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Millions In Road Repair Revenue Stays Unspent In San Diego And Other Local News

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Speaker 1: 00:00 It's Wednesday, February 5th I'm Deb Welsh and you're listening to San Diego news matters from KPBS coming up. Millions in road repair revenue stays unspent in San Diego and lots of children in San Diego are still living well below the poverty line. There are neighborhoods where people would not assume that that child poverty and the experience of it would be happening that more coming up right after the break

Speaker 2: 00:29 [inaudible]

Speaker 3: 00:37 the California legislature passed a gas tax increase in 2017 ever wonder where those tax dollars are going. I knew source investigative reporter Mary Plummer finds much of the money for local roads, remains unspent, about $77 million sat untouched. That's the amount of gas tax revenue that sat idle across San Diego County as of the middle of last year. The money is for a local street improvement program funded by the gas tax increase under the program. Each city gets funding based on its population. We checked in with Chula Vista. So far it's used 25% from the first two fiscal years. City engineer bill Valley acknowledges the lag time

Speaker 4: 01:18 in terms of delivery. I mean I always wish we could deliver projects faster, but there is a process to follow

Speaker 3: 01:24 steps like planning, designing and putting projects out to bid for KPBS. I am a news source investigative reporter, Mary Plummer to see a list of gas tax spending in the County. Go to, I knew source.org I knew sources and independently funded nonprofit partner of KPBS. The Corona virus is continuing to dominate headlines across the world. KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman tells us some Asian businesses in San Diego say they're hurting because of it.

Speaker 5: 01:54 Do not let social media do not let rumors turn into stereotypes. Turn into bigotry. San Diego city Councilman Chris Cate and County supervisor, Nathan Fletcher, joint agent business and community leaders in the convoy district who say local Asian restaurants are hurting because of the coronavirus Jason patio with the Asian business association of San Diego says restaurants aren't seeing as many customers and people are acting inappropriately

Speaker 6: 02:19 and we've heard this a lot of inflammatory comments and things that are just untrue. The virus itself, I mean any virus knows no ethnic boundaries. Right. And I think that's part of the issue is that it's unfairly [inaudible] in our community just because it originated in an Asian country. So I think that as part of the struggle and being able to communicate to people, because there are no known cases here,

Speaker 5: 02:39 the owner of Jasmine restaurant says his customers have been understanding, but as business has dropped around 25% Matt Hoffman, K PBS news,

Speaker 3: 02:47 a new advertising campaign is urging people in cold weather regions to say no to winter and move to San Diego. KPB reporter, Prius Sri. There has more. The ads launched in like Boston, Chicago and New York carry cabbage with the San Diego tourism authority says one of the goals is to attract tech workers to this region.

Speaker 1: 03:08 So San Diego is like every other city in the United States where we're all competing for visitors. We're also all competing for talent, especially STEM talent. So we have an amazing business community that's here and amazing tourism community that's here and everyone is looking for an opportunity to grow the economic impact and benefit of their industry sectors.

Speaker 3: 03:29 The advertising is also being launched in Canada and the United Kingdom Prius Sri, their KPBS news, the push to expand the San Diego convention center has amassed more than $2 million in donations ahead of March. Primary KPBS reporter Eric Anderson has the story

Speaker 7: 03:47 measure C calls for an increase in the city's hotel room tax raising billions of dollars. The money will be used for a huge convention center expansion, homeless programs and street repairs. San Diego mayor Kevin Faulkner is a major supporters. So as the regions tourism industry, supporters have amassed more than two point $2 million since January of last year to get the measure passed. The Marriott, Hilton and Manchester grand Hyatt are the three biggest donors to the yes for a better San Diego campaign. The hotel companies near the convention center property have combined to contribute more than half of the money backing the initiative. There is no organized opposition. Measure C requires a two thirds vote to pass at the polls because it raises taxes for a specific purpose. Eric Anderson KPBS news.

Speaker 3: 04:36 15 million ballots have been mailed to California voters in advance of the March 3rd presidential primary, but not all of the counties are handling the election in the same way. CAPP radio is Bob Moffitt reports.

