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Motorola, Chula Vista and the fine print

 June 1, 2022 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Wednesday, June 1st>>>>

Surveillance concerns remain in Chula Vista

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


San Diego home prices increased at a rate not seen in almost 20 years.

According to the latest S and P Case-Shiller Indices, prices rose 29.6 percent year-over-year in March.

The record was set in July of 2004 when prices rose at a rate of 33%.

San Diego had the fifth highest rate for home price increases in the nation.


A settlement has been reached in a case alleging that a McDonald’s Franchisee in San Diego discriminated against non-US citizens.

The suit claimed Sutherland Management Company refused to accept one person’s documentation that proved he had permission to work in the US.

The company demanded he give them a different document, and wouldn’t allow him to work until he presented it.

Attorney’s say under federal law, employers may not discriminate by asking workers for more documents than necessary or specific documents.


Cal Fire San Diego says it’s suspending all outdoor residential burning permits starting today.

They say the goal is to reduce potential wildfires over the summer.

The order does not apply to campfires within organized campgrounds or on private property.

CalFire says they’ve responded to more than 2-thousand wildfires since January first this year.

That outpaces their five year average of more than 1,700 in the same time period.

From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now.

Stay with me for more of the local news you need.

The Chula Vista Police Department has touted its new real-time operations center as the cutting-edge of policing.

But a contract with Motorola Solutions to provide software for the center continues to alarm privacy advocates.

KPBS’s Amita Sharma explains.

The city’s contract with Motorola Solutions was a hot topic during a February meeting of the Chula Vista City Council. It calls for Motorola to provide software for the police department’s new real-time operations center, which is the hub for data coming from drones and other high-tech surveillance tools.

The spotlight was on the deal following a KPBS story on how the contract’s terms essentially handed over city residents’ private data to Motorola. In late 2020, Councilwoman Jill Galvez voted to approve the contract without comment. But one year later she had questions.

“It would be wonderful to hear just a high-level response to some of the allegations we’ve been reading about at KPBS and hearing about in terms of Chula Vista’s contract with Motorola and selling out data privacy.”

Galvez sought answers from THEN the- Chula Vista Police Captain Don Redmond. He said at least one of the Motorola contract’s terms was a mistake.

“It was part of an older template contract that they gave us.”

Later, KPBS learned that after the story, the city had quietly amended the contract to remove a provision that would allow Motorola to license or sell customer data that had been stripped of names and other identifying factors.

Albert Fox Cahn is the executive director of the New York City-based Surveillance Technology Security Project. He was harshly critical of the original contract, calling it Orwellian. He says it’s no better now.

”If you had made this change in a typical contract, I might have thought it was actually a big improvement. But this contract is so much worse than what we typically see.”

Fox Cahn points out that the contract still allows the company to analyze, publish, develop and improve commercial products and offer subscription services to customer data gathered by Chula Vista police surveillance tools

“Even worse, there’s nothing here that blocks Motorola from selling this data to customers who then resell it to other people. And once you allow the data to be used in that way, it really is just available to the highest bidder.”

THOSE data include live social media feeds, information picked up by the agency’s automated license plate readers and video captured by its drones sent out to 9-1-1 calls.

Motorola did not return KPBS emails or calls. But in a February letter to Chula Vista the company assured the city it does not “share or resell customer data.”

But Motorola CAN still take customer data and customize it, privacy experts say. Once that happens, it’s called solution data. And the contract gives Motorola, its vendors and licensors exclusive ownership of solution data. The contract doesn’t bar Motorola from selling solution data.

“The change is window dressing. “It’s performative art. It’s meant to give comfort to people who aren’t paying attention.”

Privacy advocate Brian Hofer says the Chula Vista City Council’s approval of the original Motorola contract was bad enough.

“If this had been the first instance, I give them a pass and say it’s negligence. 8:00 when it happens a second time and it's obvious that it’s a bad contract, it seems like there’s some intent to allow this to happen.”

