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Protestors Demand A Re-opening Of U.S. Asylum Proceedings

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Border Angels Executive Director Dulce Garcia speaks in support of asylum-seekers at the San Ysidro Port-of-Entry on Oct. 21, 2020.

MATTHEW BOWLER

Protesters gathered at US Ports of Entry to demand the US restore asylum proceedings for migrants who have been waiting in Mexico for months. Also, we’ll review Measure E on the ballot. Plus, a look at how the San Diego craft brew industry has been handling the changes ushered in by the pandemic.

Asylum-seekers marched to the US port of entry in Tijuana Wednesday. They demanded the U.S. restore asylum proceedings for migrants who have been waiting in Mexico for months.

The US asylum system has ground to a near-halt during the pandemic. And the US now immediately deports anyone who crosses the border illegally,
Dulce Garcia, the Executive Director of Border Angels, says this has led to panic among asylum-seekers south of the border.

There's a lot of uncertainty, and fear for our asylum-seeking siblings in Tijuana. Their dates are having to be postponed, there's a lack of information, a lack of resources.

Garcia says next month's presidential election will prove pivotal in the lives of these asylum-seekers, as Democrats seek to roll back many of the Trump administration's border policies.

California regulators are putting some teeth behind air pollution regulations adopted last summer linked to the shipping and freight industries. The California Air Resources Board wants state officials to monitor truck traffic in neighborhoods and measure emissions in a number of locations.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher is a board member. He says San Diego’s communities of color will benefit.


“You think about that parent in Barrio Logan who’s child is eight times more likely to have asthma because of the zip code in which they were born. And we have historically placed the low income communities and communities of color in areas with higher concentrations of pollution, in particular air pollution.”

San Diego already monitors truck traffic in Barrio Logan and National City. Port of San Diego officials are working to direct truck traffic away from homes and they are replacing diesel powered cargo vehicles with electric ones.

It’s Thursday, October 22nd. This is San Diego News Matters from KPBS News. I’m Anica Colbert. Stay with me for more of the local news you need to start your day.

Measure E on the San Diego ballot this election would exempt the Midway District from the city's 30-foot coastal height limit.

KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen says it could lead to big changes in the blighted neighborhood.

AB: Midway isn't the prettiest part of San Diego. The neighborhood is known for big box stores, industrial lots and strip clubs. Midway resident Dike Anyiwo says the 30 foot height limit has stood in the way of efforts to revitalize the area. The height limit was approved by voters in 1972 and applies to neighborhoods west of I-5. Midway isn't a coastal neighborhood, Anyiwo says, and allowing taller buildings would give property owners an incentive to redevelop.
DA: And it enables us to actually look to include, you know, parks, green space, open land, get creative like I said with that design, come up with you know buildings and dwelling units that are creative and beautiful that have some sort of real impact that's positive for this community.
AB: John McNab is a longtime San Diego activist who opposes Measure E. He says it's a giveaway to developers, and rather than raising the height limit, the city should create a giant park in the Midway District.
JM: All we have to do is understand that public land belongs to the people and it needs to be used for the wise use of the people in a way that benefits everybody.
AB: Most of the public land in Midway is owned by the military, which has no plans to donate it to the city for a park. The "yes" side of Measure E has a lopsided advantage in endorsements, with support from both the Republican and Democratic parties. Andrew Bowen, KPBS news.

Leaders of California's biggest theme parks including Disneyland resort, Universal Studios, Knotts Berry Farm and Legoland in Carlsbad are pushing back against new state reopening guidelines. Tthey say the guidelines will keep amusement parks closed unnecessarily.

We've seen all seven other legoland parks reopen around the world safely with millions of guests and around 20,000 employees

Kurt Stocks is president of Legoland. He says during a normal peak season they'd have as many as 3-thousand workers, but at one point were down to less than a couple hundred.

I shouldn't go without mentioning the impact in our area and our community we're the biggest employer here in carlsbad.. And a further extension of closure is just not acceptable (:13)

Under new rules large theme parks can only open in counties that have reached the state's least restrictive reopening tier of yellow. San Diego county has been hovering near the state's most restrictive tier. A spokeswoman for the California Attractions and Parks Association says negotiations to reopen parks will continue and... in terms of possible legal action ..., all options are on the table.

