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Tourists Return To San Diego

 March 25, 2021 at 5:32 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Thursday March 25th. >>>> Travel is spiking in San Diego for spring break. We’ll have more on that next but first... let’s do the headlines…. ###### Two new cases of the Brazilian variant of the coronavirus have been found in San Diego. Infectious disease experts say the variant may be more resistant to vaccines. But they also say it’s not clear if it's a more severe illness, or if it’s more easily spread. One case was reported in a resident with no travel history, and one in a non-resident who had been overseas. Neither was vaccinated and neither has been hospitalized. ######## San Diego Gas & Electric says residential customers will receive a break on their utility bills in the coming months, thanks to the state's climate credit program. The credits are expected to reduce natural gas bills by an average of17 dollars per month. Electricity costs will come down an average 34 dollars per month. The California Climate Credit is a state program requiring power companies that emit greenhouse gases to buy carbon pollution permits. The credit on customers' bills is their share of the payments that come back from the state program. ######## A storm system will sweep through San Diego county today with heavy winds expected in the mountains and deserts. Skies should clear up by Friday night and then it should be getting a little warm over the weekend. ######### From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need. San Diego County public health officials reported 257 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday and 11 additional deaths. Overall case counts have been relatively low lately...but spring break is upon us now, and travel trends are spiking. KPBS’ Matt Hoffman reports. Even just looking from month to month we are seeing an increase in passengers Travel is up nationwide, and the trend is hitting the San Diego International Airport too. This past sunday was their busiest flying day since the pandemic was first declared more than a year ago.. In march there’s several different spring breaks so traditionally a popular time for people to travel San Diego International’s traffic was down 95 percent last April, but they’re making gains right now it’s down around 60 percent.. And so is the hotel industry.. After averaging around 16-thousand daily bookings countywide at the beginning of the year, numbers have steadily increased to now more than 50-thousand daily bookings.. An improvement, but not comparable to pre-pandemic numbers during this time. While we’re not seeing some huge spring crowds like here at mission beach a lot of local kids are yet to go on spring break and businesses in this area say they’re starting to see an uptick in customers This year has really changed our traffic patterns a lot we are some seeing some tourists from arizona but it’s honestly dropped a lot significantly since last year Belmont Park is a staple in Mission Beach for tourists and locals. The park’s public relations manager Daniela Bower says Spring Break is typically their second busiest time of the year. In previous years it would be packed this year I dont think it’s going to be quite that much Go carts going But they are expecting an increase over the next few weeks.. And because we’re now in the state’s red reopening tier, amusement parks and baseball stadiums can reopen April 1st. Drilling nats Belmont Park is doing just that and preparations are underway to reopen all the rides here. nats It’s definitely a huge deal for us and the san diego community as well We are hiring right now specifically for our restaurants primarily and then for our rides which we’ll be reopening. We are a big employer in the area in 2019 peak season we had over 1,000 workers and we were down to 150 at our slowest during COVID Top health experts at the CDC are still advising against traveling.. Warning of a potential surge in cases, especially if unvaccinated people are mixing. If they make that decision to travel, do it responsibly and at this point in we’re a year in folks know the individual steps and actions we can take Officials say there are no quarantine restrictions for traveling county residents coming back.. But Supervisor Nathan Fletcher says we’re on a good trajectory, in the next few weeks potentially seeing more restrictions relaxed.. He’s reminding those traveling of a state-wide advisory. Encouraging californians to avoid non essential travel more than 120 miles from someone’s place of residence. Fletcher says that advisory also asks those traveling out of state to self-quarantine for 10 days when they return. MH KPBS News. And that was KPBS’ Matt Hoffman. ####### One year ago, San Diego designated a handful of "slow streets." They’re are streets where car travel was restricted to encourage walking and biking during the pandemic. KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen took a look at what's left of the program…. EZ: It's quiet and peaceful and it feels, like, safe. Like if