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Climate action in the Inflation Reduction Act

 August 17, 2022 at 4:08 PM PDT

S1: San Diego leaders and activists react to the new federal climate legislation.

S2: I don't want to grow up in a world where climate action is too little and too late.

S1: I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH with Andrew Bowen. This is KPBS Midday Edition. California joins Western states in facing mandatory cutbacks of water from the Colorado River.

S3: That deadline came and went and the states don't have a deal yet on how to come up with that amount of conservation.

S1: Dr. Eric Topol brings us up to date on new research into COVID. And Shakespeare is reworked into the San Diego love story of Ramone and Holly at that. That's ahead on Midday Edition. It began 18 months ago as President Biden's build back. Better proposal. Yesterday , the president signed into law a smaller but wide ranging version of the plan , called the Inflation Reduction Act. The act is aimed at lowering inflation , reducing health care costs and closing the loophole that's allowed the largest U.S. corporations to pay little or no income tax. But its most significant provision involves the biggest federal investment ever in climate action. $370 billion will go toward clean energy tax credits , clean energy manufacturing of solar panels , batteries and sustainable technology , and a tax credit to buy electric vehicles. The goal of the Federal Climate Action Bill is to put the nation on the path to 40% emissions reduction by the year 2030. We asked a number of San Diego climate activists and politicians their reaction to this groundbreaking climate legislation. Here's Professor David Victor of UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy and co-author of the new book Fixing the Climate.

S3: My general reaction is it's a big deal. It provides a lot more money , more than $300 billion for clean energy of various types. It's going to accelerate the reduction in emissions , in particular from electric power sector. One of the biggest impacts of this is going to be to enhance the deployment of renewable energy , also help keep some nuclear reactors open , provide a lot of other incentives. So overall , it's a good thing for U.S. climate policy. It doesn't completely transform the economy , but it's a it's a helpful step in the right direction. The biggest reduction in emissions that are going to come from the bill are going to come from the electric power sector , mainly because of enhanced deployment of renewable energy. I think one of the things that's very interesting about the bill is it also has money for rural communities and low income communities that have historically often been hurt or neglected by energy projects. And if they can figure out how to spend that money , about $20 billion , that could over the long term , be very , very important for those communities.

S1: But Victor did express some reservations about the final bill.

S3: So my big concern here is that we're not sending a stronger signal to industry about reducing emissions over time. And also , frankly , we're not investing enough in innovation. And fundamental new ideas were mostly focusing all this money on deploying things that we already know how to deploy. And if we're going to make big reductions in emissions , we're going to have to also come up with a lot of new ideas and new technologies.

S1: Dr. Romm Ramanathan , renowned climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography , gave us a statement saying the new federal law is , quote , easily the best climate action that has happened in a long time and very timely to , of course , the climate crisis demands a lot more than what the Inflation Reduction Act can offer. But we should not let the perfect become the enemy. The program will yield a billion tons of reduction in CO2 by 2030. It also includes resilience building , creating new green jobs for the U.S. economy , etc.. It also brings in methane emission reduction the fastest way to bend the warming curve. Nicole Capper , it's founder and CEO of the San Diego nonprofit Climate Action Campaign , says she's excited about the benefits to individuals in this legislation.

S2: We have never seen this kind of investment or commitment to a clean energy economy. And probably most interestingly to families is that there are $80 billion in rebates available. So people can get thousands of dollars in rebates to switch out their dangerous gas appliances for clean electric heat pumps for electric water heaters for electric cooktops. There's a 30% tax rebate for solar panels and or battery storage systems. There's a 70 $500 credit , which will be available as a rebate at point of sale for new electric vehicles and $4,000 for used electric vehicles. I mean , it's truly incredible. And there's a significant investment in kind of the front line communities , communities who are most impacted. There'll be billions of dollars available in grants to make sure that the clean energy economy is benefiting everybody and that the communities most affected have opportunities to clean their neighborhoods first. It truly is a incredible moment in time , and it's time for us to figure out how to get ready , how to get our systems and our infrastructure and our workforce ready for a different future.

