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Rancho Santa Fe’s racist legacy

 November 18, 2021 at 9:03 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Thursday, November 18th.

Racial covenants and Rancho Santa FeMore on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….

Wednesday was the city of san diego’s deadline for employees to be at least partially vaccinated against covid-19. City employees must have had at least one dose by now to comply with the December first deadline to be vaccinated or be dismissed. the police union has been at odds with the mandate…

Jack Schaeffer is president of the police officers association.

200 people leaving, it would probably take a decade for us to catch up to that to just get to where we’re at now and where we’re at now is lower than what we should be

Mayor Todd Gloria told KPBS in a written statement that the police department is not short staffed but they are seeing an increase in calls for service


A new ballot initiative to improve public libraries and parks across San Diego was announced on wednesday. Patrick Stewart is the CEO of the san diego public library Foundation. He says there would be extra attention for communities that have been historically underfunded, like city heights.

“these investments will help to fix long standing issues and reduce historical inequities so that all our communities have access to the opportunities they deserve.”


California's independent legislative analyst’s office is forecasting that the state will have a 31 billion-dollar budget surplus next year. The predicted surplus is so large the office estimates it could exceed a constitutional limit on state spending by more than 26 billion-dollars over three years. That could require governor gavin newsom and state lawmakers to either cut taxes, spend more money on infrastructure or give rebates to taxpayers.


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

In part 2 of our series on racially restrictive covenants in San Diego -- . KPBS race and equity reporter Cristina Kim takes us to one of the most exclusive areas in the country… rancho santa fe.

“Welcome To Rancho Santa Fe, CA. 92067. This is one of the most affluent zip code in the country.”

That’s a snippet from a 2019 episode of Lifestyles San Diego, a local real estate show. As you can hear the area’s exclusivity is a selling point.

Nestled in the rolling hills and eucalyptus groves a few miles off the north San Diego County coast, it is a quintessential slice of Southern California paradise.

But there is something else that's drawn the rich and sometimes famous to Rancho Santa Fe for nearly a century ... a highly restrictive covenant that governs the community.

The Covenant, which many residents point to with pride, includes strict rules on the sizes of lots and the style of architecture ... and for much of its history, the race and ethnicity of who could live there.

The protective covenant, as it was called at Rancho Santa Fe, was certainly in the vanguard of this kind of restrictions in Southern California. [9.3]

That’s Phoebe Young, a historian at the University of Colorado and author of California Vieja, a book on the history of Southern California architecture. Established in 1928, the protective covenant banned anyone of the quote African or Asiatic race or anyone not white or of the Caucasuan race from owning or renting in Rancho Santa Fe.

Rancho Santa Fe is still working from the same basic covenant that was approved in nineteen twenty eight.

In 1948, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that racially restrictive covenants were illegal. The Rancho Santa Fe association, however, didn’t remove the racist language until 1973. But people still refer to the neighborhood as The Covenant.

That’s ONE thing that Rancho Santa Fe resident Mary Bills wants to see change.

L3: Mary Bills, Rancho Santa Fe Resident SF

We're just asking that they address these code words that there really are still sending signals of discrimination by using these words, by having this document and people of goodwill when they know something is wrong and don't change it, then then I think there's a problem. \

Together with local real estate agent Janet Lawless Christ, Bills wants the Rancho Santa Fe Association to rename “The Protective Covenant” and stop people from referring to the neighborhood that way.

Bills says these words send a clear message… that even today only the white and affluent are welcome.

we talked about redlining for certain neighborhoods. Well, in some ways, the covenant feels like white lining.

Redlining is a now outlawed practice by banks and other lenders to systematically deny mortgages to people of color based on where they lived. When Bills uses the term whitelining, she’s referring to the fact that Rancho Santa Fe’s population remains 83% white, affluent and people of color don’t feel welcome.

I still feel that sense of exclusivity.

If I went to some of the boutiques in Rancho Santa Fe. I would get a second look. I can guarantee you that.

Lisa Montes feels exclusion that Bills is referring to. She is a fourth generation daughter of La Colonia or Eden Gardens…A small community where Rancho Santa Fe property owners’ gardeners and housekeppers.. All mostly Latino could live.

Over the decades, Eden Gardens become something rare in north coastal San Diego County, a thriving, largely Latino community... Something Montes wants people to remember as the area begins to gentrify.

BUT Montes worries that Eden Gardens could soon succumb to gentrification and its residents gradually pushed out.

