Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live

Border reopens to non-essential travel

 November 8, 2021 at 4:10 PM PST

Speaker 1:
The San Diego, Mexico border reopens for vaccinated visitors
Speaker 2:
Today, the border finally, we opened for non essential travel. We United families reopening businesses on both sides of the border.
Speaker 1:
I'm Maureen Cavenaugh with Andrew Bowen. This is KPBS mid-day edition. San Diego sets new limits on cancer causing industrial emissions.
Speaker 3:
The port of San Diego areas traditionally always been heavily affected by industry pollution by its geographic location. So that's definitely a place where some of the highest cancer risks are,
Speaker 1:
Uh, report from inside the UN climate conference in Glasgow and new owners chart a new direction for San Diego magazine. That's ahead on mid day edition. First, the news
Speaker 4:
Border crossings are a step closer to normalcy and pollution. Regulators are moving to clean up San Diego's air. I'm Andrew Bowen with Maureen Kavanaugh. This is KPBS mid-day edition. It's Monday, November 8th.
Speaker 1:
Delays we're expected today as the San Diego Mexico border reopens for non-essential travel border. Wait times at mid morning at San Ysidro show 40 minutes for passenger vehicles and about 15 minutes for pedestrians San Diego mayor Todd, Gloria cheered on the reopening this morning.
Speaker 2:
I've been waiting a very long time for this day. This is a great day for [inaudible] for San Diego for about Ashley. Let's give it up for reopening
Speaker 1:
For the first time. Since March 20, 20, Mexican citizens can cross the border for shopping family visits or any number of reasons as long as they can show proof of vaccination. But that proof may be harder to obtain than expected due to delays and official Mexican vaccine documents. Joining me is KPBS border reporter Gustavo Selise at San Ysidro and Gustavo. Welcome. Thank you, Maureen. What's the situation at the border now?
Speaker 5:
Well, it's the opposite of what we expected. We expected longer border wait times, but there there is no, or relatively little wait. It's been the fastest to get through since the pandemic started pretty much
Speaker 1:
So it's pretty easy for people to come north and south. The border crossing is pretty clear.
Speaker 5:
Yes, that's right at, uh, Petty's crossing. All the lanes are open. Uh, all the pedestrian booths are open. So they're processing people really, really quickly.
Speaker 1:
Now are most of the Mexican travelers being asked to provide proof of vaccination.
Speaker 5:
So of ones that I've talked to, I spent the morning talking to a lot of folks who were costing for the first time today. They didn't wait for anyone to ask them. They just went up right to the booth and showed them the certification. Uh, the ones that also had it were simply asked by, Hey, have you been vaccinated? They said, yes. And border patrol agents, didn't ask to see the verification. And in most of those cases,
Speaker 1:
Now you've reported on the difficulty. Some people are having in getting an official Mexican vaccination document. What's slowing down the process.
Speaker 5:
Yeah, it's been a real pain in Tijuana to get the official certification. The, the main problem is, uh, information hasn't always been accurate. So somebody whose address is incorrect. Somebody's email address or telephone number is incorrect. And because the Mexican government is getting so many requests to, to issue corrections, there's a backlog and it's taking them about three months to correct those mistakes,
Speaker 1:
But do people really need that official government document?
Speaker 5:
Well, I think what we're seeing today at the border is that a lot of people won't need them. But the tricky situation is that even though you probably won't be asked to show it, you might, and there's no way for you to know when you will be asked and when you won't be asked, so you kind of have to have they're ready to go, but more often than not, no, you won't be required to show it.
Speaker 1:
Now, even with those problems and the potential delays, maybe on Tuesday or Wednesday at the border, this is a day many people have been waiting for. What have you been hearing about that?
Speaker 5:
Well, you heard it from the press conference, right from that clip. People are excited. It wasn't just Gloria here this morning. It was the mayor of [inaudible] the governor of Baja, California, uh, representatives from Chula Vista, Imperial beach, the county, everyone was just really, really excited to have it finally reopened because of the economic impact it's had in San Ysidro. Specifically. Now the, the mood is a little bit different in the shops where shop owners, aren't really seeing the bump that they expected right away. You know, today business has been more or less the same and that's been disappointing,
Speaker 1:
But the holidays are approaching and those businesses must be looking forward to a good season.
Speaker 5:
Oh, definitely here in San Ysidro, the businesses, the majority of them make all of their net profits during this upcoming holiday season. So even though today, wasn't what they expected. They're still very, very happy and very optimistic about the next couple of months.
Speaker 1:
And has the border closure affected the entire San Diego economy?