S1: East County Republican Congressman Darrell Issa is not a fan of the Inflation Reduction Act. He sent us this statement , which includes some mischaracterizations of the bill. He wrote , This completely partisan bill isn't about inflation reduction , and Democrats know it. It's about appeasing their progressive base by web. Analyzing the IRS , implementing the Green New Deal , stifling medical innovation and raising taxes on more Americans than ever. 16 year old key alum in a show is a board member at San Diego 350 and the Youth Versus Oil Campaign Lead for Youth for Climate. She's also a junior at Canyon Crest Academy in San Diego. She sees the pluses and minuses of the new legislation.

S2: First of all , the IRA is a massive step forward. It's a real testament to the decades of organizing throughout the movement. However , it's also really important for me to recognize and something that I've been feeling is there's a lot of deficits of this bill has. This is hundreds of billions of dollars less than the initial ask in what we were initially promised. Along with having a lot of handouts , the fossil fuel industry. And while this may be a great step forward in helping the climate crisis , I really fear for the future of my generation. And personally , I don't want to grow up in a world where climate action is too little and too late. Currently , something that I'm working on with the U.S. oil campaign is specifically targeting oil drilling and or oil extraction , which is a large contributor to the climate crisis. And so something that we're asking is to stop putting leases on drilling in federal lands. Biden is approving a lot of new leases on federal lands. And that's why because of this bill , we're actually demanding him to declare a climate emergency because that will allow him to use his executive authority to take more action on our climate crisis and in specific like stop drilling , along with taking other action in terms of helping environmental justice communities and scaling up the timeline for climate action.

S1: And San Diego Democratic Congressman Scott Peters spoke with us days before the bill was passed. He says this is the way progress on climate action has to be made.

S4: I would say that this is.

S3: What legislation is. Sometimes you have to you have to make compromises like I think they probably did with Mr. Manchin to get a bill. I would also point out that the bill would cut 24 tons of emissions for every tonne resulting from its oil and gas leasing provisions.

S4: So it's probably.

S3: I think it is definitively well worth it to accept the few oil and gas provisions to pass what will be the largest climate bill in history in a huge net when no legislation is perfect. But this really advances the ball quite a bit.

S1: We'd like to hear what you think about the New Inflation Reduction Act and its investment in climate action. Tell us on our Web site , KPBS , dot org. This story was produced by midday senior producer Megan Burke and producer Andrew Bracken.

S5: The American Southwest is reaching a critical state of drought. Water levels at the nation's two largest reservoirs , Lake Mead and Lake Powell , have dropped to their lowest levels ever recorded. The federal government sought to take action , giving the seven states that rely on the Colorado River two months to come up with a drastic conservation plan. But that deadline came and went yesterday with no deal. Luke Runyon covers the Colorado River Basin for KUNC in northern Colorado , and he joins me now. Luke , welcome.

S3: Thanks for having me.

S5:

S3: The specific volume was 2 to 4 million acre feet. And just for perspective , the entire state of Colorado uses about 2 million acre feet from the Colorado River annually. So this is this is a large amount of water that the federal government said needed to be conserved in order to keep those two large reservoirs from reaching really critically low levels. And this amount of conservation would basically stabilize the river system and keep those reservoirs at levels that could be managed. And that call from the federal government came with a deadline. They gave them 60 days for the states to come together with a plan and have firm commitments to have that conservation in place. And that deadline came and went. And the states don't have a deal yet on how to come up with that amount of conservation.

S5: So they failed to reach an agreement together on how to achieve these water cuts.

