Another series of storms is on the way
S1: Cyclones hit Northern California.
S1: I'm Jade Heineman. This is KPBS midday edition. A pedestrian crossing on the west side reopens at the border. What it means for wait times and San Ysidro businesses.
S2: Anything we can do to make the border crossing shorter for anyone actually helps both sides.
S1: And there are big plans to bring growth to Imperial Beach. Plus , a conversation with California's poet laureate. That's ahead on Midday Edition. Forecasters with the National Weather Service are calling it a relentless parade of cyclones as more severe weather threatens northern and central California. Right now , a state of emergency has been declared across the state in preparation for what's to come. Here in southern California , an atmospheric river with high winds will dump another 1.5 inches of rain over the next two days. What exactly does that mean and what will the impacts be ? I'm joined now by Alex Tardy , warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service here in San Diego. Alex , welcome back to the show.
S2: Yeah , thanks for having me on again.
S1: So tell us about the storm that's taking shape later today.
S2: In fact , they've seen a lot of rain again over the past weekend from two storms or two atmospheric rivers that's going to slide down into Southern California this evening , tonight and Monday night. And we'll see the brunt of the rain on Tuesday for planning purposes. That's when you'll have periods of rain , which will be heavy at times in San Diego on Tuesday. So this is just a series of atmospheric rivers that have started since late December , in fact , December 28th and of course , New Year's and then last week. And now here we are again , start of this week , another storm system pressing into southern California.
S1: Does this all this rain put us in danger of , you know , toppled trees , power lines ? What type of damage could we expect to see ? Yeah.
S2: So the impacts from this series of storms are accumulative. So what that means is the ground is becoming saturated. So the rain goes a little bit further. You have more response , more flooding type of scenario. With this type of series of storms where there's not much of a break in between. Now , we don't expect the massive surf like we saw last week that hit Mission Beach , but we do expect high winds 30 , 40 miles per hour. The saturated ground trees can come down a little bit easier. Like I said , the rainfall will respond quicker. So we'll see a quick response on the San Diego River , for example , could get up close to ten feet if that one inch to one and a half inch of rain does materialize on Tuesday. It's far worse to the north , but we are seeing the impacts from these storms even in southern California.
S1: So far , it seems like parts of the northern part of California , as you mentioned , they've really seen the brunt of these storms.
S2: But if we look further out late this week , specifically next weekend , this upcoming weekend , it's going to shift more into Southern California , focused from the next series of atmospheric rivers. But , yes , central California. So the snowpack is two times higher than it should be this time of the year. They've received so much rain that the reservoirs , even the large ones , are almost half full. And we're talking about an area that was stricken by drought over the past three years.
S1: And as we mentioned , a state of emergency has been declared for the state.
S2: It allows the process and administrative process especially to move forward quicker , faster and more efficiently with the flooding that we've already seen , like in San Francisco with the levee break that we saw southeast of Sacramento on the chasm , just river , when you already have those impacts and those damages and you anticipate more rain. It's only intuitive that you're proactive because additional rain on saturated ground , even though we may not know exactly where the problems will be , it's likely to have additional problems from the repeated rain and wind.
S2: So a few showers on Wednesday could linger around in the morning. But overall , Wednesday , Thursday , get a little bit of blue sky and then we'll have to deal with the clouds returning late in the week on Friday and the really good chance for rain next weekend , which could be prolonged rain , not necessarily severe or heavy , but prolonged rain over the weekend for southern California.
S1: You mentioned earlier how high the snowpack levels have gotten this year.
S2: Even though these have been atmospheric rivers and have been mild , they've been the moisture has been coming out from Hawaii , which is the so called Pineapple Express , the latter half of the storms have. Been enough even in Southern California , to bring a few inches of snow. But in the Sierra Nevada , it's been four feet of snow. So we are at a pace that exceeds the snowiest year on record , which was 80 to 83. So we do need this to continue into February to really secure an opportunity to remove the drought. But because we have so much snowpack already in place and so much rain is already fallen , and we're seeing the response in the California reservoirs , we're already making major improvements on the drought conditions.