Chula Vista Councilman Steve Padilla concedes he and his colleagues should never have approved the original Motorola contract. But he says he’s now comfortable that the amendment made earlier this year protects Chula Vistans’ privacy.

”....Nobody's being spied on and nobody's data is being collected and nobody's data is being shared and nobody's data is being sold.”

Nevertheless, Chula Vista City Attorney Glen Googins says the contract is still under review by his legal team and the city’s IT department. Asked whether such a review took place before the original contract and its amendment were approved, Googins wrote:

“Significant city contracts are always reviewed by my legal group. Until recently, however, these types of provisions had not been an area of focus. They should have been and now very much are.”

Amita Sharma, KPBS News.


State law says police have to release shooting videos within 45 days, except under the narrowest of circumstances.

But the San Diego Police Department kept videos from one shooting under wraps for two years—until now.

KPBS investigative reporter Claire Trageser explains.

And a warning, this story contains graphic sounds and descriptions.

Caller: “She’s kicking the glass out of windows.”

911 Operator: “Oh lord!”

Caller: “Yeah, I don’t know if eventually she’s gonna jump out or something.”

Just before 10 pm on May 23, 2020, people began calling 9-1-1. 26-year-old Rosa Calva was having a mental crisis on the fourth floor of an East Village apartment. She was breaking glass and throwing things onto the street.

Police responded, got a key to her apartment, and went inside. Calva, armed with a steak knife, barricaded herself in the bathroom. Police then used a sledge hammer to break a hole into the bathroom door. They shot pepper balls and used a police dog to try to get her out. Then they broke down the bathroom door. Officer Andres Ruiz says he thought he saw Calva swing her knife at another officer, and he shot her. He was wrong, according to an internal police report.

David Loy is the legal director of the First Amendment Coalition.

I think the question that the public has a right to know is why didn't the officers slow down, take their time, call crisis negotiators, and de escalate the situation instead of aggravating the situation by bringing in police dogs, firing pepper balls, breaking open the bathroom door. Those do not seem like actions calculated to deescalate a situation to calm a person who's clearly experiencing a significant mental health episode.

At first police said the records shouldn’t be released because there was an active investigation, and Calva, who survived the shooting, was being charged. Two years later, the First Amendment Coalition sent a letter demanding they be released, and earlier this month, the department relented.

Claire Trageser, KPBS News

In a statement, a San Diego Police spokesman said the department “releases or withholds all records in compliance with the current laws and mandates.”


California Senator Alex Padilla was in San Diego on TUESDAY to tour an affordable housing community that could be a model to get people into housing.

He’s pushing for federal funding for affordable housing.

KPBS Reporter Alexander Nguyen has the story.

In downtown San Diego … surrounded by homeless encampments … Saint Teresa of Calcutta Villa stands as a beacon of hope.

It’s an affordable housing community in downtown San Diego … and the latest effort by Father Joe’s Villages to get people into their own homes.

It’s also a success story that California Alex Padilla wants to replicate across the nation. He’s introduced a bill called Housing for All to get federal funding for affordable housing and to end homelessness.

SOT: “it's a plan that works from the bottom up. We know that every community is different. Every city is different. But we seek to invest and scale up proven, successful state and local programs that meet the different needs of different communities”.

The bill seeks 500 BILLION DOLLARS for different housing programs and initiatives over a 10-year period. Though it faces long odds of becoming law. AN, KPBS News.


Coming up.... state data shows California lost on average five childcare businesses a day during the pandemic.

"One center told me they had over a hundred infants on their wait list. He's going to be in preschool by the time you call us.”

We’ll have that story and more, next, just after the break.

During the COVID pandemic, many childcare providers had to at least temporarily close their doors.

KPBS investigative reporter Claire Trageser says that enough to push some over the brink.

Carolina Festo walks over the cracked concrete outside her home in San Diego’s City Heights neighborhood and envisions something entirely different: a play space for kids.

