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Advocates See Room For Improvement In San Diego’s ‘Placemaking’ Program And More Local News

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San Diego City Council members last year approved a new placemaking program meant to encourage small-scale community beautification projects. Hear how advocates and critics say the program is doing. And, local firefighting crews were on high alert Thursday, while utility officials shut off power to nearly 8,000 East County homes and businesses in a bid to prevent wildfires. Plus, Mexican officials are seeking help from the United State to reduce gun trafficking across the border. Finally, a look into Robert Eggers new horror film,“The Lighthouse.”

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 It's Friday, October 25th I'm Pria. Sure. There. And you're listening to San Diego news matters from KPBS coming up. Cal fire increases staffing as San Diego remains under a red flag warning for dangerous fire conditions and efforts to streamline community beautification projects are bearing fruit in San Diego neighborhoods. We're talking about giving the communities enough tools so they can create and enhance their own communities. That and more San Diego new stories coming up. Thank you for joining us for San Diego news matters. I'm Priya. Sure. Either firefighters and El Cahone were making last minute checks of all their firefighting equipment on Thursday. Red flag warnings in San Diego continue today as fire risk remains high. KPBS reporter Eric Anderson has details for [inaudible].

Speaker 2: 00:50 Crews want to make sure they're ready. If called upon to battle wildfires that could pop up during the Santa Ana event. Cal fires, Thomas chutes says all locally based fire crews are fully staffed and on alert.

Speaker 3: 01:03 We've added eight extra engine throughout the County. We've added hand crews, dozers and a overhead to help support that. Um, just to make sure that, uh, you know, if we see a situation like we did an in Oh three and Oh seven where we have multiple fires burning, that we still have resources to send out

Speaker 2: 01:19 the Cedar fire in 2003 and the witch Creek fire in 2007 were two of the largest and most damaging wildfires to hit San Diego County. Both ignited and took off during a late October Santa Ana wind condition, Eric Anderson KPBS news,

Speaker 1: 01:36 Robert Eggers scored a hit with his debut film. The which he returns to as new England haunts for this year is the lighthouse KPBS film critic Beth Armando says it's every bit as good as his first felt. Robert Eggers makes films that transport you to a different place in time in the, which she was new England in the 1630s and now he takes us to an 1890s new England Island where two men keep a lighthouse [inaudible] in China.

Speaker 4: 02:10 [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 02:11 Matt,

Speaker 5: 02:12 the idea was to do a create a ghost story and a lighthouse didn't end up being a ghost story. It ended up being something more strange. But it was that concept and then the black and white atmosphere, the black and white, crusty, dusty, rusty must be atmosphere of of this nautical world with cable, mixed Guernsey sweaters and cool stumpy clay pipes in salt Cod. That was a world we wanted to explore.

Speaker 1: 02:37 Writer, director Robert Eggers makes films that pushed the boundaries of how we define horror. There are no conventional horror beats or scares you. His films are filled with a sense of dread created by his use of light shot composition, meticulous sound design and perfectly pitched performances. The lighthouse is one of the best films of the year and quite simply a masterfully work of art that's like Amando KPBS news. Mexico is looking for help from the country that supplies the vast majority of the guns used by its criminal cartels. The United States KPBS reporter max Revlon Adler tells us how Mexico is trying to get the U S to stop the flow of guns South.

Speaker 6: 03:17 Following a high profile cartel related shootout last week, the two countries have agreed to step up enforcement as part of an effort called operation frozen. The effort will increase southbound inspections of cars at the border looking for guns. Earlier this year, new southbound booths were added to the San and seizure port of entry to allow for enhanced inspections. On Thursday, the booths were staffed during the morning rush hour as officers inspected southbound cars but were left vacant just a few hours later. F need as a professor at the university of San Diego who studies violence and peace building in Mexico, they really look like it was mostly us

Speaker 7: 03:51 symbolic gesture because I have to say most of the time you go through there, the southbound inspection is irregular at best, so there's not a lot of inspection there

Speaker 6: 03:59 in a statement. Customs and border protection told KPBS that southbound inspections are done when resources permit and they're designed to be unexpected. Max with Lynn Adler, K PBS news,

Speaker 1: 04:10 dozens of mayors from throughout Mexico tried to push for an audience with the president instead. Tear gas was used to repel them from KJ zzz Frontera Spiro in Mexico city, Rodrigo Cervantes reports

Speaker 8: 04:23 the mayors are not affiliated with the president's party. They claim that the federal budget is insufficient for their communities and could damage their economies. The mayor's gathered in front of Mexico's national palace and requested an audience with precedent and that is my NOI, Lopez Obrador, which was denied after the mayor's try to break into the building. Police used tear gas forcing them to leave.

