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Border to reopen in November

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Thursday, October 14th

A timeline for reopening the US-mexico and canadian borders. More on that next, but first... let’s do the headlines…

80 percent of San Diegans are fully vaccinated against covid-19 -- that’s according to the latest data from San Diego county health and human services. It puts San Diego among the most vaccinated counties in the state and nation. However officials say it's no time to get complacent. At the same time, Flu season has begun in San Diego. 195 lab-confirmed cases of the flu have been reported so far. The HHSA says those numbers are higher than the five year average of 128 in the same period.

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California's state department of justice is joining a lawsuit against companies that make and sell unserialized or so-called "ghost gun" kits. State Attorney General Rob Bonta says [wednesday] the suit targets three companies: blackhawk, m-d-x and glockstore.

"we're seeking everything that we have available to us - penalties, damages, injunctive relief, ending of the practices, financial damages for what's been done in the past. so, we're throwing the whole kitchen sink at them based on the law and the facts."

The lawsuit alleges the companies are breaking laws that require all firearms to contain serial numbers and be sold by federally licensed sellers who run background checks. No comment so far from the companies.

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Meanwhile, in San Diego, Mayor Todd Gloria signed an ordinance last month officially banning ghost guns. County supervisors will vote next week (october 19th) to create an ordinance that bans making or distributing ghost guns, strengthens safe storage standards, and bans 3D printing of gun parts.

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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.

The Biden administration announced on Wednesday it's easing travel restrictions at land border crossings. This comes after 19 months of closure to all but essential travel. San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria praised the move in a press conference.

“For too long the restrictions at our border have separated families, devastated businesses that rely on cross-border travel”

Starting in early November, foreigners entering the US for nonessential travel will have to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

David Shirk is the department chair and professor of political science and international relations at University of San Diego. He spoke about this announcement's impact on San Diego with KPBS’ Andrew Bowen on Midday edition.

Speaker 1:

The Biden administration announced today. It's easing travel restrictions at land border crossings after 19 months of closure to all but essential travel, San Diego mayor, Todd, Gloria praised the move in a press conference this morning.

Speaker 2:

They're allowing families to be reunited. They're allowing businesses to get back to a sense of normalcy and they're allowing our local economy to finally fully recover.

Speaker 1:

Starting in early November, foreigners entering the U S for non-essential travel. We'll have to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Joining me to discuss the development and its impact on San Diego is David shirk, department chair, and professor of political science and international relations at university of San Diego. Professor shirk. Welcome. Yes, thanks for having me border crossings from Taiwan. I have been taking place to some extent throughout the pandemic. So remind us what types of crossings were previously allowed and which can resume in November because of this announcement.

Speaker 3:

So, um, with the, uh, near the start of the pandemic, the Trump administration imposed a restriction to, uh, border crossroads to only allow essential travel across, uh, us ports of entry, um, and any visitors who wanted to come to the United States for non-essential purposes, such as visiting business Disneyland could come in through airports, uh, and, um, uh, flying into the country. But for people living here in the border region, uh, only so-called essential travelers were, uh, permitted to come across our land bound ports of entry. Um, so that could include someone coming across for medical reasons. It could include someone who has a position that, uh, is listed among the federal categories of essential workers. Um, but, uh, it, it essentially meant that for Mexican nationals, um, working, working, or, or, uh, in a, in a situation where they were not considered essential, they could not come across the border from, uh, safety Quanta to San Diego, uh, for their, their, uh, otherwise for their so-called essential activities like visiting their grandchildren, or, uh, trying to, uh, go shopping and, or go out to restaurants, et cetera.

Speaker 1:

How might these changes impact the local economy and how might they impact the lives of everyday people in our community? Well,

Speaker 3:

Prior to the pandemic, um, you know, in February of 2020, we had, uh, on average around 200,000 people crossing the, uh, Santa Sedro, uh, Otay Mesa ports of entry into the San Diego, into San Diego county, um, on any given, uh, in any given day. And, um, by April of 2020, we saw that number dropped by more than 50%, uh, down to about 5,000 people crossing the border on a daily basis. So the ports of entry were really dramatically emptied. Uh, and over the course of 2020, we saw that number gradually go up, uh, uh, until about mid point this year, when we have, you know, around 160, 170,000 people crossing on a daily basis. So we've recuperated significantly, the number of people who are coming, um, uh, for so-called essential purposes, but there's still, you know, uh, tens of thousands of people who are not crossing the border, not coming across to you to visit SeaWorld, to use our risk, to go to our restaurants, um, and to engage in other quote unquote non-essential activities before our border community, and especially for, uh, south county businesses, uh, it's been quite devastating in terms of trying to, uh, you know, run local restaurants and, um, even hotels and other industries where there's a big dependence on both, uh, people who, uh, can live in Tijuana and legally work in the United States.

Speaker 3:

And it depends obviously on the customers who would, would, uh, be coming across for, for ordinary, um, uh, commercial activities or, uh, shopping activities.

