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Balboa Park Trees Are Stressed And More Local News

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In today's San Diego News Matters podcast: The health of the trees in San Diego’s largest park is getting some extra attention because the urban forest here isn’t as healthy as it used to be. Also on the show: Washington State Governor Jay Inslee campaigns his climate change message in California, and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra wants to review how the state's Roman Catholic dioceses handled allegations of child sex abuse.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 Good morning. It's May 7th I'm Deb Welsh. Ed, your listening to San Diego News Matters. The health of the trees in San Diego's best known park is getting some extra attention from the Balboa Park Conservancy. That's because the urban forest here isn't as healthy as it used to be. KPBS environment reporter Eric Anderson has details

Speaker 2: 00:21 and it looks like we're about there. One worst group when you're good. Arborist in Balboa Park Tree. Stuart Bradley. Michael Brown is helping volunteers of Bohemia tree in Balboa Park near Quince Street.

Speaker 3: 00:33 It's a Hong Kong orchid is a common name and Zoya think if it grows right in five or 10 years, it's going to look like a big flower in Sri. Yes,

Speaker 2: 00:40 dozens of trees were planted during a recent Arbor day celebration

Speaker 3: 00:44 and then the idea is that hopefully the molds, you know, they'll go down around here. That'll help protect that root system. But this one's gonna be

Speaker 2: 00:50 the planting mark. The completion of a cal fire funded efforts that put 500 new trees in the ground round says trees are one of the things that make the park unique.

Speaker 3: 01:02 Such a different feeling than being out in the middle of a concrete or an asphalt parking lot and then being under a grove of ficus trees. You know, you, everyone can imagine that, right? I'm going to who wants to be out in a a hot parking lot? Well that's what the trees, they help to help prevent that, that that parking lot effect, but in spite of a newly planted trees,

Speaker 2: 01:21 parks forest still faces challenges.

Speaker 4: 01:24 What we were able to do is we digitize the old data from 20 years ago.

Speaker 2: 01:29 Jacqueline Higgins works for the bell ball park conservancy. She says every tree in the park is now tracked in an online app called open tree map

Speaker 4: 01:37 and we overlaid our new data from the recent inventory that was done last year and we're able to compare and contrast the data sets

Speaker 2: 01:46 and the findings were not particularly reassuring. The latest survey found 4% of the parks' trees were dead. He can says another 4% suffer from poor health.

Speaker 4: 01:56 When you look at that, it's not a huge number because we're talking over 15,000 trees that we're looking at, but when you put numbers to that, the structural value of that 8% decrease is $5 million. So that's a city asset that has just decreased in value for $5 million.

Speaker 2: 02:14 Conservationists are working to reverse the decline. Tomas Aurora Mishler is the president and CEO of the Bell Ball Park Conservancy and he says it's no mystery. Why are the trees are struggling?

Speaker 5: 02:26 Over the course of the last two decades, there's been a real impact from climate change with increased temperatures. Insects that were never here before had been migrating north and so there's a quite an impact on the health of the trees.

Speaker 2: 02:40 Herrera Mishler says the conservancy is making a concerted effort to care for the health of the city signature urban forest diversity is the key. Yeah,

Speaker 5: 02:49 so 20 years ago we had 348 different species of trees in the park. We're now up to 448 different tree species in the park. The why that's important is because the more diversity, the more resilient this forest is. We need a resilient forest because of all the impacts of disease. Old Age, insects and drought. Yeah.

Speaker 2: 03:11 Diversity means there are fewer eucalyptus trees there. Those tall, fast growing trees with shallow root systems which are prone to falling. When storms hit, they used to account for 40% of the parks' trees. That's down to just over 20% and bell ballparks forest is what the rest of the city could look like. The city's climate action plan in fact calls for a much denser tree canopy outside the park.

Speaker 5: 03:37 We're around 5% in the city now if you want to see what about 30% looks like come to Balboa Park cause that's what we have here in the park. It's super important for many reasons for improved air quality and Lord knows we need that in San Diego.

