Surprise shakeup in San Diego City Council leadership
Speaker 1: (00:01)
San Diego city council has new leadership.
Speaker 2: (00:04)
I just wanna say thank you to my colleagues for expressing your confidence in me to be the next council president
Speaker 1: (00:10)
I'm Jade Henman with Kavanaugh. This is KPBS midday edition. How an old library can be used for shelter.
Speaker 3: (00:28)
So many people are seeing these camps and homeless people gathering in the area, and they're seeing this vacant building and they say, why not consider
Speaker 1: (00:36)
A shelter there? The interventions to drive down fentanyl overdoses and giving God Zillow a larger footprint in American pop culture. That's ahead on midday edition San Diego city council as a new president after a surprising vote result yesterday afternoon. Yes,
Speaker 4: (01:07)
I would like to vote. Yes. In favor of council president elect Shawn LA Rivera. Thank you.
Speaker 5: (01:14)
Uh, clerk, please call the roll it. That passes 8 2 1 with, uh, council, president Campbell voting. No
Speaker 1: (01:21)
With that council member, Sean ELO Rivera representing district nine takes over after the incumbent council president Dr. Jen Campbell, who was unable to get the votes needed for another term. And what many considered to be a formality KPBS? Metro reporter, Andrew Bowen joins us with details. Andrew. Welcome.
Speaker 6: (01:39)
Hi Jade. Thanks. So what
Speaker 1: (01:41)
Happened at yesterday's city council meeting?
Speaker 6: (01:44)
Well, it started with council member, Steven Whitburn, whose voice you heard just at the beginning there nominating, uh, council president Campbell for a second year in that position. Pretty shortly thereafter, another council member spoke up and asked whether he could make a substitute motion. Um, Campbell ended up shutting that down she's as council president in charge of the me meeting, but it immediately kind of let everyone know that something was up. And so the end result was then a five to four vote in against keeping Campbell as council president. After that, the meeting got a little confusing. Um, Campbell took two recesses to consult with city attorneys on the rules and just how you know, meeting are allowed to run and motions going here and there and everything. There were some awkward moments where Campbell was clearly not happy. Uh, and some council members were withholding their votes until it, you know, they knew for certain who was gonna be the next council president. Uh, ultimately as you heard, the council voted eight one to elect Sean ILA Rivera as the council president, and only no vote came from, uh, former council president, Jen Campbell, and
Speaker 1: (02:49)
There are yearly votes to choose the city council president. So why was the result here such a surprise?
Speaker 6: (02:55)
Well, every year since this position of council president was created in 2006, when the city switched to a strong mayor form of government, the, the council president has always gotten at least two years in that position. And, uh, the election, the, the bigger election is usually in even numbered years, right after a new city council has taken office that when the, the bigger debate is happening, uh, and odd-numbered years are more of a formality where you're just saying, sure, take another year. But the important thing that's different here is that Campbell Jen Campbell was one of the most controversial choices for council president in city history from the very beginning last year. Uh, some of our listeners may remember there this huge community based campaign to elect Monica Montgomery step as council president. She's the only black elected official in city government. She's a former civil rights attorney. She's very popular in her district. And her supporters saw her as just a better person to lead the city on many of its important issues among them racial equity, which we is a huge, uh, part of the conversation last year and still is of course. So, uh, Campbell had lost, uh, she, she had support from the political establishment and was elected last year in a five to four vote. But the fact that that vote was so narrow and the vote was so contentious, really just laid the foundation for ultimately what happened yesterday.
Speaker 1: (04:20)
And council member, Chris Kate seemed to play a crucial role in preventing Dr. Jen Campbell from remaining as council president. Can you explain what went on there?
Speaker 6: (04:29)
Chris Kate is the only Republican left in elected office in city government. And so last year he was one of the five who supported Campbell for this position, uh, siding with the more moderate Democrat it's on the council. On Monday, he cited with the councils for progressives in voting against Campbell, uh, having a, a second year in that job, he didn't explain what changed his mind. All we got was a tweet, uh, after the vote took place saying congratulations to the new council president. And he said, I appreciate the relationship we've built and look forward to working with you at in 2022. So it's possible that Kate and Campbell had some policy disagreement that they're not really talking about in the open, but I think his tweet is a reminder of the fact that building and maintaining relationships is a really important part of politics. And, uh, we should also acknowledge Campbell. Didn't just lose the confidence of one colleague in Chris, Kate. She also failed to gain the confidence of all of the colleagues who didn't vote for her last year. So that was really her downfall
Speaker 1: (05:29)
And council, president ILO Rivera, whose district includes areas such as city Heights. The college area down to south crest is a relative newcomer to the council. Tell us more about him.
