Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live

Port of San Diego’s pollution sources

 June 21, 2022 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Erik Anderson, in for Debbie Cruz….it’s Tuesday, June 21st.>>>>

Coming up Pollution from the port of san diego

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


California has the highest gas prices in the country, and now a group of state lawmakers will look into price gouging as a possible contributor. Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon announced the new committee Monday.

California does have the highest gas tax in the nation, but the group says that’s not the only reason prices are so high. UC Davis Economics professor David Rapson says many factors contribute to the high cost of fuel right now: including supply and demand and the war in Ukraine. But, he says there are other factors worth looking into, like a so-called “mystery surcharge” of roughly 30 to 50 cents a gallon.


The emergency repair work to stabilize the Del Mark bluffs is now complete. SANDAG made the announcement late last week…along with news that additional work is slated to start next year. The repair work followed a bluff collapse in February 2021.


The dog that got into the gorilla enclosure at the San Diego zoo safari park a week ago is now safely back home. The San Diego humane society shared the good news on yesterday. The dog is a one and a half year old male shepard named Meatball. On June 12th Meatball escaped from his home and managed to get into the safari park’s gorilla enclosure. The gorillas watched Meatball with one following the dog and another chasing him. Staff got the gorillas out of the enclosure and into a back area so that the humane society could rescue the dog. Neither meatball or any gorillas got hurt in the incident.


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

We’re learning more about pollution sources from the Port of San Diego that are affecting people’s health. …

KPBS Health Reporter Matt Hoffman says the new information has left port commissioners split on how to prioritize emission-reduction projects.

The port of San Diego’s cargo terminals near National City and Barrio Logan are constantly moving cars, lumber, cement and fresh food.. So it’s no surprise that a health risk assessment puts the two communities ahead of Coronado and downtown for cancer causing diesel emissions. Here’s port Commissioner Rafael Castellanos.

Rafael Castellanos, Port of San Diego Commissioner

This is about the trickiest thing that -- I think it’s the trickiest thing that I’ve dealt with since being on the commission with the most serious implications when you talk about public health

The source of the port's pollution? … Rail operations. ocean vessels, cargo handling equipment. And of course semi trucks.. The noisey big rigs have been the target of complaints for years. But the assessment revealed port trucks actually make up just 8 percent of the risk in National city and 4 percent in Barrio logan..

Frank Urtasun, port of san diego commissioner

What this risk assessment is also telling us is the emphasis on the trucking is much smaller than this commission thought it was

Commissioner Frank Urtasun hopes that revelation can help prioritize where to cut emissions.. Board Chair Dan Malcom says he wants the most bang for their buck.

Dan Malcon, Port of San Diego Commissioner

Now that we have some information I think that we need to proceed holistically and strategically and find where we can place dollars in the right place

The port does have a plan to cut emissions. The Maritime Clean Air Strategy or MCAS outlines reducing emissions from trucks, to boats and cargo haulers.. Officials say if the MCAS is followed, the cancer risk for National City, Barrio Logan and Coronado can be cut almost in half by 2030.. But there are concerns about a piece of the plan involving electric trucks.

My problem is that I think some of the goals in here are really not feasible

The truck transition plan calls for 40 percent of port truck trips to be electric by 2026 and all of them by 2030.. Officials would spend up to 18-million dollars to help carriers transition, but some wonder if it’s actually worth it, especially with the port's own data showing their trucks are a much smaller risk than originally thought.


It is a source of emissions for sure -- but where do we get the biggest bang for the buck and where can we have the biggest impact? Cargo handling equipment, yep

Cargo handling equipment represents the highest cancer risk to barrio logan and coronado, But…even so Commissioner Michael Zucchet says state mandates for transitioning semi trucks to electric are already coming and it doesn’t hurt to start, especially when they know trucks are part of the emission problem.

Michael Zucchet, Port of San Diego Commissioner

If we don't do anything with trucks, the % contribution is going to go up with trucks -- and that’s just math right?