S1: That's great to hear. You know , we've also heard a lot about atmospheric rivers in the last week or two. Can you explain what exactly those are ? Yeah.
S2: So an atmospheric river is moisture that comes up from the tropics. It doesn't have to be Hawaii. In this case , it's been extending all across the western Pacific to the west side , almost near Asia. But the bottom line is you need that tropical moisture and then you need wind speed , which is your Pacific storm or the jet stream. You need the wind to pick up that moisture and drive it east into California. And what that does is it brings us rain even on the coast , but it also brings us rain into the mountains. So that rain gets enhanced or magnified in the mountains. We call that upslope flow. But the key ingredients are the wind and the tropical moisture. And then you have to get that hose or that plume of moisture to be pointed right at your area. And that's really what's been happening repeatedly for central California.
S1: Any advice for San Diegans heading toward a wet Tuesday ? Yeah.
S2: So plan accordingly for your commute. The commute will be a problem with the rain , the wet road , the ponding of water. If you do live in a flood prone area anywhere , even in southern California today , before the rain comes in , make sure your gutters are cleaned out. Make sure the water from the last storm drained correctly. Your pool , for example , could be full. There are little things you can do in and around your house , but overall , be prepared for wet conditions.
S1: I've been speaking with Alex Tardy , warning , coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service here in San Diego. Alex , thank you so much for joining us.
S2: Thank you.
S1: The busiest border crossing in the Western Hemisphere could soon be a little easier to pass through , provided you are traveling on foot. The Pad west pedestrian crossing at the San Ysidro port of entry will reopen today after nearly three years of pandemic related closure. The reopened crossing could help shorten passage through the border for travelers at a time where exceedingly long wait times have become the norm. Joining me now with the latest is KPBS North County multimedia producer Alex Win. Alex , welcome.
S3: Hey , thanks for having me.
S3: And at that time , you know , the using the pandemic restriction as a reason to close pit west. And since then , the Border Patrol or CBP has opened Pat East. But Pat West remained closed , as you say , for almost three years.
S3: It's a pedestrian crossing. And people can go directly from Mexico into the Las Americas malls and pat East. There's about 20,000 pedestrian crossing a day. So that's going to , you know , offsets a lot of that and shorten a lot of the wait time for people crossing into the U.S..
S1: You know , before its closure. Pat West was operated 24 hours a day. That won't be the case for now.
S3: What they told me was that there are going to continually assess the staffing needs and as well as the pedestrian volume at Pat West. And they'll will determine the staffing schedule or the opening hours. But reading between the lines , it's really about a staffing issue.
S1: Well , and it is a staffing issue there. And there's also been a lot of discussion over CPB's ability to staff its border crossings.
S3: And I think this is just a trial period just to see if they actually can have that staffing available. And Pat West used to be open 24 hours and now it's only open 8 hours. So you can see how much the staffing shortage is for CBP.
S3: Just make sure you have your papers ready and also to make sure that you check on the State Department's current guidelines and also just check the CBP website to see what the crossing time is. And right now , I'm looking at it this morning that we're speaking. It's about 5 minutes for Pat West.
S1: It sounds pretty good. I've been speaking with KPBS North County multimedia reporter Alex Win. Alex , thanks for talking with us today.
S3: Thanks , Jane. It was a pleasure.
S1: As we mentioned , border officials anticipate that Pat West reopening will ease congestion at the San Ysidro port of entry. Business leaders , on the other hand , are hoping the increased foot traffic will provide a much needed boost for local commerce. My next guest is Jason Wells , chief executive of the San Isidro Chamber of Commerce. He joins us now with the business outlook on the reopened PED West Crossing. Jason , welcome back to the program.
S2: Thank you. Good afternoon.
S1: Good afternoon to you , too.
S2: And I think there will be a positive impact. You know , 95% of our customers on the east side come from Mexico. 65% of our customers come from Mexico on the west side. So anything we can do to make the border crossing shorter for anyone actually helps both sides. So this reopening is going to bring more people directly to the outlet. It's going to bring employees to work on time. It's going to be visiting family members to be able to visit each other a lot more easy , a lot easier. And again , it doesn't just help the West side because everybody that we put on the west Side , they were going there anyway. So it just takes them out of the line on the east side , making that border crossing shorter.
