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Homeless camping ban in San Diego County

 October 25, 2023 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Wednesday, October 25th.


An unsafe camping ordinance could soon be coming to unincorporated areas of the county.

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


California is one of dozens of states suing Meta Platforms Inc. for designing features that addict children to its social media platforms, Facebook and Instagram.

The suit claims the company does this knowing the features harm the mental health of youth.

California attorney general Rob Bonta co-led the investigation.

“We know Meta had internal discussions about the negative impact of the ‘like’ button, but decided to keep it anyway. We know Meta has internal documents that include studies and reports discussing the harmful effects of Meta’s products and the mental health problems they can cause young users.”  

A Meta spokesperson said in a statement quote “we’re disappointed that instead of working productively with companies across the industry to create clear, age-appropriate standards for the many apps teens use, the attorneys general have chosen this path.” end quote.


A resolution to support Governor Gavin Newsom's proposed gun-control amendment to the U-S Constitution was defeated by the County Board of Supervisors yesterday.

Two board members voted yes, and two voted no.

Newsom's proposal would add an amendment to the U-S- Constitution that would raise the minimum age to purchase a gun from 18 to 21, mandate universal background checks, ban assault rifles for civilians and impose a waiting period for all gun purchases.

Newsom's proposal requires the backing of 33 other states to call for a constitutional convention, to even consider the idea.


The San Diego Padres are suddenly looking for a new manager.

Several major media outlets are reporting Bob Melvin plans to leave the team to coach the San Francisco Giants.

Melvin was under contract for one more season in San Diego.

He’ll be replacing the Giant’s former manager Gabe Kapler, who was fired toward the end of this year’s season.

The Padres haven’t made a formal announcement yet.


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


There’s already a homeless camping ban in place in the cities of San Diego and Poway.

Now, the county is considering a similar idea.

Reporter Jacob Aere says it’s already getting lots of pushback.

In front of a nearly full room at the San Diego County Administration Building Tuesday, the board of supervisors considered a countywide ‘unsafe camping ban.’ District 2 Supervisor Joel Anderson is pushing the ordinance, saying it's necessary to help the region's homeless crisis in unincorporated areas. He says it differs in some ways from the ban in the city of San Diego. “We’re not the same as San Diego. Because we do have a housing element and a shelter element in our board letter.” Dozens of speakers at the meeting spoke out against the proposal but the measure was unanimously approved by the Board. The ‘unsafe camping ban’ will be looked at by county staff and come back to the board of supervisors for further consideration. Jacob Aere, KPBS News.


Teachers and families across the county now have access to new online videos designed to stop illegal drug use and prevent overdose deaths.

Education reporter M.G. Perez has more on that story.

This is Red Ribbon Week across the country…a time to recognize efforts in the current war on drugs. The San Diego County Office of Education has launched a new effort to teach students about the danger of dying from illegal drugs … With a series of online videos called “I choose my future.”  Anna Thoms is an 8th Grader at Coronado Middle School…who has seen the video curriculum. “you hear things everywhere that can really scare you…especially with alcohol and drug abuse…the peer pressure and people trying to get you to do something.” TheOffice of Education says school aged children are vulnerable to drug overdoses. Just two years ago, a dozen teenagers in San Diego county under 18 died from illegal drug use. MGP KPBS News.


Twenty years ago, a hunter lost in the East San Diego County forest started a small campfire as a signal to searchers.

He soon lost control of that little fire and it became the Cedar Fire…. at the time the largest wildfire in California history.

Reporter John Carroll looks back, and asks “could it happen again?”

