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Roundtable: Wildfire Readiness For The Underserved

 July 2, 2021 at 9:20 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 The west is dry as a bone. And the threat of wildfires is escalating the new push to make sure underserved communities are ready. California is still segregated. New research shows little progress has been made. And in places like San Diego, it's only getting worse. And athletes say some fan behavior is out of control. The rash of incidents crossing the line from heckling to hate I'm Christina Kim and the KPBS round table starts. Now Speaker 2: 00:34 [inaudible] Speaker 1: 00:38 Welcome to our discussion of the week's top stories. I'm Christina Kim, joining me on this remote edition of the KPBS round table. Our CBS eight reporter Abby Alford, LA times, writer, Hailey Smith and columnist Charles Clark from the San Diego union Tribune. Some of the hottest temperatures on record were felt in the west this week, reminding us of our changing climate and the ever-present risk for wildfires. That was the topic of discussion during a special meeting at the white house between president Joe Biden and Western governors, including California's Gavin Newson, you know, California, Speaker 3: 01:10 And some other places. The drought conditions are twice. That's what, they're what they were last year. Speaker 1: 01:15 You're on the ground in San Diego work is already happening to get underserved communities ready to act. Our first guests reporter Abby Alford for CVS eight has more on these efforts. Hello Abby. Hi. All right. So governor Newsome has allocated $50 million across the state to make sure that underserved communities, so black Americans, Latinos, and people living with disabilities among others are ready to face the state's fire season. Why is focusing on these groups such a priority this time around? Speaker 4: 01:43 I think because you know, what firefighters and what officials have said on this entire year is that, um, coming off of last year, that this could be one of the worst wildfire seasons on record in California. And you kind of have to wonder, you know, I thought we've already hit the worst of the worst. So it's definitely scary, I think for all communities across California, but especially those who may not have the access to the resources or readily access to the resources like others Speaker 1: 02:13 May, is this something we've seen in the past in previous years? And do we think the pandemic which disproportionately impacted communities of color has widened the gap even more and made some communities even more vulnerable to wildfires? Well, they Speaker 4: 02:26 Did see yes, during the pandemic on that level, that there was a disproportionate toll on our California, blacks, Latinos, seniors, as well as native Americans, um, people with disabilities, um, Asian, Pacific Islanders, and those living with health conditions, um, during the pandemic. And they still think that even in the pandemic where there was that disproportionate toll on them, it carries over to wildfire preparedness, which also would be disaster preparedness as well. Got it. Speaker 1: 02:56 So I know this week you spoke with the co-chair of least those California, what is least those California and what's its mission. What's it doing here on the ground for us, Speaker 4: 03:04 It means ready in Spanish. And this was formed, I think, during the pandemic or in 2019, but I think it got off the ground on last year during the pandemic, it's kind of an arm of the California office of emergency services. And so what its goal is, is to reach underserved communities. And it's not just Latino communities, but, um, those that are underserved in across California, and what they'd want to do is educate our diverse and vulnerable communities about wildfire preparedness and other types of disasters. Speaker 1: 03:37 So I know as part of their work, at least those California recently studied what obstacles exist that make outreach towards certain underserved communities, really difficult. What did they learn and what strategies have they adopted based on this study? I think the Speaker 4: 03:49 Biggest takeaway is that it's not a one size fits all. And even with your sub-communities that we're talking about, whether it be black Californians, Latinos, and native Americans within those groups, you also have your generational gaps. So maybe a 20 year old wants to take talk video, but a senior needs more the door to door and someone to walk them through what it is exactly that they need to be prepared. And I think, you know, one of the biggest takeaways from it is that they had said that the underserved communities, those that they've talked to say that they do want help and they know that they need help and they need to have a plan. They just don't know how, and they don't have the access to it. Sometimes they can't afford it. Uh, you know, when we're talking about, oh, just click online and go to our website and you can get this information. Speaker 4: 04:40 Well, some people don't even have internet or have the broad broadband to do it. Some may have the money to like our seniors may have the money to get a broadband or may have the money to have a computer, but they don't really know how to use it. And so I think it really depends on what groups you're trying to reach out and what their needs are. But most of the time it's really using neighbor to neighbor and grassroots efforts and kind of getting boots on the ground to meet these people and having one-on-one conversations with them in person or on the phone. I'm just Speaker 1: 05:09 Curious. I mean, what does