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City-led cleanup operation of homeless encampment in Midway begins

 February 1, 2022 at 3:10 PM PST

Speaker 1: (00:00)

A homeless encampment is being cleaned up. What about resources? These

Speaker 2: (00:04)

Folks are vulnerable. I think that they're at risk out there. And this notion that they're able to care for themselves, I think

Speaker 1: (00:10)

Should be challenged. I'm Jade Henman with Maureen Kavanaugh. This is K PBS midday edition. There is money available to protect your home from wildfires.

Speaker 3: (00:29)

We really started looking to the homes and what we could do to harden the homes against

Speaker 1: (00:35)

Wildfire. And how much will San Diego have to pay for pension cuts plus a black history, exit vision, and five works of art. That's ahead on midday edition City crew have are to declare a homeless encampment that has grown significantly in the city's midway district. San Diego mayor. Todd Gloria has called the situation wholly unacceptable and has indicated that decisive action is being taken to avoid a potential health crisis among its residents. He spoke with KPBS this morning with more on the state of a faith in midway.

Speaker 2: (01:24)

These folks are vulnerable. I think that they're at risk out there and this notion that they're able to care for themselves, I think should be challenged. I think we have, uh, folks who are obviously deep in mental illness, deep in substance use, and that we need to offer them more than what we currently

Speaker 1: (01:38)

Have joining me now is KPBS health reporter, Matt Hoffman, who was on this scene at the cleanup this morning. Matt. Welcome back to the program. Hey Jade. Hey, so you were there this morning. What were things like on the scene? These

Speaker 4: (01:50)

Sort of encampment cleanups. They're really tough to cover Jade. I mean, you have a lot of an emotional people out there who are having to make a lot of tough decisions about what to keep and what could go in the dumpster, sort of to paint the picture for you. You know, this cleanup happening down it's on sports arena, bowl of the yard. It's right by Pacific highway, right there. It's right behind the big lots and the Goodwill. There's people living on both sides of the streets. Um, today city cruise, they clean up about a quarter of the area. And just so you know, too, you know, they're not necessarily just moving people out of there. They give people a notice, we're saying, Hey, we're gonna do a cleanup. You have time to move your stuff. And basically, you know, as long as you drag it across the street, everything you leave our on the other side is gonna go right into a city dumpster. There are a lot of police out there, city cleanup crews, some Navy police out there too at border us right along a Navy property, but definitely emotional day for a lot of people out there.

Speaker 1: (02:34)

Mayor Gloria has indicated that one of the main reasons for the cleanup is the potential for disease outbreak. What can you tell us about that? Yeah. That's

Speaker 4: (02:42)

Why mayor Gloria says is the whole reason for this, you know, to avoid a bigger health crisis. He says that we don't wanna see another deadly hepatitis, a outbreak, and he wants to take action now. And he also touched on, you know, that the city's been getting a lot of reports of crimes that have been happening there and a lot of drug use. And they said that this can't be ignored any longer. When something to note to Jade is that this encampment is a little bit different from others. And that, you know, you go downtown, you see, you see some of these encampments that have regular cleanups. Um, those are not close to homes. You know, this one is very much an industrial area out there, right by the sports arena right down the street. Is the

Speaker 1: (03:15)

City making any efforts to connect people with resources like temporary shelters or outreach services?

Speaker 4: (03:21)

Yeah. So the city says basically, you know, before that they went out there and announced this big cleanup that they're gonna do. You know, the first real big effort, they've had some smaller ones there, but they went out and they, you know, for the last month or so, they've been contacting people. They think, you know, maybe about 180 people live out there when they contacted about 150 of those. And they say that they provided about 450 instances of service. Now that can be anything from the county personnel, helping people connect with cow fresh and medical assistance, which they said did happen, or it could even be connecting them to shelter. We know that you know, of all these encounters that they had, they were offering shelter. They said that seven people have been placed into shelter. And the majority of those are in that new shelter. That's just right down the street, about half a mile from where this encampment is.

Speaker 1: (04:02)

Do you have a sense of how many people are being moved from this encampment? We

Speaker 4: (04:05)

Know that the city estimates that there's about 183 people, you know, on both sides of this block here on sports arena Boulevard on both sides of the street. We don't really know if there's a sense of how many people are leaving because you know, they were notified of this cleanup. And we saw a lot of people, there were homeless advocates out there, two that are helping people drag their tents across the street. It seems like people plan to stay there mean that this was an effort by the city to at least start to make that area more sanitary and more clean. To what

Speaker 1: (04:30)

Extent will city crews be clearing the area?

