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San Diego's Climate Crisis: The Risks And Costs Of Living In The Backcountry And More Local News

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Climate change is impacting us here and now. In KPBS’s coverage of San Diego’s Climate Change Crisis, we profile a couple who lost their home to wildfire but rebuilt in the same place. Plus, a new bill passed by the California legislature last week bans the use of private prisons and detention centers. For San Diego, that could mean finding a different place to keep more than a thousand detained migrants.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 It's Monday, September 16th I'm Deb Welsh and you're listening to San Diego news matters from KPBS coming up. A new bill passed by the state legislature bans the use of privately run prisons and detention centers in California and the effects of climate change have arrived in San Diego. Raj and Shu level will take a chronic problem and see how bad it can get that at war right after the break.

Speaker 2: 00:33 Thank you for joining us for San Diego News Matters. I'm Deb Welsh. I knew bill passed by the state legislature last week bans the use of privately run prisons and detention centers in the state. KPBS reporter Max Revlon Adler explains that this includes facilities being used by immigration and customs enforcement, which detain over a thousand immigrants in San Diego and imperial counties.

Speaker 3: 00:57 There are four large detention centers that are privately run for immigration detainees across the state. They can hold up to 4,500 people at a time. One of the largest is run by the company, core civic in Oti Mesa. It can hold up to 1500 people and it's currently in the midst of an expansion under the new law. A facility like this would no longer be allowed to extend their contracts to operate within the state. Immigration advocates applauded the bill. Jackie Gonzales is the policy director for California collaborative for immigrant justice, which helped push for the bill. She believes that the increased attention of immigrants is driven by profit motive.

Speaker 4: 01:33 The tension nationwide is at an all time high because one of the principle factors is the financial incentive, uh, to detain immigrants.

Speaker 3: 01:41 Advocates believe that instead of shifting detainees to government run facilities, ice could simply release them like many other immigrants facing possible deportation. In a statement, a spokesperson for core civic told KPBS that the company helps relieve the strain of a large detention population on local governments. And that quote attempt to eliminate options for other governments in crisis are misguided. Isis current contract with core civic and Oh Thai Mesa expires in 2023 Max within Adler k PBS news

Speaker 2: 02:11 this week. Media organizations across the world, including KPBS, are telling stories about climate change. We're focusing our coverage on people directly impacted by a changing climate and that is especially true of the younger generation today we'll hear from 15 year old Encinitas residents, Talia miracle in her own words

Speaker 1: 02:32 with the way that the oceans are headed and the climate is headed, which is scary because we want to think we have the same opportunities that every generation before us has had. But at this point we don't, and I'm fortunate to be in a generation where we're so active and engaged in the community and how we can make a change, but it's scary to think that it's not beneficial to have a family anymore and it's not beneficial to live the same convenient lifestyle that we've spent so much time trying to develop. So yeah, it's definitely always on the back burner. Whatever I'm doing.

Speaker 2: 03:08 That interview was produced by reporter Claire [inaudible], the real estate website. Zillow is launching a program that offers to buy homes directly from sellers. KPBS is Sarah Katsuyama says this program is already in 16 other markets. San Diego is the newest market for this instant buying program called Zillow offer. Homeowners can go on the website, answer a few questions, and within two days receive a no obligation offer. The seller can then pick a closing date within five to 90 days. Mural Kobek from SDSU and bottom line marketing told KPBS at the program's fee is a little higher than what you would typically pay a real estate agent, but it covers cleaning and repairs. So on

Speaker 5: 03:51 broker commission, which is around five to 6%, they're going to charge seven and a half percent, but the, the fact is that you get a guaranteed offer right now and they're gonna pay you market rate for your [inaudible]

Speaker 2: 04:01 home. COPEC said that the program works best for people who need to sell their home quickly or can't afford to make home repairs. Sarah [inaudible] k PBS news. San Diego is entering settlement talks over a two year old lawsuit challenging the law, restricting where sex offenders can live. KPBS Metro reporter Andrew Bowen says, the plaintiffs have the upper hand. The California Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that law's placing broad restrictions on where sex offenders can live are unconstitutional. Such law as increased the risk of homelessness, the court rules preventing sex offenders from getting help. Many cities statewide repealed their laws after the ruling, but San Diego did not and was promptly sued. A judge has ordered both sides to talk about a possible settlement next month on Tuesdays, city council members will debate in closed session how to proceed. Andrew Bowen, k PBS news. Diversionary theater kicked off its 34 season over the weekend with the play girlfriend KPBS arts reporter Beth like Amando previews of the show with artistic director Matt Morrow. Since 1986 diversionary theater has been showcasing plays for the LGBTQ community in San Diego. Executive artistic director, Matt Morrow says the theme of this new season is we are, and it's about exploring the identity of everyone in the LGBTQ community and leaning into the conversation around gender and gender nonconformity. But to open the season, Mara went with a musical that looks back to the 90s girlfriend by Todd Almond and Matthew Sweet.