Speaker 2: 03:51 San Diego is not close to hitting that 30% target outside of Bell Ball Park, but it remains an important goal. Trees clean the air filter storm water, reduce heat and sequester carbon. Eric Anderson, KPBS news,

Speaker 1: 04:06 Balboa Park advocates are laying out their priorities for how to spend nearly $10 million on park maintenance. KPBS reporter Lynn Walsh says that funding became available earlier this year. City officials wanted to build an underground parking garage near the park, central Mesa, but cost over runs and years of lawsuits killed those plans. The city council had already committed nine point $5 million to the project. Now Councilman Chris Ward and others are asking for that money to be spent on maintenance projects. Ward says the repairs are much needed and can easily be seen by park visitors.

Speaker 6: 04:43 It's laughable, but it is embarrassing that for the crown jewel and America's finest city, we have a park full of public restrooms that are long past their useful life.

Speaker 1: 04:52 On top of bathroom repairs, Ward says many of the parks. Museums also need new roofs. He also wants to update the parks master plan to list every needed repair in one place. Lynn Walsh, Kpbs News, California State University. San Marcos is about to graduate the school's largest class ever. KPBS is Maya troubles. He has more

Speaker 7: 05:13 of the almost 3,800 students graduating this month. More than half are the first in their family to earn a four year college degree. 40% of the 2019 graduates identify as underrepresented minorities. Christine Vaughn is a public information officer at cal State San Marcos. She says the school has worked hard to narrow achievement gaps among student groups and that is reflected in its diverse student body.

Speaker 6: 05:40 We know the transformative power of a college education and we've stayed true to our mission to be that catalyst in our region.

Speaker 7: 05:48 The graduating class this year is large enough that for the first time the commencement will stretch over three days with six ceremonies. Total enrollment is 17,000 students.

Speaker 1: 05:58 Maya trouble see k PBS news. The Trump administration plans to allow 30,000 more foreign workers temporarily into the United States for seasonal work through the end of September. It reflects how the booming economy has complicated president of Trump's effort to restrict legal immigration. KPBS SLE Hickson has more. The plan would benefit fisheries loggers and hotels, including the president's own Maro Lago Club. All of them use h two B visas to hire migrants for temporary work. They say Americans refuse to do the visas will be granted only to returning foreign workers who've had the visas over the last three fiscal years. Those workers have already been vetted and according to officials are not likely to stay past their visa. US citizenship and immigration services will begin taking applications on behalf of the workers once the temporary rule is published in the federal register that's expected on Wednesday. Sally Hixon, Kpbs News, California Attorney General Javier, but Sarah was to review how the state's Roman Catholic diocese handled allegations of child sex abuse. Kq Edis. She 11 reports the attorney, yes, general sent letters to the state's 12 Catholic dioceses late last week in the letter, but Sarah said his office will review whether the archdiocese adequately reported allegations of sexual misconduct as required by state law. The Sarah asked the diocese to preserve all records relating to child sexual abuse, including those in quotes, secret archives,

Speaker 8: 07:31 asking them to self report they've been doing isn't working.

Speaker 1: 07:35 That's Joey Piscatelli from the survivors network of those abused by priests.

Speaker 8: 07:40 That's why it's necessary for the attorney general. Just take the steps to demand documents, be sensitive so they can investigate it more.

Speaker 1: 07:48 Piscatelli says he and other survivors had a meeting with the Sarah and district attorneys across the state in the fall. You said they were looking for information on bishops who may have covered up sexual abuse allegations. Also last fall, the attorney general's office launched an online complaint form seeking information from the public on clergy sexual abuse. For now, the Attorney General's request is voluntary, but Piscatelli hopes that if churches don't comply,

Speaker 8: 08:13 I think the next step after that is to take more serious action and hopefully they'll subpoena documents.

Speaker 1: 08:19 Then Piscatelli claims the public will understand the magnitude of clergy sexual abuse in California. For the California report. I'm shy. I love it. Washington state governor Jay Inslee, who is pursuing the Democratic nomination for president brought his aggressive climate change message to California last week. Capitol public radio. Scott Rod was there as he ended a four city tour in Sacramento on Saturday.

