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Cannabis And Local Politics

 April 30, 2021 at 4:53 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Friday, April 30th >>>> Cannabis spending in local elections... More on that next, but first... let’s do the headlines…. ###### Following a public protest Wednesday, the Escondido Police Department released video footage from an incident last week where an officer shot and killed 59-year-old Steven John Olson. In the video, at least six shots were fired by Officer Chad Moore. The shooting happened a day after Derek Chauvin's conviction in the murder of George Floyd. ########## Sweetwater High School hosted a special vaccination clinic on Thursday, administering the Pfizer vaccine, which is approved for anyone 16 and older, to hundreds of high school students. National city fire battalion chief Robert Hernandez and his department assisted at the clinic. “they were influencing their fellow students to say, ‘hey are you not vaccinated. are you sure? you’re on the fence? i think this is a great idea to create that herd immunity.’ so, they’re actually influencing at the high school level, their other fellow students to come in and get vaccinated.” ######### A section of the coastal bluffs came crumbling down Wednesday at San Elijo (ih-LEE-ho) State Beach in Cardiff... near Lifeguard tower 16. No injuries were reported. As more people frequent the beach, officials have placed signs warning visitors of the danger of the actively failing bluffs. ######### From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need. Regulations regarding cannabis sales are loosening slowly but surely countywide.. KPBS’ Katy Stegall says the industry has been pushing for those changes for some part by spending money in local elections. It was a joyful Election Night for San Diego Democrats last November. They celebrated winning the presidency and several local elections. One of those big wins was the majority on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. And the new majority acted quickly to pass a new set of policies allowing more cannabis businesses in unincorporated San Diego County. Nathan Fletcher County Supervisor “The county of San Diego is one of the few governing entities that had this outright ban on cannabis products. Not just recreational adult use, but medicinal.” County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher led the push for the change. He’s long supported cannabis — and the industry has supported him. Associated Cannabis Professionals donated $22,000 to Supervisor Nathan Fletcher One cannabis political action committee donated $22,000 to his 2018 campaign. But Fletcher says he didn’t push these policy proposals because of his donors. “But the reason we’re doing this is because it’s the right thing to do. It’s also the reason pretty much every other jurisdiction in San Diego County has already done the exact same thing.” Other candidates, mostly Democrats, were backed by cannabis advocates too. They received more than 300 thousand dollars during the last two elections. But cannabis groups have a long way to go until they rank amongst the biggest political spenders. Consider that in the last two elections, the San Diego Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee spent more than $1.5 million. But political experts say cannabis’s influence is growing. “There are other major players and cannabis could become one of those players in San Diego politics,” UCSD professor Thad Kousser says the fight for adult use cannabis is no longer at a state level — it’s being waged city by city. And that means local political contributions are important. Thad Kousser UC San Diego politics professor “Now the question is about where can you put a dispensary, where can you do agricultural production? And that’s a land use policy.” Cannabis advocates are happy with the supervisors’ vote--but they aren’t stopping there. Dallin Young, Vice Chair of San Diego’s Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, says they need more licenses for dispensaries and cannabis lounges. So they’re looking next at increasing licenses in individual cities, which he says will also help social equity campaigns within the industry. Dallin Young Vice Chair, San Diego’s Cannabis Chamber of Commerce “Many of those facilities do not have any minority representation amongst their ownership. This is a huge problem. And that is because how few licenses there are available. If you allow for more licenses to be available, then you allow for more diversity in the marketplace because you deflate the value of those licenses.” They also want to decrease the cost of a license. For example, in Chula Vista it can cost more than $100,000.That drives prospective business owners elsewhere. Ed Wicker Cannabis Business Attorney “ Time and time again I tell these people, there are no opportunities right now in the San Diego area. How do you feel about going out to Desert Hot Springs or California City?” Cannabis Business Attorney Ed Wicker says there are only five cannabis businesses on unincorporated county land right now. “ It’s disheartening. Why can’t they have a lawful business that is something they could manage, close at home? San Diego governments are missing out on the revenue here and it’s been a dearth of business opportunities.” Lincoln Fish is the CEO of one of the five licensed cannabis businesses in unincorporated San Diego who has contributed to candidates supporting the looser regulations. He says it’s time to move beyond the “reefer madness” stereotype. Lincoln Fish OutCo Labs CEO “We need to keep focusing on removing the stigma-- that cannabis users aren't necessarily bad people, and that they're just like anybody else." ########## California’s Homeless population nearly doubled in 2020 and it remains one of the biggest issues facing our state. Now, California mayors including San Diego’s Todd Gloria are asking the State for more help. KPBS racial justice and social equity reporter Cristina Kim has more. “We’re can’t solve this problem in one fiscal year. It’s going take the repeated the committed of federal, state and local leadership to get the job done.” San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria joined 12 other big city mayors today to ask the state for a record-breaking $20 BILLION investment over the next 5 years to fight homelessness. ID/L3: Todd Gloria, San Diego Mayor SOURCE: Mayors Homelessness So as big city mayors we are calling on state leaders for their