Speaker 1:

Eric traveled to the U S has been permitted for non-essential travel, as long as the traveler could prove a negative COVID-19 test. So in some ways it's been easier to get to San Diego on a flight from Mexico city than crossing on foot or in a car at San Ysidro. Why was air travel treated differently than land border crossings?

Speaker 3:

You know, it's, it is a crazy exception. I can't explain why that policy was chosen. I know in our case, we've had to fly colleagues, uh, from Mexico city and elsewhere, uh, in Mexico, uh, to Los Angeles, uh, or to San Diego in order to get them to come to professional activities here at the university of San Diego because of this odd loophole. Um, whereas normally we might fly them in the Tiguan airport and have them come across, uh, the, um, CDX facility. Um, we had to go through this extra step in order to bring vaccinated people, uh, here for professional purposes. Um, and I think, you know, the part of the problem in my view is that in Washington, there's really a difficulty in comprehending the, the realities of what it means to live in a cross border community and to, to go about your daily business in a place like San Diego and Tijuana, um, and this sort of perception that, you know, flying people in with a vaccination card is somehow safer than having people drive across with a vaccination card is a little bit foolish because there's so much intermingling in our communities anyway, that, um, I'm very personally skeptical that the border closure, uh, or restrictions have had any real effect in reducing cross border flows of COVID.

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Federal agents say their on-the-ground portion of the investigation into the plane crash in Santee that killed two and injured others is wrapping up... but KPBS’ Matt Hoffman says there are still many unanswered questions.

Whenever these things happen they’re tragic and we never want to repeat them

Chris Sluka is the owner of Learn to Fly San Diego, he’s logged over 5,000 flying hours and has been teaching for nearly 20 years. He says records show the pilot of the crashed plane, Sugata Das was experienced, had a commercial license and his plane made regular trips from Yuma to San Diego. While we don’t know exactly what happened Slucka says in the final moments before the crash the aircraft was going up and down rapidly and changing its speed before heading into a steep dive

that is a mystery. I dont know - did he do that did he have a problem with the plane we dont know

Sluka says no distress call was made by the pilot, but based on some of his short responses to air traffic guesses something wasn't right. MH KPBS News

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California’s committee on Reparations met again this week to discuss housing and environmental inequities that have specifically disadvantaged black Americans.

CapRadio’s Sarah Mizes-Tan has more.

The committee looked at how reparations could be given in the form of direct payments and other methods to correct decades of racist policies and actions.

Members also heard from experts about displacement of Black residents in California..

Reverend Amos Brownof San Franciscosays the Black middle class no longer exists in the city.

BROWN: We were pushed out. Now it remains to be seen if this state, and San Francisco will do anything to bring us back so we can have our fair share, no one else’s share.

The committee will meet again later this week to look at issues such as the impacts of racism in banking and the racial wealth gap.

In Vista, the medical marijuana industry has been thriving during the pandemic… KPBS north county reporter Tania Thorne has more.

Flora Verde Dispensary was the first legally licensed medical marijuana dispensary in Vista. The dispensary was getting established just before the pandemic hit. Owner Justin Christman thought the stay at home order would put them out of business. He was wrong.

JUSTIN CHRISTMAN/FLORA VERDE DISPEANSARY OWNER

“All of a sudden people are stuck in their homes. They need a lot of release and therapy so they came to us for their holistic alternative and sales started to spike.”

And his business wasn't the only one thriving. In the last fiscal year, the city of Vista reported more than $5 million dollars in revenue from the cannabis sales tax.

The city will be using $1 million dollars of that sales tax revenue to pay for youth scholarships, a new sheriff's deputy, park maintenance and undercover operations to stop shops from selling marijuana to minors.

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Coming up.... Project Homekey is a critical part of California’s plan to combat homelessness... Some California cities see other benefits to the project as well.

“Yes, we think this is an opportunity to really move the needle at a time when it's desperately needed.”

More on that next, just after the break.

Project Homekey is the centerpiece of California's multibillion dollar plan to fight homelessness. It started last year and it focuses on turning old or underused businesses, especially motels, into permanent supportive housing for the homeless. Some California cities see Homekey as a way to turn neglected properties in sometimes blighted neighborhoods, into something that improves the wider community. To find out more, the California Report's host Saul Gonzalez went to one street in Orange County.

That piece was reported by California Report host Saul Gonzalez as part of a partnership between KCRW and the California Report.

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 federal government announced on Wednesday that it would finally lift non-essential travel restrictions at U.S. ports of entry starting in November. San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria thanked federal and local leaders but said the restrictions lasted too long. We look at what impact opening the border will have on San Diego. Meanwhile, federal agents are wrapping up their on-the-ground portion of the investigation into the plane crash in Santee that killed two and injured others, but many questions remain. Plus, some California cities see Project Homekey–an effort to fight homelessness across the state–as a way to turn neglected properties into something that improves the community as a whole.