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San Onofre Decommissioning Begins And Other Local News

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The twin domes of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station will be scrapped and hauled away. Plus, the future of the iconic Ken Theater in Kensington comes into question as Landmark won’t renew its lease. And Hep C is a serious problem in San Diego’s homeless community.

Speaker 1: 00:00 It's Tuesday, February 25th I'm Deb Welsh and you're listening to San Diego news matters from KPBS coming up. The project to dismantle the San Onofre nuclear power plant is officially underway and the VA discovered the connection between veterans and gambling addiction before anyone else, but treatment's been a long, slow process.

Speaker 2: 00:21 There's not a substance attached to it. There is no drug, there is no bottle

Speaker 1: 00:26 that more coming up right after the break, the project to dismantle the San Onofre nuclear power plant began on Monday, a small radioactive leak and his team generator in 2012 caused the plant to be taken offline and shut down the plants. Operator, Southern California Edison says the entire process may take eight years to complete. Ron Pontus is Edison's decommissioning environmental manager. He told KPBS mid day edition when the plant's defining domes are set to come down.

Speaker 2: 01:04 Yeah, that looks like a, based on our current schedule, 2024 2025 and that time frame, we would start taking those down. I think by 2026 they would be gone.

Speaker 1: 01:16 Construction waste that is contaminated with radiation will be taken to dump sites in Utah and Arizona. Meanwhile, the longterm storage on the plant spent nuclear fuel continues to be loaded into dry casks onsite. To hear the entire interview, listen to the midday edition podcast. A flight simulator used to help fight wildfires is on the list of projects that will remain in limbo. KPBS military reporter Steve Walsh says it's one of the projects that Trump administration put on a hold to expand the border wall.

Speaker 3: 01:49 The flight simulator for the California national guard was put on hold last year, used to train up pilots in the [inaudible] Jay in part to fight wildfires. It was originally scheduled to go online this September. According to a statement from the secretary of defense's office, none of the projects which lost funding in 2019 received authorization this year. You as representative Susan Davis, is a member of the house armed services committee.

Speaker 4: 02:16 We're left with really a a situation where the administration is controlling all of the defense budgets and they are a partner in this, but it is. They do not make all those decisions that Congress does by law.

Speaker 3: 02:30 The flight simulator and other projects are essentially canceled unless funding can be placed in a future budget. Steve Walsh KPBS news,

Speaker 1: 02:38 a new report from the County looks at nearly 250 cases of infectious diseases among people experiencing homelessness and chronic hepatitis C is one of the most prevalent KPBS reporter Taryn mento explains, healthcare workers are trying to get them into treatment, but barriers still need to be overcome. Hepatitis a hit the region a few years ago and killed 20 people. Most of them homeless but have a is vaccine preventable. Hepatitis C is not in a recent County report shows it too is prevalent among those without shelter. Dr Atala Tessier at llama Easter community health centers says the nonprofit has a mobile health unit to bring care to that population, but challenges still exist. We do a one time, um, screening for those patients and whenever they're screened we need to confirm that confirmation requires a physical visit, but thousands of its homeless patients aren't following through, even though the nonprofit will provide transportation. [inaudible] is part of a coalition working to address barriers like these with a hepatitis C elimination plan. The plan will go to the board of supervisors next month. Taryn mento KPBS news voters. Next week we'll decide on the fate of proposition 13 no, not that prop 13 KPBS education reporter Joe Hong explains the difference between California's famous property tax law and a new bond measure on the March ballot

Speaker 5: 04:06 in 1978 proposition 13 capped property taxes at 1% of a property's value, and in doing so radically changed how California's local governments are funded now more than four decades later, there's a new proposition 13 and it's causing some confusion. Susan Shelly is a vice president at the Howard Jarvis taxpayers association. She says the measure on the March primary ballot has nothing to do with the 1978 prop 13

Speaker 1: 04:31 it's randomly numbered proposition 13 what this is is a $15 billion bond measure for school construction projects and it also includes something that will raise property taxes and that adds to the confusion.

Speaker 5: 04:44 The 2020 prop 13 raises the limit of how much school districts can borrow and allows her property tax increases to pay off the debt. Shelly is against the measure, but even supporters of the new prop 13 like state Senator Tony Atkins say they'd rather it have another number.

Speaker 1: 05:01 There is a little bit of confusion, which is why we want to correct that. This is a critically important bond measure to support a rehabilitation of schools. Deferred maintenance.

Speaker 5: 05:12 Proposition 13 needs more than 50% of the votes to pass voters decide statewide on March 3rd Joe Hong K PBS news,

Speaker 1: 05:22 California is market share of alternative fuel vehicles remained strong but sales fell. Last year. KPBS reporter Eric Anderson has details

Speaker 6: 05:31 more than 156,000 electric plugin hybrid and fuel cell cars were sold in California last year. That's down from 178,000 the year before. Velos is a collection of transportation linked industries and executive director Josh Boone says, even though sales numbers are down slightly, California share of the Evie market remains strong. The decline happened as California rolled back. How state money was available to encourage residents to buy electric cars. He says California's financial incentives are essential to driving traffic to Evie dealers. Boone says interest will also grow as car makers advertise their new Evy products. Eric Anderson KPBS news.