Speaker 6: (05:40)
Uh, he's an attorney by trade. Uh, he led a nonprofit that seeks to empower youth before he entered city government. He's had a somewhat unlikely rise in politics, actually in 2018, he won a seat on the community college district board, uh, beating out a former city council member who in that race was seen as the favorite. And then in last year's city council race for district nine, he faced a very well funded opponent who had support from establishment Democrats and labor unions, but then that candidate ended up having to withdraw from the race after, uh, reporting some campaign finance missteps that he had made. So Sean E. Rivera has had a very fast, and some would say surprising rise in local politics, although he's very charismatic. So, uh, you know, if you, if you get to know him and speak with him and, and watch him in council meetings and how he interacts with his, his colleagues, I think, you know, you might find this rise a little less surprising, and here's
Speaker 1: (06:39)
Some of what he had to say soon after his election.
Speaker 2: (06:41)
We've got a lot to do. Um, and I really do look forward to working with each of you to ensure that every single community in our city gets the services and supports they need.
Speaker 1: (06:52)
And what is council member ELO Rivera's vision for the council and how might it differ for from his predecessors?
Speaker 6: (06:59)
Well, he is definitely a progressive, certainly more progressive than Jen Campbell, but at the same time, he's also shown willingness to compromise with the more moderate colleagues on the city council. Probably the most notable example is his vote in favor of the city's contract with SDG and E uh, his fellow progressives on the council had voted against it, but he supported it. And in the process extracted some last minute concessions that arguably got the city a, a better deal in that, in that, uh, equation. I, I think one of the fundamental questions in San politics right now is what is the purpose of the city council, especially when the entire city government is run by de which was not the case up until a co uh, just last year, really? Does the city council just rubber stamp the mayor's agenda, or do they pursue their own policies and create sort of a competition with the mayor in comparison with Campbell? I think ELO Rivera leans toward the latter in, in a sort of a leading a strong council that pursues its own agenda. And, uh, as you heard there, I think he's very interested in equity in making sure that all of the, the areas of the city that have been historically underinvested in get their fair share of resources. So he's, uh, you know, definitely one to watch. And I think we'll be, um, following that certainly in the next year,
Speaker 1: (08:17)
I've been speaking with KPBS, Metro, Andrew Bowen, Andrew. Thank
Speaker 6: (08:21)
You. Thank you. Jade
Speaker 7: (08:34)
San Diego's rainy season is starting. It's a relief for those concerned about California's drought, but a misery for people living on the streets. Some homeless housing advocates say that misery could be relieved by using government buildings like the old downtown library as shelters. It's an idea that's been kicked around for several years and there are apparently many obstacles, but the proposal has surfaced again just before the December reigns joining me as voice of San Diego reporter, Lisa Halstadt and Lisa welcome.
Speaker 3: (09:07)
Thanks for having me.
Speaker 7: (09:09)
Why is the old downtown library building mentioned over and over again as a good site for a homeless shelter?
Speaker 3: (09:16)
So back in 2013, the city moved its downtown library out of the long term headquarters that it had on E street and into a new location on park Boulevard. Now this area, even before the library moved, um, had long been home to some homeless camps, but over the past eight, homelessness has become even more visible downtown, especially in the east village neighborhood that the old library is in. And this library has been vacant now for many years, uh, more than eight years at this point. So many people are seeing these camps and homeless people gathering in the area, and they're seeing this vacant building and they say, why not consider a shelter there? Is
Speaker 7: (09:55)
There any estimate on how many people, the old library building might be able to house?
Speaker 3: (10:00)
Not yet. So the city is in really early stages of considering whether this property that it's looked at before and several other city owned sites could potentially how shelters. So mayor Gloria wanted to take a look at this because mayor Todd, Gloria wants to expand the city's shelter could. And, you know, I would emphasize that there's a chance that the city could decide not to move forward, um, as it's decided not to move forward before and potentially put new shelter beds somewhere else.
Speaker 7: (10:27)
Yeah, because there are problems that have surfaced with the building itself as it's been evaluated that has stopped the city from pursuing the shelter. Right. Do you haven't there?
Speaker 3: (10:38)
Yes. The city has cited many, many issues over the years, uh, including some issues that have been dismissed. For example, at one point there was a question of, could the library floors bear the weight of homeless people in beds. Those obviously those floors had, had supported thousands of books for many years that was dismissed. Um, but the latest that I heard last year from former mayor, Kevin Faulkner's administration was that yes, the building still has a lot of issues. Those incited included like plumbing heating and cooling system problems. And also back in 2017, when the city was looking at shelter possibilities, a former Faulkner's office spokesman had told me that the city had thought that the building needed about $5 million in upgrades just to make it habitable. Um, and advocates really thought that that was overblown, but
Speaker 7: (11:26)
The city has managed to convert another old property, golden hall into a shelter, right?
