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People Living In Vehicles Call New San Diego Law Prohibiting It Unfair And More Local News

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In today’s San Diego’s News Matters podcast: a look how the new law is making life even harder for those trying to make ends meet.

Plus, in north county, Palomar College considers allowing homeless students to sleep overnight in campus parking lots; a KPBS lawsuit reveals unanswered citizen complaints against sheriff's department; and MTS trolley cars get a second life.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 Good morning. It's Monday, June 3rd I'm Deb Welsh and you're listing to San Diego news matters in San Diego. It's now illegal to live out of your vehicle. The law was passed with the idea that people can go to city funded safe parking, lots to sleep over night, but KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman says, while some people are looking to get out of their vehicles, others are not.

Speaker 2: 00:23 Paul Grasso has been living out of his van for the last year in San Diego.

Speaker 3: 00:27 It's a lifestyle for some, oh, something cheesy, but I'm just traveling and I got kind of stuck in this for a little bit. I can't afford a rent.

Speaker 2: 00:35 Grasso sleeps in the ocean beach area and says he cannot afford renting a place on his disability income.

Speaker 3: 00:40 Do you live on 1000 a month and you, you can't even rent a one bedroom for 1,001 so what are, what are you to do?

Speaker 2: 00:45 He says living out of a van is not easy.

Speaker 3: 00:48 You're trying to get by on, on everything. In fact, cooking your vehicle and not go out to eat every time trying to stay healthy, which is very difficult.

Speaker 2: 00:56 After San Diego passed an ordinance barring people from sleeping in their vehicles overnight and anytime near homes or schools, Grasso says some residents have been putting notices on his car.

Speaker 3: 01:05 This means that the entire dog beach parking lot is no longer parking areas at all times if you're living in your vehicle. So B, I saw I'm not allowed in dog beach anymore cause I live in my vehicle.

Speaker 4: 01:19 You can't cap and on camping areas. Uh, just like you don't want somebody living in your driveway. Um, it just for health, safety, all kinds of reasons.

Speaker 2: 01:32 Denny Knox is executive director of the Ocean Beach Main Street Association, which represents more than 500 businesses in ob.

Speaker 4: 01:39 We're generous community. We're kind of laid back and I feel maybe we've been taken advantage of.

Speaker 2: 01:45 If you go to ocean beach, you'll see many people living out of their vehicles. Knox is supportive of the new law and hopes it will drive campers out of town.

Speaker 4: 01:52 It brought a really rough element to town, which we didn't appreciate. Um, and uh, we're just not a camp ground.

Speaker 2: 02:03 When the city council approved the law, it was done with the idea that the city would provide lots for people to park and sleep overnight. The lots are run by Jewish family service and have case managers working to get people into housing.

Speaker 4: 02:14 You can target those services for those spots. Yeah, it makes perfect sense because when everybody's spread out all over the place, how do you get service to all these people? It's, it's unmanageable, which we've seen,

Speaker 2: 02:26 but not everyone wants to leave their vehicles.

Speaker 5: 02:28 It's comfortable. Yeah. It's not a real extravagant, you know, I mean we've got like as every sold. Yeah.

Speaker 2: 02:32 Some people like John Solano are just looking for a place to park and sleep in their home on wheels in 1999 is 35 feet. So solar, it lives out of his RV by choice.

Speaker 5: 02:41 I just retired, I'm 65 and we elect like, instead of paying rent, you know, to get tried to send to him. And I had a house, I sold the house. I need the equity money cause you're not getting as much as I thought I was doing. And my social security

Speaker 2: 02:52 normally parking his 35 footer isn't a problem. So Learn, oh says he pays to sleep at an RV park but can't stay there all the time. I do have a membership,

Speaker 5: 03:00 Marie stay three weeks out of the month, about one week out of the month. We have to, we have to move because of the, uh, rules pretending to that membership. That means one week out of every month. So we're now has to find other places to park and sleep. I'm trying to stay out of people's way. I didn't like doing to here, you know, uh, hinder anybody's via, I mean view of their ocean rivers. I think there were parking, I'm hearing their views or whatever. So we tried to stay out in residential neighborhoods should we don't bother them. That's why I'm in a secluded place here. He feels the new law is not fair. They've isolated us. They picked us out. Anything. It's kind of discriminatory

Speaker 2: 03:31 Salerno things. If people are following other laws, they should be able to park and sleep on public streets.

Speaker 5: 03:36 You got it registered. You're not being in a hindering so you're not being a nuisance. Okay? You have a right in privilege. You've earned Grasso and ocean beach agrees.

Speaker 3: 03:43 There are people who try their best just to get by and it makes it much more difficult when you have to worry about someone clamping down on you or taking Europe. Lou, what little you have left.

Speaker 2: 03:54 The San Diego Police Department says they have not started ticketing people under the new law, but we'll soon. Jewish family service is set to open at safe parking lot and mission valley. Within the next few weeks, it will be able to accommodate both cars and RV's. Matt Hoffman, Kpbs News,

Speaker 1: 04:09 Palomar community college in North San Diego County is considering ways to help students who can't afford San Diego's expensive housing market. KPBS North County reporter Allison Saint John says, recent reports suggest about one in five community college students experience homelessness.

