the total number of eligible businesses in each census tract. And then we looked at the percentage of those businesses that got loans. So for example, in the Imperial beach census track that I referenced in the story, there were 142 eligible businesses, according to Reveal's data. And only six of them got loans.
Speaker 9: 26:00 You know, what I was thinking during your report is where was say the Imperial beach chamber of commerce on giving advice about PPP loans or the San Ysidro chamber, or even the San Diego chamber of commerce, aren't those organizations supposed to help the business community?
Speaker 5: 26:19 Well, yeah, I think it's important to remember that Imperial beach does have its own chamber of commerce organization, but it's not nearly as robust as the San Diego chamber of commerce. It's run by people who also have other full-time jobs. I did reach out to the Imperial beach chamber of commerce, but wasn't able to connect with anyone for an interview. As I referenced in the, there were elected officials in Imperial beach who are trying to do some outreach. There was the Councilman for the area and the mayor who are going around to businesses and handing out flyers, trying to alert them about the loans. Um, and then I spoke with a tax accountant who I referenced earlier, and he was basically doing free work, trying to help business owners submit their applications.
Speaker 9: 27:05 So here we are. Now there's another round of PPP loans available. How is the distribution of this funding different?
Speaker 5: 27:13 Right? So there is this round of loans that businesses can apply for now. And I spoke with a small business administration who's, um, overseeing the program and they said, they're trying to make changes to improve equity in those loans, including setting aside a two week period where only small businesses in low income areas, or with less than 100 employees can apply. Um, and then they've authorized more institutions such as credit bureaus and farming agencies to give out loans. Um, and they also have additional grants going on right now as well, such as a restaurant relief fund and grants for businesses that have closed.
Speaker 9: 27:52 And has any agency giving small business owners better guidance on how this new program works? Well,
Speaker 5: 27:58 The thing that's interesting is if you look at, uh, areas like city Heights, which are again, you know, a lower income area, um, majority nonwhite, census tracks, but there are so many agencies and groups set up there like city Heights, business associations, who are helping businesses. And so there, you actually see that the loan rate is better. It's still not, you know, the 99% that you see in some North County places, but it's more like 18 or 20% of eligible businesses were able to get loans, which is a big gap from places like skyline or, uh, Imperial beach, as we mentioned. So I think it's more about being in the individual neighborhood and what are the resources there?
Speaker 9: 28:43 I want to thank KPBS investigative reporter Claire, sir. Thank you so much. Thank you.
Speaker 1: 28:54 Wind project on the Campo Indian reservation that would provide clean energy to 70,000 homes is in jeopardy after neighbors sued to stop it. Joining me to talk about what's happening is I knew source reporter. Can we Von canal? Can me welcome. Thank you. This is a project that would install 60 wind turbines on the reservation near Boulevard, which is about 70 miles East of downtown San Diego and close to the U S Mexico border. What does the developer say? The environmental impact of this project would be?
Speaker 5: 29:28 So the developer, which is a company called Terra, Jan, is focused on the climate impact of this renewable energy project. They say that, um, the wind turbines would create enough energy to displace approximately 8,000
Speaker 10: 29:42 Metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions a year. And that's about the equivalent of taking 12,600 cars off the road each year, which is quite significant
Speaker 1: 29:53 The County and the developer would not comment for this story, but what can you tell us about the environmental impacts that were considered in the county's approval of the project back in March?
Speaker 10: 30:03 Yeah, obviously as part of these approvals, the developer has to pay for an environmental review of, of local impacts. Um, some of those impacts that were brought forth in the, in the review that the County, um, and, and the federal government, um, taken to consideration when they were looking at these projects are, um, impacts on noise on sort of the visual landscape in the area. Um, those are sort of the more human impacts, um, their impacts on the environment as well. This project would use a lot of water, um, as part of the construction. Um, it might impact, uh, birds like Eagles, um, and would kind of disturb some of the local vegetation as there would be roads, uh, created access roads created. But what the supervisors decided was that this project was, was worth it. Um, chairman Nathan Fletcher said that it warms his heart to move forward with the project because it'll help achieve a hundred percent renewable energy. And it has a Libra agreement and has tribal support. And the vote was unanimous at the board of supervisors in support of the project.
Speaker 1: 31:08 And is the project developer partnering with the Campo Kumiai nation on this project? I mean, how would it benefit them?
Speaker 10: 31:15 Yeah, that's right. So the [inaudible] nation voted to approve a lease with the developer back in April of 2018, the lease would be for 20, at least 25 years. Um, the lease has not been publicly released, but the developer has talked about tens of millions of dollars going to the tribe, um, which is one of the more isolated tribal governments in our region, um, and wants to use this money to fund, uh, local priorities like healthcare, housing, um, education, internet access, um, they've already received some money. According to court records, they've already received over $1 million, um, as, uh, 15 education scholarships and, uh, 14 jobs. Although we don't have that many additional details on that,
Speaker 1: 32:05 But you know, not everyone supports the plan. So tell me about who's opposed and why that is.
