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Judge blocks big Otay Ranch development over wildfire danger

 October 8, 2021 at 2:34 PM PDT

Speaker 1: (00:00)

Uh, planned OTI ranch development is struck down in court

Speaker 2: (00:04)

And the judge said, you know, there's really no oversight of the carbon offset program.

Speaker 1: (00:10)

I'm Maureen Kavanaugh. This is KPBS mid-day edition. The public submits ideas for military bases named after Confederates.

Speaker 3: (00:29)

There's some of us who would like to see new games, and if you use the same name, even with a different human and it dif context of time, uh, then you almost undo what, what they thought the intention of the lies. So I took that to heart.

Speaker 1: (00:45)

I hear about this year, San Diego art prize winners, and more on our weekend preview that's ahead. On mid day edition, A huge housing development plan for OTI ranch has been struck down in court. A San Diego judge agreed with environmental groups and California's attorney general in a lawsuit against the, uh, Darra at OTI ranch project. Judge Richard Whitney said the plan community east of Chula Vista posed a high wildfire risk and would cause environmental damage including increased greenhouse gas emissions. The former county board of supervisors approved the development in 2019. Joining me is San Diego union Tribune reporter Joshua Emerson Smith, and Joshua welcome.

Speaker 2: (01:38)

Yeah. Good to be here.

Speaker 1: (01:39)

What was the Undara oh, Ty ranch development supposed to include,

Speaker 2: (01:44)

Oh, it included everything from over a thousand upscale homes to a new fire station and elementary school commercial storefronts. It was going to be a pretty big master plan community east of Chula Vista.

Speaker 1: (02:01)

So the judge apparently had more than one reason to rule against the project, but was wildfire risks. His biggest reason,

Speaker 2: (02:09)

You know, wildfire risk is one of the biggest issues. That's come to the forefront on these types of projects. We have to remember that this is one of half a dozen of these projects that were challenged by the Sierra club over the last couple of years. And so, yes, the judge definitely focused on that.

Speaker 1: (02:32)

And what were the other reasons that he ruled against the project?

Speaker 2: (02:35)

Well, one of the other big things was that these projects like new and Sierra and Bali Onno, and this [inaudible] Ty ranch, we're going to mitigate their tailpipe emissions. So all the new driving that would happen as people left their homes to commute, to jobs, wherever they may be, they were going to mitigate the greenhouse gases from those tailpipe emissions with carbon offsets. And that's been a really controversial topic. And the judge said, you know, there's really no oversight of the type of carbon offset program that the county and the developer was proposing for this project and others.

Speaker 1: (03:15)

The carbon offset plan is also one of the reasons that the county's climate action plan has been been dismissed by the courts. Isn't it?

Speaker 2: (03:23)

Absolutely. You know, the county is redrafting its climate plan after an appellate court throughout the blueprint. Uh, back in 2019, I believe, um, SA stating just that, that this carbon offset program really just didn't have any kind of oversight. No one was going to be able to say whether or not these carbon offsets were following through on the promises to reduce greenhouse gases, other than some bureaucratic the development services department. So there was really no kind of public oversight of what they were proposing. And the courts agreed with the environmental groups on that.

Speaker 1: (04:09)

So carbon offsets, the judge says is one reason, but the wildfire risk is also another, as you were saying. Now, when the board of supervisors was discussing this project back in 2019, wasn't the fire chief in support of the Adar at OTI ranch project.

Speaker 2: (04:26)

Yeah, absolutely. Uh, chief Meacham was in support of this. Um, it's we shouldn't say that, you know, they were also going to build a fire station there and they felt that that was enough to mitigate the concerns. Uh, Cal fire in San Diego has been in supportive. A lot of these projects that have been proposed for these high fire areas. Uh, the environmental groups have said that that really doesn't make any sense because not only are you putting people in harms way, but the more people you put in the back country, the more people there are to start fires back there. And so there's been a pretty stark divide on what is the level of safety of building these new homes.

Speaker 1: (05:07)

Now this coalition of environmental groups, as you mentioned, a wrecking up quite a list of victories against back country developments, but how in this case did California's attorney general get involved?

Speaker 2: (05:18)

Well, the California attorney general got involved because they've been seeing these kinds of projects across the state. This has been a hot button topic when we've seen so much destruction from wildfires, should we be building in these areas that routinely burned? And so the AGS office got involved and said, Hey, these are the types of program projects. We really don't need to be seeing going forward. If we want to protect people from large places, will

Speaker 1: (05:47)

The developer appeal this ruling?

Speaker 2: (05:49)

Do you think? I mean, that really is the major question. Now we don't know, especially since there's been such a shakeup at the board of supervisors, uh, when this was first approved, the folks that were serving on the pat on that panel were much more in support of these types of projects. I think the current board takes a more skeptical view of this. Like we said, they've chosen to redo the climate plan. And so it's unclear whether the developer feels like it has the full support, it would need to really go back and appeal this.

