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Lawsuit against city aims to compensate flood victims

 February 13, 2024 at 5:00 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Tuesday, February 13th.

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The city of San Diego may soon be facing a lawsuit that aims to get compensation for flood victims

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

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San Diegans displaced by flooding late last month are now getting temporary housing for up to 30 days.

The county says the first people moving into the temporary housing are those already placed into short-term hotel rooms where funding is running out, and people who have not been in hotels but now need temporary housing.

The county is working with nonprofit organizations to get the first group of placements housed this week.

If you were displaced from your home because of the flooding on January 22nd, and have not filled out a survey or visited a Local Assistance Center, you can still apply for emergency housing by calling 2-1-1.

New applications will be accepted through February 23rd.

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There’s now an online resource hub for those impacted by last month’s storm to get services.

It has services offered by the city, county, state, federal government and non-governmental agencies, all in one place.

Services available through the hub include permits, document replacement, utility service support, trash collection and bin replacement.

There’s also housing, health, safety, tax, insurance and employment information.

You can access it at san-diego-dot-gov-slash-recovery.

In-person assistance is also still available at the Mountain View Beckwourth Library in Logan Heights on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Donated household items will be available there, including toiletries, cleaning supplies, baby diapers and formula.

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The weather is expected to warm up this week.

But the National Weather Service says that won’t last too long, because cooler and rainy weather is expected to return this weekend.

Temperatures in the inland valleys today will be in the mid 60s, by the coast, temps will be in the high 50s, in the deserts, it’ll be in the low 70s and in the mountains, it'll be in the low 50s.

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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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A local law firm is preparing to file a class action lawsuit against the city of San Diego on behalf of the January 22nd flood victims.

Reporter Melissa Mae explains the details of the lawsuit.

MM: On behalf of the flood victims, Attorneys Mike Aguirre and Maria Severson are starting the claims process in order to file a class action lawsuit against the city of San Diego. MM: This lawsuit aims to get flood victims compensation for their damages. MM: But Aguirre says this lawsuit is about more than money… MA “We are not just suing to get damages for the victims. We are asking a court of law to issue an injunction against the city to require the city to establish a stormwater utility, that’s what responsible cities do.”  MM: Aguirre says a stormwater utility would provide funding for all stormwater related activities that includes development and maintenance of channels and drains. Melissa Mae KPBS News.

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Accessing the beach might be a little more difficult in one part of Encinitas, because of damage from the recent storms.

Reporter Jacob Aere says the high surf and rain damaged more than just the beach…

The Reef parking lot at Cardiff State Beach was pummeled so hard by the storms… asphalt broke away, turning much of the paved area into rubble. Kenji Timmerman is a surfer who has been going there for decades. He says it’s hard to find any sand near the Reef parking lot. “I’ve never seen it this bad. You go through cycles with El Ninos and some years are better or worse, but this is probably as bad as I've ever seen it.” The California Department of Parks and Recreation temporarily closed the lot for repairs. They say they know how important the beach access is to the community… but the cost of construction and timeline for reopening have not been determined. Jacob Aere, KPBS News.

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A group of transgender veterans has sued the V-A over its unfulfilled promise to provide and pay for gender affirming surgery.

Two years ago, agency officials announced they would change federal policy and allow transgender veterans to undergo the procedure through the V-A.

But the government still hasn’t followed through, and veterans say they’re tired of waiting.

Desiree D'iorio reports for the American Homefront Project.

