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Pride organizers face high insurance costs

 July 11, 2023 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Tuesday, July 11th.


Pride event organizers are facing skyrocketing insurance costs. More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


San Diego LAFCO voted yesterday to allow Fallbrook and Rainbow to leave the 24-member county Water Authority.

Fallbrook and Rainbow requested to leave the water authority to get cheaper water from a Riverside county water district.

The water authority says this may cost San Diegans nearly 200-million-dollars over a decade.

Residents in Fallbrook and Rainbow will still need to vote to approve the change.


Three UC-SD student workers are in legal limbo.

They were supposed to be arraigned yesterday on felony conspiracy and vandalism charges...

But that didn’t happen because U-C officials have not referred the charges for review.

U-C officials say the students caused 12-thousand dollars in damage using chalk and erasable markers during a recent protest at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Jessica Ng is one of the student workers.

“These charges are meant to intimidate and isolate…not just three people but every person who dares to stand up for themselves and their fellow workers.”

The student workers were protesting because they say the U-C has refused to implement their new contracts ratified last December.


It’s going to be hot.

The heat wave is expected to last through early next week.

Temps are expected to be close to 80 degrees today, with the warmest temps

expected over the weekend.

The National Weather Service also put out an excessive heat warning for desert areas through Sunday night.


Pride festivals are seeing their insurance costs skyrocket…as threats of protest and violence continue to grow.

“I'm hearing from Prides from LA, San Francisco, New York and a ton of these smaller Prides all over the country that the rise in insurance fees and City fees is untenable.”

More on that story coming up, after the break.


Pride events are taking place across the country amid growing threats of violence against the LGBTQ Plus community and an increasingly charged political environment.

One way that’s impacting Pride organizations’ bottom lines?... Skyrocketing insurance costs.

Reporter Scott Rodd reports.

San Diego Pride Week kicked off with She Fest on Saturday…[AMBI] it’s a celebration of LGBTQ women and people who are nonbinary and gender-nonconforming. Live bands strutted the stage. Food trucks served up vegan and Indian fusion dishes. And hundreds of people checked out booths set up by vendors and community groups. Moehlig: “The vibe of She Fest is very much connecting with people.” Kathie Moehlig is executive director of Trans Family Support Services. Moehlig: “There’s an entertainment factor, there’s a community-building factor and there’s an educational factor.” Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to attend the weeklong Pride celebration in San Diego. But behind the scenes…the good vibes are tempered by a growing concern. Fernando Lopez is executive director of San Diego Pride. FERNANDO: “What we're seeing right here, not just in San Diego but all over the country, is a rise in anti-LGBT sentiment.” Here are just a few examples. Hate crimes based on sexual orientation in California increased nearly 30 percent last year, according to the state Department of Justice. Incidents against trans and gender non-conforming people jumped by more than 50 percent. Far-right groups have organized in-person confrontations at drag events across the country. And just last month, police arrested a man for an alleged bomb threat against Nashville’s Pride event. All of this has gotten the attention of insurance providers. FERNANDO: “I'm hearing from Prides from LA, San Francisco, New York and a ton of these smaller Prides all over the country that the rise in insurance fees and City fees is untenable.” Insurance is required for pretty much any large event. It helps cover liabilities…like if someone sues after tripping over a curb…or if there’s a mass shooting. San Diego Pride typically purchases an extra layer of insurance to cover any major incidents.  Last year, the coverage cost them about $10,000. But this year, according to Lopez, it would have cost… FERNANDO: “$300,000 this year. You can't budget for that. How could I budget for that year over year?” BRUCE: “Pride events are being scrutinized in really unprecedented ways.” Bruce Smiley-Kaliff is vice president and senior underwriter at Kaliff Insurance. The company specializes in coverage for large outdoor events…including dozens of Pride festivals nationwide. He says insurance costs are going up for all concerts and festivals…for several reasons. Attendees are more likely to file lawsuits over minor incidents. Insurance markets are also overburdened in general…due to a rise in costly claims tied to things like hurricanes and wildfires. And there’s the growing threat of mass casualty events…like a shooting. That’s a particular concern when it comes to Pride festivals. BRUCE: “Carriers are terrified by very very large events, and especially ones that could be deemed a little bit more risky when it comes to acts of violence, or perceived violence and threats.” These ballooning insurance costs are creating tough business decisions for LGBTQ organizations. San Diego Pride went with a more basic insurance plan this year…because spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on extra insurance would’ve meant pulling funding from other essential programs. But that means they may be on the hook financially if a major incident happens. Sacramento’s Pride festival had to raise its ticket prices for the first time in three decades…in part because its event insurance more than doubled in recent years. HEITSTUMAN: “We got to a place where we couldn't just supplement all the additional costs with more sponsorship or more beverage sales. We had to raise the ticket prices.” David Heitstuman is CEO of the Sacramento LGBT Community Center, which organizes Sacramento Pride. He says safety and security is their top concern. But he fears increased entry fees could make the Pride festival less accessible…at a time when the LGBTQ community needs it most. SOC.

