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San Diego’s climate action plan

 June 30, 2022 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Thursday, June 30th.

Updating San Diego’s climate action plan.More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….

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Covid-19 infections and hospitalizations are continuing to increase across San Diego County.

And as we head into the Fourth of July holiday weekend, health care leaders at Scripps Health are warning people to be cautious.

As of yesterday (Wednesday), there were 96 people with COVID 19 hospitalized at Scripps.

That’s more than double what it was at this time last month.

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Following complaints from residents, a state legislative committee approved an audit of San Diego Gas and Electric’s rates on Monday.

The California state auditor will review the reasons behind increasing rates charged to S-D-G&E customers.

That’s according to reporting from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The audit will also look into the process of the C-P-U-C approving rates charged by the utility and other utility companies in the state.

The audit will also review the Public Advocates Office, which works on behalf of ratepayers to see if it’s getting the lowest rates for customers.

The audit is expected to take seven months.

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Four former Navy officers were convicted on all counts yesterday (Wednesday), for accepting bribes from foreign defense contractor Leonard Francis, also known as "Fat Leonard."

Prosecutors allege the defendants took bribes in exchange for providing Francis with classified information regarding ship schedules.

After deliberating for nearly two weeks, the jury deadlocked on whether to convict the fifth officer on trial.

With yesterday’s verdict, 33 current and former navy officials have been found guilty or plead guilty in the Navy scandal.

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

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San Diego is close to updating the city’s Climate Action Plan.

It is a forward-looking document that envisions a carbon-zero future for America’s Finest City.

But KPBS Environment reporter Erik Anderson finds that vision is still a bit fuzzy for some.

Maritza Garcia carries her weeks-old daughter Hinata in a cross-body sling as she walks around the same Logan Heights park that she played in as a child. “Pretty soon we’ll be coming and you’re going to be playing in that jungle gym” Her mother lives in the same neighborhood. She is fighting a lifelong battle with asthma. It’s one extra reason Garcia wants the best for her newborn daughter. “I am fighting for the health of my community who I saw grow up with me. Their kids.”She wants what other neighborhoods have; air that’s clean enough that people don’t have to think about it. “It’s so hard to stay positive about this neighborhood all the time, as much as you want to. As much beauty as you see here. There’s still those health risks, those concerns, always in the back of your mind. Always having to do extra. She’s happy the city of San Diego is making clean air a priority in an updated Climate Action Plan. The city’s Moriah Saldaña says clean air is front and center in the new planning document designed to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions. Moriah Saldaña “air quality and reducing the pollution in our communities was the number one thing that residents wanted out of the climate action plan.” She says, if successful, the new climate blueprint will transform San Diego in other ways by 2035. “A walkable city. A city where you can bike to work. A city where you can take most of your errands within your neighborhood, Cars won’t be needed as much and there will be less litter and air pollution. “A city that has green spaces for recreation or playing. A city that protects us from the impacts of climate change.” Nicole Capretz, Climate Action Campaign. “And the beautiful part about the climate plan is that…it’s an incredible vision for improved quality of life in San Diego for improved public health.” But the Climate Action Campaign’s Nicole Capretz isn’t completely sold on the Climate Action Plan two-point-oh. She worries the document is too aspirational, like the first plan passed in 2015. Great goals but weak execution. “Like there’s just so much good. If the city took this seriously there’s so much good that can come out of it like tangible benefits to quality of life. And to make sure we’re prepared. There’s like an earthquake coming with these climate changes.” The Environmental Health Coalition’s Kyle Heiskala says one fix is to include targets with costs and timetables spelled out. Kyle Heiskala, EHC “There’s been some hesitation by the city of San Diego to include strong goals to cleaning up the air. And I think it’s a case of something that hasn’t been done before.” Heiskala says defining climate targets quantitatively with achievable goals goes a long way toward helping clean air advocates matter, especially in neighborhoods like Logan Heights. He says accountability is important. “Those types of projects need to be prioritized in the Environmental Justice communities that have held the burden of air pollution and heavy industry without seeing the benefits.” The Climate Action Plan goes before the city’s environment committee this week, and council member Joe LaCava says he’s heard a lot of positive comments from people tracking the development of the Climate Action Plan revision. He says this effort is not just a bureaucratic exercise, it matters because the city has to prepare for a warming climate. Joe LaCava, San Diego City Council District 1 “While I know there’s good work being done, by city staff and city departments, it is helpful to have it actually articulated in a specific document. It doesn’t have to be a fancy report with a pretty cover, it can just be an old fashioned spreadsheet, but it gives us that timeline.” The Climate Plan update has been in the works since 2020 and it is likely to get enough support in the city council’s environment committee to move to the full council for adoption. LaCava says he also hopes to flesh out the implementation Matrix which will add some accountability to the plan. It includes more than 180 measurable goals.up from just over a dozen in the first climate action plan. Erik Anderson KPBS News