Speaker 1: (06:25)

Well, that brings me to this question. You know, San Diego is still in a housing crisis, so we don't have enough homes, uh, affordable or otherwise. So our rural developments like these unlikely to move forward.

Speaker 2: (06:40)

I mean, that's what we're seeing, right? We're having a hard time building in the urban environment because people don't want to see their neighborhoods change. And we're having a hard time building in the rural environment because we're losing so many houses to wildfire. So, yeah, we're in a tough spot.

Speaker 1: (06:59)

I've been speaking with San Diego union Tribune, reporter Joshua Emerson Smith, Joshua, thank you

Speaker 2: (07:05)

Always a pleasure.

Speaker 1: (07:11)

The federal commission charged with replacing Confederate names on military bases is getting thousands of suggestions. But as Jay price reports for the American Homefront project, that's just one step in a process that will likely take years.

Speaker 4: (07:27)

The commission began taking suggestions from the public last month on its website and has been visiting base communities as part of its charged to take into account local preferences. The commission's chair woman has retired Admiral Michelle Howard.

Speaker 3: (07:43)

I have heard directly from local chambers of commerce, historical genealogy, societies, rotary clubs, school, board officials, local and national special interest groups, church leaders, business, and many other organizations.

Speaker 4: (07:58)

She was speaking during an online news conference. After the commission submitted a progress report to Congress. It's final recommendations are due in a year. Howard said the commission will stop accepting suggestions December 1st and begin narrowing the list names starting to emerge, fall into several categories. Those of people like heroes are key leaders associated with a base inspiring words like victory, some aspect of local geography or something that describes the basis. Military role Fort Bragg in North Carolina for example, is gathering suggestions and running a Facebook poll on some, including Fort Liberty, Fort Sandhills, airborne and special operations base. And some locals have suggested the military could save money by simply saying, Fort Bragg is now named for union general, Edward brag of Wisconsin, instead of his cousin Confederate general Braxton Bragg Howard said the commission will consider all suggestions, but a similar idea came up during a community meeting at Fort Gordon in Georgia. And wasn't universally popular.

Speaker 3: (09:01)

I'll tell you there were other members of the community who then stood up and said, there's some of us who would like to see new names. And if you use the same name, even with a different human in a dif context of time, uh, then you almost undo what, what they thought the intention of the lies. So I took that to heart hearing a member of the community, say that

Speaker 4: (09:22)

The idea also doesn't impress Dan McNeil, a retired four star general who held a host of roles at Fort Bragg. It was union.

Speaker 5: (09:30)

The guy is that all you got, what the connection to

Speaker 4: (09:34)

Right McNeil helps lead us citizens committee assembled by base leaders to act as liaison to the community on the renaming.

Speaker 5: (09:41)

I think we can do better than that. I think we need to work a little hard. When

Speaker 4: (09:44)

You think during a virtual town hall last month for Fort Bragg, local residents offered several ideas, Vicky Andrews, who was one of two people to lobby for Dr. Mary Walker, the only woman to win the medal of honor, she worked with

Speaker 6: (09:58)

Union army, but she also cared for Confederate soldiers. And so in all the things that you had to consider is 2021, we need to make sure we at least consider this,

Speaker 4: (10:10)

That town hall drew several angry text comments against renaming the base at all. Things have been Tamer in some base towns though. William Cooper is mayor of the city of enterprise, Alabama. One of several municipalities that in circle, Fort Rucker,

Speaker 7: (10:26)

From what I have observed really, and truly, yeah, it has not been much talk about it.

Speaker 4: (10:32)

He said, locals one input and they've offered several ideas, but the important things are that the basis military role and it's overwhelming local economic impact, aren't changing.

Speaker 7: (10:44)

We just continue to support the base, whatever the name is because its mission, you know, as a trained aviator. So really, and truly that won't have no effect on that. So whatever name it's all right with us

Speaker 4: (10:59)

And whatever that new name turns out to be it and the others have to be in place by 2024. This is Jay price reporting from Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Speaker 1: (11:09)

This story was produced by the American Homefront project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans funding comes from the corporation for public broadcasting. This is KPBS midday edition. I'm worrying Kavanaugh. The big news in the art world this weekend is the celebration for winners of the San Diego art prize. And there's more from the Symphony's take on Gabriel Garcia, Marquez to a mural walk to an old globe, commissioned new play. Joining me with all the details is KPBS arts, producer and editor, Julia Dixon Evans, and welcome

Speaker 8: (11:55)

Julia. Hi Maria. Thanks for having me.

Speaker 1: (11:58)

Let's start with the 2021 San Diego art prize and the exhibition of the four prize recipients. So who are the prize winners?

Speaker 8: (12:08)

Yeah, the artists selected for the art prize this year. It's Perry Vasquez. Billy's RSA Punka and he go across the they're all in some way, connected to the border. In fact, most spend time living or working on both sides of the border in Tijuana and Sonata and Belize eras stay, who I spoke with this week is inspired by, by being divided between three homes, in fact, including her native Turkey.

