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Families impacted by floods unable to return home

 January 30, 2024 at 6:00 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Tuesday, January 30th.

Some flood victims are unable to return to their rented homes. More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….

San Diego County was approved for state funding to assist with flood relief.

Under the California Disaster Assistance Act, the county will receive financial assistance for the repair, restoration or replacement of public property.

The program also reimburses local governments for other costs incurred following a disaster event, like a storm.

County Supervisor Nora Vargas said the funds will help the county recover from and withstand future flooding emergencies.

The Orange trolley line is not fully running, yet, due to damage from last week’s storm.

There’s no service on the Orange line between the Euclid Transit Center and the Lemon Grove Transit Center.

Temporary bus shuttles are available between those two stops.

M-T-S says passengers in East County traveling to downtown San Diego should take the Green line to avoid delays

Other lines are serving all stations.

Two other storms will be hitting San Diego this week and next. This Thursday we’ll see heavy rain and cold winds.

Snow is possible above 5-thousand feet.

Alex Tardy is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

He says there’s a slight risk of flooding from Thursday’s rain.

So that would be river flooding, urban flooding and small stream flooding. We've already mentioned the San Diego River going over 10 feet. So that's river flooding. When we get closer, we may issue a flood watch for urban and small stream flooding so stay tuned for that.

There will be some lingering precipitation on Friday.

Next week’s storm is also expected to have significant rainfall.

The county and Cal-Fire are offering free sandbags for residents ahead of the rain. Visit KPBS dot org slash weather to learn more.

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

LAST WEEK’S FLASH FLOOD LEFT NEARLY 100 FAMILIES IN NATIONAL CITY UNABLE TO RETURN TO THEIR RENTED HOMES.

REPORTER KATIE HYSON SPOKE WITH A MOTHER WHO SAYS HER FUTURE IS UNCERTAIN.

Everything was destroyed. We have nothing. 26-year-old Jocelyn Lopez leans on crutches. She says she fractured her ankle trying to escape when the water suddenly filled her Highland Avenue apartment. Today, a red city notice is taped to the door: it reads danger, unsafe. Unlawful to occupy. The landlord sent some residents a letter terminating their lease. Mud marks a line on the walls a foot and a half high. Furniture, clothes and baby shower decorations sit waterlogged. If you don't come from much, like us, then you would understand how hard the situation is with very little stuff that we had, but very valuable to us. She sent four of the children in her care to live with family. She and her four-month old are staying with her mother-in-law in an apartment on the second floor. Lopez says many of the tenants have lived here for more than a decade. They can’t afford to return if the landlord remodels and hikes the rent. It's like tearing up the family that we have built here for many, many, many years. Legal Aid Society of San Diego’s Gil Vera says landlords are responsible to provide safe housing until repairs are done. They can only terminate the lease after the eviction has gone through the court, he says, unless the unit is fully destroyed. Katie Hyson, KPBS News

THREE ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS ARE TAKING THEIR CHALLENGE OF THE STATE’S SOLAR POWER RULES TO THE CALIFORNIA STATE SUPREME COURT. ENVIRONMENT REPORTER ERIK ANDERSON SAYS IT’S THE LATEST APPEAL IN A NINE MONTH LONG LEGAL BATTLE.

The Center for Biological Diversity, the Environmental Working Group and the San Diego based Protect Our Communities Foundation are elevating their challenge to California’s highest court. The first district court of appeal in San Francisco ruled  the California Public Utilities Commission followed its mandate to review and revise the rules for Net Energy Metering.  Those rules, adopted last spring, slash the value of electricity produced by rooftop solar.  The groups argue regulators didn’t follow the state utility code in adopting the changes.  They argue the CPUC decision doesn’t protect the growth of solar energy, doesn’t fund solar in disadvantaged communities and doesn’t fully account for all rooftop solar benefits. Erik Anderson KPBS News

A STATE PROGRAM CREATED TO HELP FIRST-TIME HOME BUYERS WITH DOWN PAYMENTS WILL GIVE OUT ANOTHER 250-MILLION DOLLARS IN ASSISTANCE THIS SPRING.

CAL MATTERS’ FELICIA MELLO HAS MORE ON THE RE-LAUNCH OF THE STATE’S DREAM FOR ALL PROGRAM…

Last year, the program was just wildly popular and all of the funds ran out in just 11 days. So this year, the state is making some changes to help the program reach more diverse homebuyers in different areas of the state. Two of the major changes that they're making are a lottery system that will give homebuyers more time to learn about the program and submit their applications … and then a requirement that at least one borrower be a first generation homebuyer, which means that their parents didn't own a home or that they grew up in the foster care system.

THAT’S CALMATTERS’ FELICIA MELLO [MELLOW]. THE STATE WILL START ACCEPTING NEW DREAM FOR ALL APPLICATIONS THIS APRIL.

A BREAKTHROUGH IN AN ONGOING CONTRACT DISPUTE WITH ACADEMIC WORKERS AND THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA…

EDUCATION REPORTER M.G. PEREZ SAYS IT MEANS AN OVERDUE PAY RAISE FOR GRADUATE STUDENT RESEARCHERS.

