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San Diego Officials Push Tourist Tax Hike For Civic Projects And More Local News

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The push for a tax measure that would pay for a Convention Center expansion, homeless services and road paving is back — what's different this time. Plus, California this week launched a peer-run phone line that offers callers emotional support. The new statewide resource is just another option for local residents. Also on today’s podcast, the number of reported heat-related injuries in the military has skyrocketed in the past few years. So the Pentagon is turning one base into a world center for fighting those injuries. And, San Diego native, Samin Nosrat is back in her hometown, after traveling all over the world hosting the popular Netflix series 'Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat.'

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 It's Friday, October 11th I'm Deb Welsh and you're listening to San Diego news matters from KPBS coming up. City officials push for a tax hike that would pay for homeless services and the number of reported heat related injuries in the military as jumped in the past few years. The only week of the year where we won't have any casualty here is between Christmas and new year's. It's everybody's taking time off that and more coming up right after the break.

Speaker 1: 00:33 Thank you for joining us for San Diego news matters. I'm Deb Welsh. San Diego needs nearly $2 billion over the next decade to make progress and it's fight to reduce homelessness. KPBS Metro reporter Andrew Boyd says that's the conclusion of a new report to be discussed by the city council on Monday. Mayor Kevin Faulkner's homeless plan has been in the works for about a year. It says the city needs a surgeon shelter beds to get people off the streets and some 5,400 additional homes with subsidized rents and supportive services. Kelly Halsey, the mayor's chief of homelessness strategies says the plan sets measurable goals for the city to meet. It's not a glossy PR piece that's meant to make everybody feel better. This is a plan that is an instruction sheet for this administration and for following administrations to carry out. The plan says significant new revenues. In other words, taxes will be necessary to get more people off the streets. Andrew Bowen, KPBS news boosters are renewing their push for a tax measure that would pay for a convention center expansion, homeless services and road paving KPBS environment reporter Eric Andrews and says the yes for San Diego campaign launched on Thursday.

Speaker 2: 01:50 If this measure seems familiar, it's because it is the initiative failed to get on the November ballot in 2018 but it's now getting a second chance. San Diego mayor Kevin Faulkner says the March, 2020 measure raises the hotel tourist tax by about 30% the money would be spent on the convention center, homelessness and road repair. These are the issues

Speaker 3: 02:12 San Diego is care about and I think that's why you see such a broad and deep public support for getting this done.

Speaker 2: 02:18 The measure won't be easy to pass. It needs to third support from city voters for approval because it includes a tax increase. Eric Anderson, KPBS news,

Speaker 1: 02:28 Pacific gas and electric has been cutting power to hundreds of thousands of customers for fear of sparking wildfires. But San Diego gas and electric has a much longer history of intentional power outages. The California report saw Gonzales has more on that

Speaker 3: 02:45 San Diego gas and electric or SDG and [inaudible] first started seriously talking about planned power shutoffs way back in 2007 that was after it's equipment caused devastating wildfires that killed two people and destroyed more than a thousand homes. The California public utilities commission at first rejected SDG and E's request to develop a power shut off plan. Back then it was considered too risky to public safety, but the state changed its position because the danger of power lines or equipment sparking a big blaze was seen as riskier SDG and he cut the power four times last year to parts of its service area during hot and dry weather. Utility's largest intentional blackout was in November when 20,000 people lost power in some cases for up to eight days. But there are some big differences between SDG and E and PG&E. Mainly when it comes to size. San Diego gas and electric service area is relatively compact, one and a half million rate payers in a 4,100 square mile area. PGNE is sprawling with utility providing power to more than 5 million customers in a 70,000 square mile area.

Speaker 1: 03:50 The Cal report saw Gonzalez California this week launched a peer run phone line that offers callers emotional support. KPBS reporter Taryn Minto says the new statewide resource is just another option for local residents. San Diego counties access and crisis line is staffed by licensed professionals who are ready to address a range of scenarios. Dr. Michael Bailey is the medical director for the public sector at Optum, which manages the free County resource. These clinicians have training in suicide prevention and crisis intervention and can make referrals to mental health resources as well as drug and alcohol treatment programs. The new statewide line is answered by people who are familiar with mental illness but aren't licensed. It also isn't monitored all hours of the day, but aims to serve people before they reach a crisis point. San Diego is 24 seven phone line serves multiple needs. Taryn mento, KPBS news sexually transmitted disease cases in California are at their highest levels in nearly 30 years according to state health officials. Capital public radio is drew Sansar reports

Speaker 4: 05:03 the centers for disease control and prevention just released a report that shows STDs are up nationwide in California. They are near epidemic level.

