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Homelessness across San Diego County

 January 27, 2023 at 5:00 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Friday, January 27th.

Whistleblowers alerted the County about problems in its public defender office, years before a costly settlement. More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


A new homeless shelter for women is now open at the old Central Library in Downtown.

The shelter has 36 beds, and will operate at night.

It’s run by the National Alliance for Mental Illness of San Diego and Imperial Counties.

NAMI will provide case management, access to social services and

housing navigation services to people at the shelter.

The shelter will be open for six months.

After that, the city will explore the possibility of creating affordable housing on the city-owned property.

The grand opening was on the same day as the annual “point in time” count.


Median home prices in the County are down nearly 100-thousand-dollars from its peak price last year.

That’s according to reporting by the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The median home price was 756-thousand last month.

That price is down from a record-high of 850-thousand-dollars last May.

The median includes all single-family homes, townhouses and condos.

The county’s median home price is still 2-point-4 percent higher than it was this time last year.


Comic-Con museum in Balboa Park is one of 20 museums in the running for the title of “Best Pop Culture Museum” in the country.

The designation is part of U-S-A Today’s 20-23 10 Best Readers’ Choice awards.

*You* can help the comic con museum win the award by voting at w-w-w-dot-10-best-dot-com-slash-awards.

You can vote once a day until February 13th.


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


Volunteers took to the streets to do the annual “point in time” count yesterday.

KPBS reporter Jacob Aere says the yearly tally helps paint a picture of homelessness in the region, but there’s many people who go uncounted.

Early Thursday morning, 1600 volunteers at over 37 deployment sites throughout the county helped to put a number on San Diego’s growing homeless population through a “point in time count.” The early results of the tally showed the issue continues to get worse. Senior citizen Connie McKrieth knows the pain of being homeless, but she’s now living at a transitional housing facility downtown. “I have an income but circumstances with the economy – I can't afford the permanent roof over my head.” Official numbers for this year’s count will be released in the coming months … which will help determine the amount of federal funding for homeless services directed to the region. Jacob Aere, KPBS News.

Last year's point-in-time count showed a large number of people experiencing homelessness in the East County.

District Two Supervisor Joel Anderson says, that while a large encampment on Magnolia Avenue has been replaced with a safe parking site, he's still concerned about people camped out along riverbeds and drainage ditches.

“And when the rains come like they did last week, we saw a lot of their belongings washing out to the ocean. We need to get to those folks before anybody dies. We need to get to those folks and make sure that we increase their quality of life along with their neighbors.”

Anderson said five years ago, East County officials weren’t aware there was an issue with homelessness in their area… and that a lot of progress has been made in the past year in finding shelter for people.

In North County yesterday, volunteers attempted to count the number of people without a permanent roof over their heads..

KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne went out with service providers in Escondido.

Interfaith Community Services is the only provider of low barrier shelters for all genders, in North County. Thursday morning, Interfaith’s CEO Greg Anglea joined volunteers for the point in time count. He says he expects the numbers to be higher in North County this year. Last year, we counted about 2000 individuals experiencing homelessness just in North County, there are only 150 shelter beds entirely in North County. He says this year's count is especially important because more funding for resources is needed. Interfaith is preparing to open a 36 bed family shelter in March and Oceanside’s first homeless shelter is expected to open in June. TT KPBS News 


Whistleblowers alerted San Diego County about alleged poor treatment of employees in its public defender office in late 20-20.

That was two years before a jury awarded 2-point-6-million-dollars to an ex-employee earlier this month in his wrongful termination suit.

KPBS Investigative reporter Amita Sharma explains.

