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New North County transit projects

 February 15, 2023 at 5:00 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Matt Hoffman, in for Debbie Cruz….it’s Wednesday, February 15th.

North County’s transit agency is looking at ways to maximize the use of land around transit stations. More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


San Diego County health officials are monitoring an uptick in Hepatitis A cases.

Five people contracted it over the last month, and one death was reported.

The county usually sees two to three cases per month, but these new cases are not connected so this is not considered an outbreak.

Three of the cases are among those experiencing homelessness.

County health officials say Hep A spreads through close contact and fecal matter, so hand washing and good hygiene can help prevent it.

They say with these new cases the general public is not at greater risk.

The county is working with homeless service providers to vaccinate those at high risk.


The San Diego Foundation launched its community food grant program this week, for nonprofit organizations.

Their goal is to provide 4-point-5-million-dollars in grants to support food security for low-income communities and those with limited access to healthy foods.

Webinars for grant seekers are available in English and Spanish online at s-d-foundation-dot-org.

In-person grant application workshops will also be held tomorrow in National City and Encinitas.


Love was definitely in the air yesterday as couples lined up to say “I do” at weddings throughout San Diego County.

Marriage ceremonies were held at all four of the County Assessor, recorder and County Clerk’s offices.

The offices issued at least 119 marriage licenses and conducted 82 weddings.

Valentine’s Day is one of the most sought-after wedding days of the year for the county offices.


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


The need for more housing and sustainable transportation has North County’s transit agency exploring ways to maximize the use of their land.

North County reporter Tania Thorne breaks down the changes on the horizon for multiple stations.

Where there is space, there is opportunity. North County Transit District sees opportunity in the underutilized land around their transit stations. “The goal is to transform our stations into vibrant, multi mobility hubs that have mixed uses. Housing, commercial retail, as well as our transit operations, Chris Orlando is the chief planning and communications officer with NCTD. He says mixed use projects are being proposed around 4 North County stations. Oceanside, Carlsbad Village, Carlsbad Poinsettia, and Escondido.  to not only drive ridership but to also create revenue for the district and add housing to the region.” The furthest along in the pipeline is the redevelopment of Oceanside’s 10 acre transit center. The transit hub connects travelers to Amtrak, Orange County’s Metrolink trains, and NCTD’s Coaster, Sprinter, and Breeze buses. The station's redevelopment includes over 500 mixed income apartments, along with a boutique hotel, and commercial space. The transit center will also get modernized. NCTD’s headquarters will also be relocated to Oceanside’s transit center. Once they’ve moved, their old building will be redeveloped into residential apartments that will include market rate and affordable units. “The redevelopment of the Oceanside transit center is a key stone for the city and their long term vision of the development of the city.Redevelopment of this site is an extension of downtown.” Lillian Doherty is NCTD’s director of planning and development. She says developers are currently negotiating with the city of Oceanside, and construction is anticipated to start in 2025. ‘We really do anticipate a cultural shift of our riders an our communities that will allow them to live, work and play at our transit stations through these vibrant communities that were building.   Oceanside city council member Eric Joyce says while the project has many benefits to travelers, he will be pushing for a space that benefits the Oceanside community. We're always looking for more community spaces. We have the Junior Seau not too far away beach community center. But there's never enough space for programming. There's never enough space for our our classes. So we are working with the developer to make sure there's something that is a public benefit directly is included in the final project. Joyce also hopes the affordable housing element will help keep more people from getting pushed out of the city. I think this project, in particular is really important, and it's a really good opportunity for us to show that new development is actually working for the people that live in oceanside. Carlsbad’s transit stations are also up for redevelopment. Doherty with NCTD says the Carlsbad Village station and the Poinsettia station will each have their own developer, chosen just last month. We anticipate that there will be mixed use development that will provide for affordable housing and market rate housing as well as ground floor retail. Between the two projects, Carlsbad will get just over 400 more apartments, and 81 of them will be affordable housing. between Nctd. And Mts there's a real big effort at creating more housing for folks. Corinna Contreras represents Vista on the NCTD board. She says they’re making progress when it comes to housing. But when it comes to transit, there is still more to be done to connect North County with the rest of San Diego. If we could build that out, have on the 78 transit priority lanes or managed lanes that allow our buses to go from vista you know and quickly down to San Diego that provides us more opportunity whether that's economic opportunity or the opportunity to participate in different recreational things. Like going to Petco, you know, and what not. Escondido Transit Center is the newest project NCTD has opened up for proposals, with 13 acres available for housing and retail. Developers have until March to submit their plans. TT KPBS News. 


Chula Vista became the first city in California to become a certified Welcoming City in 20-19.

Now, just over three years later, it is also the first city in the state to lose that distinction.

Reporter Gustavo Solis explains why Chula Vista is no longer a Welcoming City.

Activists are livid that Chula Vista quietly chose to abandon the Welcoming City program. “I cannot believe it. That they would be so crude and rude to all of the people who have worked on this.” Margaret Baker volunteered to help earn the Welcoming City certification. It was a rigorous process that included multiple reviews of city policies – all to ensure Chula Vista is a safe and inclusive city for marginalized communities. Last year, City Manager Maria Kachadoorian decided not to go through the recertification process. Chula Vista officially lost its Welcoming City certification in December. The city has not made any public announcement about this issue. Baker criticized the lack of transparency. “Someone should have had the decency to say it in one of the many meetings I’ve attended over the last six months. I’m, I’m flabbergasted.” In a statement, Chula Vista officials said Kachadoorian decided not to pursue the recertification because of staff priorities to launch a new Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion program. Chula Vista Mayor John McCann was not available for comment. Gustavo Solis, KPBS News


The Islamic Center of San Diego says a donation drive for the survivors of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria has been a huge success.

