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Pack Your Patience For The Beach

Cover image for podcast episode

JOHN CARROLL

San Diego Police beach patrol vehicles shown at Mission Beach on May 27, 2021.

San Diego Authorities expect the beaches to be mobbed this memorial day weekend -- so be prepared for crowds and get there early to find parking. Meanwhile, a new report finds that more than 100,000 Californians don’t have access to affordable housing and local housing advocates are calling on the state to help preserve affordable housing. Plus, the department of veterans affairs is reopening veteran cemeteries, at a limited capacity, in time for the holiday weekend.

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Friday, May 28th.

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Busy, buuuusy, busy beaches this weekend.

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

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Get vaccinated against covid-19 and you could win a million bucks. Yes, it’s real. Governor Gavin Newosm said so on Thursday.

"THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA TODAY IS ANNOUNCING THE MOST SIGNIFICANT INCENTIVE PROGRAM.....FOR THOSE WHO SEEK TO GET VACCINATED."

On drawings that start on june 4th, 30 people will win 50,000 dollars. On June 15th, 10 people will get 1-point-5 million dollars. Also, the next 2 million people who get vaccinated will get a $50 gift card.

And not to fear, if you’ve already been vaccinated, you’re already entered in the lottery.

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Legoland in Carlsbad has just unveiled its largest park addition ever: the lego movie world. The new section of the park is designed to fully immerse guests into the Lego movie universe. Here’s Legoland California President Kurt Stocks.

“it’s a good sign that things are continuing to improve. i think with restrictions easing on the 15th of june. we’re going to expect a really really good summer.”

Guests must purchase their tickets online. Masks and reservations are required.

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Tonight the Partnership For A Better San Diego along with SDG&E and the city of San Diego, will hold an outdoor event in City Heights to connect residents with financial aid programs. meant to help pay rent and utilities. The event will run from 5-730 tonight at 4265 Fairmount Ave in City Heights. Translation services will be available for several languages.

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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.

And here I thought hiking trails were busy. With Memorial day weekend upon us, and the unofficial start of the best season ever– summer– San Diego Police and Lifeguards are expecting the beaches to be packed. With thousands of people. If you are going to the beach, be prepared.

Here’s KPBS’ John Caroll with more.

Mission Beach… on the eve of Memorial Day Weekend… a scene of relative calm… before the storm.
“We’re expecting large crowds to come out and enjoy the beautiful weather, beautiful beaches.”
TRACK:
What a difference a year makes… especially when the year in between Memorial Day 2020 and 2021 was marked by the worst pandemic of our lifetime. Last Memorial Day weekend, these parking lots were closed. Access to the beach was limited.
((NAT POP HERE/MAYBE PEOPLE MAKING HAPPY NOISES IN THE SURF?))
But more and more people are getting vaccinated every day… COVID is fading. So pent up demand to experience the natural beauty of our beaches is going to mean packed beaches over this holiday weekend.
SOT 3:10 - 3:17
CG: Capt. Scott Wahl/San Diego Police Department
“We have increased our staffing considerably. We’ve brought police officers from throughout the city to come out here and work our beaches.”
TRACK:
But Wahl says police simply want everyone to have a good, safe time. He says that starts by getting here nice and early.
STAND UP (2nd one) :06 - :18
CG: John Carroll/KPBS News
“But getting here early means more than finding a primo place on the sand. You won’t even see the beach if you can’t find a place to park, and these lots will fill up very early.”
SOT 3:21 - 3:26
“These parking lots are only so big. Once they’re full, there’s no more parking. So bring your patience.”
TRACK:
Other things to keep in mind… no drinking alcohol or smoking on San Diego beaches. If you’re going to build a fire, it has to be in one of the fire pits and whatever you bring in, either dispose of properly or take it with you. And if you or your family plan on going into the water… be aware of conditions.
SOT :32 - :34
“We’re making a lot of rescues. The water’s very warm.”
TRACK:
Lt. Lonnie Stephens with the San Diego Lifeguard service says there are a couple of quick, easy things to do to put safety first.
SOT :50 - :57
CG: Lt. Lonnie Stephens/San Diego Lifeguard Service
“Always swim near a lifeguard or in a guarded area. Check in with a lifeguard when you get here, we’ll give you those best areas to swim.”
TRACK:
If you’re going to drive a motorized boat and you’re under 40 you need to have a boating card. Info on how to find one is at “california boater card dot com.” And of course… no drinking while driving a boat.
It’s really all about shared responsibility... everyone doing their part to make the unofficial start of summer 2021 a moment to enjoy some great times at the beach - to make memories that will last a lifetime. JC, KPBS News.

And that was KPBS’ John Caroll.

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One answer to San Diego’s housing crisis may be having the state buy and preserve tracts of affordable housing. That’s what local housing advocates are asking for after a new housing report reveals thousands cannot find an affordable place to live. KPBS’ Alexandra Rangel has the story.