you make a mistake, it won't be bad and you won't get hit by a car or anything. AB: 10-year-old Emma Zachowski says she rides her bike down Diamond Street in Pacific Beach at least every other day. EZ: It's more natural, you can hear the wind in the trees. And other places it's like cars rushing by you. It feels scary almost. AB: Last April, when the first COVID-19 lockdown was in full swing,, San Diego city leaders sought to open up streets for people to recreate safely. The city put up sandwich boards noting the streets were closed to through-traffic but open for pedestrians and cyclists. But in recent months, the city has quietly removed all the slow streets except Diamond. When Katie Matchett, president of the nonprofit Beautiful PB, heard the city was considering removing the slow street here, she began organizing neighbors to support it. KM: This is a place people come and they get to interact with their neighbors, and they get to meet people and they get to have this sense of community. And that's important at all times, regardless of whether or not we're in the middle of a pandemic. AB: The slow streets program has faced backlash from some residents and businesses because of disruptions to parking and traffic. City officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment. And that was KPBS Metro Reporter Andrew Bowen. ########## San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten was on Capitol hill on Wednesday. She was getting grilled by US Senators during her confirmation hearing to become the next deputy secretary of education. KPBS Education Reporter Joe Hong has more... Much of the questioning during Marten’s two-hour long hearing centered around the pandemic’s impact on school children. Responding to questions about whether she waited too long to reopen schools at San Diego Unified, she said she relied on local experts and local data. SOT 2Every decision we made was rooted in safety being our strategy as the science was ever-evolving. As it evolved, we evolved in our implementation and our path forward. The tone and tenor of the questioning were largely divided across partisan lines. She received praise from Democrats for her achievements at California’s second largest district, particularly for her work with marginalized students. 19:59U.S SENATOR PATTY MURRAYUnder her tenure, the district achieved the fastest reading growth in large urban districts nationwide and had the highest graduation rate of all big city districts in California last year. Republican senators were more skeptical, especially in regards to her lack of experience in higher education. Senator Bill Cassidy from Louisiana questioned her about student loan forgiveness and was frustrated by the lack of a clear answer. SOT 3If confirmed t’s something I’d want to know more about and engage in the appropriate dialogues with the appropriate staff as it moves forward. U.S. SENATOR BILL CASSIDYThat sounds a little bit like a rehearsed answer… In fact, it sounds entirely like you were prepped for that. While Marten was being questioned on Capitol Hill, about a dozen parents and community leaders gathered in front of the district office to protest her nomination. In particular, they called her out for the disproportionate suspension and expulsion rates for Black students. During the hearing, Marten did not address racial disparities in school discipline but said she has seen success in addressing achievement gaps between Black and white students in literacy and math skills. 01:13:21When I started in 2013, our 8th graders were achieving at average across the country, looking at the NAPE scores amongst the big city districts and then in 2019 we were first in the nation in reading and second in the nation in math. The senators have not yet set a date for Marten’s confirmation vote. Meanwhile, she will finish the school year at San Diego Unified and Area Superintendent Lamont Jackson will then lead San Diego Unified on an interim basis while it searches for Marten’s permanent replacement. And that was KPBS Education Reporter Joe Hong. A demand to stop hate against local members of the Asian American/Pacific Islander community is now on its way to becoming policy. KPBS reporter John Carroll reports. “We are here today to stand and speak with one voice.” Chairman of San Diego County’s Board of Supervisors Nathan Fletcher began a morning news conference with a clarion call… for everyone to work together, to stand against discrimination and the violence it breeds against members of the AAPI community. Kent Lee is on the board of the San Diego API Coalition. CG: Kent Lee/San Diego API Coalition “I have been appalled and I think all of us have been appalled at the incidents we’ve seen not just in this last week in Atlanta, but also over the course of the last several months, over the course of the pandemic.” The murders in Atlanta… 8 people… six of them Asian women… gunned down while at work. And there are so many more incidents across this country, especially over the past year. Here in San Diego County, from the day the state went into the COVID lockdown, through