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How San Diegans can apply for disaster assistance

 February 21, 2024 at 5:00 AM PST

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


How to apply for disaster assistance, after last month’s storms.

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


The rainy weather isn’t over yet.

The National Weather Service says there’s a chance of thunderstorms today.

A flood watch remains in effect until 10 this morning, in the county’s valleys, mountains and coastal areas.

The weather is expected to clear up tomorrow (Thursday), but more rain could be headed our way by the end of the weekend.


It's been nearly a month since a landslide brought trains to a halt and damaged the Mariposa Trail Bridge in San Clemente.

But now there’s some good news…

Metrolink spokesperson Scott Johnson says state funding has come through for a new wall to catch falling debris and get rail service back up and running.

“We were excited to receive an allocation of 7.2 million dollars from the state of california this past friday following the Orange County Transportation Authority’s request.”

Johnson says the precise design and the construction schedule will be finalized this week, but there’s still no exact timeline when passenger rail service will resume.


Millions of dollars in funding meant to help migrants in the county is set to run out tomorrow (Thursday).

The 6 million dollar fund was used to help migrants with transportation and other needs.

County supervisor Jim Desmond is now asking for federal assistance.

He said when the funding runs out, he anticipates a surge in people sleeping in airports and on the streets.

Desmond also said the U-S-Mexico border situation has escalated to alarming levels, with over 100-thousand border encounters recorded in San Diego over the past five months.

The county Board of Supervisors earlier this month voted to develop a plan for migrant transfer sites and shelters, that included federal and state funding.


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


The federal government is stepping in to help people whose homes and businesses were damaged in last month's historic storms.

President Biden approved a "disaster declaration" for San Diego County earlier this week.

Reporter Melissa Mae spoke with a FEMA representative about what that means.

MM: The Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA now has federal funding to help San Diegans impacted by the storms that hit the county from January 21st through the 23rd. MM: FEMA representative Brady Penn says assistance covers a range of needs. BP “Everything from renters who have damaged property to homeowners who need to do repairs on their homes. All of those things can be covered, and even things like temporary housing.” MM: If you live in San Diego County and were affected by the January storm and  flooding, you can apply for FEMA assistance by visiting disaster-assistance dot gov, or calling 1(800)621-3362 or through the FEMA app. FEMA will also have Disaster Recovery Centers throughout the county, where you can talk to a representative in person. The centers will likely be open within a week. Melissa Mae KPBS News.


Bancroft Elementary in Spring Valley will reopen next week to students and staff displaced by last month’s devastating floods.

Education reporter M.G. Perez has more on that, and a very special fundraiser benefiting the recovery.

9-year old Sonja Bella Hans just knew she had to help flood victims somehow… Sonja My hope is really that just kids have no longer have fear of storms flooding their School. Sonja attends Lemon Avenue Elementary in the La Mesa Spring Valley district…a sister-school to Bancroft Elementary, closed the past month because of flood damage to every classroom and office on campus. The 4th grader started the Bracelets for Bancroft fundraiser …selling her handmade plastic bead bracelets for donations to help flood victims. Her mother Charlotte Hans says she’s proud of daughter for helping and learning an important lesson. That sense of community involvement that sense of giving back to your community starts at a very young age and that cultivation of your identity. I think it all starts with the formative years.” Bracelets for Bancroft raised 7-hundred dollars. The school will welcome back students to their restored campus on Monday. MGP KPBS News.


With just two weeks to go before the Primary Election, Chula Vista's District 4 city councilmember Andrea Cardenas [Car-deh-nahs] resigned Monday afternoon.

She had been running for reelection.

South Bay reporter Kori Suzuki has more about what this decision means for Chula Vista voters.

Cardenas announced she was stepping down  in a memo to her colleagues. The first term-councilmember said she was resigning to prioritize her mental health and the health of her community. Cardenas has been facing calls to resign for several months. Last fall, county prosecutors charged her with fraud, grand theft and money laundering. They said she and her brother allegedly obtained thousands of dollars of federal pandemic aid money. But Cardenas’ decision to step down now has upended the upcoming primary election, just two weeks away – when the District 4 city council seat will be up for grabs. Cardenas had registered to run for reelection. And mail-in voting has already started, so city officials say it’s too late to take her name off the ballot. Mayor John McCann says it's unclear what happens if she still wins. JOHN MCCANN, CHULA VISTA MAYOR “That's a big question currently. Right now, she will remain on the ballot. I know the attorneys are looking at if she does make the top two, if she can go ahead and resign, and maybe the third place finisher would be able to be in the top two. But that's a question that I think we're trying to find the answer out.” The top two candidates with the most votes are the ones who move on to the general election in November. McCann said it's not clear what happens if Cardenas advances – whether she would stay in the race or another candidate would take her place. All of this makes the primary even more uncertain. There are six other candidates running for the District 4 city council seat. First up is Rudy Ramirez. I served on the city council between 2006 and 2014. Ramirez has the most formal political experience. He’s also a local business owner. Then, there’s Christine Brady. For the past 35 years, I've been the president of the Americas Foundation, Fundasion de las Americas, and the founder and builder of the La Esparanza schools Brady also serves on the city’s Cultural Arts Commission. Then, there’s bank manager José Sarmiento. ON THE PHONE: JOSÉ SARMIENTO I've dedicated over 20 years of just helping families navigate their finances. Sarmiento is a political newcomer in the race. Next, there’s Cesar Fernandez, who currently serves on the board of trustees for Chula Vista Elementary School District. He declined to give an interview but answered questions over email. Then, there’s Delfina Gonzalez. She didn’t respond by KPBS’ deadline. Gonzalez’ campaign website says she’s a union member, educator, and small business owner. Finally, there’s Leticia Lares. An activist who lobbied the city to reopen Harborside Park instead of turning the land into housing. She’s running as a write-in candidate, and is also the only Republican in the race. She also didn’t respond by our deadline. All six challengers are running partly on restoring trust in local government. But they also focused on affordability and the cost of living. Rudy Ramirez said the city needs to do more to support business owners and take advantage of new opportunities like the planned university campus. We need to be able to provide more capital to some of our small businesses. We need to be able to work with landowners in Chula Vista. We still have a lot of mom and pops, people like myself who started their business here many years ago, that need support from the city. Christine Brady said she would focus on building up an arts district along Third Avenue. Right now, there are a number. I would say maybe up to 50% of the buildings are vacant. Businesses have gone out of business, and Performing arts would provide constant employment. It would contribute to the mental health of the community. It would stimulate the economy. Sarmiento emphasized working with nonprofit organizations and said he would focus on strengthening existing partnerships. we don't have to reinvent the wheel. Things are already happening. You have a lot of the nonprofits that are offering workforce partnerships. Then they are able to give a job to our local neighbors and residents, and then from there, they're able to thrive. So that makes it sustainable. Election day for the Chula Vista District 4 primary is March 5th. Kori Suzuki, KPBS News.

