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State, Federal Politics Cloud San Diego's Climate Goals And More Local News

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San Diego's promise to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2035 is facing challenges from outside forces. Meanwhile the city is behind on efforts to reduce waste and car travel. Plus, the San Diego International Airport faces rising ocean sea levels, UC San Diego surgeons performed the first HIV to HIV kidney transplant in Southern California, and a new report on the conditions experienced by thousands of asylum-seekers in U.S. immigration detention centers finds a large percentage of them reported sub-standard and unsanitary conditions.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 It's Thursday, August 29th. I'm Deb Welsh. And you're listening to San Diego news matters from KPBS coming up. State and federal politics are clouding San Diego's climate goals and sea level rise already has the attention of San Diego's airport authority.

Speaker 2: 00:16 So this is an area where, um, even now, even though it could be 80 years away, we're starting to think how can we reduce that risk,

Speaker 1: 00:23 that more San Diego news stories coming up right after

Speaker 3: 00:26 for the break.

Speaker 4: 00:31 Hm.

Speaker 1: 00:33 Thank you for joining us for San Diego News Matters. I'm Deb Welsh. Greenhouse gas emissions in California are going down and that's good news for San Diego, which has committed to cutting its carbon footprint in half by 2035. But climate hawks see some troubling trends. KPBS Metro reporter Andrew Bowen says forces outside San Diego is control, could disrupt the city's efforts to fight climate change.

Speaker 3: 00:58 So we'll just do a glass of wine and cans and the other,

Speaker 2: 01:05 I'm standing with Ian Monahan at the Miramar recycling center. We're dumping bags of recyclables into sorting bins. Could have brought to the clubs myself.

Speaker 3: 01:13 I've got some for Ya. Oh really? That would be

Speaker 4: 01:20 [inaudible]

Speaker 2: 01:20 Monahan works for, I love a clean San Diego. The nonprofit collected these bottles and cans at a weekend cleanup in mission bay. We take the bins to a scale then staff give Monaghan a receipt worth.

Speaker 4: 01:33 I bet

Speaker 2: 01:35 just a few months ago, the Miramar recycling center was on the verge of closing. China used to be a major market for America's recyclables, but last year the country started restricting the types of materials that accepts. This has been a huge blow to the operators of Miramar and to the city's climate action plan. That plan counts on keeping more waste out of landfills to reduce emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. The center stayed open only because of a bailout approved by the city council in June. Now it's being subsidized by tax payer dollars. Monahan says China's decision has disrupted the global recycling economy.

Speaker 3: 02:13 When we have disruptions like this, it really begs the question as to how are we conserving. We need to look at our behavior and what we're doing here at home to conserve. Um, and quite honestly reduce.

Speaker 2: 02:27 That's a perfect example of outside factors and market dynamics and international politics that's influencing what we're trying to do locally. Cody Huvane is San Diego Sustainability Director. It's not just a Beijing that's impacting San Diego's climate goals. It's also Washington and Sacramento. As we flip through a copy of the city's climate action plan, we land on a page with some pie charts. They show more than two thirds of the city's emissions reductions are expected to come from state and federal policies like electric vehicle incentives or tougher fuel efficiency standards. But those things aren't a slam dunk facing challenges from the Trump administration who've been says the city is watching

Speaker 1: 03:09 when stuff like that changes. When the federal administration tries to reverse the state action and then the state files a lawsuit against the federal action. Those are years a processes. So we track them and we, we try to understand what would our position be or how we can, um, influence them. I guess we try to cross that bridge when we come to it.

Speaker 2: 03:28 But here's a very important point about San Diego's climate action plan. The city can and will get outside help with cutting emissions. But if that outside help falls short, the city is still on the hook for cutting in half its carbon footprint. Nicole capra rates of the nonprofit climate action campaign says state policies have helped with renewable energy, but they're failing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. A report earlier this month found car travel in California is going up,

Speaker 1: 03:58 which means that we'll blow the opportunity and the ability for us to reach state climate goals. So it's really going to be imperative that the mayor and the council and all local governments sort of take matters into their own hands and figure out what can they do locally and regionally to um, make us climate safe and climate ready.

Speaker 2: 04:16 Cafritz says all the data and science is showing the climate crisis is accelerating and that the city and state need to go completely carbon neutral by 2045.