S3: So when the federal government set this deadline , they said that they were going to be prepared to start taking actions within the watershed in order to achieve that same amount of conservation. And at a press conference , the Bureau of Reclamation said that it was going to start taking some actions , but didn't quite lay out the details of what those are going to be. Instead , they are starting some administrative processes in order to study how water could be more efficiently used within the basin or maybe some potential re-engineering of the dams. But it wasn't like the Federal Government was pointing the finger at the states and saying , we want this amount of conservation from you , California or you Arizona. That's still up in the air.

S5: So no whips are being cracked yet. The breaking point that we're looking at has to do with water levels at these two reservoirs , like you said , Lake Mead and Lake Powell.

S3: So take Lake Mead , for example. There are certain agreements where as Lake Mead declines , states within the basin have to take less water from it. So that's kind of one layer. But then within the reservoir itself , there are kind of like physical limits of what you can do. So there's a particular tier within the reservoir where hydropower could no longer be produced. And then below that level , there's what's called Deadpool. And that's where you physically can't move water through the dam any longer. It kind of drops below the tunnels that are used to pass water through it. And that's really kind of a nightmare scenario that I think water managers are really trying to avoid is getting to that Deadpool status in either Lake Powell or Lake Mead. And that's really where the I think the urgency is coming from , is that some of these federal models , federal forecasts , are showing the possibility that these reservoirs could decline really rapidly over the next year or several years. And I think they want to avoid that because it would kind of trigger this region wide water crisis.

S5: Now , there are automatic restrictions or reductions to water supply impacting Arizona , Nevada and Mexico in 2023. Why is it only those two states and that one country that are impacted ? And how is California not part of that mix ? We use a lot of water , don't we ? Yeah.

S3: California is a very large user on the Colorado River. And a lot of this gets back to sort of the history of legal agreements along the Colorado River. California has what people consider a senior priority on the Colorado River when it comes to their water rights , in their kind of water budget from the river. And a lot of the governance of the river management is dictated by these agreements that the states come together and negotiate. And over the course of more than a century now , it's ended up where Arizona is really in the most vulnerable position for taking some of these cutbacks. Now , in this current moment that we're in , I think it seems really unfair. And I think you're hearing that from officials in Nevada and Arizona , that California is not being forced to participate in some of these cutbacks just yet. And I think that there's a lot of pressure on California officials to come to the table and commit to doing conservation.

S5: Now , look , we know that climate change is the main culprit here. Traditional water sources are just getting less reliable in a warming planet. And the way this drought has been described as a megadrought , the worst that we've seen in 1200 years.

S3: I think a lot of times it's really easy for for us as a species to look towards technology or engineering in order to get us out of this particular problem. Really , it's about reducing our reliance on this river. It just cannot do all of the jobs that we've cast it with. And and that's really difficult because we've created a lot of demand for water in the Southwest. You have massive cities and lots of agriculture that relies on a steady stream of water from the Colorado River that just can't provide it any longer. And so reducing those demands maybe sounds easy if you just say we have to use less water , but it's going to be a very painful discussion of having to shrink those demands in cities , in agricultural regions , in order to have that supply demand imbalance grow smaller.

S5: I've been speaking with Luke Runyon , who covers the Colorado River Basin for KUNC in northern Colorado. Luke , thank you so much for joining us. Thanks.

S3: Thanks.

S1: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH with Andrew Bowen. Jade Hyneman is away. The CDC has a relaxed COVID guidelines. San Diego Unified is relaxing its mask requirement , and San Diego relaxed into a lower COVID risk level last week. So does this mean we can all relax ? Dr. Eric Topol joins us once again with the latest on research , variance , treatments and news about COVID. Dr. Eric Topol is director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Hoya. Dr. Topol , welcome back.

S3: Thanks , Maureen. Great to be with you.

S1: So last week , the CDC said people who've been exposed to COVID , even if they're not up to date on vaccinations , no longer need to quarantine. They should instead wear a mask and get tested. And also , the six foot standard of social distancing is being dropped in most instances.

