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San Diego Unified Considers Joining Class-Action Suit Against Juul And More Local News

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Vaping among teenagers is on the rise. A new government study found that more than a quarter of high school students currently use e-cigarettes. How San Diego Unified School District is confronting the growing public health issue. Plus, KPBS talks with author Aaron Glantz about his book “Homewreckers,” which details how banks and capitalists conned people out of their homes in the late 2000s, demolishing the American Dream. California schools are facing a teacher shortage and one big reason behind the shortage is the high cost of housing. Now some school districts are considering a radical plan — to build housing on district land.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 It's Wednesday, November 6th I'm Deb Welsh and you're listening to San Diego news matters from KPBS coming up. Vaping's a public health issue. We'll look at how the San Diego unified school district is tackling the problem and California schools are facing a teacher shortage. I feel like giving up. I love this school. I love my colleagues. I just personally cannot keep fighting for a place to live

Speaker 2: 00:28 that more coming up right after the break they being among teenagers is on the rise. A new government study found that more than a quarter of high school students currently use e-cigarettes. KPBS education reporter Joe Hong has more on how the San Diego unified school district is confronting the growing public health issue

Speaker 3: 00:50 as e-cigarette use and vaping related injuries become more common throughout the country. San Diego unified superintendent Cindy Martin is calling for the district to join a recent class action lawsuit against e-cigarette producer jewel.

Speaker 4: 01:02 I won't be seeking board affinity for our district to be joining. The district districts can spin that lawsuit as well. Where I'm attacking this from all fronts.

Speaker 3: 01:12 The suit is just one of the district's efforts to address the use of e-cigarettes that have allegedly been marketed towards minors. The district has provided counseling to address the root cause of students vaping use rather than relying on disciplinary action. Joe Hong K PBS news,

Speaker 2: 01:27 uh, fourth homeless shelter is opening up near downtown, but KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman says there are concerns about how the city of San Diego is paying for the beds.

Speaker 5: 01:37 The new shelter is near 17th street in a part of the East village where many people who are homeless stay the shelter has a capacity for 128 beds and is available for single people and families. It is the fourth of its kind in San Diego. Altogether, they're costing an estimated $18 million per year to operate San Diego. Mayor Kevin Faulkner says, still more needs to be done.

Speaker 4: 01:57 Yes, it costs dollars, but the cost for doing nothing is more a and the human costs and lives on the street. That's why these British shelters are such a lifeline. Um, and we need to continue them. We need to grow them.

Speaker 5: 02:08 Three of the shelters have been opened for two years and all are being paid for with grants and other one-time funding. The San Diego housing commission oversees the shelters and CEO Rick Gentry says they are key to tackling homelessness.

Speaker 4: 02:20 We need to find the money going forward to continue to expand what we're doing.

Speaker 5: 02:24 Two years after the shelters open, nearly a thousand people have transitioned into some type of housing. Matt Hoffman, K PBS news,

Speaker 2: 02:31 California activist hope a new study powers their bid to get the state second largest pension system to divest from fossil fuels dogs KPV as reporter Eric Anderson has details,

Speaker 6: 02:42 fossil free California says it makes financial sense for the state. Second largest pension fund to move its investments out of fossil fuel companies and accounting firms. Review of the $239 billion fund found Calsters could have made five point $5 billion more between 2009 and 2019 without fossil fuel investments active as Sandy Emerson is pushing for the fund to divest.

Speaker 7: 03:06 Calsters is a very thoughtful investment board and that they are taking in this information. It remains to be seen if they will be able to act.

Speaker 6: 03:18 Calsters officials released a written statement that acknowledged the risks climate change poses to the pension funds portfolio, but the fund said Calsters doesn't base investment decisions on short term trends. Eric Anderson, KPBS news,

Speaker 2: 03:32 12% of people in San Diego County frequently go to bed hungry. Meanwhile, 40% of food in our County is thrown away every day. That's according to one local nonprofit, but a new app being launched could help fix that. KPB as reporter Pria Schrader explains feeding San Diego a local nonprofit dedicated to solving hunger and ending food waste. Launched a new app Tuesday called meal connect. The app matches leftover food from restaurants, hotels, and caterers to one of 170 of the nonprofits. Local partners who then distribute food to the hungry. Vince hall is the CEO of feeding San Diego.

Speaker 8: 04:13 The next wave of hunger relief is going to be achieved by rescuing food from irregular food donors, from restaurants, from caterers, from hotels.