Some of the port's biggest tenants and the trucking industry are pushing back. Truckers argue electric semi’s are expensive and there isn’t wide-spread charging infrastructure.. Tenants worry that if truckers are required to buy electric, it won’t be financially feasible for them to pick up in San Diego anymore. Sarah Marsh - with produce giant Dole – worries the company would take a hit.

Nic dont have this shot 2:40:58 Sarah Marsh, Dole

All of this has a direct and serious impact to us as a tenant. If we’re unable to distribute our product from the port, there’s no reason for Dole to call San Diego home

Marsh says the company supports the port's environmental goals, but i would rather see the agency focus on high-emissions cargo equipment. The company has already electrified a quarter of its cargo fleet

Advocates want commissioners to stay the course and stick with the goals outlined in the clean air strategy, including the truck transition plan.

Franco Garcia, Environmental Health Coalition

You know it doesn’t mean the zero emission vehicle thing is the end all be all solution but it definitely is a major part of it and it’s an opportunity we have -- we can’t let it go

Franco Garcia is with the Environmental Health Coalition.


What we don't want to end up with here is we’re essentially pushing the can down the road

The port is already making investments.. A new electric tug boat is scheduled to begin operations next year and all electric cranes are set to replace their polluting counterparts.. Port officials are hoping to see significant emissions reductions starting then. MH KPBS News


Now that COVID vaccinations are approved for children under five…parents are looking for appointments to get their children protected. KPBS Education Reporter M.G. Perez has more.

Many of the younger children now approved for vaccinations are in child care or enjoying a playground this summer.

So, the San Diego County Health Department hopes parents turn to their pediatricians to get the shots for protection.

Justino Jimenez is a parent who survived COVID along with his young daughter after being vaccinated.

“Try to err on the side of caution..try to be as cautious as possible. We don’t know what this virus can do.” “It’s just better to be safe than sorry.”

Rady Children’s Hospital is now scheduling vaccination appointments that start Tuesday. Both C-V-S and Walgreens have announced they will offer the shots at some of their locations, too.



Coming up.... New sidewalk vending regulations in the city of San Diego.
We’ll have that story and more, next, just after the break.

A member of the county’s Citizens' Law Enforcement Review Board say s she is being pushed out. Buki Domingos's term will end June 30 and won’t be renewed for a full 3-year term. She’s the only Black woman and immigrant on the board.

"...was I too Black, too woman, too immigrant, too empathetic to the real harm and suffering the sheriff's department has caused people?"

She was appointed to the panel by Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer last October… to serve the remaining term of someone leaving the board. She says she’s being pushed out for pressing the sheriff’s department on inmates’ in-custody deaths.

The group's executive director Paul Parker denies this … saying county supervisors are the ones who appoint people to the board.

Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer did not respond to requests for a comment. County offices were closed Monday due to the Juneteenth holiday


Starting tomorrow (WEDNESDAY)… San Diego’s sidewalk vendors will face new rules… that have been controversial. KPBS Speak City Heights reporter Jacob Aere has reactions to the new regulations.

San Diego’s sidewalk vending ordinance will change how, when and where street vendors can operate.

District 2 Council Member Jen Campell led the push for the new rules. She says they strike a balance of improving health and safety… and providing economic opportunities for the vendors.

Jen Campbell | San Diego City Councilmember

“There became so many vendors and it became a problem of finding enough space for the public to enjoy the open spaces, the parks and the beaches.”

While the new rules will be fully enforced at Balboa Park and in the Gaslamp District… there are going to be limits in San Diego’s beach communities.

That’s because the California Coastal Commission must review the ordinance before it can fully take effect in those areas.

So far the item hasn't made it on their agenda.

That worries Ocean Beach MainStreet Association’s Denny Knox.

Denny Knox | Ocean Beach MainStreet Association

“Because really it’s robbed our community of our beachfront.”

She says they've seen vendors take over the middle of sidewalks and parking lots... and in a few cases the police have had to get involved.

Denny Knox | Ocean Beach MainStreet Association

“I mean there are people who say ‘well I’ll never go down there any more. I don't take my kids down there’ … that's not right.”