Speaker 5:
Yes. Yeah, it really has. Uh, particularly when you look at the service industry and the tourism industry, uh, they, they, they've both taken really, really massive hits from cross border travelers who really just come for the weekend to spend it at, uh, at SeaWorld people in Tiguan to have their restaurants that they go to. And in Coronado or up in Del Mar a lot like a steak houses downtown, I've told that they're, they're just wanting to go back to the place that they've always been to. So even though it's mostly felt are most heavily felt in San Ysidro, really the entire county is experiencing the, the impact.
Speaker 1:
And on a more personal level, there are families that haven't been able to see each other for the last 20 months. What are you hearing about that personal aspect of this reopening?
Speaker 5:
Well, I talked to a woman who hadn't seen her sisters in 20 months, right? I mean, they talked on the phone, they do face time, but there's no substitute for hugging your sister, right? Sharing a meal or a cup of coffee with them. Uh, that is the impact that is really more difficult to quantify. Right? You can put a dollar figure on the loss sales revenue, but you can't really quantify not seeing a relative for 20 months.
Speaker 1:
Well, we'll have to keep our fingers crossed that that good flow, the traffic flow at the border keeps up as this continues for over the next couple of days. I've been speaking with KPBS border reporter Gustavo. So Elise, thank you so much for speaking with us.
Speaker 5:
Well, thank you, Marie,
Speaker 4:
For years, a number of San Diego based industries have been emitting carcinogenic toxins at a rate far higher than elsewhere in California. That's supposed to change after the San Diego air pollution control district voted unanimously last week to force industries to drastically cut their pollution. The new regulation would see companies reduce their emissions. So that cancer risks are one 10th of their current legal limit. Joining me now with more is McKenzie Elmer who covers environmental issues for voice of San Diego McKenzie. Welcome back to the program. Hi,
Speaker 3:
Thanks. Great to be here.
Speaker 4:
What are the local industries that are actually emitting these kinds of cancerous toxins?
Speaker 3:
No, we really focused on one large polluter. That's the NASSCO or the shipbuilding industry over at the port of San Diego, but there's a lot of different types of industries that can potentially emit these cancer causing toxins like multiple landfills have, uh, high rates or high risks of cancer in San Diego. There's concrete industries that produce a lot of like dust particulates and other kinds of toxins, um, metalworking, plating industries. And actually in our story, we have a map. We posted all of the locations. So you can kind of look up where you live in context to where some of these industries are.
Speaker 4:
What exactly will these polluting industries have to change? When these regulations take effect
Speaker 3:
Prior to the vote? The industry is all they had to do was notify the public about every three to four years when they would submit a kind of inventory of all of their cancer-causing pollutants that they do emit to the district. So now they're going to have to notify the public in shorter timeframes. Also maybe have to meet with the public as well, and kind of a community meeting setting that remains to be seen how that's all going to work out, but they'll also have to start actually changing their practices or updating their technologies, uh, so that they're emitting less of these pollutants and have to kind of bring down their threshold of cancer risks in San Diego.
Speaker 4:
And what's been the response from these industrial polluters themselves. I have to imagine they're not too thrilled about this change,
Speaker 3:
Right? It is a, it is a cost to industries. Um, I tried to get in contact with some of them to try and get more context about just how costly updating their technologies to the best available is. It's kind of the phrase in the policy speak the best available technologies. But initially before the vote, when these industries were submitting letters in response to the rule change NASSCO was quite against it. They were worried about how quickly they would have to change their technologies. And that kind of basically they wanted this process to slow down and they wanted the district to study the cost to industries in the area, but they sort of changed their tune during the actual public meeting. They said that they accepted the rule, uh, despite it being kind of a, a higher cost to them. But what they were more concerned about during the actual vote was something that the environmental advocates were actually asking for.
Speaker 3:
They wanted tighter limits on the amount of extensions. These industries could get to actually update their technologies. So the rule that they passed allows for industries to make changes within five years, but they can get additional three-year extensions. And as far as I read the rule, there's no limit to those three-year extensions. So the industries were just hoping that the district would allow for industries to kind of have more time in the future to update their technologies. And the advocates were really hoping for like a 10 year hard limit, but the district actually kept it kind of looser to allow for industries to make their changes.
Speaker 4:
Toxic pollution is higher in San Diego county. Does that also mean that we have higher cancer rates? In other words, have the looser regulations also led to worse health outcomes.