Speaker 1: 04:26 And that means that really fundamental radical shift and how we do almost everything. And so we're going to want to see us taking it to that next level because again, it's all about protecting public health, achieving clean air, and making sure we're doing right by the next generation. Right

Speaker 2: 04:44 back at the Miramar recycling center, Ian Monaghan says, San Diego has promised to fight climate change with or without help from the state or federal governments, but simply

Speaker 1: 04:55 we have an aggressive climate action plan. We're going to have to find a way to meet those goals.

Speaker 2: 05:01 Andrew Bowen KPBS News,

Speaker 1: 05:04 the monthly housing market numbers for San Diego are out and KPBS is Annika. Colbert says, home sales are up. The San Diego meeting home price didn't change at all in July. It stayed at $580,000 but sales for the month of July jumped 10% which beats out the numbers for last year. That's all. According to corelogic of real estate information service analysts say the jump in home sales is no surprise. Considering the recent drops in mortgage rates and a healthy job market. Annika Colbert KPBS News, organ donation wait lists could be getting smaller as the pool of potential donors widens. KPBS SCI-TECH reporter Shalina Chet Lonnie says, UC San Diego surgeons performed the first HIV to HIV kidney transplant in southern California. Earlier this month. Over 70,000 patients in the United States are on wait lists for an organ. But in recent, the pool of

Speaker 5: 05:58 organs is opened thanks to national legislation from 2013 now, doctors are able to use organs from donors infected with HIV, hepatitis B and c viruses, but only as part of research and clinical trials. Simas slum is one of the UCS d surgeons who worked on the kidney transplant.

Speaker 6: 06:16 So, you know, as we start expanding the kind of donors we use, the goal is that people went left for an organ to become available.

Speaker 5: 06:25 Awesome. Says Ucs d surgeons plan on performing more of these lifesaving transplants to show they are safe enough for general practice. Srilina Trelawney KPBS news,

Speaker 1: 06:35 the city of Encinitas is announcing its intent to join a countywide joint powers authority that would provide energy to residents and compete with companies like San Diego gas and electric. KPBS. As Sally Hickson says, the insignia city council voted last week to join the JPA. The joint powers authority will be headed by the city of San Diego because it aligns with the city's climate action plan. In fact, the San Diego City Council voted in February to begin the process of establishing a community choice energy program with the intention of inviting other cities into the fold. As the program expands, the county of San Diego and the cities of Chula Vista and La Mesa also have expressed a willingness to join the program. Later this year, the San Diego City Council will officially vote to form the authority if the city of San Diego remains on its current timeline. Officials hope to have the project off the ground and providing energy. In 2021 meantime, the insignia city council plans to vote on a draft JPA agreement in September. Sally Hickson KPBS News, a new report on the conditions experienced by thousands of asylum seekers in US immigration detention centers, fi's large percentages of immigrants reported substandard and unsanitary conditions. KPBS has Donald Bloodworth has more

Speaker 7: 07:54 researchers at UC San Diego focused on the care files of 7,300 asylum seeking families from October to June. Over 60% of migrants reported issues related to not getting food or water. They also reported cases of verbal and physical abuse. Tom wan associate professor of political science at UC San Diego and the director of the U S Immigration Policy Center is the author of the report. He hopes the data will motivate change. We previously had glimpses into what asylum seekers were experiencing. These data provide a systematic accounts that point to how pervasive substandard conditions and mistreatments actually are in immigration detention. KPBS has reached out to the Department of Homeland Security for comment, but have not heard back. Donald Bloodworth KPBS news.

Speaker 1: 08:46 Some health professionals are worried to bill in the California legislature that's intended to protect workers could have downsides for patients. Capitol Radio, Sammy k Ola has the latest. If ab five becomes law, many of California's independent contractors will gain full employee status and the requisite benefits. Most workers think this is a great thing, but some people in the health field want to stay. Contractors.

Speaker 6: 09:11 Many of us enjoy working a couple of hours a week or part time.

Speaker 1: 09:16 Rochelle Perper is a clinical psychologist and independent contractor. She also owns a group psychology practice.

Speaker 6: 09:22 I have therapists in my group, for example, who are supplementing their income and and working, um, you know, at other places. And you have a couple of psychologists that are working actively in their retirement.

