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New Hope For Asylum Seekers

Cover image for podcast episode

MATTHEW BOWLER

Asylum-seekers wait at the San Ysidro point of Entry in Tijuana, Feb. 19, 2021.

Some asylum-seekers are finally making it into the United States after months waiting in Mexico. Meanwhile, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria announces his ‘Parks For All of Us” initiative. Plus, what you need to know about changes to San Diego’s recycling program starting next year.

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Thursday June 3rd.

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Some migrant families are finally starting their new chapter in the US

But first... let’s do the headlines….

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San Diego county’s latest coronavirus numbers are good enough that, if the adjusted case rate stays where it is at for the next two weeks, we could move into the state’s least restrictive yellow covid-19 tier. But, that’s a moot point BECAUSE the state’s tier system will be retired on June 15th. In the meantime, the county’s focus continues to be on getting as many people vaccinated as possible via mobile, neighborhood pop-up sites.

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A measure that would have dramatically changed the solar marketplace in California was defeated by 15 votes in the state assembly on wednesday. It would have added a flat charge to homes with solar panels, and would slash the rate utilities pay for solar-generated energy. The proposal was authored by San Diego Assembly member Lorena Gonzalez who says the state’s current solar policies burden low-income black and brown communities:

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Most Californians continue to favor stricter gun laws. That's according to the latest poll from the Public Policy Institute of California. It found 63 percent favor stricter policies, about 20% think things should be kept as they are, about 16 percent think they should be less strict. PPIC says these sorts of results have been consistent since 2015.

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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.

Some refugees who have been waiting for months in desperate conditions in Mexico, hoping to get into the United States, are finally starting to see their dreams come true. The Biden Administration has been allowing more asylum-seekers through, and KPBS’ Max Rivlin Nadler joined one Honduran family as they began their new journey...

It’s early March… at the migrant encampment in El Chaparral plaza in Tijuana…. There, hundreds of asylum-seekers are seeking information, any sign that they’ll be allowed into the U.S. under the new Biden administration.
Bredin Lainez is one of these asylum-seekers…. He has his six-month old son strapped to his chest. He and his partner have been waiting in Mexico for a year-and-a-half to declare asylum in the US, fleeing as Honduras deteriorates amidst political violence and social instability.
Lainez pulls a flag he’s carrying with him out of a backpack…. It’s a Biden for President flag, and Lainez waves it in front of him. To him, it represents a new chance, a possible reversal of fortune after a brutal few years….
AMBI: MISSION BAY PARK
Sitting in Mission Bay Park this past Tuesday, Lainez tears up thinking about what his family has had to go through to get here. His son is now nine months old and on the verge of walking.
Pues…
He said he had plans just to give up. He had come so far already, just to be stopped at the border for so long….
He shows off scars on his arm, from a machete attack in Honduras…. Which he says was politically motivated…. The Honduran president, Juan Orlando Hernandez, was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in a federal drug conspiracy case in New York this spring…
Ellos ha…
Lainez said he thought he was going to be killed in the attack…. But god must have put put a guardian angel in his path, one who defended him– because he has no idea how he was able to escape. He left the country with his clothes still wet…. His mother had just done laundry.
That escape led them to Mexico. But then Lainez and his partner Yuris Erazo encountered a Trump-era policy known as Title 42, which has put a near-total halt to the processing of all asylum-seekers at the border.
In recent weeks, an agreement hammered out by the Biden administration and the American Civil Liberties Union has allowed vulnerable asylum-seekers to enter the United States.
Erazo describes just how bad things were in the migrant encampment, where they moved to after a year already spent in shelters in Tijuana.
FUE MUY TRISTE…
it was all very difficult, she said. The children cried from the cold. They gave us blankets. It was very sad, but we triumphed and here we are, thank God.
They got help from the group Al Otro Lado, which has assisted thousands of vulnerable asylum-seekers in Tijuana…. After crossing the border last week, they stayed in a hotel room paid for by the state until travel could be arranged...
AMBI: AIRPORT
On Tuesday, Eitan Peled from Jewish Family Service of San Diego, helped the family get ready to move to New York, where their sponsor awaits. The group helped around 3600 migrants entering the US during the month of May.
He showed the young family how to navigate San Diego International Airport…. Which is harder if you don’t speak the language… or have never been in an airport before….
We’re really excited that we’re seeing arrivals again, and we’re seeing arrivals in the numbers that we are because these are people in desperate need of help. Of international protections. The implementation of something like title 42 denied people that access. What we’re doing is showing people we can both protect public health and afford people the right to seek asylum.
Lainez said he got comments about the flag he flew, with the president’s name on it.
Iit wasn’t Biden that motivated him to come. But he said, this didn’t have to do with politics.
ELLOS….
He says people tried to insult him, bring him down, but he was holding onto it, not out of support for a politician, but because it gave him hope of someday getting into the US.
On Tuesday, Lainez, Erazo, and their son walked down the jetway to a plane. They’ll face years of uncertainty about their status in the US, but for the first time in two years, their lives were no longer in immediate danger….
Max Rivlin-Nadler, KPBS NEWS

And that was KPBS’ Max Rivlin-Nadler

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The city of San Diego is getting ready to update its Parks Master Plan for the first time in 65 years.

