Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

San Diego’s racial covenants

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Wednesday November 17th.>>>>

How racially discriminatory deeds shaped San Diego homeownership

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

Triple-A says the number of people traveling for the thanksgiving holiday this year will approach pre-pandemic levels. Most people will drive, and it won’t be cheap. The auto club says the average price for a gallon of gas around San Diego county right now is $4.64. but triple-a spokesperson jeff spring says there is some relief on the horizon.

“once the refineries get through these issues that they’ve had for the last couple of weeks because of the rains or just because of unplanned maintenance, i think we’ll see prices either plateau or start coming down.”

#######

San Diego county supervisors get a first look today at how the county will try to become carbon neutral by 20-45. The draft framework will identify how to roll back greenhouse gas emissions without crushing the local economy. The draft framework still needs public input but the plan could be finalized early next year.

########

A new poll by the Public Policy Institute of California shows strong pessimism among Californians about their financial state. Sixty-three percent of adults polled say they believe today’s children will be worse off in the future. Mark Baldassare is the head of the PPIC. “Those who are making more than 80,000 dollars a year, they’re in pretty good shape, and that's why the states finances are in pretty good shape, that’s why the states economy looks in pretty good shape, but that doesn't reflect how everybody in california is feeling about the economy today.”

#########

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

Racially restrictive covenants once prohibited Black, Latino, Asian and Jewish families from living in certain neighborhoods across the county. KPBS Race and Equity reporter Cristina Kim tells us how they shaped the region's housing in the first part of a special 3-part series.

Ever since 2014 … when Michael Dew bought his home in San Diego’s El Cerrito neighborhood, he’s been a fixture at his block’s party and happy hours.

But every now and then something happens that reminds him that as a black man… he didn’t always belong ...

Like the time an older neighbor mistook him as a gardener.

So I'm talking and I was going to refill a drink and an older woman. I wish I knew who she was, you know, just kind of caught me off guard. And she said, So are you one of the gardeners? And i was like why would a gardener be at a happy hour.

Years later when reading over the 1950 deed of his ranch style house… Dew figured out why his older neighbor might say such a thing. The deed included a racially restrictive covenant.

That neither said lots nor any portion thereof shall ever be lived upon or occupied by any person other than the Caucasian in Race; provided, however that i

f persons not of the Caucasian Race be kept theron by a Caucasian strictly in the capacity of servants or employees actually engaged in the service of such occupant...a gardener

For years, hired help was all he could have been in his home.

Racially restrictive covenants were legal documents attached to deeds, subdivisions and entire developments. They took off at the turn of the 20th century…

As early as nineteen twenty seven, they were on three quarters of the new homes in America and about half of all homes. So they spread very quickly and became a dominant way of limiting who could live where.

That’s Gene Slater, an affordable housing specialist and author of Freedom to Discriminate. He says real estate brokers and developers created and enforced racially restrictive housing across the nation...

They created a whole system, including all the other brokers in the city and the homeowners association, neighborhood associations, public officials who work together to make certain a city or neighborhood will remain white.

San Diego was at the forefront of this national trend.A sample of San Diego City’s deeds from 1910 to 1950…. Found that every single one had a racial restriction.

"from the early 20th century all allude to these racial restrictions... one from 1910 for lots in Inspiration Heights... now part of Mission Hills... says the area has the "necessary restrictions " and is planned and protected for particular people.

In other words…. white and affluent.

Black, Asian Latino and Jewish San Diegans were all but locked out of the city’s signature neighborhoods like La Jolla, North Park, and Mission Valley … and instead purposefully segregated into Southeast neighborhoods.

In 1948 … The Supreme Court stuck down the legality of Racially restrictive covenants … but as we see with Dew’s home they continued into the 50s… as did the patterns of racial segregation they --- in concert with redlining, steering, and zoning -- created. Patterns that continue to shape San Diego today.

It’s not hard to see, says Denise Matthis, president of the California Association of Real Estate Brokers.

Whether you're African-American, Hispanic or white, we still use the Interstate eight. As the divide mark. OK, so south of the eight, you expect one thing in north of the eight, you expect something else.

San Diego is more segregated today than it was thirty years ago according to a recent UC Berkeley study… and much of the segregation is still marked by interstate 8 with more wealthy, whiter communities in the North.

