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LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Injustice

Parklets Must Now Be In Compliance

Cover image for podcast episode

Parklet outside of Nonna in Little Italy neighborhood of San Diego, CA on July 13, 2021.

NICHOLAS MCVICKER

During the pandemic, small parklets - including outdoor dining areas - helped San Diego restaurants by providing outdoor dining space. Now these outdoor spaces must be brought up to city code, which includes permits and removing permanent roofs. Meanwhile, amid a rise in COVID-19 cases in the navy, the USS Carl Vinson left San Diego on Monday. Plus, the importance of conservation of the Colorado River system along the US Mexico border.

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Tuesday, August 3rd.

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Parklets must be in compliance now or face fines

More on that next, but first... let’s do the headlines….

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Scripps encinitas has reinstalled surge tents outside of their emergency room.
Dr. Ghazala Sharieff is the chief medical officer for scripps health.

“for us it's very sad, to see these tents going back up again when this is all preventable had we gotten the vaccines and the herd immunity up, we wouldn't have this delta variant that is now looming in front of us.”

She says we could see new covid variants if people don’t continue to get vaccinated.

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The San Diego city council passed the enuf(enough) ordinance on monday, which bans the sale and possession of ghost guns, or guns without serial codes. The San Diego police department says there’s been a nearly 200 percent increase of ghost guns being found at crime scenes.. Councilman Chris Cate voted no on the ordinance, in a stand alone vote. He says the new law would not stop criminals.

“it is completely unreasonable to believe they will follow this new law, this law does nothing to prevent mass shootings, this law does nothing to hold criminals accountable, this law does nothing to make us safer.”

In California owning an non-serialized firearm is already illegal.

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There will be some searing hot temperatures in San Diego’s east county today, and slightly not-as-searing temps in the highland communities. A heat watch from the National Weather service started yesterday and it’s still in effect today through 8pm wednesday.The mountains will see a high of 90s. Desert areas like Borrego Springs could see upwards of 120. Drink lots of fluids, stay out of direct sun, get to an air conditioned space if possible, and do check up on at-risk relatives and neighbors if you can. Stay safe out there everyone.

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From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now.

Stay with me for more of the local news you need.

Monday was the deadline for San Diego restaurants to bring their outdoor dining areas - known as parklets - up to code. KPBS reporter Melissa Mae describes how outdoor dining is changing in San Diego.

Restaurants already had an extension to bring their parklets up to code. Today, the city started going out to restaurants to make sure their structures were in compliance.
Leslie Sennett // Code Enforcement Deputy Director
“The most important reason is for safety. So, we want to be able to have those emergency vehicles pull up to a site. We want them to be able to access beyond those into a building.”
Leslie Sennet is Code Enforcement Deputy Director for the city of San Diego. She says the parklets helped restaurants be in compliance with COVID-19 protocols during the pandemic...but many parklets are not up to code.
Leslie Sennett // Code Enforcement Deputy Director
“We needed to reach out to the businesses and just make sure that we’re all on the same page: what are the regulations, what’s allowed, how can they operate safely, still provide a very nice space for their customers, but sure that all requirements, building requirements, fire requirements are being met.”
Today, Sennett’s staff was tasked with going out to restaurants who do not currently have a Temporary Outdoor Business Operations permit… to help them get one.
Leslie Sennett // Code Enforcement Deputy Director
“Letting them know what the permit process is, how they can get one and if they have elements of their outdoor business that wouldn’t be permitted, letting them know what they need to remove and how they could come into compliance.
Through a grant, a restaurant can get a permit for free. And the Code Enforcement Division will not charge the restaurant any citation fees if it brings its parklet into compliance within 30 days of the citation.
The biggest modification restaurants will have to make...starts at the top.
Leslie Sennett // Code Enforcement Deputy Director
“They can’t have a permanent roof structure. They need to be using umbrellas.”
Also, walls cannot be over 45 inches and a parklet cannot occupy any red curb space.
The Little Italy Association is asking Governor Gavin Newsom for some help with parklets.
Marco Li Mandri // Little Italy Association
“Businesses need to catch up from lost revenues from 2020, particularly the restaurant industry.”
Marco Li Mandri is the association’s chief executive administrator. He says they’ve asked the governor to let all California restaurants keep permanent roofs on their parklets...
Marco Li Mandri // Little Italy Association
“Secondly, we said the Delta variant is now starting to spread, if people have the option to move indoors and eat or outdoors and eat, they’re going to choose outdoors for obvious reasons, according to the CDC.”
Newsom’s staff responded that this is a local enforcement issue.
Marco Li Mandri // Little Italy Association
“Which makes zero sense whatsoever, this is a national, international pandemic, the rules should be the same for every city.”
If a restaurant does not modify their parklet within 30 days, an administrative hearing would be scheduled and a daily fine of $100 dollars per violation would be imposed.
The city is working on a Spaces as Places proposal… to transition temporary parklets into permanent spaces. It’s set to be brought to the City Council this fall. Melissa Mae KPBS News.