Speaker 9: (12:35)

So for me, the idea of home, uh, has become much more theoretical over the years and more grounded and rooted in the idea of people, language, values, and traditions, things that are movable in ways that a house and a physical land is not. So you can see in my work that I examined this, uh, look, relocation and movements.

Speaker 8: (13:06)

And one of the things I love about all of these artists is the layers from each. You can get a really deep meaning of the work just from first glance. Like one of Perry Vasquez is this fantastic oil painting of one of those cell towers that looks like a Palm tree or Hugo CrossFits intricate drawings of Tijuana, but a closer look or seeing all of these works by all of the artists together brings out even more meaning. And these works will be on view at bread and salt opening tomorrow with a reception from five to eight, and then the band, the color 49, who Hugo Crossway collaborated with earlier this summer on, on a stop motion music video, they will perform at bread and salt at eight o'clock.

Speaker 1: (13:51)

The San Diego art prize exhibition opens at bread and salt tomorrow and will be on view through the end of the year,

Speaker 8: (13:59)

The symphony is doing a performance of three pieces at the shell. One is Maurice Ravel is concerto in G with Ian Barnathan on piano. He is the director of the LA Jolla music society, Summerfest series. And this Ravel piece has a lot of movement to it. That's what I love about rebel. And it also shows a lot of his jazz influences too. It's lively while still being pretty emotive. They're also performing Mahler's symphony. Number one, as well as I've worked by contemporary Venezuelan, American composer, Rinaldo Moya. And this is where Gabriel Garcia Marquez comes in. This piece is called [inaudible], which translates to always Monday, always March and in 100 years of solitude, the mystic Melky at his room is where time gets stuck. It's always Monday and it's always March. And this work by Moise it's about that strangeness of time and about the character, the mystic

Speaker 1: (15:03)

That's Rinaldo boy CMP Luna stamping motto, which the symphony will perform tonight at seven 30 at the shell in the theater world, the old globe opens a brand new premiere this week. Tell us about shutter sisters.

Speaker 8: (15:18)

Yeah, this is a play by Mansa raw and it was part of the Globes powers, new voices festival in January, 2020. So it was back when the 2020 we got was almost entirely unimaginable. And the new voices festival is always sort of a factory for, for brand new plays and the globe develops these and workshops them culminating in a reading. So this will be the first time that shutter sisters is getting a full theatrical production and the plot surrealist. It follows two women with parallel lives. They have basically the same name. It's a variation of Michael and they're very different. One is a white woman and the other is black. And for one her mother has just passed away. And for the other, she is just kicked out her adult daughter. So both are dealing with a sort of grief and of course the plot digs into their differences, but it really gets to the common ground between the two women, the place directed by Donna Washington. And it runs through November 7th. And this is an indoor production at the globe. So proof of vaccination or negative PCR test within 72 hours is required and masks are also required indoors.

Speaker 1: (16:31)

That's a shutter sister's opening tonight at the old globe. Now for those of us who aren't quite ready to sit in an audience, there's still a way for us to watch a type of art performance mural painting. Tell us about ladies who paint.

Speaker 8: (16:46)

This is a project that's been going on since about 2018 and each year they gather 10 women in a sort of summer camp, like a mural camp. And this year it's all local women actually. And they'll take over a walkable route downtown. It, it spans from east village and to banker's hill and they're painting 11 new murals on the side of businesses in these pretty high traffic areas. Some of them haven't started painting yet, but many will be in progress or completed this weekend. There's four of them at hotels XE near seventh and island. There's one at bear Republic, CrossFit near ninth and G and then, uh, one at fifth and spruce near the seven 11. And all of these murals will be complete by October 18th. And you can follow along with the LWP 2021 hashtag

Speaker 1: (17:39)

And we have a list of the current locations on our website. Finally, Carlsbad music festival is hosting one of their single day outdoor concerts tomorrow. It's called eclectic.

Speaker 8: (17:52)

Yeah, it's like a mini festival. There's four performers. And just one stage that St. Michael's by the sea lawn in Carlsbad. And there's four acts Kamini Natarajan who performs traditional Indian folk and classical songs. Uh, the ed Kornheiser quartet doing instrumental jazz there's Americana singer and songwriter Francis bloom, and then LA based Shannon ley, who has a new full length album out today. And I love how she has the sparseness of folk music, but it's also really polished and, and, and modern sounding. And here's the track Geist from Shannon Lay's new album.

Speaker 10: (18:30)


Speaker 1: (18:41)

Uh, Shannon lay is one of the performers at eclectic lawn, which takes place in Carlsbad tomorrow from two to 6:00 PM. You can find details on these and more arts events at, or by signing up for Julia's weekly arts newsletter. I've been speaking with KPBS arts editor and producer Julia Dixon Evans. Thank you, Julia.

Speaker 8: (19:07)

Thank you so much, Maureen. Have a good weekend.

Speaker 10: (19:10)