As a Black woman from San Diego, Matthis own grandfather was impacted housing discrimination that continued long after covenants became illegal.

I always remember him telling us that he looked at a house right outside of Mission Valley on top of the hill, and he was told he could not purchase their. OK, so with that home in Mission Valley be worth. That I could have inherited, compare it to the home that they steered him to buy in Oak Park, where, where would my wealth be?

Today homeownership plays a bigger role in creating wealth for black families than for white families… but gaps continue to persist. Only 30% of Black San Diegans own their homes compared to 61% of white people in San Diego, according to a 2018 Redfin study.

There needs to be more evolution of thought as to the impacts of some of the rules and regulations of the past that kind of determine where your socioeconomic position is today.

It’s why Michael Dew wants more people to know about racially restrictive covenants like the one on his home. The home his grandfathers, both veterans couldn’t have bought. The overt Housing Discrimination they faced may have been illegal for decades, but we are still a long way from understanding ...let alone…. undoing the generational harm these practices have caused.

And that was KPBS race and equity reporter Cristina Kim. Tomorrow we continue the series with a closer look at how one community in North County is debating over how to address and remember it’s racially restrictive past.

##########

15-california families are suing the state department of education over alleged discrimination of medically fragile students with special needs. The students are unable to return to in-person learning that could expose them to COVID-19. The case could impact distance learning for those students with disabilities statewide. kpbs education reporter m.g. perez has more.

In July, the State legislature passed AB 130 which became the new law to prioritize in-person learning for all students including those with special needs. That left students who are medically fragile without a viable distance learning option and support. Heather Russell of San Diego is one of the California parents suing the state on behalf of her son diagnosed with several disabilities.

“every parent wants their child to be healthy, happy, and have an education..so he also deserves what every other child is receiving right now.”

A judge will review the case December 2nd and that decision could impact children who are medically fragile with special needs across California. MGP KPBS News

##########

san diego county is facing a wrongful death claim from the family of a young man who died in a group home in escondido. kpbs reporter kitty alvarado tells us there are also threats of lawsuits if that home is not shut down.

AMANDA SHANE’S SON ISAIAH DIED IN MAY OF A DRUG OVERDOSE IN A SHORT TERM GROUP HOME IN ESCONDIDO CALLED CIRCLE OF FRIENDS.

MY SON HAD JUST TURNED 18 AND HE HAD A LONG LIFE AHEAD OF HIM, A LONG LIFE AHEAD OF HIM BIG BEAUTIFUL HEART

ISAIAH WAS TAKEN THERE AFTER BEING PLACED IN FOSTER CARE BECAUSE OF ADDICTION AND BEHAVIORAL ISSUES.

NOW HIS FAMILY HAS FILED A ONE MILLION DOLLAR WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM AGAINST SAN DIEGO COUNTY, SAYING THEY FAILED TO PROVIDE A BASIC CARE AND SAFE, SUPERVISED ENVIRONMENT.

SHANE HARRIS, THE PRESIDENT OF THE PEOPLE’S ASSOCIATION OF JUSTICE ADVOCATES SAYS THE HOME HAS A HISTORY OF COMPLAINTS THAT INCLUDE SEXUAL ABUSE.

They need to close it down now. It is demonstrated they don’t have the leadership to take care of these kids

WE REACHED OUT TO CIRCLE OF FRIENDS AND THE COUNTY … WE HAVE NOT HEARD BACK FROM THE HOME AND THE COUNTY SAYS THEY CANNOT COMMENT ON PENDING LITIGATION. KITTY ALVARADO, KPBS NEWS.

##########

Earlier in the podcast we heard how racially discriminatory covenants have restricted who can live where in San Diego -- resulting in many communities in north county more affluent than those south of the 8. And that also has an impact on parks and recreation.

Recreation centers in the northern neighborhoods of San Diego are significantly better off than those in the city’s southern neighborhoods. KPBS Speak City Heights reporter Jacob Aere looks at what those disparities mean for people living in different parts of the city.

Henry Baisden has coached free tennis lessons at Colina Del Sol Recreation Center in City Heights since the 2000s. He’s noticed a decline in the upkeep of the space.

“I do more maintenance around here over the years than … actually the area manager sometimes he comes and requests me if there’s a net that needs to be put up and they don't have the staff to do it. I put the nets up, I clean the courts after every class.”