The fire raced toward San Diego overnight. Over the next four days.. the Cedar Fire would burn 427 square miles.. a path 30 miles across … it destroyed much of the community of Crest, jumped Interstate 15 and tore through Scripps Ranch and Tierrasanta. In all, 28-hundred houses and businesses were lost. 15 people died in the fire. Jerry Lowthers and his wife were among those who drove away from their home .. just in time. Jerry Lowthers/Scripps Ranch Resident I told my wife I’d meet here at Starbucks or something, in Scripps Ranch, just as a place to rally, to connect. That’s what we did, and an hour later everything was gone. Back then.. firefighting aircraft were not allowed to drop water within a half hour of sunset. And that’s exactly when the fire started. By morning, there was no stopping it.  San Diego Fire-Rescue Chief Colin Stowell remembers it like it was yesterday. Chief Colin Stowell/San Diego Fire-Rescue Department I was right in the middle of it, with our strike team there. There was no amount of fire engines or personnel that was going to stop that firestorm from blowing through those communities. And really what you have to do is keep yourself safe, your crew safe, and after it blows through, then you can start mitigating and start suppressing some of those fires that started and hope that you can get to them before they get significant. Days later, when the Lowthers were allowed to go back in to the neighborhood … there was nothing left. It was like a war zone, all up and down Fairbrook right here, I don’t know, 40 houses went away. In Scripps, I think 235 homes went away, somewhere around there. The Cedar Fire taught some hard lessons… and there have been many improvements. San Diego had off-duty firefighters ready to work in 2003, but didn’t have enough fire engines and vehicles to get them to the front lines. Stowell says things have changed dramatically in the past 20 years. We are in a much better position today. We have a healthy reserve fleet, we have utility vehicles we have ways to get them out that certainly would make a big difference today. Communication and cooperation among fire agencies has also improved , they were a serious handicap fighting the fire.   CalFire Battalion Chief Tony Mecham. CalFire Chief Interview Battalion Chief Tony Mecham/CalFire I think San Diego probably operates with the greatest collaboration of anywhere. As fire chiefs we meet monthly. We have working groups, whether it be training, communications. We’re constantly talking. The rule on flying at night has since been rescinded. San Diego City and County …Cal Fire and SDG&E together now have nearly five times as many firefighting helicopters and planes. And the technology available to firefighters is greatly improved.  Eric Frost is the director of the Viz Center at San Diego State… the Center helps fire agencies know exactly where a fire is and where it’s going. Prof. Emeritus Eric Frost/ Viz Center San Diego State University You couldn’t really get accurate information flying overhead during the day for the very simple reason that there’s smoke. Software can now show where a fire is and where it will be in an hour… or a day. The Cedar Fire also led to new, more stringent building codes. Shake shingle roofs are no more. Exposed eaves are not allowed. The Lowthers’ house… and many others…. burned down because embers got under the eaves and into the attic. Residents are now regularly reminded to “fire harden” their homes... Create defensible space .. and if there’s firewood, patio furniture or anything that can burn.. get it away from the house. Because, as CalFire’s Tony Mecham says, the question is not if…. It is when.. there will be another major fire in the county. The readiness of the fire service, the speed now that we make decisions, how quickly we mobilize, we’ve had to really adapt to these large fires becoming the new normal. John Carroll, KPBS News.


Coming up.... San Diego Opera’s general director talks about what’s ahead for the new season.

“Everyone that attends, new and old audiences for San Diego Opera, the understanding that they’ll see themselves in someway in the work that we do.”

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


Sparks flew yesterday in North County as high school students tried their hand at jobs in the building and construction industry.

North County reporter Alexander Nguyen says it was a chance for students to think about a career in a trade.

nats flames, sparks, welding nearly 700 students from 27 high schools in the area participated in the trades day event at palomar college. they got some hands-on experience with dry-walling, woodworking and welding … to name a few. the event was hosted by the construction industry education foundation. dustin hildebrand is the foundation’s youth program coordinator. dustin hildebrand construction industry education foundation “we're trying to introduce students to that career field at an earlier age and try to encourage them towards that path of finding an apprenticeship or an internship right out of high school.” he says there is a shortage of skilled workers in the united states right now … and the needs are growing. an/kpbs.


The San Diego Council on Literacy says about a quarter of the county’s population over the age of 25 is reading at or below the third grade level.

North County reporter Tania Thorne tells us about an organization in Oceanside, striving to change that.

Josefina Zarate opens up a book and starts to read from it. I was frustrated because I found barriers. The barrier was English but I keep going. That’s an excerpt from a book called Our Oceanside, a collection of learner stories. And she wrote this story herself. But just a few years ago, she   couldn't speak, read or write English. I cross my barriers. She learned English at Oceanside Reads, a learning center that’s been serving adults from all walks of life for 25 years . Chelsea Eggli is the literacy coordinator. Our focus is on helping adults reach their goals. If you think of any adult basic education goal be it citizenship, reading, writing, speaking English, reading with your children. We help people with all of those goals. There’s only a handful of paid staff members. Eggli says the real work comes from the volunteers who help tutor English learners… and the center always welcomes new volunteers and students. Eggli says students who may be intimidated should drop by the center, to learn more about the programs …  and create new friendships. TT KPBS News.


San Diego Opera launches its new season today, with a concert at the Balboa Theatre.

Arts reporter Beth Accomando previewed the season with San Diego Opera’s general director David Bennett.

Here’s their conversation.

TAG: That was San Diego Opera’s general director David Bennett, speaking with KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando.

The new opera season kicks off tonight at the Balboa Theatre.


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, plus, our KPBS South Bay engagement producer joins me to talk about how to create an ofrenda for Día de Muertos. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great Wednesday.

There’s already a homeless camping ban in place in the cities of San Diego and Poway, and now, San Diego County is moving forward with a similar ban. In other news, 20 years ago today, a lost hunter in East San Diego County lit a small campfire that became one of the biggest wildfires in California history. Residents and firefighters look back at the Cedar Fire and the lessons it taught us. Plus, how an organization in Oceanside is striving to increase literacy in the county.