Speaker 3:
That's a really great question. And one that I have yet to really explore, it's quite hard if you talked a lot of public health experts to be able to link cancer to a very specific source or a pollutant or even location, but conceivably and statistically speaking, because we've had this sort of higher allowable cancer risk for many decades, conceivably, there are higher cancer rates, perhaps due to that, it's just, it's very hard to link the two things.
Speaker 4:
Let's talk about this regulatory agency, the San Diego air pollution control district. It's not something I think most people are very familiar with. There have been some pretty substantial changes to the structure of this agency. What were those changes and tell us how they laid the groundwork for this most recent crackdown on emissions, the air pollution can
Speaker 3:
Drill district is basically a regional body. That's supposed to regulate local emission sources. They have to use, you know, like the basic state standards from the California air resources board. And then they can kind of decide how strict they want to be with their local industries, which is part of the reason why we saw San Diego had permitted such a high level of cancerous for such a long time. Whereas other areas of California, like the south coast air district, which includes the port of long beach, they actually had stricter standards than San Diego. And they have a lot of industry there, obviously. So that was interesting. But the board itself for the longest time was basically ruled and governed by the county board of supervisors. They were sort of like the shoe in board and would make decisions. And I spoke with current supervisor Nathan Fletcher about this because he was one of the few Democrats on the county board of supervisors when they were still in control of this board.
Speaker 3:
And he said, he tried to propose stricter rules on these cancer causing toxins. But he himself told me, I tried to propose this rule and nobody knew how to even put anything on the agenda in effect the air pollution control district just didn't really do much governing, I guess, because the county board of supervisors was in charge. And I just depends on how ambitious your, your county board is on air pollution, whether those changes are going to take place. And so the makeup of the board changed after, um, Meritor, Gloria, when he was formerly in the assembly, he pushed bill AB 6 1 7 and it forced the air pollution control district to expand its board beyond just the county board of supervisors. And now they have, I think it's 11 members which include city council members from Lamesa San Diego and also members of the public who have, you know, air pollution, interests, or public health expertise, some advocacy members as well. So that I think we saw a real change because there was really no discussion. It was pretty obvious that the current board was ready to pass this rule. Despite the pushback from industries,
Speaker 4:
I see the presence of these pollutants is not evenly distributed across the county, which neighborhoods have historically seen the worst kind of, or the worst levels of this pollution.
Speaker 3:
From what I could tell by the mapping of the industries that I had from the district, the port of San Diego areas, traditionally always been one that's heavily affected by industry pollution just by its geographic location next to the port. So that's definitely a place where some of the highest cancer risks are. So if you look at the map, you can see also that there's a lot of cancer hotspots on the periphery of the city. So like where the landfills are, and that's kind of common for zoning. You know, you push industry out sort of towards the outskirts away from residences, but it is surprising. There are some clusters of cancerous from these industries scattered throughout the city. So it's not just your, your air is cleaner. If you don't live near the port or you don't live near their outskirts, there are various polluting industries throughout the region.
Speaker 4:
I've been speaking with voice of San Diego environment reporter at McKenzie, Elmer and McKinsey. Thanks for joining
Speaker 6:
Us. Thanks so much. Talking with me.
Speaker 1:
This is KPBS mid day edition. I'm Maureen Cavenaugh with Andrew Bowen. Jade Heinemann is a way today. Access to banking is an important facet of a community's health and as KPBS, race and equity reporter, Christina Kim finds in Imperial county, a shortage of bank branches and rising temperatures can be a dangerous mix.
Speaker 6:
Noon is still hours away on a Tuesday in early August, but the streets of El Centro, California are so hot. It feels like the soles of your shoes could melt into the asphalt suffering in this heat. Our lines of people, many elderly outside of bank of America and Wells Fargo's branches, beads of sweat form on the faces of customers. As they wait patiently to use the ATM or talk to a teller
Speaker 7:
[inaudible] [inaudible].
Speaker 6:
Once they get here is an agricultural worker from Hopeville California. He waited an hour just to use the bank of America ATM during his break. He says, during the high heat season, the wait for an ATM is unbearable because there's no shade. Maria Lopez is retired and lives here in El Centro. She says she nearly fainted once when waiting at the bank on a hot day
Speaker 8:
[inaudible]
Speaker 6:
She was rushed and doors where it was cooler. But to this day, she can't be out in the heat for long, without getting sick.
