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Gaps in San Diego's conservatorship system

 September 21, 2022 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Wednesday, September 21st>>>>

The Navy says arson destroyed the USS Bonhomme Richard

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

San Diego home prices are still falling … with the median price tag for the region sitting at just under 800-thousand dollars..

The San Diego union tribune reports that overall home prices are still up 10 percent over last year..

Experts say the downward trend is a sign of a slowing market.

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The city of San Diego is once again expanding shelter beds, but this time it’s single occupancy rooms.

Mayor Todd Gloria announced yesterday that a 34-room hotel off Pacific Highway will be turned into the city’s next homeless shelter..

This one will be for at-risk seniors.

Gloria says it will open soon and its initial operating contract runs through at least next june..

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Meantime San Diego County officials are making good on their promise to help cities with funding for homeless services..

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher says the cities of Vista, Oceanside and San Diego are receiving a combined 4 million dollars in grants.

A few months ago the county announced they were making money available to help cities get homeless projects off the ground.

Vista and San Diego have overnight parking lots planned, while Oceanside has a 50-bed shelter in the works.

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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.

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The Navy is making its case for why the 2020 fire onboard the USS Bonhomme Richard was arson.. Yesterday marked the second day of the trial of Seaman Apprentice Ryan Sawyer Mays. KPBS Military Reporter Steve Walsh has the story.

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NAVYTRIAL 1       TRT :49       SOQ

Ryan Mays is charged with arson and endangering a ship. Special Agent Matt Beals testified about the 250 page report that determined the fire that destroyed the USS Bohomme Richard was set deliberately in July 2020.  

During a pre-trial hearing, defense experts questioned whether Lithium Ion batteries found at the scene could have started the fire. But Special Agent  Beals said he went back and tested the batteries and again ruled them out. 

Gary Barthel,an outside spokesman for the defense, questioned the timing of the government’s battery tests

“He tested these batteries this past summer. So, two years after the fire they’re now getting around to testing the Lithium batteries.” Mays denies he set the fire on the ship. But Beals said he could not fully account for  Mays’ time leading up to the fire. Steve Walsh KPBS News

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The navy and the port of San Diego are on their way to having cleaner air for communities near the waterfront.. KPBS reporter John Carroll has more on a first-of-its-kind agreement signed yesterday..

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NAVYCARBON 1                          :51                          SOQ

Naval Base San Diego will celebrate its 100th anniversary this weekend. As important as the Navy’s presence is in San Diego, it has also been a significant polluter with ships using fossil fuels to generate power while in port. A landmark agreement signed today means the Navy will now participate in a cap and trade type of program where they will generate credits by using cleaner shore power. The chairman of the Board of Port Commissioners summed up the agreement at a signing ceremony on Tuesday.

“We are here today to celebrate an innovative federal, state and local initiative that will provide millions of dollars for electrification projects for both Naval Base San Diego and the Port of San Diego.”

Dan Malcolm says the Port will plow the money it makes from the carbon credits back into buying more electric-powered equipment.

JC, KPBS News.

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The redevelopment of San Diego’s downtown core is top of mind for local officials.. Now that the city owns the scandal-ridden 101 ash street and civic center buildings, KPBS Reporter Alexander Nguyen says the mayor wants to hear from the public.

CIVIC 1(an)   TRT  0:52  SOQ

Nearly two dozen community and civic leaders were recruited for Mayor Todd Gloria’s Civic Center Revitalization Committee.

SOT  Todd Gloria / San Diego Mayor

“We are looking at a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a huge difference in our city’s downtown. I think many of you have long been involved in public affairs and you recognized that we have waited far too long for this day.”

The committee’s singular focus is to gather the community's input on how to best redevelop the six blocks of city-owned land around the Civic Center Plaza.

It’s a precursor for the formal bidding process set to start next year. 

The last time the city attempted to redevelop the Civic Core was 15 years ago. 

The committee will meet every two weeks until the end of the year. It is expected that developers will include the committee’s recommendations in their proposals when properties are up for bid.

AN/KPBS

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Coming up.. Some elected leaders believe mental health conservator-ships will help California’s homeless crisis, but San Diego’s system is struggling and families want answers. We’ll have that story and more, next, just after the break.

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Elected leaders across the state have a homeless crisis on their hands.. Some are turning to one possible solution: Mental health conservator-ships. But an investigation by our partners at inewsource found major gaps in the system … and frustration from family members who say they’ve tried for years to get help for their severely ill loved ones. inewsource investigative reporter Jennifer Bowman has the details.

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2-LPSFAMILIES (inews)   3:15    SOQ

"BOWMAN: Anita Fisher has been here before.

FISHER: “I'm sad to say that he decided not to get his monthly injection.”