Tucked between houses and apartments in the busy neighborhood of City Heights, is Euclid Court Apartments.
Nearly 40 years ago it was one of the first properties acquired in city heights with preservation in mind.
Stephen Russell, San Diego Housing Federation CEO
“It has been preserved to be affordable for local working families.”
Stephen Russell with the San Diego Housing Federation believes preserving affordable homes is one of the answers to San Diego’s housing shortage.
A recent housing needs report from the California Housing Partnership revealed more than 100 thousand low-income renters do not have access to affordable housing.
Stephen Russell, San Diego Housing Federation CEO
“It identified a need for 132-thousand homes, that’s 132-thousand households paying too much in rent.”
The report comes days after the Conrad Prebys Foundation sold nearly 6-thousand affordable homes to Blackstone Group.
Russell says If history repeats itself, with previous purchases from the group, more than likely those 6-thousand units will be upgraded, which then leads to an increase in rent.
Stephen Russell, San Diego Housing Federation CEO
“We would like to see them reinvest in the very communities that they just dis-invested from. We’d like to see them put forward resources to help these families stay in place.”
The housing federation is hoping state leaders will help with the housing crisis the county is facing.
Stephen Russell, San Diego Housing Federation CEO
“We’re also asking for out of the state budget,$500 million dolar fund for acquisition and preservation of existing affordable housing.”
Laura Fernea (FUR-knee-ah) with the City Heights Community Development Corporation says even with an eviction moratorium in place, she’s still seen families who can't afford rent, evicted from their home.
A huge problem is that tenants don't know their rights. Fernea says the City Heights CDC has developed an eviction prevention program.
Laura Ann Fernea, City Heights Community Development Corp.
“We have weekly workshops about tenants rights so they can learn about what is right when they get harassment from a landlord, a notice, or something they don't understand.”
She says those interested in the program can visit HOUSING HELP S-D DOT ORG
Alexandra Rangel KPBS News.

And that was KPBS’ Alexandra Rangel.

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mexican airlines can no longer add new flights to the US -- that’s because the United States federal aviation administration has downgraded Mexico's aviation rating from category 1 to category 2. From the fronteras desk in hermosillo, KJZZ’s kendal blust reports.

The FAA says Mexico failed to meet minimum international air-safety oversight standards. But promised to help the country’s aviation agency resolve areas of non-compliance.Mexican airlines can continue existing services to the United States. But the downgrade bars them from adding new flights and prevents U.S. airlines from code sharing with flights operated by Mexican carriers.Mexico’s transportation agency says that it’s committed to working with the FAA to bump its rating back up to Category 1. But added in a public statement that the audit was carried out during a coronavirus outbreak last October when staffing was significantly reduced.SOC: Kendal Blust, KJZZ News, HermosilloSOC 2: I’m Kendal Blust in Hermosillo

And that was KJZZ’s Kendal Blust in Hermosillo.

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Coming up.... The VA is lifting some, not all, restrictions at veteran cemeteries in time for the holiday weekend. More on that next, just after the break.

Days before Memorial Day, the Department of Veterans Affairs is lifting visiting restrictions at the cemeteries it manages. The pandemic limited the number of people allowed at burials and ceremonies. Still, at many veterans cemeteries, this year's Memorial Day commemorations will be scaled back. Chris Haxel reports for the American Homefront Project.

[HAXEL: Lynn Rolf Jr. is a retired Army colonel who volunteers here at Leavenworth National Cemetery in Kansas, where about 40,000 veterans are buried.
ROLF: all the way from Spanish American war, world war one, world war II, civil war … And my brother's buried out in section 58 C Sergeant Rolf
HAXEL: That's Sgt. John Rolf, who served a tour of duty in Vietnam. Lynn Rolf spends weeks preparing for Memorial Day. Typically, hundreds of Boy Scouts would place American flags at every grave. There would be speeches and prayers and a bugler playing taps. That didn’t happen last year. At first Rolf heard everything was canceled. But that was not acceptable.
ROLF: we were able to work with our cemetery director and with all the precautions and all the social distancing and masks and everything else, we were able to continue to have our formal ceremony. We weren't going to not do it. We weren't going to be told, no you can't.
HAXEL: They ended up with a small event that was closed to the public. Only a handful of veterans groups' representatives were there.
SOUND FROM 2020 COMMEMORATION
This year, another small event is planned. With the pandemic receding, the VA did lift restrictions on gatherings… but... barely a week before Memorial Day… too late for Rolf and others to plan a typical full-scale commemoration.
SOUND FROM 2020 COMMEMORATION
The VA also lifted another rule - that had limited attendance at burial
services to 10 family members.
ROLF: it's been really hard on them because it's, unfortunately, you know, a lot of the families they don't have the brother and sister or aunts and uncles from Virginia or down in Oklahoma to be able to come back and participate in it.
HAXEL: Stacey Unzicker says the group aspect of events like Memorial Day is important. Her father was killed in Vietnam. Nine weeks before she was born.
UNZICKER: I didn't get to ever so much as breathe the same air as my dad. So I tend to take anything honoring our fallen very much to heart.
HAXEL: For years, her fathers death was something… nobody really talked about.
UNZICKER: mostly because my grandparents couldn't accept that dad didn't come home. His body was not viewable, so they didn't have the closure.
HAXEL: She likes to honor veterans at throughout the year. At events where hundreds of volunteers gather to lay wreathes at gravestones. She says that sense of community has been missing.
The official Memorial Day ceremony at Leavenworth will be scaled back this year. But it will be open to the public. And the VA says those who are fully vaccinated don’t have to wear masks. Rolf, the retired colonel, encourages people to visit… on Memorial Day, or… any day. For a quiet moment of reflection.
ROLF: When you stand up on one of the far hillsides and look down over it, you're just amazed at as the, the beauty of the place, serene, solemn, but still beautiful.
HAXEL: And for people who do visit, Rolf says they'll see a small sign that things are returning to normal. After missing last Memorial Day, the Boy Scouts were allowed back this year. And once again, visitors can expect to see 40-thousand small American flags in front of each veteran's gravestone. I’m Chris Haxel in Leavenworth Kansas.

That was Chris Haxel, reporting from Leavenworth, Kansas. 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.

If you’re looking for ideas for other things to do this memorial day weekend, you can check out the KPBS Arts Blog at KPBS dot org. Our arts reporters have everything you need for planning a local arts filled weekend. Beyond that, 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 and safe Memorial Day weekend.

San Diego News Now podcast branding

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.