S1: It's also important to note that Pat West is not going to immediately return to its 24 hour pre-pandemic operations.
S2: You know , reopening What's happened is that , you know , to open per west per say , it's not just turning to agents to open two lanes. It's sending two agents to open two lanes and sending the supervisor to watch those agents and sending somebody that works with cash to be able to take up the permits and so forth. Not that I'm giving excuses for CBP , but we do understand that from three years of closing to opening and there's been no change in personnel for them. We're happy that the commitment to reopen has been upheld. To a point and that they've used the personnel that they have in creating at least one ship that's reopened. So , yes , the reopening at 6 p.m. to 2 p.m. right now , northbound traffic.
S1: Despite the good news of this reopening , there have been lingering concerns about customs and border protections ability to really adequately staff its border crossings.
S2: So CBP , these will be able to operate just like my businesses to based on border flow. We you know , I was I've been part of the planning for the port of entry and its reconfiguration for the last better part of the last 20 years. There had always been anticipated personnel for the anticipated were crossing the border crossings are no longer anticipated. Neither is that personnel number. Yes they've had some , you know , retirements and everything that we all do. So to me , it's more of a management issue , not necessarily a personnel issue. That's not to say we wouldn't support more personnel for them , but it's also to say that we don't use we don't accept personnel as an excuse to not do their jobs.
S2: Like they're relieved. I mean , we fought for to get Pedro created the fact that we haven't had an open for three years , you know , has been terrible for us. Send us utero is so ignored with a lot of infrastructure that we really need to have the infrastructure we we do have open. So no , like I said , this doesn't just ease sale. This isn't just a dollar thing. This is these are employees getting to work. These are people getting to school. These are family members , you know , visiting each other. These are people getting medical care. We are a binational region and every every day of our lives is affected somehow with the other side of the border , whether you're north or south of it.
S1: And what's the general outlook for small businesses in San Ysidro right now ? Are a lot of business owners struggling ? Absolutely.
S2: This year was not a rebound year from pre-pandemic and in large part due to border crossing times. So what we're we're hoping for is really looking forward. We know this has to benefit us. We know things have to increase. It's just to which level is the uncertainty. So , you know , we as a chamber obviously pushing every day to get our facilities open and used and fully manned and getting more more staff time. They're getting both sides crossing , also working with our local and federal governments to get more infrastructure here. We're doing our part. We also have access to capital for our businesses. And then , you know , they'll do their their part in having their doors open. So this this is all a system. This is all a huge machine. And , you know , border crossings are a part of that. So now that we're able to create more efficient crossings , our business is only going to get better.
S1: It's been a struggle.
S2: We literally have gotten down to mom and Pop and a kid , you know , on most of the boulevard , as I said , as a as a chamber , I brought on an additional staff member with a partnership that we have with civic communities just to be a a go between between our businesses and access to capital to help keep them either growing or going or open. So , you know , again , we're one big family down here doing everything we can. We've gotten by this last year. We certainly hadn't gotten haven't rebounded , but we're hoping the 2023 can do that for us.
S2: We've we've stopped the hemorrhaging as far as doors closing , but there just hadn't been a lot of growth. And again , a lot of that had to do with border crossing times and people not coming back in the in the numbers that they were pre-pandemic. And we're really counting on this reopening of Midwest and everything we're doing here as a chamber to make 2023 the year that we do actually see that rebound.
S1: And at this point in time , I mean , we know that there were issues during the pandemic.
S2: Again , border times have kept border wait times have kept that our number of shoppers and visitors at a pandemic level not going back to a pre pandemic level , which is why today was so important in reopening the Midwest. So. You know , things have not gotten worse since the pandemic , but they hadn't gotten better either. We're hoping that this is the first step to getting things better for 2023.