Jenny Santos is a street vendor who does henna tattoo art. She says she’s not totally sure what the changes will mean for business, but understands the need for some rules.

She says some situations were getting out of hand … in places like Mission Beach and Balboa Park.

Jenny Santos | Street Vendor

“People are paying other people to save their spots. They're leaving up their tents overnight. They're paying homeless people to sleep in certain areas. They’re chaining their stuff down … yea, it's getting a little wild.”

Street barber Iyzohe who asked for his last name not to be used, says he feels the extra rules are punishment for people who are trying to make a livable wage.

Iyzohe | Street Barber

“I feel like when you're already taking people that don't hardly have much and you try to impose all of these different things on them, it's kind of counter productive. It's like on the one hand you’re saying we're allowing street vendors to go out and do free enterprise, but then you create a whole bunch of rules that kind of make it difficult. ”

Mission Beach business owner Matt Gardner says public spaces and some brick and mortar stores, like his own, have taken a toll from the lack of street vendor regulations.

Matt Gardner | Mission Beach Business Owner

“Where most of the problem is here in Mission Beach, and we are affected probably the worst in all of San Diego, it is right in front of my door. I roll up my door every single day and I see hundreds of canopies and people selling stuff right in front of our faces, some of the same stuff that we sell.”

And Mike Trimble of the Gaslamp Quarter Association says the ordinance should bring some relief… if it's properly enforced.

Mike Trimble | Gaslamp Quarter Association

“On any given weekend in the last I would say 6 to 8 months we could have anywhere between 40 and 60 hot dog vendors on 5th, 6th and 4th avenue. So the entire Gaslamp Quarter has got just an overproliferation of these unregulated hot dog vendors.”

Campbell says the first year of the ordinance will be like a trial run.

Jen Campbell | San Diego City Councilmember

“There will be a report to the city council and every year it can be fixed and changed. Just as when we passed the law we changed the permit fee from $236 down to $38 because it seemed that would be more fair for the vendors.”

The street vending ordinance takes effect June 22. Santos, the henna vendor, says people may test the enforcement.

Jenny Santos | Street Vendor

“It sounds like a lot of vendors are going to plan on just vending anyway and setting up. And just getting the warning and then seeing if they get a fine or what happens. But I don't think people are really planning to stop. Because again, a lot of people that's their livelihood. And that's all they're getting money from. And it doesn't sound like people are ready to stop.”

But not stopping could cost a vendor hundreds or even thousands of dollars in fines and impounded equipment if they keep breaking the rules.

Jacob Aere, KPBS News.

We have more information about the new rules… and where vendors can learn about them… on our website, KPBS dot org.


San Diego city officials say they have a proposal to put the 101 ash street scandal behind them.

It’s a settlement that would give the city ownership of the former sempra energy headquarters…

That building was supposed to be the office space for almost 800 city employees in a lease-to-own deal. But the building turned out to be an asbestos-riddled money pit…. The deal also came under scrutiny when questions arose about a payment of more than nine million dollars that was made to real estate broker Jason Hughes. Mayor Todd Gloria says the settlement shouldn't keep criminal investigations into the deal from happening.

"I want to make one thing perfectly clear. Nothing in this proposed settlement absolves anyone from potential criminal prosecution, not Jason Hughes nor anyone who may hold any criminal liability as a part of this transaction and its aftermath.”

The former owner, Cisterra, will return more than seven million dollars in profits from the ash street deal.. And the city will take over the asbestos cleanup. The proposal also includes buying the civic center plaza. The city says it’s also restructured the financing, which would save taxpayers 15-million dollars. But the city still owes $132 million dollars on both buildings.

The settlement isn’t final … the city council will hold a public hearing and a vote at its meeting next Monday.

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

Ways To Subscribe
We’re learning more about sources of pollution from the Port of San Diego that’s affecting people’s health. Meanwhile, COVID-19 vaccines have now been approved for children under five years old and parents are looking for appointments to get their children protected. Also, San Diego’s street vendors are facing new and controversial regulations.