Pope Francis says LGBTQ people should have the right to civil unions. The Pope's words are being met with mixed reaction here in San Diego as KPBS reporter John Carroll tells us.


In the new documentary Francesco, Pope Francis' comments on same sex civil unions are hitting like a theological bombshell across the Roman Catholic Church. In the documentary, Francis said "Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family… what we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered."
Outside St. Joseph's Cathedral after noon mass today, reaction was mixed. But one parishioner was clear. James Palen says Francis' words go against church teaching.
"It runs counter to the church's teaching on homosexuality being something that is counter to the plan that God created us for."
The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego put out a statement saying in part: "There are no plans and there have been no proposals to extend the sacrament of matrimony to same-sex couples." JC, KPBS News.

Craft breweries were forced to close their tasting rooms when the coronavirus pandemic hit in mid-March, according to the San Diego Business Journal. Large breweries like Al Smith pivoted. They're focusing more on selling their beers in cans and bottles at stores. But for smaller brewers, the pandemic has created a scramble for a way to bottle or can their product. Here to talk about the craft brew conundrum is Matt Johnson. He's a man of many hats. He's a lecturer for SDSU Craft Brew Program. He's a consultant for breweries. And he's helped several San Diego brew houses open. And he's the general manager of West Brews, two locations that both opened this month. Matt, welcome to the podcast. Oh, thank you for having me. All right. So let's get started with breweries. Just trying to get their product into a can or a bottle if a brewery wasn't canning or bottling before. What kind of options do they have?

California allows us the opportunity for small breweries such as ourselves to self distribute, which is something you don't see in a lot of states. And that's great. When we do, the on premise of bars and restaurants will be pretty successful self distributing in that arena. But when we get to off premise, it's a lot more difficult to get that shelf space in a Von's or an Albertson's or a bit more without having those big distribution contracts or without having that shelf space already put in place before the pandemic.

So, yeah, what we're seeing right now is obviously the tasting rooms are down as far as our business are on premises, way down. And the off premise in general, beer is up, but smaller guys like, you know, start up breweries, even w we're starting out, are really going to struggle to get in that shelf space for breweries who weren't already canning and bottling.

What are the challenges they're facing to start canning and bottling like in their own brew house for the people that are lucky enough to already have a canning line in-house, you know, they're not going to skip a beat. And that's just going back to the people that are already on shelf space. Anyway, for someone that just opened just like us, we can kind of we kind of we were able to watch this market switch from twenty two ounce bottles, which were really popular, maybe five, six, seven years ago into where those are almost non-existent and sell candy.

So if you a newer brewery and able to just grow fast, you get away from the bottle bottling lines and into the candy. So here at West Brew, we have our our own favorite candy line so we can do our canning in-house, something that's really popular with a lot of the smaller breweries is what's called mobile canning.

So basically, it's a company that goes around to a bunch of different breweries. She has a canning line in his truck and he can pull up to your brewery, offload that canning line, and you can count on demand for you at your brewery. And it could be minimal stuff. You can do two to three cases through him. Obviously, there's price breaks as you go higher, but he's definitely busy right now. So it could be weeks, maybe a month, the time to get that happen.

But it's simply put some price. It's either get the local candy guy to come out or purchase one of those fifty thousand candy machines in-house.

I see. Do you think all of these changes that have taken place because of the pandemic, do you think that this signals any sort of permanent change for the craft brew industry?

In my opinion, I hope that's not the case. We were putting a lot of our chips into the restaurants coming back in the summer and going back full steam, full steam ahead. As far as the on premise, November to February, twenty to twenty twenty one. It's going to be a really, really tough and trying times for breweries independent. It's too hard to predict what anything is going to happen right now to go in the future. I hope that, you know, in the spring and summer, US manufacturers, we rely on our retailers and that's our restaurants and bars.

