Skip to main content

ALERT: KPBS 89.5FM is undergoing scheduled upgrade work which may result in a temporary signal outage. Click here to listen on our radio stream.

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

High-Speed Rails And High-Density Housing

Cover image for podcast episode

ANDREW BOWEN

SANDAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata stands in front of the future Balboa Avenue station on the Mid-Coast Trolley, March 5, 2021.

The long-term growth strategy of the regional planning agency tries to balance future transportation needs with climate change reduction goals. But–with no plan to widen freeways–It's already facing political opposition. Meanwhile, can businesses require you to show proof of vaccination? Plus, a feature on a local Japanese farming family that has persevered and thrived here despite legal barriers, internment camps, and the pandemic.

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Monday May 31st.

>>>>

The long-term transportation plan for San Diego county.

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

######

San Diego county public health officials reported 58 new covid-19 cases on Sunday. And while case numbers have been down lately, officials are urging the public to take precautions to avoid getting or spreading covid-19 over the long holiday weekend. Officials say that not enough San Diegans have been vaccinated just yet for the region to achieve herd immunity. Be sure to avoid large crowds and wear your masks.

########

Some Scripps Health patients can once again access their health records online. That comes after a ransomware attack that was first discovered about a month ago. A statement posted to the scripps website over the weekend says systems are now being restored, though there is still more work to be done. Scripps officials say they are supporting a federal investigation into the attack.

########

Escondido Councilmember Consuelo Martinez is concerned that the city is kicking the issue of legalizing cannabis down the road. A majority of Escondido residents voted to legalize recreational cannabis in 2016. But despite that, the Escondido City Council recently voted to continue a ban on legal dispensaries within city limits. By upholding the status quo, Martinez says the city is at risk of advocates putting the measure on the ballot once again and the city would lose its say on how to regulate dispensaries.

#########

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

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

Last Friday, elected officials weighed in on a new long-term transportation plan for San Diego County. KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen says it's proposing big changes from the status quo and is already creating political squabbles.

AB: More frequent trolleys. Faster buses. 200 new miles of high-speed commuter trains. These are just a few of the highlights from the draft Regional Transportation Plan proposed by the San Diego Association of Governments, or SANDAG. The agency says this is what it will take for the county to meet tough state requirements to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
HASAN IKHRATA
SANDAG EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
HI: "We're reimagining the future of transportation system. We're allowing San Diegans to dream. But the only way they're going to achieve this dream is if you as leaders make it possible for them."
AB: The mass transit expansion would only work if cities change their zoning laws and permit the kind of dense housing that lets more people live within walking distance of a bus or rail station.
TODD GLORIA
SAN DIEGO MAYOR
TG: "Increasingly as we look at the responsibilities for our housing goals, it's often asked, 'Where's the infrastructure?' Well this plan describes where some of the infrastructure will come from. And I'm pleased that the infrastructure that is proposed is multi-modal in nature, actually giving San Diegans real choices that they don't currently enjoy but must enjoy certainly by the year 2050 if we're going to protect our famous quality of life."
AB: Political disputes on the plan were on full display Friday. In contrast to previous plans, this new one does not call for widening freeways. It would, however, create more carpool and toll lanes that get more expensive during rush hour. SANDAG's more conservative board members have already said they're not on board with that idea.
MATT HALL
CARLSBAD MAYOR
MH: "I feel that there needed to be more you know more benefit to north county in and around the 78 corridor and most importantly the I-5 corridor. Not just for the vehicles that we drive, but also for transit. Or not transit, I mean goods movement. So at this moment in time if I was to vote on this I would not be able to support it."
AB: After a public review period, SANDAG board members are expected to vote on the transportation plan by December. Andrew Bowen, KPBS news.

##########

A popular post on social media claims businesses in the U.S. can’t legally require customers to provide proof of vaccination or deny entry based on vaccination status.

PolitiFact California reporter Chris Nichols explored those claims with anchor Randol White in this week’s Can You Handle The Truth segment.