Speaker 8:
[inaudible] the local
Speaker 6:
Wells Fargo branches in El Centro and Calexico have devised systems so that people have access to shade. And someone is always there directing the flow of people. So how did it come to this El Centro as an Imperial county situated on the edge of the Anza Borrego desert state park, but the region is at risk of becoming another type of desert, a banking desert. There are only 12 brick and mortar FDAC insured banks for Imperial counties over 180,000 predominantly Latino and low income residents down from 19 as recently as 2013,
Speaker 9:
I think we have seen a fair amount of branch consolidation. Um, and the past several years,
Speaker 6:
That's Beth mills spokesperson for the Western bankers association. She says consumer habits are driving the change, making branches less important. There's been
Speaker 9:
A lot less people going into branches now with everyone doing mobile banking, not everyone, but a huge majority,
Speaker 6:
But GSL Mendoza. The director of the Imperial valley, small businesses development center says not everyone is online savvy and the lack of bank branches can be challenging for the small business owner. She works with
Speaker 10:
The culture here is very different. Um, I can honestly say most business owners want to sit down and sit in front of a person and know who they're conducting
Speaker 11:
Business
Speaker 6:
With Maria Lopez, who nearly fainted while waiting in line. That one time in all sass, it tells me she doesn't know how to bank online and isn't interested in
Speaker 8:
[inaudible].
Speaker 6:
She wishes there were more banks in the area, so people wouldn't have to wait so long. Juan Lopez is spokesperson for Wells-Fargo, who grew up in Imperial county is no stranger to the lines. His own mom likes to go in and talk with the teller. I asked him if he thinks more branches would help alleviate the lines,
Speaker 12:
Probably not the best person to answer them. But I would say, I would say a very strong Navy.
Speaker 6:
He does say however that when the branch has started to close in Calexico a few years ago, the lines got longer
Speaker 12:
Shutter and leave the community. The lines just get progressively worse because we're the only bank there in Calexico, especially
Speaker 6:
Less than a mile from the Mexico border and littered with cash checking places collect sickle only has a single Wells Fargo branch where lions can take up to three hours, California state Senator Ben waySo represents Imperial county. He told KPBS in a statement that banking access is quote a huge problem in the valley. waySo has coauthored two recent bills that have paved the way for public banking options, which he says are needed because quote, this issue is not going away for now though. People are still lining up and Imperials few bank branches, no matter what the thermometer reads, Christina Kim KPBS news, joining me
Speaker 1:
As KPBS, race and equity reporter, Christina Kim, Chris, welcome to the program, Maureen, In your report, you say Imperial county only has one bank for approximately every 15,000 residents. Can you contrast those numbers with the kind of access to banks we have here in San Diego?
Speaker 11:
Sure. So it's hard to compare and Purell county with San Diego county in some respects, just because of the sheer size differences as well as different demographics, but looking purely at the numbers, San Diego county has a population of about 3.3 million people, people, and there's 527 FDI insured banks. So that breaks down to approximately one bank for a little over 6,000 people. It's obviously still like a big disparity when you hear it. But I think it's interesting that, and I want to look at more is where branches clustered. So breaking it down a little more granular El Centro, which is an Imperial county has eight brick and mortar branches for its population of over 4,000 people on a beach in north county. And Diego has a much smaller population of 13,000, but they also have eight banks.
Speaker 1:
Can you tell us more about how bank branches in El Centro and Calexico, how do they try to provide shade and shelter to people waiting on long lines?
Speaker 11:
Yeah, so most bank branches and Imperial, no that the first week of the, when disability checks social security and paychecks are coming in is going to be hectic. So when I was down there, what I saw was Wells Fargo had really pitched up tents in one instance. And then in El Centro, they had blocked off part of the shaded parking lot. So cars couldn't park park there in order for people to be able to line up. And what I really saw was like a lot of people creating a system to try and process people as quickly as possible. You know, there's somebody on a walkie-talkie inside of the bank talking to someone outside. Who's just really trying to get people moving quickly and also giving priority to the elderly and those who really just are suffering in the heat or just can't stand in line for a very long
Speaker 1:
Out about how long are those
Speaker 11:
Weights, right? So these weights really depend on the day, of course, but we've heard cases in which the outlet, the weight can take up to three hours. And that's especially in Calexico where there's only one single brick and mortar brain.
Speaker 1:
Now in listening to your report, it occurred to me, would offering classes to people on how to access online banking. Would that help the situation?
Speaker 11:
That's an interesting question, Marine. So what I heard from a lot of the people that I spoke to in banks, including Jay cell Mendoza, who now runs the small business development center, but used to work at a bank is that banks really are the ones, bank branches are really the ones that are doing that kind of education. So much of it is, Hey, this is how you use an ATM, this is how you might use mobile banking. And we do know according to the Wells Fargo spokesperson, one Lopez that they have seen the use of mobile banking go up, but it's kind of like a chicken and egg situation Marine, right? If these branches are the ones that are providing this kind of financial literacy, as well as access to online banking help, then there kind of needs to be more right in order for that education or that kind of, you know, help with access to be there. And I think in such situations it's important, not necessarily to put the onus on the clientele. So the question is less why can't people just do online banking and more, why are institutions not meeting people where they're at?