Natalie Kastner says she was seven years old when she realized she was different, and by 16, she knew she wanted surgery so that her physical body would match her gender identity. She says crippling gender dysphoria has plagued her for years, including while she served as an engineer in the Army. “I fell into the trap where I thought like a lot of people do that this is a phase. I fell into that trap. And boy, did that hit me after I left the army.” Now a disabled veteran living in Texas, Kastner says she wants surgery, but the VA won’t perform the operation, and to get it privately she’d have to leave the state. Two years ago, she severely injured herself in an attempt to cut off her genitals in her own bathroom.“I wanted to fix myself. It wasn't about suicide or anything like that. It was: ‘I wanted to fix myself.’ And I knew the VA would not pay for that.” That’s because the VA doesn't provide gender affirming surgery for transgender veterans, even though many of the same operations - like hysterectomies and plastic surgery reconstructions - are provided for other health reasons. Secretary Denis McDonough announced the VA would change that rule back in 2021, but transgender veterans are still waiting. Now The Transgender American Veterans Association, or TAVA, is suing over the delay.Alex Johnson is with Yale Law School’s veterans legal clinic which represents TAVA. “What VA’s delay has done is consigned these veterans to essentially a lifetime of suffering with gender dysphoria after it promised to take care of them.” Johnson says the VA’s failure to act is illegal, and dangerous to the health of transgender veterans. He says even vets who can afford to bypass the VA and pay for surgery privately end up stuck if they can’t get a referral. “Some VA doctors have even been reticent to provide these referral letters because they're scared it will run afoul of this categorical exclusion.” As late as this past summer, Secretary McDonough took ownership for the delay… and acknowledged the political firestorm around the issue of trans rights. “The bottomline is that when I make the decision it’ll be my job to defend it and so I want to make sure I’m best positioned to do that.” At a news conference announcing the lawsuit, TAVA member Josie Caballero said whatever the reason for the delay, it doesn’t matter. “We have been misled, misinformed, and they are violating their own policies to release this rule change.” A VA spokesperson said they’re still working on the change, and declined to comment on the lawsuit. Meanwhile, transgender veterans are able to access other kinds of gender affirming care through the VA like hormone therapy and mental health support. For Caballero that’s just not enough. “We are in crisis. Every day that goes by another trans veteran suffers. We cannot take empty promises or excuses any longer. This isn’t a political issue. This is a veteran issue.” The VA estimates that over 130,000 veterans are transgender. Not all of them want gender confirmation surgery, but for the ones who do - and can’t get it - Kastner the army veteran says she’s worried they’re at risk of losing their lives. “They say that our suicide rate is high. I can only imagine how many of those suicides weren't suicides. How many of those suicides were actually accidental? Because those veterans took it in their own hands like I did to fix themselves.” While the lawsuit moves through the federal court system, Kastner says she’ll have to do what she’s been doing: wait. I’m Desiree Diorio on Long Island.

TAG: That story was produced by the American Homefront Project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans.

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We’re continuing to bring you information on some of the local races on the primary ballot.

One of those is the State Assembly District 79 seat.

It covers much of southeast San Diego and surrounding cities to the east.

Reporter Jacob Aere has a look at the three candidates.

Akilah Weber has represented the 79th District since 2021 – but she’s now running for State Senate. LaShae Sharp-Collins, Racquel Vasquez and Colin Parent are running to replace her…. Sharp-Collins is an adjunct professor at SDSU who has lived in the district her whole life. She says her top priorities include addressing inequities in education, health care, housing, homelessness and environmental justice. “What better person to have in this office, who really has walked a mile in their shoes? Because I know what racial discrimination is, I have witnessed drive-by shootings.” Parent is a councilmember in La Mesa and CEO of Circulate San Diego. Parent’s top priorities for the district include homelessness, affordable housing and road repairs. “We need to give people homes, we need to give them services, we need to get them off the streets. And then housing affordability being number two, the rent is way too high.” Racquel Vasquez is the final candidate. She’s been the Mayor of Lemon Grove since 2016. “My top priorities are housing and homelessness, jobs and the economy and public safety. And as mayor I've successfully addressed these areas on a local, municipal level.” JA KPBS News.

TAG: Registered voters in the county have started to receive their mail ballots for the Primary Election.

But some voters’ ballots got soaked in the mail from the recent storm, and they’re unusable.

If your ballot was damaged or lost or maybe you made a mistake while filling it out, you can get a new one from the Registrar of Voters.

On the Registrar’s website, you can fill out the “Replacement Vote-By-Mail Ballot” application.

You can also visit a vote center.

To find one closest to you, visit our KPBS Voter Hub, at www-dot-kpbs-dot-org-slash-voter-hub.

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Low income families across the county could qualify for extra benefits on their E-B-T cards, this summer.

Education reporter M.G. Perez says it’s a push to make sure students get the nutrition they need.

Thanks to additional funding from the U-S Department of Agriculture …students whose families qualify for Electronic Benefits Transfer or E-B-T..…now have more options for getting meals during summer vacation. The U-S-D-A will provide California and other states funding to boost the balance on E-B-T cards for three summer months. Ariel Castro is a parent and a paraeducator in the Oceanside Unified District supporting children with special needs. “some kids might feel aggravated and a lot of times kids in my classroom aren’t able to vocalize exactly that they’re hungry..but we can tell something’s off.” The E-B-T summer program will add 40-dollars a month per child during the summer so parents can purchase more nutritious groceries.  MGP 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. Join us again tomorrow for the day’s top stories. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great Tuesday.

A local law firm is preparing to file a class action lawsuit against the city of San Diego on behalf of the January 22nd flood victims. In other news, State Assembly District 79 is an open seat this election. We learn about the three candidates running for the position. Plus, low income families across San Diego County could qualify for extra benefits on their EBT cards this summer.