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Advocates Fear A Blow To Affordable Housing

 July 28, 2021 at 4:52 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Wednesday, July 28th. >>>> Protests against a large sale of San Diego apartments to Blackstone More on that next, But first... let’s do the headlines…. ###### California state workers will have to be vaccinated or get weekly COVID tests starting Monday. Healthcare workers and those in high-risk congregate settings will face the same requirements later in August. UC Hastings law professor Dorit Reiss is an expert in vaccine law and policy. She says the new vaccine rule is a “soft” mandate. “An employer can say, ‘Get the vaccine or you're fired,’ that’s a very strong mandate. A mandate that says vaccinate or we’ll put in place requirements for you to reduce the risk, such as testing or masking is a softer one. The consequences are not as bad.” Many businesses have stayed away from requiring proof of vaccination because of the risk of backlash. Meanwhile, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce agrees with the state’s decision. Jerry Sanders is with the chamber. “Right now, safety of all of our business owners and their patrons is of paramount importance.” The Chamber is urging people to get vaccinated and they are advising their members that masks create an additional level of safety. The chamber says the alternative is a shutdown that could stifle the current economic recovery. ######## The California State University system says it will require all students and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 if they want to take any in-person classes in the fall. The CSU system had previously announced plans to require vaccinations, but only after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave full approval to at least one of the vaccines. All current vaccines are being administered under an "emergency use" authorization. ######### From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need. Earlier this year Conrad Prebys Foundation announced it was planning to sell 66 residential complexes across San Diego County to the private equity group Blackstone. And the price tag? One billion dollars. Now tenants in some of these properties say they fear they will be displaced. KPBS race and equity reporter Cristina Kim has more on the story. “Fight fight fight, housing is a human right.” Standing in front of the Golden Tree Apartments...Anne Marine McKellob has called the Golden Tree Apartments home for the last three years. It’s one of the 66 buildings the foundation is selling to BlackStone for a total of more than $1 billion. Most of the proceeds will go toward the foundation’s many philanthropic efforts in San Diego, including KPBS.. Mckellob --- who is also a member of the tenants rights organization ACCE -- says she’s worried what will happen to her family when Blackstone takes over. “I am pretty much afraid that we got to move out. They aren’t in favor of us, they are in favor of themselves and growing their money higher.” The New York City-based Blackstone has been buying up low-income and moderate-income housing complexes across the country. In a statement to KPBS, Kathleen McCarthy the Global Co-head of Blackstone Real Estate wrote “We expect that a resident making 80% or less of AMI will continue to find the majority of units affordable. We plan to make substantial capital investments -- exceeding $100 million -- to address unaddressed resident requests.” McCarthy also wrote Blackstone’s renovation of the apartments will generate 500 jobs. McKellob, who says she pays $1,400 a month for a roach-infested 1 bedroom apartment, , doubts she’ll benefit from any upgrade. So they maybe they try to give up something because you know that’s what they do to make a more bougie apartment and then maybe, maybe the amount that they give isn’t even enough for where we want to go, depends...” National City Vice Mayor Jose Rodriguez says he’s not confident that Blackstone will keep any promises it’s making. And he is warning Blackstone that a strong tenants rights culture is growing in the San Diego region. The good thing of doing these public actions is to ensure that this new prospective buyer knows what they are dealing with and they are dealing with tenants that are organized with elected officials that want to make sure that we represent everybody and everybody’s interest and so they know this is going to be fight once the sale goes through.” Blackstone Group expects the transaction to close later this year. Cristina Kim. KPBS News. ########## A group of parents and advocates in Coronado are seeking to make amends with the Escondido community, following the tortilla throwing incident at a basketball game in June. KPBS reporter Alexandra Rangel has more on the journey to healing they’re hoping to start. “We are deeply sorry.” InclusioNado is a group of parents and advocates. They gathered in front of the Coronado Unified School District Tuesday, to simply say sorry. Despite an ongoing investigation, the group wanted to apologize for the tortilla throwing incident that hurt and offended not only the players of Escondido Orange Glen High School, but the latino community. Marely Ramirez, Inclusionado Advocate “Escondido we see