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LATEST UPDATES: Racial Justice | Tracking COVID-19 (coronavirus)

Who Got Loans?

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PHOTO BY ANDI DUKLETH

Above: A closed sign at the Currant American Brasserie in downtown San Diego on March 26, 2020. The cafe is one of many businesses that had to close down because of the COVD-19 pandemic.

Small businesses are bleeding in San Diego County as the pandemic rages on. More coronavirus relief is likely in store, though, as congress works on another round of loans under the Paycheck Protection Program, known as PPP. NPR member station KPCC in Los Angeles mapped where loans were given out in San Diego and KPBS investigative reporter Amita Sharma found that businesses south of Interstate 8 had a tough time getting any money in the first round of PPP loans.

San Diego News Matters is KPBS’ daily news podcast. Support the show: https://www.kpbs.org/

Beginning today, Businesses in San Diego County must notify all of their employees if a COVID outbreak is linked to their place of work.

Supervisor Narthan Fletcher says most businesses are doing the right thing but community outbreaks at businesses have recently increased.

"We want to make sure that employers are notifying every employee at that physical location even if they were not a close contact that there has been an outbreak at their place of employment and give them instructions about steps and things that they should take."

One community outbreak was at a Pacific Beach gym that recently defied orders to shut down. Officials say they're boosting resources to improve enforcement of health orders and details are coming at next week's board of supervisors meeting.

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The Supreme Court last month blocked the Trump administration's attempt to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. DACA recipients celebrated, and many were anticipating the addition of new recipients to DACA this year.

But now the administration has announced new restrictions on the program, saying they won't admit new applicants and they'll limit DACA renewals to one year, instead of two.

Dulce Garcia is a DACA recipient and San Diego immigration attorney who was a plaintiff in the lawsuits before the Supreme Court.

She told KPBS that the new memo by the administration is another attack against the program.

"It's applying burdens for those of us already renewing, it's outright denying new applications, it's making it nearly impossible for us to travel abroad with advance parole, so this is essentially a dismantling of the DACA program."

Garcia says the battle over DACA will continue in the courts.

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A San Diego County sheriff's deputy pleaded not guilty Wednesday to 20 felony and misdemeanor charges. They're related to alleged sex acts with underage girls, and attempts to meet up with minors.

27-year-old Jaylen Devon Fleer was taken into custody by Chula Vista police following a four-month investigation.

Fleer faces 18 years and four months in state prison if convicted of all charges.

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From KPBS, I’m Kinsee Morlan and you’re listening to San Diego News Matters, a podcast powered by our reporters, producers and editors.
It’s Thursday, July 30.
Stay with me for more of the local news you need.

Local coronavirus relief efforts have focused on the most vulnerable in San Diego, to make sure they have shelter, food, and access to health care.
KPBS reporter Max Rivlin-Nadler tells us about one effort to help young people… including some who still don't believe the threat of COVID-19 is real.

In May, the advocacy group Youth Will launched an Ambassador program to reach out to young people during the pandemic, assessing their needs, and connecting them with help.
Since then, they've reached out to 25,000 young people across the county -- and found they have been struggling to get jobs, housing, and access to financial support programs.
25-year-old City Heights resident Josh Piedra is the Youth Emergency Resources Coordinator at Youth Will.
So automatically we had a bunch of young people who just fell into poverty. Just off the bat, and there's not much resources out there to support them.
To connect young people to services and help, Youth WIll has been hosting a series of virtual Town Ha lls for high school students and college-aged young people.
The focus of this week's town hall is debunking myths about the pandemic, as young people have become the #1 carriers of the virus in San Diego county.
Young people, they don't think they're going to get sick. They think, oh I'm young, I'll be fine. And if I get it, whatever I'll survive, they're not aware that for a group of young people that get it, they get, permanent damage.

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Last week the House of Representatives passed a 9 billion dollar public lands package. It is perhaps one of the largest conservation bills passed into law since World War II
CapRadio's Ezra David Romero reports it could prop up California's national parks.