Speaker 1:
And there's only one bank in Calexico now
Speaker 11:
That's right. And Calexico, there's only one single brick and mortar branch, which is Wells Fargo. And that's where I was saying the lens can get extra long as a result. That's where we're seeing those kinds of three hour wait times at times
Speaker 1:
Now Wells Fargo has come under a great deal of criticism for the amount of fees. It charges it's recently launched a program aimed at changing that, but it's not been known as a great bank for low income people. So I'm wondering, could check cashing stores be a workable option for some residents,
Speaker 11:
Right? So to your point, Wells Fargo has been scrutinized for fees and also just not being as present in low income communities where black and Latino people live in may of this year, Wells Fargo launched a ten-year plan or initiative to increase their presence in underserved communities and really tackle the issue of financial exclusion and really reach out to those that aren't banked at all. So we're going to have to see, you know, where that program really, but to your question about check cashing options. The fact is that in Calexico and El Centro, I did see several check cashing places as well as payday loan centers and people, especially those that are un-banked or under-banked, which is when someone has a bank, but also uses alternative financial products like check cashing places. They're more prone to use it, but there are really risks and costs associated to check cashing places.
Speaker 11:
So check cashing places, give you immediate cash for your check, but it's at a price. They charge transaction speeds, which can be very high and over time can really add up. If that's the sole way a person is, you know, banking or doing any kind of financial tracking transactions, moreover funds, there are not insured. And there's a higher risk that clients using check cashing places will be offered a payday loan, which we know have extremely high interest rates and can further push people into a cycle of debt. So yes, it's workable, but I think a lot of folks wouldn't say it's, it's advisable.
Speaker 1:
Now you say state Senator Ben weso has introduced bills to create public banking options. Tell us what would they be
Speaker 11:
When I asked, uh, states that are been wasted, a comment on this issue, the first thing he told me is that it's very much a huge problem, right? Banking access is a huge problem in the valley. And then he also noted that he's heard two bills in the last few years that have paved the way for public banking, which I think is this his way of signaling that this is a possible solution. So the first was just signed into law this year, and it's going to create a fizzy feasibility study for the so-called Cal counts, which provide low income families with zero interest and zero fee accounts with no minimums that will be regulated by the state, but managed through financial institutions. And the goal of this was really, Hey, let's do a study to see how we can get those who are unbanked or underbanked, you know, to get banks so that they're not relying on predatory products.
Speaker 11:
And the second is the now 2019 law that created a legal framework and pathway for up to 10 public bank charters to be piloted so far, Los Angeles and San Francisco are the furthest ahead, but these would create new municipal owned banks, which again, they're not these bills and public banking are not specific to Imperial valley, but against, you know, his inclusion of public banking seems to be signaling that state Senator waySo thinks that in order to address banking issues in the valley, there's going to have to be some creative solutions down the line, perhaps such as public banking.
Speaker 1:
I've been speaking with KPBS race and equity reporter, Christina Kim, Christina.
Speaker 11:
Thank you. Thank you, Maureen.
Speaker 13:
[inaudible]
Speaker 4:
The UN climate conference in Glasgow. Scotland is entering its second week. There were protests outside the venue at the end of last week, including a passionate speech by climate activist, Gretta Toon, Berg who called the cop 26, a failure to find out more. What goes on inside the conference, the California report called up Chris field director of the Stanford woods Institute for the environment who's been attending for years. He starts by describing the physical setup of the conference.
Speaker 14:
There's sort of a central core where negotiators from all the countries are, are working on taxed, fine tuning commitments through the nationally determined contributions. They're talking about progress on thorny issues like loss and damage, whether there should be compensation for poor countries. And these negotiators around a thousand people total are mostly pretty cut off from the, from the outer circles. And the negotiating teams are mid to high level representatives of pretty much all the world's governments with drop-in visits from heads of state and ministers of environment. There's a second tier of official observer organizations, universities, big NGOs, corporations who are there to help provide information, to help make the case for the solutions that they're most interested in. And then there's an outer layer that in UN speakers called the green zone and the green zone is open to the public. And it has everyone represented from Morlan gas interests to youth activist groups, and really is where the public expressions of interest about climate change come into focus. What is the
Speaker 15:
Significance of these different circles?