Speaker 1: 06:17 In 2014 there was talk of landmark theaters closing the kin cinema, but differences were resolved and the cinema remained open this month. However, landmark theater said it would not be renewing its lease on the single screen. Venue. KPBS arts reporter Beth like Amando looks to the kin cinema's legacy and what its future might be. Over the weekend, KPBS received an email with a statement from the landmark theaters home office explaining that it would no longer be able to continue operating the Ken cinema landmark did not renew its lease, so it will be leaving the building as a tenant next month. But the cinema that was brought to life by Robert Birkin in the 1940s remains in search of a new tenant, willing to keep it open as a movie theater. Steve Russell, executive director of the San Diego housing Federation was the Ken house manager for most of the 80s he said he was heartbroken by the news that his former employer was ending an era for the vintage movie theater,

Speaker 6: 07:15 and I started working there back when there were still a unique double feature every night with the occasional two or three day run as I was there. We began, of course, video began to poach on that, but what was really remarkable to me, and I still talk about it in this way, is that it was every night you had a movie, you had a community that came together and for one night it might be an Indian village and other night it might be a queer village and other night a Jewish village, but you, the Ken cinema was for that community, the village for the evening, and that was magic.

Speaker 1: 07:43 Landmark is exiting as the operators of the Ken cinema, but this might open the doors to a new chapter in the Ken cinematic life. Beth like Amando KPBS news. It was a heartbreaker this weekend as the San Diego state men's basketball team took a home court loss to you and LV. The upset ended. SDSU is unbeaten streak. KPBS has Alexander wind tells us what that means for the Aztecs national ranking and for its postseason,

Speaker 7: 08:11 the 66 to 63 laws drops the assets down one slot in the polls. It went from number four to number five on the associated press in coach's polls. The question now is whether they will remain among the number one seeds in the NCAA tournament in March, three of the top four college teams lost and Saturday ending more than a month of stability in the rankings. If the Aztecs are one of the four top seats in the tournament, they will be placed in Eastern regional bracket, but if they dropped a number two seed, the Aztecs would be slotted into the Western regional and have what amounts to hometown advantage at the staple center. But first they will have to win the last home game of the season and do well in a mountain West tournament. They played Colorado state on Tuesday. Tip off is at 7:00 PM Alexandra when TPPs

Speaker 1: 08:56 news, the VA has known for decades that veterans are at higher risk for gambling addiction, but expanding treatment has been slow. KPBS military reporter Steve Walsh visited the Los Vegas VA, which recently opened an inpatient treatment center.

Speaker 3: 09:13 Ronnie Reyes is now just coming to terms with the military sexual trauma from his time in the army in the late 1980s to early 1990s he says he believes it may be one reason he has a gambling addiction.

Speaker 2: 09:25 I think it actually has a numbing effect. Um, when I'm in the heat of the moment at the tables or at a slot machine, I just get tunnel vision and nothing else seems to matter.

Speaker 3: 09:38 Originally from California, Ray has spent the last 26 years in Las Vegas. He continued to gamble even when he was a black Jack dealer. Now he's in treatment. He says it was hard for him to admit he had a problem until he was thousands of dollars in debt.

Speaker 2: 09:52 There's not a substance attached to it. There is no drug, there is no bottle. It's a behavior that can easily be hid.

Speaker 3: 10:02 That's what PTSD are. 60% more likely to have a gambling addiction than the general population. Gambling also contributes to the higher rate of suicide among veterans even. So gambling hasn't attracted nearly as much funding as drug and alcohol addiction. Las Vegas is only the second inpatient treatment program in the VA system that spend up to 45 days in therapy and in group activities like yoga.

Speaker 8: 10:26 Again, we're going to stand on one leg. One two, three.

Speaker 3: 10:33 Bernhardt is the executive director of the international gaming Institute at the university of Nevada. Las Vegas. Drugs and alcohol, uh, have, uh, public faces, public voices, and a much longer history of those voices advocating, uh, in this field. Gambling addiction really is a newer field. The history of seeing gambling is an addiction actually starts with one pioneering VA doctor Robert Custer in Ohio. Bernard said Custer opened the first inpatient treatment center for problem gambling in 1974 after he saw the symptoms among his drug and alcohol patients, many of them were swapping seats on the Titanic as he used to put it. Uh, we're switching from an alcohol or drug addiction to what he thought of first as a gambling addiction. There are outpatient programs in San Diego. They send vets through treatment programs in the community. But for decades, the Cleveland area VA remained the only inpatient treatment program in the VA system. What this high concentration of gambling and a growing veteran population, Las Vegas seemed the obvious choice for a second.

Speaker 8: 11:44 The

Speaker 3: 11:44 things that makes gambling addiction different from drugs or alcohol is the chase that feeling that even at the lowest point you can somehow win back. Roxanne [inaudible] who runs the 20 bed clinic says she has patients with more than a hundred thousand dollars of debt. Researchers believe it's one reason why veterans with gambling addiction have a higher rate of suicide.

Speaker 2: 12:06 You can treat the gambling. Uh, and once you're treated for the gambling, you're still facing that, that, and how do you go about, um, kind of living a life that's meaningful with that. And I think it's just very different consequences, uh, and kind of very different pathways.

Speaker 3: 12:22 So financial management becomes part of the treatment.

Speaker 2: 12:25 Paychecks. They come in, gone. I get paid one day. The next day I'm broke.

Speaker 3: 12:29 Jim Romero was a mechanic in the air force in the early two thousands it was homeless. By the time he entered the VA program in Las Vegas, he's been battling one addiction or another. For 20 years.

Speaker 2: 12:40 I thought I had an under control and I'll never have this disease under control. I have to something I have to fight every single day.

Speaker 3: 12:47 VA research indicates that among people who have tried gambling, about 5% of the U S population is addicted, but about 8% of the veteran population advocates say those numbers are probably low at the moment. The VA doesn't screen for gambling addiction the way it does for drugs or alcohol. Steve Walsh KPBS news.

Speaker 1: 13:08 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. That's it for San Diego. News matters today. Consider supporting this podcast by becoming a KPBS member today. Just go to kpbs.org/membership.

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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.