Speaker 5: 04:50 Teen counties are now following the voter's choice act. That means every voter receives a postage paid ballot and the male can vote immediately after receiving it and can cast a ballot at any vote center in the County. The other 43 counties still rely on neighborhood precincts and vote by mail. Ballots have requested secretary of state, Alex Padilla says a relatively new state law should help produce faster results and fewer provisional ballots for people with registration issues. Because same day registration will be available at every point place and at every vote center. There is still concern over the no party preference registrations that don't affect off your elections, but do come into play every four years when people receive ballots with no presidential candidates on them. The secretary of state has sent notifications to everyone registered as no party preference, but Kim Alexander, what the nonprofit California voter foundation says, it's likely some people didn't get the message

Speaker 8: 05:41 as if you are a no party preference voter and you didn't get that postcard in the mail. You don't want to find out the night before that you don't have the candidate on your ballot and you want to vote for. So even if you didn't want to vote right now, open your ballot envelope as soon as it arrives.

Speaker 5: 05:54 80% of eligible voters are now registered. That's the highest

Speaker 3: 05:58 percentage since 1952 on Bob Moffitt in Sacramento. San Diego is one of the 43 counties that still have neighborhood precincts and mail in voting by request. San Diego is known to be in a fluid region, but some children are still living well below the poverty line. Even in neighborhoods considered to be high end KPBS anchor [inaudible] talked with the director of a local organization trying to end child poverty in every neighborhood.

Speaker 1: 06:27 Aaron, thank you so much for joining me. Thank you so much for having me. So research is showing that San Diego families are struggling and more specifically the basic needs of some children are not being met. Can you talk to us about what the current state of child poverty is here in San Diego County? Yes. So in San Diego County, 40% of children are children under 12 are living in homes that are at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. And what that means is a family of four struggling to make ends meet and under $27,000 a year. Uh, and so what we're really looking at is that, uh, inability to make ends meet in terms of actual income also, uh, makes it impossible for kids to have access to healthy food, uh, stable housing, accessible healthcare and reliable and quality childcare and early education. You know, that really is a huge number.

Speaker 1: 07:21 Um, tell us about the San Diego for every child. What can the coalition do to help reduce the child poverty in the County? So San Diego for every child is a coalition of organizations, nonprofits, um, businesses, uh, community members, leaders, advocates, anyone who really cares about making a difference for children that are, that are in families struggling to make ends meet here in Sandy, in the region of San Diego. And what we're really looking to do is how can we come together as a community and say, we're not gonna, we're not gonna allow for our, nearly half, 40% of our kids across the community are not having those basic needs met. So how can we come together as a community to not only figure out how we support families, uh, very directly, but also work to make sure that the systems and structures are in place, that all of the kids across San Diego County, no matter what region they're living in or the income of their family, have those basic needs met.

Speaker 1: 08:17 Because truly it's beyond just food. It is services, it's time. It's, it's things that families need more of. Exactly. And that means making hard choices between things like paying rent or medical bills or childcare. And what we're really trying to do is figure out how do we work as a, as a community first and foremost, to get as involved as possible, learn about the issue and become aware. And then from there really make sure that our systems, so, um, you know, housing assistance, uh, and food assistance and childcare assistance and health care all working together to make sure that we're supporting our families. Um, and in particular our children the best that we possibly can. Let's talk about your website for a moment. Uh, obviously you go on the website, you can see the statistics and the research. Um, it's an interactive website as well.

Speaker 1: 09:06 You can actually go in there and hover on certain communities. What have you found that's really surprising in your research were we were really shocked actually when we finally put the data on the map that there are neighborhoods where people would not assume that that child poverty and the experience of it would be happening. Um, there's a neighborhood in LA Jolla, for example, that has 67% of families experiencing child poverty. Um, Poway and, and Carlsbad have neighborhoods that are over 50%. Um, true. LA Vista has a, has a neighborhood that's 75%. Um, and then of course there are also neighborhoods that have over 90%. And so really what we're encouraging people to do is visit the website, take a look at your own community and, and, um, you know, join this effort, uh, and then be an advocate for how we make sure that resources are being shared equitably and that we're really supporting families across our community. And I think what's important to notice that these numbers are reversible. They are, if there's absolutely, um, we can absolutely make a difference here. And if we work together as a community and as a service sector, we can absolutely get there. And, and, and child poverty in California and in San Diego. Aaron Hoka. Boom. Thank you so very much. Thank you so much.