the end of last year… 42 incidents of discrimination reported against members of the AAPI community, more than half of those verbal, nearly 10% resulting in physical violence… and of course, those are just the ones that were reported. CG: Kirin Macapugay/San Diego API Coalition “Words have power. Words have power to uplift and words have power to hurt.” Like everyone else at this morning’s news conference outside the County Administration Building, Kirin Macapugay called on all San Diegans to step up… to not let racist comments pass without being challenged… and she voiced support for action that will come before the Board of Supervisors next month. Fletcher and Vice Chair, Supervisor Nora Vargas are working with the AAPI community on the wording of a resolution and a new policy… words that Macapugay says will turn into action. “These actions will inform policy. These actions will inform programs, practices, laws to give all of our communities the care and the compassion that we have been asking for long before this pandemic.” CG: Ellen Nash/SD Human Relations Commission Chair “A crime against any community is a crime against all of us. It is unacceptable and it must stop now.” Ellen Nash chairs San Diego’s Human Relations Commission. She summed up her remarks saying hate has no place in America’s Finest City. The resolution and proposal for changes in county policy will be taken up by the Supervisors on April 6th. And that was KPBS’ John Carroll. …….. For Asian American Women racism and sexism are two things experienced at the same time. Reasons given for Last week's shooting rampage in the Atlanta area underscored that reality. Atlanta Law enforcement appeared to take the shooters words as fact when he stated his motive was sex addiction and had nothing to do with race. But many people in the Asian American Pacific Islander community say racism and sexism have a long interconnected history in this country. Christen Sasaki, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Ethnic Studies at UCSan Diego. She spoke with KPBS Midday Edition Host Maureen Kavanaugh. Here’s that interview… That was Christen Sasaki, PhD, Assistant Professor of Ethnic Studies at UCSD. She was speaking with KPBS Midday Edition Host, Maureen Kavanugh. Coming up....we’ll have more on the current recall efforts against California Governor Gavin Newsom. Also, it’s been a year since historic marches occurred across Mexico demanding women’s rights. And a year since the pandemic hit, and slowed the movement’s momentum. A recall vote against Governor Gavin Newsom is likely heading to the ballot later this year, and a new poll gives us an idea about where the California electorate stands on the issue.. A survey by Probolsky Research shows 53 percent of likely voters want to keep Newsom, compared to 35 percent who want to remove him. Here’s the firm’s president, Adam Probolsky: That’s not really typically a rich environment for canceling someone or for getting them unelected. The poll shows Newsom still enjoys broad support among Democrats and Black voters. But Newsom’s approval is slipping among LatinX, who’ve suffered disproportionately during the pandemic. Newsom also had higher approval ratings a year ago in the Central valley. Now a slim majority of voters say they support the recall. Meanwhile, Newsom’s supporters are saying the recall campaign is driven by fringe groups who use anti-semitic messaging. KQED Politics Editor Scott Shafer reports. A year ago, women across Mexico led historic marches and a national strike, fighting for safety and justice. Just days later, the pandemic hit, slowing the momentum of protest for women’s rights. But it hasn’t stopped the onslaught of violence against women. From the Fronteras Desk in Hermosillo, Sonora, KJZZ’s Kendal Blust brings us part one of a 2-part series. AMBI chanting, honking, screaming ….BLUST: More than a thousand women marched through the streets here in the Sonoran capital Hermosillo on March 8, joining tens of thousands across the country on International Women’s Day, calling for an end to the crisis of killings and disappearances of women and girls in Mexico.Last year alone, nearly 38-00 were murdered in Mexico - more than 10 a day on average.//AMBI upSo despite the ongoing pandemic, women of all ages came out with friends, sisters and daughters demanding attention for the violence that has touched nearly every woman’s life.DURAZO: Porque me falta una amiga, me falta Ámbar (FADE) y porque no quiero que falte mi hermana. Y por ella.BLUST: Cecilia Durazo says she’s here for her friend Ámbar - a 20 year old architecture student who was raped, strangled and stabbed more than 60 times in Hermosillo in May 2019.She marched with her 4 year old daughter, Regina, who held up a sign scrawled in purple marker with her shaky toddler script - “My mom is teaching me to fight for my rights.”Nearby, doctors Renee Rivera and Maria Soto hold up signs honoring femicide victim Mariana Sánchez, who was hanged outside the medical clinic where she worked in southern Mexico.SOTO: “Venimos por nosotras, por todas las que no conocemos, pero también nuestros corazones vienen por Mariana.”