TAG: A quick note: KPBS is one of the many sponsors of this year’s San Diego Pride Festival…but we cover the event with editorial independence.


An affordable housing project under construction in the El Cerrito neighborhood of San Diego will provide homes to people who were formerly homeless..

With numbers of unsheltered residents increasing in the county, developers want to get the project done quickly.. so they’re building it using prefabricated units.

Reporter Matt Hoffman has more.

Beeping noise Shipping containers that used to move products across the ocean will have a new life as affordable housing. The nonprofit developer People Assisting The Homeless, or PATH.  plans to finish 41 studio and one bedroom apartments this december in phase one of the project. CEO Jennifer Hark Dietz says prefabricated housing isn’t cheaper than traditional builds, but it has one major bonus. Jennifer Hark Dietz, PATH CEO Where the money might be the same, what you really gain is that time which saves lives. We need to get more units online as fast as possible The complex is being built on-top of a Family Health Centers clinic so access to medical and behavioral health care is nearby..Phase two of the project will include an additional 131 units for formerly homeless residents and other-low income San Diegans. MH KPBS News.


The Pact Act signed by president Joe Biden last August greatly expanded the number of veterans health conditions presumptively caused by exposure to toxins.

Two clinics in Chula Vista and Oceanside aim to get veterans enrolled in those benefits quickly.

Military and veterans reporter Andrew Dyer has more.

For years, veterans sought care and compensation for illnesses connected to toxic exposure – everything from exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam to respiratory problems connected to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. With the signing of last year’s PACT Act, that’s finally happening. Frank Pearson, CEO, VA San Diego Health System CEO “Everything is is being considered. So there's not a list that says ‘no, this isn't going to be considered.’” Frank Pearson is the CEO and Executive Director of the VA San Diego Health System. He says VA benefits personnel will be on-hand at two Summer VetFests – in Oceanside July 15th and Chula Vista August 5th – to screen veterans and help them apply for the new PACT Act benefits.  Those who submit claims by August 9th will qualify for a year’s back pay. For more info visit the Department of Veteran’s Affairs website. Andrew Dyer, KPBS News.


San Diego wants to crack down on companies that dig up city streets without properly fixing them after.

Metro reporter Andrew Bowen has the story.

ab: you've probably seen it before: a small section of the street gets dug up for some kind of construction or utility project. but the repair job isn't very thorough, and that section of pavement sinks down. if the underlying soil is disturbed, even a small excavation can cause cracks or potholes in other parts of the street. councilmember kent lee says it's a big problem. kl: nothing is more frustrating to our constituents when they see a nicely repaved street, even if it's just within recent years, get torn up and then improperly restored or when a temporary trench gets left for months and months on end where they actually think that's become the new normal. ab: the council updated the city's street preservation ordinance monday to increase the fees companies pay to dig in the public right-of-way. those companies will also have to repave a larger area after their work is finished. the ordinance goes into effect january 1 next year. andrew bowen, kpbs news.


In other infrastructure news in the city of San Diego… the city has ramped up efforts to fix thousands of broken streetlights.

But as inewsource reporter Crystal Niebla explains, the city's growing backlog could get worse before it gets better.

NIEBLA: Skyline resident Harold Moore says he’s been waiting over four years for the city to replace a broken streetlight near his home. MOORE: “They just listen to you and say they’re gonna get to it and they never get to it because this is just totally ridiculous.” NIEBLA: He’s not alone. San Diego says it received over seven-thousand cases of broken streetlights … and only five thousand are estimated to be fixed. The city blames employee shortages, aging infrastructure and a lack of funding to make the repairs. AGUIRRE: “Based on the current trend, our in-house crews will never catch up.” That’s Juan Aguirre, assistant deputy director for the transportation department’s street division. He says the city’s streetlights problem has been years in the making. AGUIRRE: “The backlog will continue to grow at a thirty-percent rate month over month, subsequently delaying response times with greater wait times.” NIEBLA: For now, staff is prioritizing downtown, where there is the largest share of outages. About six-hundred lights will be repaired in the Gaslamp Quarter by the end of July. Staff hope to reduce the citywide backlog by half. For KPBS, I’m inewsource reporter Crystal Niebla.

TAG: For more on this story, go to inewsource dot org.

inewsource is an independently funded, nonprofit partner of KPBS.


Coming up.... Are you still waiting for your green bin? A lot of residents in the city of San Diego are keeping their food scraps out of the trash.

“There’s flies. There’s mold. It stinks.  But honestly, the juice has been more worth the squeeze for us.”

