SDG&E bills expected to lower in February
Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Wednesday, February first.
S-D-G-AND-E customers can soon expect some relief from high utility bills. More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….
President Joe Biden this week announced he will end the COVID-19 national public health emergencies on May 11th.
The declaration of the public health emergency was put in place three years ago by former president, Donald Trump.
Some things that will change once the COVID emergencies end… there will be less federal COVID relief money and at-home tests won’t be free anymore.
But, vaccines will still be free.
In San Diego County, the COVID-19 emergency declaration is set to end at the end of this month.
New County Board of Supervisor’s Chairwoman Nora Vargas will give her first State of the County Address today.
She was elected Chairwoman last month.
She will be giving the address at the San Diego County Administration Center.
The live broadcast of the event starts at six.
You can watch it at k-p-b-s-dot-org.
This month, the Port of San Diego will be making improvements to the recreational field at Cesar Chavez Park in Barrio Logan.
The project is estimated to cost more than 600-thousand-dollars.
It includes removing 90-thousand square feet of existing grass turf and replacing it with new turf, drainage improvements and more.
The park will be open during the project, but the field is expected to be closed through August.
From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need.
S-D-G-AND-E customers can expect some relief soon from last month’s unprecedented natural gas prices.
KPBS Environment reporter Erik Anderson has details.
The San Diego investor-owned utility says natural gas prices are down sharply from record high prices in January. A typical customer who paid more $225 dollars for natural gas in January can expect to pay $110 dollars in February. San Diego Gas and Electric’s Anthony Wagner says the cost of natural gas fell significantly.“We saw a unprecedented, historic spike in the gas commodity. Customers at San Diego Gas and Electric were paying three dollars and 45 cents for the commodity. That has dropped in February to a dollar 11.” Many customers are just now opening their January bills which are often more than double what they paid for similar usage a year ago. Wagner says the utility stands ready to help customers who may have trouble paying high bills. Erik Anderson KPBS News.
The decrease in natural gas prices will most likely lower your SDG&E bill this month.
We spoke to KPBS web producer Lara Mccaffrey about ways to further lower your bill. Here’s that interview:
Talk to me about the best ways to keep our homes warm without breaking the bank.
And of course, we all know to turn off the lights. I’ve also heard you should unplug things when you're not using them. Is that for everything? I mean should I unplug my air fryer or blow dryer when I’m not using them?
So, let’s talk about how to save on the energy it takes to have warm or hot water…
And if you want to spend money to save money, what are some things listeners should consider investing in?
SDG&E customers also have different options in terms of payment plans, tell me about those.
I’m curious, what tips have you tried and have you noticed a difference?
Lara, thank you for all the tips and for joining us on the San Diego News Now podcast! Hope to have you back again. Thanks, Debbie.
A San Diego County contractor has been ordered to hire back some janitors who were trying to unionize.
KPBS reporter Kitty Alvarado says the county found the company violated labor laws.
Sofia Martinez says she feels vindicated after being rehired by county contractor NOVA with back pay after being fired and out of a job for over two weeks … Si ya empecé a trabajar y el viernes me van a pagar todo el sueldo que me deben I already started working and they’re going to pay me the money they owe me on Friday said Martinez The San Diego County Office of Labor Standards & Enforcement found NOVA violated labor laws and retaliated against her and several janitorial workers for trying to unionize. Martinez says the fight continues to create a union for better treatment, better pay and more than anything – respect. Nova’s executive operations manager, Eleanor Anglin, says the company is very excited to have the workers back. And will continue to support and hear their concerns. KA KPBS NEWS.
Coming up.... San Diego is in desperate need of more workforce housing, to keep essential workers in the region. We’ll have that story and more, next, just after the break.
When you look at the region’s housing market… you can find a lot of luxury housing… and a growing share of low-income units.
But for people in the middle, it’s getting harder to buy or rent.
KPBS reporter Jacob Aere looks at the effort to build more workforce housing.
