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Fast-tracking gun control in California

 May 26, 2022 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Thursday, May 26th>>>>

State lawmakers push for more gun control

More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


Another in-custody death has occurred at a jail in San Diego county.

A 64-year old inmate died of unknown causes on wednesday at the San Diego central jail.

The man’s name is being withheld pending family notification.

An autopsy is scheduled for today.

This is the 10th death at a county jail this year.


California’s governor and state water managers say drought conditions are heightening the need for conservation, even in San Diego, where local officials say there is plenty of water.

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Jeff Stephenson says a desalination plant and deals for Colorado River water secure local supplies.

But, he says the Authority will still encourage residents to save.

If the state is successful in voluntarily cutting water use, that could stave off more severe mandatory water use restrictions already in effect in parts of California.


Major construction at the San Diego international airport is starting early next month.

Construction will be in front of Terminal 1 and is expected to continue through the end of 20-24.

If you plan to travel through there, officials suggest making parking reservations, using public transit, or arranging to be picked up and dropped off.

Terminal 1’s parking lot will be permanently closed after June 15th, along with the pedestrian bridge in front of terminal 1 that goes to ground transportation.


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

California lawmakers are vowing to fast-track a handful of new gun restrictions in the wake of the Texas school shooting, which left at least 19 children dead.

CapRadio’s Nicole Nixon reports.

Governor Gavin Newsom wants state lawmakers to send him four bills by the end of next month that would restrict gun sales. He also wants them to add urgency clauses, which would allow the bills to take effect immediately if they’re passed and signed.

It requires approval from two-thirds of lawmakers in both houses… a supermajority Democrats hold.

NEWSOM: We’re going to continue to advance that reform and we’re taking it to a whole other level, with the sense of urgency that this moment requires. <<:06>>

One of the bills passed the state senate just hours after the Texas shooting occurred. It would allow residents to sue gun makers and sellers for damages if their weapons are used illegally.

Senator Anthony Portantino cited the shooting in urging his colleagues to support it.

PORTANTINO: One more death is too many. I respectfully ask for an ‘aye’ vote. <<:04>>

Other proposals the governor is supporting would ban ghost guns and fine gun manufacturers if they market to minors.


In San Diego, teachers, students and parents are responding to the shooting at an elementary school in Texas. On wednesday, Board of supervisors chairman Nathan Fletcher directed flags be flown at half-staff at the san diego county administration center in honor of the victims.

kpbs reporter Kitty Alvarado has more on local reactions.

"I was simply gutted, devastated … I broke down in tears."

Maria Ortega is the mother of students in two districts in San Diego county and also on the board of trustees of three charter schools.They wants students and parents to know they’re not alone.And says teachers in particular are having a hard time in the aftermath of this shooting.

"A friend of mine who’s a teacher in the South Bay and I check in on her, ‘how are you doing?’ She said she got to school this morning and she simply sat in her car and cried"

San Diego County Sheriff Tony Ray says their deputies are wearing mourning bands in solidarity with Uvalde, and their protocol kicks in immediately after mass shootings happen

"we are putting our deputies near the schools, the churches, the businesses where people gather together so that they know that we’re out there protecting them"

He says the most important for people to communicate and ask for help before it’s too late.

"often times I talk to people and they say I talk to people and they say yeah I thought something was wrong but I didn’t want to bother you, well we want to be bothered."

Kitty Alvarado KPBS News


The retail cost of electricity in San Diego is already among the highest in the nation. And the latest San Diego Gas and Electric budget request is calling for those rates to go up even more. KPBS Environment Reporter Erik Anderson looks at why the local cost of electricity remains on a steady upward trajectory.

San Diego utility bills climbed steadily in the past two decades. The state’s average price for a kilowatt of electricity, enough to power a 100 watt lightbulb for 10 hours, is close to 26 cents. Locally, prices are even higher.

“We’re recognizing and we’ve always acknowledged that we have higher rates here at SDGE.”

San Diego Gas and Electric’s Scott Crider says customers can expect average bills to climb another nine dollars a month in 2024 if state regulators approve the company’s latest budget. He says the utility forecasts energy consumption will double by 20-45 and the local power grid needs to be upgraded to deal with it.

“It’s on really empowering the energy transition so we can handle more renewable energy, more battery storage and to be able to charge an increasing number of electric vehicles in the region.”

The costs for those improvements, and others, are baked in into the cost of kilowatts that customers buy.

“When you buy carrots at the grocery store, isn’t that how they charge for carrots. You buy more you pay more. You buy less you pay less.”

Ahmed Faruqui is an economist who’s studied electricity rate systems for 40 years. He says the way people pay for electricity is a lot like going to a market.

First, buy a basket big enough to hold everything bought on the biggest shopping trip of the year. That’s called a capacity cost. Add lettuce and tomatoes to the basket to represent transmission and distribution and that accounts for nearly two thirds of the cost of a kilowatt hour. The actual electricity – a couple of potatoes – is close to another third. Sundries like public purpose programs and debt service for purchases made years ago make up the rest.