Speaker 9: 08:43 Instantly framed climate change as an existential issue for the environment and the country's economy. There's a hell of a lot more jobs fighting climate change. Then there is in denying climate change. We understand

Speaker 10: 08:56 that

Speaker 11: 08:56 in a crowded field of 20 candidates vying for the Democratic nomination, Inslee wants to distinguish himself as the candidate on climate change. Late last week he released a plan calling for the country to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2035 the plan is ambitious, but Inslee says time is running out to reverse the effects of climate change.

Speaker 10: 09:16 We know we have one last chance to defeat climate change, otherwise it's going to continuous to ravage us like it did paradise. California

Speaker 11: 09:24 Inslee has positioned himself as a foil to president Trump on climate change policy. Trump has championed domestic fossil fuel production as a means of reducing reliance on energy from overseas. He's also downplayed the impact and at times the existence of manmade climate change in Sacramento. I'm Scott Rod.

Speaker 1: 09:41 As more and more Californians get older and retire, there's a growing pool of people with time and skills that community organizations could put to work, but seniors here have a relatively low volunteer rate and often feel isolated. A 77 year old San Francisco man has found a way to stay involved. He forgets about his arthritis and his cane to do what he loves, Best Cook for his community as part of our grain California series. Kq Edis for Rita job. Bella Romero has this story

Speaker 10: 10:16 in his small kitchen. Emam Saber holds a butcher knife and trims one of the 30 New York stakes. He's laid out on a cutting board for a charity. I, I, I don't touch her anything and I bet everyone in my own money, that's his $660 social security check and money. His wife, Hawaii, that earns from running a daycare out of their apartment in San Francisco in the kitchen next to the living room where the kids are in. Mom's got two bands on the side

Speaker 12: 10:50 though. He says

Speaker 10: 10:53 the oil has to be smoking hot before putting the meat on.

Speaker 12: 10:57 See it as it level, but if you would, the stick and the band and there's all the Jews come down and you lose everything.

Speaker 10: 11:06 Your mom worked for decades as a chef at fancy hotels and a French restaurant. Even now that he's retired and has arthritis, he loves to cook.

Speaker 12: 11:16 What? Why do you like it? Because the other food, good.

Speaker 10: 11:22 Growing up in Cairo, Egypt, he was one of 19 kids. He remembers watching his mother cook big meals with neighbors to share. He says, in those days, men weren't allowed in the kitchen. No men in the kitchen. All these regulators, but I only one brings a role because from SUNY is old. I start talking. I love cooking and I couldn't. I couldn't stop resisting that. In mom came to San Francisco in 1969 he's lived in the same flat ever since. Recreating that bustling family feel from his childhood. For him, community is number one, cut caritas to be around each other and to be human to each other and that's why you enjoy the life. For decades a mom has cooked for people at mosques, schools and nonprofits. He's the guy that volunteers to bring food for Ramadan, a baby shower, or the Christmas party at Saint Anthony's and organization that feeds the homeless.

Speaker 13: 12:21 What I, what sticks with me the most when I think about the mom is his generosity and his, his joyful spirit.

Speaker 10: 12:30 Lydia Brandston works at Saint Anthony's. She says, four years. Ema made a delicious Middle Eastern banquet of chicken rice with elements and a polenta. Dessert with rosewater and honey. And

Speaker 13: 12:43 he brings to his cooking and his meals. This, this love of community and this, um, this sense of that through sharing a meal with another human being that you build relationship. And it's those relationships that keep us together. In the end.

Speaker 12: 13:02 No,

Speaker 10: 13:04 back at the mom's flat dinner is finally ready. He lays the cooked steaks on beds of rice, Huh?

Speaker 12: 13:11 Oh, I'm always busy. 50 years here I'm and visit for stuff. He covers the trays with foil and gets ready to deliver them. That's it.

Speaker 10: 13:24 He says goodbye to the kids in the living room who just woke up from their nap. A man of purpose on his way to feed the people.

Speaker 12: 13:35 Bye Bye.

Speaker 10: 13:41 In San Francisco on Friday that Debola Romero, thanks for listening to KPBS s San Diego news matters podcast. For more local stories. Go to k pbs.org.

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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.