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More on San Diego’s Climate Action Plan

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Wednesday October, 20th.>>>>

Deliberations continue on San Diego’s climate action planMore on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….######

Chula Vista police have arrested the husband of a south bay woman who’s been missing since early January. Larry Millette was arrested on Tuesday morning, and charged with murdering 39-year old Maya Millete. Thousands of volunteers turned out for weekly searches organized by Maya's family… including her sister, Marichris Drouailllet

We're still asking the public please... help us bring my sister home!

Maya Millette's body has not been found, and the case against her husband is based on circumstantial evidence. Larry Millette is scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday.

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Federal regulators are working through the approval process this week for moderna and johnson and johnson booster shots. The CDC has already ok’d Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older, with underlying medical conditions, and those working in high-risk settings like health care.

Kaiser San Diego assistant medical director Dr. William Tseng says the vaccines still offer good protection against hospitalization and death, but protection against infection in general is what boosters are targeting.

if we prevent ourselves from getting infected, then we’re not going to spread it..

Depending on federal approvals, moderna and j&j boosters could be available in San Diego by the end of the week.

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San Diego county supervisors voted 3 to 2 on Tuesday in favor of banning the sale and manufacture of ghost Guns. Those are typically home-made guns that don’t have serial numbers… making them untraceable. Those who oppose the ordinance say its a violation of their second amendment rights.

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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.

San Diego County is moving closer to getting a workable Climate Action Plan that stands up to legal scrutiny. The plan will be reviewed again today at the County Board of Supervisors meeting, and it could determine how the county will grow.

KPBS Environment Reporter Erik Anderson has details.

JP Theberge stands next to West Valley Parkway by the Escondido Transit center.

“We have a brewery, Brew pub over here. We have a bunch of retail down that way all within walking distance. We have a supermarket. We have fast food. We have restaurants.”

But the focal point for Theberge is a new apartment complex right across the street from the transit center. He says it’s the kind of development urban planners talk about when they discuss smart growth. The idea that clustering housing and services is the way to plan for the future.

“On the same footprint that you might have three or four homes, this is actually not that big a lot, you can have 250 units and the advantage is that people who do live there, they’re not paying rock bottom prices. These are nice units.”

It is exactly the opposite of the kind of housing development major builders have spent a lot of money pushing for in San Diego County. Sprawling back country housing tracts that plop homes in rural parts of the county would add huge numbers of vehicle trips to local roadways. That hurts state mandated efforts to reduce carbon emissions because cars and trucks are the biggest sources of greenhouse gasses. That’s why urban developments like the one in Escondido are exactly what environmentally conscious planners see as the future.

“Less driving. More of this means less driving. Less pollution locally and also it means less contribution to greenhouse gasses which is what the state is desperately trying to get every jurisdiction to do.”

San Diego County is hoping to be carbon neutral before the state requires it in 2045. That’s where the County Climate Action Plan can play a key role. That planning document will draw the roadmap that’ll help the county grow and reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses that are emitted.

San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher says the county has famously tried to do the bare minimum when it comes to building a climate action plan. He says the current board is changing that.

“Given the number of times that the courts have thrown it out I think it’s really important we get it right.”

The Climate Action Plan is just one part of a regional strategy aimed at charting the county’s future. The document will have to work with San Diego County General Plan changes, housing forecasts set by the San Diego Association of Governments and include San Diego County plans to reduce the number of vehicle miles travelled. Fletcher says carving out a legally defensible plan, takes effort.

“We’re doing the really hard gritty difficult work of putting these pieces together so that we can meet our region’s housing needs and we can meet the environmental obligations we have.”

Wednesday’s meeting is the second time staff has updated supervisors on the Climate Action Plan. That’s a change from the past. But Fletcher concedes the process still takes time.

“We don’t expect to complete our climate action plan until 2024, but we are working diligently to get it in place, to lower our greenhouse gas emissions and do our part to stop climate change.”

“We have to make sure, at every level of government we’re taking unprecedented action as fast as possible to slash emissions and prioritize climate justice.

Noah Harris works for the San Diego Climate Action Campaign. He is not encouraged by the long timeline. But he is pleased the county is talking about a commitment to decarbonize the region. And Harris says that’s good for San Diego residents who usually feel the impact of bad planning.