S3: I mean , I think it's good that we're seeing indicators of less spread less cases here in San Diego , but still at a high level. And it's probably some weeks away before we get through this , a five wave by the end of August. So we all want to see things relaxed. But to try to jump the gun is unfortunate.

S1: You know , as the new school year begins , the CDC says masks are not a requirement. It's left a lot of COVID guidance up to individual school districts. San Diego Unified is dropping its mask requirement for most schools. That has some parents nervous.

S3: We're at less than a third of children between five and 11 vaccinated. In children , often , their sibs below age 5 to 6 months , 4% have been vaccinated. These are our atrociously pitifully low levels of vaccination. So the problem is the vaccination can help reduce infection , but most importantly , it prevents severe disease among children. And we're right now in the country , we're in the midst of a rise of hospitalizations in children , which doesn't bode well for opening schools all throughout the country.

S1:

S3: It's even worse than in adults. And in part , it has been the lack of support from pediatricians. It has been not going with the data , which are extraordinary. I mean , the risk which we saw with adolescents , particularly boys with myocarditis , which was very rare , but we don't even see that in the younger children. So there's just no reason that our levels are so low and our children are. It's great to see them without masks and without distancing. But the things that we can do , like vaccination , ventilation , air filtration , we're just not doing it.

S1: San Diego has dropped out of the highest COVID risk category , but as you mentioned , the new case count is still pretty high. It was between 509 hundred over the weekend.

S3: The virus. You know what we should be doing , not just here where we have a pretty good handle on what's going on with the pandemic. But throughout the country , we should be aggressively pursuing things like blocking transmission with nasal vaccines , like coming up with better vaccines. That would be variant proof in the months ahead because it's unlikely the pandemic is done. Just getting through this current wave , we will very likely face another variant , whether it's related to the current one or a completely new family. That's what's in store in the months ahead.

S1: Now , over the past week , we've actually gotten some new research into long COVID.

S3: And it showed that one in eight people , 12% , developed long COVID. Now , that was , of course , before Macron and largely people who were not vaccinated. Both of those that is American and vaccines would reduce that number to some degree. But we have no similar study with this pre-COVID baseline status established. And even if we're talking about 6% instead of 12% , that's an enormous number of people who are having symptoms disabling in many of these folks from long COVID. And we have to do much better to come up with treatment. And we know one prevention , the only prevention that's surefire. Maureen , is to not get COVID or not get reinfected with COVID.

S1:

S3: It was interesting because it verified that the immune system had gone haywire in so many people , but also this very low level of cortisol , the hormone made in our adrenal gland , which could be tied to some symptoms. And interestingly , the hormone response from the pituitary gland , which known as active , is supposed to go up high when you have low cortisol. But that was extremely low , too. So that suggests that this is a problem at the level of the brain at the pituitary gland rather than at the adrenal gland. And that may be insightful for coming up with treatments to block inflammation and the immune system in the times ahead.

S1: Talking about treatments and vaccines. A new vaccine that targets the Omicron variant has been approved by the UK.

S3: This was reviewed at the FDA because it was dark and appropriately so that that vaccine wouldn't help us much because we already are well on to be a five , which is distinctly different from the original almond crop. So the thought was , well , let's wait till we have a BFI vaccine. And the companies were sent back saying to them , Get us a B , a five booster. So that was supposed to be available next month in September. I frankly think that's unlikely , but maybe in October or November we'll see it. In the meantime , the original vaccine booster works quite well to broaden our immunity. So that should be used. And again , we have very low rates of of adoption in people aged 50 to 64 in the country , only ten or 11% have had a forced shot. And in those over 65 , you know , only 26%. So , again , we're just not using the tools that we have.