Speaker 5: 05:37 It's a jukebox musical, but it's, it tells an original story of these two young men graduating from high school in 1993 and I'm slowly falling in love with each other and what that means in the 90s and what that means when you're 18 years old and looking at the rest of your life and determining who are and who you want to be and navigating that really tricky road of identity. And I feel like it's just a really bright, powerful and optimistic way into our 34th season here at diversionary.

Speaker 2: 06:12 Girlfriend runs through October 13th at diversionary theater, Beth Mondo KPBS news. When many of us think of climate change, we still think of polar bears and the year 2100 things far away and long into the future, but climate change is impacting us here and now. This week, KPBS is joining hundreds of news organizations from across the globe to bring home the urgent need to confront the realities of a warming planet. Today KPBS environment reporter Eric Anderson provides a glimpse of how the climate crisis touches different corners in the San Diego region.

Speaker 6: 06:49 The threat of wildfire is a fact of life in San Diego. But a fire season that used to spend the late summer and early fall is now year round. That means bigger risks and higher costs for people like Amy Quinlan who makes the back country or home.

Speaker 5: 07:03 So, uh, we kind of during the dry season have to kind of get up during the night and go outside and check and see if there's anything. So, um, paying attention to what's happening, always, always kind of in the back of your mind.

Speaker 6: 07:17 This mindset is the new normal says David Victor or UC San Diego professor and an expert on climate change policy. The protective measures we take to protect structures, houses in the middle of the forest, um, communities that have been burned, uh, protect them against, uh, against future fires that might involve simple things like much bigger firebreaks. It might involve much more active identification of fires early on. And then next thing you know, you're in effect managing the entire, at least woody ecosystem because of your concerns about fire.

Speaker 7: 07:52 [inaudible]

Speaker 6: 07:52 when Pine Valley Resident Major Robert Langston signed up for California is Army National Guard. He knew his duties would include dealing with the impacts of fire. He didn't know it would be almost his entire job. Men and women with the guard are not only deployed to manage evacuations during wildfires, they're now fighting fires and building firebreaks.

Speaker 5: 08:13 Our level of support has been increasing. We're providing more support to uh, especially while on fire. So from a firefighter perspective, I mean, you know, for whatever reason, yeah, fires are getting more and more intense.

Speaker 7: 08:26 [inaudible]

Speaker 6: 08:26 San Diego counties, climate change impacts don't end at the forest edge. They're also felt up and down the coast. Carlsbad's aqua farm is a small hatchery that's been selling oysters and mussels to restaurants for 50 years. Production manager, Matt Stinky says acidification caused by warming oceans devastated the industry a decade ago

Speaker 5: 08:47 when ocean acidification hit the Pacific northwest. Um, they were reporting a 90 to 95% failure and their normal production. And you ended up with

Speaker 8: 08:56 a lot of farmers who had open space to grow things and they were unable to buy seed. And that problem persisted for a few years.

Speaker 6: 09:03 The threat is becoming more dire. Dan Kn, a researcher with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography says the warmer water is in essence choking off the food supply or warmer. The oceans get, uh, the less oxygen it can, can, uh, accommodate and, uh, low oxygen is, is not good in general for ecosystems at the southern edge of the county in Imperial Beach, the urgency is sea level rise. Coastal flooding is something California is beach community has always dealt with, but sea level rise expert Robert Goosy says it's getting worse. Rising sea level will take a chronic problem, shortage of sand and see how bad it can get by just flooding the beaches on top of it that are already sand starved. Imperial Beach Lifeguard, Captain Robert Stave now grew up surfing in IBS waves. Now it's his job to protect residents and property when waves Washington to city street

Speaker 8: 10:06 climate change that they've been talking about it for the last, yeah, five, 10 years, you know, when you've been here. And more and more about possible climate change and sea level rise and [inaudible]. And now we're actually seeing the impacts. Um, it's real.

