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New plan to improve Imperial Beach

 January 9, 2023 at 5:00 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Monday, January 9th.

Upcoming plans to improve Imperial Beach. More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….

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The pedestrian crossing at the San Ysidro port of entry, known as Ped-West, has officially reopened.

For now, it will be open during limited hours, from six A-M to two P-M daily.

The reopening comes after being closed to the general public for nearly three years because of the pandemic.

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San Diego County’s newest sheriff, Kelly Martinez will take her oath of office in front of the public today.

She officially started her term as the county’s new sheriff last Monday.

Martinez has been with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department since 19-85.

Also today, six newly elected officials will be sworn into office at the County Administration Center Board Chamber.

The elected officials include Fourth District Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, Fifth District Supervisor Jim Desmond and District Attorney Summer Stephan.

The swearing-in ceremony begins at 10 this morning.

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A San Diego County sheriff's deputy was arrested last week on suspicion of drug crimes and more than a dozen counts of burglary.

Cory Dean Richey has been with the law enforcement agency since 2007.

He was taken into custody when he arrived to work Friday.

In a statement, the sheriff’s department said their agency does not tolerate any criminal activity from employees, and they investigate all actions of misconduct.

Richey has been suspended without pay and is being held at the San Diego Central Jail on 250-thousand-dollars bail.

His arraignment is scheduled for tomorrow.

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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.

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Imperial Beach has long had a reputation as a scruffy beach town.

But it's been gentrifying in recent years.

Now City officials unveiled a new plan to make it a destination city.

KPBS reporter Gustavo Solis has the story.

If it’s been awhile since you visited Imperial Beach, you might not recognize it. The town’s gritty surfer vibe is still there. But now there’s a fancy hotel right on the beach and a bunch of new shops, restaurants and breweries. While IB’s gentrification came later than most places in San Diego County – it didn’t come out of nowhere. It actually started back in the year 2000, with a vision that was simply called The Big Picture. Newly elected Mayor Paloma Aguirre says the Big Picture changed Seacoast Drive – which is the city’s beachfront commercial corridor. We talked on the IB pier last week as the storms were brewing. “We’ve made tremendous progress, especially in the last 8 years. We’ve brought a lot of new businesses to IB, especially in our Seacoast Area, on our Palm Avenue Corridor.” Now there’s a new version of the Big Picture for the coming decade … city officials are calling it  the Bigger Picture. City Manager Andy Hall came up with the name. “Everybody talked about, the big picture, the big picture. And it was a great document for providing vision and whatnot. So we thought, let’s not mess with it. Let’s call it the Bigger Picture.” This time the vision goes beyond Seacoast Drive. It includes new public services, an updated pier, and new pedestrian-friendly shopping corridors in the east part of town. The Bigger Picture really had a lot to do with having the nature of Imperial Beach change from trying to be just a bedroom community to being something more.” Mayor Aguirre is particularly proud that the new plan includes the 13th Street corridor and the eastern part of Palm Avenue. Both are areas that have historically been neglected. “Districts One and Districts Four, which are the outskirts of our city if you will, haven’t had the same amount of investment as other areas like where we are today.” The  plan is being funded partly by voter-approved sales and hotel tax increases. It also includes infrastructure improvements that the entire region will benefit from. This includes upgrades to the Bayshore Bikeway – a bike path that includes the Silver Strand beach just north of IB and wraps around the entire San Diego Bay. It will eventually connect to the border. Hall says the people and vehicles who use the Bikeway have changed in the last 20 years. So the city needs to change with them. “We didn’t have electric bikes going 20 miles an hour when the bike path first put in, we didn’t have as many pedestrians walking on the bike path – there is a lot of bicycle/pedestrian conflict, so we need to have things like hydration stations and lights. Some of the initiatives of the Bigger Picture are already in the works. The city brought back its Parks and Recreation Department,  And a facelift of the IB Pier is underway. “It’s an iconic pier. People propose to each other here. We witness it, we see it. So absolutely, I think it’s going to generate a lot more revenue for Imperial Beach.” That’s Jen Crowley. I spoke to her inside the Cowabunga the  ice cream shop that’s been at the pier for 20 years. “In the 90s it wasn’t the best place to be. IB had a bad name at the time unfortunately. There’s been a lot of cleaning up and businesses coming in.” Crowley says she's excited to see how the Big Picture plays out and changes Imperial Beach in the next decade. Gustavo Solis, KPBS New.

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Around a dozen homeless people will have a warm, safe and dry place to stay for a while thanks to a church in Del Mar.

Here’s KPBS reporter Claire Strong with the story.