Speaker 9: 10:18 For more information about San Diego, for every child, visit our website, kpbs.org community activist, Tasha Williamson is running for San Diego mayor with Malin voting starting this week and primary election day on March 3rd. KPBS is speaking with the top four candidates for San Diego. Mayor Williamson, a Democrat told KPBS midday additional host Jade Hindman that while she may not have experience in elected office, she has a voice in the community. I want to be San Diego mayor because I want a corruption free city. I want to end homelessness. I want to make sure that people understand. A mayor does not have to be, uh, someone who is wealthy. Uh, someone who is middle class that, uh, people who qualify to do the job of the mayor, uh, should come from all walks of life, uh, should have all different types of diverse cultural backgrounds, uh, and that we can have a city that believes in everyone.

Speaker 9: 11:17 How does your experience as a community activist and organizer translate into the job of mayor? I have experience in creating real budgets and I have experienced and making sure that, uh, the right people are hired, uh, for the right job so that they can, uh, get the work done. If you were elected, what sort of solutions would you propose to address the homeless crisis? So we already have, uh, four cities that have ended homelessness. One of the things that I want to look at is built zero, uh, built zero has been, uh, one of the things that has assisted with, uh, the four cities in, uh, or at least three of the four cities, uh, in ending homelessness. I want to dive more into that. Uh, I want to make sure that we're putting people into permanent housing, not temporary shelters and transitional housing that has been ineffective and has wasted a lot of money.

Speaker 3: 12:11 However, when you have homeless camps around the city, is there any room for increased enforcement?

Speaker 9: 12:17 I don't think that for someone who has dealt with police in the levels that I have dealt with police, that police should be used, uh, to criminalize the poor. I think if we go back and we look at how that has been used, uh, we've wasted money. We've placed them into a jail cell that costs us more money, and then we have the highest in custody death. Uh, and so I don't think that criminalizing people in arresting them and putting them in jail, it has helped.

Speaker 3: 12:51 You've been critical of the San Diego police department and you're not a fan of chief Nez light, what would you change about the department and how would you go about doing that?

Speaker 9: 13:00 The first change would be chief, his light. Uh, he is, uh, a chief who was a assistant chief before he became chief. He was a part of, uh, the disproportionate rate of stops. Um, he believes in the, uh, chokehold uh, or carotid restraint as they call it. Uh, I questioned his ability to understand cultural diversity, uh, because he hasn't readily admitted that there is a problem within his own department. So his time is, uh, one of the things I want to do for the police department is called it's police reform. Looking at, uh, the police records of all officers, uh, and making sure that we don't have rogue officers. We don't have Klansmen. Uh, in our SDPD,

Speaker 3: 13:46 the latest San Diego union Tribune, two news poll shows you're behind what's less than 5% support among likely voters. And when you look at the latest fundraising data, you're struggling there too with no cash on hand. How do you plan to get around?

Speaker 9: 14:00 Yeah, so it's pretty hard. I'm a brand new, a person stepping into the race and, um, I don't take it lightly. And as the outreach has just been, uh, connecting with people, uh, doing it in a very different way, in a, in a grassroots way, uh, getting close to the people where they are, uh, and making sure that they know me. Showing up at the forums, showing up at, uh, stores, parking lots in the streets and neighborhoods, um, making sure that I get, uh, everywhere I can. I'm one person. Uh, I don't have one point $5 million. I don't have $500,000, but I am the realist candidate, uh, and the candidate that is educating, uh, the community everywhere I go. That was Tasha Williamson,

Speaker 3: 14:46 who's running for San Diego mayor. Tomorrow we conclude our series of interviews, the candidates for mayor when we speak with Todd Gloria

Speaker 2: 15:00 [inaudible].

Speaker 3: 15:00 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.

Speaker 2: 15:21 [inaudible].

About $77 million from the 2017 California gas tax increase remains untouched in San Diego County. Plus, big hotels on the San Diego bayfront are making big donations to the campaign for Measure C. And a new marketing ad for San Diego is trying to attract both tourists and high tech workers.

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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.