//AMBI upBLUST: Gathering the crowd, a woman reads a statement from Sonora’s feminist collectives:SPEECH: Hoy no salimos a celebrar nuestra condición de mujer. (FADE) No venimos a festejar nadaBLUST: Today, she says, they didn’t come out to celebrate, but to demand their rights, honor those who are gone and show the world that they’re still here.//AMBI … seguimos aqui, cheer …BLUST: It’s never been easy for women to speak out against violence in Mexico, says Andrea Sanchez, a member of a local feminist collective. But it’s gotten even harder during the pandemic.SÁNCHEZ: Ha sido difícil tomar la decisión salir a la calle (FADE)BLUST: They’ve faced sickness and the deaths of loved ones from the coronavirusSÁNCHEZ: Así como la violencia no cede en plena contingencia nosotras tampoco podemos ceder.BLUST: But just as violence against women hasn’t let up during the global pandemic, she says, neither can their fight.The number of women killed in 2020 was nearly the same as in 2019, when Mexico reported a record 3,837 murdered women.But other figures from last year show significant increases in gender violence.BERNAL: Definitivamente las desapariciones, específicamente de niñas, adolescentes y mujeres han ido en aumento …BLUST: A data analyst for a citizen watchdog group, Krimilda Bernal, points to a growing number of women and girls going missing across the country. Nearly 2,000 disappeared last year. Most have never been found.Emergency calls related to violence against women also rose more than 30 percent in 2020. Last March, women made 26,000 9-1-1 calls reporting domestic violence, sexual abuse, harassment and other gender-based crimes, the highest number ever reported in Mexico.BERNAL: Vemos que están fallando a las víctimas.BLUST: And Bernal says Mexican leaders are failing victims. Impunity is high. Women who report abuse are often revictimized. And the president has repeatedly minimized the issue.That’s a problem Wendy Briceño says she recognizesBRICEÑO: Es altísima. El 70 por ciento de mujeres en México (FADE) asumen, señalan declaran algún tipo de violencia por género.BLUST: Briceño, head of the Congressional Gender Equality Commission, says 7 in 10 Mexican women over the age of 15 report having experienced at least one incident of violence because of their gender.Addressing that scale of violence, she says, will require much greater commitment from all levels of government - including by her own Morena party, led by President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador.But she says demonstrations across the country this month show that the pandemic hasn’t stopped the movement’s efforts to make Mexico confront the grisly reality of gender violence.BRICENO: Los movimientos y las expresiones siguen vivas//AMBI sobbingBLUST: Roaring chants and songs at the Hermosillo march at times fell silent.Hundreds of women stood shoulder to shoulder, listening to the sobs of the mother and sisters of a 13 year old girl murdered years before. Around them, women embraced, raised their fists and erupted in shouts of support./AMBI no estas sola, tu lucha es nuestra luchaBLUST: You’re not alone. Your fight is our fight.DURAZO: Cuando te llega faltar una persona, cuando te falta una amiga, (FADE)BLUST: Cecilia Durazo, holding her daughter’s hand, says those who have lost someone know that coming out in solidarity, shouting and resisting, is the only way to create change for women in Mexico. That was KJZZ’s Kendal Blust reporting from Hermosillo. And for our art’s segment today… There’s been a lot of discussion in the past few weeks, and on this podcast, about anti-Asian racism in this country. Now a timely new podcast brings us some historical context -- it tells the story of massacre in LA’s Chinatown in 1871. The story is told through the eyes of a young woman who arrives in California as a refugee. It’s called “Blood on Gold Mountain.” KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando speaks with two of the podcast creators: Hua Huang (pronounced How Hwong) a professor of music and humanities at Scripps College and the story's narrator, and his son Micah,the show's artistic director. That was Micah Huang and his father Hua Huang speaking with Beth Accomando about the seven-part podcast series Blood on Gold Mountain. That’s it for the podcast today. Be sure to catch KPBS Midday Edition At Noon on KPBS radio, or check out the Midday podcast. You can also watch KPBS Evening Edition at 5 O’clock on KPBS Television, and as always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Annica Colbert. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

Travel to and hotel bookings in San Diego are up, though not quite back to pre-pandemic levels. And… remember how back in the early days of the pandemic, San Diego unveiled a "slow streets" program to give residents safe places to walk and ride bikes? In recent months that program has been quietly scaled back to just one street in Pacific Beach. Plus, a new podcast called “Blood on Gold Mountain” tells the story of the 1871 LA Chinatown massacre.