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California Democrats reject bill to ban homeless encampments

 April 17, 2024 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Wednesday, April 17th.


Democrats on the state Senate Public Safety committee vote against a bill banning homeless encampments yesterday. More on the proposed bill’s ties to San Diego next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


The Tijuana River has been named among the 10 most endangered rivers in the country.

The conservation group American Rivers singled out the river in its yearly report, due to the tens of millions of gallons of human and chemical waste that flow into it every day.

At the announcement yesterday (Tuesday), Surfrider Foundation’s Zach Plopper described what he says is an environmental disaster.

“Since January 1st of this year, over 25-billion gallons of sewage has flowed through the river.  The south end of Imperial Beach has been closed for 840-days and counting.  People are getting sick standing in their front yards, doing their jobs, going to school.  We need urgent action by Congress and the White House to address this crisis.”

San Diego’s congressional delegation recently secured 156-million-dollars to repair and expand the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant.

But Plopper says much more needs to be done.


Today (Wednesday) is going to be the hottest day of the work week.

Temperatures in the inland and coastal areas will be in the 70s, in the mountains, temps will be in the high 60s, and in the deserts, it’ll be in the mid 90s.

The warmer weather is expected to continue through the week, but temps will drop a few degrees tomorrow and Friday.

Then, the National Weather Service says it’s expected to get hot again over the weekend, with temps reaching up to 10 degrees above average for this time of year.


The next county superintendent of schools was announced this week.

Gloria Ciriza will take over the position after the current superintendent, Paul Gothold retires.

Gothold announced his retirement after seven years in the role.

Ciriza will become the first female superintendent at the San Diego County Office of Education in 76 years.

She is currently the S-D-C-O-E's assistant superintendent of student

services and programs.

The Board of Education is expected to consider her contract at its next regular meeting on May 8th.

She’s expected to take on her new role on July first.


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


Democrats on the California Senate Public Safety Committee shot down a bill banning homeless encampments yesterday (Tuesday).

North County reporter Alexander Nguyen says Republican state Senator Brian Jones based the bill on the city of San Diego Unsafe Camping Ordinance passed last year, which he touted as a success.

Walking around downtown San Diego … there is a noticeable reduction in homeless encampments. Republican state Senator Brian Jones says it’s because of the Unsafe Camping Ordinance passed in June 2023.“San Diego has moved I believe thousands of people off the streets of San Diego made those areas safe. Now for the public young kids, elderly to use those areas, those public spaces.” The state bill would ban encampments in what he says are sensitive areas … such as schools, parks and major transit stops. State Senator Aisha Wahab says the bill criminalizes homelessness. AISHA WAHAB State Senator, SD-10 “Just because individuals that are unhoused make people uncomfortable does not mean that it should be criminalized, and this bill does that.” Jones says the bill was not intended as *thee* solution to homelessness … but *uh* solution. AN/KPBS.


An Arizona supreme court ruling last week has nearly banned access to abortion.

Across state lines, reporter Kori Suzuki says some experts worry about what the ruling means for access to reproductive care in the Imperial Valley.

California leaders responded swiftly after last week’s Arizona Supreme Court abortion ruling. They reaffirmed a promise they’ve made before – that people who need abortion care can come to California to get it. But in the Imperial Valley, the part of the state closest to Arizona, abortion care can be tough to find. Kimala Price is a former board member of the regional Planned Parenthood affiliate and chair of the Women’s Studies Department at San Diego State. She says it took decades to open the county’s first clinic in El Centro, and it remains the only one And so it serves a lot of people just in that area of California. And it also does get people from Arizona as well, since we are next door to them.” The clinic has become a haven for many patients from out of state and from Mexico in recent years, according to Planned Parenthood officials. Now though, Price says last week’s Arizona ruling will likely lead to more women crossing state lines to get an abortion. Some of those people will travel to farther cities, like San Diego or Los Angeles. But for many patients, Price says that’s not an option. “Unfortunately for some people, they don't have the means to travel. They don't have the resources in terms of getting a plane ticket or a bus ticket or driving.” In Imperial Valley, Price worries it will mean a new strain on an already fragile system of care. Kori Suzuki, KPBS News.


Mayor Todd Gloria has proposed cuts to racial and economic equity programs.

Reporter Katie Hyson spoke with advocates pushing back.

The city of San Diego is short for the next budget year, by nearly 137 million dollars. Mayor Todd Gloria wants to take back money from community and climate equity programs, eliminate the Office of Immigrant Affairs and a cannabis social equity plan. He says it’s necessary to preserve core neighborhood services. During the Great Recession, we did things like a pairing of libraries. Two libraries, only one would be open at a time. We did rolling brownouts of fire stations that resulted in real challenges in communities. And we're avoiding those with this budget proposal. The mayor said the city would have to return almost a million dollars in state grant money if it ends the cannabis equity program. But Megain McCall, a program advocate, says it would also mean lost tax revenue. You're actually cutting a program that could potentially fund other programs that are being cut. Gloria says he hopes to restore funding when the economy improves. Katie Hyson, KPBS News.