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The USS Carl Vinson left San Diego on monday just as the Navy is beginning to see more cases of COVID-19 . KPBS Military Reporter Steve Walsh has more.

The Vinson left San Diego for Hawaii Monday. The 5,000 sailors said their good-byes to families in stages, instead of the mass-gatherings of years past. COVID continues to have an impact as the Delta Variant becomes more prevalent. Rear Admiral Daniel Martin says 99 percent of the crew is vaccinated.
“We’ve let everybody out in town, so when the come back, we’re just going to mask up for 14 days and make sure we get inside a bubble once again and we’ll be completely safe.”
Capt. P. Scott Miller says they have had cases on board the carrier, including people who were vaccinated.
“What we’ve seen on our ship is that the symptoms are very minor. It’s almost like the common cold, is what we’ve witnessed so far. None of the few people we’ve had who have got the COVID, who are vaccinated, have become very ill at all.”
The Biden administration has urged the Pentagon to find out what steps need to be taken to require the vaccine. Right now it’s optional. The Pentagon says roughly half the force is fully vaccinated. The Navy has the highest vaccination rate. One incentive for sailors is they avoid two weeks of quarantine before deploying - if they receive the vaccine. The Vinson is scheduled to tour the western pacific. Steve Walsh KPBS News.

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There's a new threat to California's lakes, rivers and other freshwater systems: plastic pool toys. Cap Radio's Steve Milne [MILL-nee] explains.

Specifically, the threat is glitter and micro-beads that are often contained in pool toys. Sometimes they leak out. Katie Senft is a researcher with the U-C Davis Tahoe Environmental Sciences Center who studies how micro-plastics are affecting nature.
"Once the pool toy is punctured, if you're at home it's just in your pool and it might be a mess to cleanup but it's doable. However, when you take these pool toys that contain micro-plastics out to the beach, to your local waterways, if they get a hole then you now have these micro-plastics spread all over our natural environment."
Micro-beads are often the size and shape of a fish egg, and wildlife can and do mistake them for food. Senft's research involves examining the bellies of fish and clams in Lake Tahoe to understand how glitter and micro-beads might be getting into the aquatic food chain.
In Sacramento, I’m Steve Milne.

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Coming up....

“For Mexico, living with a dead river has been, I'll say, sort of a wound.”

A pulse flow of water temporarily reconnects the Colorado river system with the Pacific Ocean. A group is working hard to bring water back to part of the estuary, even during a persistent drought. We’ll have more on that next, just after the break.

Seven years ago, a pulse of water on the Colorado River at the U.S. Mexico border temporarily reconnected it to the Pacific Ocean. Scientists used the so-called “pulse flow” to study what plant and animal life returned to the delta along with water. Armed with that knowledge, and even during persistent drought - they are trying a new and more targeted strategy this year. KUNC’s Luke Runyon has more..

