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San Diegans honored at White House

 March 6, 2023 at 5:00 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Monday, March sixth.

Local volunteers honored at the White House.

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


Mask and COVID vaccine mandates at in-door high risk and health care settings in the state are ending next month.

The state Department of Public Health announced Friday that starting April 3rd, masks will no longer be required in health care, long-term care and correctional facilities.

Also on April 3rd, the state will no longer require vaccination for health care workers.

The California Nurses Association has criticized the plan, saying that it puts health care workers at risk.


California's utility regulators want to hear from people who live in S-D-G-AND-E’s service area, so they can set utility rates for the next four years.

The C-P-U-C is encouraging the public to join the first of four hearings on S-D-G-AND-E’s general rate request.

The virtual hearing starts at 6 p.m. today.

The utility is asking regulators to approve an increase in the amount of revenue the utility can collect from customers over the next four years.

The utility’s revenue would go up more than three point six billion dollars over the four year period.

Utility officials say they need the revenue to pay for Electric Vehicle infrastructure, more battery storage and other climate friendly technology.


They were shut off a few years ago, but now the San Diego Police Department wants to bring back streetlight surveillance cameras and automatic license plate readers.

The first in a series of community meetings is being held this afternoon, where police will make their case for turning the devices back on… and where the public can give feedback.

Police say the cameras and license plate readers help in deterring, and solving crimes.

But community groups that were instrumental in getting the devices turned off, say they should not be reactivated because they are ripe for abuse.

Today’s meeting is from one to 4 p-m, at the Otay Mesa Public Library.


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


National Security Council officials welcomed recently-arrived Afghans and volunteers helping them, at the White House last week.

Several department secretaries were also on hand to thank the volunteers – many of whom are military veterans – for their work.

Military and veterans reporter Andrew Dyer has more.

“It’s frankly the most American thing I’ve ever been a part of,” Shawn VanDiver is a San Diego Navy veteran who co-founded AfghanEvac. One of a coalition of organizations that sprung up as Afghanistan fell to the Taliban in 2021. VanDiver, alongside other volunteers and Afghans, were recognized at a White House ceremony Thursday. “The attendees are veterans, front line civilians — a cross section of America from all points of our country. They're Afghan, they’re Hazara, they’re women This is a really good representative crew of people who have been involved with this.” Advocates say they’re hopeful the bi-partisan Afghan Adjustment Act will be signed into law before many of the visas Afghans received begin to expire this August.  Andrew Dyer, KPBS News.


The San Diego Community College District has changed its policy on required COVID vaccinations for employees… with plans to rehire those who were terminated.

Multiple employees on the district’s four campuses have been fired over the past year for refusing to comply with the vaccination requirement.

District spokesperson Jack Beresford said that the district’s Board of Trustees has voted to reassess the policy…and each individual case involving workers.

“With changing conditions here in San Diego County and across the state, we’re reevaluating the ability to make accommodations for employees who have not been vaccinated…that includes those who were previously terminated.”

Beresford says those workers will be offered their jobs back.

The community college district will continue to provide religious and medical exemptions for vaccinations, adding personal accommodations where safe and reasonable.


The San Dieguito Union High School District has a new board of trustees… now looking to find its next superintendent.

Education reporter M.G. Perez brings us this update on the search for permanent leadership.

The San Dieguito Union High School District has three new trustees who were elected last November by voters looking for change on the troubled school board. Tomorrow, the new board officially launches its search for a new permanent Superintendent …to replace Cheryl James-Ward. Ward was fired last year by former trustees for racially charged comments she later apologized for making. Rimga Viskanta is one of the new members…who was appointed Board President.“this board is very much focused on support the good work at school sites to see how we can be supportive and not take away from the good works of students and teachers …by creating side shows, I’ll call them.” The board has hired a search firm that specializes in education and identifying qualified superintendent candidates. The first of two town hall forums for public input happens Tuesday night at San Dieguito Academy. MGP KPBS NEWS.


Coming up.... Planning a trip to the Carlsbad Flower Fields? We’ve got details on what you need to know before you head over. We’ll have that and more, just after the break.


Recent rains may provide some relief for local farmers, but some things aren't always what they seem.

Reporter Claire Strong visited some local farms and has this report.

“There’s nothing we can do about it once it hits the ground, so we just have to focus on growing the trees and growing the fruits that are existing and getting it ready for market in the summer” Ben Holtz’s family has been farming avocados in Escondido since the 1960’s. But the recent strong winds have blown lots of fruit off the trees, costing tens of thousands of dollars in lost produce. Over in Julian, and it’s the snow that’s caused issues for ranchers there. “It is private property. It is something we’ve invested our whole lives into, either financially or just the love of the land.” That’s Katie Ostrander from the San Diego County Farm Bureau, who says sledders have been trespassing in fields and damaging fencing. On the bright side, around half of California is now drought free, which is great news for farmers. Claire Strong KPBS News.


Tourists flock to San Diego in the millions every year.

Reporter Melissa Mae says the San Diego Tourism Authority is helping underrepresented business owners tap into the tourism economy.

MM: In 20-22, 28 million visitors made their way to San Diego and spent about $11 billion dollars. And the San Diego Tourism Authority or SDTA wants to make sure that diverse, small business owners can benefit from their business. MM: Ten locally owned small businesses have been chosen for SDTA’s second Tourism Accelerator program. Businesses have access to coaching in areas like finance, marketing, risk management, and networking opportunities. MM: Julie Coker is the president and CEO of the SDTA. JC “This is a give back to our tourism community. An investment in small businesses especially those that are owned either by LGBTQ, women, veteran owned or people of color. It's our investment back into our community.” MM: There are no fees or profit requirements to apply, but eligible businesses must have been open for at least a year and are not currently members of SDTA. Melissa Mae KPBS News.


We anxiously wait for them every year…the Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch. This very popular attraction in San Diego County draws in locals, as well as, out-of-towners.

Visitors come from all over to enjoy the rows and rows of vibrant flowers that announce, Spring is just around the corner.

KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne had a chance to visit the flower fields last week before they opened to the public and she’s here, to tell us about it. Welcome back to the podcast, Tania.


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 Monday.

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National Security Council officials welcomed recently-arrived Afghans and local volunteers helping them, at the White House last week. In other news, the San Diego Community College District has changed its policy on required COVID vaccinations for employees, with plans to rehire those who were terminated. Plus, we have details on what you need to know before heading to the Carlsbad Flower Fields.