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Mental health worker shortage

 August 26, 2022 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Friday, August 26th.

Counties say there’s not enough workers for state’s CARE court proposal

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


California is officially moving towards the end of gas-powered vehicle sales in the state.

Yesterday… the California Air Resources Board voted to mandate that all sales of new vehicles be zero emission by 20-35.

The board set benchmarks to get there.

35-percent of new vehicles must be zero emission in four years… and 68-percent by 20-30.


A former S-D-S-U football star was among those accused in a civil lawsuit of raping a teenage girl at an off-campus house party last fall.

The suit was filed yesterday in San Diego’s Superior Court.

It accuses Matt Araiza of having sex with the then SEVENTEEN year old girl in the backyard of an off campus home and then bringing her inside a room where … the suit says … other men gang-raped her.

Araiza was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in April.

Two other S-D-S-U players were also named in the suit.

Zavier Leonard and Nowlin “Pa’a” Ewaliko.

Both attorneys said that a civil lawsuit does not mean the men are guilty of a crime.




The most recent point in time count in February found that at least 4,800 people in the city were homeless.


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


California’s county governments would be responsible for carrying out the state’s controversial CARE Court proposal.

The program would compel mental health and addiction treatment for thousands of people in the state.

But as CapRadio’s Chris Nichols reports, counties say they already have a ‘crisis-level shortage’ of mental health workers … and they worry about sustainable funding for the program.

Under CARE Court, judges could order treatment for people with severe mental illness or substance abuse problems. Governor Gavin Newsom sees it as a way to get people off the streets and into the care they need.  But with the growing demand for mental health services during the pandemic … and a shortage of existing workers, county leaders say CARE Court could be a major burden on an already overtaxed system. RYAN QUIST “We see it everywhere … we hear everybody talking about it … We already have a workforce crisis where we don’t have enough clinicians to be delivering the mental health, substance use disorder services that are needed out in our community.” That’s Ryan Quist. He directs Sacramento County’s department of behavioral services. Newsom’s proposal would rely on county social workers, nurses and counselors to evaluate potential candidates … spend time with them in court … and eventually provide the required care. Quist says he already has a deficit of more than 100 clinical workers … and that many of his existing staff would be tied up in court. RYAN QUIST “CARE Court would add on new administrative burdens that would take our scarce clinical resources away from actually serving the folks that need those services.” Elliott says the state has already committed 65 million dollars per year to pay for court staffing, including the public defenders that would represent people selected for the program. He says the state will also pay counties for CARE Court’s additional administrative workload, though that amount is still being negotiated. Beyond concerns over funding and staffing, counties also want to know where and how to house the estimated 12,000 Californians who could take part in CARE Court… Under the plan, a judge could order counties to provide housing for participants. Ryan Quist, Sacramento County’s behavioral health director, says there’s already a severe lack of available housing across the state. RYAN QUIST “We can get individuals into services, help them get better. But then once they’re better, where are they going to live? So, really, we need to focus on making sure that we have sufficient housing for this population.”  The governor’s office points to nearly 15 billion dollars approved in recent years for homeless housing. That’s led to the opening of several thousand new units for unhoused residents, mainly in the form of converted motel rooms.  State lawmakers have to act on the CARE Court proposal before their legislative session ends on August 31st. In Sacramento, I’m Chris Nichols. SOC


Mexican authorities announced the arrest of the man accused of ordering the murder of Tijuana photojournalist Margarito Martinez.

Mexico is one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists.

KPBS border reporter Gustavo Solis has more details on the arrest.

Hired gunmen shot and killed Margarito Martinez outside his home as he left for work on January 17. He is one of 15 journalists who have been murdered so far this year in Mexico. Sonia De Anda is with the Tijuana-based journalism collective, Yo Si Soy Periodista. She says this has been an incredibly difficult year. Sonia “Entonces a sido un tema dificil para todos nosotros.” Mexican authorities say David Lopez Jimenez who works for the Arellano-Feliz cartel ordered the hit. News of that man’s arrest got a mixed reaction. De Anda says the arrest is good news. But she does not trust the Mexican justice system because 90 percent of all violent crimes go unpunished. Sonia “No le tenemos mucha confianza a la autoridad.” Martinez was a prolific photojournalist who worked with reporters from all over the world. Within a week of his murder, Lourdes Maldonado, another veteran Tijuana journalist was also shot and killed outside her home. In February, authorities arrested multiple suspects in Maldonado’s murder, but since there have been no updates from prosecutors on that case. Gustavo Solis, KPBS News


Attorney General Rob Bonta was in San Diego yesterday to urge statewide Law Enforcement to make the most of Red Flag Laws.

KPBS reporter Jacob Aere says Bonta called the region an example of firearm safety and gun violence prevention.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta spoke outside of the downtown San Diego courthouse to promote strategies to help prevent gun violence across the state. He said San Diego is leading the way and other parts of California need to follow suit. “My office is providing a total of 10 million dollars, including 5 millon dollars we have yet to allocate in grants to support county-level law enforcement efforts to seize weapons and ammunition from individuals barred from possession.” Bonta urged California sheriff’s departments to take advantage of grant funding through the Gun Violence Reduction Program. He said 32 percent of all gun restraining orders were issued in San Diego County, though it only makes up 8 percent of the state’s population. Jacob Aere, KPBS news.


Coming up.... Delays are putting Big Bear at risk of wildfire. We’ll have that story and more, next, just after the break.


