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An Airport-to-trolley connection

 December 21, 2021 at 7:05 AM PST

A closer look at the trolley to the airport connection…

That story soon, but first, let’s do the local headlines…

****

So… IT'S CONFIRMATION OF JUST HOW CONTAGIOUS THIS NEW VARIANT OF COVID-19 REALLY IS.

THE CDC ANNOUNCED yesterday THAT OMICRON NOW ACCOUNTS FOR THE MAJORITY OF NEW CASES IN THE U-S.

WE'RE SEEING IT HERE IN SAN DIEGO AS WELL.

The SCIENTISTS AT UC SAN DIEGO who have been monitoring COVID VIRUS IN our WASTEWATER announced over the weekend that they had found a quote unprecedented spike in COVID 19, and say their TESTING SHOWS it is A MIX OF THE DELTA AND OMICRON VARIANTS WITH DELTA STILL DOMINANT LOCALLY.

BUT BECAUSE THE OMICRON VARIANT SPREADS FASTER, THEY EXPECT THIS TO CHANGE SOON.

***

A judge ruled against the San Diego Unified School District Monday in a lawsuit challenging its vaccine mandate for students.

San Diego Superior Court Judge John Meyer said the district's mandate, which does not permit religious or personal belief exemptions, contradicts state law.

The Judge said only the state legislature has the authority to implement such mandates without exemptions.

***

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Monday declared one of Southern California's rarest butterflies — the Hermes copper butterfly — as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

The small, bright yellow-orange, spotted Hermes copper is found only in San Diego County and northwestern Baja California, Mexico.

The agency also designated 35,000 acres in San Diego County as protected critical habitat to help protect the butterflies.

The protected habitat is in three areas….Lopez Canyon, which includes land within Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve…. parts of the Miramar and Santee region and parts of Southern San Diego.

***

I’m Kinsee Morlan, in for Anica Colbert…and…From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now.Stay with me for more of the local news you need.

MIDROLL 1

As we reported on Friday, San Diego's Metropolitan Transit System has released a feasibility study that examines connecting the trolley to San Diego International Airport…

Which makes so much logical sense, right? Wouldn't it be nice to not have to deal with parking downtown and instead just hop on the trolley when you’re traveling?

Anyway…the study found no "fatal flaws" in the concept…

Which, in normal human speak, means the new trolley connection could actually be built within the next decade.

The MTS board of directors received the report last week and voted to include the project on its list of capital improvements to plan for.

Colin Parent, executive director of the nonprofit Circulate San Diego, joined KPBS Midday Edition’s fill-in host Andrew Bowen to discuss the study's findings.

It seems like connecting the trolley to the airport has been on San Diego's to-do for a really long time. So what new information is in this feasibility study that we didn't know before?

Yeah, so I think there's really two things Andrew, for this one is that the feasibility study really fundamentally just shows that there is no technical reason why we can't make this connection with the trolley. So there's no, there's no fatal flaw in the idea, but I think perhaps more importantly is not the, the study itself, but the action by the MTS board last week that said not only we are gonna accept this study, but we are actually gonna make it a project in our capital improvement program and make it a priority for the agency to

Complete MTS already has a bus line that goes to the airport. I've used it myself. Uh, it's not great, but it could be made a lot better if maybe it had its own bus lane and didn't have to mix with the regular traffic, all the cars going to the airport. What is better about an actual rail line to the airport as opposed to a much cheaper option of just improving the bus connection? Yeah,

So I mean, first of all, the, the bus connection is really great that 9 92, um, and, and MTS and airport authority actually just started a new bus connection for, um, for commuters coming in from the old town station. So I, I think it's important to understand that, you know, there's prob there really needs to be multiple ways to use transit, to access the airport, uh, trolley. The airport's a great one, but we also should be investing, continuing to invest in those kinds of surface street, uh, improvements. And so, yeah, absolutely there should be some bus only facilities, um, uh, for the airport, um, to make those, those lines, uh, work even better. But I think the, the, the, the other advantages around rail and rail connection is that even in a best case scenario, a bus does mean that people are gonna have to Lu, um, luggage up some stairs and, and that kind of thing, and a, and a rail connection, uh, is oftentimes easier to do that kind of stuff. And so that's, that's a big, uh, big reason to make that improvement. But then the other thing is that, uh, a rail connection, just, it, it just more appealing to more people. And there's, I think there's really something valuable in, in designing our transit system that has a real sort of broad appeal. And so we shouldn't shy away for making improvements that that really do excite people.