The Great American Outdoors Act does two major things. It funds a program that could expand natural areas, preserve habitat and help cities buy land for parks.
Secondly, it would provide billions of dollars to help address maintenance needed for parks like Yosemite, says Marcia Argust with the Pew Charitable trust.
"Park facilities and resources are aging and deteriorating. Yosemite alone has repair needs of over $600 million."
Places like Lake Tahoe could also get upgrades for more public access to the lake and trails, said South Lake Tahoe City Councilman Devin Middlebrook.
"We want to make sure that no matter who you are, you can come to Tahoe and experience the same thing that everyone else does."
If the bill is signed by the president, groups will have 90 days to give their proposals to Congress, and the funds could start moving in October. Middlebrook says leaders in Tahoe are putting together their asks now.

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Small businesses are bleeding in San Diego County as the pandemic rages on.
More coronavirus relief is likely in store, though, as congress works on another round of loans under the Paycheck Protection Program, known as PPP.
NPR member station KPCC in Los Angeles mapped where loans were given out in San Diego.
Some businesses in underserved communities south of Interstate 8 had a tough time getting any money in the first round of PPP loans. KPBS's Investigative Reporter Amita Sharma has the story.

"My name is Andrew Benavides. I own Cafeina and I applied for a PPP loan back around April."
Just one month into the pandemic, and one year into his long-held dream of owning a business, his City Heights coffee shop's sales dropped by half.
"People decided not to go out anymore."
Twenty-six-year-old Benavides hoped to use the federal loan as a lifeline to cover rent, utilities, inventory...everything that keeps a business afloat. But officials told him he wasn't eligible.
"According to them at the time, I didn't fall under one of their qualifications, which was having employees."
Mom and pop stores and one-man shops such as Benevidas's Cafeina often have fewer than ten employees. Having fewer workers made it harder to qualify for badly needed government aid.
"....Also, the rules kept changing."
Enrique Gandarilla is executive director of the City Heights Business Association.
"It's just not a good situation for small businesses."
Especially in some poorer communities of color like City Heights which received a total of 317 loans. That money, according to federal data, helped save around 1,500 jobs.
In contrast, Clairemont, north of I-8 and where more than half the population is white, got 800 loans and retained over 3,600 jobs. Clairemont's population is actually just under a quarter SMALLER than City Heights.
Gandarilla blamed that wide gap on many small businesses lacking access to accountants, lawyers and bankers who can help navigate what may be for some a complex, bureaucratic process. He also blamed poor loan outreach in areas that are low-income, of color and ethnically mixed.
"In City Heights, we have a community that is extremely diverse with many first generation immigrants that are entrepreneurs, very entrepreneurial. But they come from countries where they don't trust the government for very good reasons and they're not used to dealing with government agencies."
There are also big margins in the number of PPP loans given out to some cities, north and south of the 8 Freeway. Chula Vista got 2,200 PPP loans and saved over 21,000 jobs. Carlsbad businesses obtained 3,400 loans, preserving more than 38,000 jobs. Escondido appears to be an outlier. The North County, ethnically diverse city secured 2,100 loans, and held on to 32,000 jobs. It's one of the cities that was more efficient in a key goal of the program ...job preservation.
"....Cities like Escondido, El Cajon, La Mesa...There small businesses saved over six and a half jobs per loan, whereas in Encinitas, for example, it was only four point four jobs per loan."
SDSU business lecturer Miro Copic says overall, the distribution of loans was aligned with the distribution of businesses in the county. Copic agrees the government should have done a better job in letting underserved communities know the loans are available and how to apply. But he adds that the PPP still served its mission in getting small loans out to small businesses.
"The number of loans less than 150 thousand were 85 percent of the PPP loans processed in San Diego County."
As for Benevidas, he says he'll apply for the next round of PPP loans.
"We don't need too much, but we still need a lump sum just to keep our lights on."

