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Judge Denies Rep. Duncan Hunter Request To Change Venue, Dismiss Charges And More Local News

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A judge has refused to dismiss charges against U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter or move the trial outside of San Diego. Plus, in addition to the Congressman’s legal woes, Hunter posed for a photo with an alleged white supremacist over the Fourth of July. Also today, San Diego restaurants are working to comply with a new plastic straw ban and San Diego Habitat for Humanity is using a national campaign promoting housing policy reforms to push for a $900 million affordable housing bond proposed for the city's 2020 ballot.

Speaker 1: 00:00 It's Tuesday, July 9th. I'm Deb Welsh and you're listening to San Diego news matters from KPBS coming up, a judge rules the charges will stick again. San Diego, Congressman Duck and Andrew at restaurants in San Diego are adjusting to the new plastic straw ban.

Speaker 2: 00:17 Some people do complain about it cause it gets a little wobbly after awhile.

Speaker 1: 00:21 That and more San Diego news stories coming up right after the break.

Speaker 3: 00:30 [inaudible]

Speaker 4: 00:31 um,

Speaker 1: 00:33 thank you for joining us for San Diego News Matters. I'm Deb Welsh. Congressman Duncan Hunter was in court Monday trying to convince a judge to dismiss a case alleging the congressman illegally used campaign money. Prosecutors say hunter used more than $250,000 to fund a lifestyle that included extravagant vacations and extramarital affairs. KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman was in the courtroom.

Speaker 3: 01:03 [inaudible]

Speaker 5: 01:03 congressman hunter was met at the courthouse by protestors and a group of supporters

Speaker 3: 01:08 [inaudible]

Speaker 5: 01:10 inside the courtroom. Hunter's attorneys argued prosecutors were biased against him and the case was politically motivated. But Judge Thomas Wayland denied their motion to dismiss the indictment saying prosecutors had probable cause to investigate. Hunter. Waylon also denied a request by hunter to have the case moved out of San Diego. The defense argued potential jurors would be affected by negative media attention. Judge Waylon said hunter has not been hurt by the attention so far pointing to the fact that he won reelection last November after his indictment and said he will revisit the issue during jury selection and another motion hunters. Lawyers argued that under the u s constitution, he's protected for being prosecuted for legislative activities. Wayland denied that motion. Matt Hoffman, k PBS News,

Speaker 1: 01:52 Habitat for humanity as launching a nationwide campaign to advocate for affordable housing. KPBS Metro reporter Andrew Bowen says in San Diego, that means campaigning for a $900 million ballot measure. Next year,

Speaker 2: 02:06 habitat is branding it's campaign cost of home. It aims to push federal, state, and local governments to help lower the cost of housing for the poor and middle class. The nonprofits San Diego chapter is using the campaign to promote a $900 million bond to fund low income housing. Laurie filer San Diego habitats. CEO says, working class people can't afford the housing that is now being built.

Speaker 6: 02:30 That cost to build in San Diego County are so high that there has to be some subsidy. And so this November, 2020 bond is a source of resource, uh, to provide that subsidy here locally that will have control over

Speaker 2: 02:44 if the housing bond gets on the November, 2020 ballot, it would need support from two thirds of city voters to pass. Andrew Bowen KPBS PBS news.

Speaker 1: 02:53 How many California homes are protected by earthquake insurance capital public radio's Nick Miller spoke with the head of one of the world's largest providers to find out.

Speaker 7: 03:03 Glen Pomeroy arrived in Ridgecrest less than 24 hours after two major quakes rattled the town last week. The CEO of the California Earthquake Authority says 20% of Ridgecrest homeowners had earthquake insurance. But

Speaker 8: 03:18 we know that we've got a long ways to go because most California's are not financially protected for shaky.

Speaker 7: 03:23 After the Northridge quake in 1994 insurance companies took big losses and many stopped offering quick coverage. Lawmakers responded by creating the CEA, which is not for profit. So Pomeroy says premiums are more affordable and flexible.

Speaker 8: 03:38 We will ensure any home in California, regardless of how close it sits to any fault line.