Let's talk about the options here. MTS is talking about three of them in this study. One is an elevated track along Laurel street, and two options would go underground. So which one does MTS prefer and why? Yeah,

So right now it looks like MTS has a preference to do one of those undergrounding options. One that has a, just a, a sync connection from, uh, south of the airport going, uh, under some other tracks and, and on, on toward the airport, uh, along Harbor drive. Uh, but you know, there, there is, uh, there's gonna be a lot more, uh, technical and engineering work. That's gonna have to go in to, uh, to doing a project like this. And so I think it's, it's not, it's not decided exactly the routing or exactly the mechanism. So I think it's still very much on the table, whether or not it's gonna be underground or, or above grade. And, and really, I think right now still a variety of options are on the table.

AND THAT WAS Colin parent, executive director of the nonprofit Circulate San Diego. He's also a member of the La Mesa city council and Colin was talking with KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen.

To hear the full interview between Andrew and Colin, find and follow the KPBS Midday Edition podcast on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.

****

With coronavirus cases surging nationwide, locals are hitting covid testing sites ahead of their holiday travels.

KPBS reporter alexandra rangel has more from the south bay.

Christian Martinez, Chula Vista Resident

“Just stick a swab up your nose and circle it seven times.”

Free and with no appointment necessary, Chula Vista’s COVID testing site at city hall was busy Monday with many looking to get tested ahead of the holiday gatherings.

Christian Martinez says his test results won't be ready until 3-4 days, which he says is the longest he’s had to wait thus far.

“With everyone getting together with their families I needed to make sure i’m good.”

County operated Covid testing and vaccination sites will be closed Friday and saturday for the holiday and will resume on Sunday.

***

California researchers say a faster than expected melt of a major glacier in western Antarctica could impact local sea levels.

KPBS Environment Reporter Erik Anderson has details.

There is disturbing news from a vast collection of ice on the western portion of Antarctica. Satellites have found evidence that warm ocean waters under the ice are helping melt the massive Thwaites glacier faster than expected. Scripps

Institution of Oceanography researcher Helen Fricker says If huge chunks of

ice break off into the sea, it could have huge implications for San Diego.

Helen Fricker, SIO glaciologist 00:05:16 -- 00:05:32

“The sea level rise that we’re getting from that part of Antarctic, it’s not immediate, but we will see it here offshore in San Diego. And any large changes in Antarctica we will eventually be noticed here.”

The Twaites glacier sits in a catchment basin that is about the size of Nevada. And if it melts it could raise global sea levels several feet in a matter of a few years. Researchers are surprised by the speed of the melt.

***

And more environmental news for you…

California has filed a new lawsuit against Walmart…

The suit accuses the giant retailer of breaking environmental laws and dumping hazardous waste into state landfills.

Cap Radio's Steve Milne [MILL-nee] reports from Sacramento.

State Attorney General Rob Bonta says Walmart is discarding toxic substances throughout the state at landfills that aren't equipped or authorized to get that kind of waste.

"We're not talking about a few batteries and a can of insect killer here. Walmart's own audits found that the company is illegally disposing of hazardous waste in California at a rate of more than one million items each year." [:14]

A dozen other county D-A's joined in the lawsuit against the retailer.

Meredith Williams heads the state's Department of Toxic Substances Control.

"Despite repeated enforcement actions against Walmart over the past two decades, it consistently and knowingly fails to comply with California's hazardous waste laws and environmental protection laws." [:14]

Walmart says "The state is demanding a level of compliance [regarding waste disposal] from our stores [of common house-hold products and other items] that goes beyond what is required by law."

