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Controversy over Oceanside resource center’s location

 March 7, 2023 at 5:00 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Tuesday, March 7th.

Why neighbors of an Oceanside resource center want it relocated.More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


San Diego police are touting the benefits of smart streetlights to solve crimes during a series of community meetings to get feedback.

The San Diego Police Department wants to restart the program after it was shuttered in 20-20, after a backlash from community members citing privacy concerns.

Police say video evidence from these smart street lights helps increase conviction rates … reduces violence … and saves investigation time.

But a local privacy expert says there are legitimate concerns with these surveillance technologies.

The police department is holding more community meetings throughout the week.


A Romanian citizen died on Sunday while in U-S Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody at the Otay Mesa Detention Center.

50-year-old Cristian Dumitascu was arrested on February 22nd near the Otay Mesa Port of Entry.

He was transferred to ICE custody one week later.

Information on why he was arrested hasn’t been disclosed yet.

According to ICE, an autopsy is pending to determine his cause of death.


Fire and rescue teams from San Diego are in Big Bear… helping people who’ve been snowed in for nearly two weeks.

CalFire San Diego Captain Brent Pascua says 56 local crew members have been working around the clock, rescuing people trapped in their cars and homes… and bringing supplies to those in desperate need.

“They had to hike in diapers and baby formula and food and water to a family they could not get the road way cleared to the house so they had to backpack in supplies to the family.” 

Pascua says it’s a good reminder for all of us to keep at least 5 days worth of supplies in stock for all emergencies.


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


The Brother Benno [Ben-oh] Foundation is an organization that tells people, ‘when you’re not welcome anywhere else, you’re welcome here.’

But right now, Brother Bennos [Ben-ohs] isn’t welcome in the industrial park where they are operating.

North County reporter Tania Thorne tells us why.

The Brother Benno Foundation has been in Oceanside’s Industrial Park for over 30 years. Over the years it's evolved into a really comprehensive one stop shop for basically anybody that could be encountering any type of difficulties in life. Ben Meyer is the essential services manager with Brother Bennos, which offers resources Monday through Saturday. ‘Daily around here we serve breakfast to hundreds of unsheltered individuals, low income, working class, poor individuals. We deal with hundreds of families who rely on us for their grocery items and for their diapers and hygiene products and everything under the sun. we allow people to get their mail here.” But some of Brother Benno’s neighbors aren’t happy with the organization… and they’ve started a petition asking the city of Oceanside to revoke their conditional use permit. That permit lets Brother Benno’s operate in the business park – as long as their operations aren’t detrimental to the public or nearby properties. But the petitioners say they’ve been dealing with loitering, theft and substance abuse at the site… And that Brother Benno’s is not living up to the conditions of the permit. “I’ve watched it escalate for over a decade and it's not fair to us. I don't see a future here. My neighbor doesn't go to the dumpster without a gun on him. I can’t have my daughters work here. How is this fair to me? This is not fair.” Dane Hantz owns a business in the industrial park… and has seen things like people using dumpsters as toilets. My dumpster… they cleaned it and disinfected it and the rain has washed a lot out but it's dangerous. I was concerned about hepatitis, I didnt wanna touch it, I wear gloves anytime I need to go out there. It's not right. Hantz shared images of some of the things he’s encountered outside of his business. He says most of the people pictured are getting some kind of resource from Brother Bennos. Hantz puts the blame on Brother Bennos’s. “I'm frustrated with Bennos because I don't feel like compassion fixes this situation. I feel like it keeps people complacent in their circumstance and I think that its prolonged it.” Jesse O’Hare also has a business near brother Bennos. He says he feels torn because he sees families going to the center for food. But he supports the petition because the small number of people causing problems has gone ignored for too long. So if someone is sleeping in front of our door, we’re not supposed to wake them up and say ‘excuse me’ , we're supposed to wait for the cops to come wake them up and…. It's just not right. It's not a good situation and no one is really doing anything about this in my opinion. Oceanside police say they have issued 70 citations in the business park. Meyer acknowledges the problems the business owners are reporting. But he says the people causing them are just a handful out of the 5000 individuals registered at Brother Benno’s. But its a very small number of people, incredibly small. Which would lead most people to say ‘well why can't you manage it?’ Which is a question we all have. We all wonder what can we do, how do we find somewhere for people to go, these are human beings. Brother Bennos owns their building, and they don’t get any financial support from government agencies. Meyer says they’re doing the best with what they have – but pushing this problem to somebody else's front yard isn't going to solve the problem. But again, it comes back to we signed up to help people, some people didn't sign up to help people, they signed up to make money and that's ok. But we're going to continue to do our best to help people. But they’ll be doing their best with some new limitations. As a result of the petition, Brother Bennos is now closing earlier, and they’ve hired more security to patrol the area. They made those changes just last week. Business owners like Dane Hantz say it will be a few weeks before he can say whether things have improved." TT KPBS News.


