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'Yes In God's Backyard' Seeks Affordable Housing On Religious Land And More Local News

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In today’s San Diego’s News Matters podcast: A group of advocates has an idea for how to get more affordable housing: build it on the parking lots of churches, synagogues and mosques.

Plus, data meant to help with city planning has turned into a crime-fighting tool for the San Diego Police Department; and as the height of wildfire season is just around the corner, the county is investing more in fire prevention tools.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 Good morning. It's Wednesday, June 5th I'm Deb Welsh and you're listening to San Diego news matters. A group of advocates has an idea for how to get more affordable housing. Built it on the parking, lots of churches, synagogues and mosques. KPV Has Metro reporter Andrew Board says they've got a name for their idea. Yes, in God's backyard.

Speaker 2: 00:22 Along here would be a courtyard area free to departments to have an outside place on the first floor or a balcony on the second floor.

Speaker 3: 00:30 Pastor John do little is walking me through the parking lot of his church, Clermont Lutheran, which sits between a residential neighborhood and a shopping center for the past few years. Do little and his congregation have been exploring how to build affordable housing here.

Speaker 2: 00:43 So I would go along our back property line and then the same apartment structure on two levels

Speaker 3: 00:50 do little shows me a site plan, one of two design options. The church is exploring. The idea is to build housing over the parking lot. He says houses of worship are in a unique position to help with San Diego's housing crisis.

Speaker 2: 01:02 Churches have the resources, they have the property, they have the ability to provide the space and the place for these kinds of structures to be built. Jesus told us to, to clothe the naked, to provide shelter for the homeless. So here we are doing that in a real tangible way, making sure that our resources are put to good use. Uh, as part of the ministry for the good of the world.

Speaker 3: 01:24 Most congregations don't really need all their parking spaces outside a few hours, one day a week, even still, San Diego's parking regulations have been a stumbling block. City code decides how many parking spaces at church needs based on the square inches of pew space.

Speaker 2: 01:40 So that formula was used, uh, to say that we have a deficit and that we needed to do a parking study to see what our actual parking use was

Speaker 3: 01:49 for a month. Congregants went out and surveyed vacant parking spaces in the church lot and the neighborhood four times a day. Do Little says that survey showed US surplus of parking, but that city officials still weren't satisfied and asked for more analysis. That plus the possible need for an environmental study have made for a lot of headaches

Speaker 2: 02:09 since been one. One frustrating meeting after another. The church's mission is to help the less fortunate

Speaker 3: 02:16 a few months ago do little and his congregation got a helping hand in the form of Tom Tyson. He's a retired attorney and former chair of the regional task force on the homeless Tyson and a few other advocates have been working to encourage more faith communities to consider building affordable housing on their land instead of the movement. Yes, in my backyard or UMB they're calling it [inaudible]. Yes. In God's backyard.

Speaker 2: 02:41 I cannot tell you how many faith communities have come to me and said, what can we do to address homelessness and I have real hard time at telling them to go out hand out blankets or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or that type of stuff. They're looking for a way to be relevant and to do something that really makes a difference and building housing really makes a difference.

Speaker 3: 03:00 Tyson says the genesis of [inaudible] actually came from a list of properties designated for religious use in San Diego County. They represent more than 2000 acres spread across the county. Now Tyson and as partners are talking to about 15 faith communities. They're also analyzing different construction types and financing models and

Speaker 2: 03:20 we've been meeting with the city, talking with them about Sonia requirements, figuring out how we can do this without getting bogged down in years and years of zoning and red tape in order to make this happen. Because the idea is to solve this problem now, not five years from now.

Speaker 3: 03:35 B is still in its infancy. Tyson is hoping Claremont Lutherans pursuit of affordable housing can serve as a proof of concept that can be replicated elsewhere. Pastor do little says churches like his have a decades long relationship with their community and can avoid some of the backlash that often derails new housing

Speaker 2: 03:54 calling. It's our responsibility to be, to be neighbors to those who are around us and to be neighborly to those who need a hand up. And so we as a community of faith want to say yes and always as God always says yes to God's people. We too need to say yes to those who are in need.

Speaker 3: 04:11 The church is to design options would create between 16 and 21 new affordable homes in Claremont, but given the roadblocks he's faced so far, do little hesitates to predict when that housing might be complete. Andrew Bowen, Kpps News,

Speaker 1: 04:26 San Diego city attorney Mora Elliot has proposed a new gun safety law to reduce firearm related accidents and suicides, especially among children and teens in homes with guns KPBS as myosure troubles, he has more.