Speaker 14:
And the whole idea of the Paris agreement is that there's supposed to be mutual stimulating of ambitions that as individual countries realize that they can commit more. They do that encouraging other countries to step up encouraging private companies, to step up encouraging activist groups, to step up. And at the same time, pressure from NGOs and activist groups can stimulate the countries to push more can stimulate companies to increase their commitments. And the whole idea of the Paris agreement is to generate what you might think of as a virtuous circle, where every time an increase in ambition from one actor occurs, it tends to raise the ambition among the others, and also to increase the pressure on those who are perceived as laggards.
Speaker 15:
How do you expect this conference to influence what happens here in California?
Speaker 14:
Yeah, well, California really has an incredibly important position on the global stage as a real leader in both commitment to action on climate change and willingness to experiment with a wide range of approaches to driving emissions down, California really is important as a lighthouse for what can be examples of, of what works examples of what don't doesn't work as are useful to California's continued high profile leadership makes a real difference in terms of the, of the willingness of, of other parts of the U S and other places in the world to be involved.
Speaker 4:
That was Chris field, the director of the Stanford woods Institute for the environment speaking with the California reports, Laura Kleinman's,
Speaker 1:
As we continue coverage about the UN climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, it's important to underscore California's role in it and how the state will be affected by future climate change to bring the topic home, make it more tangible and take you somewhere that's directly threatened by our planet's changing climate and things like sea level rise. The California report explored a regional track of transportation that could stand to be affected. So very early one recent morning, California report hosts, Saul Gonzalez caught a train.
Speaker 16:
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, welcome aboard. This is your cafe car attendance, the cafe.
Speaker 17:
So I've come aboard and track specific surf liner, which connects downtown Los Angeles and downtown San Diego. It's about a three hour trip and it can be incredibly scenic, particularly as the train runs along the coastline. It's also a great way to see how climate change retina, the coast and all the things that human beings have built along the coastline over the past several decades,
Speaker 18:
[inaudible]
Speaker 17:
That built environment threatened by rising seas includes ocean front homes, roads, peers, power plants, and this Berry train I'm riding on in September, both Amtrak and a commuter rail line had a suspend service on part of this route for a couple of weeks, emergency repairs were needed because beach erosion partly attributed to climate change threatened the tracks.
Speaker 19:
You know, the coastline is a super dynamic place. Naturally
Speaker 17:
It's Rick bell, a professor of geological sciences at Cal state long beach. He says, even in normal times, California's coast can be a tricky place to build things and keep them safe.
Speaker 19:
The coastline itself is actually a very mobile dynamic feature. It's, you know, it's where everything comes together. The, the ocean, the atmosphere, the land, the rivers it's constantly changing.
Speaker 17:
Climate change says bell really supercharges. Those changes, making storms stronger, tides higher, and coastal erosion of beaches and cliffs worse.
Speaker 16:
That is drama. When I arrive in San Juan Capistrano station, Santa upon campus runoff,
Speaker 17:
And you can really see how rising seas and eroding coasts could threaten this train route and everything around it. As we travel through south orange county and into north San Diego county, the train track comes really close to the Pacific ocean here. You feel like you can almost touch the water. It's a spectacular view, but it also shows how vulnerable this train and nearby homes and infrastructure are to climate change. Now get off the train and walk the beaches and a town like San Clemente or Oceanside. And you can see how people have responded so far to the threat. See walls have been built in front of many homes and giant boulders have in place between the ocean and the train tracks and a lot of places. But in the long-term geologist, Rick bell says such coastal armoring actually makes a Rojan worse by starving the beach of new sources of sand.
Speaker 19:
It increases the energy on the beach causes more erosion drops the sand. And so there really is no beach left.
Speaker 17:
Looking ahead. Belle says Californians will likely face the daunting and expensive challenge of moving some homes and critical infrastructure, including parts of this train route away from the coast that's called planned retreat. Bell also says we have to stop thinking about sea level rise as something that's happening so slowly. We just don't have to worry about it yet. He says big changes to our coast could come dramatically. Fast
Speaker 19:
Beach erosion. Cliff retreat is not a gradual process. It's episodic so that when someone says, oh, that's long in the future, far in the future, it may be, or it may not be. And when it happens, it's going to be some catastrophic events, some big events that will cause a lot of damage all at once.
Speaker 17:
As I watched the California coastline pass by from the comfort of my train seat, remembering Bell's comments made the million dollar views of the water on a gorgeous morning, a lot more on settling
Speaker 1:
That was Saul Gonzalez for the California report.
