Skip to main content

As Veterans’ Cemeteries Run Out Of Space, The VA Is Providing An Alternative To Burials And More Local News

Cover image for podcast episode

The nation's veterans cemeteries are running out of space. In many areas, there's no longer enough land to offer burials to veterans and their spouses. So in several cities, the VA is putting up buildings to inter veterans' cremated remains above ground. Plus, San Diego Catholic leaders received a grim picture last week on climate change from a prominent San Diego Scripps Institution of Oceanography researcher. Also in today’s podcast, hopefully you enjoyed that extra hour of sleep as we went off daylight saving time. But how much longer will the clock keep changing, since California approved Prop 7?

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 It's Monday, November 4th I'm Deb Welsh. And you're listening to San Diego dues matters from KPBS coming up spring forward, fall back. How much longer will the clock keep changing in California and the nation's veterans? Cemeteries are running out of space. So in several cities, the VA's putting up buildings to enter veterans cremated remains.

Speaker 2: 00:21 We now welcome the new generation of Americans to take their place among the honored

Speaker 1: 00:28 that and more right after the break this weekend we added an hour of time to the clock cause we went off daylight saving time. But how long would clock changes continue since California's approved props? Seven KPBS editor Tom fudge has the latest

Speaker 3: 00:46 proposition. Seven was approved by voters last year and it allows the legislature to change the dates and times of daylight saving time. That means California could go to permanent daylight saving time and eliminate any clock changes. But Congress must also approve the plan, which makes it a little tricky. Assemblyman Canson Chu of San Jose has been a main supporter of prop seven he says 14 States including Florida, have passed laws to go with daylight saving time year round. He adds at California's neighbors to the North are ready to follow California's lead,

Speaker 4: 01:20 Washington state and Oregon. They're laws which pass their legislature basically saying that they will go with color. Plenty of time.

Speaker 3: 01:29 Chu says federal legislation to allow permanent daylight saving time has been sponsored by Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and Chu has sponsored a proposed California law that'll be before a state Senate committee early next year. Chu and others argue that having two annual time changes is an outdated practice that disrupts sleep patterns and increases the risk of heart attacks. Currently, Arizona and Hawaii are the only States that do not fall back or spring ahead. Time wise, Tom fudge, K PBS news,

Speaker 1: 02:01 the nation's veterans cemeteries are running out of space in many areas. There is no longer enough land to offer burials to veterans and their spouses. So in several cities the VA is putting up buildings to inter veteran's cremated remains above ground from Los Angeles. Libby Digman reports for the American old fret project.

Speaker 5: 02:22 Army air Corps vet Leon Waldman points out fresh landscaping and swinging Palm trees alongside the four Oh five freeway near the Westwood neighborhood. Of Los Angeles, which is right. We're all outdoors. The former world war II, B 17 waist gunner is scoping out his final resting place. The newly expanded columbarium on the West LA VA campus. It's a series of thick concrete walls with niches to store cremated remains. The first phase of the project has room for more than 10,000 vets and their spouses. It's a day Waldman's been waiting for. He arranged for his cremation over 10 years ago.

Speaker 6: 02:59 No, I got the empty urn sitting at home waiting to go on one of these niches

Speaker 5: 03:03 when it's time. Wildman wants to stay in the city where his son lives and make things convenient for family visiting from New York, but a burial was out of the question because Ellie's national cemetery hit capacity in 1978 it hasn't taken new applications for over four decades. The closest plots available are hours away in Riverside or Bakersfield. The cemetery's original indoor columbarium, which holds 5,000 remains also filled up that.

Speaker 2: 03:30 Thank you ladies and gentlemen,

Speaker 5: 03:32 VA secretary Robert Wilkie presided over the new columbarium dedication.

Speaker 2: 03:37 After 40 years. We now welcome a new generation of Americans to take their place. Among the honored here at this hallowed ground.

Speaker 5: 03:50 He acknowledged his agency's national cemetery administration is facing a real estate crunch in large cities where most veterans live

Speaker 2: 03:59 because space is running out.

Speaker 5: 04:01 A solution is in the works, but it's running behind schedule and over budget. In 2015 the VA announced a series of projects to expand national cemetery capacity in LA, New York, Indianapolis, Chicago, and San Francisco. Los Angeles is columbarium is the first completed project under the urban initiative.

Speaker 2: 04:20 We did not want to have to force families to travel all over the state to visit their family members.

Speaker 5: 04:29 The VA now estimates the San Francisco cemetery project first slated for completion in 2017 won't open until at least 2027 and the VA is on its fifth attempt at buying land in Chicago. Four previous tries went bust mostly because the asking price went over budget,

Speaker 2: 04:47 but in places like this, everybody is short of land.

Speaker 5: 04:51 Even Arlington national cemetery is facing a shortage of burial sites. The army announced. It's considering tightening the rules for who has access to below ground interment only troops killed in action, purple heart recipients, former PO Ws and those who earned a silver star or higher would be allowed in.

Speaker 6: 05:09 Okay.