S2: Wait times have to be acceptable. So we're talking , you know , anything less than half an hour for pedestrians ? Anything more than that is inexcusable. In addition to that , again , wait times will allow people to flow. But what we need for people to actually be able to visit Tennessee is a lot of infrastructure needs. Right now. We have the capacity for 30,000 people a day to cross our border , our borders and the pedestrian crossings. Yet two people can't walk shoulder to shoulder to my office , which is a block and a half away. So there's a lot of infrastructure needs. We've been working with our local , both city and county governments on. SANDAG has a Bayshore Bikeway link that's supposed to be putting shovels in the ground this year. We need that to happen. And , you know , in 2024 , we're going to have the eyes of the world on us as the world Design capital designation. Yet when you cross the border today , as soon as you cross , does it look a lot more different than then Tijuana ? So there's a lot of infrastructure needs and we're counting a lot on , you know , all these , you know , all of our elected officials that are popping up their colors for this world designation. World Design excuse me , designation. We need them to , you know , put in some more resources for us at the ground level in these in the community where these two great pieces of our region link.
S1: I've been speaking with Jason Wells , chief executive of the San Isidro Chamber of Commerce. Jason , thanks for talking with us today.
S2: Thank you. I appreciate the time.
S1: You're listening to KPBS Midday edition. I'm Jade Hindman. Imperial Beach has long had a reputation as a scruffy beach town , but it's been gentrifying in recent years. Now city officials unveiled a new plan to make it a destination city. KPBS reporter Gustavo Solis has the story.
S4: If you haven't visited Imperial Beach in a while , you may not recognize it. The town's gritty surfer vibe is still there. But now there's a fancy hotel right on the beach and a bunch of new shops , restaurants and breweries. While I be's gentrification came later than most places in San Diego County. It didn't come out of nowhere. It actually started back in the year 2000 with a planning document that was simply called the Big Picture. Newly elected Mayor Palomares says that the big picture changed Seacoast Drive , which is the city's beachfront commercial corridor. We talked on the Abbey Pier last week as the winter storms are coming in.
S5: Overall , we've made tremendous progress , especially in the last eight years. We've brought a lot of new businesses straight , especially in our Seacoast area and our Plum Avenue corridor.
S4: Now , there's a new version of the big picture for the coming decade. Officials are calling it the bigger picture. City manager Andy Hall came up with the name.
S6: You know , everybody talk about the big picture. The big picture. And it was a great , great document for providing vision and whatnot. So we thought , let's not mess with let's call it the bigger picture. I know just chapter two.
S4: This time , the vision goes beyond Seacoast Drive. It includes new public services , an updated pier and new pedestrian friendly shopping corridors in the east part of town.
S6: The bigger picture really had a lot to do with having the nature of Imperial Beach change from trying to be just a bedroom community to being something more.
S4: Mayor Ray is especially proud of the fact that the new plan includes the 13th Street and the eastern part of Palm Avenue. Both areas have historically been neglected.
S5: Districts one and districts four , which are the northern and eastern and the outskirts of our city , if you will , haven't had the same amount of investment as other areas like where we are today. Right. And Sea Coast have had in the past.
S4: Individual parts of the plan will be funded by a voter approved sales tax , hotel taxes , the general fund and other fees. It also includes infrastructure improvements that the entire region will benefit from. Part of that will be at the Bayshore Bikeway , a bike path that includes the Silver Strand Beach just north of Libby and wraps around the entire San Diego Bay. It will eventually connect to the border. Hall says that the people and vehicles who use the bikeway have changed over the last 20 years , so the city needs to change with them.
S6: We didn't have electric bikes going 25 miles an hour when when the bike path first put in. We didn't have as many pedestrians walking on the bike path. Now we there's a lot of bicycle pedestrian conflict. So we need to have things like hydration stations and lights.
S4: Some of the initiatives of the bigger picture are already in the works. The city brought back its Parks and Recreation department and a facelift to I.B. Pier is already underway.
S5: People propose to each other Here we see it , we witness it. And so absolutely , I think it's definitely going to generate a lot more revenue for the current parish.
S4: That's Jen Crawley. I spoke with her inside the Cowabunga Ice Cream Shop that's been at the pier for 20 years.
S5: In the nineties , it wasn't the best place to be. And so I used to come here and it was kind of I had a bad name at the time , unfortunately. And so there's been a lot of cleaning up.