So without those full force, you know, the grocery stores, unless they're adjusting and and turning, you know, frozen sections into more beer sections, I find it hard for this to continue without losing a lot of breweries. So to me, it's, hey, let's hope the afterimage gets back to full bore spring and summer. And, you know, we can the small guys can be a little more successful again. And the tasting rooms as well.

A lot of these breweries, there's over 200 brews in San Diego. A lot of these breweries, really their business model is just a set up and be that community brewery. They're doing no distribution at all. So for them, it's it's to go out of the tasting room and it's, you know, bringing people back to the tasting room. Otherwise, we're going to see a little bit of thinning.

I know you've helped a lot of breweries open across San Diego when it came to West Brew. How did you factor the pandemic into your approach and all of your planning?

Well, these breweries take a long time to manifest. So, for example, West Brew, I met Josh, who's the owner to the CSU business, a craft beer program. So I'm an instructor over there and on the board.

And this thing is probably for him. It's been in concept for about 15 to 16 months. So to get the equipment that's needed, remember, we're manufacturing processing plant basically. So we're getting all the stainless steel from China and then it's coming. To the US, to the factory to be installed and welded, and then by the time that gets here and then in our industry, you have to sign your lease before you even get your ABC license from the state so you can be once a year, 18 months in planning, which is kind of what happened with Westbrooke's.

So this was something that was in concept last summer. And then fast forward to March. The equipment's already ordered. The equipment's already come from China. It's almost it's almost here. The lease is already signed just to get the license. So at that point, there's no turning back. You're stuck in a lease. The equipment's already ordered, you know, two hundred fifty thousand three thousand dollars in on that. So it's move forward and adapt at that point.

So Westbrew, it opened with two locations and you're working on a downtown location as well. How are you feeling about all this and opening during the pandemic? How are you feeling?

Yeah, we feel good. We've had enough time where we can observe. So I think if we opened right away and this hit, we would be struggling a little more than we we are. So literally, we just open our Vista location two to three weeks ago and we've just opened our Del Mar location last week. So we were able to see what's going on. Everything kind of right now as far as the tasting room has moved to outside dining and to go.

So, I mean, to go is definitely up. And if you have the ability to do outside. So dolmades is great because we have this huge patio and it's an outside kiosk for counter service. So there's a kiosk literally right there on the corner on the sidewalk, and we can counter serve and keep people socially distance. We did up our candleholders as far as our canning distribution and kind of set all that up. So we were very lucky in the sense that we were able to observe from March up until this point.

But no doubt it's been it's just waiting what's next month are going to look like what is next month going to look like. And you mentioned our downtown location is actually going to be right by Pecl Park for the Padres. So we are putting a lot of chips into the basket saying that, hey, hopefully by next Podres season or next summer, you know, the conventions come back to the convention center. The Padres come back to pick park. And we kind of have a lot of chips in that.

And kind of just hoping at this point this week, we almost came kind of close to being moved into the States purple tier and we didn't. We still in the red tier for the next two weeks. If we moved into the purple tier, what would be your concerns?

The biggest concern for us would be our bar and restaurant distribution. So taking a step back from that, our tasting rooms, we've been able to adjust with the outside seating, especially in Mar. I think we only have one table inside to meet that twenty or twenty five percent capacity and no one's really using it. It's all outside seating anyway, so we're very fortunate in Domar up here in Vista, the city and state, especially the ABCs and very understanding as far as temporary permitting and temporary seating outside into the parking lots like I see a lot of the restaurants do.

So I wouldn't be as concerned for the tasting rooms here. I would be super concerned once our customers and distribution, all those bars, all those restaurants that we rely on to get our product out and support local beer, if those are to shutter again, it could do a lot of damage to the craft beer industry.

Matt, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. Sure. I've been speaking with Matt Johnson, a lecturer for SDSU Craft Brew Program, a consultant and general manager of West Brew.

Coming up on the podcast….Marine Bootcamp might get moved out of San Diego. And recent polling shows that folks in the military are changing their political views. An update on how our service members are voting. That’s up next just after this break.

The Marines might move their boot camp out of San Diego. It’s one of the options that came up as The Marines commissioned a study to look at all of their options for integrating men and women recruits, including creating a new centralized boot camp. Congressman Scott Peters, whose district covers MCRD San Diego, says he wants the West Coast boot camp to remain where it is. s.