Speaker 5: 05:10 Los Angeles national cemetery director Tom rock says it was emotional to finally begin accepting applications on October 1st

Speaker 6: 05:17 it's fantastic and I'm starting to tear up a little bit because I know what it means to the veterans and their family members.

Speaker 5: 05:24 ROC is expecting a bit of a rush after years of no vacancies at this veteran's cemetery. Many Angelenos have been holding on to family members, remains in earns at home.

Speaker 6: 05:34 I can tell you that there's a whole lot of people that have mom or dad or their uncle or their brother up in the closet just waiting for this to happen.

Speaker 5: 05:43 Secretary Wilkie says the agency is doing its best to get cemetery construction on track and its offering to take over old military property and convert it into columbariums and grave sites. In the meantime, veterans families who want a casket burial

Speaker 1: 05:58 will still have to drive to surrounding cities for the nearest available national cemetery plots in Los Angeles. I'm Libby dank man. This story was produced by the American Homefront project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans funding comes from the corporation for public broadcasting. The NCAA was originally opposed, but after a vote last week, they're allowing student athletes to benefit from their name, image and likeness. KPV as a Sarah Katsuyama says, this was an unexpected move. The NCAAs reversal came nearly a month after California passed a fair pay to play act, which would go into effect in 2023 mural Coburg was San Diego state and bottom line marketing says that the NCAA was under a lot of pressure and still is.

Speaker 7: 06:46 There's a lot of money at stake, billions of dollars of TV contracts. There's a lot of potential leakage of revenue out of the universities into the pockets of of of athletes.

Speaker 1: 06:56 The NCAA has not revealed any details yet, but they see that the new rules should be in place no later than January, 2021 Sarah [inaudible], KPBS news, strong wind events last month and the past two years have driven some of the most destructive wildfires in California's history. Capital public radio is Randall white has more on the historic nature of what's become a common weather pattern for the state

Speaker 7: 07:21 this year. Utilities in California blamed strong winds for unprecedented public safety blackouts affecting millions of people in Southern California and national weather service forecasters took the rare step last week of adding the word extreme to a red flag warning with winds expected to gust above 70 miles an hour. Dr. Benjamin hatchet is an assistant researcher with the Western regional climate center in Reno and has some perspective on these wins. They are very, very, very extreme and they're in the top one percentile or even higher in a lot of cases, but they are not something that we've never experienced before. That said, hatchet believes it is more unprecedented that these events are coupled with higher temperatures, lower relative humidities, and an increase in the urban wild land interface. And when you have all of those factors put together, that creates a, an excellent recipe for these very, very extreme fire and fire conditions that we've been seeing. Hatch, it says there is not a lot of historic wind data beyond 30 or so years ago. So comparing these events to weather norms before that is difficult to do in Sacramento. I'm Randall white

Speaker 1: 08:27 to ease California's affordable housing crisis. Cities across the stage are slowly embracing so-called tiny homes in Sacramento. Mayor Darrell Steinberg wants his city to spend $30 million to jumpstart the rapid production of these structures, which are sometimes just 500 square feet or less capital public radio's Chris Nichols has the story.

Speaker 7: 08:50 Steinberg chairs the States commission on homelessness. He says, cities will never produce the volume

Speaker 8: 08:55 of affordable housing needed by subsidizing only standard apartments. Each one can cost upwards of a half million dollars to develop.

Speaker 9: 09:04 My hope is that with a little bit of financial incentive, less than a hundred thousand dollars per unit, that we will spark a series of new industries in California that will make tiny homes, efficiency homes, cargo units, 10 cabins, the the norm.

Speaker 8: 09:26 Steinberg says, tiny homes produced on a mass scale can be a solution for cities across the state. Other communities such as Oakland and Berkeley have helped pay for tiny home villages for homeless youth. And just this month, San Diego said it plans to begin allowing movable tiny houses in backyards, but those projects are limited and nothing has gone to scale. Steinberg hopes that Capitol city will change all of that in Sacramento. I'm Chris Nichols,

Speaker 1: 09:58 members of San Diego's Catholic community gathered last week to hear about global warming from a prominent San Diego researcher, KPBS reporter Eric Anderson as details,

Speaker 10: 10:09 Scripps institution of oceanography, researcher of Hadron Ramanathan painted a grim picture for the priests and lay leaders who came to hear him speak. He warned the 3 billion of the world's poorest people will bear the early brunt of climate change. San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy says, there is no longer doubt the situation is serious.

Speaker 8: 10:30 Overwhelmingly, the scientific community in the world has concluded the climate change is poses a tragic challenge to the whole of the human, uh, race in, in the coming years. And we've got act now.

Speaker 10: 10:46 McElroy says San Diego hasn't taken up the issue with the alarm that is warranted. He says that people don't act now. They're taking away their children's future. Eric Anderson, KPBS news,

Speaker 1: 10:59 that's all for San Diego. News matters. If local news matters to you, consider supporting KPBS by going to kpbs.org and clicking on the give now button.

San Diego News Matters podcast branding

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.