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Factoring Mental Health Into Wildfire Emergency Plans And More Local News

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It's wildfire season in California, and though risk will eventually die down, the trauma these fires inflict on families can linger for a lifetime. Hear why some psychologists say mental health ought to be part of residents' emergency plans. Plus, San Diego may have to cut spending by nearly $84 million next year — that's the prognosis in a new report on the city's financial outlook. And, more cannabis dispensaries are coming to North County. In the last month two have opened in Vista with more on the way. Find out how the new shops are doing.

Speaker 1: 00:01 It's Thursday, November 14th I'm Deb Welsh and you're listening to San Diego news matters from KPBS coming up. The prognosis on the city of San Diego's financial outlook could be better at wildfire. Trauma in California can linger a lifetime. We were so traumatized we didn't. We got lost. We didn't know we were going that more San Diego news stories coming up right after the break. Thank you for joining us for San Diego news matters. I'm Deb Welsh. San Diego could have to cut spending by nearly $84 million next year. KPBS Metro reporter Andrew Bowen says that's the prognosis and a new report on the city's financial outlook.

Speaker 2: 00:50 San Diego has a growing economy and is taking in more money in taxes and fees each year, but spending is going up faster due to things like new homeless services and programs and raises for city workers, especially police officers at a committee meeting. Wednesday city council woman Barbara Brie laid the blame squarely on mayor Kevin Faulkner saying the outlook was sobering.

Speaker 3: 01:12 It projects four straight years of deficits. It relies on one time revenue resources to balance these budgets. Leading us straight into a structural deficit. This mayor inherited a balanced budget in 2013 yet we'll leave a structural deficit behind us as his legacy.

Speaker 2: 01:28 Faulkner's office did not respond to a request for comment the mayor has until April to propose a budget that closes the deficit. Andrew Bowen KPBS news,

Speaker 1: 01:38 the owners of a technical training school pleaded guilty to defrauding the department of veterans affairs out of nearly $30 million KPBS military reporters. Steve Walsh says the honors admitted to making up students

Speaker 4: 01:52 the owner of blue star learning in Miramar pleaded guilty to federal charges of defrauding the VA. no Shah admitted to manufacturing names and email addresses to qualify for more than 29 million in housing and tuition benefits from the post nine 11 GI bill blue star manufactured non veteran students. Schools are required to have at least 15% of its students as non veterans to qualify for VA education funds. The school also manufactured testimonials of students who said that they had obtained jobs in their fields. The California department of consumer affairs says 125 students were attending BlueStar when the school shut down in June, state offered a workshop for students impacted by the closure. In August, the U S attorney says Shaw faces a maximum of 20 years in prison. Steve Walsh KPBS news

Speaker 1: 02:39 more cannabis dispensaries are coming to North County in the last month to have opened Invista with more on the way KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman went to Vista to see how the new shops are doing. Tradecraft farms is the first legal medical marijuana shop in Vista and sales are growing more and more everyday. Keep coming in. Mary Boyd is the dispensary

Speaker 5: 03:00 manager like most North County cities. Vista was reluctant to open dispensaries, but a citizens initiative last year forced them to allow the shops as one of the only legal dispensaries in the area. Tradecraft farms benefits from a large customer base.

Speaker 6: 03:12 A lot of people coming from Encinitas is ocean side. Leucadia Carlsbad, a bunch from Escondido

Speaker 5: 03:20 after Tradecraft farms, open floor a very day open nearby. Both businesses help authorities crack down on illegal operators.

Speaker 6: 03:27 They generate extreme amount of clients. They don't have taxing,

Speaker 5: 03:31 expect more shops to open in Vista soon. The citizens' initiative allows for up to 11 of them, Matt Hoffman, K PBS news.

Speaker 1: 03:38 A federal judge in San Diego has ruled that a Guatemalan family of seven in the remain in Mexico program cannot be sent back to Mexico without first having access to a lawyer. KPV as reporter max revel and Adler says this ruling could have huge implications for asylum.

Speaker 2: 03:56 The ruling by us district court judge Dana sobre came as a result of a class X in lawsuit filed last Tuesday. It alleged that the family was denied access to lawyers during interviews that asylum officers use to determine whether they can be safely returned to Mexico. Over 70,000 asylum seekers have been sent back to Mexico under the program, many of whom have expressed a fear of return to border cities. The government has argued that it wouldn't be logistically feasible to give migrants access to attorneys during their interviews, but Monico longer Arica and attorney for the ACLU says it's their right.

Speaker 6: 04:26 The government has elected to hold people in these facilities while they're waiting for the interviews. All live these sort of uh, logistical constraints that the government argues prevents it from abiding by constitutionally in federal law. Mandated rights are problems of its own making.

Speaker 2: 04:42 The ruling only applies to this family that a hearing is set for next month on whether it will be applied to all asylum seekers along the border. Max Rivlin, Adler,K , PBS news,

Speaker 1: 04:52 faulty street repairs, maybe you've seen them in your neighborhood. Roadwork is done only to need more fixes later on, I knew source reporter Natalie Raja has more on a problem in San Diego's bankers Hill neighborhood drivers on Brant street could see there was an issue. The newly paved road had a chunk of pavement missing the size of an SUV. When workers paved the road in July, they opted to pave a round a park Jeep, the decision irritated neighbors who launched an email and phone campaign and eventually got it fixed. Payment engineered. John Harvey from UC Davis says it's up to the city to monitor the quality of work and problem sometimes aren't known until years later,

Speaker 7: 05:30 long after the contract is closed and the contractor has no more responsibility

Speaker 1: 05:35 and I new source review found at least 50 reports of street or alley repair problems over recent six month period they were submitted to the city's get it done app for KPBS I my news source reporter Natalie Rocia. If you've encountered street repair problems, submit your tips to I new I knew source is an independently funded partner of KPBS. Unionized workers walked a picket line outside the UC San Diego medical center. Wednesday. KPBS reporter Eric Anderson has details.