Speaker 6: 04:27 Students at Palomar college want to see a parking lot opened where students who sleep in their cars can safely spend the night. A California bill, ab three o two would require community colleges to make parking lots available for homeless students to sleep and overnight Palomar College President Dr and Blake says she would rather find other solutions

Speaker 7: 04:46 from an ethical and moral perspective. I think it's an indictment against our society that we're even having to pass legislation to have folks sleep in the parking lot.

Speaker 6: 04:57 Blake says the college's soliciting donors to help subsidize student housing and also exploring building student and faculty housing on their 200 Acre campus. But she says the college is taking steps to prepare in case Ab three Oh two passes, Alison Saint John Kay PBS news

Speaker 1: 05:13 mts is in the process of rolling out its fifth generation of trolleys in San Diego. Some of the new trains are already in service and mts. We'll now start decommissioning some of its older trains. So KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman was curious what happens to the old trolleys

Speaker 2: 05:30 since 1981. There have been five generations of trolley cars in 2015. MTS started decommissioning its original trolleys. Chief Operating Officer of Mtss Rail Division. Wayne Terry says a South American city bought a large portion of the fleet and kept the car signature red coloring.

Speaker 8: 05:46 They purchased 18 of them, so they have 18 cars in Mendoza, Argentina. Now we've uh, have a very good partnership with them. We've worked with them over the to make certain new they cars keep running and they are

Speaker 2: 05:59 with the introduction of the fifth generation trolley and April mts is now looking to repurpose it's second generation cars.

Speaker 8: 06:05 So we have 25 of them that will be available to um, to be acquired by the end of this year.

Speaker 2: 06:12 A handful of first generation trolleys are in museums across the country locally. You can find one at the San Diego Electric Railway Association and National City, Matt Hoffman, k PBS news,

Speaker 1: 06:23 KPBS zoo, the San Diego Sheriff's department to release records that show how long it takes them to respond to citizens complaints about its officers. KPBS investigative reporter Claire Trek us or tells us what those records show. KPBS filed a lawsuit for the records after multiple women said they reported a sheriff's deputy for sexual misconduct but never received a response. The data shows that 72 complaints made to the sheriff's department never got a response of any kind. That's about a sixth of the total complaints received between 2014 and 2018 there are several reasons. Complaints may not have received a response, said Robert Fagan, the chief attorney for the sheriff's department. Those include the complaint was unintelligible or unreadable or numerous or repetitive complaints were received from the same person or the sender was anonymous or had no fixed address or provided no contact information. But last year, a woman identified in court documents by her initial, as KP said, she wrote two letters to the sheriff's department complaining that Sheriff's Deputy Richard Fisher groped her during a traffic stop and said no one ever responded of the complaints that did get a response, 42 people had to wait more than a month. Claire Treg asser KPBS news to get more details on the lawsuit and how we reached a settlement. Listen to KPBS midday addition@noonorgotokpbs.org slash complaints the Trump administration's plan to add a citizenship question to the official 2020 census form is before the Supreme Court and Congress has watchdog says the Census Bureau has a plan. Should the court order a citizenship question deleted, but it's not clear how the plan will be carried out from Kj is easiest. Frontera, his desk in Phoenix, Matthew Casey reports

Speaker 9: 08:20 the report from the government accountability office focused on a handful of risks to the 2020 census. A key remaining question is whether the census will ask if people are US citizens. Congresses, watchdog found that the Census Bureau has talked about what to do if the Supreme Court orders the citizenship question removed less than a year before counting starts. But the report says those steps have not been added to a broader plan for what to do if there are late changes to the census form. Advocates say a citizenship question will stoke fear among immigrants and cause an undercount. Phoenix officials say the city's noncitizen is worth

Speaker 1: 08:56 more than $1 billion in funding over the next decade in Phoenix. I'm Matthew Casey. Governor Gavin Newsom announced his support last week for legislation that would allow the state to shut down horse races. This comes after another horse died at Santa Anita Racetrack near Los Angeles, the 26th to die there in the past several months. Kay QEDs Polly's Stryker has more Napa state senator. Bill Dodd introduced the bill SB four 69 because he says it's surprised him that the California horse racing board has no power to shut down a track. Right now

Speaker 7: 09:29 the only organization can do that is the owner of the horse racing facility themselves, which is not a, it's a, I think a sad commentary for how this was set up.

Speaker 1: 09:39 Dog wants to bill fast tracked,

Speaker 7: 09:41 got an urgency ordinance on it. I think there's a timetable that can be expedited to get this thing down over the next two or three weeks.

Speaker 1: 09:50 The urgency ordinance means that if Newsome signs Doddsville as expected, it'll become effective immediately. It's still unclear why so many horses have died at Santa Anita Park. Questions surround the track itself and race day medications. The California horse racing board and the La District Attorney's office have begun investigations into all of the horse fatalities at the Santa Anita Park this year in a statement Santa Anita is owner. The Stronach group said the park has led the way in implementing historic reforms and they look forward to working with state officials for the California report. I'm poly striker. The Democratic contenders for president made attacks on president Trump and claims about their own record at this weekend's Democratic Party convention in San Francisco, Capitol Pelvic radios, politifact reporter Chris Nichols was their fact checking the candidates and has this report.

