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Battle over jaywalking

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Monday, October 18th

The racial disparities in enforcing jaywalking laws. More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….

An outbreak of shigellosis among homeless residents sent at least seven people to the hospital last week.

Dr. Victor Nizet is a professor of pediatrics and pharmacy at UC San diego. He says the foodborne illness is very contagious, but for most people the symptoms are mild.

some diarrhea, maybe a low grade fever abdominal cramping and it even self-resolves on it’s own.. fatalities are extremely rare

No deaths have been reported, and those hospitalized are expected to make a full recovery.

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Over the past 3 months, retail sales have increased 10-12% each month across the country.. That’s great for retailers, but the global supply chain has not been able to keep up. The Port of Los Angeles is now working around the clock to try and deal with a huge increase in shipping.

Miro Copic is a business analyst for KPBS. He says recent labor shortages have contributed to the huge delays.

“Container ships are waiting to load stuff that hasn’t been produced, so that presents a delay. Now when you are shipping this stuff and there is all this demand and this congestion in the port of Los Angeles. That means that instead of 4-6 weeks it is taking 8-12 weeks.”

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Vice president Kamala Harris will visit lake mead in Nevada today to highlight the problems caused by western drought. She’ll meet federal and state officials at the largest manmade reservoir in the U.S. in an effort to promote the biden administration’s infra-structure and climate change proposals that have stalled in congress. Water levels at lake mead have fallen to record lows in recent years.

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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.

Earlier this month, Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill that would have decriminalized jaywalking when there’s no cars around. The bill was aimed at tackling racial disparities in how jaywalking laws are enforced.

KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen looks at how those disparities exist in San Diego.

Beep… beep… "Wait."

AB: We've all done it. You're trying to cross the street, but the light is taking forever. Or maybe the nearest crosswalk is an absurdly long detour. No cars are around. So you look both ways, and jaywalk. Most of the time, it's harmless. And most of the time, getting a ticket for jaywalking isn't a big concern. That's not how things played out for Robert Donmoyer.

RD: I think it was May 3rd. I was coming back from the dentist. It was midday. And I walked across the street here.

AB: Donmoyer says he wasn't jaywalking. He was in the crosswalk, and says he made it to the other side of Robinson Avenue in Hillcrest before the red hand signal went from flashing to solid. But a San Diego police officer says he was jaywalking and wrote him a ticket. She told him police were stepping up jaywalking enforcement because of a rise in pedestrian collisions.

RD: I didn't want to debate it, but I said, gee, I haven't seen much of that particularly in the daytime here. I have seen lots of people blatantly running red lights, and I've almost been hit on a number of occasions by people blatantly running red lights when I had the right to cross. And I've learned to be very, very cautious.

AB: Donmoyer plans on contesting his ticket in a trial next year. Bogus or not, his jaywalking ticket was one of more than 5,000 given to pedestrians in San Diego since 2015. And those tickets disproportionately targeted Black people. 16% percent of the tickets went to Blacks, even though they make up only 6 percent of the city's population. Similar racial disparities exist in cities across California.

AR: Black people are disproportionately affected by almost every type of criminalization.

AB: Anne Rios is an attorney and executive director of Uprise Theatre, a nonprofit that educates people on their legal rights. She says the disparities are proof of racial bias among San Diego police officers. Black people are also overrepresented in the homeless community, which she says is a frequent target of jaywalking tickets. And Blacks are more likely to live in neighborhoods that lack safe and abundant crosswalks.

AR: So when you're dealing with a landscape that doesn't have safe areas for you to cross the street anyway, jaywalking is going to become acceptable or the norm. (6:24) The true issue is the community doesn't have the appropriate support for pedestrian travel.

AB: Racial justice activists like Rios have been trying to decriminalize jaywalking in California for years. They say jaywalking laws only punish behavior that's usually logical and safe. But the latest effort at decriminalization failed this month with Governor Gavin Newsom's veto of AB 1238. That bill would have legalized jaywalking as long as there's no oncoming traffic. It was opposed by law enforcement groups, who said it would encourage unsafe pedestrian behavior, and the California Coalition for Children's Safety and Health. Here's that group's program director, Steve Barrow, speaking at a Senate committee hearing in June.

SB: We need children growing up understanding how to appropriately get through our busy streets. And that is adhering to red lights, crossing at the crosswalk, not jaywalking and paying attention to all the pedestrian safety laws.

AB: Robert Donmoyer, who's white and works as a university professor, acknowledges he has privileges that others who get jaywalking tickets probably don't have. He can take time off work to fight his ticket in court. And he knew to look up the exact California Vehicle Code violation to see if it matches what really happened. He's ambivalent about whether jaywalking should be legalized. But he doesn't think tickets and fines are an effective way to protect pedestrians.

RD: I couldn't help but wonder, were they trying to beef up revenue? I'm not accusing because I don't really know, but it was certainly a thought that crossed my mind, particularly when I saw the amount of the ticket.

