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A Lawsuit Over 101 Ash Street Deal

 June 30, 2021 at 5:01 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Wednesday June 30th >>>> San Diego is suing over 101 Ash Street We’ll wrangle that in next, But first... let’s do the headlines…. ###### San Diego county will NOT be changing mask-wearing guidelines despite concerns about the delta variant of covid-19. That’s according to Supervisor Chair Nathan Fletcher on tuesday. In Los Angeles, public health officials on Monday strongly recommended that everyone wear masks in indoor public places, regardless of vaccination status. Fletcher says they are monitoring the situation with the delta variant. He stressed that the best thing anyone can do is get vaccinated. ####### California lawmakers approved a record 262-billion-dollar state budget package on monday night. It’ll fund the government for the next fiscal year and pay for stimulus checks for low- and middle-income californians. Here’s Senate president pro tem Toni Atkins. "a budget that will continue to push our state forward as we build back, creating a path to recovery wide enough for all californians to share." The new budget also includes expanded medi-cal coverage for all Californians 50 and older, including those who are undocumented. Nancy Maldonado is the president and CEO of the Chicano Federation, which serves about 25-thousand low income families in San Diego each year. She says the coverage is important for essential workers, especially those who work in agriculture. “they’re out in 117 degree heat, still going to work, still doing the things they need to do so that you and i have food on our table.” ######### From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need. San Diego city officials are now suing to void their deal to buy the 101 Ash Street office building. City Attorney Mara Elliot made the announcement on Tuesday. KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen, has been following the 101 Ash Street debacle since it began. He hashed out the lawsuit and its impact on the city with KPBS Anchor Sally Hixon, here’s that interview. KPBS Metro reporter Andrew Bowen, speaking about the city of San Diego's lawsuit to get out of the deal to buy the 101 Ash Street building with KPBS anchor Sally Hixon. ########## San Diego has some of the highest death rates for people in custody at county jails. KPBS reporter Alexandra Rangel has more from local activists who are calling for accountability for what they say is negligence at county jails. With support from local activists, state Assemblymember Akilah Weber is asking for transparency at San Diego County Jails. Weber will be requesting a full audit of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office to the state’s legislative audit committee, Wednesday. Community activist Yusef Miller held a press conference Tuesday outside Las Colinas Detention Facility where 24- year-old Elisa Serna Died in November. He’s hoping locals will take part in Wednesday’s hearing. Yusef Miller, North County Equity and Justice Coalition “We are standing up for Elisa Serna, who lost her life right here at Las Colinas Detention Center.” A 2019 investigation by the San Diego Union-Tribune found that the county’s jail mortality rate is among the highest in California with over 150 people who have died while in custody since 2009. Alexandra Rangel KPBS News. ####### Pandemic restrictions have mostly been lifted across California and summer tourists are packing San Diego County. But many restaurants and hotels can’t find the staff to keep up with the rise in demand. KPBS reporter Jacob Aere has more. Many hotels and restaurants across the U.S. are struggling to hire workers they lost during the pandemic, including here in San Diego County. Eric Soto manages Encinitas Cafe, and has been working there for over a decade. He says they’ve had to limit the number of tables they seat and incentivize job applicants. “We’ve bumped the starting wage a couple of dollars, especially with minimum wage going up back in January. And you know, you have to in turn raise prices. Our margins are small at restaurants, they're not that large. So if you raise wages a little but you have to pass that onto the consumer.” And just down the road at Honey’s Bistro & Bakery, they are facing a similar problem, according to manager Karelly Sanchez. She says the problems coincide with rising food costs during their busiest season. Karelly Sanchez | Honey’s Bistro & Bakery Manager “Something drastic needs to happen. We need to have more staff. We’re actually starting to train somebody new tomorrow. So we’re hoping it starts picking up and more people want to apply now, because that's something we’re going to want to do for the rest of the summer.” And in San Diego's hotel and resort industry, many of the trends are the same. Anthony Belef works at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad. He says guests are coming back in big numbers. But they’ve reduced capacity and changed some hours of operation for the time being, in order to deliver the same experience. “In our peak season we’d typically have about a 1000 to 1200 people at most. Obviously due to COVID-19 and the shutdown and all the restrictions in business , that impacted us to the point where right now, even after many months of slowly reopening things, we’re at around 650 employees right now.” These business owners aren’t exactly sure why they can’t find enough workers. Some say workers may be worried about contracting COVID-19. Others mention that employees may have left the industry for more stable and flexible jobs. And some say they might be happy to stay home with extra government benefits still available. Jacob Aere, KPBS News. ######### San Diego beaches got mostly good marks in a new heal the bay survey, but a pair of south county beaches did not do so well. 2 local