I saw a couple come up in a very expensive car and it was clear to me that they were scoping out the properties. And every time I see that, I get very frustrated. Because they don't know. This community, they are there to scoop up a deal. That's the bottom line.

Back in Rancho Santa Fe… Bills and Lawless are facing stiff opposition to their effort to strike The Covenant from the community’s lexicon. Lawless Christ says she’s had people to stop.

“I’ve been told to stop stirring the pot. What pot? ….We have not reached a point where there is not a racist connotation with the word covenant”

Christy Whalen is the Rancho Santa Fe Association Manager. She would not agree to an interview, but In a written statement to KPBS said:

“Covenant" is a term meaning an agreement and does not have racial connotations. It merely describes the document and its purpose.”

Both Bills and Lawless Christ acknowledge the symbolic nature of their effort and know it won’t change what RSF looks like.But they think it’s an important step.

I am not trying to erase history. I am telling people to know the history. Know it and learn from it.

In that way they are fighting a similar fight as Lisa Montes -- whose family was locked out of Rancho Santa Fe so many years ago -- a battle over what gets remembered and why that matters today.

Tomorrow we continue this conversation. How are San Diegans choosing to acknowledge the racial restrictions hidden in their homes? Join us tomorrow for the conclusion of our series on racial covenants.


strike averted - and classes continue at uc-san diego and the other uc-campuses across the state. The university board of regents was finally able to reach a new contract agreement with many of its lecturers. KPBS education reporter m.g. Perez has more.

At UC-San Diego non-tenured professors teach almost 40-percent of classes. They were ready to walkout and strike Wednesday after working without a contract since January 2020. The members of the UC-American Federation of Teachers union were asking for more pay and job security. Stacy Steinberg was one of the union negotiators.

“The people teaching our students didn’t know if they had a job from one year to another ...or sometimes one quarter to another. People were working 2-3 jobs just to make ends meet.”

The UC Board of Regents agreed to give lecturers at all UC campuses a job security guarantee along with an annual 3-percent pay raise, and 4-weeks of paid family leave. Union members are expected to vote to approve the new contract within a couple of weeks. MGP KPBS News


California's ban on private detention centers was blocked by a federal court last month. Now the state is asking the court to reconsider. Cap Radio's Steve Milne reports.

State Attorney General Rob Bonta says California's first in the nation law banning for-profit, private detention facilities is about California saying "no more."

"No more inhumane treatment, no more profiteering on the backs of Californians."

Governor Gavin Newsom signed the ban into law in 2019. The Trump administration sued to stop it. The Biden administration pursued the lawsuit saying that the ban would hurt federal immigration enforcement.

The three-judge U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit was split 2-to-1 in October when it ruled the ban couldn't be enforced because it conflicts with federal immigration authority.

Bonta has filed a petition for a rehearing before the Ninth Circuit.

"President Biden himself has noted that he wants to put an end to private prisons, so I'm hopeful that the question will ultimately be how we can get their together - not whether. We're not there yet and so, in the meantime, we continue to press our case."

Bonta says for-profit detention facilities pose an unacceptable health risk.

In Sacramento, I’m Steve Milne.


Problems with the supply chain in the U-S has touched all of us in different ways.

As we approach the holidays, KPBS reporter John Carroll talked to the owner of San Diego County’s largest local toy retailer to see how he’s handling the problem.

The situation with cargo ships waiting off the coast is not getting any better. This week, the Marine Exchange of Southern California reported a record 86-ships waiting for a berth to become available.

CG: John Carroll/KPBS News

“And what’s happening out there directly impacts what’s happening here on land, especially when it comes to giving gifts for the holiday season.”

“But we found a happy exception to that here at Geppetto’s where the shelves are fully stocked with plenty of toys and games.”

“I have 9 stores around San Diego.”

Geppetto’s owner Brian Miller says all of his stores look like this… brimming with the toys, games and books little ones will want this year. But with so many retailers reporting problems getting merchandise, how did he do it? One word - preparation. Miller began to see the handwriting on the wall last spring when demand started going up as the pandemic eased.

CG: Brian Miller/Geppetto’s owner

“At that time, supply chain issues really started kicking in. So I tried to beef up our inventory for the holidays cause I knew it was coming, ordered lots, programmed out lots of orders.”

But Miller says keeping stores like this one in Seaport Village fully stocked is a constant struggle.