that one one-on-one conversation look like? How does lease those get, get into the community? Is it just really people knocking on doors? How does one start to create that network of awareness and trust? Well, they Speaker 4: 05:22 Have several different types of volunteers. At least those has social bridge volunteers. And when that's where they do make these phone calls and they just call anyone, I think a lot of the times they use, um, the Rolodex of what county may have when they're trying to do their outreach to seniors or those that are signed up to other types of groups. And they just making these phone calls and just checking in with them. Do you have a plan? Well, what does that plan look like? Do you have a bag? You know, a to go back? Well, I don't have a bag cause I don't even have a bag. Okay. You know, making sure do you have these resources to have disaster plan? And if you don't, how can we get those to Speaker 1: 06:00 You? All right. So for folks listening right now, what's one of the major pieces of advice that Lisa goes along with the Catholic charities of San Diego and Imperial counties is telling people what's something they can do right now get Speaker 4: 06:12 Alerts because right now only one and four San Diego ones are registered to receive disaster alerts electronically or on their phone. So these alerts are, they will let you know if there's a fire in the area. It lets, you know, if there's any type of disaster on that's happening and it gives you information on where the evacuation centers are, where you can get food, whether it's housing, your pets and your livestock as well. So I think the most important thing is making sure that you get those alerts also making a plan. And what does that include? Make a plan, talk with your family. What will you do if there's a wildfire in place, where are we going to go? What would be our meeting place? And then expand that to your neighbors, because this is all about helping our neighbors. Speaker 1: 06:59 So wildfire season is now year round. What are you and your colleagues at CVS aight, hearing from firefighters locally about the fire risk right now Speaker 4: 07:10 That this is going to be the worst in California. And you know, it's hot right now. But remember in San Diego, we really don't get those wildfires until late in the fall. Sometimes we see them even in December, I'm in January, it's really those Santa Ana winds that kind of really get us. So while we may not see them now, or we have these little spot fires here and there, you know, they, they could, you know, blow up like, like we saw 10 years ago. But fortunately what the wildfires that we've seen in the past few years, while they have been devastating, um, they have been able to be contained. And I think, you know, we just need to always keep this top of mind that we're never out of the clear in California and especially in San Diego, Speaker 1: 07:49 I've been speaking with Abby Alford, a reporter for CBS eight here in San Diego. Thank you so much for your reporting, Abby, thank you. When you're out and about in San Diego, it might seem like an incredibly diverse place, but what do you see when you go back home into your neighborhood? Do you see the same mix of races and ethnicities? Chances are the answer is no. San Diego is among one of the Metro areas where residential segregation has worsened over the past generation and new research from UC Berkeley lays it all out. Haley Smith wrote about this for the LA times. And she's here to talk about those findings with us. Welcome to round table Hayley. Speaker 4: 08:24 Hi, thanks so much for having me. Okay. Speaker 1: 08:26 So UC Berkeley calls their research, the roots of structural racism project. What did researchers hope to learn from the study? Speaker 4: 08:34 Well, I think they hope to learn a few things. First. They wanted to chart changes in segregation. So I E whether segregation is improving and major metropolitan areas, they also wanted to look at the outcomes for people who live in and are raised in segregated communities, which are notably worse for people in highly segregated communities of color. And I believe that they called the project, the roots of structural racism because as the study's author said to me, residential racial segregation is really the undercurrent of so many expressions of structural racism in the country from health disparities to over-policing Speaker 1: 09:15 You write that more than 80% of Metro areas across the U S so those are cities with at least 200,000 people. They grew more segregated over the last 30 years, where do California's Metro areas fit in there? So Speaker 4: 09:26 California did not do great overall. I believe that they measured, uh, 17 Metro areas in this state. And 14 of them got worse in terms of racial segregation. Only three areas measured any improvement, but there's a big caveat there, which is that LA was one of the areas that saw improvement, but it was like 0.01 diversion on the studies index, which is negligible. So essentially LA saw no change in, uh, residential racial segregation since 1990, in terms of San Diego, San Diego was one of the areas that actually saw its segregation. Um, numbers get worse in the last 30 years. However, in terms of overall rankings, LA is the six most segregated Metro area in the study. And San Diego is number 38. So you've got us a little bit there. Speaker 1: 10:17 You've already alluded to this, but the project goes well beyond race and where people live. It also found a correlation to personal outcomes like life expectancy, earning power and home values. Is there anything that really stands out to you from the