And that story from KPBS investigative reporter Amita Sharma. Find an interactive map from our partner station KPCC showing which San Diego County communities received PPP loans on our website at KPBS-Dot-Org.
Yesterday, San Diego City Leaders announced that 700,000 dollars would be targeted toward small businesses in underserved communities. Leaders say the money will help many minority owned businesses. The proposal will go to the full city council for a vote in the coming weeks. The city is also asking the county to match the funds.
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Coming up…Tiny, moveable homes could start popping up in backyards across San Diego.
Plus: An online art show that takes on Arab-American stereotypes.
Those stories after a quick break.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee is hosting an online art show and conversation about Arab American contemporary art today at noon.
KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando previews the event with one of the artists.
Artist Doris Bittar has always been fascinated by patterns.
DORIS BITTAR: I'm very deeply interested in a pattern as a lattice or a template or a grid, you know, sort of attractive grid that tells a story about not only about itself, but that presents itself as a structure for difficult conversation about history, colonialism? You know, how deeply has that colonialism affected our culture.
Being Arab-American, Bittar says she faces a lot of stereotypes and hopes she can address that through her art.
DORIS BITTAR: So I'm always wondering how to create a situation where conversation about issues out there that are of concern to Arab-Americans can be discussed, whether it's history, how peace can be forged and other sorts of stereotypes people have about the Arab world, that's always motivated my work.
ADC Presents: A Conversation with Arab American Artists today at noon. Go to the ADC Facebook page for the link to register for the webinar that will be held via Zoom.

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So, after years of opposition to the concept of tiny houses, the San Diego city council last week unanimously approved the use of tiny movable homes on private property.
The houses, which range from 100 to 400 square feet, are usually faster and cheaper to set up in backyards then granny flats. Advocates see the small living units as part of the solution to San Diego's housing crisis.
The estimated monthly rent for tiny house would be about $900.
KPBS Midday Edition host Maureen Cavanaugh talked with San Diego City Councilmember Scott Sherman, and Ellen Stone, a founding member of the San Diego chapter of the American tiny house association.