Speaker 10: 10:41 California Senator Kamala Harris criticized Trump's tariffs and claim that they're having a huge impact on working families.

Speaker 11: 10:49 I like to call it Trump's trade tasks and his trade tax is taking one point $4 billion out of working people's pockets every month.

Speaker 10: 11:04 We didn't place a rating on Harris's claim, but we found a study from a research group that appears to back it up. It says the one point $4 billion figure. What's the monthly cost of Trump's tariffs in 2018 though it doesn't say the impact was limited to working people. Former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper repeated several claims about his record, including this one on healthcare

Speaker 11: 11:28 today Colorado has near universal health care.

Speaker 10: 11:32 Politifact has rated that mostly true in the past. It found that Colorado did move much closer to universal care under Hickenlooper, but it also noted that several states have an even lower uninsured rate. Finally, Washington governor Jay Inslee touted his ability to create clean energy jobs.

Speaker 11: 11:49 You were going to have a better job and a better future in a democratic,

Speaker 12: 11:54 clean energy economy in the United States of America.

Speaker 10: 11:57 Politifact has examined his record and found Washington state has created a $6 billion wind industry. Though it noted the majority of money for that industry was invested before Inslee took office in San Francisco. I'm Chris Nichols.

Speaker 1: 12:13 It doesn't happen often, but California was the center of the presidential race this weekend. 14 candidates address the state Democratic Party convention and many of them also held other public events and raised money in this date, but as capital public radio has been Adler reports from San Francisco, the candidates didn't spend much time talking about California.

Speaker 11: 12:35 Hello California Democrats

Speaker 4: 12:39 when Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar stepped on the California Democratic Party convention stage Saturday afternoon, she opened by praising some of the golden states blue policy.

Speaker 11: 12:47 See it is so great to be in a state that has led the way on paid family leave, $15 minimum wage worker protections and reproductive rights.

Speaker 4: 12:59 South Bend in the enemy or p Buddha judge was quick to say he feels right at home in California

Speaker 12: 13:04 because the spirit of this state is so much like the spirit of my campaign. New Thinking, bold action. The focus on the future

Speaker 4: 13:15 in New Jersey. Senator Cory Booker made sure the crowd knew his mother graduated from a Los Angeles high school and the University of Southern California.

Speaker 12: 13:22 Well, this is a state that gave my family a black family coming from Louisiana, a chance to make it,

Speaker 4: 13:28 but that's pretty much all they said about California for the rest of their seven minutes speeches. Even the state's own Senator Homily Harris

Speaker 11: 13:34 and the thing I love about California Democrats as we are never afraid of a fight, we liked a good fight.

Speaker 4: 13:42 The other candidates who addressed the convention also kept the remarks focused on national issues and of course president Trump, the golden state votes earlier. This presidential campaign with vote by mail ballots for its new march primary going out the day of the Iowa caucuses. So candidates are campaigning publicly in doing more interviews. They're not just coming here to raise money yet. California is still not getting the Iowa treatment. I didn't hear anyone talk specifically about any issues going on in California, like, Hey, I understand that president Trump is potentially holding up money for wildfire survivors and that's not right. We need to make that right. That's Carol Dauman, a media strategist who worked for former Democratic governor, Gray Davis. She calls not focusing on golden state issues. A missed opportunity. I mean, when you have two dozen candidates, 14 of which are here today, someone could have really stood out and just said, hey, yeah, I understand some of the issues in California. Nobody did that. Even though the convention in San Francisco was on Harris, his home turf, the candidates who seem to draw the most positive receptions where Buddha judge,

Speaker 12: 14:46 and so the riskiest thing we could do is try too hard to play it safe. Okay. Donald Trump is a must, but that is a floor, not a ceiling. Massachusetts

Speaker 4: 14:57 Senator Elizabeth Warren,

Speaker 12: 14:59 we need big structural change.

Speaker 13: 15:04 Yes, I have a plan for that in Vermont.

Speaker 4: 15:07 Senator Bernie Sanders is

Speaker 12: 15:09 no middle grounds.

Speaker 4: 15:12 On the other hand, John Hickenlooper got boots.

Speaker 12: 15:14 If we want to beat Donald Trump and achieve big progressive goals, socialism is not the answer. I was reelected.

Speaker 4: 15:27 That's why former vice president Joe Biden skipped the convention entirely. He campaigned in Ohio instead. Carol Dauman says, Biden, who is leading a national polls didn't miss much by staying away. No, he's the vice president. He has 100% name Id. Uh, this is not, his crowd is crowded. That didn't stop several of his rifles from taking shots at him, even if they never mentioned his name in San Francisco. I'm Ben Adler.

Speaker 1: 15:52 Thanks for listening to San Diego News matters. For more KPBS podcasts, go to k pbs.org/podcasts.

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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.