Speaker 4:
This is KPBS mid day edition. I'm Andrew Bowen with Maureen Kavanaugh. San Diego magazine has been in business for more than 70 years, and now it finds itself under surprising new ownership time food writer for the magazine, Troy Johnson and his wife, Claire recently introduced themselves as the new majority owners and they have big ambitions for the magazine's future. Troy Johnson joins us now to talk about why it was so important for them to take on this new venture. Troy Johnson, welcome to KPBS. Thank you
Speaker 20:
So much for having me,
Speaker 4:
Andrew, you wrote an article introducing yourself and your wife as the new owners of San Diego magazine. And you say the idea came to you during the pandemic. Tell us about that.
Speaker 20:
I split my life between doing food network, uh, appearances and doing a show for big 10 campus eats and then San Diego magazine. And when they pin down a kid, all of my email exploded with the local restaurant community who I've covered for the last 11, 12 years. And every single email said the same thing help, help me. I need help. Now. I was terrified. I was paralyzed a little bit because I didn't, I didn't have the bandwidth to handle it, handle it all. And so what I did is I basically ditched my traditional form of journalism. I opened up my Instagram and we just sat down and had Instagram lives three, sometimes five restaurant tours or local chefs or ranchers or farmers or food makers would come on, tell their story. And we'd let people know not only their story, but how they could help them during the pandemic and sitting there every single night in and out was the most impactful moment of my career as a journalist. And because I'd been split between national world and my local community, it just crystallized it for me, both Claire. And I said, we need to invest in our local city. We need to invest in these people right here. We need to tell their stories and we need to really become part of the media fabric that is doing quality work and innovative work in the media space so that as San Diego emerges and it doesn't lose sight of these stories. And it's just more inclusive.
Speaker 4:
We're living in a time when the local news and media landscape is really in a precarious position. Newspapers and magazines are folding all across the country. And some are being bought up by hedge funds or private equity firms that are cutting jobs and pursuit of profits. What makes you think that you can buck this trend? Yup.
Speaker 20:
For the first thing is that if San Diego magazine was just a magazine still at this day and age, I don't think I would've had the guts to have done it, but they evolved for the last five or six years and are now a 360 media company. They have podcasts and social media and short form videos and live events. And e-newsletters that they've developed. And they've developed all these modern tentacles into the community in ways of storytelling that if that infrastructure wasn't there, I don't know. But the other thing I need to say about, you know, international media coming into local markets is that they don't understand the landscape. A lot of these will have no sense of what a region wants or needs. They haven't lived here. They haven't told the stories, they haven't, you know, had trouble finding parking in a certain area or had trouble accessing a certain government, um, service.
Speaker 20:
You know, they don't understand the locals typography. And I think the fact that I'm a San Diego native born and raised, and I've been telling stories here for 25 years, you know, is it gives me an insight to what the local, um, community responds to what they, what they, the stories that they like, the stories that are important to them. And I think that does give me a nimbleness and an advantage over somebody that has, you know, a billion dollars and lives in New York city or Chicago, or, you know, somewhere on named that isn't San Diego,
Speaker 4:
San Diego magazine's first issue was all the way back in 1948. Now, obviously the media has changed a lot since then. Why was it important for you to purchase a magazine now, as opposed to just starting a new media company? For example? Yes.
Speaker 20:
I love magazines. When I graduated from college, my mom said, well, you finally did. It only took you six years. You know, what do you want as a gift? And I said, you know what? I want, I want 10 subscriptions to my favorite magazines. You know, the new Yorker, Atlantic monthly Smithsonian surfer magazine, rolling stone, all of these magazines are not dead. The thing that is dead is the 4,000 page national magazines because they were the only thing in town. There is a very profitable way to do a regional publication that caters to the local market, just because we're not making $17 million a year as a Vogue doesn't mean that you can't make a profitable business. That employees creatives in San Diego. I love the low tech of magazines. I love that nothing bloops or bleeps or notifies me that I have to pick something up or call somebody or anything else.
Speaker 20:
I love that it focuses your attention, just like a book. You know, it's, I stare at a screen every single day and we do a lot of work on screens. San Diego magazine has a 360 degree media company. We have podcasts and social media and online and short form video and live events. But the magazine is one element of what we do that is low tech that I love that low tech. I love how art explodes. I love the writing of gay TLS. You know, writing about Frank Sinatra has a cold in vanity fair in 1960s or seventies or whatever year that was. I love Joan Didion's writing in magazines and David Foster Wallace is magazine writing. You can't, there's nothing you can recreate in the digital space that gives you that same tactile, artistic immersion that a magazine does.