Speaker 4: (04:33)

You know, the mayor says that he wants the conditions to be addressed. Now, what does that mean? Well, we know that the city's gone 10 by tent. They've been talking to these people, trying to give them extra time. The mayor says that this is gonna be a multi-day cleanup. Um, I touched on earlier, you know, today they probably clean up about a quarter of that whole area. So they still have a lot of work to do. And it sounds like they're gonna be doing that over the next few days. So we'll really have to see, um, if they sort of step up their efforts or if it's just more of a, Hey, move your stuff and let us clean the place. And you can go back to where you were. So

Speaker 1: (05:01)

What will become of the people who are living at this camp? You know,

Speaker 4: (05:05)

We spoke to some people who were living there. Um, some people were there for quite a while and these people said that they plan to stay, you know, that they have nowhere else to go in San Diego. And so we saw people dragging their tents and then they're gonna be dragging 'em back something. I will note though, uh, a couple of people that we spoke with, they were, uh, disabled and the city is actually taking that into account. You know, if somebody's disabled, like these gentlemen, we talked to earlier, they did not move their tents. Like literally, if you look at the block, they, they got rid of everything else, except these three tents. And these gentlemen were in wheelchairs. So they're trying to make accommodations for people, but yeah, keep in mind. They're not necessarily making them leave. You know, they're not saying, Hey, get outta here. If you come in here, we're gonna arrest you. Uh, they're just cleaning the area right now.

Speaker 1: (05:44)

And you mentioned that there were advocates out there this morning. What's been the community response to the news of

Speaker 4: (05:50)

This cleanup, you know, definitely on the homeless advocate side, they say, this is just another example of sort of a, a, a bandaid approach. You know, something we've seen downtown where, you know, they make, uh, a lot of these unsheltered residents move across the street. They clean it up and they, they just move right back in. So they argue that it's not really addressing sort of the root issue here in terms of some of the community response. You know, we know what the mayor said. He's heard from businesses that they don't like this being out there and some of the crime that's associated with it. But in terms of residents, there's not a lot of, I don't think there's any homes that are super close to that area. So we haven't necessarily seen like, you know, maybe if it was downtown, you'd see something like downtown community groups coming together saying, Hey, we need to address this. I'm not entirely sure that we've seen a ton of that as it relates to this industrial area.

Speaker 1: (06:33)

Hmm. So to that point, are there concerns that another homeless encampment of similar size will just spring up after this one's cleared?

Speaker 4: (06:40)

I would have to say yes, but not only that, you know, keep in mind, these people didn't necessarily lose all their stuff. You know, they might have lost some of it that they had to leave behind. A lot of people that work with the homeless say that they can tend to be sort of hoarders, but that's why advocates are saying this is a bandaid approach, you know, cleaning up the area a bit, but it doesn't solve the root issue. And keep in mind too, in that midway area, you know, there is that big encampment there, but just go a couple blocks down, you know, toward the shelter toward the actual sports arena building. And there's more people that are living on the street down there too. So it's definitely becoming a bigger problem in recent months in that area. But it seems like, you know, while this encampment may be getting cleaned up a little bit, at least for right now, these residents probably aren't gonna be going anywhere.

Speaker 1: (07:16)

Matt Hoffman is our Cape PBS health reporter. Matt, thank you very much for joining us.

Speaker 4: (07:21)

Thanks shade,

Speaker 5: (07:26)

California has seen wildfire destroy more and more communities in recent years. Many of those heart hit towns have been in what's called high risk fire areas, adjacent to brush and grasslands. The irony is as wildfire experts know, making several changes to the structures of backcountry homes, some of those changes relatively minor could save not only the homes, but the community from destruction. That's the idea behind a new state effort to retrofit thousands of houses in high risk areas offering up to $40,000 to cover the cost of the changes. And San Diego is the first county in the state to launch the program with 500 backcountry residences from Delora to Campo. Joining me is San Diego union Tribune, reporter Joshua Emerson Smith, and welcome to the program. Good

Speaker 3: (08:17)

To be here as always morning.

Speaker 5: (08:19)

So what's been discovered about the way wildfire travels that sold lawmakers on this 100 million statewide effort.

