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A New City Parks Master Plan

Cover image for podcast episode

Water flowed through Chollas Creek after heavy rainfall, Dec. 23, 2019.

JOE HONG

The San Diego City Council Tuesday approved a major overhaul to the city’s Parks Master Plan that prioritizes funding for historically underserved communities with few or non-existent parks. Meanwhile, San Diego oceanographers helped in the recovery of the remains of a military flier who crashed off the shore of Vietnam more than 40 years ago. Plus, the Biden administration’s plan to reform the military’s response to sexual assault in its ranks will likely take years to see results.

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Wednesday August 4th.

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A new parks master plan

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

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San Diego is now the largest county in the state to not have a mask mandate. Sacramento, san Francisco and 7 bay area counties have joined LA in mandating masks for indoor spaces.. Meanwhile, lines wrapped around Kaiser Permanente in La Mesa on Tuesday, with a surge of people looking to get tested. There are 21 county testing sites providing free covid-19 testing, and many sites do not require appointments.

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Sweetwater Union high school is also offering free rapid covid tests to students in the district. Their school year started two weeks ago and they’re already seeing covid-19 cases among students.

Erico Cerreno’s daughter was among those getting a test, after she was exposed to the virus in class at Eastlake middle school. Although his daughter is vaccinated, Cerreno says they’re switching her back to the hybrid model.

“we are afraid of what’s going on right now."

Out of the 35-thousand students attending in-person classes, 58 students have tested positive, according to the district's covid dashboard.

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The city of San Diego is asking the Coastal Commission for permission to protect the Sea Lion rookery at La Jolla Point. They’re seeking an emergency permit to protect visitors and marine mammals along the coast at Ellen Scripps Browning Park. The move could allow the city to put up signs saying the area is closed, and put up chains near the stairwell near Boomer Beach to block access to the shoreline. The signs and chain would remain up until sea lion pupping season is over in mid-september.

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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.

The San Diego city parks master plan hasn’t been updated in more than 65 years...that is until Tuesday when the San Diego city council approved the first major overhaul.

KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen says the goal is equity.

AB: In the past, neighborhood parks were largely funded by fees tied to new development. That meant newer and wealthier neighborhoods with more growth received a disproportionate share of park money. The new system requires that a portion of development fees, regardless of where they come from, go to underserved communities. Councilmember Vivian Moreno says the status quo has left her constituents behind.
VIVIAN MORENO
SAN DIEGO CITY COUNCILMEMBER
VM: Kids have no safe place to play in their neighborhood. Seniors don't have safe places to walk and exercise. Park deprivation is why you see people playing soccer on basketball courts and parking lots. And we felt it tremendously during the lockdown.
AB: Councilmember Chris Cate cast the only vote against the park plan, saying he fears his district, which includes the fast growing community of Kearny Mesa, could be left behind.
CHRIS CATE
SAN DIEGO CITY COUNCILMEMBER
CC: We have communities in my district that are going to be seeing tens of thousands of new units being built, potentially over 100,000 new residents come into my communities, with really no assurances or guarantees that even a small bit of the funding that would come from those communities will go back to those communities for parks.
AB: The Parks Master Plan update also includes incentives for more affordable housing. And it changes how the city evaluates park quality, with less emphasis on acreage and more emphasis on a park's amenities. Andrew Bowen, KPBS news.

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San Pasqual Academy, the residential educational campus for foster youth in Escondido, has been granted an extension to keep operating until next year, but no new students can enroll. KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne says a lawsuit was filed on tuesday to secure the schools future.

The current foster youth at San Pasqual Academy will be able to stay on the campus until next June.
In the meantime, no new youth will be referred to the program.
Meaning, the academy’s future looks dim.
“So to take them out of this system and put them back in the structure, remember these are the kids that were not only not thriving within the typical foster care system, they kind of fell out of the system and they could very easily end up on the streets because there's no placement for them. “
Charles LiMandri is the attorney representing SPA supporters.
They have filed a lawsuit against the state of California and the county of San Diego for the attempt to shut down the program.
He says SPA is a unique institution and needs a carve out in the federal law that prevents its funding.
“They're going to need to give it a special licensing category because it is unique. It's not a typical foster home situation, nor is it a group home. Certainly not one of these short term residential facilities either.”
Limandri also claims the state and county violated the foster youths’ rights.
“There’s something called the foster youth bill of rights, which is a statute of welfare institutions code, which says that children in the foster care system, particularly those who are in their teenage years and high school bound are entitled to have input into decisions that are going to affect their education and living arrangements.”
The youth and staff of SPA found out about the closure through a newspaper.
Natasha Strain is a SPA alumni and one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
“This place is for kids 12 to 18 and that's the gap in foster care, that’s where parents usually don't want teenagers, this place helps fill that gap...they feel more wanted here, a place where they can grow and become a better person.”
LiMandri feels confident that a solution will be reached.
“This is not a controversial issue, everyone wants to help out kids do better and this is a program that works so this is something we should all be able to get behind.”
TT KPBS news

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San Diego oceanographers have helped recover the remains of a military flier who crashed off the shore of Vietnam more than 40 years ago.
KPBS Environment Reporter Erik Anderson has details.