Speaker 8: 06:08 The union workers have been negotiating a contract for two years and they're upset over outsourcing and unfair labor practices. The American Federation of state, County and municipal employees represents roughly 25,000 workers at UC campuses across the state. Respiratory therapist. David Page wants the university to stop outsourcing so many jobs.

Speaker 9: 06:30 It's very easy to outsource our job. There are registry out there, there are travelers out there. Well then when you bring them in, it's cheaper for the university to do that. But you also bring down that, you know, quality of care

Speaker 8: 06:41 university officials said in a statement that they're doing everything possible to limit the impact of the strike. They say patient care is their top priority. Eric Anderson KPBS news,

Speaker 1: 06:53 it's wildfire season in California and they'll risk will eventually die down the trauma these fires inflict on families can linger for a lifetime. KPBS science and technology reporter Shalena Celani explores why some psychologists say mental health ought to be part of residents. Emergency plans.

Speaker 3: 07:14 Megan queen and her husband Joe were sleeping in their house in Rancho Bernardo. When smoke started to fill the sky, they woke to sirens

Speaker 6: 07:22 the window and it just, there was like a wall of flames just coming down the Hill. And we kind of, I think one of us said, we gotta get outta here.

Speaker 3: 07:33 Well we woke our kids up and they were one in six are signing six, you can get up right away. And we had to like, you know, yell at him again and get up and he move. The Queens arrived in Rancho Bernardo is six months before October, 2007 when the witch Creek wildfire ripped through hundreds of thousands of acres of land and destroyed over 1200 homes. Flames were all around the family as they drove to get away. We were so traumatized. We didn't, we got lost. We didn't know we were where we're going. The Queens made it to an evacuation center with your kids, but the next day they found out that their rented house had burned down. They've settled in a home close to their old neighborhood. But Megan says the fire still lives with them. Over a decade later I would be in the drawers in the kitchen cooking,

Speaker 6: 08:18 skiing and looking for something. And I'm like, where is that? Where is that? I'd be like, Oh, it burned in the fire. And then that would kind of um, kind of sad and you know, kind of sadness.

Speaker 3: 08:29 People cope with losing personal belongings, homes and pets differently. You see Los Angeles psychologists, Emmanuel maiden Berg says, well some recover quickly. Others experienced long lived trauma.

Speaker 10: 08:40 They experienced symptoms as if it was happening again, the disciplinary anxiety not being able to fall asleep, changes in appetite, irritability, um, and feeling as if something terrible might happen at any point.

Speaker 3: 08:55 Megan queen for example, says even the smell of smoke or news of hot and dry Santa Ana winds can put her on high alert made Annenberg says those already experiencing stress when a fire breaks out maybe more susceptible to these symptoms over time. And some people are genetically wired to develop post traumatic stress more easily

Speaker 10: 09:15 be detected on all levels, behavioral level, emotional level, psychological level and physiological level including brain.

Speaker 3: 09:22 While post traumatic stress is common enough. The American psychiatric association also estimates one in 11 us adults will be diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder in their lifetime. Through these experiences, our belief about ourselves and the world around us has been changed. Tina Casola is a licensed mental health counselor. The red cross calls upon during natural disasters. She says, pupil go through a lot when disaster strikes and they need to talk about it. A lot of times it has to do with trust and that's not only trust of others, which is easy to see, but a lot of times it's trust in ourselves. Did I make the right decision? Should I have done something differently? That type of thinking might happen as displaced families sit in an evacuation center right after fleeing a fire. In our fire situations, there's a lot of, I call it limbo time where we don't have information, we don't know what's happening and that can be very distressing on people cause Hola says red cross services can help alleviate some pain, but some people may need more help and they may not know they need it before it's too late.

Speaker 3: 10:22 That's why Casola says residence should factor mental health into their emergency plans before disaster strikes along with material necessities like food and money. Who do I have to support me? What are the really important things to me? How do I reach out for help? And then even knowing how do I know when I need help? You know, how am I gonna read my body? How am I going to read my mind as fire season continues? One thing to solo recommends is that people know ahead of time who they could go to for support in case of an emergency. In fact, Megan and Joe Queens say they've taken advantage of counseling opportunities through the community so they can be prepared to handle stress and personal loss. If events like major wildfires happen again, it's easy to sit there and focus on, yeah, I lost my yearbook. Yeah, I love when you look at that, you start getting down and go, Oh, it does suck. I don't have this or that anymore. But you know, we have everybody, Megan and Joe also say they're prepared. They now keep a number of sentimental items like family photographs in a box by the door actually in a chat. Lani K PBS news.

Speaker 1: 11:28 Thanks for listening to San Diego news matters. If you're not already a subscriber, take a minute to become one. You can find San Diego news matters on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you listen to 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.