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


San Diego residents are getting acquainted with the stinky, smelly part of their garbage, as organic recycling expands in the city.

Environment reporter Erik Anderson has details.

“So this is where we keep our green bin, right next to the coffee and sink” That plastic caddy contains coffee grounds, banana peels, and a sandwich that failed to convince her son to eat it.  It’s the organic waste that city officials are asking residents to separate from their other trash and recyclables.  When the container is full, or sometime before the weekly trash pickup, the caddy gets taken to the large bin on the side of the house. “alright, so this is our green waste bin and right now it is about half way full with leaves and other green waste that I’ve picked up throughout the week.”  The stinky rotting stuff that used to be trapped inside a plastic bag before it got taken to the landfill, is under those leaves. There’s no smell or flies.  Greenery to cover up the waste is easy to come by now, but Keri wonders how that’ll work later in the year when yard trimmings become more scarce.  And her husband is concerned about pests. Christian Legett Rolando “There’s flies. There’s mold. It stinks.  But honestly, the juice has been more worth the squeeze for us.  Just to kinda know that we’re able to have some sort of a positive impact.  It’s a minor inconvenience.” The Legett’s have embraced the city’s state mandated organic waste program enthusiastically.  That’s the response city officials were looking for when they began delivering green bins to residents who didn’t have them.  The city is turning that waste and yard trimmings into compost as part of an effort to reduce climate damaging methane emissions at landfills.  And the amount of green waste composted at the Miramar Landfill is up sharply this year. Renee Robertson Environmental Services Department “We’ve done over 12-thousand tons in this new program and that’s with 104 routes online.  So, we’re really seeing a significant amount of material that must have been in the trash bin coming into the organic waste bins.” Robertson concedes that this year’s wet winter may have created more yard trimmings than usual, possibly accounting for much of that increase. But she says keeping that yard waste out of the landfill is important too. So is separating the food scraps from the trash, although that part generates the biggest reaction because of the yuck factor.  Wrapping waste in old newspaper or paper towels can help contain the mess, but decomposing food is decomposing food. “If you’re metering and putting your food waste into the green bin throughout the week it’s going to start, its decomposing as soon we make those cuts, right? So keeping it refrigerated or under your sink in a cool environment will reduce all of that.” Robertson says planning helps. Some people even freeze food waste before taking it out on garbage day.  For people who are intimidated by the new requirements, Robertson suggests starting slow.  Separating coffee grounds, fruit peels and vegetable scraps from the trash can help build good habits. “Eventually we’ll get to the point where everybody is participating and putting everything in but we expect that to take years and we want people to feel comfortable starting small with what’s manageable for them.” That may be a good strategy for individuals, but organic recycling is a state mandate that San Diego should’ve started a year and a half ago.  And the a state oversight commission found more than half of the state’s cities are not even participating.  Its report cast doubt on California’s ability to hit its goal of keeping 75 percent of methane producing organic waste out of landfills by 2025. It remains to be seen how the state deals with that dire assessment, but lofty climate goals are not the primary concern for residents who have started composting. Adrienne Hotaling San Diego “Our green pail, that I just washed this morning since we emptied it. But I keep it under the sink…... Adrienne Hotaling uses the pail and a leak resistant paper bag in the fridge to store the waste until trash pickup day in her college area home. She is figuring out how to best handle trash that used to be thrown away in a big smell proof bag.333. “At first it was a little bit mind boggling.  It was like, oh need to line it or I need to do something because yeah if you put the coffee grounds into the little pail, you empty the pail, then the coffee grounds are going to go everywhere.  And then someone’s going to have to clean up that big trash can.” City officials hope that a long-term goal of helping the environment “the juice” as Christian Legett points out wins out over the short-term discomfort of dealing with smelly food scraps “the squeeze”.  That’s essential for the entire state if California hopes to hit its methane reduction goals in just two and a half years. Erik Anderson KPBS News.

TAG: Nearly 45-thousand San Diego households haven’t received their green bins yet, but city officials say the remaining bins will be delivered by mid August.


Today is Slurpee Day at 7-11!

And it comes just in time for the hot weather this week!

So if you need a refreshment to cool down, you can get a small slurpee… for free.

Slurpee Day has been happening annually since 2 thousand 2, as a way to celebrate the convenience store’s birthday and to thank its customers.


That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. Join us again tomorrow for the day’s top local news, plus, we’ll hear how sign language interpreters are helping swimmers. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great Tuesday.

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Pride events are taking place across the country amid growing threats of violence against the LGBTQ+ community and an increasingly charged political environment, and one way that’s impacting Pride organizations’ bottom lines is with skyrocketing insurance costs. In other news, San Diego wants to crack down on companies that dig up city streets without properly fixing them after. Plus, San Diego residents are getting acquainted with the stinky, smelly part of their garbage, as organic recycling expands in the city.