ANCHOR: Chris, where did this post come from?
CHRIS: This comes from a website called Healthy American.
It’s run by ‘an anti-mask activist in Orange County.’ The website has been the source of a lot of misinformation in the past. The claim about businesses not being able to require proof of vaccinations is just not accurate, … but it was shared on Instagram and Twitter and received more than 60 thousand views within 2 days last week.
It was flagged by Facebook users -- and our PolitiFact California contributor Sasha Hupka examined it through our social media fact-checking initiative.
ANCHOR: The post cites the Fourth Amendment as the reason businesses can’t require this proof. What did legal experts say about that?
CHRIS: The Fourth Amendment states that Americans have rights against "unreasonable searches and seizures" from the government.
But legal experts pointed out that asking a person for proof of vaccination does not constitute a search or a seizure, and private businesses are not the government entities addressed in the amendment.
ANCHOR: Chris, remind us about the freedoms businesses do and do not have when it comes to dealing with customers. There are some limits.
CHRIS: That’s right. Under the Civil Rights Act, private businesses cannot discriminate on the basis of race, gender, religion, national origin or disability.
But aside from that, businesses generally are able to set their own rules on their private property. … Even so, legal experts told us that businesses might have to provide reasonable accommodations -- at least for those customers who can’t be vaccinated because of a disability or religious belief before they can refuse service.
This might include allowing the customer to enter wearing a mask. Or offering them a virtual, no contact version of the service that the business provides.
ANCHOR: How did PolitiFact California rate this claim about businesses not being able to require proof of vaccination?
CHRIS: We rated that False.
ANCHOR: Finally, Chris, there’s always more questionable claims spreading on social media. PolitiFact found one that discourages people from getting a COVID-19 vaccine because it suggests, and wrongly so, that doing so could jeopardize your life insurance policy. Tell us about that one.
CHRIS: This post was also flagged by Facebook users. And it’s been circulating online for a while now. And you’re right, that claim is not accurate.
Back in March, the American Council of Life Insurers, a trade group that represents 280 companies, issued a statement calling this claim "entirely false information."
We found that life insurance companies, trade groups and state regulatory agencies have all said that the COVID-19 vaccine does not play a role in life insurance eligibility or payouts. We rated the claim on Facebook as False.

That was CapRadio’s PolitiFact California reporter Chris Nichols speaking with anchor Randol White. Full versions of all fact checks are at Cap-Radio-Dot-Org-Slash-PolitiFact.

##########

Coming up....The pandemic is just the latest challenge for a North County farming family of Japanese descent… They’ve also had to overcome legal barriers and internment camps

“If you had a Japanese face. If you had Japanese ancestry, even though you were an American citizen, they interned you. They put you in jail.”

....that and more up next, just after the break.

A North County farming family of Japanese descent has persevered and prospered over generations, despite numerous challenges.... KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne tells us about the Yasukochi family and how their farm has survived to this day.

Donal Yasukochi and his daughter Brianne walk the farm land that once belonged to his parents and grandparents.
DONAL YASUKOCHI/OWNER
“We're growing corn, we have artichokes, asparagus. We have raspberries, blueberries, strawberries…”
The land that now grows a variety of fruits and vegetables has a rich history that began in Japan.
Donal Yasukochi's grandparents were farmers in Japan before they decided to leave their farm behind and head to America.
“When they came over, they weren't just welcome with open arms.”
The California Alien Land Law banned “aliens ineligible for citizenship” from owning land.
But not everyone agreed with the law that worked against immigrants, and generous American farmers gave the Yasukochis a chance.
They were able to settle in Oceanside in 1924, where they began dehydrating chiles.
“Here’s a picture of my grandfather. He’s the one standing on the truck. And these are the dried chiles. He was known as the king of the chiles.”
But everything the Yasukochis built… came to a halt after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
“If you had a Japanese face. If you had Japanese ancestry, even though you were an American citizen, they interned you. They put you in jail.”
Yasukochi's grandparents were separated from each other along with their children and sent to internment camps in New Mexico and Arizona.
“Most of the Japanese American families lost everything and they had to come back. When they were released I think they gave them $25…”
When the Yasukochis returned to their farm, they were relieved to find that Mr. Gray, a generous Escondido school teacher, had taken care of their land.
“My mother used to run us out to Escondido. And Oceanside to Escondido is not 20 minutes like nowadays. It was like 2 and a half hours on a backroad and it took forever to get out there. But we had to go see Mr. Gray, we had to take him our fresh corn. My mother was always like ‘hey we're giving back, we have to give back.’”
The Yasukochis expanded into Carlsbad and began growing and selling wholesale tomatoes.
“Semi trucks full of tomatoes.”
In the late 80s, Yasukochi family farms transitioned from wholesale to growing a variety of different fruits and vegetables to sell in farmers markets.
Now into the fourth generation of the Yasukochi family, Brianne Yasukochi had to help the family farm overcome a new hurdle… the pandemic.
11:28:08 - 11:28:16
“When the pandemic hit we were like, ok the farmers markets are closing down, we might have to shut down because we don't have a viable source of income.”
With pallets of fresh produce, the Yasukochis had to get creative and decided to promote their Community supported agriculture boxes.
The CSA boxes come stocked with fresh produce and are delivered for free.
11:11:04- 11:11:15 “They saw it online. On facebook and I don't know what they do… Instagram. My daughter was doing it. [JUMPCUT] 11:10:13 - 11:10:17 “and before you know it the phone was ringing off the hook.”
At a time when stores were low on food, the CSA boxes went viral and the Yasukochis had to meet the demand.
But the boxes didn’t only help the Yasukochi farm stay in business. They also gave nearby farmers a chance to include their produce in the boxes.
11:32:21 - 11:32:40
“We work with 5 to 7 different farmers throughout the week depending on the season and what they have and so giving them a place to sell their produce while at the same time giving the customers the connection of where the produce is coming from has been a win-win for everybody.”
The CSA boxes range from $25 to $35 and include free delivery anywhere in San Diego County. Customers can also add locally grown flowers, olive oil, and jams.