Speaker 7: 04:42 Got it. I'm just having, I think that is it. [inaudible]

Speaker 8: 04:46 that's Lopez Obrador saying that the mayors have the right to protest, but his government needs to avoid violence. The president has been criticized for allowing the use of tear gas while vandalism has been tolerated and other demonstrations that mayors are continuing their protests at the Mexican Congress. I'm Rodrigo Cervantes in Mexico city

Speaker 1: 05:04 last year, San Diego changed its laws to encourage placemaking. That's an urban planning term that describes temporary changes to public space, like installing benches, tables or planner boxes to create a sense of place and community KPBS Metro reporter Andrew Bowen says, advocates are embracing the reforms but still want to see some improvements.

Speaker 7: 05:26 Oh, I know that you call it. It's a hot afternoon and five men are sitting in the shade of some eucalyptus trees at a new gathering space in city Heights. [inaudible] they're playing the do a board game that's popular in East Africa. One year ago, the nonprofit city Heights community development corporation installed the benches and tables here at 50th and university. Since then, it's become a popular gathering space for the neighborhood Somali.

Speaker 9: 05:57 And when you see people here, there's a lot more dignity brought to the community.

Speaker 7: 06:02 Anesthesia Brewster's spearheaded this project which was approved under the city's new placemaking ordinance. She says when the community first approached the city with its idea, there wasn't any formal process tailored to small and simple projects like this one.

Speaker 9: 06:16 It would have had to go through and typical development permit, which would have been upwards of $20,000 to insult picnic benches on city owned right away. And that was completely out of our budget. Um, and also just frankly not fair and inaccessible.

Speaker 7: 06:35 The permit under the new placemaking program cost only $1,500 in city Heights. CDC got reimbursed under a city grant program. Brewster says the city does celebrate these kinds of projects and recognizes their value, but she adds the process could still be simpler. Her team had to hire a consultant to help with paperwork and the decided not to include art in the project to avoid an extra bureaucratic hurdle.

Speaker 9: 07:01 The way that the current code is written, it doesn't allow for art to be installed in a place making project without a secondary permit through our commission for arts and culture. And that is just another hurdle to just very simple community driven work, which I think that with a creative solution we could, we could change that.

Speaker 7: 07:22 Elizabeth Studebaker oversees placemaking in the city's economic development department in the year and a half since the ordinance was okayed, three placemaking projects have been approved, another four are in progress. Studebaker says the city will be studying the ordinances effectiveness, but that the application process is the way it is for a reason. Most of that review process is ensuring that the applicants have a plan and they can tell us what materials they're using and they can tell us what the design is going to be before we do the ministerial issuance of a permit. That's all that review is, is like, okay, we understand you want to do something. Give us the detail.

Speaker 10: 08:04 We're talking about giving the communities enough tools so they can create and enhance their own community.

Speaker 7: 08:11 Barry Pollard is executive director of the nonprofit urban collaborative project. Four years ago, his group attempted a placemaking project at the blighted intersection of Euclid and Imperial in Lincoln park installing benches and planter boxes, but city officials ordered them removed saying he hadn't secured the proper permits.

Speaker 10: 08:31 When you get to the engineers, it's no, you can't do this. Nope, can't do this. You need this for a permit. You can't, and as I left, every time I felt defeated,

Speaker 7: 08:42 the ordeal kickstarted the creation of the city's placemaking ordinance. Pollard ended up turning his efforts to a vacant lot, one block away. It's now a community gathering space, which Pollard says has empowered Lincoln park community.

Speaker 11: 08:56 This has been a traumatized community. So things like this is what makes them feel better about themselves and gets the families involved in it.