Speaker 3: (08:27)

We've known in Southern California for a long time. That wildfires don't need to start in forests, but around 2007, 2008 Northern CA for started to see these firestorms where the embers travel far ahead of the flame front torching, suburban subdivisions. I mean think Santa Rosa, even paradise where we saw the campfire, the state's most destructive fire, and that really caught the attention of lawmakers. And they realized in these areas where the fire's moving through brush and Chapparal, grasslands, and Chapparal brush lands, that there's really not a lot that we can do in terms of trying to chop back the vegetation. It just grows by so quickly and there's only so much chainsaws can do. And so we really started looking to the homes and what we could do to harden the homes against wildfire

Speaker 5: (09:26)

And what changes can we make to homes to harden them, to make them more fire resistant to

Speaker 3: (09:32)

Wildfire? Some of the things that we can do are pretty inexpensive, pretty easy things like putting Ember resistant screens on home vents and just tightening up homes where fire brands can get into little gaps and work their way into addicts and inside the home to explode the house from the inside out. We from, for example, the tubs fire in Santa Rosa, that a fire can spread from home to home, basically leveling an entire subdivision when this happens. So things like screens on vents, boxing off Eves, replacing windows with double paned windows. These are probably first things that could be done and, and the least expensive.

Speaker 5: (10:20)

And are we talking about older homes here?

Speaker 3: (10:23)

Of course. Yeah, because California, over the last about 25 years now, right. Uh, has put in place a bunch of building codes that require that anything that can it's built today in high fire areas has all of these features already in place. Why

Speaker 5: (10:43)

Is the state offering to pay for these upgrades though? Couldn't they just require it.

Speaker 3: (10:48)

They could pass a law requiring it, although it would face tremendous pushback. People can't afford the upgrades that would be required. A lot of times these can cost tens of thousands of dollars. It, it should be noted that building a new home up to the latest codes is not more expensive, but going back and doing the retrofits to the older homes can be very costly.

Speaker 5: (11:15)

And the program is VA people who live in high risk areas, don't have to do this. How is it being received?

Speaker 3: (11:24)

We don't really know yet. I, I hesitate to make any predictions on how this will be received. I did go out to doer, which is the first community that to receive this money. And I talked to a number of people there and they did have some concerns, concerns, mostly centered around the idea that this could trigger a reassessment of their home and potentially increase property taxes. A lot of these folks out in these communities, doer Petre Campo or older folks on fixed income, and they really can't handle an increase to their property tax. Another issue could be that this would be taxed as income at the end of the year, and they could be stuck with a big, a big tax bill. These are real issues that people have because it's being sold as free money. But the question is, you know, how free is that free money?

Speaker 5: (12:19)

Are officials doing anything to maybe help ease those concerns?

Speaker 3: (12:23)

We talked to Cal fire here in San Diego and the county, and they confirmed that no, this will not trigger a reassessment of property. That's what they've said so far. They've also said that the state legislature is looking at addressing the issue of whether or not this will be taxed as income. So it's not as if this is being ignored. People are working hard on these issues, cuz they realize this could be a major disincentive for adoption to the program.

Speaker 5: (12:53)

You to talked about the fire safety requirements, the state now mandates for newer homes. Do we have evidence that those requirements really make homes safer from wildfire?

Speaker 3: (13:05)

You know, we do have a significant body of, of scientific research that has suggested this the most recent of which coming out of UC San Diego, where they looked at thousands of homes across California and even, even other parts of the west. And they found that those building codes really do seem to have an impact and reduce the likelihood that a structure, a single family home will be lost in a wildfire. So yeah, it does seem like the, the research is pointing toward a pretty strong signal in terms of the value of those building codes

Speaker 5: (13:41)

And will $40,000. The state is spending cover all the retrofiting needed in an older home.

Speaker 3: (13:49)

We should really talk about that, that number, that 40,000 number that's huge. I mean that that's a real big amount of money per home, right? We could do a lot with that. You could replace a roof. Definitely. You could install the Ember resistant vents. You can redo siding, potentially try to box off Eves and replace windows. This could go a long way for a lot of, of people in terms of making their homes more resistant. So yeah, $40,000 is a big chunk of money.

Speaker 5: (14:21)

And how do homeowners find out if their home is included in San Diego county? And if it is, how do they apply for the program?