continued partnership, to take advantage of this once in a generation opportunity to fund the housing and the services that we know work for people experiencing homelessness and to make a lasting impact on this crisis that I believe all of us were elected to solve. (18 seconds) Here in San Diego County… the number of people experiencing homelessness doubled in 20-20 … and racial disparities continued… with Black people… who make up around 5 percent of the county’s population accounting for up to 30 percent of the homeless population…. Jonathan Castillo is the Chief Regional Officer at PATH… a nonprofit that works with San Diego’s homeless community. He thinks the push for more state resources is a great first step to scale up existing services. ID L3: Jonathan Castillo, PATH /The solutions work, they're effective, but we just need more of it. And I think what we're not also looking at is how much does it cost us to not implement these services? What is the cost there? MEMO - please put these two SOT together. Thank you! :D Maybe a 3 second white flash? There's a big push within the city and the county to really expand street outreach, that the way that you begin to work with people is by building relationships and going out to where people are at. Mayor Gloria allocated over 10 million dollars to fight homelessness in his proposed budget … including 1 million dollars to expand PATH’s outreach program. If more state funding comes through… Gloria says everything is on the table, but he knows what works and what he wants to fund. I would like to see us grow the number of permanent supportive housing units in our city. That’s how you solve homelessness, housing plus services. Democrats in both the Assembly and Senate support the 20 billion dollar, multi-year proposal. Governor Gavin Newsom will release his newly revised budget in mid-May. Cristina Kim. KPBS News. A proposal to build hundreds of homes on an abandoned golf course in Rancho Penasquitos took a step forward on THURSDAY. KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen has more on the project called "The Junipers." AB: The Rancho Penasquitos golf course went out of business in 2015 and the property has been vacant ever since. Developer Lennar plans on building 536 homes on the land, 15% of them affordable for low-income seniors. Several neighbors called in to a Planning Commission hearing Thursday both in support and opposition. Opponents said the added population would make fire evacuations more difficult. JUDY PIERCEY RANCHO PENASQUITOS RESIDENT JP: I would like to live out my life in my home. But not if high density development puts me in danger because of wildfire risk. We need an additional permanent exit out of our community, and this must happen before the plans for the Junipers project are recommended to the City Council. AB: Supporters praised the developer for its community outreach and the inclusion of more affordable homes on site than the city's minimum requirements. Planning commissioners also noted that the official analysis shows the project will actually improve wildfire evacuation times. DOUG AUSTIN SAN DIEGO PLANNING COMMISSIONER DA: We have a crying need for housing. We no longer have a crying need for golf courses, as was mentioned. And I'm convinced that this project does not provide a greater fire danger. In fact I think it helps to mitigate the fire dangers that already exist. AB: The commission voted unanimously to support the project, which is expected to get a final vote at City Council in June. Andrew Bowen, KPBS news. And about that crying need for housing -- home prices in San Diego are nearly the fastest growing in the nation, second only to Phoenix. KPBS’ Alexandra Rangel has more on how that’s impacting the South Bay. Realtor broker and president of the Pacific Southwest Association of Realtors in Chula Vista, Ditas (DEE-tas) Yamane (yeah-MONEY) says the South Bay is seeing a change in the demographics of people moving in. She says a lot of young professionals and entrepreneurs are moving South..however she says it continues to be the most desirable location for families, due to affordability. Alexandra Rangel, KPBS Reporter “Are you seeing multigenerational families move in together so they can afford a home?” Ditas Yamane, Pacific Southwest Association of Realtors “Absolutely, that’s the South Bay, as I see the market that is trending right now. Family members move in together to be able to afford a bigger home and at the same time maintain the ability to be able to pay the mortgage.” Home prices in the San Diego metropolitan area are up 17 percent in a year as of February, this according to a new report from the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller. It’s the fastest increase, San Diego homes have seen in nearly 16 years. Ditas Yamane, Pacific Southwest Association of Realtors “Statewide $758, but here in San Diego County it’s $800,000. Yamane says the high price tag on homes is making it difficult for buyers to outbid their competition. Ditas Yamane, Pacific Southwest Association of Realtors “First time homebuyers, the competition is very steep, because they don’t have that extra cash to put in because right now the price is this much, but competition is steep, so they go over this much.” Yamane says the competition is due to a housing shortage, the average home in San Diego is sold within six days of being on the market. She says patience is a virtue especially when it comes to bidding wars. Ditas Yamane, Pacific Southwest Association of Realtors “It took us about four months and about 30 bids to be able to finally win that offer.” Overall S&P CoreLogics says national home prices are up 12%, which is the highest in 15 years, however record-low mortgage rates are enticing home buyers. Coming up.... Our weekend preview from our arts calendar editor Julia Dixon-Evans. We’ll have that next, just after the break. Looking for a way to get some art and culture this weekend? Here's KPBS/Arts editor and producer Julia Dixon-Evans with her top 3 weekend arts picks. 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.

The Cannabis industry contributed more than $300,000 in the most recent election cycle to candidates who support looser restrictions on cannabis operations. Meanwhile, following a protest on Wednesday by community members, Escondido Police Department released video footage of last week’s incident when an officer shot and killed 59-year-old Steven John Olson. Plus, we’ll have our weekend arts preview.