Speaker 3: (11:32)
Yeah. So for years, golden hall, which is an event space in the city hall complex, you know, was a spot that advocates were looking at and saying, you know, could that potentially be a shelter? And, and in multiple occasions, the city said, no, that it's not a good option, but in 2019, the city took a big step to make it into what was then a temporary shelter site. But now fast forward a few years, it is housing, hundreds of beds. And it's looking like it's going to be a shelter for a very long time. So I guess never say never.
Speaker 7: (12:03)
And as you report, there's this curious obstacle regarding the old library, there's a provision in a 19th century deed that it's for complicating the future of the property. Tell us about
Speaker 3: (12:15)
That. Yeah. So famous San Diego, George Marston, Google him. He sold the property to the city in 1899. And there's this deed that he signed back in the day that seems to mandate that this property house, a public library and a reading room, which it obviously did for many years. So fast forward, more recently developer Lincoln property company had looked like it was the leading candidate to take over the property. They wanted to make it into an office campus. Then they discovered this deed restriction and concluded that it would complicate plans to try to pursue this office project. They had said the experts that they were consult said that simply incorporating a reading room and even a library museum into the project wouldn't address the issue. And they were told by multiple title companies that they wouldn't be willing to ensure the property.
Speaker 7: (13:06)
So what's the city's position on how binding the Marston directive is.
Speaker 3: (13:10)
So the city and the city attorney's office have really said, they don't think that the deed restriction is currently restricting the property. Um, obviously many folks would note this property did house a library in a reading room for a very long time. Um, but the city says, Hey, you know, maybe it will pursue a title action to try to provide that assurance in anyway.
Speaker 7: (13:30)
Okay. So there's a lot of baggage surrounding the building. The I idea of turning the old library into a homeless shelter though keeps popping up. Where is the latest push coming from?
Speaker 3: (13:42)
Well, again, homeless advocates have been raising this issue for years, um, because the building has just been vacant for so long, more recently leaders of the lucky duck foundation, um, have been urging cities, the county to open winter shelters in government own buildings that they say could quickly be converted, um, and, and bring people in during the colder months, certainly rainy days. And in the case of the old library, I think significantly as well, the Councilman representing the area council, president Protem, Steven Whitburn, um, who also happens to live just a few blocks way. It represents downtown says that he supports a closer look at the property, which is significant because often other council members will look to the council member in that area to see what they would think about something like this.
Speaker 7: (14:28)
Could the building be used as a shelter temporarily without making major changes to the building.
Speaker 3: (14:34)
So the resounding answer in the pay asked was that major work would be needed. Um, we'll have to wait to hear if the Gloria administration would agree.
Speaker 7: (14:43)
And from your reporting, do you think this latest effort will gain support from mayor Gloria and the city council, or will the effort to turn the old library into a homeless shelter fizzle out again?
Speaker 3: (14:55)
I'd say the jury is still out. Uh, the mayor's office says that mayor Gloria was just determined to give the old library. Another look, um, as he's looking to try to expand, uh, shelter offerings in the city. But again, as we've talked about today, this concept has been proposed, explored and rejected multiple times. Uh, the city could also find other properties as it has in the past that it thinks would be easier to move quickly on, um, and put beds in more quickly. And it certainly is looking at other, uh, possibilities for shelter, but many downtown residents and advocates have been just grown more and more frustrated by the lack of movement on this property for years, the pressure seems to be building for the city to do something though that pressure doesn't always mean that something will happen. Um, and that's something that it ultimately becomes may or may not end up being a shelter.
Speaker 7: (15:48)
Okay. I've been speaking with voice of San Diego reporter, Lisa Albert dot, and Lisa. Thank you. Thank
Speaker 3: (15:54)
Speaker 7: (16:02)
This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Jade Heman. Fentanyl is a deadly trifecta. It's cheap. It can be easily disguised as a di front drug, and it's 50 times more potent than heroin. And the numbers show the challenge. Health officials face fentanyl overdoses have more than quadrupled in San Diego county since 2018 K PBS's Katie Stegel has the story.
Speaker 8: (16:29)
There really is no safety net out here
Speaker 9: (16:31)
On the streets. Ammi McLarty survived, homelessness and addiction, and she wanted her best friend, Josh Palmer, to be able to stay the same, but each push from her was met with an empty promise. He wasn't ready to get clean. Her last words to him were that she'd see him later. There
Speaker 8: (16:47)
Was always gonna be a see you later always was supposed to be a see you later. and, um, I'm not gonna see him later.
Speaker 9: (16:57)
Palmer died of a fentanyl overdose in March on the steps of the fraternal order of Eagles. Just off the bustling university avenue in Hillcrest data from the San Diego county medical examiner's office shows at least 446 people died in 2020 with fentanyl in their system. That's four times higher than in 20 18, 9 months into the year. And already more people have died with fentanyl in their systems than last year. By the end of August, 2021, at least 534 people have died with fentanyl in their system. Even more people are expected to die by years end says Dr. Luke Bergman, he's the director of San Diego county's behavioral health
Speaker 10: (17:39)
Services. It's really hard to say when you know, the epidemic curve is gonna turn. Um, we are continuing to see increases. It's very difficult to, to control supply, right? Particularly with fentanyl because it's so strong. It's odorless, it's colorless. It's very easy, um, to transport as an illicit narcotic, it's very easy to hide in other substances because of that. So it, it represents a, a challenge.