So I want to fix, to put the concrete and put the fake grasses, but it's a lot of money, I cannot afford it to do that.

Festo is a refugee from Burundi, and used to run a home childcare with 12 kids. When COVID started, she had to close. All her clients were refugees who worked in hotel housekeeping, and they were laid off.

I lost my clients because the parents didn't go to work, so they decided to stay with the kids. So I lost my job that way.

Festo’s childcare was one of almost 4,000 that closed in California after COVID hit. During the pandemic, the rate of childcare center closures nearly tripled—on average almost five a day. And many of those businesses, like Festo’s, have not been able to reopen.

I was very tough and very difficult for me to come back in business because a lot of clients moved out of San Diego.

In many places, closures hit the most vulnerable neighborhoods the hardest. And while there was some government aid for childcare, it didn’t do enough. Festo says with more money, she’d be able to build an extra room and care for kids whose parents work night shifts.

So my plan, I wanted to put one more room upstairs.

And a lot of them just couldn't make it. They didn't have a savings account they could rely on.

Kim McDougal runs the Childcare Resource Service for the San Diego YMCA. She says even a small disruption is enough to put child care providers out of business—especially in lower income areas.

Many of our higher income communities were able to maintain their child care supply. And that's probably because they're able to charge a higher price for the care .

And those businesses likely had a safety net. She says during COVID, the country lost about 9% of its childcare supply—and there already was a big deficit.

Are you so happy? Yeah. What do you think?

Ariana Steck sits at a desk in her small apartment, with four different baby contraptions all within arm’s reach. Right now her six-month-old son Griffin is standing in a jumper surrounded by colorful buttons that play music.

I started using a licensed family child care home for one day a week. And the rest of the days I am childcare and employee.

Steck has been back at work for a month. While she put Griffin on child care waitlists long before he was actually born—she hasn’t been able to find full time care.

Many centers didn't have vacancies until the winter of 2022. One center told me they had over a hundred infants on their wait list. He's going to be in preschool by the time you call us.

So she’s—attempting—to work from home while caring for a baby.

my very first week back, I started my days at about 4 in the morning, and he slept until 7. So I got 3 hours.

That wasn’t sustainable. Now she gets a little more sleep and tries to work while Griffin plays.

Like Tummy time in his bedroom. We have a little footstool. I park my laptop on that, and he's sitting right next to me.

Steck actually works in part doing childcare referrals—so she has better knowledge of childcare than almost anyone. And when she was pregnant, she knew there was a childcare crisis.

But once you're sitting in it, you're like, oh, this is a crisis. There is a legitimate thing happening here where there is a huge demand for infant care, and the supply is just not there.

She says if she didn’t have a flexible employer, she’d have to quit her job.

For NPR News, I’m Claire Trageser in San Diego


Funerals for the victims of the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas start this week.

As the community continues to grieve, a San Diego county nonprofit is delivering therapeutic teddy bears to help with the trauma and loss.

KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne has more.

The Comfort Cub is a nonprofit in Encinitas that provides therapeutic teddy bears to anyone experiencing a broken heart as a result of a loss or trauma.

Over the weekend, volunteers packed over 900 therapeutic teddy bears for the community of Uvalde.

Marcella Johnson is the founder of the organization.

“and so we have enough for every student in the school and we have enough for the staff and additionally. We decided that there's a lot of people that are hurting in the Community so we're also donating another 300 and that will go out there on Thursday.”

She will be delivering the teddy bears in person and hopes they will help mend the broken hearts of the community in Uvalde.

To sponsor a bear you can text GIVE to 858-223-7744

That’s it for the podcast today. 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.

Chula Vista city officials quietly amended a contract with Motorola Solutions to provide the software that would power the police department’s real-time operations center. But, privacy concerns still remain. Meanwhile, San Diego police have released a video of an officer shooting a woman in a mental health crisis two years after it happened. Plus, state data shows California lost on average five childcare businesses a day, during the pandemic.