S1:

S3: But it's better to plan on worst case scenario. We're going to have a nice restaurant here , most likely as we come down from this current wave. But there is a variant that's starting to pick up already. It's called before , not six. It shouldn't be nearly as challenging as what we've just been for , but it certainly could cause another increase in cases and an inability to get us to a point where we're so-called endemic , where things are really quiet. But what we may see later in the year , hopefully put out as long as possible from where we are right now is is a whole new variant that hasn't showed up on their radar yet. The chance for that is high because it only takes a person who is immunocompromised , who has very accelerated evolution of the virus within the person , and then transmits that to others. And there's so many millions of those people around the world. So I hope we don't see another really tough variant , but the likelihood the paths to get there are so many and likely that we should be planning on it , which is why I mentioned we have to go after better strategies like blocking transmission with nasal vaccines and much better vaccines that are not chasing a variant but getting ahead of all variants.

S1: I've been speaking with Dr. Eric Topol , director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Hoya. Dr. Topol , as always , thank you very much.

S3: Thank you.

S5: A year and a half ago , San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria announced a goal of building housing on top of new or renovated public facilities like libraries and fire stations. Earlier this year , the City Council passed an ordinance to make those kinds of projects easier. But when I took a closer look , I found the city is still far away from putting this new policy into practice.

S6: And the reason why we're here today is the construction of a new Oak Park branch library.

S5: Last month , Mayor Gloria gathered with several colleagues to make an exciting announcement. The state of California was giving San Diego $20 million to help design and construct a new library for Oak Park. When I heard the news , my mind immediately went back to the mayor's 2021 State of the City address. Among a slew of new housing policies , Gloria said this.

S6: We know that real estate is at a premium in San Diego , which is why I will implement plans to incorporate housing when we redevelop or build new city facilities. This could mean building apartments on top of new libraries and fire stations. And I would take a thoughtful approach to make sure that our transit system and our infrastructure can support these new units.

S5: So I had to ask , will Oak Park's new library be the first in San Diego to include housing ? The answer is no. The mayor's office says the project is too far along to change and delays could jeopardize the state funding. But there have been conversations in other neighborhoods about mixing libraries with housing.

S4: It really started as a conversation about how to get a new library and how to get a larger library.

S5: I meet Aria Pennacchio outside the North Park Library. It has a lot in common with the old library in Oak Park that's due to be replaced. It's more than 50 years old. It's small and it doesn't have the kind of things people need from their libraries nowadays , like community meeting rooms. Picnic helped lead a discussion at the North Park Planning Committee earlier this year about building a new library with housing on top.

S4: We do have a nice sized lot here. And , you know , as the community has been growing over time , you know , there's a common criticism that there isn't enough infrastructure being invested at the same time that we have all this new growth.

S5: North Park isn't anywhere near the top of the list when it comes to getting new libraries. Other neighborhoods like Oak Park have even greater needs. And absent a large charitable donation to kick start the process , the city isn't likely to redevelop this land anytime soon. Still , Punic hasn't given up on the idea. The library is surrounded by new apartment buildings , and it's in one of the city's most walkable , transit rich neighborhoods.

S4: It's the really ideal place to incorporate not only these , you know , the public good of a library , but the public good and maybe affordable housing as well. As I say , the walls are separating from the foundation. That's never good.

S5: Less than a mile away sits another deteriorating city building. The North Park Community Adult Center. That's where I meet Stephen Russell , head of the nonprofit San Diego Housing Federation. He says when public assets like these reached the end of their useful life , it's incumbent on city officials to reimagine them. And the land is too valuable to build just one story.

S4: We have a single storey building. What ? What are we putting above it ? Single storey buildings in a built environment like this. It's always a wasted opportunity.

S5: But there's an extra complication with this building. It's part of the North Park Community Park. When the city council passed an ordinance last February to streamline housing built on top of public facilities , it excluded facilities located on Parkland. Russell says he's not sure that makes sense , especially when a building already exists and making it taller wouldn't require sacrificing any actual parkland. Adding housing to the park might even make it safer.