research? Speaker 4: 10:30 Um, yeah. Uh, you know, again, I think that people who live in and are from some of these communities probably wouldn't be shocked by some of the findings, but it does stand out and it is striking to see it quantified. So clearly. So as you mentioned, um, life outcomes, which include things like income, education, home ownership, even life expectancy are worse for people who live in highly segregated neighborhoods of color. And I actually pulled some specific numbers here. I'm going to read them because I did not memorize them. Sorry, but, um, black children raised in integrated neighborhoods earn nearly a thousand dollars more per year as adults than those raised in highly segregated communities of color and $4,000 more per year when they're raised in white neighborhoods. And the numbers are really similar for Latino children who earned $844 more per year as adults when they're raised in integrated neighborhoods and 5,000 more when they're raised in white neighborhoods and pretty much the best life outcomes in all categories remained in highly segregated white areas. Speaker 1: 11:34 So you wrote about this in your piece, but a lot of this goes back to red lining, which is a practice that really denied home ownership and other financial services to people based on their race. And it goes back to the twenties. You said that that's really foundational for the negatives that we see today. So how did redlining and kind of all of that history make it hard, true integration to take root. Speaker 4: 11:55 And I think this is a really important part of this, you know, this story. So first I want to acknowledge that very much of Los Angeles and in California was founded, um, on native land, but in terms of the sort of divisions and what we're looking at for this study are very 20th century and 21st century developments in terms of how the cities have been laid out. And so this practice of redlining, it began as a sort of informal practice of prohibiting certain people from buying homes or living in certain neighborhoods, but he was actually codified in the 1930s by the homeowners loan corporation and the federal housing administration. So you can actually, you know, go on Google and look at some of these old redlining maps, which clearly outlined which neighborhoods are meant for certain people they're labeled with things like desirable or declining. Speaker 4: 12:49 And the reason that that is so important is because those early sort of red lines segregation sort of created a vicious cycle where the people who were sort of relegated to the less attractive parts of the city became associated with those parts of the city. And then as the years went on, those neighborhoods were kind of consistently disenfranchise. So you see things like food deserts developing, or, um, a lack of infrastructure or even freeways, you know, being placed right through the neighborhood, which creates more pollution and sort of keeps them under undesirable and sort of continues that cycle. And what's really interesting is that if you look at some of these historic redlining maps and you overlay them with maps of the COVID-19 pandemic, they line up very, very passively. So the communities that we know were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, which in LA was largely black and Latino communities, those maps fit very much over the pandemic and over the red lining. And the same thing is true for the vaccine, um, which was disproportionately rolled out at the beginning to those communities as well, Speaker 1: 14:00 The LA times KPBS. So many of us are reporting on the current housing crisis, the high cost of living in California and gentrification that's happening in a lot of neighborhoods. How does this all kind of connect, especially when we're looking at integration, how might these kinds of practices actually lead to more segregation now? Speaker 4: 14:20 Yeah. You know, I have the same question because I think that when you think of gentrification, you often think like great people are, are mingling. And look at that, you know, white people are at grocery stores and restaurants with Asian people or Latino people or people in other communities that they might not necessarily have been, um, integrated with. But ultimately what ends up happening is that those gentrified neighborhoods become more and more gentrified by white people, but also wealthy people. And I mention that, you know, a lot of other, um, segregation studies have also found similarities in terms of income segregation. So I'll say white or wealthy people end up pushing those communities, um, further and further out. And what happens is these neighborhoods down the line get re segregated. Speaker 1: 15:08 I mean, I'm just going to ask this because I'm curious to see what you think, but it's just like, so then how do we integrate integration often looks like gentrification, is there a formula or a process where we can have more integrated communities in which no one is being displaced? Speaker 4: 15:26 I think there probably is. I think that like a lot of the barriers to entry to entry for a lot of these neighborhoods need to be addressed. So even things like more housing density in some of these neighborhoods or allowing more low income units to be built in some of these Tonier neighborhoods could go a long way for that. Unfortunately, what we see a lot of times is a lot of resistance to those things. So I think it's an uphill battle. I don't think it's impossible, but, um, yeah, you're right. It has been hard to cross those lines in the past. A Speaker 1: 15:58 Lot of implications there and a lot to keep on looking at, I've been