Speaker 10: 32:10 Yeah. So there is vocal opposition, including from this neighbor called Donna Tisdale. She's a frequent player and lawsuits against, uh, projects in the back country. And she happens to live on a ranch that shares a half mile boundary with the reservation and the, and the wind projects. So here she is.
Speaker 11: 32:31 I wish that when people talk about wind turbines and solar projects, that they stop and consider where they are and how that will impact that community at ground zero
Speaker 10: 32:44 She's, you know, among, among her concerns are just that the winter binds would just further industrialize this area kind of disturbed the quiet and serenity that's brought her there. Um, the noise and the lights would disturb her sleep, maybe affect her health. So those are among her concerns and she's joined by a bigger group. She's part of this group called back country against dumps. Um, and there are also some residents of the reservation that are also opposed for similar concerns.
Speaker 1: 33:13 And this is the second lawsuit against this project. Why else are they being sued?
Speaker 10: 33:19 Right. So the jurisdiction is a little bit tricky since the wind turbines are on the Campo Indian reservation, the Bureau of Indian affairs had to approve the lease. Um, so Donna Tisdale's group that, that, uh, that group of opponents has already sued the federal government, the Bureau of Indian affairs in federal court. Um, in July of last year, claiming they violated environmental rules, protecting birds and protecting the environment when they approve the lease.
Speaker 1: 33:47 And this is not the only wind project in the area. Others are planned and wind turbines already operate in the area. So what role do these projects play in the state's goal to reach 100% clean energy by 2045?
Speaker 10: 34:01 Yeah. There, there are quite a few projects in the area there's seven total in that Southeastern corner of the County that are currently in the pipeline somehow, including including this one, the Campo wind project is the largest among those seven. We don't quite know yet who would be benefiting from that energy, whether it would be San Diego, gas and electric, or some other utility company. Um, but it most certainly will advance, um, the share of renewable energy in, in local energy production. San Diego is actually a little bit behind other regions in terms of the share of energy it has from renewable sources.
Speaker 1: 34:41 Hmm. What does the tribe think about the opposition from Donna Tisdale?
Speaker 10: 34:45 They certainly have a history. Donna Tisdale has sued other developments on the reservation before there is a difference between sort of the tribe in general, the tribal government speaking as an official voice and some tribal members, some tribal members, um, are actually aligned with Donna Tisdale and don't want this project going forward. But as a whole, the tribe did vote to approve the lease. The chairman Marcus quiero, um, said that the opposition makes a process cumbersome and delays the project from getting built, but that he's kind of used to this sort of opposition. And he, he thinks that the project adds value to the community.
Speaker 1: 35:26 So what are the next steps before we know whether the project will move forward or not?
Speaker 10: 35:30 Yeah, there's a few. So there's a few hearings there's um, in the County case, there is a hearing on December 10th later this year in the federal case, there's a hearing on May 13th. We're also waiting for final approval from the federal aviation administration, which has to confirm that the wind turbines, um, do not cause hazards for air navigation. They're redoing their review right now. Um, actually because they found an error in their previous determination. So we're still also waiting for that approval.
Speaker 1: 36:04 I've been speaking to I new source reporter Comey, Von canal. Camille, thank you so much. Thank you. You're listening to KPBS midday edition. I'm Jade Hindman Maureen Kavanaugh has the day off on Thursday. TCM classic film festival kicks off its second home edition of the pandemic KPBS film critic, Beth AKA Mondo previews, the festival with Charles Tibet, senior vice president in charge of programming, it Turner classic movies and a programmer for the festival. He is also a UC San Diego alumni.
Speaker 12: 36:37 Surely this is going to be the second online virtual version of the TCM classic film festival. And you've managed to offer more choices this year than last year. So what was this year like being the second one?
Speaker 13: 36:52 Well, there were a couple of big differences. Now this year we had HBO max as an additional venue. So we were able to do kind of a one venue being TCM linear, the other one being HBO max, and having them both with different films to use in each was really great and interesting and allowed us to do, do a little bit more. The other thing is we had more time. Last year, we were scrambling. We canceled our, our live festival just maybe like a month, a month, a month and a half before it was planned. And so we really had to come up with a schedule using only things that we had already produced and cobbling together, previous interviews and that sort of stuff, and trying to put it all together. And we're really happy with it, but this year, really, it was more planned out, certainly. And I think that shows in a lot of the production in a lot of the programming you see,
Speaker 12: 37:43 Well now you've created the online equivalent of having to make choices that we used to have by having multiple cinemas to choose from. So now we have HBO and TCM to choose between. Now. One of the things I am most excited about is there is going to be a zoom session with Ben Burtt and Craig Barron, who do the most wonderful presentations at the physical festival. So let people know a little bit about what to expect from this and what these guys are all about.