****

Remember that protest I mentioned yesterday? Well, it happened…

Advocates critical of San Diego’s homeless enforcement policies spent Monday morning caroling outside City Hall.

But KPBS Reporter Gustavo Solis says these weren’t the typical carols.

ON THE FIRST DAY OF HOMELESSNESS ….

This depressing version of a festive classic is meant to bring awareness to the plight of homeless San Diegans.

The three French hens have been replaced with three locked bathrooms. And the five golden rings. Well, now they are …

Five days in jail.

Grischey lives in her car. Every ticket she has received is an example of how San Diego criminalizes poverty, she says.

I feel like a pariah. I feel like a pariah. I can go out in public, and most people wouldn’t know I’m homeless. But when they see me getting into my RV they would treat me differently.``

Gruschy and the other carolers say Mayor Todd Gloria must take responsibility for the city’s poor approach to homelessness. As a candidate in 2020, Gloria called to end criminalizing the homelessness. But that hasn’t happened.

***

Coming up…

Last-minute gift ideas from local indie booksellers…

We’ve got that for you after a quick break.

MIDROLL 2

With the holidays in full swing and Christmas upon us, it can be hard to get those last perfect gifts for the people on your list.

But you know what makes a solid gift? Books. Especially books bought at a local bookstore. Who doesn’t like getting a book, amiright?

KPBS Midday Edition’s Maureen Cavanaugh caught up with a few local independent bookstores for some last-minute gift ideas.

First up, we hear from Seth Marco, co-owner of the book catapult in south park.

Know, a couple, my favorite books for the year have been, um, Anthony do cloud cuckoo land, which has become a huge bestseller. It's his follow up to his Pulitzer prize winner all the way we cannot see cloud K land has a weird title, but it's, um, , it's just a great story about, you know, it's kind of the preservation of, of story, you know, it's about libraries and their importance in society. He has sort of a, a way of telling a story that connects all these different characters together through over time. I mean, I mean this, as, you know, some of it is said in the siege of constant de noble in the 14 hundreds, and then there's a contemporary storyline, and then there's another story that's, you know, far in the future and they all connect together, um, where he kind of shows the, you know, the, the fin threads that connect people.

Speaker 2: (01:18)

One of my other favorite books this year also fiction is by one Lauren GRA called matrix, which has not gotten quite the attention that I, I thought it would. I mean, she's pretty well known. She's a, I think a two time national book award finalist now for her last couple books. And this is historical eviction set in the 12th century. And it's about this woman who is in Eleanor Acutane court and is, you know, sort of rejected by the court and sent to live in a Nury in the English countryside where she becomes the ACE of this Nury and, and turns it into this sort of feminist utopia. It's really, really well told story, just beautiful language, but such a compelling character really surprised me. It's been one of my favorite favorite books to talk about this year, for sure. That's just a couple that, that I've really liked. There's there's many more

Speaker 1: (02:12)

That was Seth Marco co-owner of the book catapult, which is located at 30 10, B Juniper street in south park. His picks again were cloud cou land by the do and the matrix by Lauren gruff. Next we move to mysterious galaxy where store manager, Kelly Arazi has a few of her picks from the sci-fi fantasy genre.

Speaker 3: (02:36)

So one of my favorite middle grade books to come out this year just was published a couple months ago is the last clean tea step by Donna Barbara, a here it is a beautiful thought provoking science fiction, novel where the main character is one of the lucky few humans who's chosen to embark on humanities last spaceship before the ACOM destroys earth. Um, so she and a select few are put into stasis. They're meant to wake up 400 years in the future on route to a brand new planet and carry on the human race. But when the main character wakes up, uh, she's the only one who has memories of earth at all. Uh, and she longs to share and protect the stories of earth. So this it's a great mystery, um, what's happening and who's really behind all of the missing memories while also a captivating insight to this main character who just wants to share the history of earth through storytelling.