Speaker 3: (14:29)

So right now it's being rolled out in Del zero Patreo in Campo. So if you live along the 94 or between doer and Campo, you will almost certainly qualify folks that make a little bit more money may have to pay a percentage of that on a sliding scale, but you can find out the details by going to wildfire,

Speaker 5: (14:56)

Okay. And I think we'll probably have that address on our website too. K I've been speaking with San Diego union Tribune, reporter Joshua Emerson Smith, Joshua. Thank you.

Speaker 3: (15:07)

Pleasure as always.

Speaker 5: (15:22)

This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Jade Henman city workers who were hired without pensions may be in store for some retroactive relief. The Diego city council has approved an agreement to restore pensions for nearly 4,000 city employees hired after proposition B eliminated city worker pensions. Prop B was overturned by the state Supreme court in 2018. The agreement with this city's municipal worker's labor union is the latest in a years long saga over city worker pensions and how to unwind the effects of the city's pension reform. Joining me is K PBS, Metro reporter, Andrew Bowen, Andrew. Welcome.

Speaker 6: (16:07)

Hi Maureen,

Speaker 5: (16:08)

Can you remind us what prop B was and what it did to change city workers' benefits

Speaker 6: (16:14)

Proposition B was a citizen's initiative from 2012 and the main point of the measure was to exclude future city employees from the pension system. People may remember the pension crisis that peaked in San Diego in 2004, 2005. Uh, the city had promised very generous pensions to its employees, but chose not to fund those, uh, increases to their pensions. Uh, the assumption being that the stock market would just pay for them. Uh, and the city wouldn't have to pay any of its own money. This, uh, when this all came crashing down, it really decimated city budgets and the city still is paying off all of the debt that it incurred from, from those bad decisions. The unions, uh, representing city workers agreed to pay freezes. They agreed to other cuts to their benefits, but a group of conservative activists in San Diego thought that all of those agreements didn't go far enough and that the city actually had to abandon the idea of guaranteed retirement, uh, or pensions altogether. So, uh, all the newly hired employees except for police after prop took effect got instead of a guaranteed pension, a 401k style retirement account where the risks of actually losing money falls on the employee rather than, than the employer.

Speaker 5: (17:30)

Why was prop overturned by the court?

Speaker 6: (17:33)

The state Supreme court ruled in 2018 that the city had via violated labor laws when the city placed prop be on the ballot. What this law requires is that the city has to, when it wants to make cuts or changes to, uh, pay or benefits to, um, workers represented by unions. It has to negotiate with those unions first, before making the changes, the ambiguity came from the fact that prop B was a citizen's initiative, uh, regular citizens gathered, uh, signatures and, and placed it on the ballot that way. And the supporters argued that it was wasn't the city government that was taking these benefits away. It was actually the voters, but the justices ruled that, uh, then mayor Jerry Sanders played such a central role in crafting property and ultimately getting it passed that it was really a citizen's initiative in name only. And, uh, the city has been ordered to make all of the employees that were impacted by prop be whole. In other words, uh, make it as if prop B had never passed for those people in terms of their retirement benefits.

Speaker 5: (18:39)

Okay. How much is that going to cost the city?

Speaker 6: (18:42)

Well, uh, the estimates are that if every eligible employee opts into the pension system, the cost could be roughly 80.7 million that, uh, for, for a frame of references, more than the city spends on its entire library budget in, in a single year. Um, but in the grand scheme of things, it's actually less than 2% of the city's total spending in a year. So this could have been much worse. The amount that the city will ultimately have to pay for all of this also depends on how many employees opt to actually opt into the pension system, uh, versus how many will choose to stick with their current retirement plans. So we won't know the, the final number of how much all of this is costing for quite some time.

Speaker 5: (19:27)

And where is the money kind of come from? I, is this gonna going to create a deficit for San Diego,

Speaker 6: (19:34)

For those employees who do choose to opt into the pension system, they will be required to use their, uh, retirement funds, their sort of 401k style accounts to purchase credits into the system and the city will then have to make up whatever difference there might be. Uh, so, so sort of softens the blow a bit, but, uh, you know, ultimately the, the money that the city does owe will have to come from somewhere else in the budget, like the pension debt that the city has been paying off for many, many years. This just means that there will be less money for all of the city's other needs and priorities. Now

Speaker 5: (20:08)

Are city leaders saying anything about lessons learned from this whole debacle?