S4: You have a park that is , you know , unobserved. There's lots of illicit activities that have gone on in the past. Maybe having more apartments , more eyes on the street would actually help help the situation.

S5: City officials were not able to name a single library , fire station , rec center or other public facility where there are concrete plans in motion to incorporate housing. But they did get a grant to study the concepts feasibility more closely. A report is due out sometime next year. The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously yesterday to explore tracking the region's homeless population by name. The so-called by name list would include the health and housing information of people experiencing homelessness around the county. It's a new method that officials hope will help determine how and where resources for the region's homeless population should go. Joining me now with more is KPBS health reporter Matt Hoffman. And Matt , thanks for talking with us.

S3: Good to be here , Andrew.

S5:

S3: They don't have this information in terms of who's out there , the names of people , maybe some of their housing needs , what their current health status is. But a lot of the city contractors were that city of San Diego , city of Escondido. Even county contractors that go out and do this homeless outreach , they are collecting this data. So what this aims to do is sort of have something to compare that to , like a whole county wide system where , you know , if interfaith contact somebody up and ask Candido , they can see , oh , they were contacted in the city of San Diego a month ago , and here's what their status was then , and here's where they're at now.

S5:

S3: And that's why we see so many people out there sleeping on the streets. But also , you know , people who are homeless sometimes have a transient nature where they may start in one place , move to another place , whether that's by choice or because encampments are being cleared out. And that's something that this could help address. And Supervisor Jim Desmond pointed that out during yesterday's board meeting.

S4: So many homeless in Chula Vista might get services , might get a diagnosis or things like that.

S3: And then if they move to Oceanside or some other part of the county or the city of San Diego , we have to kind of start over from square one again.

S5:

S3: So it's a voluntary program , at least that's what they say. So I think some of that remains to be seen so far.

S5:

S3: They operate up there in Escondido , have some other locations in the county. Supervisor Jim Desmond actually says that they're the ones that brought this idea forward to have this sort of county wide regional system. And I'd almost imagine that anything that there's something there to compare to for all these providers. So they're not working necessarily in silos. I think would be a good thing.

S5: Matt , the data from the latest point in Time Count came out in May.

S3: You know , we saw about a 10% increase in the number of people living on the streets or living like in their vehicles. That's compared to 2020. We didn't have the count because of the pandemic the other year. So it's it is increasing. So just kind of presenting the urgency of something like this. And as supervisors have said , they want to make sure that they're spending their dollars wisely here.

S5: So the point in time count happens , or rather it's supposed to happen every year just to kind of get a census on on the size of the homeless population.

S3: It's kind of a general count. And we know that officials even say it doesn't capture everybody. And we do know that the federal agencies , you know , the San Diego Regional Task Force on Homelessness , they do collect some data for people by name. And we're talking about specifically homeless veterans and at risk youth. And they were at the board meeting earlier this week. And they say that they are in favor of expanding this sort of a more broader approach to be able to track everybody. They did say they want to be clear that this is not like a wait list for housing or anything. It's just to help get a sense of where people are and more of what their needs are so they can try to pull more resources to try to specifically help people.

S5: Now , the county board of Supervisors yesterday , the the actual vote was to just study this idea.

S3: Originally , the board item was maybe to explore doing this , you know , starting just up in the North County. There seemed to be a want and a need from supervisors to say , no , no , no , let's just do this thing whole county wide. So they're going to be working with some local homeless agencies , some of the nonprofits to try to see , you know , how they can make this happen. But correct , as you point out , that vote yesterday doesn't make this happen. It explores the idea and the feasibility of being able to do a whole county by name list.

S5: I've been speaking with KPBS health reporter Matt Hoffman. And Matt , thanks for joining us.

S3: Thanks , Andrew.

