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Border Patrol Allows New Friendship Garden After Bulldozing The First One And More Local News

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The San Diego Border Patrol apologizes for demolishing the Friendship Garden, a garden that straddles the U.S.-Mexico border between San Diego and Tijuana. Plus, California water quality officials lambast Poway for allowing contamination that shut down the city’s water supply for a week. And more and more fire calls in San Diego a linked to homeless encampments.

Speaker 1: 00:00 It's Friday, January 17th I'm Deb Welsh and you're listening to San Diego news matters from KPBS coming up. The border patrol is apologizing for bulldozing friendship, Carden and San Diego. May. Oral candidates have a few issues they'd focus on if elected, and I'm talking about housing where we're putting people into permanent housing, housing, specifically middle-market housing. That more coming up right after the break.

Speaker 2: 00:37 [inaudible] [inaudible]

Speaker 3: 00:38 last week, border patrol agents bulldoze the U S side of a garden that straddles the border between Tijuana and San Diego. KPBS reporter max Revlon Navil reports that the border patrol now plans to let the Gorders rebuild.

Speaker 4: 00:53 Daniel Walkman is a cofounder of the friendship garden, which he helped establish in 2007 when the border at friendship park was still just a chain link fence. Last Wednesday. He was stunned to find that border patrol had bulldoze the U S side of the garden and it's dozens of native plants. Border patrol initially said that safety concerns had prompted its decision to remove the garden. Waltman doesn't believe the garden presents a danger to the border.

Speaker 5: 01:15 I think that this garden contributes to security of the region, that to me enforcement may be a part of security but so is cross border friendship. So is promotion of native flora. So is family reunification.

Speaker 4: 01:27 On Wednesday, border patrol issued a new statement on Twitter that apologized for its unintentional destruction of the garden and that originally the goal was to have it trimmed back. While I've been tells us, volunteers who tend the garden met with border patrol on Wednesday and were told that they would be able to begin replanting the garden on January 25th max Woodland Adler KPBS news

Speaker 3: 01:48 last month, the entire city of Poway had no drinking water for a week. More than 200 businesses were forced to close. Now water officials are blasting city hall for allowing the contamination. KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman explains why the city is being cited by the state.

Speaker 4: 02:05 The state water resources board is siting Poway for three violations. Investigators determine that how we failed to protect its system from backflow contamination. The city failed to provide clean treated water and officials found a contamination hazard with the city's already treated water reservoirs being directly connected to storm drains while residents were being told not to drink the water. Poway mayor Steve Voss seemed to send a different message. We continually have great test results. I'm drinking the water. Uh, we need to get this lifted. A state water official says statements contradicting or minimizing the boil water notice risk confusing people about the health impacts of the contamination. Poway will be billed for state time spent issuing the citation. The city must also take additional steps to correct the problem. The city can appeal the decision. A spokesperson says they are analyzing the information and we'll be evaluating options moving forward. Matt Hoffman, K PBS news.

Speaker 3: 02:55 Back in 2018 San Diego fire officials noticed a in fires tied to homeless encampments, so they took steps to better track the fires. Now data obtained by our partner, I knew source reveals the extent of the problem. I knew source investigative reporter Mary plumber explains last year, nearly 13% of all fire calls in San Diego mentioned possible connections to the homeless. That's 572 calls.

Speaker 6: 03:22 We've seen a jump.

Speaker 3: 03:24 That's San Diego assistant fire chief Chris Webber. He says the challenge has increased as homelessness has grown. According to data I news source obtained fire calls tied to homelessness have been on the rise for at least the past five years. They spiked in 2018 when officials started collecting more data. Weber says the numbers don't directly correlate to actual fires, but they do highlight problem areas.

Speaker 6: 03:48 So it gives us kind of very raw and rough data on fires that are at least linked to, you know, a homeless encampment or a homeless activity.

Speaker 3: 03:57 The fire department has used the new data to map spots where fires linked to homelessness occur. The map shows clusters of incidents in Balboa park, the East village and Sherman Heights for KPBS. I'm I news source investigative reporter Mary plumber for more on fire risks and homelessness. Go to I news I knew source is an independently funded nonprofit partner of KPBS, San Diego's suing San Diego gas and electric for $35 million. That's what the city claims SDG and Emma's pay to move utility equipment to make way for a major city project. One that we convert millions of gallons of wastewater into drinking water for San Diego. KPBS is a Meetha Sharma has more

Speaker 7: 04:42 San Diego officials say SDG and E is refusing to pay to relocate its gas and power lines. The city needs those lines. Moved for the water recycling effort called the pure water project. The city also claims that SDG and E refuse to even begin moving the lines unless it paid the relocation's $35 million cost upfront to avoid a delay. The city paid that tap in 2018 but city attorney Mara Elliott says SDG ne is contractually required to pay those costs and San Diego wants the $35 million back. She says, it's unfortunate the city has to Sue quote our longtime partner to honor the terms of its contract with the city and a statement SDG and he said the company doesn't believe the relocation costs should be spread to customers in other cities who don't benefit from the project. I mean the Sharma KPBS news,

Speaker 3: 05:33 a poll from the public policy Institute of California shows Bernie Sanders as the leading presidential candidate in the state's democratic primary Capitol. Public radio. Scott rod has more.