Speaker 6: 10:22 As these stories unfold, it'll become even more apparent that San Diego is in the grips of a climate crisis. Eric Anderson KPBS news

Speaker 2: 10:31 stay with KPBS throughout the week as we chronicle the climate challenges facing all of us. You can find our stories on San Diego is climate crisis at kpbs.org/climate higher temperatures mean less snow pack in California's forest and they're drier for longer. Scientists agree, this chain reaction begins with climate change and ends with an increased wildfire danger. As part of our week long series on San Diego's climate crisis. KPBS reporter Clared Tresor visited a Ramona couple who lost their home to fire in the past, but they're committed to staying.

Speaker 8: 11:08 That wind hit us, uh, at about 120 miles per hour. Wind with fire.

Speaker 2: 11:15 Pete Beauregard squints in the morning sun as he thinks back to October 22nd, 2007

Speaker 8: 11:22 and it came head on and it was like a blowtorch. It just cut, uh, everything to the ground. It was a two story house.

Speaker 2: 11:33 His home in Ramona burnt down in the witch creek fire, which spurred half a million evacuations and destroyed more than 1000 homes.

Speaker 8: 11:42 The fire was so hot that, you know, after we went in and uh, we, you know, we saw our granite counters on the ground. We could, like, I tried to pick it up and it just crumbled in my hand

Speaker 2: 11:53 despite their

Speaker 8: 11:54 devastating loss. Beauregard and his wife, Amy McQuillan loved the back country too much to leave it. They built a new home right next to the spot where their old one burned down. All right, well, I love this place. It's like Amy says, it's spiritual. I mean, I put a lot of my life into it. You know, a lot of tragedy, a lot of great times, you know, here,

Speaker 2: 12:16 but they have paid a high price for staying in a home that's so special to them. In 2007, their insurance was around $1,500 a year. Last year it was $55,000 a year. A warming world has made life become much more expensive for a lot of people in rural areas susceptible to fires. That includes insurance and other costs. Says David Victor, a climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Speaker 6: 12:46 The protective measures we take to protect structures, houses in the middle of the forest, um, communities that have been burned, uh, protect them against, uh, against future fires that might involve simple things like much bigger firebreaks. It might involve much more active identification of fires early on. And then next thing you know, you're in effect managing the entire, at least woody ecosystem because of your concerns about fire.

Speaker 2: 13:11 He says in the future, the back country might end up like the coast affordable to only a few.

Speaker 6: 13:17 I think some people who live in that environment are willing to spend huge resources to protect themselves with bigger firebreaks with different kinds of materials with private, uh, fire services, which are now emerging, including connected to the insurance industry. And so if you're willing to pay for it, I think people could actually last a long time out in that environment.

Speaker 8: 13:38 We always still have to be on guard.

Speaker 2: 13:40 Thomas shoots is a spokesman for cal fire. He says fire season used to be just that a season. Now it's basically year-round.

Speaker 8: 13:49 We saw that the Thomas fire, um, we saw the lilac fire. These fires are, are happening. Um, uh, traditionally or you know, around the holidays

Speaker 2: 13:58 in the last year and a half, California has seen six of its 10 worst fires ever. And last year's fire season was the deadliest and most destructive on record. But the San Diego region hasn't seen a big fire since 2007 and shoots worries that could lead to complacency.

Speaker 8: 14:16 I hope it doesn't take a catastrophic fire to, to really drive it home.

Speaker 2: 14:20 But despite the risk shoots wouldn't say people like Pete and Amy should leave the back country

Speaker 8: 14:26 if they're willing to, to leave. Uh, when the time comes, then you know, they, they have the right to do what they want. Come this way, walk this way

Speaker 2: 14:37 back at home and Ramona, Pete and Amy cleared brush from around the house and made their home completely airtight. This helps keep it cool and Beauregard says protected, but they're airtight. Home creates additional worries. It's hard to hear or smell what's going on outside during the dry season. Have to kind of get up during the night and we go outside and check and see if there's anything. It's always, always kind of in the back of your mind. Clare of Sir KPBS news tomorrow reporter Eric Anderson visits an oyster hatchery in Carlsbad that's battling the impacts of a warming ocean. You can find all of our stories at kpbs.org/climate change. 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.