S1: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH with Andrew Bowen. Jade Heineman is away. Alana Quintana Albertson has written 30 novels , all in the romance and mystery genres. Her latest Roman and Juliet , subtitled Love and Tacos , was selected as one of NPR's best books of 2022. And it will be featured at Saturday's San Diego Union-Tribune Festival of Books. It's a Latin spin on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet story set in San Diego's Barrio Logan with two feuding families , a taco chain and star crossed lovers. Quintana Albertson spoke with KPBS arts producer and editor Julia Dixon Evans. And here's their conversation.

S2: Can you tell us about the decision to make this story a retelling of sorts of Shakespeare ? Yeah , absolutely. So a former drama nerd growing up , I love Shakespeare was an English major at Stanford. And in high school I have this incredible Shakespeare teacher. And she we just acted all these plays. And then in college , I took this amazing class with this professor , Larry Friedlander , who who instead of having us read Shakespeare , made us act out a play every week. And so I always loved Shakespeare , and I think it's just a great framework for books. And then to put a spin on it , I wrote it during the pandemic , and one of the things that I was working with were masks. And so the couple meets on Day of the Dead and they didn't know who they were. And then I. And then my thought immediately went to Mask Masquerade , Romeo and Juliet. And that's how it all started. And what made you want to set the story in San Diego , particularly in Barrio Logan ? So San Diego is my adopted new hometown. I have lived there since 2000. And I fell madly in love with it. And Barrio Logan's my favorite place in San Diego. And then learning about the history of the barrios and how that community came together for Chicano Park and just the authentic food. But I've been going there for years , and I noticed how the location had changed and been gentrified or identified , which used to be a neighborhood where it was just more locals living and working. And then , you know , galleries were shutting down and things and it was being gentrified by different developers. And so I really thought that that was an amazing way to explore culture. And also I think I like to use setting as part of the book. And so I think my different areas the Barrio Logan , Bernardo , La Hoya and San Diego is just such a diverse place with all these neighborhoods. I just really thought it added richness to the book and Barrio Logan. To me , contrast is such this warm , incredible community. And because of Barrio Logan's history that you mentioned of fighting gentrification , this is so much more than a story about mom and pop cornershop versus a major chain. Can you tell me a little bit about what's on the line for these characters ? So on the surface , of course , I want this book to be just this fun romance , but all of my books are about deeper issues. And so in this book I talked about gentrification. And so it's so much more than a plot device or anything. But what happens in gentrification is the people that used to live and and grow up and work in areas , all of a sudden the neighborhood is hit and it gets developed and then they're forced out and they can't live there anymore. Especially when you look at a place like Barrio Logan where the community fought so hard to preserve , it was forced to live there , you know , had two freeways splitting it. You know , it makes it even more tragic. And it's something that goes on throughout , obviously , definitely California with rising prices , but in many ethnic neighborhoods. And so it was just something that I really you know , it was really dear to my heart and tragic and just try to make sense of it. And at the same time , even though , you know , Ramone comes in , he and Ramone is Mexican , he doesn't really understand the implications of what he's doing to the community. So. But to answer the question , what's at stake is if Juliette can't work in her neighborhood and her neighborhood is more I mean , her restaurant is more than a restaurant. She gives children free meals and it's a gathering thing. So to take them out because she's priced out , she can't afford it really kind of destroys the scene of the community. In the book , Juliette describes Ramone as a hint of fire. You mentioned that term earlier. Can you talk about that term and the differences between gentrification and Hunter vacation ? Yeah , it's one of my favorite terms. But so gentrification is when someone necessarily outside the culture would come in. So , you know , this character is dealing with this book , is dealing with Mexican-Americans. I'm Mexican-American. And so gentrifiers would be someone who was not Mexican-American. And they were they're coming in to say , hey , you know. We're going to put in a new restaurant. And the betrayal seems more acute when it's someone from in that own culture who seems to be destroying it. And so one of the things I had was the owner of the block. One of the reasons he