TRACK: It’s just after sunrise in the Colorado River’s dry estuary in Mexico, and Tomás Rivas is hunched over, using his fingers to comb through small bits of wood.
RUNYON: [00:00:21 1976] “What are you looking for, Tomas?”
SALCEDO: “Uh, jumping spider.”
TRACK: Rivas is an ecologist with the conservation group the Sonoran Institute, and we’re at the place where the river and the ocean used to meet and mix. The exposed salt flats are home to jumping spiders, tiny turquoise fiddler crabs and hardy species of saltgrass. The day we visited it reached 120 degrees, with a cloudless sky.
SALCEDO: [00:03:18] “These are harsh conditions here.”
TRACK: Rivas says this part of the Delta used to be home to a tidal bore -- a wave that forms as the incoming tide rushes against the freshwater river.
SALCEDO: [00:07:51 1976] “In Spanish the people locally call, ‘El Burro,’ for the tidal bore.”
TRACK: It even had a sound, he says, of crashing, rumbling water.
SALCEDO: “People say, ‘hay viene el burro’ is like ‘the donkey's coming.’”
TRACK: Because the Colorado River is so overused in the U.S. - the Burro hasn’t charged in the delta in decades. Rivas’ group is working to bring water back into this part of the estuary and study it. It won’t fully revive the tidal bore ... but it will be enough to help restore riverine habitat.[NATS -- water flowing]
PITT: [00:21:52 1978] “For Mexico, living with a dead river has been, I'll say, sort of a wound.”
TRACK: Jennifer Pitt runs the Colorado River program for the National Audubon Society. We’re upstream of the estuary, next to an irrigation canal where water diverted near the U.S. Mexico border makes a hard left turn, back into the river’s channel.
PITT: “And this is a little bit of repair.”
TRACK: For a few months this spring and summer, portions of the Colorado River flowed again. But unlike 2014’s pulse flow, this release of water is targeted to restoration sites.
PITT: [00:29:36] “We're using the irrigation canals to bypass the dry reach and drop the water into the river at the point where the scientists tell us it will do the most good.”
TRACK: The Colorado River is grabbing national headlines as water shortages take hold. Hot and dry conditions are coming home to roost in its reservoirs, dropping the two biggest to record lows. Even in a dry year like this one, Pitt says both the U.S. and Mexico have agreed to set aside water just for the environment.
PITT: [00:24:26] “If we don't figure out at this moment how to support the river itself and all of nature that it supports, I fear that we lose them permanently. So I think at this time it is more important than ever.”
TRACK: Not everyone agrees... some skeptical city leaders and farmers in Mexico say any unused water is wasted.
[NATS -- kayaking]
RUNYON: [00:12:49 1984] “I am kayaking on the Colorado River in its delta in Mexico. There's dragonflies that are sort of skipping across the water, I see birds up in the trees. There's a beaver dam just upstream of here.”
TORRES: [00:17:13 -- 1974] “I mean, this is one percent of the water that's coming from the U-S...and it's building so much into the ecosystem.”
TRACK: That’s Rocio Torres. She runs the Sonoran Institute’s Colorado River Delta restoration.
TORRES: “ So for me, that means and for our team that there's hope.”
TRACK: Torres says these targeted flows are less flashy, and harder to explain than the pulse flow. That event galvanized communities in the region, she says. And it built a base of support from water officials in both countries who agreed to set aside a small amount of water not for human use.
TORRES: [00:18:12 -- 1974] “I think that's the way human beings we learn. We messed things up. We realized we shouldn't have done that...”
TRACK: And she says bringing it back happens little by little.

And that was Luke Runyon reporting from Sonora Mexico. This story is part of ongoing coverage of the Colorado River, produced by KUNC, with support from the Walton Family Foundation.

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.

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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.