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A wave of ‘no fault’ evictions

 April 29, 2022 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Friday, April 29th>>>>

no fault evictions in San DiegoMore on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….######

Another inmate has died while in custody at a jail run by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. It’s the 8th in-custody death this year.

Officials say they did everything they could to save Omar Ornelas… but Yusef Miller of the Racial Justice Coalition of San Diego says more reforms need to be made to stop in custody deaths.

“We want better protocols for drugs, rehab and drug interaction, we want better mental health staff, better medical staff.”

An autopsy was conducted Thursday on Ornelas. San Diego has had one of the highest in custody death rates in the state for the past 15 years.


The FBI in San Diego is warning people about an increase in Sextortion incidents involving children. Sextortion is a crime that involves an adult contacting a minor through social media to engage in explicit activity on an online video platform, which is secretly recorded by the predator. The predator will then extort the minor for money to prevent the videos from being posted online. The most common victims of Sextortion are male teenagers. Sextorition crimes carry pentalties up to life in prison.


There were 275 unintentional prescription drug-related deaths in San Diego County in 2020. The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department is holding an event Saturday in an effort to address the issue. You can drop off unwanted and expired prescriptions at sheriff’s stations in imperial beach, Poway, San Marcos and Alpine from 10 to 2 Saturday..


From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now.
Stay with me for more of the local news you need.

Hundreds of San Diegans have been caught in a wave of evictions that has nothing to do with their ability to pay rent.

They’re called no-fault evictions, and city officials want to stop landlords from using them as a tool to kick people out. inewsource investigative reporter Cody Dulaney spoke to one tenant who is now facing homelessness.

David Zimmerman is standing in his bathroom in North Park, trying to put a window panel back in place.

ZIMMERMAN: “Yeah so this is the broken one, which just comes right out of this and then see the hot glue holding it there and just kind of fits in …

The 30-year-old tenant has been renting this four-bedroom house since the beginning of March.

ZIMMERMAN: “… just kind of like screwed in, but yeah, it’s completely broken … ”

The window, and a busted heater, were causing problems. Days after he moved in back in March, San Diego was hit with one of the coldest temperatures on record. So, Zimmerman complained to his landlord. He wasn’t aggressive, he said, but he wouldn’t let it go.

The following week, an eviction notice showed up on his front door. Despite having paid his rent on time and never violating his agreement, Zimmerman was asked to vacate May first. It’s a type of eviction hundreds of renters across San Diego County have faced in recent months.

ZIMMERMAN: “And suddenly the idea of being homeless, of sleeping in a car, of couch surfing … all those thoughts like immediately were very overwhelming.”

State law doesn’t allow owners to use this type of eviction to kick out renters at any time. Only if a landlord plans to sell, renovate or move into the property. But for a long time, they didn’t have to prove they followed through.

Gilberto Vera with the Legal Aid Society of San Diego says it’s not uncommon for landlords to evict renters only to turn around and rent to someone else at a higher rate.

VERA: “Tenants here in our county are vulnerable from being exploited by their landlords because of these loopholes.”

The San Diego City Council wants this to stop. A new moratorium passed last week requires that landlords meet certain conditions, such as giving tenants more notice. Chula Vista is taking similar steps next month.

But some owners say this only ties their hands with what they can do with their property.

LILLEY: “This really seems to be a political move that doesn’t protect or preserve access to affordable housing in any way.”

That’s Lucinda Lilley, president of the Southern California Rental Housing Association.

LILLEY: “There are some cases where renters definitely need to be protected because not all housing providers are focused on the common good. I will admit that. But likewise most are not actively trying to displace well-meaning renters.”

The city’s moratorium – which could prevent renters like Zimmerman from being evicted – doesn’t take effect until May 19 .. two weeks after his landlord wants him out.

But Erin Rounds with the Tenants Legal Center says even in cases like this, where Zimmerman only has a verbal agreement to live there, not a lease, the new moratorium appears to favor tenants.

ROUNDS: “There is potential that he could be protected.”

Rounds says hundreds of tenants across San Diego could soon see relief.

ROUNDS: “We think it’s going to cover any tenant whether or not there is a written lease agreement, and whether or not they’ve been there for three months or two years."