Recently developed underwater search technology has helped find the remains of an Air Force major aboard a plane that crashed into the south China Sea in 1967. Finding the crash site in the open ocean took some work.Eric Terrill, Scripps Institution of Oceanography00:03:27 -- 00:03:38 “One of the workhorses is an underwater robot that has side stamp sonar on board and it allows us to survey wide areas in a very efficient means.” Two b-52’s collided and crashed plunging into the ocean. Seven crewmembers were rescued, but three remained missing. Researchers had a general location, but they had to scour eight square miles of ocean floor.
Drew Pietruszka, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
“It makes it much more difficult to put that exact pin in the map where the accident occurred so this being so far offshore, we had a decent location but it’s not like today where all these aircraft have GPS units in them and they’re giving sub meter location.”Once the debris field was located under about 80 feet of murky water, divers inspected the underwater site. That led to the recovery of the remains of radar navigator Paul Avolese. The search happened because of cooperation with Vietnam, the US Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency and researchers in San Diego and Delaware.Erik Anderson KPBS News

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California voters will decide whether to recall Governor Gavin Newsom in September. But how does a recall election actually work? CapRadio’s Nicole Nixon explains.

NN: Voters will be asked two questions in the September 14 recall:
One: should Gavin Newsom be recalled — or removed — from the office of governor?
Two: If he is recalled, who should replace him? This question will include a list of the 46 qualified candidates, plus a space for a write-in answer.
The governor will be recalled if more than 50 percent vote “yes” on the first question. The candidate with the highest number of votes will serve out the rest of his term -- which ends at the end of 2022.
The Secretary of State’s office says voters are allowed to participate in *both* questions. So even if you vote “no” on the recall, you can still cast a vote for a replacement candidate. You can also leave a question blank.
SOC

Every active voter will get a ballot in the mail for the recall beginning August 16.

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Coming up.... Every year, 20-thousand sexual assaults are estimated to occur in the military. But only about one-percent end in convictions.

“junior enlisted service members do not trust their leaders to handle these problems...they don’t trust that there will be accountability for sexual assault in particular”

We’ll take a closer look at how President Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are changing the way these cases are being handled. That’s next, just after the break.

The Defense Department estimates 20-thousand sexual assaults take place in the military each year. But only about one-percent end in convictions. President Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin have endorsed major changes in how those cases are handled. But reforms likely will take years.

Carson Frame reports for the American Homefront Project.

When troops are sexually assaulted or harassed, they often face a daunting path to justice. If they choose to report the attack, their commander decides whether the case goes to trial— and what the accused service member is charged with.
But critics say that’s a problem...because commanders aren’t legal experts. In many cases, they’re also colleagues or friends of the alleged perpetrator.
ROSENTHAL: junior enlisted service members do not trust their leaders to handle these problems...they don’t trust that there will be accountability for sexual assault in particular
Lynn Rosenthal — an advocate for survivors of gender violence — chaired an independent commission that looked at possible fixes. It recommended that cases be handled by independent prosecutors. Speaking on the PBS Newshour, Rosenthal said those would be military lawyers who specialize in sexual harassment and assault.
ROSENTHAL: by moving the technical legal decisions about whether or not to charge a suspect with a crime, and then whether or not to send that case to trial... independent prosecutors are better able to make those decisions [we hope to see restored trust]
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has endorsed the commission's report. He’s also embraced a broader goal of changing the culture of the military and providing more resources for victims.
But that will likely mean hiring a lot of people— and developing a new framework for the thousands of sexual assault and harassment complaints the military receives each year. Congress and the Defense Department will have to find the money ... and change military law..
Lory Manning is with the Service Women's Action Network.
MANNING: My concern is that by the time it goes through the congressional meat grinder, and the interpretation of well, now what six different military services on what the report says and what Congress did to it says and how they implement it..a lot that can go wrong, you can have a map to California and end up in Delaware.
The reforms also have to overcome resistance from within the Pentagon. Despite Austin’s announcement, the military service chiefs have been reluctant to take sex abuse cases out of the chain of command.
They argue it would erode good order and discipline— and take an important responsibility away from leaders.
Don Christensen, president of the advocacy group Protect Our Defenders, says reform efforts won’t succeed without their buy-in.
CHRISTENSEN: a lot of this is going to depend on the attitude of leadership in the military. If I were President Biden, I'd be calling the members of Joint Chiefs of Staff and and saying, This is important to me, I'm your commander in chief, get on board, make it clear to the force, this is going to happen, and that you support it.
With all the work that lies ahead, the new rules likely won’t be in place until at least 2023.
Manning says, in the meantime, victims of sexual assault and harassment still have to work through their chain of command.
MANNING: I think we may see some changes with commanders right away, because they know they're being watched a lot closer than they were. But I think we have to get the message out to those who are thinking about reporting it that, hey, the old system is in place until it's not.
Under that old system, many people choose not to report because they’re afraid of retaliation. Or they worry crimes won’t be properly investigated.
And Manning says, with new rules on the horizon, some may choose to wait in hopes that their cases will be taken more seriously.
This is Carson Frame reporting.

That was Carson Frame, reporting. 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.

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.