Anita’s son has schizophrenia. He’s been kicked out of the Army … spent several months homeless … and cycled in and out of jail. For years, Anita tried to convince officials – and her son – that he was so sick he needed help … even if it meant treating him involuntarily. In 2014, there was some action. Her son was placed on what’s known as a conservatorship. But it was short-lived. He was released after just two weeks.

FISHER: “We get back the collateral damage. When they are let out of a hospital too soon and then they’re,  again, arrested again, it’s us having to run to court hearings. Nobody shows up for that.”

Some San Diego leaders support expanding mental health conservatorships. The legal process means a person’s decisions … like whether to take medication or to live in a locked facility … is placed in the hands of someone else. Sometimes, that someone else is the county. But inewsource spoke with nearly 40 people and found a system riddled with gaps. Some are frustrated by the lack of resources and what they say is a reluctance by decision makers to pursue conservatorships. Joseph De Vico is a consultant who works with families trying to get help for their loved ones.

DE VICO: “I always tell people, all we can do is we can just, we have to keep throwing the truth out there. And you just have to hope that you catch a conscientious person on a good day.”

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Many people are involved in the conservatorship system. Police take people to the hospital on 72-hour holds … Hospitals decide whether they should be held longer, and if they should recommend conservatorship … and then county officials choose which ones to take to court for ultimate approval. New York University professor Alex Barnard has studied the system extensively.

BARNARD: “Everyone in that chain is thinking about something that often is not actually a legal criteria for conservatorship or whether a person would benefit from conservatorship.”

Data shows San Diego County has been receiving fewer requests for conservatorship … and taking fewer of them to court. But Supervisor Nathan Fletcher also says they’re focused on early intervention and that they’re getting more efficient because the court has been approving petitions more often.

FLETCHER: “There’s no reluctance on our part to pursue them and we absolutely will and we’ll look for every opportunity we can when it’s appropriate.”

Now, officials have turned to CARE Court. The new program sets up people with a behavioral health plan and county supporters. It’s meant to offer care earlier, but if a person doesn’t complete the program, they could be recommended for conservatorship.

Opponents of the hotly debated program worry about forced treatment that will disproportionately affect homeless residents. Supporters like San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria say it’s a state mandate to help vulnerable people living on the streets … even if there are still unknowns.

GLORIA: “Waiting to collect a bunch of data, uh, to address this literally consigns people to die on our sidewalks. And I'm just not willing to wait that long. And I don't think most Californians are willing to wait.”

BOWMAN: CARE Court will roll out in San."

TAG: This story was reported with the help of USC’s Annenberg Center for Health Journalism. To read more about San Diego conservatorships, go to inewsource.org. inewsource is an independently funded nonprofit partner of KPBS.

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A library card is all you need to check out laptops and wifi hotspots at San Diego County libraries.. KPBS Education Reporter M.G. Perez explains how the new program works.

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CHROMEBOOKS 1   trt :45  SOQ

The San Diego County Library system obtained 7-thousand Chromebooks and wifi hot spot devices…with grant money from the Federal Communications Commission.

About half of them have already been checked out and taken home for use by families caught in the digital divide…without access to the internet.

Donna Ohr is Deputy Director of the San Diego County Library…

SOT “we’re here for people to read…we love that people read…we’re here for people to learn…we’re here for people to create…and to be socially engaged.”

The laptops and wifi hot spots can be checked out for up to one year…with a valid County library card. MGP KPBS News.

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Lucasfilm strategically re-released Rogue One in cinemas to prep audiences for the new Andor series that focuses on Diego Luna’s character from that film. The series premieres 3 episodes today (Wednesday) on Disney Plus. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando has this review.

ANDOR (ba) 1:10 SOQ

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The latest Star Wars series to hit cable is Andor. It offers the backstory to Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor, the reluctant hero of Rogue One. I was eager for this series. I loved Rogue One and this show promised to be a grittier, more human-scaled look at how anger at an oppressor can spark a full blown revolution. The first two episodes focus on Cassian the thief.

CLIP It’s easy to steal from the Empire…

But it’s not until episode three and the arrival of actors Stellan Skarsgaard and Fiona Shaw that we start to feel the swell of rebellion and the passion of a cause.

CLIP People are standing up…

The first two episodes felt like fluff and unnecessary filler but with episode 3 the series comes into its own.

CLIP That’s what a reckoning sounds like.

I hope Andor continues to build on these themes, and to give us something meatier than what the franchise has been serving up. It has not proven as strong as The Mandalorian but it is far outpacing Boba Fett and Obi-Wan in terms of production value and story.

Beth Accomando, KPBS News.

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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 day.

The Navy is making its case for why the 2020 fire onboard the USS Bonhomme Richard was arson. San Diego's elected leaders are looking to conservatorships to address the homeless crisis, but an investigation found gaps in the system.