With just a few days before he is expected to vacate his home, Zimmerman is sorting through his belongings and trying to figure out his next moves.

ZIMMERMAN: “For this stuff, I mean, I’m donating this, this old, uh, this old sewing machine …”

For now, he has to decide between resisting an eviction and potentially having that on his record, or facing homelessness.

ZIMMERMAN: “As of now, I’m super broke. I’ve been looking at other places in the area and everything is ridiculously expensive, there’s no one bedrooms for less than, like, 15 in the area.”

The city’s eviction moratorium will last through this fall.

For KPBS, I’m inewsource investigative reporter Cody Dulaney.

inewsource is an independently funded, nonprofit partner of KPBS.


Moderna is seeking emergency use authorization from the FDA for its mRNA COVID-19 vaccine for children six months to five years old.

This comes as recent CDC data show 75 percent of children across America have been infected with the coronavirus.

Dr. Mark Sawyer is an infectious disease expert with Rady Children’s Hospital. He’s also a member of the FDA advisory committee that will be reviewing Moderna’s emergency use request. Sawyer says that because of the high infection rate …

“we’re going to have to look very carefully at the data that has been generated by Moderna to see if it still makes sense to use this vaccine at this time as opposed to maybe a new variant vaccine coming up.”

Sawyer says the FDA will review the data and then call the advisory committee to submit comments. He expects that to happen sometime in June.


San Diego County is now accepting clients for its immigrant rights legal defense program. The program offers legal services to immigrants detained in the county who face deportation. District 3 County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer proposed the initiative, and said at a press conference Thursday that the services will change lives in the region’s immigrant community.

“This program provides real resources to protect the right to due process for all San Diegans.”

County leaders budgeted 5 million dollars and hope to serve at least one-thousand clients in the pilot program’s first year.

For more on the program and how to get help through it, go to inewsource dot org


Warmer days bring more beach visitors trespassing railroad tracks to get to the water. KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne tells us San Diego Sheriffs will be patrolling the area and handing out fines for trespassing.

North County Transit District wants to install a fence along the railroad coast line to try to reduce the number of people crossing the railroad tracks.

But the California Coastal Commission filed a complaint against NCTD to keep the fence from going up.

With more visitors hitting the beach, NCTD is teaming up with the San Diego Sheriffs to remind the public that trespassing the tracks is dangerous and illegal.

Chris Orlando is with NCTD.

“An average of 12 about lives are lost each year due to illegal crossing or walking on NCTD’s railroad tracks.”

San Diego Sheriffs will be patrolling areas with a lot of foot traffic and may issue warnings or citations of up to $400.



Coming up… California’s solar industry is uncertain of the future as state regulators consider rewriting the rules.

“The solar industry is complaining about the same thing. We’re complaining about the same thing. I think everyone would like to see this wrapped up.”

We’ll have more on that next, just after the break.

Change is coming to California’s rooftop solar market, but when it arrives and what it will look like, is a closely guarded secret.

KPBS Environment Reporter Erik Anderson says regulators are carving out a "new" solution to adjust solar market rules after the first plan landed with a thud.

California is still waiting for a reboot of efforts to overhaul the state’s solar power system, three months after the Governor essentially shut the process down.

“I’ll say this about the plan. we still have some work to do.”

The January state budget news conference was the only time Gavin Newsom spoke publicly about the utility friendly plan unveiled in December. That blueprint called for steep monthly connection fees and slashed the value of electricity residents sell back to the grid.

“Do I think that changes need to be made, yes I do.”

But since then….crickets.

"It’s all he’s really said.”

Dave Rosenfeld works with the Solar Rights Alliance, a group pushing back against the first CPUC proposal. He warns that the plan would kill the state’s popular and successful solar industry.

“It’s remarkable. Something this popular. Something this clear where the public is at. And then again his primary surrogate at the CPUC Alice Reynolds has said also remarkably little.”

But Rosenfeld says the wall of silence has cracks. And he’s concerned about what is leaking through. CPUC staffer Simon Baker told state lawmakers at the end of March that non solar customers are paying billions of dollars to subsidize solar.These remarks came from Baker during a legislative hearing

“I should clarify that there are other points that are on the record as well and it is a disputed issue of fact.”