Speaker 9: (18:05)
The disheartening truth is these deaths are mostly avoidable because the antidote Naloxone is easy to access. But misinformation about the drug and stigmas about addiction, prevent people from helping someone who's overdosing. So says Dr. Ryan Marino, a Cleveland based addiction, medical specialist,
Speaker 11: (18:24)
People don't deserve to suffer, die, anything like that, just because, because they use use drugs. Um, and so to me, this is just more stigma that, that kind of hurts people with, with substance use disorders and addiction, and even people who just casually use drugs, um, and prevents them from getting appropriate treatment.
Speaker 9: (18:43)
Misinformation can also impact the loved ones of those who die of fentanyl overdoses. Diane ho lost her husband Derek to a $15 hit of fentanyl in 2019. But she says the man she knew was already gone when he died. I realized though he
Speaker 12: (18:59)
Was too far gone. His personality
Speaker 9: (19:01)
Was gone when her husband overdosed hodgkis vividly remembers calling 9 1, 1, hoping paramedics could help. They were the
Speaker 12: (19:09)
Ones that let me know, like, Hey, you have a one year old here. Like if he touches it, he will die.
Speaker 9: (19:13)
Instantly. She and Dominic left their home. The day Derek died and never returned. Marino said the team did not have the correct information. Any, any
Speaker 11: (19:23)
Drugs, I mean, near an infant can be problematic. Um, but it, it's not something that is gonna get into your body unless you are injecting or snorting it, uh, it, it doesn't just cross through the skin. It isn't just getting into the air.
Speaker 9: (19:38)
Since the democratic majority took over the board of supervisors, Bergman with the county says they've shifted their treatment methods towards a model to reduce the likelihood of harm for drug users that can include no walks in clean tools to inject with primary care shelter and showers.
Speaker 10: (19:57)
The spirit of it is getting people what they need and what they want. Uh, even if they're not, uh, in a particular moment able to, to, uh, uh, a trajectory towards abstinence,
Speaker 9: (20:16)
Those changes came too late for people like Josh Palmer and the hoki family, whether they make a dent in the number of overdoses in future years remains to be seen.
Speaker 7: (20:27)
Joining me is KPBS investigative research assistant Katie Stegel Katie, welcome to the program. Thank you
Speaker 9: (20:33)
For having me.
Speaker 7: (20:35)
You outlined the increase in fentanyl related deaths in San Diego in 2020 and the first part of this year, but you used the phrase that the people died with fentanyl in their systems. So are these deaths actually caused by fentanyl overdoses?
Speaker 9: (20:51)
So with the way that the data is structured, that the county medical examiners gave us, there is a thing called the cause of death string, which essentially shows us in order what the most prevalent drug was in the person who died, the actual, pure fentanyl death with nothing else in their system. Only happened about 54 times in the three years, but there's a lot of times where this drug is either mixed with, or, uh, you'll hear the word cut with something else. Um, so fentanyl was prevalent in, um, like say like the top one, two or three chemicals in the person system. But I wanted to use that wording specifically because there's, there's a lot of times where you'll have people using say like meth with it, or there's alcohol in their system, or cocaine or heroin in their system as well. So
Speaker 7: (21:45)
It's possible people are using fentanyl, but they don't know it because it's disguised in other drugs. Is that right?
Speaker 9: (21:51)
Speaker 7: (21:53)
What are some of the theories as to why fentanyl related deaths increased so dramatically during the pandemic?
Speaker 9: (21:59)
I heard a lot of different theories while I was reporting on this. Actually there's some that have to do with say the border being shut down in the drug supply, being in impacted. But the one I want to really hone in on is the fact that the pandemic encouraged isolation and isolation is one of the worst things that you can have with drug use. Because say, for example, you're using in an apartment alone by yourself and you over, there's no one there to help stop that
Speaker 7: (22:32)
Overdose. And I wanna speak more about the antidote. You mentioned in your report, the substance popularly known as Narcan. How is that administered? There's
Speaker 9: (22:43)
Two ways that there's the, the brand name for it is Narcan, but the technical name for it is Naloxone zone. And that can be distributed. One of two ways. You can either use the, no the nasal spray, which is where you see Narcan the most. There's also, um, an injection like with a needle, a syringe, and you'd shoot it into their muscle. So how
Speaker 7: (23:03)
Effective is it in bringing people out of overdose?
Speaker 9: (23:06)
So while it's not a hundred percent effective, there are studies show that it's at least 93% effective.