While San Diego rents and home prices are starting to come down … Zillow says this is currently the 5th least affordable region in the nation when it comes to buying … and 7th least affordable for renting compared to average income. That’s bringing things to a boiling point for many middle-income workers …Kisha Borden California Teachers Association Director “Many feel like they may not ever be able to afford a home in San Diego in the communities where they work.” Kisha Borden is a director at the California Teachers Association. The union leader represents educators across San Diego and Imperial Counties. She says the lack of affordable housing is contributing to a teacher shortage. Kisha Borden California Teachers Association Director “We're also seeing our families having to move as well. So we're seeing a decline in enrollment because families simply can't afford to live here.” So some local school districts are taking matters into their own hands … by building more affordable homes on their land. Kisha Borden California Teachers Association Director “And if our school districts are able to provide some of that housing for their employees, I think all the better. So hopefully if this is something that can spread to other districts, San Diego Unified was able to pass a bond in order to build housing.” Muhammad Alameldin Terner Center for Workforce Housing “There's a point in everybody's life where they'd like to be a homeowner.” Muhammad Alameldin is a policy associate at UC Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation. He says moderate income workers – like teachers – make up a significant portion of the population statewide, and they're having trouble affording to live where they work. Muhammad Alameldin Terner Center for Workforce Housing “Number one rents are too high and this is what's leading to people leaving the state and number two homeownership is inaccessible.” Alameldin says zoning is part of the issue. He says 70% of urban land in California is zoned for single-family housing, which makes the cost of living pricey. That's where workforce housing comes into play. Muhammad Alameldin Terner Center for Workforce Housing “And it would be placed in a way where its duplexes and triplexes or cottage clusters – basically a bunch of housing units surrounded around a court.” He says the smaller floor plans and denser construction in multi-family housing are what make renting and buying more affordable. And middle-income housing doesn't all have to be new construction. Sean Rawson Co-founder Waterford Property Company “We could essentially take market rate multifamily housing projects and convert them to Middle income projects.” Sean Rawson is co-founder of Waterford Property Company … which converts current properties through a combination of bonds and property tax exemptions. Rawson says the exemptions have caused some controversy over lost revenue for cities… but that the program works.Waterford has such a project underway with hundreds of units in Escondido.Sean Rawson Co-founder Waterford Property Company “We've lowered rents 18% across the board from where they were. What that translates into is that we have now about $800 a month monthly savings to our tenants.” The city of San Diego is offering incentives to build middle income housing… but very few developers are taking them up on it. In 20-21 they only built 19 middle income units. Todd Gloria Mayor of San Diego “While we have produced thousands of low income units, we've produced tens of thousands of luxury units. We've really provided just a couple dozen middle-income units and that's the main challenge.” San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria says he established a middle-income housing working group in 2021, and they’ve helped create upcoming policy change. He says some workforce housing is starting to be built now. Todd Gloria Mayor of San Diego “Well increasingly what we're talking about are sizable units in multi-family developments near transit and jobs – that is a difference for us. But without those kinds of units, we will never be able to solve this problem.” Muhammad Alameldin Terner Center for Workforce Housing “The housing crisis has been solved in the United States before after World War Two and has been solved in multiple other countries.... We don't reinvent the wheel, but we look at what works and we replicate it.” Gloria will bring his second Housing Action Package to the City Council in the coming weeks… with more incentives to build middle-income housing. JA KPBS News.
The spring semester brings a new opportunity for a four-year bachelor’s degree at San Diego City College, for the first time in the school’s history.
KPBS Education reporter M.G. Perez has the details.
The California Community Colleges Board of Governors has authorized the degree in Cyber Security and Analysis. It’s a 4-year program at City College that will teach students how to find a career in the quickly developing industry to protect against cyber attacks. There are cost savings and a real convenience in completing the degree at City College. Melvin Emery transferred from Bakersfield and he’s already making a new plan for graduation. “being able to do everything potentially at a UC or CSU…but at a cheaper cost and also being able to do it alongside students that are thinking the same thing as me.” The 4-year Cyber Security degree will cost a student about 10-thousand dollars to complete. Applications begin this fall. MGP KPBS News.
Today, you will get your best look at a comet discovered by the Palomar Observatory last year, as it passes near the earth.
KPBS Sci-tech reporter Thomas Fudge tells us about a green comet.
Comets are dirty balls of ice that orbit the solar system. As they approach the sun they begin to melt and evaporate into a gas. And that gas makes them visible in the sky. CAMERON “The cloud of gas that surrounds that little snowball, ends up being like thousands of miles across. And the tail that drags behind it is millions of miles in length.” Cameron Hummels is a research scientist at CalTech, which operates the Palomar Observatory in the mountains east of San Diego. He says the discovery of the Green Comet was done with a device called the Zwicky Transient Facility, which is mounted inside of a telescope. It scans the night sky then takes a series of pictures of the same spot. CAMERON “And occasionally you’ll see something moving over the course of those 5 images, and in this case that was the initial discovery of this comet. The last time this comet came this close to the earth was 50 thousand years ago. And if you want to try and see it, Hummels says just after dusk on Wednesday it’ll be in the northern part of the sky, near the north star. SOQ.
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 Wednesday.