They are members of the U-A-W 2865 who went on strike against the University of California in November 2022. That strike eventually led to a new contract that included a set minimum amount of paid hours for graduate student researchers that could not be changed by their supervisors. But the university delayed implementation of the requirement …without a clear explanation… Leaving  4-thousand student researchers underpaid system-wide for the last year. Now the U-C has agreed to begin the new pay practice when the spring quarter starts in March….without negotiating retroactive pay. Maya Gosztyla is the union’s head steward. “contract enforcement is a process you have to iterate over and over…and every time you get a win ..you get stronger and its easier to enforce things in the future.” KPBS reached out to the U-C for comment and we are waiting for a reply. MGP KPBS NEWS. 

FOR THE FIRST TIME, CALIFORNIA LAW IS SET TO PROTECT ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENTS’ RIGHT TO RECESS.

REPORTER KORI SUZUKI SAYS THESE CHANGES COME AT A CRITICAL TIME FOR YOUNG CALIFORNIANS.

Do you want to sit here and listen to the interview? We're talking about playing with you. Do you want to sit just here and watch? That’s Ana Cordova. She’s talking with her son Nolan. Who does not want her to be speaking with someone else right now. He munches on a snack grumpily while we talk. Nolan is almost four. He was born in April 2020, right after the pandemic began. Cordova says it was an isolating way to grow up. All of their family is back in the Chicago area, so they weren’t really seeing anybody else. Nolan is in preschool now. Next year, he’ll be moving to transitional kindergarten. And the move hasn’t been easy. Especially recess. The teachers tell us it takes him some time to warm up. Sometimes he’s on the outskirts, observing. And I cry. Yes, you cry, too. But Cordova is hopeful. It’s been getting easier for Nolan to spend time with other kids. And recess, she says, is going to be a really important part of that. Researchers who study childhood largely agree. Recess is really important. For a lot of kids, it’s their main time to play freely and without structure. Rebecca London is a professor of sociology at UC Santa Cruz. “Forming connections with. Peers and adults is healing for children. And that's exactly what happens during recess. Right. It's not just about the play. It's about the interaction that happens through the play.” Those interactions through play are crucial. They help kids develop social skills and creativity – and reduce the risk of anxiety and depression. But for decades, recess has also been under threat. London says that dates back to around the late 90s and early 2000s. When the federal government made a big push to sharpen public schools’ focus on academic performance. With the No Child Left Behind Act. So in return for federal dollars, we are asking states to design accountability systems. Educators were suddenly under huge pressure. They responded by ramping up the focus on academics, sending students home with more work and extending the school year. Recess also became an easy target. So recess, which had been sort of a staple in the day, became cut shorter and shorter and shorter and shorter and shorter, and in some places disappeared altogether. At least a fifth of U.S. school districts cut back on recess time. By as much as an hour every week, according to some estimates. Researchers tracked those changes in poorer schools in California. And also saw educators take away more recess from Black and Latino students than they did from white students. That could have continued. But then came the pandemic. “kids not only didn't get the same level of education or mentorship or instruction, but they were really isolated.” Josh Newman is a California State Senator. And the parent of a second grader. And he saw how those years affected kids firsthand. “It shed light on the impact on students of the isolation that came from closing schools and this kind of overhang of a whole bunch of mental health and kind of other issues that we're going to have to work our way through.” For Newman, that was the turning point. Last year, he spearheaded the passage of a new law, SB 291. It requires all public schools to give elementary students 30 minutes of recess every day – separate from lunch and PE. And it makes it illegal for teachers to take that time away as punishment. Here in San Diego, schools are still figuring out what these changes will mean for the next school year. KPBS reached out to four local districts, but none of them would give interviews on how they plan to make sure that schools are following the law. Still, London says this is huge for California. The pandemic, I think, is leading people to realize how important this social connection is. And since the pandemic started, we've seen, I don't know, maybe four or five, six states, new states pass legislation. Ana Cordova is optimistic. She agrees that the law is a good thing. Like, they're just kids, so they have all their lives to not have recess. The new recess law is set to take effect in the fall. Kori Suzuki, KPBS News.

Coming up… How you can help with overcrowding at local animal shelters. We’ll have that story and more, just after the break.

San Diego area animal shelters are above capacity. And that means you may be in luck if you are considering adding a new member to your family. Midday Edition host Jade Hindmon spoke with Nina Thompson of the San Diego Humane Society about what to know if you’re planning on adopting a dog.

That was Nina Thompson, director of public relations at the San Diego Humane Society, speaking with Midday Edition host Jade Hindmon.

The Humane Society is in need of donations to help flood victims care for their pets. They’re asking for dog food, leashes, collars and slip leads. The shelter also needs foster pet parents. Visit SD Humane dot org for more information.

The Humane Society is operating a temporary shelter for pets at Lincoln High School with the Red Cross. Currently there’s 17 pets there.

That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. Tomorrow … San Diego Zoo research that could help with koala conservation efforts. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great Tuesday.

 Following last week’s storm, some families in National City are unable to return to their rented homes. Then, some environmental groups have been locked in a nine month long legal battle with the state over new solar rules. They’re now taking their claim to California’s Supreme Court. Finally, a state program will be doling out $250 million to first time homebuyers this spring.