chose Ramone and his father to sell the thing is because they were Mexican , he kind of felt that maybe they would preserve the culture. And then , you know , Ramone didn't care. He was just going to come in and put his his restaurant in there. So hence , ification is when someone from their own culture is coming in to gentrify the neighborhood. And of course , you know , this is a book and , you know , there's , you know , business decisions. And so , you know , Ramone is trying to justify it. And I was trying to make him understand what he was doing to the his community and that he had been detached from his community since college. So like he said , who ? Yetta is a chef and Ramone runs that major taco chain. So food is also a huge part of this book. How did you approach that part of the writing process that the type of tacos were kind of used as a device ? So Juliette's tacos are truly authentic Mexican tacos. I mean , she does birria and she does fish tacos. And there , you know , just with authentic ingredients , Kani Calzada. And whereas Ramone's tacos are kind of this fake Americanized version , American cheese , iceberg lettuce , the hard shell. And so I also try to use the food to contrast the characters. And one of the favorite things I think I did is that the irony is Ramone's father , Arturo , like , had initially started this company because he went to Baja , Mexico and had an authentic fish taco. And then over the course of the business , you know , for the next 30 years with cost cutting hit his version , which was initially like all the others , authentic taco , you know , ended up being gentrified as well. And I have to ask , are some of the dishes or the restaurants based on real local spots ? Absolutely. So all the tacos are based on Salud , which is my favorite place , and Barrio Logan. So that's kind of how I pictured her restaurant there. Tacos are incredible and I mean , there's so many amazing restaurants , but that was the main one that I did it. And then of course , I won't dime out the fast food ones , but they were just based on kind of , you know , fast food , taco chains , kind of an amalgamation of a bunch of what I consider bad tacos. So at the heart of this book is the love story and romance. Writing has evolved a lot from Jane Austin to the bodice rippers of the 1970s to today's modern romance writing. What does it mean to write romance today ? What an amazing question. So I never grew up reading romance , and if anything , I was a snob about it. I was an English major from Stanford , and I read books that weren't romance. And I had written this awful book , but it was a chick lit book and my agent had signed me and chick lit had stopped selling and she told me to read a romance to possibly writing that genre. I've never read it. I kind of had this horrible stereotype of what I thought it was. I'd never read one. I had just completely been judgmental and I read a book and it blew me away. And then I got really into the genre and now I'm obsessed with it. I see romance as female empowerment , especially now more than ever. But , you know , it's just such a powerful genre that celebrates women. And in it you can do so much. And there's so many amazing authors who who do so much , and their story has been picked up for a TV adaptation. What do you know about that so far ? I know a lot about it , but I'm legally not allowed to say a lot. But what I can legally say is it has been optioned. I mean , it's just surreal. Also , as an author , you make up these imaginary friends and just the thought that someone is going to act out and be these kind of figments of my imagination. It's just too good to be true. Pinching myself. I want to thank you so much for joining us. Thank you so much for having me.

S1: That was Alana Quintana Albertson speaking with KPBS arts producer and editor Julia Dixon Evans. Quintana Albertson will appear at Saturday's San Diego Union-Tribune Festival of Books.

We asked a number of San Diego climate scientists, activists and politicians their reaction to the groundbreaking climate legislation President Biden signed into law Tuesday. Then, 40 million people in seven Southwestern states rely on the Colorado River for their water supply. As the drought worsens, the states missed a federal deadline to come up with a drastic conservation plan. And, the CDC has relaxed its COVID-19 guidelines, San Diego Unified is relaxing its mask requirement and San Diego moved into a lower COVID risk level last week. Does this mean we can all relax? Then, a year and a half after announcing its goal of building housing on top of public facilities like libraries and fire stations, San Diego is still far away from putting its new policy into practice. Next, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Wednesday to explore tracking the region's homeless population by name. Finally, San Diego author Alana Quintana Albertson on her latest book- a Latinx spin on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet story, set in San Diego's Barrio Logan, with two feuding families, a taco chain and star-crossed lovers.