When did you get interested in tiny homes as a housing option in San Diego?
Speaker 2: 00:54 Uh, we probably started in my office, uh, two, two and a half years ago. Once we, uh, saw a presentation at a homeless committee, uh, about tiny homes and their advantages. And then we started thinking, okay, not only we can use it in the homeless round, but it also will help in the, in the rental market realm to provide affordable housing for people. So we've been working on it for quite a while. Georgette Gomez, his office started the ball rolling, and then we picked up the ball and ran it through to the, to the finish line. To me, it just makes a whole bunch of sense, uh, on how we can at least start dealing with the affordability issue that we have here at the city without taxpayer subsidy and without all the other issues that go with it. This just was a win win all the way around.
Speaker 1: 01:38 And you went to an event that was put on by Ellen that showed you what tiny homes looked like and how and how they, they could be an option for San Diego. Yeah.
Speaker 2: 01:48 Is that right? Yeah. Yeah, that was one up in Del Mar. We went up there and looked at everything that they had to offer, talk to about the advantages and pluses of movable tiny homes. And we'd done a bunch of work at the cities with accessory dwelling units and making it easier to build those here at the city and to get those done and remove the, the regulations, but tiny movable, tiny homes kind of fell through the cracks. So we put together a bunch of regulation work with the industry and came up with a proposal that got an unanimous vote
Speaker 1: 02:16 Right now, if you could counsel them in, what are some of the differences between tiny houses and granny flats, granny flats, of course, which homeowners can already add to their price.
Speaker 2: 02:27 Right. Um, tiny homes, immovable, tiny homes are built on a chassis basically, and can be rolled into a backyard and hooked up and used as a, as a rental accommodation. Now we did a bunch of regulations that prevent you from, you know, getting your, your basic RV and putting it out there and calling it a tiny home. Most of the regulations required pitch roofs and certain construction standards that exclude the vast majority of any kind of RV type situation. These are true little homes that are made just to roll and put it in the backyard or side
Speaker 3: 03:00 Yard and get them set up to where you can rent them out to help with your mortgage. You can put the Kinlaw in there, or, or a caretaker who is on the property. You know, there's so many advantages to it.
Speaker 1: 03:11 Ellen, how do these tiny homes compare with granny flats when it comes to speed of being able to put them up and how much they cost?
Speaker 3: 03:20 Sure. So the American tiny house association is very happy with everything that's been happening in California around accessory dwelling units or branding plats. Um, but we were really excited by this other option that would allow you to move the tiny home in, on wheels. So it's getting built offsite while you can, uh, make the improvements to your land. And, uh, that can take, you know, one to three months, depending on where you're getting your tiny home built. And that cost can be between a couple thousand dollars, um, for the, um, improvements to your property, uh, to maybe 10,000 tops. And then the tiny homes themselves range between 65 to 85, if you want a lot of, uh, comfort, so you can go even higher. But, um, that's a big difference from the cost of, uh, the granny flats, which can be, um, upwards of a hundred to 150,000 and take anywhere from 12 to 18 months to complete. So there's definitely a place for them, um, the granny flats, but it's nice to have options for people who perhaps can't afford, you know, alone for that much, or have the time to put, put in right
Speaker 1: 04:46 Now, Ellen, I understand that you want to live in a tiny home. Can you give us an idea of what the space is like inside one of these very small houses?
Speaker 3: 04:57 Well, that's just the thing, it's a magical experience when you go into one, because you wouldn't think that something under 400 square feet would be doable, especially for a couple like my husband and myself, but when you walk in the design is most of them are designed so effectively that the space can be utilized for multipurposes and you can have either a bed on the same level. If someone, you know, has mobility issues, or you can have a loft, which I'm very excited about, that can be up high and you have additional space. So, you know, there's no one size fits all tiny house or moveable tiny house. And I think that's part of what I love about them is that you can, you can create them to the, to the needs and the interests of the person who wants to live there. And ours will have lots of beautiful windows and, you know, a space for my little dog, you know, but
Speaker 1: 05:58 Besides Ellen Councilman Sherman, who do you think tiny homes?
Speaker 2: 06:02 Oh, you know, if I look back when I was fresh out of high school and starting in college, you know, and I was looking for a place to rent, you know, I couldn't afford a place of my own to rent back in those days, but so I had to rent a room from somebody and share it with, with roommates and those types of things, you know, those types of people would be more than comfortable in a tiny home that they could afford. You, you look at caregivers that could be in here. You look at people who are very low income, who would actually have a place that they could afford and put their them and their families there. If the house that is the right size. So I think it appeals to a whole bunch of different people, especially those who are just getting into the market for housing. It's a perfect solution.
Speaker 3: 06:45 Yeah. It's the new, um, entry-level housing market.
Speaker 1: 06:49 Why do you want to live in a house? That's so small. Ellen, what are the advantages?
Speaker 3: 06:54 Is that such a great question? You know, it's one of the things that pops up in people's minds, right, right off the bat, when they hear about people's desire to live in a tiny home, there's a lot of different reasons. One of the things is of course the affordability. The other thing is that, um, it really helps you be thoughtful and mindful about the things that you have in your life. You know, when you have a limited space, maybe you don't do as much shopping. Um, however, I have seen some tiny houses that have hidden spaces for shoe lovers. Um, there are some women that just cannot give up their shoe collections and that's fine. Um, but that's one of the things I'm really drawn to. And I think the other part is that concept of really being able to make a house work for me in a way that is affordable. Um, and not as time consuming as doing a remodel for a house, there are certain things that I really like and would love to have in my home. And, um, those things would be really expensive to remodel, uh, in a regular sized house. And they're not, they're not as expensive. They're pretty easy to do if you're building a tiny home.

And that was Ellen Stone, a founding member of the San Diego chapter of the American tiny house association, and San Diego City Councilmember Scott Sherman talking with Midday Edition’s Maureen Cavanaugh. If you’re not already a Midday listener, make sure to find and subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts.
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That’s all I’ve got. I’ll be off this podcast for a while working on other things, but Anica Colbert will take care of you. Thanks for listening.

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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.