KPBS Reporter Melissa Mae reports on the “Parks for All of Us” initiative.

PARKSFORALL EE VERS
The new initiative is based on years of public feedback and Mayor Todd Gloria says it delivers a firm commitment to equity.
The goal is to provide a more equitable, accessible and high-quality parks system for all by giving parks to neighborhoods that don’t have any… upgrades to the ones that need upgrading and expanding and improving existing parks.
Todd Gloria // San Diego Mayor
“The current plan no longer meets the needs of a 21st century city and what we’re proposing is a new plan that envisions a creation of 100 new acres of park space over the next 10 years coupled with a dramatic increase in equitable financing in neighborhoods.”
“The old park standard was based on acreage. For every thousand residents, 2.8 acres was allotted to community and neighborhood parks. The new Parks Master Plan transitions to a recreational value based standard which promotes physical activity and creating a safe, active space for the community.”
Gloria’s initiative calls on the City Council to establish a citywide impact fee paid by housing developers that will allow the City to fund park projects.
Todd Gloria // San Diego Mayor
“This particular park was a hard fought victory for this community. Obviously, this is a dense neighborhood with a lot of housing and so this is a very important part of the neighborhood’s quality of life here.
That park is the Wightman Street Neighborhood Park in City Heights.
City Heights resident Josephine Arellano (ARE-e-ann-o) and her family enjoy the park on a daily basis.
Josephine Arellano // City Heights Resident
“It means everything to my kids. They love coming to the park everyday. They’re here constantly. They enjoy running, playing, riding their bikes.”
Arellano says the park provides a safe space for this community.
Josephine Arellano // City Heights Resident
“We do need the help to get the park cleaned up for our kids.”
Currently, the City owns and maintains more than 42,000 acres of park assets across 54 communities.
The plan is expected to go before the City Council this summer. Melissa Mae KPBS News.

And that was KPBS’ Melissa Mae

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A conservation group is planting more than 30-thousand milkweed plants throughout California in the hope of giving Western monarch butterflies new places to breed.

"The Western monarch population is experiencing a pretty rapid decline."

Claire Pavelka is a restoration biologist working with the group "River Partners" in the San Joaquin Valley. She says milkweed plants are critical because the orange-and-black butterflies lay their eggs on them.

It grows along rivers a lot of times but that's also where a lot of agriculture and housing development takes place so it's a little difficult sometimes to protect that habitat."

She says an annual count recorded fewer than two-thousand of the butterflies. That's about a 99-percent decline since the 1980s when there were an estimated four-and-a-half-million butterflies.

If you’re interested in planting some milkweed in your yard to help out the effort, make sure you get the species that are native to California, and just keep in mind it is toxic to pets...just in case you have a dog that tears up all your flowers like mine used to. Maybe plant it somewhere they can reach it.

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Coming up.... San Diego is in the processing of rolling out a new recycling system. We’ll have that story and what it means for you starting next year, just after the break.

Some things have flown under the radar as we've all focused on COVID-19 this past year. One of them has to do with a change in recycling systems in California. In January a state mandate kicks in that says food waste will now have to be combined with yard waste and placed in new green bins. The content of the green bins will be processed and turned into compost. This new recycling system will cost San Diego a bundle.

Ken Prue is the city of San Diego’s recycling program manager. He spoke with KPBS Midday Edition host Maureen Cavanaugh.