"Yes, there would be an investment in that, but not nearly the investment it would entail, just by instinct, if you had to build an entirely new facility, acquiring land and building an entirely new buildings. I don't think cost is a reason for moving training out of San Diego."

The study was commissioned this week to the University of Pittsburgh. They’ll release their findings next year.

A lot of people are voting by mail for the first time. But military personnel stationed overseas have been doing so since the Civil War.

This year, as troops fill out their ballots, some polls suggest their political preferences may be changing. KPBS Military reporter Steve Walsh reports for the American Homefront Project.

In a year when millions of people are expected to vote by mail, overseas troops were among the first to receive their ballots. Federal law requires they go out at least 45 days before the election. San Diego County Registrar of Voters Michael Vu has been getting ready for weeks.
"This is our tabulation room. All of the mail ballots will be processed and scanned in there."
San Diego County is one of 11 counties in the US that have over 10K military and overseas absentee voters. Vu says there has never been a hint of widespread fraud, though not every ballot comes back in time to be counted. Federal law does make it a bit easier for these voters to vote absentee. For instance, overseas military voters are the only California voters who can return their ballots by fax.
"In many cases, we don't know what the status of that military and overseas voter is. Could they be potentially on a ship, which doesn't necessarily have good transmission when it comes down to fax."
Even with the extra measures, over the last two presidential elections, military personnel actually voted at a lower percentage than other absentee voters, both in San Diego County and nationally. And this election, polls show this block of voters is more in play than in previous elections. A Military Times Poll in August showed Joe Biden with a lead, with President Trump's approval rating well below what it had been at the start of his term.
Eli Yokley is a Senior Reporter at Morning Consult, which has also been tracking military and veterans households.
"Military families are not unlike the rest of the electorate, and we're seeing Joe Biden do better with older folks and with white folks and with men across the board."
This group has typically been a reliable part of the Republican base, and in some ways it still is. Morning Consult polled veterans and active duty households after a bombshell article in the Atlantic reported the president had called people who served "suckers and losers." Morning Consult found support for the president holding steady. He was still leading among military and veteran households.
"I think we've seen with white voters and with men, who are sort of the Trump base, not a lot has moved their views, across the board, over the last four years."
One thing that DID hurt the president in polls was his talk of sending in the military to quell civil unrest or to monitor the elections.
Back from Walter Reed Medical Center after being diagnosed with COVID 19, Trump tweeted a video message to military voters.
"We got everybody pay increases. Three of them. There's never seen anything like what I've done for the military."
For most candidates, it's hard to target military voters directly. Regulations make it difficult to hold events on base. Democrat Doug Applegate - a retired Marine - ran for Congress in 2016 and 2018. The district includes the sprawling Camp Pendleton in southern California, where more than 36,000 people live on base.
"I wouldn't go on base. I was asked that on occasion. And I thought that regulation was well founded. Because I don't think that the military needs to be sucked into politics."
They may not even vote where they're based, making it even harder to target them, says Applegate - who didn't win a seat in Congress in two tries. He says these voters tend to be conservative, but not always. And even though they may be insulated from the job market:
"I think they look at the economy just like everybody else. Is it good, because active duty military still buy homes. They still live in the community where they're stationed at."
Applegate says national security is also important to military voters; they tend to size-up who will do the best job of being their commander in chief.
In San Diego, I'm Steve Walsh.

That was KPBS Military Reporter, Steve Walsh. 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.

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Before you go, KPBS is still hoping to hear from you about your halloween plans. If you have a moment, please call (619) 452-0228‬ and leave a voice memo with your name, your neighborhood, and then whatever your plans might be.

Again the number is (619) 452-0228. We’re looking for your pandemic Halloween plans or ideas. That’s it for the podcast today, thanks for listening and have a great day.

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San Diego News Now

San Diego news; when you want it, where you want it. Get local stories on politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings. Hosted by Anica Colbert and produced by KPBS, San Diego and the Imperial County's NPR and PBS station.