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San Diego County leaders declare humanitarian crisis

 September 27, 2023 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Matt Hoffman, in for Debbie Cruz….it’s Wednesday, September 27th.


County leaders have declared a humanitarian crisis over the influx of asylum-seekers. More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


San Diego Unified School Board Trustees last night approved a resolution re-affirming protections for L-G-B-T-Q plus students.

The district will also recognize the community's history in October.

16-year old Matthew Quitoriano is one of the student board trustees.

“These are students that we’re talking about…we’re talking about real humans that have lives and dreams ..and have a complex identity…and that’s really the big thing we really want to highlight.”

The school board’s resolution re-affirms a student’s gender identity by requiring use of their preferred name and pronouns, and calls for more curriculum recognizing the history and contributions of the L-G-B-T-Q-plus community.


The county this week got a more than 5-million-dollar grant to help people experiencing homelessness along the Sweetwater Riverbed between Chula Vista and National City.

The money will also provide assistance to an area of the riverbed known as “The Jungle.”

It’s parallel to the 805 in Chula Vista.

The goal of the project is to get people into housing and to clean up the riverbed.

It’s expected to help about 75 people who live along the Sweetwater riverbed.


Soon, when you request an Uber, you may get offered a taxi instead.

It's part of a new partnership between the rideshare company and taxi operators in Southern California.

The partnership is meant to provide more earning opportunities for taxi drivers, and faster pickups for riders.

Here’s San Diego Yellow Cab Vice President Akbar Majid.

"The recent study shows in San Francisco, which they launched a year ago, the income from taxi drivers increase by 1,700 dollars a month for those drivers participating in this program. We anticipating the same here in San Diego."

When riders are matched with a taxi, they will still have the option of declining.

The program is set to begin this week.


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


The San Diego County Board of Supervisors this week declared a humanitarian crisis over the surge in asylum-seekers being dropped off by customs officials throughout the county.

They’re asking the federal government for resources, but the organizations helping the arriving migrants say, in the meantime, the county needs to step up.

Reporter Tania Thorne has the update.

The request to the federal government is this: Either limit the number of asylum seekers released into the region or provide the resources for non government partners to help the migrants reach their destinations. Federal support is going to take time. And organizations who’ve been providing the support for the last two weeks are looking to the county to fill that gap. Is it not the local county who is even more appropriately positioned with way more resources and a dedicated office of immigrant and refugee affairs that should be leading this effort? That was Lisa Acuestas with Casa Familiar in San Ysidro. The County didn’t deploy any immediate support to the organizations on the ground but recommendations do include continued support from the Office of Immigration and refugee affairs. TT KPBS News. 


The Biden administration is moving forward with plans to build new border walls at Friendship Park.

Advocates told border reporter Gustavo Solis that the new walls contradict the park’s mission to be a sign of binational unity.

“People from all over the world come to San Diego and they think ‘I want to go to the zoo, I want to go to Balboa Park.’ Friendship Park should be on that list because it’s such a remarkable, beautiful site.” That’s John Fanestil. He loves Friendship Park. It’s a truly unique binational park. Half of it in Tijuana and the other half in San Diego. On top of a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Fanestil says Friendship Park has the potential to be a real destination. “But instead of moving toward the realization of that potential, our federal government has moved further and further away from that.” The latest blow has been the destruction of the binational garden – a series of flower beds that sit on both sides of the wall. Fanestil says construction crews destroyed the U.S. side of the garden when they replaced the border wall earlier this year. “So whereas the US side of the binational garden had already been trashed, they are now about to trash the Mexico side of the binational garden.” One of the most unique features of the park is a section where people from Mexico can spend time with people from the United States without having to cross the border. It is a popular gathering spot for deportees and undocumented immigrants to visit loved ones. Customs and Border Protection has promised – in writing – to reopen it once the wall construction is complete. Gustavo Solis, KPBS News.


San Diego adopted single-family zoning 100 years ago.

Reporter Katie Hyson looked into the racist origins of zoning, and how its effects continue today.