Speaker 1: 09:06 With only three permits issued so far, Pollard says he'd like to see the city do more outreach to encourage placemaking. And do you want city officials to see the successful projects in person so they can more deeply understand their value? Andrew Bowen KPBS news. The crossover by Kwame Alexander was chosen as KPBS is one book for teens. The novel is composed of free verse in poetry and it tells the story of two basketball playing brothers and their family. Alexander told KPBS news anchor Maya treble. See how he uses poetry to attract reluctant readers.

Speaker 11: 09:42 Let's talk about reading. I have a ravenous reader, but I also have another child who, forgive the pun, uses every excuse in the book not to read. Right. What advice would you give to a parent who is suffering the same as I am?

Speaker 12: 09:55 Books or amusement parks [inaudible] and sometimes you gotta let kids choose the rides. It's not about getting a kid to read the book we think they want to read. Find the book that's gonna connect with them, find out what about that book is going to make that kid feel engaged, inspired, empowered. My parents, well my mother got it. My father didn't get it. My father made me read his dissertations, his college dissertations and he made me read books in the dictionary and the encyclopedia. And I had teachers like that and I just think, you know, adults, parents, teachers, librarians, educators. We got to help kids find those books that are not just going to make them read but make them want to read. And that requires us to know our kids. Do they play basketball? Are they into gaming? Um, do they like flowers? Do they like birds? Do they like animals dogs? And find those books that are going to have some of those themes, those topics that are going to make them feel sort of cool

Speaker 11: 10:50 and want to read more. Want to read more. And your book, the crossover, it's part of KPBS is one book for teens and it's a new [inaudible]. It's got a really unique narration style where you use long form poetry. Tell us about how that nuance storytelling draws people in.

Speaker 12: 11:08 Um, I think poetry is rhythmic. It's concise, it's short. And to the point you talk about sort of really heavy things and you can do it in a few words. There's a lot of white space. And so even the most reluctant of readers can say, well, I can get through that. I can make it through that. It's not intimidating to the eye. I think poetry builds confidence. I think it triggers voice. Um, I found poetry. My mother read to me a lot of poetry growing up. Um, it's, it's how I learned how to communicate. If you think about it, my, it's how most of us learn how to communicate when we're little speaking, listening, um, reading and writing by the lullabies and the nursery rhymes and that kind of thing. I think where I finally realized that poetry was the thing that I wanted to do to be a part of. I was in college. I met this girl and she was beautiful and I wanted to let her know that, but I was kind of shy. So I wrote her a poem. Lips like yours ought to be worship. See, I ain't never been too religious, but you can baptize me anytime.

Speaker 11: 12:07 And she ended up marrying me. Poetry works and works and works well. That's a great story. Tell us about your regular contributions to NPRs morning edition and you introduced the idea of crowdsourced poetry. What is that exactly?

Speaker 12: 12:24 Martin and I came up with this idea that we can, you know, help Americans through this sort of trying period that we've been in that has proven very stressful, not only for the adults but for the kids and how do we find our way, you know, to a place of peace, of calm in the midst of a world that may not be so beautiful sometimes. And I posited that poetry can be that bridge that allows us to crossover into becoming more human. And so we thought, well, we'll introduce poetry and we'll not just read poetry or share poetry or talk about the origins of a poem, but we'll sort of, you know, model how a poem can become a center for community.

Speaker 11: 13:06 I'd like to talk about the crossover, which is the book that we're using here at KPBS to get kids into reading. What would they love about this book?

Speaker 12: 13:14 Wow. I think every kid has some relationship to basketball. They either play it, they know somebody who plays it, they watch it, you know? So the, so there's already that connection. And I think that what I tried to do in the crossover is used basketball as a metaphor for our lives. And I think if a kid, you know, hears or reads dribble fake shoot, miss dribble, fake shoot, miss dribble, fake shoot, miss dribble, fake shoot, swish, I think they're going to get it. And that's what I want. I want kids to come away from this book thinking, yeah, I get it. I gotta say yes to life. I got to treasure my family. I gotta be a star in my mind and I got to let it shine.

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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.