S4: Crowley says she's excited to see how the bigger picture plays out and changes Imperial Beach over the next decade.
S1: That story from KPBS reporter Gustavo Solis , and he joins me now to open his Reporter's Notebook. Gustavo , welcome.
S4: Hello , Jane.
S1: So , you know , these are ambitious goals.
S4: One , they don't have a particularly big tax base from from business sales and hotel taxes. But also the biggest one , I think , in terms of hurting the reputation of I be that the perception of I believe and property values of IAB is the cross-border sewage issue that just continually keeps its beaches closed.
S1: Mm hmm. And paint a picture for us on how sewage overflows from Tijuana. Impact imperial beaches , ability to grow.
S4: Well , I live in Imperial Beach , and I like to sleep with the with the window open sometimes. And I'll wake up and else I'll smell the faint odor of sewer sometimes in the morning. So it's kind of like that on the daily on on really bad days. I mean , I've thought about moving out just because of that , Right ? What's the point of living so close to the beach if you can't actually go in the water half the time in terms of an actual impact people can see. I mean , just look at property values , right ? Imperial Beach is in Southern California. It is on the beach. It has houses for sale that are one or two blocks away from the beach that are being sold for less than $1,000,000. If you go a couple of miles north to Coronado , those houses are being sold for more than $5 million. So that kind of starts telling you the impact of of the cross-border sewage issue. Hmm.
S1: Hmm. And the bigger picture , you say has already begun bringing back the Parks and Rec department , which had been gone for 20 years.
S4: That's actually something that that mayor , newly elected Mayor Paloma Guerra , is particularly excited about is something that the former mayor search the DNA called for many , many times before he left office and Imperial Beach. They had , I think , the only kind of public serving youth event organization they had before was junior lifeguards , which is very popular over here. But now they'll be able to have more diversity in programming for children , for seniors , for families. So that's just kind of creating the sense of of not even creating because there's a strong sense of community here. But but maintaining that and strengthening that and preserving that. I think it'll go a long way to make the city and municipal government a visible presence in people's lives.
S1: And while most of the attention has been paid to the beach area , now the city is working on the east side. Talk a bit more about the changes in store. Yeah.
S4: Yeah. Yeah. As you said , most of the attention has gone to Seacoast Drive , the Bayfront Waterfront commercial corridor. And you can see kind of the fruits of those investments starting to bear out now with with the hotel. They have restaurants and breweries they have on there , which is great for for people who live and work and spend time in Seacoast Drive. But for the people on the eastern side of town , around 13th Street , on the eastern side of Palm Avenue , they haven't seen those same investments and they've been calling the city out for a while now , and the city is listening to them. Part of the bigger picture does call for changing the way the 13th Street corridor looks and the. Eastern part of Palm Avenue. Looks they want to widen the sidewalks , bring in more lighting , pedestrian friendly crosswalks , more trees , and make that area a place like right now is just mostly a place that you drive through on your way to the beach. They want it to be a place that you can drive to and have it be a destination in and of itself. And with that obviously comes hopefully it attracting new businesses and mixed use development like you have on Seacoast Drive. And that would expand , obviously , the business tax base , the sales tax base. Sorry. Yeah.
S1: Yeah. You know , another big change is an expansion of the Bay Shore Bikeway eventually all the way to the border. This seems like a big deal.
S4: I mean , the bigger picture incorporates it , but. But it has been years long in the making , that one. I think SANDAG is also involved in that project. So it's the bigger picture in terms of the Bay Shore bikeway is twofold. One , obviously it is continuing to expand it into the border , which would be a huge boost to the entire region. Hopefully , I don't know how this would actually play out in person , but but the idea or the goal that the officials have would be that people would be able to just instead of commute to work by car , Charlie , they would be able to take their bikes to and from Tijuana , which might alleviate some of that cross-border traffic , particularly on the weekends. And then in terms of the actual Bay Shore Bikeway , they want to make it a little bit more safer for the people who are riding it right now. First , it starts with recognizing that the youth have changed over the the last 20 years. It's not just bicycles anymore , and it's not just road bikes anymore. Now you have a lot more pedestrians than you ever did , and you have electric bicycles that can go 20 miles per hour. The city manager , when I talked to him , Andy Hall , he mentioned there has been some pedestrian versus bicyclist tension growing in the Bayshore bikeway. So part of making it safer is updated signage widening it a little bit , creating some benches and rest areas for pedestrians and increased lighting. So just kind of a plan to expand it and make it clear who can go where. So that everybody can share the road in a little bit of a nicer way.