San Diego County paid nearly 4-million-dollars recently to settle wrongful discrimination lawsuits by two former deputy public defenders.

Investigative reporter Amita Sharma has more.

The county paid 900,000 dollars to ex-deputy public defender Michelle Reynoso.  Reynoso alleged she was fired because of her social justice work during her off hours.  The county also won’t appeal a 2.6 million dollar jury verdict awarded to former deputy public defender Zach Davina, who is gay. In January, a jury found that the public defender office failed to prevent discrimination and retaliation against Davina. Lawyer Chris Ludmer represents both Davina and Reynoso. He says he hopes the county handles future lawsuits differently. “And where there’s real responsibility, real liability, step up and acknowledge that and resolve these cases as quickly as possible.” 9 secs  The county did not respond to an interview request by deadline. Amita Sharma, KPBS News.


Last week, President Biden told Congressional Democrats to remind voters of their accomplishments.

And yesterday, three San Diego Democrats visited Mesa College to do just that… celebrating three-point-four million dollars for the San Diego Community College District.

The money was approved by Congress in December to support several district programs, including one to better serve the district’s L-G-B-T-Q community.

The funding was opposed by several Republican representatives.

They called it a part of “WOKE” culture.

Congresswoman Sara Jacobs had this response:

“Let me be clear. If it’s WOKE to make sure that young people in our community have a space where they can be themselves and to advocate for people who often are overlooked and marginalized…I guess I’m WOKE.” 

There was also funding to support undocumented students, and students who have aged out of the foster care system.


Coming up.... We hear about the life of an ambassador for the San Diego Opera, after his death. We’ll have that and more, just after the break.


Some local businesses are getting creative to help bring in extra income during difficult economic times.

Reporter Jacob Aere says those with some extra parking space, are letting R-Vs and campers stay on their property overnight to supplement their income.

Escondido’s Belle Marie Winery may draw you in with its castle and rows of citrus trees …  but manager Jeff Lazenby  says you might also see something rather unexpected: overnight campers. “We've got any kind of RV under the sun… Anything people use to camp with, we have them here.” His winery is one of roughly a dozen San Diego businesses who are now making extra money by letting RVs stay overnight on their premises … through a company called Harvest Hosts. CEO Joel Holland says they've brought together farms, breweries, vineyards, and golf courses across North America to host a limited number of campers overnight… just one night at a time. “It doesn't cost anything to stay there as part of our program, but the expectation is that you're going to support the local business you visit.” Holland says RV members pay an annual fee of around $100, but businesses can sign up for free – and keep all the money they make from overnight campers. Lazenby says the extra customers are helping to offset rising prices. “This is people that would never come here, they would never know about you. They’re customers walking in the door. How can you lose?” Holland says any licensed business can become a host – they just need to have extra parking space. JA KPBS News.


For the first time, members of the United Nations have agreed on a plan to protect biodiversity in international waters known as the high seas.

Sci-tech reporter Thomas Fudge spoke with some San Diego oceanographers to find out what the agreement can achieve.

Lisa Levin was one of many people who went to New York to draft an ocean treaty that UN members could agree on. Levin is a deep sea biologist and a professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She says the agreement was 20 years in the making. “It is a huge accomplishment because it creates a vehicle to conserve and manage 60 percent of the ocean that basically was not under regulation.” She says the treaty could be used to make some parts of the high seas off-limits. “It basically will allow for the creation of marine protected areas. Marine Parks, where there can be potentially no human activities.” Overfishing, mining, and low levels of oxygen in the water – the result of climate change – are among the factors that have devastated ocean wildlife. Octavio Aburto, a marine ecologist also at Scripps Oceanography, says nearly 90 percent of the ocean’s large fish and mammals have been lost. “Marlins and sharks and many species that live far from the coast have been disseminated by these industrial activities.” The UN ocean biodiversity treaty still has to  be ratified. SOQ. 


The San Diego Opera announced last week that a beloved colleague, Nicolas Reveles, died of pancreatic cancer.

For 20 years, Reveles shared his love for opera with audiences, students and anyone who would listen as the opera’s director of education and community engagement.

Reveles was also a scholar, a musician and a gifted composer.

My colleague Beth Accomando knew Reveles for years, and interviewed him on multiple occasions.

KPBS’s Maureen Cavanaugh spoke with Beth about Reveles.

She first asked Beth what she remembers best about him.

That was KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando, speaking with KPBS Midday Edition host Maureen Cavanaugh.


That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great Tuesday.

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Neighbors of the Brother Benno Foundation in Oceanside want it removed from the Industrial Park it’s been operating in for more than 30 years. In other news, San Diego County paid nearly $4 million recently to settle wrongful discrimination lawsuits by two former deputy public defenders. Plus, we hear about the life of an ambassador for the San Diego Opera, who died recently.