beaches have some of the worst water quality in the state.. KPBS environment reporter Erik Anderson has details. Three north county beaches, two in Carlsbad and one in Solana Beach landed on the honor roll for excellent year round water quality. However, two beaches near the mouth of the Tijuana River ended up on the other end of the list. They are among the dirtiest. Heal the Bay’s Luke Ginger says he looks for some key conditions when he considers swimming in the ocean. “I would want to swim at what we call an open ocean beach. That is a beach that’s not enclosed in any sort of bay or harbor or anything like that.”Ginger says it’s also important to swim at least 100 yards away from any storm water drains. They carry urban runoff pollution and can pose a health risk. Erik Anderson KPBS News ########## Coming up.... North County residents are stepping up to help out the homeless. “ Those groups are important because it’s grassroots. It's individuals in the community saying you know what I want to do something more in my community and there’s just not enough resources.” More on that next just after the break. We’ve been reporting about how the number of people experiencing homelessness has grown over the course of the pandemic. You can see the signs everywhere in San Diego County. And some people are stepping up to help. KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne tells us about one individual running and funding a shelter out of a motel in Carlsbad. Vanessa Graziano didn’t expect to be running a homeless shelter. She starts each day at the Carlsbad Village Inn motel, where one of the rooms serves as an intake office. Here, coffee is served daily and meals are planned. Vanessa Graziano/Oceanside Homeless Resource “We have dinner being provided from Jewish Collaborative services. They do it every Monday. They’ve been doing it for like 6 months.” This is ALSO where she meets the people who are staying at the shelter to talk about what’s going on in their lives. This all started last year, when Graziano… who had once been homeless herself… decided to pay for a motel for a family in need. That act of kindness grew into what is now the Oceanside Homeless Resource. “When the COVID hit we realized we needed to create some kind of shelter and also food service so I came together with a few people out there and we started this emergency COVID shelter which absolutely grew.” The 1 motel room grew to 15 rooms that now house 35 people, including 14 children. “And all the people here are absolutely moving forward.” Originally, Graziano was operating out of an Oceanside motel. But costs forced her to look for a cheaper option… landing her in Carlsbad. Everyday, Graziano jumps on social media to ask for donations to keep the shelter running. “Over the last year we’ve probably raised over a quarter million dollars. And it's just through me, private funding, different churches, local, that have come on board. We’ve had a few grants here and there from a private organization but honestly... I have to raise $1000 a day to keep everyone here safe.” Sharna Barron has been at the motel shelter for a couple of weeks after being homeless for 2 years. She needed stability. Sharna Barron/ Oceanside Homeless Resource Client. “When you're on the streets you can't be stable, I mean rea lly you can't. They kick you out. I was sleeping on the benches at the harbor, they kick you out, I was sleeping on the ground, I got kicked out over there, you can't.” The motel has given Barron a semi permanent address that helped her get a job. She started last week. Desiree Young is another shelter resident just starting a new job. She and her family are going into their third month at Graziano’s Shelter. They also needed stability... and an address to get her children enrolled into school. “It's hard to get a job or put them into school where they have to be going when you have to move around.” Graziano says she listens to what her clients need, but there are rules they have to follow. “It is a come as you are program but if you’re on drugs, we really want you to understand you can be here safe but we’re going to get you into detox, recovery, cuz that is the next step.” The nonprofit has been able to move 38 clients into permanent housing. Graziano also connects her clients with resources... like county case workers, and healthcare. She also arranges employment assistance and transit passes to get them to their new jobs. “Those groups are important because it’s grassroots. It's individuals in the community saying you know what I want to do something more in my community and there’s just not enough resources.” Miranda Chavez is the director of Integrative Services at the Community Resource Center in Encinitas. They work with different grassroots organizations like Graziano’s. Chavez says small organizations can fill needs that large ones can’t. “The larger an organization is and the more involved government is, people are wary of it.” Graziano says her clients trust her because she’s been homeless. “I had lived a pretty successful life, and marriage, and I got divorced and then I stumbled onto drugs. And so being able to come on the other side of it and having that lived experience, I do believe my voice is valuable and credible today.” Graziano says she’s been clean for six years. Her goal is to create a cottage community where her clients can learn job skills to prepare them to live on their own. TT KPBS News 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 City of San Diego announced Tuesday that it’s suing to void its lease-to-own agreements in the 101 Ash Street and Civic Center Plaza building deals. The city alleges a real estate advisor in the deals received millions in undisclosed compensation. Meanwhile, San Diego has the highest death rate for people in custody at county jails. Plus, restaurants and hotels are still struggling to find workers.