Speaker 8: 05:44 The Vermont Senator leads the pack with support from 27% of likely voters. Former vice president Joe Biden and Senator Elizabeth Warren trail by just a few percentage points. Support for Sanders in California increased 10 points. The last PPC poll in November, he has the strongest support from voters under 45 Pete booty judge pulled at 6% Amy Klobuchar 4% on the issues. Californians are most likely to name homelessness as the biggest problem facing the state in Sacramento of Scott rod

Speaker 3: 06:13 KPBS arts reporter and star Wars fan, Beth Huck Amando went to Disneyland to check out the rise of the resistance ride that opens today. At Galaxy's edge. Here's a preview of the new attraction.

Speaker 9: 06:29 Can you rise of the resistance attraction at Galaxy's edge involves live actors, animatronics, video, and massive sets that include two Imperial walkers. It is the most technologically advanced attraction that we've opened at Disneyland show programmer. Danny Beller says it was a big challenge to bring the ride to life. One of the things that I say is your programming's job is to deliver the creative show and make it reliable and maintainable, right? The results impressed star Wars fan Gary Dexter,

Speaker 10: 06:58 mind blowing in a word. It was a faster than I imagined it would be. It was a much, much bigger, and of course I have no idea how they did it, and the truth is I don't want to know either.

Speaker 6: 07:08 Great job recruits, thanks to your heroism. The location of the resistance base is secure drama. Okay.

Speaker 9: 07:16 Rise of the resistance offers an immersive experience for park attendees, but more importantly, it allows star Wars fans and opportunity to geek out in a galaxy that's now close enough

Speaker 3: 07:26 to touch about like Amando keep PBS news. San Diego voters will select a new mayor this year with the primary election scheduled for March 3rd state assembly men. Todd. Gloria is widely considered the favorite, but that's not deterring city council woman and fellow Democrat, Barbara Bree from challenging him. KPBS Metro reporter Andrew Bowen breaks down their candidate disease.

Speaker 11: 07:51 Hello Hillcrest.

Speaker 9: 07:52 It's a Saturday morning and Todd Gloria is speaking at the ribbon cutting of San Diego's first rainbow cross.

Speaker 11: 07:59 You know, I was once accused of liking infrastructure too much. You know, I say there's nothing sexier than a freshly paved street. I love seeing hundreds of people show up for a crosswalk dedication. It says I'm not alone and wanting some quality infrastructure in the city.

Speaker 8: 08:13 Gloria is eight years on the city council and three years in the state assembly have made in the familiar figure in San Diego and he's especially popular here in Hillcrest. Gloria, who's openly gay, it says he's proud to have passed laws protecting the LGBTQ community and increasing access to treatment for HIV.

Speaker 9: 08:31 This is the kind of perspective that lived experience becomes really important for and those are the kinds of things that you know, makes me think that if I wasn't there, maybe those issues wouldn't have been brought up. Maybe there wouldn't be a champion for that.

Speaker 8: 08:42 Lauria says he's also proud to have pushed for more state funding to combat homelessness. Andy touts his successful effort to raise the city's minimum wage as a boon for thousands of low income workers. Now he says, San Diego has to address its housing crisis and the mayor has to take a leadership role in winning over skeptics as new development.

Speaker 9: 09:02 I recognize that there are a lot of people who are suffering and they want a mayor who sees here's them is going to act on their behalf, but importantly, who's going to go out and explain to other people that this is not bad for you? This can actually help make your community better. This can make your quality of life better.

Speaker 8: 09:15 Gloria has built a coalition of supporters that rarely get behind the same candidate. He's been endorsed by the County democratic party and the San Diego and Imperial counties labor council as well as the San Diego regional chamber of commerce which historically backs Republicans. Overcoming that institutional backing is the main challenge facing Barbara. Bree. Bree is speaking at a meet and greet in North park. It's hosted by a pair of residents leading the opposition to a plan to put bike lanes on 30th street.

Speaker 9: 09:46 I mean there is no accountability and no transparency at city hall. Um, the decision on the bike lanes was made without adequate data and without adequate communication with the residents and the business owners who were going to be most impacted.

Speaker 8: 10:02 Re had a career in journalism and business before winning a seat on the San Diego city council in 2016 she represents district one which includes the LA Jolla university city and Carmel Valley. Bree says her proudest accomplishment on the council is her work to oppose soccer city. That was the failed 2018 ballot measure that would have sold the city's mission Valley stadium property to private investors for development.