S1: You talked about the new mayor in your story.
S4: I don't it's hard for me to say just because of local politics and Imperial Beach. I mean , Paloma York came in a couple of years ago , served on the city council. She was kind of initially seen as the Dina's protege. They both came from Wild Coast. So she does have the bona fides of being involved in environmental activism for many , many years. She has been a strong and fighter and leader in the cross-border sewage issue , and she will continue to be that. She does have some detractors in the city council. It was shown just a couple of months ago at the the vote to elect a SANDAG representative. Mayor Paloma Guerra wasn't elected. It was a city council member that went. And so there is some conflict and I don't know how that will play out in the long term in terms of the city's ability to get things done. Obviously , it's a little bit harder to get things done if there's a little bit of tension on the council or not. But I would say that her priorities are the same that they've been for for a while now , which is addressing the cross-border sewage issue , increasing municipal services without alienating people who have lived here for for a long time , which is kind of the struggle of gentrification , right ? How do you expand an increase without pricing people out or losing that community that the city has cultivated for generations ? Right.
S1: And , you know , I mean , Imperial Beach is a vibe. There's this culture that exists there. On the weekends , you can see lowrider cars cruising along Seacoast Drive.
S4: I mean , Imperial Beach has one of the lowest tax revenues in San Diego County. It's a very small city. I think it's like two or three square miles. And these projects are meant to make the city more resilient to two economic downturns. They're aiming to to increase some of the public amenities. So the city officials kind of see it as central to to keeping Imperial Beach the way it is. And not that it's in any any danger , but they don't want it to become like a lemon grove that's kind of struggling to stay afloat in terms of people against it. I mean , the big picture is made up of a bunch of little projects , right ? And if you read the document is the projects are set up in an individual basis. They all have their own intended funding source , their own timeline. So I think there might be some detractors in terms of individual projects that they may not like or may be politically shaky. But I think for the most part , there's there's wide ranging support. Support for the idea of having this long term vision of progress in the city.
S1: I've been speaking with KPBS reporter Gustavo Solis. Gustavo , thanks.
S4: Oh , thank you , Jade.
S1: You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman. Poet Lee Herrick has taught at Fresno City College since the late 1990s and is now our state's first Asian-American poet laureate. His work has touched on some of the experiences Californians share , including our diverse culture and food , as well as questions of identity.
S3: I washed my daughter. Bite into a peach. And although she did not have the language for it yet. I imagined her thinking that case. That perfect juice is heavenly. There was a certain light in Fresno that. Like today. Where we were.
S1: The California Report magazine host Sasha Koka chats with Henrik as he shares some poems and his plans to spread his love of poetry across the state. Lee You were raised in the Bay Area , Danville and Modesto for a bit. You now live in Fresno. You also write about L.A. and other parts of the state. You just capture the flavor and texture of California so well. I want to ask you to read one of my favorite poems , which is called My California.
S3: Yes , I'd be happy to. My California. Here , an olive votive keeps the sunset lit. The Korean 20 somethings talk about hyphens , graduate school and good pot. A group of four at a window table in Carpinteria discuss the quality of wines in Napa Valley versus Lodi. Here in my California , the streets. Remember the Chicano poet whose songs still bank off Fresno's beer soaked gutters and almond trees and partial blossom ? Here in my California , we fish out long noodles from the fire. With such accuracy , you know , we've done this before in Fresno. The bullets tire of themselves and begin to pray five times a day in Fresno. We hope for less of the police state and more of a state of grace in my California. You can watch the sun go down , like in your California , on the ledge of the pregnant 22nd century , the one with a bounty of peaches and grapes , red onions and the good salsa wine and jop. Che here in my California paperbacks are free. Farmer's markets are 24 hours a day and always packed. The trees and water have no nails in them. The priests eat well. The homeless eat well. Here in my California. Everywhere is Chinatown. Everywhere is K-Town. Everywhere is Armenia Town. Everywhere. A little Italy. Less Confederacy. No internment in the Valley. Better history texts for the juniors in my California. Free sounds and free touch. Free questions , free answers , free songs from parents and poets. Those hopeful bodies of light.