Speaker 1: 09:34 She says she can't afford to make these people employees and might have to shut down if the bill becomes law. Physicians, dentists and podiatrists are already excluded, meaning they're allowed to stay. Contractors, psychologists, optometrists, and other health professionals want the same exemption. But Stephanie Roberson with the California Nurses Association opposes the carve out. She says, contractors in the health industry should have the full benefits of employment.

Speaker 8: 09:59 You know, if you're working as a nurse and facility and you have another job as a nurse, you should not be an independent contractor. There should be no misclassification there.

Speaker 1: 10:08 The bill awaits a hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee in Sacramento. I'm Sami Kayla San Diego's airport welcomes visitors with views of skyscrapers and to huge bay, but the airport is facing challenges as sea levels rise from our changing climate desk. KPBS environment reporter Eric Anderson says the Airport Authority is working today with an eye on tomorrow

Speaker 9: 10:34 more than 18,000 airline flights a month travel through San Diego's Lindbergh field that's nearly 220,000 flights a year that makes the airport itself an economic engine generates an impact of more than $11 billion on a local economy. Three point $9 billion from its payroll alone at the facility. It makes $265 million of revenue each year. You total everything up and close to 24 million people pass through the terminal last year. Many of them visitors who spent money on local hotels, restaurants and attractions. Brendan Reed is the airport authorities, director of planning and Environmental Affairs and he says the airport is also a key business hub. We've got harbor drive here and then behind that we met him recently on the southwestern edge of the airport property. We're almost near the end of the runway actually. So most of the time, this is where aircraft are starting their takeoff procedure from part of Reed's job is to make sure that the airport continues to be a vital part of the region's economy. And that means understanding how climate change can influence how planes land and take off. We know that this airport has to be operational for this region. That's why again, we're, we're looking at what

Speaker 10: 11:54 we can do today to have benefits in 80 years. And I think, um, it really demonstrates our proactiveness

Speaker 9: 12:01 being proactive is critical for a low lying airport that's next to a saltwater bay. And Reed is confident that sea level rise won't directly affect the runway, but it could hurt nearby properties.

Speaker 10: 12:15 Many people might not know, but the airport doesn't sit great on the water. We actually have other property across the street. We have the Coast Guard station, we of course have the port of San Diego's property on harbor island and we have cvs, San Diego streets. So one of the biggest things we need to focus on, and we've actually made a lot of progress even in the last five years, is working as a region and with those agencies in particular, they're looking at how can we collaborate to make sure that something like harbor drive is sustain in the long run. Because although it's not on airport property, obviously it is critical to get our airport passengers here.

Speaker 9: 12:50 Reid says the risk of road flooding will climb with sea levels. Those conditions will be exacerbated by high tides and storms, but he's confident the roads are pretty resilient and can recover quickly from temporary flooding. But Reed says if flooding becomes too frequent, it becomes a problem, especially along busy harbor drive, which serves the airports, the front door, he says airport officials are committed to making sure passengers have a safe and efficient way to get to the airport.

Speaker 10: 13:19 Given the projections that we have now out to the end of the century, there are multiple ways that we can address those issues. Um, some of it's onsite, some of it's going to be in really close collaboration with our partner agencies. Off site

Speaker 9: 13:33 that includes the port of San Diego and the city of San Diego, but not all the plans for climate resilience would happen on property around the airport. Reed says anytime there's new construction on airport property, the project is adjusted to keep sea level rise in mind.

Speaker 10: 13:50 Whenever we're designing and constructing a new building, we actually look at how those things like sea level rise impact that. And so we are able to actually change in some cases the uh, the building elevation pad so that again, if there is flooding in the future, those buildings can be more resilient to that

Speaker 9: 14:09 current state projections expect a relatively modest impact from sea level rise, about a foot and a half by 2050 Reid says the airport authority will adjust if those predictions change

Speaker 10: 14:21 when you're dealing with climate resilience. Um, this is certainly not the last time we're going to look at the data. One of the most important things, and that's why we're again, helping sponsor a Scripps Institute, putting in a sensor in the bay across the street, is that we need to have constant data so that new projections can be taken to consideration. And then that of course, can inform policy decisions

Speaker 9: 14:44 for an official self. The planning they do now will help protect the facility from climate change

Speaker 1: 14:49 future. Eric Anderson KPBS News, thanks for listening to San Diego News matters. If you like the show, do us a favor and tell your friends and family to subscribe to the show.

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San Diego News Matters

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.