AB: That amount he'll have to pay if he loses in court: 197 dollars. Andrew Bowen, KPBS news.

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The White House says fully vaccinated foreign travelers can enter the U.S. starting November 8-th. It’s a date many cities along the US-Mexico border have been waiting for.

KPBS Alexandra Rangel has more from a business in San Ysidro who’s doubtful about the news.

The new guidelines announced by the White House apply to both international air travel and land travel.

It’s news local businesses and families who have been separated by border restrictions have been hoping to hear for almost two years now.

Rosa Maria Gilge, a retail manager down the block from the San Ysidro port of entry, isn’t too sure the white house will follow through with the November eighth promise.

Rosa Maria Gilge , Kids Club Assistant Manager

“Pues esperemos que si dejan a cruzar a la gente.”

She says let’s hope they do start letting people in because business is dying.

We spoke to other businesses in San Ysidro who think the same. They’re questioning if it will actually happen.

They also have concerns about what vaccines will be accepted by the U.S.

Rosa Maria Gilge , Kids Club Assistant Manager

“Algunas vacunas no son admitidas.”

She says some vaccines given in Mexico might not be accepted in the U.S.

According to a white house official vaccines authorized by the FDA or have an emergency use listed from the World Health Organization will be allowed.

It’s still unclear how the U.S. will treat people who have mixed shots. The White House says more details are still to come.

In the meantime Gilge says they’re starting to prepare for November 8-th and will have the store fully stocked just in case they see an influx of customers.

She also says some of their employees will get called back to work since many of them were laid off.

Rosa Maria Gilge , Kids Club Assistant Manager

“Las trabajadores estan llamando seguido aver so las van agarar.”

She says former workers call daily to ask if business is picking up so they can come back to work.

The San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce estimates 250 businesses have shut down since the border closure to non-essential travel last year.

They’re hoping to recuperate money lost this coming holiday season.

Alexandra Rangel, Kpbs News.

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UC San Diego has a record 42-thousand students on campus this quarter. That’s significantly more compared to a decade ago. KPBS’ Melissa Mae spoke with some UCSD students about life on campus.

MM: U-C San Diego has increased its student body by over 23-hundred students from last fall. The increase has created some challenges for students like Alexis Damian, who commutes from the South Bay.

AD (:03) “It’s difficult to find parking, so I usually just get dropped off.”

MM: Freshman Anna Norris says grabbing a bite to eat is another challenge.

AN (:06) “So all the dining halls close at 8, so if you didn’t order food by 6 you were not getting dinner from the dining halls because of how long the wait times were.”

MM: Senior Ruining Feng says she’s found resources are limited.

RF (:11) “I have to spend too much time on waiting, waiting everything like waiting for a spot, waiting for getting enrolled in a class.”

MM: The university does offer some help for students, like free bus passes to help commuters, and free GrubHub memberships.

MM: More than 12,200 undergraduate students live on campus. As of October 13th, only 72 upper division undergrads are on the waitlist for housing. Melissa Mae KPBS News.

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The Scripps Institution of Oceanography won a major grant to help complete their Marine Conservation and Technology Building. KPBS Environment Reporter Erik Anderson has more.

Scripps officials say the structure will be the northern gateway to the Scripps campus when it opens next year. A six million dollar gift from the Scripps family will help fund completion of the 24-thousand square foot structure. The facility will house classrooms, labs, and a basement devoted almost entirely to a saltwater research aquarium. Scripps vice chancellor Margaret Leinen says the seawater lab is key to understanding the changing ocean.

“Apply that to helping up address conservation problems like sustainable fisheries, like resilience for corals, like the, understanding the biodiversity of the ocean.”

The building should be finished in the spring.

Erik Anderson KPBS News

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Coming up.... California Congressman Adam Schiff believes the rampant claims of election fraud are a fundamental attack on our democracy. And it's a problem no one person can solve.

"But we can all make a difference in our own little world.. in our public life, our civic life, our corporate life. At a time when the country really needs us to defend its democracy."

We’ll hear from Schiff himself about it next, just after the break.

California Congressman Adam Schiff became a national figure during the impeachment inquiry into former President Donald Trump. As the lead House manager during the first trial ... he spoke often about his fears that our democracy is being eroded. Recently, he talked with CapRadio’s Vicki Gonzales about that very topic. Here’s that interview...

That was California Congressman Adam Schiff speaking with Cap Radio’s Vicki Gonzales. Congressman Schiff has a new book called “Midnight in Washington: How We Almost Lost Our Democracy and Still Could.”

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.

Activists have been pushing to decriminalize jaywalking statewide. In San Diego and elsewhere across the state there are racial disparities in how jaywalking laws are enforced with Black people disproportionately ticketed. However, a recent effort to legalize jaywalking was vetoed by Governor Gavin Newsom. Also, UC San Diego has a record-high number of students on campus now, but students say they are struggling for space in dining, parking and class enrollment. Plus, California Congressman Adam Schiff spoke with our partners at Cap Radio about how he believes claims of election fraud are tearing apart our democracy.