you, we hear you, and we stand by you.” Merely Ramirez, a parent on InclusioNado’s steering committee, says it’s time to move forward. Marely Ramirez, Inclusionado Advocate “Escondido, we would like to embrace the opportunity to build a bridge of respect between Coronado and escondido.” The championship game between Coronado High and Orange Glen, that resulted in tortillas being thrown at Orange Glen athletes, has caused much controversy. It has also led to the stripping of Coronado’s championship title by the CIF board. Thomas Anthony Morelli, Coronado Resident “How can it be that there are so many educated people, captains of industry, that would allow that to happen. Thomas Morelli, a Coronado resident, spoke at Tuesday’s public apology. He says healing needs to happen far beyond the school districts. He’s had neighbors of color who have experienced racial discrimination and he’s willing to do his part to foster inclusion. Thomas Anthony Morelli, Coronado Resident “We want to bring inclusion in this city and we pray that we can do that.” Alexandra Rangel KPBS News. ########## The San Diego City Council finalized a deal ON TUESDAY to move the annual Holiday Bowl to Petco Park. KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen says the bowl had been searching for a new home since the Mission Valley stadium was demolished last year. AB: The Padres’ downtown ballpark seemed like a great fit for the Holiday Bowl. But the 1998 ballot measure that created Petco Park included a prohibition on football games. Council members voted unanimously to remove that restriction to ensure the bowl game stays in San Diego. The Padres will share in the revenue from the game and the CEO Erik Gruepner says the team is covering the upfront renovation costs. EG: Reconfiguring the ballpark will take some work — work that we have largely already done with the exception of finalizing permitting and construction, and we have a team that's working hard on that as I speak. AB: Gruepner says when retrofitted for football, Petco can hold about 50,000 fans. The Holiday Bowl is scheduled for December 28. Andrew Bowen, KPBS news. ########## Coming up.... San Diego’s history with white extremism and the locally based One America News Network. On Tuesday morning, lawmakers in Washington DC heard testimony from capitol police officers during a hearing on the January 6th insurrection. In their own words the officers described how they came face to face with what they described as a violent mob of rioters subscribing to lies, conspiracy theories and white extremist ideas. In fact, one of the people who died participating in that insurrection was Ashli Babbitt, from right here in San Diego. Also, found right here in San Diego… One America News Network. LA Times Columnist Jean Guerrero describes the network as a hotbed of White Paranoid Extremism and Trump propaganda. She recently wrote an article on how San Diego actually incubates white extremism with the network. She spoke with KPBS Midday Edition Host Jade Hindmon about the piece. Here’s that Interview…. So what inspired this piece? Speaker 2: 00:47 So I grew up here in San Diego, um, in the south bay and I have always loved this the city and you know, my family's here and I've always gone back and forth across the border. And so, you know, when I first found out that one American news network was headquartered here, I was surprised, you know, while I was reporting hate monger, my book about Stephen Miller, the Trump's senior advisor and speech writer. I began to learn a lot about California's history, long history of white supremacy and extremism. And it began to make more sense to me why one America news network was located specifically in San Diego. And I wanted to explore that in a deeper way. Speaker 1: 01:30 What is it about San Diego? You think that attracts and breeds white extremism, Speaker 2: 01:36 White extremism has historically erupted over fears about the quote unquote Browning of America, um, or, or the idea that white people are losing their dominance or power to, to brown or black, you know, nonwhite people. It's often a product of rapid demographic change. So for example, in the 1990s here in California, non-Hispanic white people became a demographic minority for the first time. And there was a massive increase in white supremacist groups that started here and fanned eastward across the United States. Um, so one of the main reasons that we see white extremism being bred here and, and San Diego being a magnet for white extremists is the city's proximity to the border. You know, in my piece, I wrote a quote for those who dream of being white heroes at the edge of darkness, what better place than the literal frontier with boundedness so close to the other side, and it's hallucinated boogeyman. So many extremists come here because they want to basically play act at saving the white race that they believe in this conspiracy theory that white people are being systematically displaced by Latino immigrants. Um, and they want to come to San to, um, act out these fantasies of protecting the white race. Speaker 1: 03:04 As you mentioned, this isn't a new phenomenon. Talk a bit about San Diego's history with white extremism. Speaker 2: 03:10 The KU Klux Klan came to San Diego a century