“We know that the climate crisis and environmental justice has and will impact low-income communities and communities of color first and worst. So, the county should prioritize all their climate action investments in those historically underinvested communities. And that’s something they’ve been signaling they want to do, and we want to keep pushing so they are using the CAP to achieve climate justice.”

County staff included residents, environmentalists, and developers in the planning process. Harris says it’s better to have disagreements worked out in a planning room than in a courtroom.

“after several years of fighting for a legally defendable climate action plan at the county, I’m optimistic. But we still need to keep pushing.”

County staff will continue working with hopes of having a finished plan by 2024.

Erik Anderson KPBS News

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Construction crews have begun work to widen one of San Diego's deadliest streets.

KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen says that's despite concerns over pedestrian safety.

AB: The widening of a block of El Cajon Boulevard in City Heights was approved in 2018. Mayor Todd Gloria's office said recently the project was under review to determine if it's in line with his goals. But as of Tuesday afternoon, his office could not explain why construction had already started. Darnelle Williams owns Dojo Cafe on the block in question. With the sidewalk now closed, he fears for pedestrians — especially children and seniors.

DW: "I don't know what the plan was for watching out for the pedestrians and really keeping them in mind, but this street is very busy and it's used a lot by the students and a lot of the people of City Heights. And we just don't want to see something tragic happen here."

AB: Some residents of Talmadge say the widening is needed to prevent motorists from cutting through neighborhood streets. Andrew Bowen, KPBS news.

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Heat-related deaths are on the rise in Imperial County. Advocates in the city of calexico say the city is not protecting its vulnerable residents - especially those who are unhoused.

inewsource investigative reporter Kate Sequeira has the story.

The downtown bathrooms remain closed, and the city’s only cooling center operates on limited hours, a mile from where many experiencing homelessness stay. Ismael Arvizu of local organization Calexico Needs Change says that’s made a big impact.

“The fact that they made it in the community center, which is like blocks away from where people really need it. It shows to everyone how much they don't care who they're trying to help.”

So far this year, Imperial County has confirmed 22 heat-related deaths. It’s the second time those deaths have surpassed 10 in the last 15 years.

inewsource is an independently funded, nonprofit partner of kpbs. This story was co-reported by Zoë Meyers.

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A navy report obtained by the Associated Press on the destruction of the USS Bonhomme Richard (bahn-em rih-shard) has concluded there were sweeping failures by commanders, crew members and others that fueled the july 2020 fire, at the San Diego naval base.

KPBS military reporter steve walsh has the story.

The Associated Press is reporting that the massive five-day blaze was preventable and unacceptable.

Seaman Apprentice Ryan Sawyer Mays was charged with arson in July. According to the AP, the more than 400-page report, lists three dozen officers and sailors whose failings either directly led to the ship’s loss or contributed to it. The findings in the report detailed widespread lapses in training, coordination, communication, fire preparedness, equipment maintenance and overall command and control.

The report slams commanders of the amphibious assault ship for poor oversight, adding the main firefighting foam system wasn’t used because it hadn’t been maintained properly and the crew didn’t know how to use it. Steve Walsh KPBS News.

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School bus routes in the poway unified school district have been cut this fall because of a shortage of drivers. An aggressive recruitment effort is now underway and improved benefits are attracting some candidates to consider a career change.

kpbs education reporter m.g. perez has more.

seung lee is the parent of two children in the poway unified school district. he is also one of a dozen new trainees at the district’s transportation department. poway unified is short of more than 40-school bus drivers needed to accommodate every student requiring transportation...most of them are children with special needs. lee is clear on why he’s put his real estate business on hold to drive a school bus.

“make it a fun ride and a safe ride. it’s the first part of their day and the last part of their day. it’s important to have that be the face of the school well.”

starting rate of pay is 19-dollars-30 cents an hour with full benefits for the part-time bus driver jobs. apply at poway u-s-d dot com. mgp kpbs news

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Coming up.... A group called “Let Them Breathe” has become known nationally for opposing mask mandates in schools–-and they’ve collected thousands of dollars in donations to fund its efforts.