Speaker 5: 05:12 Our rates of STDs are above the national average for all three of those diseases. Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis.

Speaker 4: 05:20 Dr. James watt heads the communicable disease division at the California department of public health.

Speaker 5: 05:25 That may mean that some people are getting tested and treated more. Um, and so that could also be contributing to the rising numbers that we're seeing.

Speaker 4: 05:35 What says if left untreated, STDs can cause serious health problems. Syphilis can lead to blindness, hearing loss and other neurological problems. And there were 22 stillborn or neonatal deaths in California last year linked to congenital syphilis in Sacramento. I'm drew San [inaudible].

Speaker 1: 05:53 This year's Ola Mexico film festival at digital. Jim features nine of Mexico's recent popular films and art house releases, KPBS film critic Beth hock Amando previews. The Fest that begins tonight. The film eight out of 10 begins by trying to make Mexico's recent and tragically high murder rate. More personal. It opens by telling viewers to consider that during the runtime of this movie, six people could be killed. Then it depicts one murder that deeply affects one person.

Speaker 6: 06:28 [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 06:29 eight out of 10 is bleak and brutal, but it's just one representation of today's Mexican cinema. Ola Mexico tries to give a broad sample of work and it's nine film festival. If it's escapism you're looking for, then there's plenty on hand in a comedy about a feuding husband and wife that experience a freaky Friday body swap or a Mexican remake of Adam Sandler's 51st dates.

Speaker 7: 06:52 Then there's artful elegance on display in the good girls of visually beautiful and seductive film that looks at human ugliness as well as an ever shifting economy that reshuffles the social hierarchy of Mexico in the 1980s this week long film festival serves up a fine sampling of works from South of the border at the cozy digital gym, cinema, Beth like Amando KPBS news,

Speaker 1: 07:16 the number of reported heat related injuries in the military has skyrocketed in the past few years. So the Pentagon is turning one base into a world center for fighting those injuries. Jay price of the American Homefront project reports from Fort Benning, Georgia

Speaker 8: 07:33 reported cases of heat exhaustion jumped nearly 50% between 2014 and 2018 according to Pentagon data and much more serious heat strokes. When a victim's core temperature can soar so far out of control that it can be fatal. Rose nearly 68% one particular army installation is at the heart of this growing.

Speaker 1: 07:55 Some of them we keep in mind here at Fort Benning is that we don't really truly have a heat season.

Speaker 8: 08:00 That's major David [inaudible] group teaching a class of army medics. He leads the military is new, one of a kind center for studying and combating heat injuries. The group says many other bases have seasons when they don't really see such injuries. Not Fort Benning though.

Speaker 1: 08:16 The only week of the year where we won't have he casualty here is between Christmas and new year's. It's everybody's taking time off.

Speaker 8: 08:21 Fort Benning has by far the most heat related injuries in the military. More than 1500 were reported between 2014 and 2018 the reasons are complicated. It's hot, it's humid and Benning's a big base where a lot of young soldiers do basic training. Benning also has been especially aggressive about identifying heat cases. Dr John Ambrose is an epidemiologist with the defense health agency who studies heat related illness.

Speaker 1: 08:49 Fort Benning does a tremendous job of searching out those heat injuries and trying to find them so there may appear to be more heat injuries at places like Fort Benning, but it's because they're actively finding them as opposed to some of the other installations.

Speaker 8: 09:02 Climate change and the record. Hot summers also may be driving some of the increase in heat injuries, but Ambrose said the most serious kinds of cases haven't become significantly more common. While milder cases are up sharply. That infers the increase may be driven not by an actual uptick in cases, but mainly by the military's increased focus on the problem. A few years ago, doctors at Benning's Martin army community hospital realized that the startling number of cases there was not just a huge problem but also an asset to fight that problem.

Speaker 9: 09:36 No other facilities sees the volume and severity of heat related illnesses that we do here to be in a position to do clinically meaningful research.

Speaker 8: 09:47 Dr Megan Gaylor was one of the two emergency room doctors here who proposed the heat center at Fort Benning.

Speaker 9: 09:53 What we realized is that, you know, any hospital that does anything, well your cancer centers or stroke centers, your pediatric centers, um, they do a lot of it and medicine as a profession then looks to those sort of centers. You sort of lead the way with regard to prevention and education, et cetera.