“You know, if I order 6 items from a manufacturer, two of them are going to come. They’re going to come a little late, 2 of them aren’t going to come at all cause they can’t get them and 2 are maybe gonna come, maybe we’ll get them around Christmas. Normally before all this, I would order and 2 weeks later, our products would show up, or if it didn’t show up, the manufacturer could tell me, OK, it’s arriving on this date or about this date. All those projections are gone. They don’t know what to expect now.”

So, Miller can’t get everything he or, more importantly, his customers want.

“If your grandchild wanted the pink version of this dragon, I would find out when we could get it and I’d order it for the customer. But I can’t do that this year.”

Something else Miller is having trouble getting… is staff. He’s got a lot of positions open as we head into this challenging holiday season. JC, KPBS News.


Coming up.... County supervisors hear what it will take to eliminate the county’s carbon footprint. But there are still some lingering disagreements

“Individual vehicles are not the problem. It’s the emissions.”

The county’s decarbonization plan. That’s next, just after the break.

San Diego County officials got a peek yesterday at what a carbon neutral future would look like. And it involves a lot of electricity. KPBS Environment Reporter Erik Anderson has details.

County staff and researchers have been mulling over how the county can achieve a net-carbon zero future by the state’s 2045 timeline. The answer means changing all sectors of the economy that generate greenhouse gasses. That includes housing, businesses and transportation. All without damaging the local economy.

“We do need to get to a carbon neutral economy.

Supervisors chair Nathan Fletcher says the fossil fuel industry lied to the public about the impact of their products and now leaders have to make tough choices.

“Now we also have to do that in a way that recognizes the vital contribution of workers. And recognizes the vital role that they play. You cannot advance an environmental agenda while displacing a good middle-class job.”

And that is just one issue on the path to decarbonization. The regional plan calls for a massive increase in the amount of renewable energy generated in the county. Most of that would be solar and wind power. And it takes aim at the transportation sector. UC San Diego’s Gordon McCord says cars and trucks need to be electric, and existing plans do not account for a fast enough transition.

“SANDAG’s estimates show a reduction of 26 percent by 2030, 33 percent by 2035, and 34 percent by 2050, so there will be a gap to close there.

McCord says half of the region’s vehicles need to be electric by 2030 and all by 2050.

Desomnd.wav “I don’t believe cars are the problem.’

Supervisor Jim Desmond has been an outspoken critic of SANDAG’s push for mass transit.

desmond .wav “Individual vehicles are not the problem. It’s the emissions. And I think we need to move towards incentives for cleaner hydrogen, electric vehicles, whatever, for tractors, trucks all equipment.”

He reminded the panel that the region has a housing shortage and the county shouldn’t rule out developments in rural areas. Environmentalists argue rural developments put carbon into the air by forcing people to drive more.

The Climate Action Campaign’s Noah Harris says he is buoyed by the aspirational tone of the plan, saying it makes a zero-carbon future possible. But he’s also realistic.

“We know that our individual local institutions aren’t doing enough to lash emissions fast enough meet the scale and scope of the climate crisis. So part of our optimism is we’re really starting to see major regional collaboration when it comes to climate solutions, and climate justice and climate strategies.”

Harris says it is also important to remember the county’s most vulnerable residents because they have traditionally suffered the most. Bertha Rodriguez is a member of the San Diego Green New Deal coalition. She says it is important that any planning initiatives need to serve neighborhoods that are traditionally underserved.

“Our communities have endured the worst of systematic racism, environmental injustice, and economic exclusion and should be at the center of every conversation and decision.

That sentiment was echoed by Supervisor Nora Vargas who stressed that policy changes must be made while looking through the social Justice lens. She says the draft plan takes that into account.

“It understands the need, the connection between the environment and climate justice and our economic development potential. To me that’s really critical in the work that we’re doing.”

The next milestone in the decarbonization plan is a review of the economic impact of making the changes needed to hit the climate goals. That’ll happen in March. Supervisors could approve the final plan by summer.

Erik Anderson KPBS News

That’s it for the podcast today. Be sure to catch KPBS Midday Edition At Noon on KPBS radio, or check out the Midday podcast. You can also watch KPBS Evening Edition at 5 O’clock on KPBS Television, and 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.

In part two of our KPBS series on racial housing covenants in San Diego: Rancho Santa Fe. Meanwhile, the university teachers union has reached what it is calling a historic agreement with the University of California. Plus, lightening San Diego’s carbon footprint -- Urban planners and academicians have drawn up an initial plan for the region to significantly cut back on emissions by 2045.