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Migrant welcome center running out of money

 November 13, 2023 at 5:00 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Monday, November thirteenth.

The county’s migrant welcome center is running out of money. More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….########

The city of San Diego is facing more than one billion dollars in projected deficits over the next five years.

A newly released city document shows officials expect to bring in more money – but not enough to keep up with costs.

By far the biggest cost is higher salaries for city workers.

The city’s labor costs rose by more than one hundred million dollars in the last two years.

And federal pandemic aid expired, but the city has big projects to fund – four fire stations, three libraries and thirty-three parks.


A group of music creators, distributors, and educators is in Washington D-C today.

They are members of the Carlsbad-based non-profit, National Association of Music Merchants, or NAMM.

With another looming government shutdown by the end of the week…the group is aggressively lobbying lawmakers…to approve billions of dollars in federal funding to supplement the arts in schools with a majority of students who come from low income families.

The NAMM advocates represent 41 states…each with their own budgets that depend on money from the federal government…to keep their arts programs going.


SANDAG is hosting another outreach event in Del Mar this week, to get public feedback on a project to relocate railroad tracks in the area.

It’s a multi-billion dollar effort to move the tracks off the eroding bluffs … and it’s causing lots of tension with local residents.

SANDAG’s Danny Veeh says they are taking community input seriously.

“A lot of people think SANDAG has already made up their minds on alignments and that's not true at all. We have not made any decisions on what alignments were doing, so when we say everything is on the table, well, everything is on the table.”

The workshop is at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at the Del Mar Town Hall.

Veeh (VAY) says they expect to begin environmental studies on a small number of railway proposals by spring 2024.


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


San Diego County last month allocated 3 million dollars to open a migrant welcome center.

Between 500 and 700 migrants pass through the center every day.

But reporter Gustavo Solis says the center will run out of money by the end of the year.

“Welcome to San Diego. Bienvenidos a San Diego.” That’s a volunteer welcoming dozens of migrants from all over the world to San Diego. County Supervisor Nora Vargas provides the Spanish translation. “Y bienvenidos mas que nada a San Diego primeramente.” The center provides a wide range of services. Phone chargers so people can talk to relatives and make travel arrangements. Transportation to the airport. The kitchen serves 600 meals a day. Vargas says it costs $1.5 million a month to keep the center running. At this rate, she expects to run out of funding by the middle of December. “I’m afraid that if we don’t have a location like this we’re going to go back to a place where people are dropped in different locations throughout the county. And that’s just not safe for them.” She’s asking the federal government to step in with more funding. Congressman Juan Vargas points out that the $3 million originally came from the federal government. It is part of the COVID-era American Rescue Plan. Still, he acknowledges that the federal government needs to do more. “So, we’ve spent a lot of money. Not enough. The truth of the matter is the number of people that are coming is dramatically more than what was anticipated.” Gustavo Solis, KPBS News


A case before the U.S. Supreme Court could upend the city of San Diego's robust program for removing guns from people who pose a threat.

Reporter Scott Rodd has this story.

San Diego’s gun violence restraining order program has removed over 1,000 firearms in the last five years. City Attorney Mara Elliott spearheaded the program. “We could get a call at one o'clock in the afternoon and have a gun violence restraining order in place within an hour or two.” The case before the Supreme Court involves a Texas man who lost his right to own a gun after facing a domestic abuse restraining order. Elliott says a decision in favor of the Texas defendant would undermine San Diego’s program. “So if the court determines that that person still has a right to guns, I don't see why we'd have gun violence restraining orders because that's the whole point is to step into a volatile situation and remove the gun from that person.” The high court is expected to issue its ruling by June of next year. Scott Rodd, KPBS News.


San Diego airport's terminal 1 expansion is underway, along with changes to the surrounding road network.

Metro reporter Andrew Bowen says that's causing a stir in Little Italy.

“The cars — when they hit all the green lights, they're hauling to get to the freeway.” It's a noisy morning in Little Italy as traffic zooms by on Grape Street. I'm here with Luke Vinci, a board member of the Little Italy Association. Grape is one of the main routes from the San Diego Airport to Interstate-5. The city and airport have plans to redesign it and increase the number of lanes from three to four. “They'll remove all the parking, which is going to affect the businesses and the residents that live along here. It's going to create more of a sound divide (honk) between the two parts of the neighborhood.” The Little Italy Association voted recently to oppose the street's redesign. City data show 57 crashes have happened on this section of Grape Street street since 2015, injuring 43 people. Speeding and unsafe turns are the most frequent causes. Chloe Lauer is executive director of the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition. She says a fourth lane on Grape will just invite more traffic and speeding. “That would turn it into basically an arterial inside of a very dense, walkable commercial zone. We don't need highways in our communities.” The airport says it's doing the project at the city's request. It's due to be installed in late summer 2025. Andrew Bowen, KPBS News.


Scientists at UC San Diego have learned what happens when we faint.

Sci-tech reporter Thomas Fudge tells us about a neural pathway that links the heart to the brain.