But Faruqui says buying electricity is not like going to the market in one crucial way.

“If you don’t like the prices at Safeway, you can go to five other grocery stores. If you don’t like the price of United Airlines Tickets you have ten other options to look at. The same thing for hotels and cars and so on. There is competition.”

And not only is there no competition in California’s electricity marketplace, utilities play a huge role in setting the price. In fact, they set the price…and regulators at the California Public Utilities Commission mostly approve the Kilowatt rates.

But those rates include things the utilities can’t control. The CPUC’s Mike Campbell says regulators insist on conservation and state lawmakers want things like rooftop solar, so utilities have to adjust rates upward. And regulators want to make sure utilities sell enough power to cover costs.

“ So if the forecast is wrong and they collected a million dollars less than we decided they were supposed to we’ll try to set the rates so they’re going to collect a million dollars the next year. To make up for it.”

And that means, Regulators guarantee a utility gets so much money, and if they don’t, then customers pay more.

And it’s also crucial to remember where the utility makes its profit. It comes from building infrastructure. And SDG-and-E’s Scott Crider sees a huge need.

“You think about, almost doubling the capacity of the electric grid in about 20 years or so. And so this is going to be an ongoing journey that we’re going to have to go on with our customers.”

Economist Ahmed Faruqui says that journey will be costly.

“everyone is projecting rate increases of 10 to 20 percent, on top of already high rates. And customers are pretty much fed up with it right? Affordability is a big challenge.”

There are proposals to change the way rates are calculated, but there’s little chance any changes will come soon. So when the power bill arrives in the mail, expect the costs to continue to go up.

Erik Anderson KPBS News


Coming up.... California lawmakers are working on a new bill that would ban the practice of expelling and suspending preschool children.

"We wouldn't say sit in the corner with those books until you know how to read… but we do that to kids. ‘You sit in the corner until you know how to play with kids..’ and that's not logical.”

We’ll have more on that next, just after the break.

Preschool children are expelled and suspended at rates three times higher than kids in K to 12 schools. It’s a problem California lawmakers are trying to address with a new bill, a bill that would ban the practice that disproportionately impacts Black children. Yet as KQED’s Deepa Fernandes reports, some early educators are already addressing the issue inside the classroom.

That was KQED’s Deepa Fernandes.


Some homeowners in a newly built Chula Vista development say the sales team and builder of their community did not live up to the promises made. They bought near a landfill. And as Kitty Alvarado reports, they want to warn those who are about to buy even closer to the site.

When Maryland couple Bob and Shirly Krilowicz were thinking of buying a new home in the community of Escaya in Chula Vista they were excited to live out their California dream.

Their only concern: the community would be nestled below the Otay Landfill. Brookfield, the company they dealt with, tried to put their minds at ease.

they said we would not see any trash … not a worry basically

That was back in 2018. Bob says they were told Republic Services would build a large screening berm and operations would completely stop in 2022. They were sold. But when they moved in … their idyllic neighborhood changed. They could see dumping in plain sight, hear loud booms used to scare off birds and were flooded with horrible smells.

So Bob took action making calls and emailing sales, Republic, or anyone from the city or county who might help. Republic Services told them the landfill would remain operational for almost a decade.

I got a cold chill and said oh oh, something went wrong here

He says he’s speaking out not just for changes for his community but one that was recently approved by the city

It’s a cautionary tale

Kitty Alvarado KPBS News

Chula Vista Mayor Mary Salas, San Diego County, and Chula Vista media contacts did not respond to requests for interviews. Republic Services provided a statement that said in part, "we work with closely with regulatory partners to ensure compliance"


The San Diego City Council Tuesday approved a new set of rules for shared electric scooters.

KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen says the goal is to improve safety and accountability.

AB: San Diego has taken a relatively light touch to regulating scooters, and critics have been calling for a crackdown. The new rules require the devices to be parked off the sidewalk in a designated area. And scooter companies have to automatically slow them down when they're being ridden on a sidewalk. Councilmember Joe LaCava says it's about time.

JL: We have all seen too many abuses by individuals using the scooters under the old framework – underage riders, multiple riders on a single scooter, scooters dumped anywhere and everywhere.

AB: By July the city is planning on allowing only four scooter companies to operate in the city. Right now there are six. Andrew Bowen, KPBS news.

That’s it for the podcast today. 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.

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California lawmakers are vowing to fast-track a handful of new gun restrictions in the wake of the Texas school shooting. Meanwhile, San Diegans have seen their power bill rise in recent years. The latest San Diego Gas & Electric budget request is calling for those rates to go up even more. Plus, California lawmakers are working on a new bill that would ban expelling and suspending preschool children–a practice that disproportionately impacts Black children.