Disputed…but Baker only presented one side of the story. He echoed utility complaints that costs linked to rooftop solar are being shifted to non-solar customers. And Assembly member Wendy Carillo in turn echoed Baker’s remarks and even read them into the legislative record.

“So just to state for the record, the cost shift in not addressing net energy metering which hurts renters and low income families would be at the tune of six point seven billion dollars if not addressed by 2030, correct? Based on what you just said. –(Yes, that’s what I said.)

The Solar Right’s Alliance’s Dave Rosenfeld says Baker is spreading utility disinformation.

“The opposite is true, by the way. Rooftop solar users not only pay their fair share. But they actually reduce the cost of the electrical grid and that saves all ratepayers money whether or not they have solar.”

Rosenfeld says rooftop solar does away with the need to build costly transmission lines to large solar farms in the backcountry. And power lines that don’t get built won’t start fires that can cost the state and utilities billions. Since January, the commission’s meetings – which didn’t even have solar on the agenda -- were filed with hours of comments like these from Oakland’s Aria White.

Aria white, Oakland.

“I wish to state that I totally oppose any kind of solar tax for rooftop solar including fixed charges that discriminate against solar users. Please insure that solar becomes more affordable for working and middle class households, not less.”

One meeting included seven hours of public comment. And the remarks are not one sided. Union electrician Shamari Davis of Los Angeles shared his perspective.

Shamari Davis, Los Angeles.

“The commission should address the recent decision that it made to have non rooftop solar customers paying into subsidies for others to install solar when the reality is we need everyone to pay their fair share instead.”

The state’s Investor Owned Utilities, including San Diego Gas and Electric are staying quiet on the issue. SDGE repeatedly declined a chance to be interviewed but said in a statement they look forward to a CPUC decision. And that is something utility funded groups like Affordable Energy for All agree with. Kathy Fairbanks says enough already.

Kathy Fairbanks affordable energy for all

“Legislators have been complaining about the lack of movement at the public utilities commission. The solar industry is complaining about the same thing. We’re complaining about the same thing. I think everyone would like to see this wrapped up. And no one is certain when it will be or what the hold-up is. When the changes will come. Nobody knows.”

When that decision comes, it could completely change California’s solar landscape, or make only minor adjustments. Regulators have to balance utility demands to stay profitable, while at the same time growing the solar market so California can meet rigorous carbon reduction targets.

Erik Anderson KPBS News


San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria says he's committed to adding more bike lanes to city streets, even in the face of community opposition. KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen has more.

AB: Gloria's remarks Thursday came after he and his staff apologized over several recent bike safety projects that caught residents off guard. But he also said that doesn't mean he'll give up on bike infrastructure when residents object.

TG: If their objections are a reflexive opposition to change, that's probably not going to get a positive hearing here because we do need to make some changes. Our climate is changing. Inflation, other issues are causing us to change and try and give people more options. It's necessary for both the economic vitality of this city as well as our climate action plans.

AB: A few weeks ago, Gloria ordered city staff to remove a new and unfamiliar type of bike lane added to a street in Mira Mesa. The latest bike lane project on Park Boulevard in University Heights is due for a public hearing on May 5. Andrew Bowen, KPBS news.

And one more before you go….

This weekend marks the fifth annual San Diego Book Crawl, a multi-day event that brings together 11 of the region's independent bookstores.

KPBS/Arts producer and editor Julia Dixon Evans spoke with Jesi Gutierrez, co-owner of the new Libelula Books in Barrio Logan, and Scott Ehrlig-Burgess with the Library Foundation of San Diego.

That was KPBS/arts producer and editor Julia Dixon Evans speaking with Libelula Books' co-owner Jesi Gutierrez and Library Shop manager Scott Ehrlig-Burgess. The San Diego Book Crawl takes place Saturday through Monday, with 11 local independent book stores participating. You can find more details at KPBS dot org.

That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. This podcast is produced by kpbs senior radio producer, Brooke Ruth, and me, Annica Colbert. Thanks for listening and have a great weekend.

Hundreds of San Diegans are being evicted regardless of their ability to pay rent. Meanwhile, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria says he’s committed to installing bike lanes in the city, despite local opposition. Plus, California has kept new regulations for its rooftop solar market a closely guarded secret.