Speaker 2: 04:24 Feeding. San Diego is also looking for volunteer drivers who can pick up the food and deliver it to the partners. [inaudible] K PBS news, San Diego city council members. Tuesday advanced a ballot measure to increase civilian oversight of the police. KPBS Metro reporter Andrew Bowen says the measure has been discussed for years.

Speaker 9: 04:45 Their proposal, we'll create a new commission with subpoena power that will conduct independent investigations into complaints of officer misconduct. That commission would replace the current community review board on police practices. Which supporters of the measure say is too close to the police? Genevieve Jones, right is legal director for the partnership for the advancement of new Americans.

Speaker 8: 05:05 The concern from the community is it is just a rubber stamp of what police officers have already determined in their own investigations. This is why we stand here today because we need an independent commission that actually has teeth.

Speaker 9: 05:19 The council voted to start negotiations over the measure with city labor unions. Once those conclude, the council can decide whether to put the measure to city voters next year. Andrew Bowen. KPBS news,

Speaker 2: 05:31 the American civil liberties union filed a class action lawsuit against customs and border protection. On Tuesday, KPBS reporter max Rivlin Adler says they claimed the government's remain in Mexico program as blogged lawyers from seeing asylum seekers.

Speaker 9: 05:48 The plaintiffs in the lawsuit or Guatemalan family of seven who have been sent back to Mexico to wait as their asylum claims are processed in the U S after a court on Tuesday morning, the family wasn't taken back to Mexico. Instead, they were put into customs and border protection custody. After expressing a few have returned to Mexico. Now they're not being allowed to see a lawyer. This even as they're interviewed by customs and border protection about their fear of return to Mexico. Monica [inaudible] is a staff attorney with the ACL. HCLU

Speaker 1: 06:18 lawyers don't have access to their clients. They don't know exactly where their clients are taken. The lawyers requests for information go on answered, so no, we don't know exactly where they are, where they're being held. Right now,

Speaker 9: 06:28 over 55,000 asylum seekers in total have been sent back to Mexico under the romaine in Mexico program. Customs and border protection has told KPBS that it does not comment on pending litigation max with an Adler K PBS news.

Speaker 2: 06:42 It's been 10 years since the great recession. Workers were losing jobs, bad loans led to foreclosures and by the end of it, up to 10 million Americans lost their homes. Aaron glances the senior investigative reporter with reveal and the Pulitzer prize finalist. His book is called Homewreckers. He talked to KPBS mid day edition about how some people profited from the housing bust and how they affected housing for working people.

Speaker 5: 07:09 The home ownership rate in San Diego and across California was especially hard hit and although it's recovered now to about 60%, uh, it was only recently that we were looking at, you know, almost half of all families, uh, in San Diego, uh, renting. And you know, this is Southern California, right? This is, this is the place where we close our eyes and we imagined the house with the lawn in the suburbs and San Diego is still a place where a lot of people live in houses, in lawns, in the suburbs. It's just that now they're living in a house with a lawn in the suburbs and paying rent to a far away landlord.

Speaker 2: 07:48 How have communities of color been impacted by this?

Speaker 5: 07:52 This is a crisis that has hit communities of color especially hard. What we saw during the bubble was banks marketing some of their most predatory products to black and Brown people at Wells Fargo. There were memos circulated inside of the bank about offering quote unquote ghetto loans to Mudd people. This resulted in those communities facing some of the highest rates of foreclosure. And then as I mentioned, banks did not lend to these communities, so people of color were disproportionately repossessed. Then the banks wouldn't give them the good loan products when the economy recovered. And so now we have a wealth gap, uh, between the white community and people of color that is worse in many ways than before the civil rights movement.

Speaker 2: 08:50 So now that some of those home wreckers are part of the Trump administration, how are they influencing policy

Speaker 5: 08:56 constantly, they are constantly influencing current policy. The easiest way to see it is in something like the tax bill where there was a giant tax deduction introduced for companies that collect rent through shell corporations. So if you make your money collecting rent through an LLC, LLP or LP shell company, you get a gigantic tax cut right off the top, a tax cut that you don't get if you work for a living. So step-by-step, they're changing the incentive system of our economy to make it more advantageous for the corporate owners of rental property and less advantageous for individual homeowners. And what about solutions? What types of reforms would you like to see enacted to keep this from happening again? During the great depression, the government created its own bank. It was called the home owners' loan corporation. It helped a million Americans stay in their homes. It refinanced one out of every five mortgages in urban America.