now, what exactly what types of waste will need to be recycled when this new law goes into
Speaker 2: 00:48 Effect? When the new requirements from SB 13 D three take effect in January, 2022, basically all generators. So whether it's single family residence, multifamily residents, or businesses or other commercial entities, basically we'll have to recycle all of their bloomin' materials, which is largely the case now, but specifically they will all have to recycle organic materials. And it includes materials such as yard trimmings and untreated wood waste, as well as food scraps and food soiled paper and, uh, other, other similar items. And why
Speaker 1: 01:24 Is the state mandating this additional waste
Speaker 2: 01:27 It's to divert organic materials from landfills. And it's largely because those materials generate significant about amounts of methane as they decomposed in a landfill setting. And so it's diverting that material one to reduce the emissions, but also to create valuable and needed materials or products that can help benefit the soil and just the overall environment and
Speaker 1: 01:50 In our region, how do you expect this change will affect capacity at San Diego's
Speaker 2: 01:55 Land? Well, it'll definitely help because it, it in diverting materials from the landfill, it really extends the capacity of the landfills. So, uh, that, that, that will help. And it will also help us in reaching our zero waste planning, climate action plan goals.
Speaker 1: 02:09 The city will compost the waste at Miramar greenery will the capacity of the greenery need to be in,
Speaker 2: 02:17 We, we have capacity and we'll be doing some modifications to our facility. The main material that we will receive in this setting will be from the, the waste that we collect from the city service residences. And, uh, there will also be other privately operated facilities, both existing, and also new facilities coming online that will process a lot of the material from businesses and condo complexes and, and, uh, entities like that.
Speaker 1: 02:45 One of the hurdles in complying with this new state law is that most single family residences don't have a green band currently. So how are they going to
Speaker 2: 02:53 Get one? Well, that's something we're going through the planning stages now, but the state law, the new new law requires that all generators will have to have containers. So for those homes that are serviced by the city of San Diego, we will have to provide those green containers and as well as collecting that material. And actually it will need to be collected weekly. So currently about two thirds of the homes have service, many of which provide their own old-style trashcan to use for the yard trimmings. So we'll actually have to convert the program to weekly. We'll have to get the automated carts, the green cards, and then we will also actually have to add the food scrap materials to the program. So then there'll be able to put their, their yard trimmings, their wood waste and their food scraps all in one bin and that'll get serviced weekly.
Speaker 1: 03:41 This is a tremendous increase in resources that the city is going to have to dedicate to recycling. Tell us more about that. What, what are you going to, I have to add
Speaker 2: 03:50 For the city service residents, we will have to be doing a lot of procurement, both of the existing containers, as well as, uh, purchasing a number of additional collection trucks. We also have to hire a significant number of staff, and we also have to upgrade facilities both for the fueling system for the, uh, compressed natural gas, uh, to fill the trucks, but also things like locker rooms. And you have just some of the basic infrastructure kind of the behind the scenes stuff. And, and then we also have to do a substantial effort, both for the city service customers, as well as across the board, a lot of education and outreach and also coordination and regulation of our franchise haulers that PR that service, the multi-family complexes and businesses. And there's a lot of reporting requirements. It's, it's a huge, huge undertaking and a huge, huge responsibility, or even you could consider it a burden placed on, on the jurisdictions. How much is this going to cost the city? It's a, it's a, it's going to be significant. And it's something that we're still in undergoing the planning phases. So I don't have a dollar amount off, off the tip of my tongue. The,
Speaker 1: 04:56 I believe spends about $34 million on trash service now. So what are we talking millions more?
Speaker 2: 05:01 Well, the, the $34 million or so that is just for the black bin collection, the refuse collection. Then there's also money currently spent on the recycling collection. So for the blue bins and the yard trimmings collections, and then there'll be a significant add with having to purchase all of these automated containers and a number of new collection, packer trucks and the staff. And it's definitely, uh, in the millions of dollars, uh, that will be required to meet these requirements,
Speaker 1: 05:32 This huge, additional cost for waste recycling and waste pickup in the city. Could this be the final straw that may end free garbage pickup for single family homes in San Diego
Speaker 2: 05:46 Is that would be referring to the people's ordinance of 1919. And that that's something that would require a vote. And so that's something that could not be just decided at, at the staff or at the, at the city level, per se of say the city council, it's something that's currently with with implementing these requirements. The, uh, they're becoming a general fund costs. And so that's definitely does these new funding. Considerations are something that are not taken lightly.
Speaker 1: 06:15 People will now be asked to put food waste with their yard waste in these new green bins. What kind of outreach does the city plan to do this?
Speaker 2: 06:24 Because the city is so large, it will be a phased expansion. And so what we'll be doing is we'll be reaching out to residents as the service will be expanded into their area. And there'll be mailing. We'll also be doing outreach on social media and various platforms basically to let them know the services coming and to help them understand what the new requirements will be and basically how to participate and really present it in a way that it'll be easy to do. And something that people can easily get used to. One thing that we will offer is, uh, what's, what's known as a kitchen pale, and basically it would be a pale that you, uh, could put your food scraps in and use it to store the food scraps in your kitchen, say under your sink, or even in your freezer, then take that out to your collection container before you put it out at the curb. And so it's something where it'll make it convenient and also it'll have nice graphics on it to help people understand the types of materials they can put in the container. You know, we really want to convey to people too, that it's as easy as possible to, to do and get used to.
Speaker 1: 07:28 Now, state law requires that this becomes effective January 1st, and there are large fines for not complying by then, is the city in danger of facing the,
Speaker 2: 07:38 The city takes the implementation of these new requirements very seriously. And we're working very closely with Cal recycle the agency that, that regulates us on this, on these matters and explaining to them where we're at with our implementation. And we're, we're doing everything that we can to, to implement in time. Uh, we know that we will not be able to have everything a hundred percent rolled out by January one of 2022. And it's, it's in part a with the timing of the administrative regulations, the implementation regulations for this law only getting finalized, uh, in, uh, last December, early January. So originally they intended to have about three years of planning for jurisdictions and with COVID and everything else. It took longer. So we really have a very short lead time. And so, so say we had just under a year really to roll it out. But at the same time collection trucks take generally about 18 months to get. So we basically are explaining where we're at and, and showing that we're doing everything we, we physically are able to and taking it seriously. And, uh, calorie cycle has been very receptive and responsive to our, our, our situation and, and what, we're, what we're doing.

Ken Prue is the city of San Diego’s recycling program manager, who talked about the plan to recycle food waste. He was speaking with KPBS Midday Edition Host Maureen Cavanaugh.

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.