Speaker 4:
You've been a part of San Diego magazine as a writer, of course, for many years. How do you see your role changing within the magazine and will you continue to write for the publication?
Speaker 20:
We'll continue to write for the publication. I'm going to continue to create across all platforms at San Diego magazine has a lot of that. Obviously with my work on food network and, and TV, I'm going to start doing a lot more video for us, and we're going to start doing real, you know, uh, meaningful video vignettes that are both a guide to the city and an exploration of the issues surrounding the city. I'm going to write about food, but then I'm also going to hire and curate a lot of new voices. So, but I am definitely still going to be, um, writing about food. You know, it's going to take me a couple months to get into the nuts and bolts of the business and signed some insurance. But, uh, I have a lot of work to do just to make sure that the business is solid before I get back to really creating
Speaker 4:
A lot of work. I'm sure you wrote that the magazine will essentially be about people. Can you expand on that for us?
Speaker 20:
You know what it is? I mean, I thinking further about that, it's about that extraordinary. You know, when during going through this process, I was reading every single piece of information that came out about San Diego and all on KPBS in the UT and everything. And you know, certain vignettes struck me and one of them, and I keep on referring to this man and this poor man, Abel, if you're out there one day, I'm going to say hello to you. I feel like I've been overusing him. There's a story on storm drains and the person who runs our storm drains in San Diego, which is really important. If our storm drains get overwhelmed, the entire water system gets polluted and there's major problems. People get sick. The person that was running, it said our system right now, depends on Abel. Abel shows up to work everyday.
Speaker 20:
If Abel doesn't show up that storm drain does not get a clean filter, does not get cleaned. And our waters are in danger. And I thought, oh my God, it was just a throwaway sentence. I was like, that's the story? That's a man. I want to create this amazing photo of I, and I, I want to put him on the same page as a tech CEO, as a great architect who designed Alicia keys house, you know, as somebody who's working at UCS D on medical research, on, you know, there's extraordinary in every single socioeconomic strata, every culture, you know, I would just want to make, to find those people and highlight their stories. You know, so it's funny because media, I feel like some media is too high end, and I feel like some media is too against high-end. I'm not against either one of those things. If you are insanely successful and you make millions of dollars a year, I want to talk to you. And I want to hear that story and the excellence and the extraordinary that you have in terms of ideas. If you make $10 a year, you know, I want to hear that idea that you're working on. I want to hear your life and your struggles and your ideas. You know, it just needs to be a more representative storytelling of our city on all ends.
Speaker 4:
And might readers start noticing changes to San Diego magazine under your leadership, and what might those changes be
Speaker 20:
A little time, please bear with me. I, this week I'm doing one-on-ones with staff because when you take over something like this, the first thing you can do is not make a change, but listen. So I'm, I'm going to listen to everybody. Who's worked there, there 24, amazingly creative people who have been working their butts off to keep this magazine alive and thriving during the pandemic. And what I need to do is I need to sit down with them and say, just dump it on me. Tell me exactly what you love about this, what you don't love about this. What do you want to see for this, what your ideas are? So it's going to take me through the winter time to really get the architecture, you know, fine tuned to work with our team, to make sure that the systems are in place so that we can start launching new ideas. I would say that, you know, for what, as for what we're going to do, the new San Diego magazine, and there will be a new San Diego magazine. It is going to be a new, modern thing. You know, I would say, look to us at about March, 2022. That's when you really give, have given us a couple months to get in there and make the changes that we need to make, and then make the innovations that we need to make.
Speaker 4:
I've been speaking with Troy Johnson, who with his wife, Claire is the new majority owner of the San Diego magazine. Troy, thank you for joining us. And I wish you all the success in the world.
Speaker 20:
Thank you so much. You guys.

For the first time since March 2020, Mexican citizens can cross the border for shopping, family visits or any number of reasons if they’ve been vaccinated. But proof of vaccination may be harder to obtain than expected, due to delays in official Mexican vaccine documents. Plus, the San Diego Air Pollution Control District voted unanimously last week to force local industries to drastically cut their pollution after years of spewing carcinogenic toxins at a rate far higher than elsewhere in California. Also, access to banking is an important facet of a community’s health and in Imperial County a shortage of bank branches and rising temperatures can be a dangerous mix. In addition, as the U.N. climate conference enters its second week we look at what goes on inside the conference. Meanwhile, to bring the topic home, make it more tangible, we take you to somewhere directly threatened by our planet’s changing climate. Finally, San Diego Magazine, which has been in business for more than 70 years, now finds itself under surprising new ownership — long time food writer for the magazine Troy Johnson and his wife Claire.