Dan Eaton San Diego Legal Analyst Stephen Gillers NYU Law Professor In November 2020, at least two whistleblowers filed complaints against the public defender’s office  with San Diego County. The complaints alleged retaliation. Hostility. Racial insensitivity and conflict of interest. The allegations followed the firings of three deputy public defenders, including Zach Davina, who earlier this month won a $2.6 million judgment in a wrongful termination lawsuit against the county. County spokesman Mike Workman told KPBS, in an email, that the county’s Office of Ethics and Compliance investigated the whistleblower complaints. But Workman said the probe was suspended when officials learned that two of the three fired deputy public defenders might sue. Dan Eaton is a San Diego legal analyst. “Once litigation begins, it is not uncommon for whatever investigation is in process to be put on hold, which is what the county essentially did and that's because the litigation process itself has a whole different set of rules for finding out what happened.” This raises questions as to whether anything has been done over the past two years about the alleged hostile work environment inside the Public Defenders’ Office. KPBS asked the county for details on the investigation. When was the probe launched?  How many people were interviewed? And when was it suspended? The county refused to comment. But Eaton says county officials had choices “A county doesn't have to put an investigation on hold.” Here’s what we do know about the investigation. Lawyer Chris Ludmer represents ex-deputy public defenders Davina and Michelle Reynoso, who has also filed a wrongful termination suit. Ludmer says he notified the county on November 24, 2020, that litigation was pending. That was about three weeks after the whistleblower’s filed their complaints. Ludmer says the county never contacted his clients for an interview about the complaints. However, the county did forward the complaints to public defender management. Testimony during Davina’s wrongful termination trial revealed that in early December 2020, a supervisor in the public defenders’ office said in a letter to the county that an internal HR investigation report had determined the whistleblower complaints were unfounded. That’s the same report Public Defender Randy Mize testified during trial that he signed, knowing it contained false statements by supervisors in his office. “I’ll bet 10 to 1 that the decision to put the investigation on hold was dictated by the lawyers in the litigation or lawyers for the organization.” New York University law professor Stephen Gillers says an employer is obligated to investigate allegations of discrimination, harassment and retaliation. In other words, the law doesn’t change just because an employer has been sued. “The concern of the organization is to make sure that things are being done properly whatever the legal fallout in an organization.”  In Davina’s case, the jury agreed that as a gay man he was discriminated against for his gender expression. At one point, Davina was asked whether he was too flamboyant and animated during his tenure review panel. The jury also found that Davina faced retaliation after he complained about racially insensitive comments made by a member of his tenure review panel BEFORE she judged his work performance. Gillers says the pressure only intensifies on a workplace to investigate when jurors agree with a plaintiff  such as they did in Davina's wrongful termination lawsuit.  That jury also found that the county did nothing to prevent discrimination and retaliation against Davina. “The heat is on and they have an affirmative obligation to figure out what it is that is going on that persuaded a jury to award a multi-million dollar verdict.” Another verdict may be on the way. Former deputy public defender Reynoso’s case, which is similar to Davina’s, is scheduled for trial next month. Amita Sharma, KPBS News.


The transgender woman at the center of a controversy in Santee is defending herself.

KPBS reporter Kitty Alvarado has the story.

It was standing room only at Wednesday night’s city council meeting in Santee …It appears that I inadvertently caused quite a scandal Word got out that  Christynne Wood, a transgender woman, would be speaking during public comment… a couple of weeks after a teenager told the same council – that she was terrified after seeing Wood in the YMCA locker room. I am a threat to no one But those against Wood and people like her made their voices heard too. “We are not going to bow down to your gender ideology cult. During an interview with KPBS Midday Edition, Wood was asked if she felt safe Sweetie I’m as safe as any trans woman of color which means probably not so much considering that I do live in east county and have for 15 years I am not about to leave Santee’s mayor said during the meeting they’ve met with the YMCA and the legal team to make sure everyone feels protected and valued in the community. Kitty Alvarado KPBS news.


Coming up.... Need plans for the weekend? We’ve got you covered with some weekend arts events worth checking out! We’ll have that story and more, after the break.


You’ve heard of pickup games in basketball and baseball…

But what about pickup sword fighting?

It’s all in fun, with foam swords.

KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne introduces us to the live-action fantasy, roleplaying sport.

Every Saturday at Poinsettia Park in Carlsbad… a battle goes down. “Basically we're fantasy foam fighting, the best way to describe it is a pick up sport. Now, I want to be clear that I knew close to nothing about live action fantasy roleplaying or amtgard when I took on this story. But Brien Middaugh broke it down for me. “This is amtgard , the name of the sport. I am the duke of this small establishment. Only the duke of this park.” Middaugh says shows like Game of Thrones and Rings of Power are striking a deeper curiosity into the fantasy world. Come out with a positive attitude and have fun fighting. The group meets every Saturday at 1 o'clock in Poinsettia Park in Carlsbad, TT KPBS News


The Farmers Insurance Open wraps up tomorrow, and the winner will get two trophies that represent San Diego.

One features the iconic Torrey Pine… and the other – you can ride the waves with.

KPBS reporter Melissa Mae has the story.

MM: The Farmers Insurance Open has one of the most functional trophies in professional sports. MM: It’a a custom mini longboard from Hansen Surfboards in Encinitas…hand shaped by Craig Hollingsworth, who’s been shaping boards for 48 years. CH It’s a feather in my cap and Hansen’s cap. I don’t really want to say bragging rights because I’m not winning. I’m just making the board, but it’s kind of nice doing things like this.” MM: To date, no winner has taken their board out on the water, but some say when their days of playing professional golf are done, they may take their trophy off the wall and surf with it. Melissa Mae KPBS News. 


And before you go… a few weekend arts events to check out.

KPBS Arts editor Julia Dixon Evans joined KPBS’s Harrison Patiño with some of her picks for the weekend.

That was KPBS’s Julia Dixon Evans, speaking with KPBS Midday Edition producer Harrison Patiño.

For more info. on those arts events and more, visit KPBS dot ORG slash ARTS.


That’s it for the podcast today. This podcast is produced by KPBS Senior Producer Brooke Ruth and Producer Emilyn Mohebbi. 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 weekend.

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Whistleblowers alerted San Diego County about alleged poor treatment of employees in its public defender office in late 2020, before a multi-million dollar verdict. In other news, volunteers took to the streets to do the annual point-in-time count Thursday. Plus, we have details on some weekend arts events happening around San Diego County.