Speaker 3: (03:30)

It's pulse raising science fiction, but it's also a heart wrenching Testament to the power of storytelling. And I just adore this book. The next book that I would and recommend is under the whispering door by TJ CLO. It's one of my favorite books of the year. I love TJ CLO. You wrote the house in this re sea last year, and it was my, one of my favorite favorite books. It got me through the pandemic and under the whispering door is about a man who dies and goes to a sort of in between afterlife. It's not heaven. It's not hell. And the person who's waiting for him is sort of a Fairman who guides souls onto the ultimate afterlife. And it's their story of getting to know one another and actually falling in love, which is quite beautiful. And it's a story that makes you think it's a story that makes you laugh and you just can't help, but root for everybody involved. I adore this book. Another book is called legend born by Traci Dion. Uh, it has magic demons and a century's old secret society found by king Arthur. It has themes of in questions about family and country and trauma and duty, and it of course has plenty of love and plenty of magic. That was

Speaker 1: (04:41)

Kelly Arazi of mysterious galaxy books located at 35 55 rose cran street in San Diego. Kelly's picks again were the last ESA by Donna Barra under the whispering door by TJ CLO and legend born by Traci Deion.

Speaker 4: (05:01)

I have so many books you're gonna tell me to probably stop

Speaker 1: (05:07)

That's book seller, Maryanne Reinder of Laia books. In point Loma. Here are her

Speaker 4: (05:11)

Picks. I have, uh, the sentence by Louis RI and this one is a really great book because it takes place actually in a small indeed bookstore in Minneapolis. And the bookstore is hunted by flora. One of its most annoying customers who died and won't leave the store and TKI, the book seller must solve the mystery of this hunting and the book takes place during the month of November, 2019 and November, 2020. So it's also obviously a really high pressure time in the Minneapolis area. And TKI must also come to terms with the year of grief and isolation and reckoning in her city. Another one I really loved and we have also in the store, it's called oh, beautiful by John WUN. It's the story of Eleanor Henson of former model. Who's about four and she's struggling to reinvent herself as a freelance writer. And that is until she's sent for an assignment to the backend region of North Dakota, where the oil boom is drastically changing the landscape and the people who live there and Eleanor is sent there for, for a lot of reasons, but also because she grew up in that region as, uh, the child of a, a mixed couple, her father was American and her mother was Korean, and this story is bringing her back and she discovers a lot more than the story she has to write for her magazine article.

Speaker 4: (06:57)

I I'm putting it on my list for everyone I know and love last but not least. I have a favorite current picture book for children called dream street. And this is by Trisha Allen Walker, an ICU Holmes. And this is a beautiful story where we're presented with a lot of people who live on that street and there are stories and how they interact with each other and the illustrations are absolutely stunning. I highly encourage everyone to go look for this book because it's one of those books that you wanna keep Laly a

Speaker 1: (07:36)

Books is located at 10 26 rose Kran street in point Loma Maryanne's picks again were the sentence by Louise Eich. Oh, beautiful. By young Yon and the picture book dream street by Tricia Ellen Walker illustrated by Aqua Holmes. If you missed any of these book picks, you can find them on our website@kpbs.org org.

And that was my girl Maureen Cavanaugh with Midday Edition talking with a few of the fine folks who own bookstores in San Diego..

***

Alright. That’s all for today. Thanks for listening. Anica is back tomorrow. And….look, if you have yet to become a kpbs member, I want you to take a second to really consider doing it today…. There’s your second, now go ahead and head on over to kpbs dot org, click on the blue ‘give now’ button and boom. You just joined the fam. Thanks in advance.

san-diego-airport.jpg
A closer look at that feasibility study that found MTS could link the trolley to the airport within 10 years. Plus: the Omicron variant is expected to spread fast in San Diego and everywhere else, a judge ruled against the San Diego Unified School District Monday in a lawsuit challenging its vaccine mandate for students, local booksellers give you some holiday gift ideas and more of the local and state news you need.