Reporter Katie Hyson also brings us a story about Shelltown residents, who are still in limbo nearly three months after the January floods.

She says the tragedy knit them together, and became a calling for a volunteer from outside of the neighborhood.

In a cramped kitchen, Isa Rosales cooks. Chicken and pork, rice and beans *nat pop - simmer*, potatoes and carrots.50 pounds of it. Rosales lives in El Cajon. She began bringing hot meals to Shelltown weeks after the January flood devastated the neighborhood just north of National City. Like many in the county, she was removed from the impacts of the flood. I knew it had rained, but I didn't know the damage because I don't like to watch the news. But she started to see images of the destruction on Facebook. She’s a single mother of three. She cooks for multiple small businesses she runs. But she felt compelled to help. And I just started to pray, like, how can I be used? Her first trip to Shelltown brought new reality to the images. And I cried as soon as I got there because I couldn't, I couldn’t understand the devastation in the streets. Rosales couldn’t fix everything she was seeing. But for her, a hot meal is family. I try to celebrate with people, even in the darkest times. Food does that for us. Many Shelltown residents still don’t have working kitchens. No stoves or sinks. They improvise with portable cooktops and microwaves. For them who have gone through a traumatic experience like that, and every other aspect of their life is in limbo . . . but . . . They can't prepare a hot meal to sit at the table with their family. Rosales began working with a community organization, Herencia Hispana, to cook hot meals for the neighbors. She got to know Beba Zárate, who hosts the meal distribution. Now, she drives to Zárate’s house and sets the table for Shelltown neighbors. They gather like family. The disaster feels more recent than three months ago. Sandbags still pile on the sidewalk. A large dumpster sits in the street. To show how high it flooded on January 22nd, Zárate points several feet up her wall. It is like a horrible movie. Everything was like dark. It was mud all over. It was all the trash. Even it was a death animals there. It was like a nightmare in the middle of the morning. Her house is mostly empty of personal belongings – all lost to the flood. But donations for distribution to flood survivors are piled to the carport ceiling. President Joe Biden declared a major disaster a month after the flood. There are two days left to apply for FEMA assistance. Up to 42 and a half thousand dollars per household for housing assistance, repairs and property loss. But there are citizenship and immigration requirements. And though FEMA has helpline operators, Zárate says it can be hard for some of her neighbors to navigate the process. Zárate has lived in her house for 25 years. The street it’s on connects to the freeway and an elementary school. She says it used to be filled with traffic and children. Now? This is like an empty street, like a ghost street. Many families lost their homes entirely. The county moved them into hotels. It is like really scary not having those smiles here around in the neighborhood. The news cycle has largely moved on. But it’s not so easy for the residents. It is a long recovery process . . . In the first month, it was like cover the basic needs. But now this is the reality. You have to face your reality that you do not have anything that you used to have to live, to survive. Now we are struggling with ourselves, but also with our mental health. The water has dried. But she says it left behind PTSD. She explains how it feels. It is like the emotions are numb. It is like when you have anesthesia and you are barely waking up, this is how we are feeling. We are like color blind. You can see the color, but we cannot see the colors. We are trying to, but it's really hard. But Zárate says she’s also noticed her neighborhood change for good. The beautiful thing of this is that we become like a family . . . We're holding hands and say, ‘We are together in this.’ And it is so much loving to see a survivor that is cooking in the backyard for the whole community or say, ‘You know what? This is what I have. I share with you and I share with the whole community.’ She says the tragedy upended their daily routines. But she sees a gift in that, too. The life twist. It goes like 365 degrees different from time before. But now we value more life. We value more the sense of how to be alive. It is a gift to be alive. Witnessing those lives is the gift volunteer Isa Rosales says she brings to Zárate and her neighbors. She said, I don't want nobody to forget about us. And I said, Don't worry, we won't forget about you. Zárate is just one of more than a thousand flood victims still figuring out how to survive. Katie Hyson, KPBS News. 


That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. Join us again tomorrow for the day’s top stories. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great Wednesday.

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Democrats on the California Senate Public Safety Committee shot down a bill banning homeless encampments Tuesday. In other news, an Arizona supreme court ruling last week has nearly banned access to abortion, some experts worry about what the ruling means for access to reproductive care in the Imperial Valley. Plus, mayor Todd Gloria has proposed cuts to racial and economic equity programs and advocates are pushing back.