Speaker 6: (20:15)

The biggest lesson that I think the city has learned is that it cannot ignore its obligations under state labor law. If the city wants to cut benefits, uh, from employees or pay or, or impose any kind of new requirements, it has to sit down with the unions first to see if they, to an agreement. Uh, and you know, and, and rather than just imposing it without the union's consent or, or, uh, letting them have a say, they may not come to an agreement. In fact, this just happened very recently with the police officer's union, the city declared an impase after negotiating with them over the vaccine mandate. And it imposed that mandate over the, the police union's objections, but they have to at least try negotiations. First. The other main lesson is that if the city wants to hire qualified workers, uh, higher and retain qualified workers to do the jobs that the city running, it has to offer competitive pay and benefits. It's very well documented that the city's turnover rate, uh, employee turnover rate went up after prop B took effect, um, because uh, employees could find better pay or benefits in other cities or counties or even on in the private sector. So, and, and the cities just to have this chronically high vacancy rate in part, because of all of these issues,

Speaker 1: (21:31)

I've been speaking with KPBS, Metro reporter, Andrew Bowen, Andrew. Thank

Speaker 6: (21:35)

You. Thank you. Maureen

Speaker 1: (21:47)

State investigators found a company with burger king franchises in San Francisco owes nearly 2 million for wage theft, but that was a year and a half ago. And workers are still waiting for their money because the state hasn't scheduled a hearing to file their case. K Q Eeds for Rita Ja Rome reports thousands more low wage California are also hurt by delays like this one

Speaker 7: (22:11)

Back in June of 2020, the labor commissioner's office cited a California company called golden gate restaurant group for failing to pay minimum wage overtime meal and rest breaks to more than 230 of its employees. One of them was sore. She worked as a cashier in prep cook at one of the burger Kings, the company operated. I met her outside the downtown office building where she now works cleaning conference rooms. We sat down in the lobby and Koma told me her burger king paycheck was often short. She complained to managers, but nothing changed no

Speaker 8: (22:53)


Speaker 7: (22:54)

Time. Still. She stayed for three years as a single mom, he needed the job to pay rent. I tried reaching golden gate CEO, but he did not return my emails or calls the company appeal defines. And it has the right to a hearing at the labor commissioner's office, but it's been almost 19 months. And that hearing hasn't even been scheduled. The problem is the longer the case drags on the harder it can be for people like Risto to recover their wages. She's owed more than $38,000 that's she needed when she was unemployed during the pandemic. Instead, she relied on a food bank to feed her family. She says, it's, it's unfair that the state is not moving faster to make her old employer follow the law. If workers have rights, she says they should be enforced. Meanwhile, golden gate is taking advantage of the delay, says Alex Campbell with legal aid at work. He represents these workers.

Speaker 9: (24:06)

The company that did this to them has been starting to move assets around and shut down restaurants in San Francisco and, um, is potentially making moves to avoid payment. Altogether.

Speaker 7: (24:21)

Advocates say other large cases are languishing for years will without a hearing at the labor commissioners. And they say the backlog has gotten worse during the pandemic in LA investigators cited a construction company for 12 million, more than a thousand workers in that case have been waiting nearly three years to get paid in San Diego, orange counties, 560 senators are owed 4 million. They've waited three and a half years. That's unacceptable says state Senator Dave Cortesi. He chairs the Senate labor committee government

Speaker 10: (24:56)

Should be stepping in and policing these employers that are, that are ripping people off and, and it's not happening. And, and that causes

Speaker 7: (25:05)

Real pain. The labor commissioner declined several requests for an interview and would not explain why hearings are delayed, but the agency has just 64. Hearing officers stayed wide. They judge appeals on big wage theft investigations, like the burger king case, and many of the 30,000 claims in file each year. Renee Amador is the legal director at maintenance cooperation, trust fund, a janitorial industry They

Speaker 11: (25:36)

Have way more cases than one person should be assigned, but it's because they don't have enough hearing

Speaker 7: (25:41)

Officers. The labor commissioner has hired more staff after the legislature, its budget, but state Senator Cortesi says the agency remains inefficient. This has been

Speaker 10: (25:54)

The case over the years of labor commissioner. This is not a new problem. And, and that usually means, you know, the entire culture of the operation needs to be addressed and, and revisited and

Speaker 7: (26:04)

Restructured. He plans to hold committee hearing under the Romero,

Speaker 1: (26:26)

The San Diego history center's exhibit celebrates San Diego, black history and heritage showcases the rich history of black San Diego with fine art heroes and a timeline that walks you through the past that helps shape America's finest city and the region. Shelby Gordon is the marketing manager at the San Diego history center and joins us to talk about this exhibit Shelby, thanks for joining us and happy black

Speaker 12: (26:51)

History month. Thank you. It's my pleasure.