Speaker 7: (23:13)
I think the most mind boggling aspect of this story is the myth that's grown around. Fentanyl that it's dangerous to touch or breathe the air around the substance. Why do people think that?
Speaker 9: (23:25)
So I actually asked one of the experts, um, a similar question when I was talking to him and he essentially was telling me that we see this pattern within drug history, essentially where people, if they don't understand the drug, they're extremely afraid of it. That's kind of, that's a normal human reaction, right? If we don't understand something. So there was an expert that I was talking to that used an analogy, and he compared it to the HIV and aids epidemic with this aids reference that he used. It showed clearly how we as a society, tend to stigmatize what we don't understand and sincere drug use is already so stigmatized as is. It makes sense to me that the fentanyl would currently be the modern day boogieman of drug use.
Speaker 7: (24:15)
There was a controversial video released by the San Diego Sheriff's department about the contact effects of fentanyl. Can you remind us about that?
Speaker 9: (24:25)
Yes. So this video essentially was released as a PSA and it was showing one of their rookie sheriff deputies overdosing. What, what we believe to be an overdose on fentanyl, he's shaking and the man's clearly not responsive. And it looks like he's, um, like he's struggling to breathe. And the sheriff of put this video out as basically a way to warn about the dangers of fentanyl, however, they didn't actually consult any medical professionals on this. And the story went viral incredibly quickly. Uh, medical experts across the country were saying that this was inaccurate and it was misinformation. Sheriff's eventually admitted that they did not consult any medical professionals on this story, but they never actually took the video down. Even though they said they did. The video currently has over 5 million views on YouTube.
Speaker 7: (25:19)
You know, since this drug, fentanyl is so prone to causing overdose, do San Diego health officials expect its used to decline as the pandemic eases up in the coming months.
Speaker 9: (25:30)
Unfortunately it looks right now like fentanyl is not going anywhere. So even though we're kind of in the decline of the pandemic, the county, doesn't see how they're going to combat this uphill battle right now.
Speaker 7: (25:45)
I've been speaking with KPBS investing research, assistant Katie Stegel Katie. Thank you. Thank you.
Speaker 1: (25:57)
The pandemic has been particularly hard on renters. There's been a lot of news about the end of the statewide eviction moratorium this fall, but it's not just evictions. Some renters are also fit AC another challenge harassment from their landlords. A growing number of California cities are moving to ban landlords from using aggressive practices to try to push out their tenants. Reporter Corey Suzuki tells us about one renter's experience with her landlord and what it cost her.
Speaker 13: (26:24)
Sometimes Daio Bino dreams about Italy.
Speaker 14: (26:30)
Now that was known and you spelled it on
Speaker 13: (26:34)
The couch. So there's a painting on the wall of her tiny kitchen. It chose green trees, red roofs, cobblestone trees. It's a peaceful
Speaker 15: (26:44)
How to say that peaceful river between two, two beautiful buildings, two beautiful sides of buildings. And I think life is less stressful over there cuz there's a lot of flowers.
Speaker 13: (26:55)
I'm standing with dya in her kitchen. A good as we're talking, one of her kids drops a bowl, popcorn. Yeah. Scattering kernels, a very
Speaker 15: (27:04)
Peaceful over there, even though, you know, it's, it's hard for some people like for me right now, but um, you know, life is never easy anyways. Excuse me. What you
Speaker 13: (27:13)
Doing? DIA and her kids are happy here. They live together in the small apartment in Walnut Creek, a bay area suburb. Leah is seven. She likes when they watch my movies together aena is two. She likes when they go to trader Joe's. But like a lot of people DIA has really struggled to get by. During the pandemic two years ago, she got divorced
Speaker 15: (27:33)
And I trusted him. So he did a lot of bad, bad mistakes and affect his own long term. You know, it's not something you fix in a month.
Speaker 13: (27:42)
She was a preschool to at the time, but the school said she couldn't bring Alina her baby to work. She didn't have anyone who could take care of her then. So she started driving for Uber and door dash with Alina in the backseat. That was when do's dad stepped in. He lives back in Algeria with do's sister and brother and a lot of her family and he helped her lease a car. So she could for Uber and DoorDash.
Speaker 15: (28:05)
He helped a lot of people. I'm not saying that cuz he is my dad, but he was the best dad
Speaker 13: (28:09)
In the world. Then COVID hit. And it was even harder to find work altogether with unemployment and her delivery jobs Doby says she was making a little over $2,000 a month and half of that was going to pay her rent. It was a really stressful year, juggling all of that. But DHA did have one really big thing to look forward to the summer of 2021. That's when she was planning this big surprise trip to visit her parents back home in Algeria.