Reporter Claire Strong has the update.

“Honestly, it’s not surprising to me, because I know my community”. Imam Taha Hassan is thrilled, but not shocked, by the overwhelming response to help those caught up in a devastating natural disaster thousands of miles away. Diapers, first aid kits and tons of warm blankets were among the items donated, as well as over $60 thousand dollars in cash. Hassan says San Diegans always step-up in times of crisis. “I know San Diego. Whenever there is a need, everyone gets motivated and they try to do something to help their brothers and sisters in humanity. Turkish Airlines will deliver the items to survivors. Claire Strong, KPBS News.


Coming up.... The San Diego Symphony’s indoor home will soon be among the finest symphony halls in the country. We’ll have that story and more, just after the break.


An ambitious art project is underway at one City Heights school this week.

Education reporter M.G. Perez tells us how it’s creating community, too.

3rd grade students at Hamilton Elementary school have become artists with mentoring from professionals with the Visual And Performing Arts Foundation…better known as VAPA. VAPA provides enhanced arts programs for students across the San Diego Unified School District. The Hamilton project is a large mural with a space exploration theme made from glass mosaic pieces …created by Kal-el and his classmates. Kal-el is sold on a career in art “yes…because it’s really fun to do with other kids…and also I kind of like drawing, too…so I might do both…”  An official unveiling of the mural for the community will happen later this spring. MGP KPBS News.


Now in its 123rd year, the San Diego Symphony is the oldest symphony in California.

Its home has been Copley Symphony Hall at the Jacobs Music Center since 19-84.

In 2010, it was named a Tier 1 orchestra by the League of American Orchestras.

And now, as reporter John Carroll tells us, its historic home will soon become what you might call a Tier 1 venue.

The historic Fox Theater was transformed in the mid-eighties into the home of the San Diego Symphony.  It has been the headquarters of the Symphony since then. Two years ago at the onset of Covid, the Symphony pulled up stakes and moved to their beautiful outdoor venue… the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park… a landmark venue like no other with a pricetag of 85-million dollars. But come November, the Symphony will return to their main home, Copley Symphony Hall and if you thought 85-million was expensive for The Shell, well… the renovations here are being done to the tune of 125-million dollars. It’s a noisy, dusty scene inside right now, with lots of exposed concrete and no seats.  But the Symphony’s Vice President of Operations Travis Wininger says it will all be worth it. “The end result is going to be wonderful, both visually and acoustically.” If you want to know anything about the changes happening inside this magnificent space, Wininger’s the go to guy.  He can tell you all about the modernization and improvements that are being done… those that you will see, and those you won’t. “Bringing the rear wall of the hall in by about 8 rows of seats.  We had a really deep balcony overhang before and acoustically those seats all the way in the back, under that balcony level weren’t that great.” Each row of seats that remains under the balcony will be stepped up as you go back to improve lines of sight.  Another change improves aesthetics and sound. “Removing a valance, a wall that used to cut off the top of the proscenium and we were able to do some structural moves and remove that and to open the proscenium up to the full height of this arch that you see behind us, so that’s gonna give a lot more acoustic breathing room. //// We decided to build a permanent orchestra shell that will surround the stage and that allows us now around the stage to have a choral terrace level.” As its name suggests, the choral terrace will allow large choirs to sing with the orchestra and when no chorus is involved, it will be opened up to audience seating. Of course, all the ornate plaster work is being refreshed and cleaned and then there are those changes you won’t see, but that will make a big difference… like the building’s heating and air conditioning systems. “We’ve suspended all those units from the parking structure above us so that none of the vibration or the noise from those units will transfer into the space.” A renovated Symphony Hall and a spectacular outdoor venue with the Rady Shell… you’d think that would make the San Diego Symphony a very attractive orchestra for the world’s top musicians.  It’s a question we put to Director of Artistic Planning A.J. Benson… in a much quieter meeting room at Symphony Hall. “I think San Diego has a number of elements that are attractive to musicians; the fact that we are performing in two different venues, we have great soloists and collaborators that we work with.  The executive leadership has really been a huge force propelling the orchestra forward.” And Benson points out the Jacobs gift… 120-million dollars  given in 2002.  That, he says, has resulted in a financially sound organization, especially when combined with other large gifts and significant support from the community in general.  Now, Benson along with Symphony leadership look to the future. “We want to have people feel like it’s comfortable, it’s safe, it’s welcoming, it’s warm in this new acoustic, in this environment.  So, I think there is a real element of top shelf, incredible music making, great artistry happening right at everyone’s doorstep. You don’t have to go to LA, you don’t have to go to New York City, there’s a lot happening right here.” And soon, happening in a concert hall that will take its place among the finest in the world.  JC, KPBS News.


That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Matt Hoffman. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

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The need for more housing and sustainable transportation has North County’s transit agency exploring ways to maximize the use of their land. In other news, Chula Vista becomes the first city in California to lose its distinction of Welcoming City, just over three years after being the first city to receive the distinction. Plus, the San Diego Symphony’s indoor home will soon be among the finest symphony halls in the country.