Fainting occurs with emotional shock and in other situations where the brain is deprived of sufficient blood. Now, researchers at UC San Diego have discovered a genetic connection between the heart and the brainstem that’s activated when heart rate and blood pressure are reduced. UCSD Neurologist Jonathan Lovelace describes how the heart signals the brain that blood flow is reduced. “This BJR pathway is a sensory pathway. So it’s basically sending a sensory signal from your body. Specifically from your heart. And even more specifically from your heart ventricles. So this is the part that actually does the pumping.” He says even when blood flow is normal researchers could cause mice to faint by artificially triggering the BJR pathway. Lovelace adds that cameras in the lab that were trained on the mouse’s eyes showed a fainting reaction that was kinda funny and very human. “When they were fainting, and when their brain activity was going down, their eyes would roll back into their head. Just like in a Bugs Bunny cartoon when they faint, right?” The vagal nerve, which contains the genetic pathway, connects the brain with many other organs, including the heart. Lovelace says it argues for a holistic approach to examining the body because everything is connected. Tom Fudge, KPBS News.


Coming up, we’ll hear transgender stories unfolding in a hair styling school. We’ll have that story and more, just after the break.


This is transgender awareness week…a time to recognize the gender-diverse community.

Confrontations over pronouns and politics have often marginalized people who are trying to live as their authentic selves.

Education reporter M.G. Perez shares some transgender stories happening right now, at one school known as a safe space for inclusion.

The blow dryers and beauty are a constant here at this street corner in downtown San Diego…where Paul Mitchell–the school has been educating future professional stylists for 20 years. That’s almost as long as Beau O’Neal has been alive. “As someone who does use pronouns that are they/them…I can kind of pass either way.” Beau also uses he/him pronouns as he transitions in what he calls a gender queer identity. He’s learning how to cut and color hair at the school…but graduation will have to wait until the spring. This week Beau is having top surgery…removing female breasts from his chest. “Even though I haven’t been comfortable with it…and I don’t like it…it’s almost sad to see it go away…if that makes sense. Because we’ve gone through so much together…my chest and I.” “So what do you see here with our choices in cutting?” Beau has a mentor, and learning leader as they call them here at the school. Dice Moreno is non-binary and uses all pronouns. She was once a student and is now sharing her experience at Paul Mitchell. With a masters degree in education and a life-time of setbacks, successes, and strength…Dice is committed to helping her community find themselves. “There’s nuance to the LGBTQ experience…and something like hair is so personal…that you really have to be gentle, mindful of the words you use and the assumptions you make about the person in your chair. Because if you’re not mindful, you might make assumptions that are incorrect and they hurt…they hurt the person.” In Dice’s story, hurt led to healing. Dice has a wife, and together they are preparing to open a new salon in the heart of Hillcrest – A business that is not only about making money but making progress in transgender awareness. They take every opportunity to educate people who want to say the right thing when they meet a transgender person, especially when it comes to pronouns. “If you mess up…it’s OK…just say you’re sorry and move on. Don’t make them go through the emotional labor of consoling you after you misgender them…just move on.” “So these short hairs help provide the volume that we’re seeking…and it also takes out some of the bulk.” In the chair on this day…is a friend and client of both Dice and Beau. Dean Miller is full of life. “Neuro spicy…not allistic …so that means you have either  ADHD or you have autism.” And they are serious about service to their transgender community and others who are marginalized because of how their brain works. Dean is a health coach and personal trainer for people of all gender identities who are “neuro spicy,” a new pop culture term fondly referring to those who are neurodivergent. Dean uses their professional platform to educate, too. “Even if you don’t understand us, I think awareness and putting it on our radar can really start that curiosity process. But it also gives us clarity in people who are not interested.” Dean’s talking about the people in the current political climate legislating against transgender rights. But the Paul Mitchell school is a safe space for everyone according to its education director Katie Graves. “They come here and they feel like they are home. They feel included and then it gives them that confidence in that short amount of time that they’re here in school they build a foundation…and in most cases they build a family.” A family Beau O’Neal will depend on this week as he has his long-awaited top surgery. “I’m just ready to fix my posture …and not be compressed…” “It sounds like freedom? “Yeah…yeah.” MG Perez, KPBS News

Today is World Kindness Day.

A day to bring attention to simple acts of kindness that can make a difference in everyone’s lives.

“ Mental health and emotional well being is really at a critical point. And even our surgeon general has declared this time as an epidemic of loneliness and really has called upon kindness as an antidote for that and a necessity to take kindness and make it a part of our lives to help lift up our mental health, our emotional well being and to serve as a way to really lift up humanity all together.”

That was Jill McManigal (Mick-man-ih-gal), the co-founder and executive director of Kids for Peace.

It’s a nonprofit based in Carlsbad that gives kids opportunities to volunteer, learn about other cultures and take care of the earth.

Jill suggested a few acts of kindness that you can try out today or anyday… help out a neighbor or bring a neighbor a treat, put positive post-it notes around the house, plant a tree, or participate in a beach or park clean up.


That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. Join me tomorrow, for the day’s top stories. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great Monday.

San Diego County’s migrant welcome center is expected to run out of money by the end of the year. In other news, a case before the Supreme Court could upend the city of San Diego's robust program for removing guns from people who pose a threat. Plus, hear transgender stories unfolding in a San Diego hair styling school.