Speaker 15: (28:35)
It's a plan of five years. I'm talking about a plan of five years. We've been through a lot before this five years, you know, divorce with her dad and a lot of struggle losing jobs during COVID
Speaker 13: (28:45)
DIA and her brother had it all planned out. DIA's daughter was gonna be on break. Spring was turning to summer and COVID restrictions were easing. Da was so excited. She couldn't wait to see her mom and dad again. And that's when their new difficult landlord arrived. A local real estate investor named Steven Pinza. I asked ABI to read one of the letters they got from him.
Speaker 15: (29:04)
As you might know, there are significant safety items that we need to take care in your unit while we wish their repairs were not necessary or could be done without you moving out. It is not
Speaker 13: (29:14)
Possible. I also talked to two other tenants who said they got the same letters. The new landlord was ordering them to move out. He said there were significant safety issues with 11 apartments. And those tenants had until July, July 31st to leave.
Speaker 15: (29:28)
So here's the bedroom and uh, pretty clean as you can see, you know, the walls are fine, nothing is falling. There's no ceilings falling the clothes. It is pretty.
Speaker 13: (29:37)
Clean's just not a GRA. I asked, stop you to show me around her apartment. There weren't any safety issues I could see. And then the landlord started doing other things. He refused to take their rent payment for July. He had workers take away the tables and chairs. They used to have barbecues in the courtyard. He started doing loud construction work frequently and he told them anything else. They left outside like toys and bikes would be thrown away. Leah Simon Weisberg is an attorney with, at tenants group ACE, the Alliance of Californians for community empowerment. She says what Doby and her neighbors are dealing with. Isn't unusual. Even if it does prey on struggling renters and their families.
Speaker 16: (30:12)
Part of Steven pin's business model is to buy properties with long term tenants. And that may have some minor or delayed maintenance, but he tends to just make money by pushing people
Speaker 13: (30:26)
Out. I tried to get in touch with Steven Pinza. I called and emailed his office and knocked on his door. He hasn't gotten back to me.
Speaker 16: (30:34)
He cleans them up a bit, you know, meaning like he paints, it does some minor repairs and then he puts, uh, much higher. Um, you know, he charges way more
Speaker 13: (30:43)
Rent. A lot of DA's neighbors did end up leaving, but DIA and a couple other tenants didn't have anywhere to go. They weren't gonna leave at the end of July. They couldn't instead they were gonna stay and wait for the landlord to take them to court Walnut Creek. Doesn't define landlord harassment, but actions, refusing, rent, payments, and intimidation fit the legal definition of harassment in other cities end. And the other tenants living in her building. Aren't the only ones dealing with this reports of landlords harassing their tenants have spiked during the pandemic in the bay area. And in other parts of California, a number of cities have moved to address it. Los Angeles, Oakland and Richmond have all passed stronger. Anti harassment protections meant to deter this kind of behavior, but dya had something else at stake. This chance to spend time with her family. They only had a small window when Leah was outta school, but it was getting closer and closer to July 31st, the day they were supposed to move out and she was really worried about what might happen if they were on for too long. And
Speaker 15: (31:44)
When I saw this letter, I was really afraid that if we go, he comes and literally, you know, throw our stuff to the street because he was so harassing. He was so rude that we would expect anything from him. So I, I just went ahead and canceled my trip. I didn't get those tickets. I didn't go. I didn't know what this guy was capable of.
Speaker 13: (32:05)
A month later, she got a call from her family.
Speaker 15: (32:07)
Beginning of July. I talked to my family and uh, here's the, the shock. Both of them get coed. Mom and dad. My dad is 68. My mom is 58 years old. They're 10 years apart, but they both them get sick to the point. They couldn't breathe.
Speaker 13: (32:23)
It was really bad at first but soon D got some good news. Her mom was doing better. She didn't need oxygen anymore. And her dad was being moved to the hospital. Her family said he was getting better too.
Speaker 15: (32:35)
In the morning I woke up at 6:00 AM and put in the pressure cooker. I was so excited.
Speaker 13: (32:40)
It was July 31st. The day they were supposed to hand in their keys. Da had bigger things to worry about today was her daughter's birthday party.
Speaker 15: (32:49)
So I made this a lot like enough for 25 people. Cucu with chicken and vegetables. I wake up at 6:00 AM and throwing the pot. As soon as I, I cover it and my daughter woke up, it was like eight, 15. And she's like, mom, get ready. She was excited, her birthday. And I was like, yeah, yeah, let's get ready. And um, we were heading to the bathroom. I heard the phone calling.
Speaker 13: (33:11)
She picked up the phone. It was her sister that the way
Speaker 15: (33:15)
She's talking is wrong. And she has the background of crying, like hear some cry. And she say, we tried everything, sorry, sister, we're here with you. We love you. And I was quite in shock. I, I don't know. I know what happened after that.
Speaker 13: (33:32)
Do's family had been hiding the truth. Her father wasn't getting better, but they knew she had a lot to worry about already and they didn't wanna add something else. So it was a shock when D's sister called to tell her that their father had died.