Speaker 5: 09:58 And importantly, it made money for the taxpayers because when you bet on the American family, um, we pay back our, our loans. Um, after world war II, the GI bill helped 4 million American veterans buy homes. It broke even. We can afford to make major investments in economic equity in this country because when we do, they're financially prudent. These were arguments that were made in 2008 by former members of the federal reserve board, by even conservatives at groups like the American enterprise Institute, former advisors to president Reagan. And, uh, the government under the presidencies of both George W. Bush and Barack Obama decided to bail out the banks instead of American families. Now we have a period of time when the Homewreckers are in power in the white house in circling around our president. Uh, but we also have an election underway. Uh, we have a lot of candidates who are putting forward a pretty innovative plans. And what I would hope in writing this book and talking to you now is that these issues start to be debated and discussed on some of the biggest stages in America. Uh, so we can move towards a solution.

Speaker 2: 11:15 That was Aaron glance, author of Homewreckers and senior investigative reporter with reveal. California schools don't have enough teachers and a big reason why is the cost of housing a growing number of school districts across the state are considering a radical solution building their own teacher housing on school district land. Erica Mahoney reports from member station K a Z U and Monterrey. Her story is part of our California dream. Collaboration's look at solutions to some of the state's problems. El Wiley's classroom is lined with twinkle lights, math pictures, the walls.

Speaker 1: 11:54 She teaches integrated math one. It's so Cal high school East of Santa Cruz and she buys most of these classroom supplies herself. She says it's just one more thing to pay for each school year. I can tell you I lived off of leftovers that students gave me for food for a couple weeks this year. What's really draining her bank account is the cost of rent. About 40% of her monthly paycheck goes toward housing every year. I have the same question to myself. Am I going to be here this year? Am I going to teach here next year? When Wiley was hired in 2016 she spent part of that year sleeping on a couch. She struggled for months to find somewhere affordable to live. Being a dog owner didn't help fast forward and she now rents a room in a coworker's house, but Wiley says she's going to have to move soon and she's running out of options.

Speaker 1: 12:46 She's thinking about moving back home to Chico. I feel like giving up 100%. I love this school. I love my colleagues. I love my administration. I love my district office. Um, I just personally cannot keep fighting for a place to live. A recent study by USA today ranked Santa Cruz as the least affordable city in the U S for teachers. San Jose and San Francisco ranked as the second and third least affordable places to help. Some California school districts are building their own housing for teachers. A state law passed in 2016 makes it easier by allowing districts to put teacher housing on district owned property at a former elementary school North of Santa Cruz, dr Lori Bruton walks upstairs that overlook a 28 acre school yard and you could see it's really a beautiful campus. Bruton is superintendent of the San Lorenzo Valley unified school district. She says this elementary school has been closed for 17 years now.

Speaker 1: 13:51 The plan is to turn the classrooms into 33 below market apartments for teachers. The classrooms are bright and there's a lot of greenery around and there's a lot of flat space so you can see like this is a great patio right here at the entrance of this classroom. The project is estimated to cost the district nearly $10 million. Bruin hopes the investment will help hire and keep teachers around and she says that will ultimately help the students. If you're a young teacher and you raise a family in this area and your kids go to school here, that's a whole different level of ownership to the community. To the school. It allows housing in a location we never thought about it before and that's phenomenal. Which do more of that. Billy rigs is a professor at the university of San Francisco school of management. We essentially have people traveling lists.

Speaker 1: 14:42 There is an environmental co-benefit there that cannot be dismissed. Rigs would like to see California embrace workforce housing for all kinds of professions, but he says that 2016 teacher housing act is a step in the right direction. We should allow more housing in places where people work. San Mateo community college and Santa Clara unified have already built employee housing to name a few. Now, school districts across the state are exploring the option including where L Y Wiley teaches Santa Cruz city schools. She says she would move into teacher housing in a heartbeat, but doubts that solution will be available anytime soon. I just know in my head I can't even think about it because I know it's not going to happen, so I can't get my dreams not like that, but just last month, Santa Cruz city schools took their exploration one step forward. It's now in the process of hiring an architect to start making plans for their teacher housing just behind the natural bridges high school campus in Santa Cruz. I'm Erica Mahoney. Thanks for listening to San Diego news matters. If you like the show, do us a favor and tell your friends and families to subscribe. Thanks.

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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.