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Mental health experts support warnings on social media platforms

 June 20, 2024 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Emilyn Mohebbi, in for Debbie Cruz….it’s Thursday, June 20th.


Mental health experts support the U-S surgeon general's call for social media platforms to have warnings.

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


National City is opening its first homeless shelter.

It’s a major expansion of the services meant to help people experiencing homelessness in the South Bay.

Rosy Vasquez is an advocate for the unsheltered community.

“What's great is we're not looking at a pilot program. We're looking at a programming that's already been implemented and that they've been able to find success.”

The new shelter will give people food, job training and a place to sleep for 30 days.


San Diegans still have time to submit comments on the three possible routes for the Del Mar rail line.

SANDAG held an in-person meeting earlier this week (Tuesday) to gather more community feedback.

The plan is to move the tracks away from the crumbling cliffs.

One of the proposed routes runs along the I-5 freeway, but starts in Solana Beach.

Lesa Heebner is the mayor of Solana Beach… she says that is news to her, and her community.

“We have not been notified about this. We found this out a couple of weeks ago. Our community has not been engaged at all. Our businesses have not been engaged, nor has NCT d the transit operators, nor has the fairgrounds.”

SANDAG said none of the routes have been finalized and the feedback from these meetings can change the proposed routes.

You have until July 19th to submit your comments online or by mail.


The median home price in the county was a little over one-million-dollars last month.

That’s a more than two-percent drop from the previous month's median home price.

But, nearly 10-percent higher than this time last year.

The California Association of Realtors says, even though we’re seeing a slight drop in prices, high mortgage rates slowed down the number of sales.

Last month it took nearly two weeks to sell a single-family home in the county.


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


In the state, 73-percent of parents report higher social media use among their children than in other states… that’s according to a recent Brookings Institution survey.

Health reporter Heidi De Marco says mental health experts support the U-S surgeon general's call for social media platforms to carry warnings.

On Monday, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy called on Congress to require a social media warning label, similar to those on cigarettes and alcohol. He associated the sites with “significant mental-health harms for adolescents." Child psychiatrist Dr. Willough Jenkins hopes his announcement can influence public opinion on the issue. JENKINS With him taking such a strong stance, it really allows us to have conversations with our children, with our school teachers, with our communities, and how we can support our children with their mental health. Jenkins says social media can also impact youth of color differently. She says while it may help connect them with their community, they can also face higher rates of online bullying than their white peers. As Congress considers the surgeon general's recommendations, Jenkins advises parents to talk openly with their children, set screen time limits, and encourage healthy digital habits. Heidi de Marco, KPBS News.


In our continuing coverage of changes to the U-S asylum system, border reporter Gustavo Solis speaks to a family of Cuban asylum seekers.

Their story illustrates how migrants with newborn children face unexpected obstacles.