TAG: To learn more about all of the candidates and their positions on other issues, visit our voter hub online at kpbs dot org slash voter hub.


The city of San Diego has settled a lawsuit over its climate action plan.

Metro reporter Andrew Bowen says the city's efforts to phase out fossil fuels will now face a lot more scrutiny.

AB: A year and a half ago, San Diego pledged to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2035. Two environmental nonprofits promptly sued the city, arguing those climate goals were all talk and no action. In settling the lawsuit this month, the city agreed to set annual targets for reducing emissions. Nicole Capretz, head of the nonprofit Climate Action Campaign, says that's something she's been pushing for for years. NC: We need to know if we're making progress. Is there any reduction at all, or are we just flatlining? And if we're flatlining, that's a problem for everybody — and particularly the next generation. AB: San Diego's emissions went up slightly in 2021 due to an increase in driving following the end of COVID-19 restrictions. Even as emissions from electricity generation dropped. Andrew Bowen, KPBS news.


California landlords would be required to accept pets under first-of-its-kind legislation introduced this month.

The bill by San Francisco assemblymember Matt Haney would also ban property owners from asking about pets on applications, limit pet deposits, and prohibit “pet rent” — which is additional monthly fees for pets.

K-Q-E-D’S Vanessa Rancaño reports.

Use ambi and/or Goolsby roomtone as needed. The rest is Zoom tape. Animals are Merika Goolsby’s life. ACT Goolsby: I love them so much because I think they really connect people to their humanity. The Oakland resident owns City Hikes Dog Walking and Pet Sitting, volunteers at animal shelters and rescues strays. ACT Goolsby: Scruffy, Goldie. And then this is Kaboli But her three small dogs also made it hard for her to find a place to live. ACT Goolsby: There were very few places that were pet friendly and those that were pet friendly wanted pet rent, plus a pet deposit, plus only one pet allowed. At one point I thought I was going to be living in my car with my pets. Goolsby even made resumes for her dogs listing their training credentials and vaccinations in an effort to win over landlords. When she finally found one who’d accept her, she had to put down an additional $500 pet deposit and pay an extra $120 a month in pet rent. ACT Goolsby: The rent was already high and the pet rent definitely didn't help ACT Haney: A two-tiered system that punishes people for having pets should not be allowed in the law. Assemblymember Matt Haney says his proposal — AB 2216 — is aimed at solving a big problem he sees in the rental world: tons of tenants with pets and very few landlords willing to accept them. His staff analyzed Zillow apartment listings and found just 20% of San Francisco apartments allowed cats and dogs of all sizes. In Los Angeles, it was 26%. Meanwhile other surveys have found 2 in 3 households nationwide own pets. ACT Haney: We're not going to solve our housing crisis if we continue to allow for no protections for pet owners who represent the majority of our tenants. He said the law would make exceptions for landlords who have good reasons for excluding pets from their properties—things like allergies—as long as owners can provide written documentation. ACT Haney: They can't just say, ‘No pets allowed.’ He said his legislation would limit the number of pets landlords must accept and allow property owners to require pet liability insurance. But landlords are already expressing concerns about the proposal. Krista Gulbransen is executive director of the Berkeley Property Owners Association. ACT Gulbransen: It’s always the worried feeling about the risk of the particular pet. She argues this law would put landlords in a really tough position, because pets have the potential to damage property. ACT Gulbransen: The biggest concern is just not being able to make that determination of risk and make a decision based on that risk. California already has laws in place that require property owners to make exceptions for tenants with disabilities or mental health issues who rely on emotional support or service animals. But attorney Julia Howard Gibbon with Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California says many renters aren’t aware of their right to request these accommodations. ACT Howard-Gibbon: Or sometimes they do know, but the landlord really pushes back on that. And she said landlords often reject renters with assistance animals despite the law. She thinks Haney’s proposal could fix that. ACT Howard-Gibbon: It would remove all of these barriers that they face. The bill is in early stages. Haney said he wants to work with stakeholders to shape the legislation. ACT Haney: We're open to having a dialog with landlords, of course, about everything in the bill. Details are expected to be fleshed out in the coming weeks and months.

TAG: That was K-Q-E-D’S Vanessa Rancaño.


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. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great Wednesday.

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The federal government is stepping in to help people whose homes and businesses were damaged in last month's historic storms. In other news, with just two weeks to go before the primary election, Chula Vista District 4 city councilmember Andrea Cardenas resigned Monday afternoon. We learn about what this decision means for Chula Vista voters. Plus, the city of San Diego has settled a lawsuit over its climate action plan.