speaking with Hailey Smith reporter for the LA times. Thank you so much, Haley. Speaker 4: 16:05 Sure. Thanks so much for having me, Speaker 1: 16:07 Whether it's tortillas being thrown at Latino players in Coronado racism on the soccer pitch in Portland or abusive heckling towards the Padres outfielder in Cincinnati. There's no shortage of toxic fan behavior right now in sports. When does it cross the line and why is this happening? Charles Clark, a columnist for the San Diego union Tribune recently wrote about this and how the NBA has been dealing with it. So let's dive into it. Hello Charles. Speaker 5: 16:31 Hi Christina. Thanks for having me. Thanks Speaker 1: 16:33 For being here. So your recent column had the headline when fandom goes too far, we forget athletes are people first. What motivated you to write this? Speaker 5: 16:42 Yeah, so for, for me, it really what sparked, it was kind of a rash of incidents that happened at NBA games. Uh, we had a string of really, it was somewhere between three or five of them in the same kind of three-day period. And basketball is kind of the sport that I follow the most closely. It's the one that I grew up playing and go into games with my mom. Uh, so this was definitely an issue that he had close to home. Um, and it's a problem that certainly has existed in that sport for many, many years. Wow. Speaker 1: 17:11 So speaking of the NBA, you cheered your Phoenix sons in their series clinching when there was a nasty incident on the court between Patrick Beverley and Chris Paul. But how about, how about the fans? Did you see themselves behaving from what you saw? Speaker 5: 17:24 Yeah, yeah. So fortunately for the most part, it seemed like, uh, the most hostility was kept, you know, on the court. Uh, I think for the most part, Clippers fans were pretty jovial. Um, and pretty, I think just decent, uh, you know, there was your regular booing and things like that. Uh, but nothing to me that seemed to cross the line, but nothing that seemed to spill out and kind of the hostilities that we've kind of been seeing of late. Speaker 1: 17:52 Yeah. It seems like we're in a moment, there's always been too to your point, an element of kind of bad fan behavior in sports, but right now it seems to be coinciding with the reopening of society. So as arenas and stadiums start to fill up, do you think there's a coincidence here or do you think there's an overlap? Is there something going on with what we've collectively experienced in the same way with what we're seeing, you know, in airplanes and in different kinds of community settings where we're all together Speaker 5: 18:16 Again? Yeah. You know, I think there's definitely a mix of both, right. I think people have been been inside for extended periods of time. Right? If you go out to a sporting event, it's for many people the first time they're in large groups of people. So I think that's certainly part of it and they need places to kind of have these outbursts of energy at the same time. I think another component of this honestly, is just how athletes have changed a bit. And also just how we look at these things. I do think that, you know, the last year we have seen, you know, a, a bit of a reckoning when it comes to racial justice. And I do think that is certainly part of this conversation as well. Speaker 1: 18:56 Yeah. That's actually where I wanted to take it next. I think when we're talking about these kinds of bad fan behavior, a lot of it does end up with, to your point about race. I mean, we just saw this locally, right? The glaring incident where a tortilla or tortillas were thrown at a boys high school team, and this was between Cora natto high and orange Glen, a predominantly Latino school. The CIF recently just addressed the incident by vacating the Coronado high, his title, as well as other sanctions. You know, when we're talking about bad fan behavior, because supposedly this was, you know, brought by a fan, not by the school members themselves, you know, is this an appropriate response? And how do we, who are watching this start to understand, you know, where punishments or how to actually address this? Speaker 5: 19:41 Yeah. You know, I think those are both really good questions. Um, I think for me, I thought the punishment was appropriate in that while it didn't sound like the players brought the tortillas to the game. And my understanding is there were some who were throwing them, which to me that on its face, like I know there's, you know, they tried to dress it up as, oh, that was the way of celebrating. I played basketball for 16 years. I can't say that was ever something I saw. Um, maybe it's a regional thing, but either way, you know, a little bit of common sense goes a long way and this should have been a pretty clear that that was not appropriate, uh, even without the racial connotations of the event itself. Uh, I guess kind of where I'm at with the punishments is, you know, when it comes to the fan behavior, it is a tricky thing, right? Speaker 5: 20:28 Where I know what the NBA, at least you saw. And I believe it was an incident involving Kyrie Irving, where a gentlemen threw a water bottle at him right after he actually expressed some concerns about, uh, some racial animus happening when he returned to Boston. Um, I believe that Boston PD was actually arrested that guy and they're looking to charge him with a crime. Uh, you know, that's a pretty extreme response, I think, to a lot of people that I do think that's the only way that you dissuade behavior like this. I think NBA stadiums, uh, and other professional venues, permanently banning fans from attending events, if they act out in these ways