More on them next, just after the break.

A group called “Let Them Breathe” has become known nationally for its fight against mask mandates and other COVID-19 restrictions in schools. They’ve collected thousands of dollars in donations to fund their efforts, and now they’re targeting vaccine requirements.

KPBS reporter Tania Thorne has more on who is behind the organization that’s based in San Diego’s north county.

Let Them Breathe has become well known for disrupting school board meetings. Its logo, an unmasked and bright smiling-face emoji, has popped up in school board meetings and protests across the region.

They are fighting to end student mask mandates, testing, and quarantine protocols in schools. They’ve gained national attention and so far raised more than 150k in donations through their GoFundme.

“We are a group of over 30,000 parents that are concerned about the effects of masking on their kids' mental health, their physical health, their social development and also their academic progress.”

The founder, Sharon McKeeman, lives in North County. Before she found the national spotlight, she was a blogger, artist, and mother.

Now, with interviews, a radio show, merchandise sales, and lawsuits, Let Them Breathe has become like a full time job... but McKeeman wouldn't share if she was getting a salary.

Along with the donations on GoFundMe, McKeeman is raising money for Let Them Breathe by selling merchandise.

She says the money will go to her lawsuit against the state to end student mask mandates.

“unfortunately legal action is not cheap so to bring these issues before a judge and have them settled in a court instead of the chaos of public opinion is expensive.”

Let Them Breathe has requested that the state be required to pay their attorneys fees if they win their lawsuit. If they win, McKeeman says she would use the money to fund her next legal battle.

On her website, McKeeman describes herself as a QUOTE author, educator, artist, photographer, and homeschooling mama--which has prompted her opponents to question whether her kids go to school.

But McKeeman explains that they do.

“All my kids are in the public school system, there have been portions of time where they have been in charter, they were still in a publicly funded classroom every week but they're home with me a couple days a week. So I did learn about homeschooling.”

KPBS verified that all 4 of McKeeman’s children attend in person schools in North County.

She says masking and restrictions took a mental toll on her kids, and has heard the same from parents across the country.

“We’re hearing from parents with kids who have epilepsy, are hearing impaired, English language learners struggling to learn the English language when they can't see their teachers mouths, hearing about anxiety, depression."

McKeeman cites studies that say masks harm children’s physical and mental health. But some medical experts question the validity of those studies.

Lizeth Ma, a family psychologist says...

“ I have not had one kid in the last 21 months that has said ‘I am so upset that I have to wear this darn mask.’ Yes it's uncomfortable, its annoying , its not the issue. The issue is everything else that got stripped from everybody and all the additional stressors that we had.”

And many parents do want masks and vaccine requirements.

Kristen Beer is the admin for Parents4PUSD, a group in Poway who has told school officials they support masks.

“Letting them know, yes the people outside are loud and the people who are barging their way into your offices are intimidating but there are lots of us out there who appreciate when they make those hard decisions and stand up to those people and make the right decisions for the right reasons.”

Now, McKeeman is looking to expand.

In July, she filed paperwork with the state to make Let Them Breathe a non-profit. In response to KPBS questions, she declined to disclose details about its expenses.

And she’s started a new group to fight vaccine mandates in schools.

“Let Them Choose. That is an initiative from that same community, but it will have a separate it already has a separate fundraiser for Legal Action to oppose forced COVID vaccines for students.”

Last week, the group announced a lawsuit against San Diego Unified for its vaccine mandate. Its GoFundme has raised more than $33,000 so far.

Tania Thorne, KPBS News

That’s it for the podcast today. Be sure to catch KPBS Midday Edition At Noon on KPBS radio, or check out the Midday podcast. You can also watch KPBS Evening Edition at 5 O’clock on KPBS Television, and as always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Annica Colbert. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

San Diego county continues to deliberate how it will meet California's greenhouse gas reductions goals while accommodating new growth. Meanwhile, construction to widen one of San Diego’s deadliest streets, El Cajon Boulevard, goes forward despite concerns over pedestrian safety. Plus, the local organization “Let Them Breathe” has become known nationally for opposing mask mandates in schools. We have a look at the people behind the group.