Speaker 1: (26:54)

So what can people see and learn from this exhibit?

Speaker 12: (26:57)

Well, you know, I'm a San Diego native born and raised here and San Diego black history was nothing that I was taught in school. A lot of it is what I lived, um, and what I heard through familial and, and friend relationships. But the exhibition really gives you a tangible visual graphic understanding of how complex, how deep, how interesting and how elevating the history of black San Diego is

Speaker 1: (27:32)

A, and there's also donated ephemera and fine art included in the exhibit. Why are these pieces so important to sharing the history of black San Diego?

Speaker 12: (27:43)

Well, well, because I think you want for it to be multidimensional. You want for it to reflect politics, education, religion, the arts and culture, um, regarding family relationships and business relationships, social justice, and local political activities. So you want for, we want it for this to really reflect all of that. So for example, a local San Diego artist, um, duke Windsor has donated two of his paintings, but then we have really unusual things. Like we, we have the program of Bethel AME for their hundredth anniversary. Now, you know, for our black church, anniversaries are big and anniversary programs are even bigger. So for them to have donated to that to us and for us to be able to showcase that in the exhibition is really big. We also have, um, an Olympic participation banner from Jackie Thompson. Jackie Thompson grew up in San Diego. She was the first black female Olympian to participate in the Olympics. She ran in the Munich Olympics. So it's those kinds of pieces that thankfully people think I want this to be a part of a permanent collection. I want for my experience as a black San Diego, to be part of black San Diego history, but also San Diego history.

Speaker 1: (29:21)

And there is a timeline featured in this exhibit, how much time is, is actually covered.

Speaker 12: (29:26)

It starts in 1798 with a Spanish colonial census document. So it starts there, it goes through 1820 with, um, Don PKA being the, the last governor of California. He was an African American descent. Then it goes through issues of school, segregation of social justice protests and downtown San Diego of theta of organizations like the urban league and the NAACP. It documents the day that Dr. Martin Luther king Jr gave a speech at what is now known as point Loma Nazarene was then known at CA as California Western university. So that's May 29th, 1964, all the way to the date in 2010 when San Diego, the San chapter of black lives matter was formed. So you see just the scope of hundreds of years, multiple decades, how San Diego's population has grown, how they've evolved and formed organizations and advocacy groups, how they've advocated for equal housing, equal employment, equal schooling, you

Speaker 1: (30:51)

Know, San Diego is your hometown. Are there any parts of the community that you lived in, or, or maybe even your own family featured in the

Speaker 12: (31:00)

Exhibit? Um, it's funny, you should ask. Um, I was working with a partner and she specifically asked me, she said, Shelby, can you pull a, a photo of a choir, a black church choir? Um, I wanna use that in, in my, um, project. And so, um, you know, I'm of knows to me, I just see a picture on our digital site. You can research photos on, on from our website. So I found a photo and I, I just happened to be looking at the, at the caption and I see the name, joy Gordon, and it was my aunt. It was N right, right. And I was just shocked. I showed it to my dad, of course. And he goes, he could tell me, I remember the day that that photo was taken. And I remember Mr. Bayard and yes, you know, aunt joy sang in the choir for years and she directed the choir.

Speaker 12: (31:58)

And it was interesting because that was last February and N passed well in her nineties that March. So it was really heartwarming and it really sort of grounded me, I'm gonna say. And my San Diego nest that, um, my family has a history here that we have been involved and participating and contributing and, uh, partnering and friending, uh, folks from many decades. I often say San Diego is a small town in a big city and black San Diego is even smaller. Black San Diego is a small, tight knit community. And it's really a great joy and pleasure to have the opportunity to have that very rich history, cataloged and archive at the historical

Speaker 1: (33:04)

Society. And just imagine how many people that, uh, pride and sense of belonging, oh, my goodness is extended to, through this, uh, exhibition. I mean, you know, if, if people want to contribute, um, you know, pictures, memories, stories, community sourced, milestones, are they still able to do that? And if so, how can they do that?