is also appropriate. Although I think that's certainly a lot trickier to enforce you Speaker 1: 21:14 Kind of alluded to this earlier, and I just want to ask you, you said that athletes themselves are changing. Right. So what do you mean by that? Is there kind of a new expectation? Is there kind of a new code of ethics between fans and athletes that is kind of developing that we're beginning to understand now? Speaker 5: 21:29 Yeah, I think it's just more, it maybe it's just because right. You don't necessarily have the same gatekeepers that these guys, when something happens, they can just go and publicize, you know, their feelings themselves, right. They can go on Twitter or whatever, and they don't have to go through an intermediary to express their frustrations with something happening. I think that's a big part of it. And at the same time, it also seems like athletes are a bit more open talking about it, you know, not to fixate too much on the NBA, but I, I do think it's a really good microcosm of this and that there you have a sport where the fans from a pure proximity perspective are a lot closer to the players. It's also a sport where, you know, the vast majority of the players are black and most of the fans in the venue tend to be white. Speaker 5: 22:14 So I think it's a bit more striking. Um, I think also probably the way that games are frankly, filmed from an entertainment perspective adds to that, that there's certainly more cameras now in venues than there ever were before in documenting these kinds of events. And along with that right there, the fans themselves, right. Everyone's got a camera. So I think there's a lot of factors, but definitely a part of it seems to be that athletes have kind of reached a breaking point where they're like, look, you know, we're all for, you know, good nature booing or heckling. Um, but there is a line, Speaker 1: 22:49 Right, right. I mean, we're seeing that here, going outside of the NBA into baseball here with the Padres, the outfielder Tommy fan, he's spoken pretty openly about what happened in Cincinnati, where he said fans were really heckling him to a point that just seemed to cross the line. And he said it also happened recently at San Diego at Petco park. So going back to what you're talking about, I mean, what, what do you, where do you think that line is? Speaker 5: 23:11 It's kind of funny that we have this conversation because I there's part of me that wants to say it seems like it would be common sense, right. If you use say a racial slur or epithet, uh, I would think common sense tells you that, you know, across in line, if you say something about someone's, uh, significant other, I would hope, you know, that crosses the line or really just anything that is, uh, a truly personal cut. Now, if it's, you know, good nature booing, right. Or, you know, good natured jokes, you know, I think we all kind of know when we hear it. Um, and I think the athletes do too, right. There's a reason that you don't hear them kind of going off about someone, just booing them or, you know, someone say making up a chant, like chanting about how they're balding or something. Like a lot of these guys, they have a sense of humor. It's just when you get real personal and go after people's family or something about their identity, I think that's where you really open up the issue here. Speaker 1: 24:08 And this is a new, so do you think that we're hearing about it more now? Why, why are we hearing about this? I mean, you've kind of alluded to it, right? There's social media. There's the fact that we've gone through, you know, what people are calling a racial reckoning, there's just a greater understanding and an empowerment by athletes. So do you feel in some ways that this is progress, that we're defining a new sports culture? Speaker 5: 24:28 I hope so. You know, I, I guess it is important to keep in mind that this isn't strictly right in American problem. Um, I know that, you know, in European football that you hear about these kinds of things happening a lot, you know, but I think from an American lens, I think if we're being real honest, we've probably had an unhealthy sports culture for most of our existence. And I do hope that this is kind of a turning point where we all just kind of think about it a little more at the end of the day, if you care about a sport, you should care about the people who make that sport worth watching and give it kind of value and kind of emotional sentiment to you. And that means that even the people who were on the opposing team, right, you should have a moment where you can't cross the line. Speaker 1: 25:16 So really we've come full circle to the title of your column. We have to remember that athletes are people first and remember that when we are people we are existing in society together, we come with context. We come with experiences. Thank you so much, Charles. I've been speaking with Charles Clark columnist for the San Diego union Tribune. Thank you again, Charles, that wraps up this week's edition of the KPBS round table. I'd like to thank my guest Abby Alford from CVS eight, Hailey Smith from the LA times and Charles Clark from the San Diego union Tribune. If you missed any part of our show, you can listen anytime on the KPBS round table podcast. I'm Christina Kim. Thanks for listening and join us next week on the round table. Speaker 2: 25:59 [inaudible].

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The outreach campaign to connect with underserved communities for wildfire and emergency readiness, new data shows many California cities are becoming more segregated and the rise of abusive fan behavior in sports.