Speaker 4: 04:41 The Safe Storage of Firearms Ordinance requires that firearms in a home are locked up or disabled by trigger lock, one not being carried or controlled by their authorized user. San Diego city attorney Mara Elliot worked alongside San Diegans for gun violence protection to craft the ordinance, which she says is a common sense approach to preventing accidental shootings and suicides. She also says the concern for public safety goes beyond the parameters of this

Speaker 5: 05:07 city and we believe we can lead by example. Other cities have passed a safe storage ordinance and it's been impactful. There are about 15 other cities in the state of California, So San Diego is also utilizing this very effective tool

Speaker 4: 05:22 posed law is part of Elliot's broader efforts on curbing gun violence, which includes the gun violence restraining orders which remove firearms from owners who pose a threat to themselves or others. My a treble C K PBS news

Speaker 1: 05:35 to San Diego County sheriff's deputies accused of assault during an arrest or cleared of misdemeanor charges. Tuesday KPBS has Sally Hixon tells us in North County jury found the deputy's dot kilty of roughing up a vista man and his son in May of 2018 deputies, Nicholas Morgan and Joshua [inaudible] could have faced jail time. They been convicted of assault without lawful necessity by an officer Morgan. Phase two counts for allegedly assaulting a 50 year old man and his 24 year old son, Nay Han was charged with allegedly assaulting the elder of the two men. The officers were responding to a domestic violence call. The arrest was caught on cell phone video. It appeared to show the deputies shoving one man into a wooden fence while his son was repeatedly struck in the head. Attorneys for the deputies said the suspect's resisted arrest and the officers acted reasonably in a hot and chaotic situation. Last May. All charges against Gerardo Marcine as senior word dropped. Gerardo Martinez Junior, however, did plead guilty last July to a domestic violence related charge. Sally Hixon Kpbs News, an outbreak of influenza like symptoms that started two weeks ago at a San Diego migrant shelter as sick and 158 asylum seekers. KPBS health reporters, Susan Murphy Talk to a county doctor who's helping to oversee the care of the ill migrants.

Speaker 4: 06:59 A flu outbreak first identified on May 19th has sickened dozens of asylum seeking families, including at least six people who have been taken to hospital emergency rooms. Dr. Dean sideliner is San Diego County's deputy public health officer. He says up to 700 migrants cycle through the shelter every week. He says most arrived from Texas processing centers where the border patrol is struggling to keep up with large numbers of Central American families that are reaching the u s border county of San Diego along with our partners has become having staff this each morning to reassess all families who are there to see if they've developed any symptoms of flu saddling or says flu is unpredictable and it's unknown. When the outbreak we'll end. He says increased staff and preventative measures are in place to help knock it down. Susan Murphy Kpbs News

Speaker 1: 07:47 a program and together data on pedestrian and vehicle movement has turned into a helpful tool for the San Diego police department. KPBS reporter Lynn Walsh explains how the department's using smart streetlights to solve crimes.

Speaker 4: 08:02 The ability to help solve crimes was not the original intention sold to city council members when the smart streetlight program was approved in 2016 the program was pitched as an energy saving program and a tool to help with city planning, the new energy efficient lighting. Also men installing sensors that can capture pedestrian and vehicle movement and record audio and video in San Diego. The video is being captured and saved for five days. Lieutenant Jeffrey Jordan with the SDPD says the footage is helping the department solve crimes. It's helping us when a crime is reported to us to look for evidence that we wouldn't otherwise have. Two city council members said they were unaware. Police had access to the video. That department began accessing the camera's last August. Since then, Lieutenant Jordan says video from the cameras has been used in 99 police investigations, mostly homicides, assaults and fatal car accidents. He responded to concern saying the technology prevents them from seeing anything that is not on public property,

Speaker 6: 09:01 so the streetlight was above maybe nurse somebody. Residents where they have a fence around their backyard. The technology actually recognizes that fenced off area puts a screen over it so we wouldn't be able to look beyond that fence line.

Speaker 4: 09:12 SDPD approved a policy for using smart streetlight video in March. In total, the city expects to install more than 4,000 sensors around the city. Lynn Walsh, Kpbs News San Diego County

Speaker 1: 09:23 is investing more in fire prevention tools. KPB As reporter Matt Hoffman says, this comes as the height of wildfire season is just around the corner.