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Mexican abortion providers say they expect more American women to cross the border to seek abortion services.

Particularly women from border states that are limiting access to abortion…. like Texas and Arizona.

KPBS border reporter Gustavo Solis has more.

As Americans in need of abortion services grapple with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last week to overturn Roe v Wade, Mexico has become an unexpected solution. Luisa Garcia is the director of Profem, which runs multiple abortion clinics across the country – including in Mexicali and Tijuana. She says the clinics are seeing more American patients. Luisa “Estan hablando mas personas. Si, esa es una la realidad.” About a quarter of the clinic’s patients come from the United States, she says. Garcia finds it strange that the United States is restricting abortion rights while Mexico is expanding them. She calls it a historic role-reversal Luisa “Aqui va ampleandose ese derecho y se siente raro que alli en los estados Unidos lo estan se esta hacienda una reduccion. ” The state of Baja California legalized abortion in October. Just last month, the states of Guerrero, Sonora and Baja California Sur followed suit. Gustavo Solis, KPBS News

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The rate at which home prices are climbing in the San Diego region is beginning to slow.

The Case-Shiller index, says in April, prices were up 28-and-a-half percent over April of 2021.

That compares to March when, year to year, they were up 29-point-six percent.

Cross Country Mortgage Executive Vice President Scott Evans says climbing mortgage rates are the main reason prices aren’t going up quite as much.

“I would say that’s the biggest impact with the slow down is the rise in interest rates, hands down… pretty much 90%.”

But don’t expect prices to start falling too much.

USD Assistant Professor of Real EstateJeremy Gabe, says inventory is also falling because most homeowners are staying put.

“Most people who own their houses now have mortgages that are fixed at rates lower than the prevailing interest rate. So that makes them less likely to move up the housing ladder, move sideways on the housing ladder.”

Gabe says rising mortgage rates won’t have much effect on mid to upper income people.

But, he says the current rates will price lower income folks out of the housing market.

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Coming up.... Why a local piece of artwork is causing controversy. We’ll have that story and more, next, just after the break.

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Inflation is hitting every part of the economy, including local hospitals.

KPBS Health Reporter Matt Hoffman says the financial blow comes as hospitals are still reeling from the economic strain of the pandemic… and it could get worse as California mandates loom.