S1: Lee , You come.
S5: From a long.
S1: Line of Fresno poets who've been recognized at both the state and the national level. In fact , two of our most recent national poet laureates are from Fresno , Philip Levine and Juan Philip Herrera.
S3: One is just the heat and the grit of the city. There's a great work ethic that stems from that , which lends itself well to writing poetry. I think the poets here are unafraid of work , just like the people are unafraid of work and sweat and the heat. I believe there are something like over 90 languages spoken here , incredibly diverse. One of the most vibrant , rich poetry communities anywhere.
S1: I know you've done a lot of thinking about race and identity , and one of the themes in your work is what it's like to be a Korean adoptee who grew up in a white family. Tell me a little bit about how your adoptive family talked to you about race.
S3: You know , so I was growing up in the 1970s and eighties , and the adoption discourse at that time sort of mirrored the race discourse of that time from white America or from my white family , which was we don't see color. We're we're all the same. It can also have an isolating effect on a person of color in a white family. I'm still very close with my parents , and luckily they were able to learn with me as I learned and be receptive to things that I would tell them about experiences with racism that were extremely difficult of a defining moment in my life with regard to race consciousness was the Rodney King beating in 1992 and some of the impact that had on the Korean-American community. And so it took me a while to realize that I was Asian-American. It took me a while to realize that the racism I was experienced was not accidental and that it was having an impact on me and on thousands or millions of other people.
S1: Well , there's also a lot of delight and celebration in your poetry. One of the things I find most joyful about your work is when you write about food.
S3: Oh , Sasha , we could talk a long time about food , couldn't we , in this this this state is such an incredible bounty. So this is a poem titled Abecedarian Love Song for Street Food. All praise for the puzzle. A glistening in midday light by the grace of the woman near the mall in Southern California. Raul Martinez unveiled a mobile downtown gold mine of our past daughter by a bar in East L.A. For the drunk , the artists , the necessary future waiting in line. Praise be to the ice cream truck. Glory of the van's slow roll. So praise the van. Hut ! Cart. Booth. Tent. Stall. Stand. Bike or truck ? I once devoured a cloud , and Oaxaca City broke down just as the sunlight burst through the heart of a woman kissing her baby's forehead by the plaza. When I say love , what I mean to say is I dream of you through disaster , malady , drought , or this nightmarish anxiety pandemic. Now , even in this late dying , let us praise the 20,000 open hearted vendors in Bangkok and the glorious proposals in San Salvador. I ate on a bench near a dove case idea a rape. Duke Bochy Hallelujah. The bond Me Right on the outskirts of way. The chili pepper. The cilantro songs praise the Zocalo Saints , who brought me to tears with a. So full of music. I almost wept. Under the Beijing moonlight. Bouts is made by angels vendors with wings if you know where to look on West 53rd and Sixth Avenue , New York City , Harlem , or in Fresno. No xenophobe is welcome. Tell me what to eat your to on your ello to your mouth full of pure zen like savory , surprising flashes of heaven.
S1: Mm hmm. You're making me hungry. Tacos full of music and image.
S3: Oh , God bless the tacos.
S1: Yes , Fresno has some of the best tacos , too. You're lucky , Lee. Tell us a little bit about your goals as poet laureate.
S3: Every reading and events that I do throughout the state , I hope to pair with a local social justice or civic engagement organization. I've already got readings books from San Diego to Northern California and everywhere in between. The other way I'll be inviting any and every Californian to write a poem about their city , their town , or their California , if you will.
S1: He's the author of several books , including Scar in Flower and Gardening Secrets of the Dead. He also co-edited The World I Leave You Asian American Poets on Faith and Spirit.