And that was KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne.

This year Mexico is celebrating an anniversary --- it's been 500 years since the Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire. In part to mark that anniversary, Mexico has been actively working on the repatriation of archaeological objects; some of them from the U.S. O Is this a righteous search for historic justice or a crusade to strengthen nationalism? From K-J-Z-Z’s Fronteras bureau in Mexico City, Rodrigo Cervantes reports.

Historian Vekka Duncan and I meet at La Conchita square in southern Mexico City; the place where conquistador Hernán Cortés settled as he founded Mexico City on top of the defeated capital of the Aztec or Mexica empire.DUNCAN: “Maybe in a bench very similar to this, Hernán Cortés sat at some point.”Mexico’s current government is commemorating 500 years of the fall of Tenochtitlán, the ancient Mexico City. As part of the celebration, some avenues and squares are taking back Pre Columbian names.Duncan says the idea may be adequate to honor indigenous communities and fight racism.DUNCAN: “What I don’t like so much is the political use of that.”Mexico’s president has asked Spain to apologize for its colonialism in the country, while instructing his wife to tour Europe to collect archaeological artifacts extracted from Mexican soil.Controversy followed, but Duncan says Mexico’s actions also respond to a global trend against colonialism.DUNCAN: “There is a rightful claim for European museums, and American museums I have to say, to give back some of these pieces. In this effort to to decolonize our societies we also have to decolonize our cultural institutions and our museums”But Duncan says some governments and institutions from developed countries defend their right to maintain the pieces, arguing more and better resources.DUNCAN: “I think that’s also a very racist argument, right? Like: ‘Only white European people know how to preserve historic artifacts.’”Diego Prieto is head of Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History. He says the push to return historic artifacts is not new and that Mexico is not alone.PRIETO: “Los bienes culturales estén en el ámbito...”Prieto says world treaties establish that cultural goods should be kept in those countries where their cultural and symbolic values originate. Mexican law also establishes that historical objects belong to the nation.PRIETO: “El alma no se vende.”You can’t sell your soul, Prieto says. He says unregulated markets, along with looting, have allowed many artifacts to end up in private collections or institutions overseas.PRIETO: “...5,430 objetos culturales…”The anthropologist says Mexico has recovered more than 54 hundred objects since 2019. The vast majority of them came from the U.S. In March, the Mexican consulate in Nogales received 280 archeological artifacts; most of them obtained from Department of Homeland Security seizures.But for years, the crown jewel for many Mexicans is in Austria and it is, quite possibly, a crown itself: a penacho or plume allegedly given by Moctezuma to Cortés.AMLO: “Le dije que era como una misión imposible...”That’s president Andrés Manuel López Obrador saying that it was an impossible mission for his wife to bring the plume from Vienna’s Ethnographic Museum, since Austrians have taken permanent ownership of it.Gerardo Familiar is an expert in museology and Mesoamerican history at the extension school in Canada of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. He explains that recent investigations between Austria and Mexico determined it was best to keep it in Vienna.FAMILIAR: “The object was deemed too fragile for transportation.”Familiar says the agreement illustrates a path that many governments and institutions could follow.FAMILIAR: “I firmly believe that both Mexico and Austria share a joint responsibility toward the objects for the preservation for future generations.”The expert says the current repatriation of historical objects in Mexico responds to a nationalistic rhetoric. But he says it’s important that historic objects return to the communities where they have special significance.FAMILIAR: “In my opinion, what defines an object with a cultural or historic significance has to do with heritage”Familiar says many indigenous communities in North America consider these artifacts sacred objects; like an extension of their beings. And in those cases, he says it’s important to return those artifacts.For the expert, collaboration and friendly dialogue between countries, institutions and ethnic groups will be fundamental for years to come to protect the objects that history has left behind.

That was KJZZ’s Rodrigo Cervantes reporting from Mexico City.

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.

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.