Baby crying Little Matias is no ordinary baby. His parents are Cuban migrants. And he was born in Tijuana on June 11 – just one week before his family was scheduled to enter the U.S. to pursue a political asylum claim. Jiovany Cuban asylum seeker “Ya tenia vigilancias. Me estaban checando por parte del gobierno.” They were surveilling us. On behalf of the dictatorship. His father, Jiovany, is a Pentecostal pastor. He often criticized Cuba’s communist dictatorship. In late 2023, he began noticing strange men attending his services.  “Siempre habia alguien del gobierno esuchucando y espiando lo que yo hablaba.” There was always someone from the government listening during my sermon. He says those men were government spies. Jiovany, his wife Magalys and their two teenage children fled Cuba in October 2023. Magalys didn’t know she was pregnant until a few months later. By then, the family was already in Mexico, heading toward Tijuana. Her due date was in June – plenty of time for them to get into the United States. Or so they thought. Their plan was simple. Download U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s CBP One app onto their phone … then fill out an application and schedule an appointment to enter the United States. The Biden administration unveiled the app last year and it is now the main way to access the U.S. asylum system. But it’s been glitchy.  Melissa Crow Center for Gender and Refugee Studies “We are very familiar with all of the problems with CBP One … That is Melissa Crow. Director of litigation for the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies. CROW continued… Included but not limited to the fact that there are very limited appointments that is far lower than the number of people who need them. The result is long wait times that can be six, seven … even eight months or more. “Es como estar en una prision. Es como estar en una pricion esperando a que aligen te vaya y te ponga una fianca.” It’s like living in a jail waiting for someone to bail you out. Jiovany described the wait as being in prison – they couldn’t work in Mexico and lived in constant fear that Mexican immigration officials might deport them. It took six months for the family to get a CBP One appointment. And Matias was born just one week before they were scheduled to enter the United States. Magalys Cuban asylum seeker “Era tremendo, era algo no sabiamos como afrontar eso.” We had no idea what to do about it. The birth threatened to derail their entire plan. That’s because CBP One does not let people update their applications. There is no way to add another person – in this case, a newborn – to their party. The idea of having to file another application and start that long wait all over again brought Magalys to tears. “El temor. Tanto tiempor que habiamos pasado. Tantas cosas y fue bien duro.” We had been waiting for so long – and went through such a difficult time getting here. Volunteers at the Tijuana migrant shelter the family lived in suggested they reach out to Enrique Lucero. He’s head of Tijuana’s Migrant Affairs Department. Enrique Lucero Tijuana Migrant Affairs Department “Pero es algo que se esta dando muy comun. Que nascan aqui antes de obtener su cita.” It’s becoming more common – babies being born before their appointment. He says the long wait times are making this scenario more and more common.  Luecro told the family to get Matias a birth certificate and Mexican citizenship papers – fast. “Porque no hay forma de editar la aplicacion.” Because there is no way to update the application. Just two days after being born – little Matias was in Tijuana’s city hall getting fingerprinted. His fingers left tiny black smudges on the official paperwork. Lucero stood in as the official witness – which is required by Mexican law. Lucero shared Matias’ documents with Mexican immigration officials. Who then passed them along to Customs and Border Protection. On Tuesday, the family crossed into the U.S. together. Jiovany says he looks forward to living in a free country instead of a dictatorship. “Ser libre. Ya no tener que estar en un pais donde vivimos en una dictadura.” Look forward to being free. And not having to live under a dictatorship. The family won’t be in San Diego for long … they plan to connect with relatives in Utah. Gustavo Solis, KPBS News.


Recycling centers have been shutting down across the state for years.

That means fewer opportunities for people to recycle their bottles and cans — and get back their deposits.

Investigative reporter Scott Rodd found the state is sitting on hundreds of millions of dollars in unclaimed bottle deposits… and for years has used that money to plug holes in the budget.