Speaker 12: (33:28)

This exhibition is very different for us. One, it is primarily community sourced, but two, it doesn't have an end date. So if folks go on our website, San Diego, um, and if they go to, uh, current exhibitions and then they click on celebrate, there are forms there where they can share their story, upload their photo and history is very personal. People want their history heard. They want it shared, and they want

Speaker 1: (34:05)

Archived. I've been speaking with Shelby Gordon, who is the marketing manager at the San Diego history center. Shelby, thank you so much for sharing and joining us today. Thank

Speaker 12: (34:15)

You. My pleasure.

Speaker 1: (34:17)

You can check out, celebrate San Diego, black history and heritage at Balboa park and virtually online for details. Go to

Speaker 5: (34:32)

This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Jade Henman. We have a short list of five noteworthy works of visual art. The at our on view in San Diego county in February, there's painting photography, sculpture, a mural, and even lithography printmaking joining me to discuss the selections is K P S arts editor and producer Julia Dixon Evans. And welcome Julia.

Speaker 13: (34:59)

Hi Maureen. Thanks for having me. Now, let's start

Speaker 5: (35:01)

With do Windsor let's eat, and I must say these are still lives of some crazy big hamburgers. What's so unique about this San Diego artist's pieces. First

Speaker 13: (35:13)

Of all, it's just that the whimsy of a bunch of fine art portraits of hamburgers. I think that's so great. So he's already playing with this line between the sacred and the profane, the sublime, and the every day. And then, um, he also adds gold leaf to the mix to really step it up. This is actually kind of a hallmark of duke Windsor's work. We've seen it and his paintings of things like puddles in alleyways or even trash cans. It's really beautiful and striking. And in those settings, it's all about finding beauty in unexpected places, or even elevating simple or mundane things into something really fine grand, which is what his new exhibition's all about. It's called nothing's impossible. And it's a collection of hamburgers and traditional food, still life paintings. It draws from the Dutch old masters. Can you

Speaker 5: (36:12)

Describe this particular painting? Let's eat.

Speaker 13: (36:15)

This one is a single cheese burger. It's kind of offset to the side against a golden backdrop. There's really realistic glimpse of light on red onions. The tomatoes look red and juicy there's cheese oozing out onto the table and then crisp bacon curling out in all directions. I I'm vegetarian and it still looks absolutely delicious. I also really love the title here let's eat and how it's kind of an invocation. There's something pretty playful about all

Speaker 5: (36:48)

Of that. It gives a whole new meaning to impossible burger duke G Windsor let's eat is on view at the Oceanside museum of art. Now through March 13th, next is Melissa Walter's gravitational lensing art piece. And this one is made out of paper,

Speaker 13: (37:06)

Right? Yes. And that's it. Besides the magnets used to position and hang it and black paint for a backdrop. Melissa Walters installed this one several times since she developed it. She first made it during a residency at bread and salt. That was back in 2017. And every time it's looked so different, the title gravitational lensing is named after this astrophysical phenomenon that makes light bend. It's when huge amounts of matter like a black hole or clusters of galaxies. That's the kind of huge amount we're talking about here. When that gets between a light source and the person viewing it, the light will, will bend. So Melissa Walter takes these long strips of paper and slices them into fine lines. It kind of like waves and then drapes and twists it all into a place. And this piece is only on view until February 5th, this Saturday, it's at cannon gallery in Carlsbad, which is part of the civic library complex. There they're open Tuesday through Thursday from noon to seven. So you can swing by after work or noon to 5:00 PM on Friday and Saturday. And then that it Melissa

Speaker 5: (38:21)

Walter's gravitational lensing is on view at cannon gallery. Now through this Saturday, February 5th, Andre Hernandez piece, my faith won't move mountains, but my longing builds bridges across the Mexican border to be by your side is a photo that has a strong message behind it. Tell us about that.

Speaker 13: (38:40)

Yeah. This is a solo exhibition on view right now at the hill street country club in Oceanside. And it's all analog photography, some video and poetry work too. And the photography is all take. And from the route she takes after crossing the border, the exhibition's called crying on the blue line, trolley her work in general, but especially on this exhibition is about the rift that the border makes, whether it's in a life or in a community or family, or in her case, what it does to her relationship with her partner. She was stuck at home in Tijuana when the border was closed during COVID. And I talked to Hernandez on the day, the border finally reopened. This was a couple of months ago, and she told me a little bit about the spark for this photography exhibition.