Speaker 7: 09:33 The San Diego County Board of supervisors approved more than one point $5 million in funding for fire improvements. That includes money for education about wildfires and more inspections for at risk Holmes County Fire Authority chief Tony Meacham says wildfires will never be stopped but more can be done to minimize its impact.

Speaker 6: 09:51 We have reached a point where I feel we're doing a very good job with response, but what we need to do is try and mitigate the threat to our communities before the fire occurs or create more resilient communities.

Speaker 7: 10:03 The county says increasing the number of inspections. We'll remind homeowners to keep defensible space around their property. Fire officials are also looking to do more controlled burns and mapping of high risk fire areas. Matt Hoffman, k PBS news

Speaker 1: 10:17 now, Mid Day edition host. Jade Hindman brings us the story about you as women's national soccer team and their struggle for gender equality.

Speaker 8: 10:26 [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 10:34 that was four years ago in Canada and now the US women's national soccer team is preparing to defend it's World Cup title as the tournament gets underway this weekend in France, but while the team has been successful on the field winning three World Cup titles in four Olympic gold medals off the field, it's a different story. A new book gives a behind the scenes history of the team from its formation in the 1980s to the run up to the 2019 World Cup. Caitlin Murray is a soccer journalist and author of the new book, the national team, the inside story of women who changed soccer. She joins us via Skype. Caitlin, welcome. Hi. Thanks for having me. Earlier this year the US women's national soccer team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit accusing US Soccer Federation of paying lower wages to women in writing this book. What else did you learn about the other ways in which female players are treated differently from their male counterparts?

Speaker 9: 11:31 Yeah, equal pay has become an issue on the US women's national team for the past couple of years. And one of the things I learned in working on this book is that these sorts of fights with the federation have actually been going on throughout the team's history. It's just that usually it was happening behind the scenes.

Speaker 1: 11:50 So how has the teams fight for equality evolved

Speaker 9: 11:54 over the years? Have the players made any gains? Yeah, I mean going back to the nineties I mean the players, um, you know, they were getting $10 a day per diem and that was it. They didn't have pretty basic things like the men's team were provided meals for the training sessions in the women were not provided. Those one player I talk about in my book, I'd never heard this story before. One of the players was kicked off the team when she got pregnant and they had to fight for a pregnancy protection in their contracts. So there've been a lot of games over the years, but there are still things like the men's team pretty much plays all their games on natural grass. The women have had to play a significant portion of their games on artificial turf, which soccer players say is a lot harsher on their bodies and harder to recover from.

Speaker 9: 12:44 So that's part of this lawsuit. It's not just about money, it's a higher level, it's more professional and they have main gay made gains. But clearly, you know, there's still work to do. And what's the status of the discrimination lawsuit and how has us soccer federation responded to the players allegations? Yeah, it's interesting. US Soccer did uh, respond legally. They just had to answer and basically deny everything that was in the lawsuit. So that has happened and now it looks like this will probably end up going to trial. It's going to take a long time. If it goes to trial, it'll probably be next year. It may be us soccer denying the allegations, claiming that the men bring in more revenue than the women, which you know, is a whole other issue. Um, but it'll be months before we kind of know where this is going to end up for now.

Speaker 9: 13:40 The players just have to get through the World Cup and kind of, you know, push it out of their minds. So is all of this, what inspired you to write this book? Yeah, and you know, part of it is this team, the US women's national team is one of the most dominant women's teams in sports and they're really important team. But no one had ever really told the full story of this team and kind of the context of how this team came to be, what it is. And I really wanted to take people in the locker rooms, in the board rooms, kind of dig into some of these stories that frankly I just hadn't heard before. A weren't really out there and do the team justice because this is a team, you know, they've won multiple World Cups, they've won multiple gold medals, they have sell out crowds, the record TV ratings, all those things. And yet there was still a lot that we just didn't know about the team. So for me, it was really about doing the team justice,

Speaker 1: 14:38 been speaking with Caitlin Murray, journalist and author of the new book, the national team, the inside story of the women who changed soccer. Caitlin, it was great speaking with you. Yeah, thanks for having me. The US women's team will play their first World Cup match against Thailand on Tuesday. 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.