Speaker 15: (33:46)
No, a lot of people came to my apartment, my neighbors, that time they're off my country, three or four of them. And they heard me like, oh, I don't even know where I was. I was just crying. I don't even know. Maybe it was screaming too loud. I, I don't know because quite a
Speaker 13: (34:01)
Shock for me sitting next to me on a park bench, near her building do squeezes her water bottle in both hands, screws it and UNSCR it as she talks. And
Speaker 15: (34:09)
Uh, and I remember I took my phone and um, always on, on the end he could say kisses for my lovely grandkids. He loves my kids of course, and kisses for my two print for my two cuties things, you know, in the end and his messages in, in French, he always write to me French
Speaker 13: (34:31)
DIA's landlord didn't force her to cancel the trip, but the stress of balancing multiple jobs, taking care of her kids and dealing with the harassment, it was too much. So she made the choice not to go. And now on the wall of her tiny kitchen, there's another picture frame inside is a photo of her dad. Still things are a little more stable right now. The day I stopped by do's apartment, she tells me she was finally able to find a job at a preschool that lets her bring Alina along. It is
Speaker 15: (35:00)
A relief cuz the, I can have her with me, can have the baby with me. I really love it. We feel like we know each other for years and we literally just started, you know, so
Speaker 13: (35:09)
The state and county eviction moratoriums expired at the end of September and Walnut Creek doesn't have any local eviction protections like cities in allege county Dhabi said, she's ready for whatever comes next.
Speaker 15: (35:20)
I am ready, whatever he wants to take me hill. Okay. Which, whatever path he'll work, if he becomes human and you know, come and talk to us and give us some more time and we'll work it out. We'll leave one day when we can, we have, you know, enough money, which it is already my plan. I wanna move. I wanna have a two bedrooms. I wanna have big space. I wanna have a backyard for my kids. I do wanna have all that, but I cannot afford it right now and explain to him.
Speaker 13: (35:46)
Sure. The last two years have taken a lot from Daio, but she still has her home. And for Leah and Alina Davia says that's the most important thing. She still be able to move out soon too, to find that bigger place with the backyard to bring her mom to the us so she can have family around and help with the kids. And for now she dreams about that river in Italy for the California report. I'm Corey Suzuki in Walnut Creek.
Speaker 7: (36:24)
This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Jade Henman Godzilla roared into existence in 1954 and has always been a towering pop culture icon in Japan. But his foot in the us has not been as large. Chris Maui is hoping to change that he's the creative manager for Toho international, that is putting his passion for the giant monster to good use by creating products, designed to increase his popularity in the us K P S arts reporter. Beth Amando speaks to Maui who used to live in San Diego and write a Godzilla comic for I D w publishing
Speaker 17: (37:03)
Chris to start with you work at Toho, but explain what your job
Speaker 18: (37:08)
Is. So my job is to kind of oversee the creative brand product development. Uh, you name it for, for Godzilla, uh, it everywhere outside of Japan. Now
Speaker 17: (37:21)
You have a long history with Godzilla that predates your job at Toho. Tell us a little bit about kind of your connection to Godzilla and the work you did at I D w
Speaker 18: (37:32)
So I worked at I D w and I think probably like the first week there, I, I asked them about, you know, Hey, have you ever thought about doing God's a comics? And they didn't think about it. And then they went after it and said, okay, well what should we do? And I said, well, you have to get rights to the other monsters because no one had ever done that before Marvel or dark horse. And so they did that and we were the first company to really put out Godzilla comics, but also featuring Mara and Mecca Godzilla, and a number of the other kid characters. So after, I dunno, how long of us having the license, they, they finally let me write some things. And I ended up writing this, this longest series in God comics, history. That pretty much had me working with Toho pretty, pretty regularly as far as just like emails back and forth. And, you know, could we do this? Could we do that you a couple years after I wasn't there anymore, they just reached out one day and said, Hey, would you be interested in working for us? So it was a very, um, easy decision to make.
Speaker 17: (38:29)
And for you, what is it about Godzilla that you found so appealing? What hooked you for this?
Speaker 18: (38:34)
I think growing up, I, the first film I saw was Godzilla versus Gagan. I was five years old and I think it was just, I was so interested in dinosaurs and sharks and whales and all the stuff, um, you know, in monster movies of course too. And I think it was just this character had all of that and just, he was so cool at the time. You know, we had oyster cult song out and, you know, the, the HBAR cartoon was on. Like, it was just, it was easy to get attached to the character. Now,
Speaker 17: (39:02)
Godzilla is 67 years old this year. What makes him newsworthy right now? Because he seems to be getting a little bit of attention. Is it mainly because of his birthday?
Speaker 18: (39:13)
I think it has a lot to do with the fact that there is, this character has such longevity to it and has been around, like you said, for 67 years, generations of people have grown up on it and thanks to the Mon verse films and the success of God's all versus Kong. You know, there is this whole new whole new audience out there for the character. And of course the, the character themes have always been pretty topical with environmentalism and sustainability, all those kinds of things. So they're all those topics are still relevant today.