Speaker 14: (39:30)

Yeah. It's always this anxiety and not only has the, the process of crossing the border, like architecturally been designed to make you feel like you're an animal, or like you're not human, but also just like the interrogation part is just frightening.

Speaker 13: (39:48)

So in these photographs, she's honing in, um, the architectural bridges and divisions, even the natural ones like fields or rivers, these things mark, the changes between Tijuana and San Diego and their photographs mostly taken from the trolley. So in this one, the frames divided into three parts. Basically there's a weed filled landscape and the foreground, and then a pretty indistinct green structure. And then criscrossing freeway overpasses in the distance. And it's against a sky that's somewhere between dusk or, or sunset and smog. The sense of place is really powerful in these works, but there's also just an undeniable movement to it as well.

Speaker 5: (40:33)

Andres Hernandez, peace. My faith won't move mountains, but my longing builds bridges across the Mexican border to be by your side will be on view at the hill street country club through February 28th. This next piece of art by Marie wat is called the blanket stories, continuum book one, book three, how is this piece so different from other pieces is a it an actual blanket. This

Speaker 13: (40:59)

Is a print. And it was made as a sort of sketch or inspiration, maybe even a companion piece to Marie Watts's famous blanket stories works, and those are actual blankets or sculptures made out of folded and stacked blankets. And this particular piece is part of her printmaking work up close it's countless lines of script lines from stories or things people have said about blankets, uh, because blankets are often part of rights of passage, whether births or deaths, new homes, journeys, migration. So they're always packed with stories. And then those lines of text they're colored and almost woven together. So that from afar, it almost looks like a piece of fabric almost looks like woven cloth itself.

Speaker 5: (41:51)

And what can we expect in the rest of this exhibition at the university of San Diego is printmaking also something that Marie wa has known for. Yeah.

Speaker 13: (41:59)

So this is, um, mid-career retrospective and this U S D exhibition is actually the first time she's had an exhibition focused on her printmaking and she came to printmaking after already working as a sculptor and participated in some pretty famous printmaking studios and workshops like tamarin. She also did some printmaking with the Sitka center for art and ecology. She's actually remarkably prolific as a print maker, but they've usually been shown just alongside her sculptures. And in this exhibition, there are also some sculptures. You can see some of those, uh, incredible blanket works, but the printmaking really does take center. Sage

Speaker 5: (42:39)

Marie Watts, blanket stories, continuum book one book three is on view at university of San Diego gallery starting this Friday, February 4th, through May 13th. And last is muralist Tatiana or Ortiz, Ruby intrinsically asymmetrical piece. Her work focuses on what separates the past and the future. Tell us about

Speaker 13: (43:01)

It. Yeah. This one is huge. It's the newest of Tatiana Ortiz's Rubio's charcoal cloud pieces. And while from afar, it looks like this incredibly rendered realistic cloud. There's so much meaning to it. She is informed by time and it's complicated physics and philosophies kind of how time is both linear and circular or finite and infinite at the same time. And she is particularly curious about how we try to capture moments about these transitions that separate the past from the future

Speaker 5: (43:37)

Tatiana Ortiz Rubio's intrinsically asymmetrical piece is on view at the city college gallery from this Saturday, February 5th, through March 1st, you can find pictures of these works of art, as well as details on how to see them in person on our website, Cape I've been speaking with KPBS arts editor, producer, Julia Dixon, Evans, and Julia. Thank you.

Speaker 13: (44:04)

Thank you, Maureen.

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria says he ordered city crews to clear a large homeless encampment in the city’s Midway district to avoid a potential health crisis. Then, a new state effort to retrofit thousands of houses in high-risk fire areas, offering up to $40,000 to cover the cost of the changes. And San Diego is the first county in the state to launch the program with 500 backcountry residences from Dulzura to Campo. And, after a long legal battle, thousands city workers will have access to guaranteed pension benefits. Later, a company with Burger King franchises in San Francisco owes nearly $2 million for wage theft. Why are the workers still waiting for recompensation? Plus, the San Diego History Center's exhibit, “Celebrate San Diego: Black History & Heritage” will showcase the rich history of Black San Diego . Finally, KPBS has a short list of five noteworthy works of visual art that are on view in San Diego County in February.