Last week...we brought you an investigation into the U-S Forest Service...that found a stalled project could have helped protect the town of Grizzly Flats in Northern California from the Caldor Fire.

Most of the town was reduced to ash.

Now officials are hoping to avoid that same fate in a Southern California vacation destination… Big Bear.

KCRW’s Caleigh Wells reports.

It was supposed to be a prescribed burn day in the San Bernardino National Forest. Forest Service “burn boss” Christina Barba, was supposed to be setting a planned fire…to help clear out flammable brush. But…she had to call it off. The weather made it too risky for her limited team. Therein lies the paradox of being a burn boss. It's like, you want to burn enough that it is meaningful, and you're improving large parts of the landscape, but then are we ever going to have the resources to do it? Barba says she should be burning 3000 acres a year to protect the community. Last year, she burned only 300. And, this year, she’s burned just 20 acres. She says there’s a saying in her line of work…. …you could always find a reason not to burn and–yeah. Sorry, there's my cynicism again. The Forest Service isn’t even close to completing its list of goals. They’ve approved work on just under 9-thousand acres near town. That’s on top of two major projects that have been proposed in the past decade…then delayed…then canceled. The list of obstacles to getting the work done might be even longer.  Let’s start with the biggest one: climate change.  Yeah, it's gonna get hotter, but it also gets drier  …And the window of opportunity shrinks …smaller and smaller.  Barba had only 13 safe burn days last year. But most of those days, she STILL couldn’t set a fire.  Which brings us to problem number two: air quality.  We share an air basin with Los Angeles, and the entire Inland Empire. So … because the Inland Empire has ozone or some days they have more particulates than they should, it shuts down burning in the entire basin. The air might be clear up in Big Bear, but Barba says she lost 5 of her 13 burn days – because of air pollution. ME: That's like 40% of your burn days. CHRISTINA: Yeah. It's, you know, we're doing the best we can. Which brings us to obstacle three: resources. Some days she doesn’t have the people or equipment to burn safely. There's been times where I've woken up in the morning, I've had my organization and then I get a call from the fire management official like oh, ‘Three of your engines got sent on a strike team to the Cleveland [National Forest] for a fire.’ And then that is the end of that. And even on a perfect day, when the weather is right and the air is clear and the firefighters have nothing better to do, prescribed fires still burn up money.  The San Bernardino National Forest did not disclose their budget after months and multiple requests. Barba wouldn’t give us a number either… I think my house is worth more than the fuels budget this year.  US Forest Service Chief Randy Moore recognizes the status quo in Southern California’s forests just isn’t working. Budget and keeping boots on the ground has been a big issue…We don’t have a lot of prescribed burning there, particularly down in Southern California. We never have. And that's been the problem. Big Bear Lake’s mayor, Rick Herrick says for the most part, residents are on board with prescribed burns.  But…  Boy, it seems like it just takes an awful long time. And I couldn't tell you how long it takes. But we're going back years and years and saying we have to thin the forest. With only a month left in the summer, it looks like Northern California may be spared another devastating wildfire season. But in Southern California, the worst fires typically spark in the fall…meaning Big Bear’s riskiest days are still ahead. Fingers crossed. We’ve been very lucky. Let's keep our fingers crossed and make sure that we stay lucky. In Big Bear, I’m Caleigh Wells.


Millions of dollars of fruit crops are at risk in northern San Diego County after discovering the invasive mexican fruit fly..

KPBS health reporter Matt Hoffman has more.

The invasive flies lay their eggs inside citrus and tropical fruits -- and then larva cause it to spoil– The mexican fruit flies were first found in Valley center.. Officials say it’s a small population and they’ve created a 77-mile quarantine area to try and eradicate them.. That means any farmers inside the quarantine boundary have to treat fruits with an organic pesticide and inspect them before they can be sold. Ha Dang is San Diego County’s Agricultural Commissioner and has been talking with concerned growers– Ha Dang, San Diego County Agricultural Commissioner It’s going to impact the operation it’s going to increase the production cost and as you know that would be resulting in potential cost increasing for the consumers Dang says state officials are releasing sterile fruit flies to try and disrupt the reproductive process. The quarantine will run through at least June of next year and could go longer if the flies can’t be eradicated. MH KPBS News.


And before you go…

We have a few weekend arts events to share with you, compliments of KPBS arts producer Julia Dixon Evans.

I think it’s safe to say that most of us have seen the movie “The Lion King,” or at least know about it.

Well this weekend, and for the next two and a half weeks, you can see it live on stage.

Broadway San Diego is bringing the musical to the Civic Theater in downtown through September 11th.

If you’d like to get outside and enjoy this weekend’s weather…check out the outdoor art exhibit happening tomorrow.

A project of artist David White will be installed at Kate Sessions Park in P-B.

It’s called “Essential San Diego,” and it’s a sculpture and virtual reality video installation.

Viewers will see videos of essential workers doing the everyday tasks of their jobs in San Diego.

The exhibition will be on display from 11 A-M to six p-m tomorrow.

You can find more details about the arts events mentioned, and more, at kpbs-dot-org-slash-arts.

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California’s county governments say there are not enough mental health clinicians for the state’s CARE court proposal. In other news, Mexican authorities announced the arrest of the man accused of ordering the murder of Tijuana photojournalist Margarito Martinez. Plus, millions of dollars of fruit crops are at risk in North San Diego County after discovering the invasive Mexican fruit fly.