Speaker 17: (39:44)
Toho and you have recently launched a series of videos on YouTube that are brand new. You're kind of taking advantage of this platform. Now, what kind of things are people going to be able to find in these new videos?
Speaker 18: (39:56)
So the new series that we just launched is called Godzilla chomp. It is a co-hosted official media program and it is co-hosted by myself and my dog, peanut. And it's basically kind of like a Godzilla 1 0 1 in a way. And it just, it gives some insight into what we do at Tahoe international and LA one of the first things you'll see when you come into the office in the lobby besides this amazing mural, which we will cover in a future episode is this incredible statue, but also giving some very basic facts for people new to the brand. I, I always joke around and say, you know, it's a show made for my mom, you know, who who's known me all my life, but really has no idea about this character who I've been a obsessed with. Um, so we do these, these little short three to five minute episodes. And the good thing about it is like, you know, peanut offers these facts and the very basic facts, like I said, but we're filling it with a lot of stuff for hardcore fans as well to see like old original one sheets and film reels and things that we, we kind of have like in our storage area.
Speaker 17: (40:57)
So you've mentioned this storage area up in LA at Toho. So what kind of things are you uncovering and as a fan of Godzilla, like how does that feel to go back into those vaults?
Speaker 18: (41:08)
It's it's super cool. I mean, there's stuff in there that is like old, old press kits from the sixties old one sheets that have, you know, never been folded. They were used to be folded mail out. These are just like, they almost look like press proofs and it's just that they shouldn't exist in that condition. Just things like that. Just, just really, you know, get me excited for it, just old production samples of like the old NES game, you know, never assembled. And it just, it's crazy to see all these things
Speaker 17: (41:34)
Now, as someone who is a fan of Godzilla working at the job you are at, what kind of things are you kind of like pushing for that are starting to become available now, because as a fan of Godzilla, you know, here in the us, we have not had as much merchandise to enjoy as fans in Japan where he's an icon. And so now we're starting to get some stuff. So what kind of things are you seeing happen right now and pushing to happen?
Speaker 18: (42:03)
I think with, uh, the, the great team that we have, you know, you're seeing a lot more of those licensed goods that are available here, and we're really working with, you know, really, really good by partners now to, to help bring, not just toys out, but, you know, like apparel and not just a t-shirt, but like a really nicely, you know, designed, you know, high end kind of apparel item. Um, we just, I mean, we just did hot sauces and coffees and it's a, you know, Godzilla hockey puck now and, you know, hockey jerseys and it just all kinds of stuff. So the, the partners we work with are, are a huge part of that. They're really supportive of the brand. And, but also I just, I would like to see us really start hitting a different demographic too, and, you know, paying more attention to like our female fans and not just with, you know, Mo but also doing things like, you know, tapping into some of our character history, like header a you're a header, a fan, and header just had a 50th anniversary year. So you saw a couple timed capsules around that with, you know, super seven, did a release, Mondo did special releases. So really just trying to take this, this almost seven decades of a character and, and finding, you know, whatever we
Speaker 17: (43:08)
Can, you mentioned partners, and you also mentioned, uh, companies like Mondo and super seven. What, it's the importance of partnering with companies that really kind of understand fandom
Speaker 18: (43:20)
At the very basic level? It makes our job really easy, cuz they know the brand, they know what they want to do. Um, they know their audience, their, their, their customers as well. I enjoy working with partners like that because they they're coming up with stuff that was never done before, you know, they were collectors as their own, you know, on their own. So they kind of understand what's been done. What's been out in the market and kind of taking that, you know, you know, it'd be really cool to do, let's do this thing, the Tiki mugs that that motto does, for example, you know, just, just really cool. And even like a company like Meco doing a giant, like 18 inch fully moveable lights and sound, you know, toy. That's just something that, I mean I would love to have as a kid and now it's happening. So,
Speaker 17: (44:01)
And you guys are also doing some really crazy high end stuff like the pinball
Speaker 18: (44:07)
Machine that was a lot of fun to work on. The, the team at stern is, is fantastic. And it's, it's basically this love letter to God Zillow and especially the Showa era. And it it's kind of made to feel like if you were to somehow just go back in time to like 1978 or so. And in some kind of like pool hall or, or arcade somewhere, this is what you would play. Um, it's got a bunch of film clips attached to it and it even has the blue oyster cult song. So it's, it's a very, uh, very seventies focused machine, but I finally got to play it last weekend in San Diego for ComicCon. It was, it was awesome. Well, thanks so much for talking. Thank you, Beth.
Speaker 19: (44:51)
Speaker 7: (44:54)
That was Beth aand speaking with Chris Mallory. You can find out more about Toho and email@example.com.
Speaker 19: (45:25)
Oh know, got.