A new city audit finds recreation centers in San Diego’s northern neighborhoods get more funding, host more activities and attract more participants than rec centers in the southern part of the city.

City Auditor Andy Hanau says the largest disparities are coming from contracted programs, which program participants pay for out of pocket.

JA KPBS News.

##########

Coming up.... broadway san diego returned to live performances last night with the touring company of hairspray…

WHAT GIVES A GIRL POWER AND PUNCH, IS IT CHARM, IS IT BOYS, NO IT'S HAIRSPRAY...

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

Audiences enjoyed a live performance last night with the return of Broadway San Diego and their touring production of Hairspray.

KPBS arts reporter beth accomando looks back to hairspray’s roots as a 19-88 indie hit from john waters and explores its continued success on stage with jack o’brien…

The fact that films made by The Sultan of Sleaze, The Prince of Puke and The King of Schlock can now be found under “family” entertainment is an irony that must delight John Waters.

Waters shocked audiences in 1972 with “Pink Flamingos,” an all out satiric assault on the middle class values he saw as oppressive and hypocritical. The no-budget indie film, set in his hometown of Baltimore, starred Divine, a 300-pound drag queen, as Babs who boasted being the filthiest person alive.

CLIP Pink Flamingos: “Filth are my politics, filth is my life…”

The film lobbed a bomb in the cultural war of the early '70s. What made Waters unique was the joyous delight he took in his trashy obscenity. He loved to shock audiences but by embracing Hollywood trappings such as a stable of stars, straightforward narrative plots, and a focus on just being entertaining, he eventually found mainstream success with “Hairspray” in 1988.

CLIP Trailer: “It’s Madison time… Baltimore 1962, the heyday of hair does and hair don’ts… we shall overcome someday… not with that hair.

The film marked a major crossover success for Waters and it eventually inspired a musical in 2002.

CLIP It’s Hairspray…

Jack O’Brien, former artistic director of The Old Globe Theatre, is helming the touring musical. He notes that staging a play about race relations set in the 1960s did give him pause considering the current state of social unrest.

JACK O'BRIEN I think it was with a certain amount of trepidation that we all looked at this piece in today's market with hypersensitivity in terms of role playing and tropes and what you're allowed to say and what you're not allowed to say. And we found basically that it was just fine as it is, in fact, it’s a very accurate historical representation of what was going on in 1962, from which we can then see how we got here.

It's a time capsule that looks at how a segregated rock and roll show leads to a group of teenagers pushing for change.

CLIP Segregation never, integration now...

JACK O'BRIEN You see the naivete. You see the sweetness. You see the innocence of these kids who do not quite understand why they shouldn't be allowed to dance together. And you see this little girl who has a dream be fueled by the imagination and talent of the black kids and given enough of her own spark of divine fire to be able to make her dream come true. It couldn't be more contemporary in that respect.

Rebelling against authority or the status quo is at the heart of all John Waters’ films. He also challenged traditional images of beauty, which is why he cast the late Divine as Edna Turnblad in “Hairspray,” and gave us a character who didn’t feel she or her daughter had to conform to any conventional notions how they should look. As O’Brien says Divine left big shoes and a big bra to fill. And he found the right performer in Andrew Levitt, one of the stars of Ru Paul’s Drag Race.

JACK O'BRIEN I think that Andrew as Nina West, although he's not playing Nina West in Hairspray. I beg you to understand this is not a special guest appearance by Nina West camping it up in Hairspray. One of the interesting things in working with Andrew on this that Jerry and I and Matt Lanz and all of us have tried to explain, is it doesn't matter if you're a man or a woman, that reality of being a parent, an insecure parent does not have to do necessarily with gender. It has to do with the heart.

You can enjoy big hearts and big hair at the Civic Theater as the touring company of Hairspray takes the stage for Broadway San Diego’s first live show in 20 months.

Beth Accomando, KPBS News.

hairspray runs through november 21st. for more information you can go to broadway-s-d-dot-com.

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.

Buried in the deeds of homes and subdivisions across San Diego County are racially restrictive covenants that serve as stark reminders of the region’s racist past. Meanwhile, Parents are suing the California Department of Education to allow distance learning to support their medically fragile children. Plus, Broadway San Diego returned to live performances last night with a production of Hairspray.