Speaker 13: 38:16 Yeah. That's a great example of something that is always so popular when we do it live, they come in, they set up a film, they talk about the special effects, what went into creating it and they make it so entertaining, but you learn a lot while you, um, you know, w while you sit there and them, and listen to them. And, um, while it's so great live, that's one of the things that we could really translate into this environment. We could film them, we could produce with them. They could actually even do some things that they couldn't do live. Um, so, um, so they, they're super passionate about, about the film chain lightening and the special effects that went into it. And it's, uh, you know, it's a pretty cool Humphrey Bogart, uh, you know, airline movie. And so, um, they really wanted to do it and we, we were all for it. So it worked out, it's a really entertaining piece about the making of chain lightening and the special effects. And, but it's just fun. And it's the kind of thing. I hope that a lot of people can, can discover because it's so great live, but that's, you know, a very limited number of people here. We can make it available to millions of people, which, which is great.
Speaker 12: 39:21 And there are also some more serious discussions about film. So you have one of your hosts doing some interviews regarding the LA rebellion, and this is a focus on black filmmakers coming out of film school for the first time and creating films like killer of sheep.
Speaker 13: 39:40 Well, as you know, I mean, TCM really tries to celebrate, I mean, diversity, but not necessarily just diversity in terms of gender race, also diversity in terms of types of films, film history, right? And this was an important film movement. And I think that there are a lot of people that don't know about it, and this is a movement that came out of UCLA independent African-American filmmakers from the late sixties into the, into the eighties. And, and it's, it's a really good example of something where we're hoping to maybe educate some people that aren't familiar with it and provide a little more context around them and a discussion between Jacqueline Stewart, one of our hosts and Charles Burnett himself and Billy Woodberry who made blessed a little hearts and one of the key films from, from that, that movement, putting them all together and, and, and providing that context around, around the screenings. I think I hope people discover something they maybe hadn't seen before.
Speaker 12: 40:34 You also have tributes to filmmakers and artists, actors. And what was the thinking behind having this and incorporating this into the programming,
Speaker 13: 40:45 As you know, the live festival, we do tributes as well. It, again, this year because of HBO, max, and the access to a different collection of films that we have for TCM linear, um, similar to the film festival, the life festival, you know, we can get, we could get more contemporary movies, we could get more contemporary, you know, actors, we wanted a wide range of people representing different genres of film, different types of actors. And so, uh, Martin short, who was hilarious and Ellie McGraw, who's done some really amazing iconic roles and Danny Glover. Who's just one of the great, great actors. And we did extended interviews with each of them. And in addition to that, we have a category called the masters. And this is, these are filmmakers. These are directors, um, six of the greatest directors, um, living. And we are, uh, this is different than the tributes and that it's not about their careers. It's about this one specific film, and it's about them going really in depth into this particular film, how it was made, why it was made, uh, what are some of the stories during the production, and that will serve as an intro. So, so there's sort of two different ways of working with the great talent that was world willing to work with.
Speaker 12: 41:57 And I know you love film yourself. So are there any films or programs that are scheduled for that weekend that are something you are particularly fond of or looking forward to? Sure.
Speaker 13: 42:09 Well, there's one there's I love Ernst Lubitsch and there's a silent film. So this is Paris, which is just fun. And Ben Modelle did a score for it and we're premiering it on it. And it's one of the very few, I think there were three that are playing both on the linear schedule and on, on HBO max. And I'm really excited to be able to, to, to, um, premier that and show that I'm really excited about on HBO max. There are a couple of films. I think that maybe don't get as a lot of attention in this. They've got just so many movies on HBO. There's so many movies on the TCM hub. And so here, we're able to sort of focus in on some individual titles like the mortal storm, you know, which is so great. And I hope people can sort of Cedar the black Legion, you know, in other Bogart film, which is just, you know, really hard hitting and interesting and important.
Speaker 13: 42:54 And again, each of those has its own context around it. So a special introduction pieces that are about, you know, either the actors or the theme, the black Legion, part of a mini collection of, of immigration movies about immigrants and immigration, along with a piece that was produced to, you know, to sort of talk about that subject. So watch the supplemental material, you know, I think there are a lot of pieces that really help contextualize these movies. So don't just dive into the movie. There are pieces that accompany that a lot of these that are really interesting, Bruce Springsteen talking about the searchers or a piece about Howard Hawks and how he approaches screwball comedy, those types of things I think really are engaging in. And I think will lead people to appreciate maybe these movies in a deeper way than they typically would just sort of clicking on it and starting to film.
Speaker 12: 43:48 Well, I want to thank you very much for talking about the TCM classic film festival. Thank you, Beth. It's really great to see you again.
Speaker 1: 43:54 That was Beth Armando speaking with TCMs Charles Tibet. The TCM classic film festival runs this Thursday through Sunday on the TCM channel and HBO max.