St Peter’s Episcopal Church in Del Mar is providing a welcome respite from the recent heavy rain for those who don’t have a regular roof over their head. Over the next two weeks, families and individuals will be offered warm beds, cooked meals and help finding jobs. It’s all part of the Interfaith Rotational Shelter Program, which involves different religious groups working together to help the homeless. Reverend Paige Blair-Hubert says some of the people have experienced lots of hardship: “Some of our guests may have left situations of domestic violence and may have some mental health needs and support following that tragic situation and so they will really be getting wrap around support while they are with us” It’s the first time since the pandemic that St Peter’s has hosted the event. St James’s church in Solana Beach will be up next. Claire Strong, KPBS News.

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It’s been over two years since the disappearance of May “Maya” Milliete.

The 39-year-old mother of three went missing on January 7th, 20-21.

The district attorney has charged Maya’s husband, Larry Milliete, with murder.

The first hearing in the case will be this week, but they still haven't found a body

Her sister, Maricris Drouaillet, says despite that fact, they are still hoping for closure.

“Hopefully the truth comes out and hopefully if he had anything to do with my sister that he will have a change of heart and then that he will let us know where my sister is and bring her home that’s all i wanted.” 

We reached out to the district attorney about the case, to ask if there was still an active search for the body.

They said they do not comment on pending cases.

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Coming up.... Mountain lions may live closer to us than we thought. We’ll have that story and more, just after the break.

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New federal regulations under consideration could help clean up the air in the region’s at-risk neighborhoods.

KPBS Environment reporter Erik Anderson says Barrio Logan, National City and San Ysidro stand to see the biggest benefit.

The EPA is looking at tightening the amount of particle pollution that it considers acceptable.  Environment America’s Lisa Frank says a substantial change could save thousands of lives. Lisa Frank, Environment America “Particulate pollution, more commonly known as soot, are tiny particles of air pollution that come from oil refineries, from diesel, from our cars, their tailpipe pollution.” That could help clean up the air around San Diego’s working waterfront and along the international border.  Both areas suffer from higher-than-average pollution linked to industrial activity or cars and trucks. And state officials consider those neighborhoods to have some of the highest health risks in California.  The rule change could go into effect later this year. Erik Anderson KPBS News.

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San Diego wants to see dozens of more roundabouts by 2035, but the city is already behind on its short-term goals. inewsource reporter Crystal Niebla tells us why and what residents make of them.

Roundabouts are intersections where traffic travels in a counter-clockwise direction. But residents like Harold Lawson, who frequents the newest roundabout at Florida and Morley Field drives, say they might be more dangerous since some drivers don’t know how to use them yet. “Some of the traffic is coming in at 40 or 50 miles an hour. Uh, then you have the traffic coming down the hill that's essentially blind.” Despite concerns, studies show roundabouts actually reduce collisions. The city says delays for constructing more are linked to funding and the capacity to build them. For KPBS, I’m inewsource reporter Crystal Niebla.

inewsource is an independently funded, nonprofit partner of KPBS.

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After a decade of living wild in the Griffith park area of L-A, Mountain Lion P-22 was captured and euthanized last month at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

He was in the care of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who determined the cat was too sick and injured to return to his Hollywood home.

While in some ways P-22’s situation was unique, mountain lions aren’t uncommon here and they make their homes closer to ours than you might think.

Dr. Winston Vickers, Director of the U-C Davis California mountain lion project, and Dr. Jessica Sanchez with the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, joined KPBS’s Jade Hindmon to talk about the life of mountain lions.

After the passing of Hollywood Hills’ famous puma, P-22, one of the things that struck me was-I didn’t realize he lived so close to people…is this unusual?

And there are pumas living close to the Safari Park, right? What do we know about them?

How closely are these animals monitored?

How can we ensure their safety? And ours?

That was Dr. Winston Vickers and Dr. Jessica Sanchez, a postdoctoral fellow at the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, speaking with KPBS’s Jade Hindmon.

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And before you go… there’s still time to call us up and tell us your new year’s resolutions!

Whatever you hope to accomplish in 20-23, share it with us, and we may share it in an upcoming episode of the podcast.

You can do that by calling us at 6-1-9- 4-5-2-0-2-2-8 and leaving a voicemail.

We’re looking forward to hearing what goals you have for the year.

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

Imperial Beach city officials unveiled a new plan to make it a destination city. In other news, San Diego wants to see dozens of more roundabouts by 2035, but the city is already behind on its short-term goals. Plus, tell us your new year resolutions by leaving us a voicemail with your name and what part of San Diego County you live in, at 619-452-0228.