Speaker 7: 03:43 There's an earthquake insurance cost calculator on the group's website. If you don't have coverage, and you probably don't, he says, only 10% of California homes are covered in Sacramento. I'm Nick Miller.

Speaker 1: 03:54 You can try the insurance earlier this year, San Diego adopted new rules limiting the use of plastic straws and utensils, but recently the city has suspended the enforcement of those rules because it's being sued as KPBS reporter Prius Schreder explains the new rule and changes to it have been confusing for businesses across the city. Laura Ambrose and her husband have owned Woodstock's pizza, a chain of pizza places across California for 18 years. She says, keeping track of all the ordinances and laws in each place she owns a restaurant can sometimes be difficult.

Speaker 9: 04:33 Now, in California, there's been a trend toward every municipality creating their own sets of laws. So, yeah, we have to be really careful because we're in six different towns.

Speaker 1: 04:46 Six months ago, the California legislature set limitations on plastic straws and utensils at full service restaurants. Customers have to ask for them, but Ambrose says that didn't leave her scrambling. Her restaurants stopped giving out plastic straws long before the ban. But she says the change did cause some challenges.

Speaker 9: 05:06 The paper Straw industry got overloaded. They couldn't keep up with the demand. And so what we did as a first step is we took the straws away and put them behind the counter and now we have to, you know, we tell our guests that they need to ask for a straw and then they parcel those out one by one.

Speaker 1: 05:26 She says, not only has she not been able to find a paper Straw supplier who can keep up with the demand. Paper straws are also more expensive than plastic, but she's happy to not use plastic because of its impact on the environment.

Speaker 9: 05:40 Well for me it's, it's more than just whether it's a convenience or an inconvenience. It's something that's a necessity. I feel like all of us need to do our part to uh, improve the environment.

Speaker 1: 05:53 Volunteers removed more than 20,000 pieces of polyester rain from San Diego beaches in 2017. That's according to Surfrider Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to the protection of the ocean. They say plastic straws are one of the most common items they find during beach cleanups and are harmful to marine wildlife. But getting rid of plastic straws completely isn't a realistic option for everyone. Christian a Boston is the director of the legal advocacy unit for disability rights. California, a nonprofit committed to protecting the rights of people with disabilities.

Speaker 10: 06:28 A plastic straws are eight tool that many of our clients with disabilities need to to get equal service at, at business establishment. So what we advocate is, is that, uh, the laws that band straws have exceptions so that anybody who requests a plastic straw, they have it available for them to use it.

Speaker 1: 06:50 He says paper straws aren't effective for people with mobility issues and metal and glass straws can be dangerous for them.

Speaker 10: 06:57 And listen to this try and the plastic your test house I supposed to ask for them

Speaker 1: 07:01 over in city heights. Enrique, again Zeriah from the city heights business association has been handing out bilingual flyers to small businesses outlining the new rules.

Speaker 10: 07:11 Small businesses have a lot of stuff to keep track of. Uh, so adding something else is not going to make it easier, but I think it's a matter of time and eventually businesses just, they adapt, they make changes and then they just, it's part of just doing business.

Speaker 1: 07:30 Andrew Benevidez opened up a coffee shop in city heights back in April technically because his shop doesn't count as a full service restaurant where customers order at a table instead of a counter. He doesn't have to comply with the law. Benevidez says he wants to be environmentally friendly but not all of his customers are on board.

Speaker 10: 07:51 Since we opened up, we just went straight with paper straws just because it is earth friendly. Um, and some people do complain about it cause it gets a little wobbly after awhile. But now since summer's coming around, a lot of people are drinking more cold drinks. Some more paper straws are being used, so we're definitely gonna see an increase in that.

Speaker 1: 08:11 Under state law, any full service restaurant would be charged $25 per day for a violation. The maximum of restaurant could be find is $300 a year. The law would be enforced by officers from the Environmental Services Department. Violations would be reported by customers of the business. Prius, Sri, either k PBS news. The city of San Diego says that the suspension of the band began because of a lawsuit filed by the California Restaurant Association. A hearing for the lawsuit is scheduled in October. Thanks for listening to San Diego News matters. For more KPBS podcasts, go to [inaudible]

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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.