Speaker 9: 10:26 And at the beginning I was out there all by myself and soccer city. Spent tens of thousands of dollars on social media criticizing my position and alleging that I was a corrupt politician, but I never wavered. I knew it was a terrible deal for the taxpayers, for the residents of this city. For the longterm.

Speaker 8: 10:46 [inaudible] says she supports building more housing, but that it wouldn't be the main approach to how she addresses homelessness.

Speaker 9: 10:52 If we're going to effectively address homelessness, we have to acknowledge that a lot of the increase in homelessness is due to mental health and substance abuse issues, which is accounting issue, which the County has neglected for decades and is finally starting to address.

Speaker 8: 11:10 Bree has also attacked the yes in my backyard or yin, the movement which pushes for cities to build more housing. She says there ponds of wall street investors looking to corporatize San Diego's neighborhoods and the local UMB democratic club, which endorsed Gloria.

Speaker 9: 11:27 I think they are backed by wall street whether they know it or not.

Speaker 8: 11:30 These aren't the only candidates for San Diego mayor. Tune in an hour from now to hear about candidates. Tasha Williamson and Scott Sherman, the top two vote getters in the March 3rd primary will compete in a November runoff. Andrew Bowen, KPBS news

Speaker 3: 11:45 earlier you heard about two of the candidates in the 2020 San Diego mayor's race. Now KPBS reporter Claire Traeger, sir, we'll introduce to two more.

Speaker 12: 11:54 Starting with activist Tasha Williamson. She made a name for herself by leading protests against city leaders. Now she wants to be elected as one of them.

Speaker 1: 12:04 When I first heard her voice, I was like, Oh, okay. And then she, you know, she says, this is like a, a good call that I'm making

Speaker 12: 12:12 call from the San Diego city clerk's office isn't usually a cause for dread, but it was for mayoral candidate Tasha Williamson a few weeks ago. Williamson was genuinely worried she hadn't qualified for the ballot.

Speaker 1: 12:26 And I want to let you know that you met, uh, the 200 signature requirement and I just started screaming.

Speaker 12: 12:36 Yes. Williamson is not a seasoned politician. She doesn't even have a working website and she doesn't have deep pocketed supporters. Her campaign has raised just $675, but Williamson does have a voice in the community. She organized protests after Earl McNeil died in national city police custody. She says there was no one who looked like her in the San Diego mayor's race. No one who cared about her community of Southeast San Diego. So she jumped in.

Speaker 1: 13:08 There's some people that have been so, um, you know, so erased, um, from policy politics. Um, they've not been given the opportunities to have, you know, successes have all the things that they need. Um, they've D invested in communities like the one we're sitting in.

Speaker 12: 13:29 Williamson met us at the Willie Henderson park in the Lincoln park neighborhood and says it's cracked walkways and homeless population show. Her community has been ignored. If elected, she would focus on diverting money to housing, homelessness and other community services.

Speaker 1: 13:46 You know, I'm bringing in a whole new tone, um, to, to this, uh, political landscape and that, um, I'm doing things that have never been done before. Uh, but the one thing that I'm going to be saying that we're going to be doing is giving back to the people and nobody's talking about that.

Speaker 12: 14:03 Someone else who wants to bring up things other candidates aren't talking about is Councilman Scott Scherman. He's the lone Republican in the race. Sherman has long been known for his disdain for public office. He had a countdown clock on his desk marking the days until the end of his term and frequently said he wasn't a politician, but he's having trouble saying that these days I'm getting close to graduating to being a politician officially, you know, 25 years in the business world. I still think like a businessman, but seven years in this I, by definition I think I'm getting to be a politician now. Sherman waited until right before the deadline to make the decision to run with buy-in from his wife after conversing about it over a nice camping weekend in the desert. We, we decided to, you know,

Speaker 13: 14:52 we, we kind of need to give this a shot.

Speaker 12: 14:54 If elected Sherman's biggest issue would be housing,

Speaker 13: 14:57 specifically middle market housing. And what happens is is you have people in in subsidized housing, they start doing better at moving their way up the economic ladder and there is no place for them to go

Speaker 12: 15:09 build more housing by adding density bonuses and changing zoning like he did in Grandville and his district. He also says the city needs to be tougher on homeless,

Speaker 13: 15:20 were doing a bunch on compassion and we're starting to not do as much on the enforcement side. And a lot of times compassion without enforcement just becomes enabling.

Speaker 12: 15:31 He also wants to reduce labor unions power at city hall using collective bargaining and is not a fan of bike lane.

Speaker 13: 15:39 The majority of us have to have a vehicle to do our daily functioning. I mean we, it even at council you see the council members talking about the need to bike to work, the need for mass transit and people utilizing mass transit. And then you walk out in the parking lot and there's nine parking spaces for every council district and everyone's filled up with a car.

Speaker 12: 15:58 Sherman will be pushing the conservative ideas up until primary election day in March. Claire Tyga, sir KPBS news to see all our Canada profiles go to 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.

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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.