ago, specifically to terrorize Mexicans, you know, to, to go to the border and act as, as vigilantes to patrolling the border and, and hunting down Mexicans. And they stayed here for decades. So, so there's the KKK has a long history here, but also, you know, the normalization of white supremacist propaganda by politicians has a history here as well. Yeah, Speaker 1: 03:37 No fast forward to today. And there is one American news network headquartered right here in San Diego available to 35 million households across the country. Um, why and how do they fit into the white extremist landscape? Speaker 2: 03:52 So one America news network, it has become Trump's favorite megaphone for the big lie. The it's essentially the epicenter of this collective delusion in which Trump won the 2020 presidential elections. Um, the same delusion that led to the storming of the Capitol on January 6th. Uh, it's also the epicenter of a collective delusion in which Latino immigrants are destroying the country, um, and costing taxpayers, billions of dollars every day, which is completely false. They, they run this doomsday ticker regularly that shows the alleged cost of illegal, illegal immigration. Um, but they're pulling data from think tanks like the Federation for American immigration reform, which was funded by a white supremacist named John Tanton who believed in the genetic superiority of whites and they, um, you know, sugar pick data and they completely ignore the consensus among economists that immigration, whether it's legal or not is a net gain for the American economy, but Owen packages, these, you know, this white supremacist propaganda as objective news. Um, and it is basically in the business of providing viewers with racialized scapegoats on a regular basis to rile viewers up, whether it's, you know, showing minute after minute of, of, of black people committing crimes or talking about quote unquote, illegal aliens destroying this country or saying that, you know, that, that, that Trump is the, is the rightful president. Um, it, it's all basically white supremacist propaganda masquerading as, as news. Hmm. And Speaker 1: 05:41 I want to go back to something, you know, in your article, you highlight how some of these white extremists have actually held elected positions, creating policy and local laws. The fact that they were elected obviously speaks volumes about San Diego voters. And it also gives insight into the intentions behind some local policies and why they were created. What did you find out about that? Speaker 2: 06:04 Well, so, you know, in, in the nineties, we, we passed proposition 180 7, which attacked social services for undocumented immigrants, including public school for migrant children, a proposition, which was later found unconstitutional. There were also attacks on bilingual education and attacks on affirmative action. Um, and, and all of this had the broad support of voters in, in San Diego. Um, and what was interesting to me was, was to see that last year, uh, last year 2020, we had the opportunity to repeal the racist ban on affirmative action through proposition 16. Um, and we actually overwhelmingly rejected that opportunity. So it shows that the anti-immigrant and white supremacists viewpoints that became incredibly popular in the 1990s across California and fanning out in large part from San Diego remain, um, re remain popular today and, and continue to have bipartisan support in the city. And you Speaker 1: 07:14 Know, what American news network found a home here in San Diego and the white extremist ideas that you say are talked about on their programs have found a home in the hearts and minds of many residents here. You know, this almost seems like an unfair question, but what do you see as a solution to this ideology? Speaker 2: 07:33 Well, so the solution, I think, is to be very careful not to give into the temptation, to cast one American news network, uh, or its audiences as an aberration. Um, we need to avoid this us versus them mentality and the scapegoating that they, that, that the network and many of its followers, um, unfortunately fall, fall victim to and end. And in the case of OAN, you know, deliberately perpetrate. So I think we need to understand how easy it is to be radicalized and to be manipulated by this information. And so what we need to do is, is to hold accountable. Those who are profiting off of that manipulation and off of the radicalization of the masses and, and avoid the temptation to, to scapegoat the people who are being victimized by those people in positions of power, who are doing the manipulating. That was Jean Guerrero, Columnist for the LA Times. 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.

The San Diego-based Conrad Prebys Foundation sold nearly 6,000 apartment units to the private equity group Blackstone. Housing advocates fear the deal will be a blow to local affordable housing. Meanwhile, a group of parents and advocates gathered in front of the Coronado Unified School District offices on Tuesday to apologize for a recent racist incident at the high school. Plus, Los Angeles Times Op-Ed Columnist Jean Guerrero talks about her recent column that discussed San Diego's history with white extremism and the local right wing news outlet, One America News.