The yard at SA Recycling in Barrio Logan is filled with old transformers, rusty refrigerators and banged up cars. General manager Sergio Perez says all of it will be recycled into new products. “I like it because every single day is different…you don’t know what you’re going to receive. Maybe you’re going to receive a lot of aluminum. Maybe you’re going to receive a lot of copper tomorrow.” What they don’t get much of these days are bottles and cans. That’s because SA Recycling stopped participating in the state’s bottle return program last year. It wasn’t very profitable to begin with. And then…neighbors started complaining. “We started having some problems with homeless, and you know, a lot of  trash outside…We tried to work with the city, but it is not  working.” Recycling centers around the state have been feeling these financial and social pressures for years. Over the last decade, the state lost half of its bottle recycling centers — from big industrial operators to small vendors next to grocery stores. In San Diego County…the decline has been even more dramatic. And that means… “People are sending these containers to the landfill instead of recycling them.” Susan Collins is President of the California-based Container Recycling Institute. She says that’s alarming from an environmental perspective. But there’s also a financial impact. Here’s how California’s recycling system works. When you go to the store to, say, buy a soda… “You pay for the can of soda, plus you pay another five cents.” That nickel — or dime, if it’s a larger bottle — is a deposit that the state holds onto. When the container is brought to a recycler, the deposit is returned. “That creates an incentive to recycle — and it's a really powerful incentive that gets people to bring back containers.” And for some, bottle returns provide much-needed income.  But as recycling centers have closed…the recycling rate has also dropped. So what happens to all those unclaimed deposits? Well, they sit in a state fund that — in recent years — has grown…and grown. As of last year, the fund had ballooned to nearly $820 million. Collins says this is a problem. “The excess growth in the fund is the result of a program that isn't serving consumers as well as it should be.…[40:00] which turns their deposit effectively into a tax.” And it’s become a piggy bank for state leaders when the budget is tight. A KPBS review of state financial records found California has borrowed billions of dollars from the fund in the last two decades…in the form of short and long term loans. “Yeah it's like an unofficial rainy day fund.” The State Controller’s Office and Department of Finance told KPBS the borrowing is allowed under state law. But it can take years to repay the loans….And at times, that’s put a strain on the recycling fund. The practice has gotten some recent scrutiny from state lawmakers. Here’s Senator Ben Allen of Santa Monica at a committee hearing in February. “If we’re going to do this, we have to be very clear about the integrity of this fund.” He was concerned about a proposed $125 million loan meant to help close the budget deficit. “This was money that was explicitly collected from consumers for the purpose of improving our recycling rates.” Last month, the proposed loan was nixed from the governor’s budget. CalRecycle is the state department that oversees the bottle deposit fund. They declined multiple interview requests. In an email, a spokesperson said the department is using money from the fund to improve the state’s recycling system. But advocates say it’s not enough. “We should be investing in the recycling infrastructure. We know how to make it work.” Mark Murray is executive director of Californians Against Waste. He says a subsidy of $2,500 a month would help keep small recycling centers afloat. “For that small investment over the next 3-to-5 years, we could have the 400-to-500 community-based recycling centers we need.” State leaders are now hashing out the final details of the budget. Murray and other advocates say they’re calling for millions of dollars in recycling investments…to ensure consumers get back their nickels and dimes.

TAG: Tune in tomorrow to hear about the state’s plan to change where — and how — you return your bottles and cans.


M-T-S has extended the deadline for youth, seniors and people with disabilities to renew their discounted transit passes.

Reporter Katie Anastas has more on who’s eligible, and how to apply.

Reduced fares are available for people 65 and older, Medicare recipients, people with disabilities and youth. To keep getting reduced fares, those riders need to verify their eligibility, either online or at the MTS Transit Store or North County Transit District customer service centers. MTS marketing and communications director Mark Olson says they’ve extended the deadline from June 30th to September 30th. OLSON We just want to make sure that we’re giving people more time to go through it and get some more accounts verified. Olson says MTS has already verified more than 18,000 accounts. But they estimate there are 6,000 seniors and 19,000 youth who still need to be verified. If they don’t, their cards will switch to adult passes at the end of September – doubling their fares. Riders can check their account status at ride-pronto-dot-com. Katie Anastas, KPBS News.


The San Diego V-A Medical Center is trying to get the word out to local veterans about the recent sweeping expansion of benefits under the Pact Act.

Military and veterans reporter Andrew Dyer has more about an event happening this weekend.

The white house called it the most significant expansion of veterans benefits in thirty years. last summer, a swath of medical conditions related to toxic exposure throughout decades of conflicts became presumed disabilities under the pact act. since then, va san diego has been trying to get the word out to local veterans about applying for the benefits for which they may now be eligible. va san diego’s scott gomer says they estimate up to 80,000 veterans in san diego county are, right now, completely unaffiliated with the va.. scott gomer, va san diego “some of them may just not be aware of how to sign up for health care. some may have made a conscious decision to to get health care …” he says even if a veteran has in the past had claims denied that things are changing all the time and some could now be eligible for compensation. the event is saturday from 11 to 2 at the kearny mesa va clinic on aero drive. andrew dyer, kpbs news.


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 Emilyn Mohebbi. It was fun chatting with you all the last couple of days. Debbie Cuz will be back tomorrow. Thanks for listening and have a great Thursday.

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Mental health experts support the U.S. surgeon general's call for social media platforms to carry warnings. In other news, the Metropolitan Transit System has extended the deadline for youth, seniors and people with disabilities to renew their discounted transit passes. Plus, the San Diego VA Medical Center is trying to get the word out to local veterans about the recent sweeping expansion of benefits under the Pact Act, and we have details on an event happening this weekend.