More than half of the state’s hospital are operating at a loss or unsustainable margins because of the COVID-19 pandemic.. that’s according to a recent report commissioned by the California Hospital Association Emerson-Shea That means they are losing money every day caring for patients Jan Emerson-Shea is vice president of external affairs for the California hospital association. She says more hospitals are losing money now compared to pre-pandemic – Jan Emerson-Shea, California Hospital Association It’s probably going to take years for this situation to fully right itself and in truth there may be some hospitals across the state that might not be able to come out of this. Inflation has only worsened the financial pain for hospitals. The report also found hospitals are generally caring for fewer patients as costs rise and labor shortages grow. hospitals have been forced to turn to contract workers…an expense that has hurt their bottom line. Some travel nurses are being paid upward of 300 dollars an hour–Emerson-Shea And California is not alone in this. So we’re in a national bidding war if you will for these temporary workers. Scripps Health is one of the largest hospital systems in San Diego..itsCEO Chris Van Gorder says Scripps has paid as high as $211 dollar an hour for contract nurses. He says right now they have around 1,000 open positions— Chris Van Gorder, Scripps Health CEO And we’re talking about everything from nurses to environmental services workers to food workers He says the worker shortage AND rising expenses have taken a major bite out of the healthcare system’s profits. Van Gorder we’re seeing supply costs going up 5 or 6 percent but our revenue growth at best is going to go up about three percent. So these very small margins we’re seeing with hospitals now are going to get tighter in the coming years There’s also another financial cloud hanging over hospitals... the seismic safety act was amended 20 years ago requiring hospitals to be retrofitted to operate after earthquakes.. It has a deadline of 2030. Emerson-Shea That has a hundred plus billion price tag associated with it Emerson-Shea We’re running into a trainwreck if something isn’t done to relieve the pressure on the seismic issue Emerson-Shea hopes hospitals get a deadline extension. Emerson-Shea There’s probably not enough money in the state to pay for all the seismic requirements but we may need to have a conversation about some dollars being allocated, but right now time doesn’t cost anything. And that could be an enormous help Van Gorder over at Scripps is budgeting for the seismic retrofitting mandate -- something that could increase with raw material costs. 7:55.371 Van Gorder We’re hoping to get a delay on that but the legislature is struggling with that. That’s 2.4 billion dollars for scripps Van Gorder Legislators will look at the balance sheet and go look at all the money you have in the bank – well I can tell you if we spent all the money we have in the bank right now we would not be able to comply with sb1953 Van Gorder says hospitals got federal COVID relief money from the CARES Act and American Rescue Plan.. but he says that money is gone. He’d like to see some more help from the state or federal government— Van Gorder We have a balance sheet that can support us but when you look forward to all these challenges I have to deal with particularly the unfunded this 2.4 billion in building costs that I have to do because the state says I have to do it – other state’s don’t have that problem only California has this mandate While Scripps or other San Diego systems may not be at risk of closing, the hospital association says it’s a very real threat for others. They were lobbying for increases in medical reimbursements to try and help struggling hospitals.. but they weren’t able to get it in the state budget. California is allocating money for health worker education and training.. There’s also a billion dollars in stipends to help retain staff.. Again here’s Emerson-Shea. Emerson-Shea We need all the hospitals in this state. We have roughly 400 hospitals to treat 40 million people in our state. We cannot afford to lose these centers of care MH KPBS News.

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Students in the San Dieguito Union High School District are speaking out about the firing of their Superintendent.

KPBS Education Reporter M.G. Perez has the story.

Cheryl James-Ward was fired by the San Dieguito Union High school board of trustees Sunday evening. The termination followed months of controversy after Dr. Ward making comments in April that many in the community considered racist against Asian students. She apologized several times. Joy Ruppert is ASB president at San Dieguito Academy. She accepted the apology and is shocked it was not enough. ‘It’s crazy and disheartening that students of color see how a black woman is in power and then just gets completely stripped and torn down.” Officially, Ward was fired without cause and now says she plans to file a wrongful termination lawsuit against the district. MGP KPBS News

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A controversial artwork in Escondido is staying put.

KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne has more on the piece that depicts pigs as police officers.

The Street Legacy: SoCal Style Masters exhibition opened over the weekend in the California Center for the Arts in Escondido. The exhibition showcases artwork from nearly 100 artists that represent the diverse cultural landscape of Southern CA. But one piece has made headlines…The piece is called “Three Slick Pigs” by a Los Angeles based artist who goes by OG Slick. The portrayal of the three pigs in police uniforms drew criticism from the Escondido city council… and Escondido’s outgoing chief of police. Sara Matta is the chair of the board of trustees for the arts center. She was part of a special meeting that was held Wednesday to determine whether the piece would be removed or changed. “We did decide that we are reaffirming our commitment to the exhibition and seeing it as an opportunity to encourage dialogue in light of the public comment.” She says public comments over the exhibit were considered in the decision to not make any changes to the show. And that the decision aligns with the arts center support of the First Amendment. TT KPBS News.

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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 day.

San Diego’s ’s Climate Action Plan 2.0 is in the works. Meanwhile, the rate of San Diego’s increase in home prices is starting to slow. Plus, a piece of art at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido is causing controversy.