As a child, Ricardo Flores moved away from apartment-filled City Heights, where his extended family lived, to the relative quiet of single-family homes in Rancho San Diego. Flores says he stuck out. In my neighborhood, it was pretty much white kids, and I was the only . . . brown person. And then when I'd go visit my cousins, it was only people of color. At the time, he never questioned why that was. He thinks most people don’t. We honestly probably don't even understand how we're living here and others are living over there. We just assume that it's because we went to college. We worked hard, our parents did the same. But in reality . . . It's much more sinister than that, actually. Sinister, Flores says, because that separation between people of color and white people was intentional. Berkeley created one of the first zoning laws in 1916. White neighbors wanted to push out two Japanese-owned laundries, a Chinese-owned laundry and a dance hall mostly used by Black people. So they enforced residential zoning in those locations. A year later, the Supreme Court ruled racial zoning unconstitutional. But in some ways, it didn’t matter. Single-family zoning worked just as well to segregate. San Diego adopted it in 1923. In some neighborhoods, developers can build apartments or duplexes, affordable to non-white residents who tend to be less wealthy. The rest of residential land is restricted to more expensive, single-family homes. Planners managed to segregate San Diego without saying the word “race.” Berkeley researchers wanted to understand the impact of the last 100 years of zoning in San Diego. So they categorized every plot in the city. Turns out, single-family-only zoning takes up most of the residential land  – eighty-one percent. Those areas are wealthier and whiter, with higher home prices. And they engage in something researcher Samir Gambhir calls resource hoarding. The non single family zones have fewer resources, fewer good schools and large commute times. And that really restricts the wealth generation. Under zoning, zip codes became powerful predictors of someone’s education, income, health, even how long they live. Places across the country have voted to end single-family zoning in recent years, including Berkeley. But Gambhir’s co-researcher, Joshua Cantong, says it’s an uphill battle. I don't know if we can underestimate how powerful homeowner resistance is to retaining single family zoning, because generally, white, affluent, male, older constituents are more involved in planning processes. In other words, it’s often white, wealthy home-owners who can go to city meetings and argue their side. Flores says the reasons they give for pushback have changed over the years. At first it was, you're a fire hazard. No, that's not true. You're going to destroy land values. No, that's not true. He says the main argument now is that it will change the quote-unquote character of neighborhoods. You're going to change the look of my neighborhood. What I would wonder is, are they talking about the buildings? Because we can replicate buildings. The buildings, he questions, or the people? Regardless of the reasons, Flores says San Diego – exploding with population growth – can’t afford to hold onto old zoning restraints. Here we are, 1.3 million, and we have this antiquated zoning policy, and we see it in homelessness. We see it in skyrocketing housing prices over a million dollars. We see it in segregation. He fought for a proposal to end single-family zoning in about half of San Diego, but the planning commission voted in August to hold it back for workshopping. He says it could create affordable housing for middle-income earners, free up existing apartments for lower-income earners, limit urban sprawl and slow climate change. And, he says, it could finally fulfill a goal of the Civil Rights movement: integration. We have a segment of our society that does not grow up with people of color. And then they achieve power and other status, and they reinforce those bad decisions because they don't grow up with people that are different than them.  Flores plans to continue rallying support for the proposal before bringing it back to the commission. Katie Hyson, KPBS News.


Coming up.... A San Diego youth services librarian gives us her top book recommendations for Hispanic Heritage month.

“It’s those stories that speak to the heart. Hispanic culture is so much about togetherness, family and food, so I especially love books that reflect that.”

We’ll have that and more, just after the break.


A North County public health care district is requiring people to accept a terms-of-use agreement to access its website.

North County reporter Alexander Nguyen explains why that might violate public access laws.

As a public health care district … palomar health is supposed to have public records, such as meeting minutes and agendas, available online. but if you visit palomar’s website … you’ll see … a terms-of-use agreement. you won’t be able to access the website if you don’t accept the terms. david loy is the legal director for the first amendment coalition. he says he’s never seen public agencies impose these terms and conditions to access their website. “i think it is deeply problematic, if not completely illegal … (cut) the public has a complete right to access agency records, agendas for agency meetings. these are public records. they belong to the people. the government serves the people.” the story was first reported by voice of san diego … a nonprofit news organization. loy says by imposing the terms of use … palomar could be violating the brown act … which requires meeting announcements to be posted and available to the public. in a statement … palomar health says it is in the process of updating its outdated terms of use to *quote* reflect current legal requirements … and it hopes to have those ready by year-end.


Books are a way we can see ourselves reflected in the world.

They can teach us about who we are, our culture and history, especially kids.

My colleague Jade Hindmon spoke with San Diego librarian Katia Graham to get book recommendations for Hispanic Heritage Month.

Here’s their conversation.

Before we jump into the recommendations, I want to know… What do you look for when picking a children’s book for Hispanic Heritage Month?

You’ve organized a lot of storytimes. Are there any specific stories or themes that have really resonated with kids, or made them reflect on their heritage in a different way?

Let’s start with some picture books. What do you recommend?

How about middle-grade novels, for our older kids?

There are also a lot of books for our teens… What do you suggest in the young adult genre?

Does it touch on themes of generational differences at all?

I want to talk more about your background as a librarian. I understand that you actually got your start in journalism… Where did your interest in libraries first come from?

You’re also launching “Librarian On the Go.” Tell me more about that and some of the organizations you work with.

TAG: That was San Diego youth services librarian Katia Graham, speaking with KPBS Midday Edition host, Jade Hindmon.


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 stories, plus, we bring you a story about a new federal lawsuit that’s demanding the military do more for service members discharged under its don’t ask, don’t tell policy. I’m Matt Hoffman. Thanks for listening and have a great Wednesday.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors this week declared a humanitarian crisis over the surge in asylum-seekers being dropped off by customs officials throughout the county. In other news, we look into the racist origins of zoning, and how its effects continue today. Plus, a North County public health care district is requiring people to accept a terms-of-use agreement to access its website.