Speaker 8: 10:10 She said that the medical staff on the base already had developed what's now called the bending protocols to deal with heat related injuries from start to finish. One doctor got good results by piping the blood of patients with severe heat stroke through a cooling machine and all the ambulances on base were equipped to diagnose a potentially fatal condition called hyponatremia. When a soldier actually drinks too much water without enough salt, those patients could be killed by the aggressive hydration used to treat other heat injuries

Speaker 9: 10:41 for so long. There's been this emphasis on hydration, hydration, drink water, drink water in the army, and the fact of the matter is you cannot drink your way out of a heat stroke, but you can drink your self to death from hyponatremia. So that message needs to shift.

Speaker 8: 10:55 There may not be a way to greatly reduce the number of mild heat illness cases. Troops have to train in the conditions they may fight in, but Gaylor and Groot say the center has some straightforward goals, no more deaths,

Speaker 1: 11:08 no more deaths and address the misconceptions

Speaker 8: 11:13 and it has some lofty goals too, like becoming a research hub that advances medicine to benefit not only the military but anyone who might fall victim to heat from construction workers to high school football players at Fort Benning. This is Jay price.

Speaker 1: 11:29 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, salt, fat, acid, heat. Those are the four basic elements that can make or break a dish according to Simeon knows rad. It's also the title of her book and popular Netflix documentary series

Speaker 9: 11:54 knows rad is a chef teacher, New York times bestselling author and LA Jolla high school grad. She told midday edition host Maureen Cavenaugh how salt, fat, acid and heat contributes to food. So salt really his its main role is to enhance flavor and also it sometimes changes texture and improves texture and food. So when something is salted properly, it just tastes more like itself. All the way through. The difference you can think of is like a chicken breast that my baby has salt only on the skin versus one that's been salted in advance and the salt has had time to go all the way through. So every bite tastes perfectly seasoned fat is um, is whereas salt is a flavor enhancer. Fat is really an incredible sort of um, way to transmit flavors and it's also its own source of flavor, which you can think of like the difference between the way butter tastes or the way oil tastes.

Speaker 9: 12:52 So fat determines the flavor that like a culture uses. You know, in India people use G in um, Southeast Asia, people use a lot of coconut oil in of course the Mediterranean people use all of oil. So if that's what you want your food to taste like, start with, with that fat. Fat also determines texture. Things like crispness and creaminess and flaky or tenderness and a pie crust and lightness like whipped cream. All of those things come from using fat in the right way. Acid is a flavor sort of balancer. And you know, you can think of that in terms of sometimes some things like in San Diego it's just like you might get a burrito and it needs salsa and it needs a little squeeze of lime on that fish taco. And that's what balances all of the saltiness and the richness is, it sort of creates this incredible contrast that's so enjoyable for us to eat.

Speaker 9: 13:54 And heat is just how we cook. It's the actual source of heat, you know? And basically the simplest way to think about it is that there's two sort of levels of heat. It's not all of these individual degrees on the oven. It's, there's like hot and fast and there's low and slow. And once you understand what your food wants for what texture you want and what final result you want, you can apply that. And it can happen over a grill. It can happen in an oven, it can happen in a stove, you know, it could happen outside when you're camping. And so it doesn't matter so much the source of heat as it does the level of heat. So once you understand that you can do anything now. So I mean, when you were growing up in San Diego, was food and cooking a big part of your upbringing?

Speaker 9: 14:42 Well, I wasn't going gang. My mom was cooking and she is an extraordinary cook. My family is from Iran and my mom really, I always joke that we spent 40% of our childhood, me and my brothers in the back of our Volvo station wagon driving all around San Diego looking for like the very best ingredients. We'd go to North park grocery for, you know, all sorts of different herbs. And we'd go to the co-op in, in um, ocean beach for the best, you know, like fresh produce that my mom could find and we'd go to the Persian groceries for all of this special ingredients, the fed, the cheeses and the breads. And so my mom was really spending almost all of her time shopping for and cooking really beautiful traditional Persian food. And me and my brothers mostly just ate it. We ate it and we loved eating it.

Speaker 9: 15:32 But my parents really wanted us to go to school and get good grades and sort of like, you know, my parents were immigrants and they wanted their kids to be better and have a better life. So my mom didn't encourage us into the kitchen very much. Some he knows red is the author of salt, fat acid, heat and host of the Netflix series with the same name. She'll be sitting down and talking with KCRW and in Kleeman at Balboa theater this evening. 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.