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SDG&E's new political action committee gets backlash

 February 14, 2024 at 5:00 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Wednesday, February 14th.


A group hoping to replace S-D-G-AND-E with a municipal utility is speaking out about a new political action committee. More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


There’s some relief for San Diegans who are still trying to bounce back from last month’s floods.

The city will waive fees for demolition, recycling, building permits and other recovery efforts.

It will also make some reconstruction permits a high priority for review and approval.

The fee waiver is expected to save San Diegans more than 2-point-4-million-dollars in total.


A new report, out this week, says the sewage contamination of waters at the Mexican border is not only affecting ocean water, but also the county’s air.

Researchers at SD-SU reviewed dozens of studies, finding that more than 100-billion gallons of untreated sewage and urban runoff spilled into the Tijuana Estuary and the Pacific Ocean over five years.

They also found 392 contaminants getting into the soil and ocean spray that goes into the air

Paula Stigler Granados is the lead author of the SD-SU report.

“Criteria for calling this a public health crisis really sets upon this idea that there is an exposure risk because of the vast amount of contamination that is is elevating the risk.”

The report will be used to encourage congress to allocate money towards restoring and expanding the south bay sewage treatment facility on the U-S side.


The county’s inflation rate dropped to its lowest level in three years last month.

The U-S Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index released this week, shows prices were up nearly 4-percent so far this year, which is down compared to November, when the rate was more than 5-percent.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the main reason the rate dropped in the county was because electricity prices were down.

Other factors include lower used car and clothing costs.


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


The group trying to replace San Diego Gas and Electric with a municipal utility spoke out yesterday (Tuesday).

Environment reporter Erik Anderson says Power San Diego doesn’t appreciate S-D-G-&-E’s moves to stop their ballot initiative.

Advocates hoping to buy out San Diego Gas and Electric’s city operations are taking swipes at the utility’s recently created political action committee.  The Responsible Energy San Diego PAC was formed in December, and its 300-thousand dollars worth of funding all comes from the utility.  Power San Diego officials say the PAC’s top officers are key SDG&E employees. Bill Powers, PowerSD “I guess in some ways its SDG&E recognizes the potential seriousness of this campaign.  That they would form a completely SDG&E funded PAC.  That has one purpose, which is to oppose our ballot initiative.” Opponents say it doesn’t make sense to move forward without knowing all the costs.  And they oppose a government takeover of the utility grid, arguing that the city already has too many other issues that need attention. Erik Anderson KPBS News.


We’re continuing to bring you information on some of the local races on the primary ballot.

Today, San Diego City Council District’s one, five and seven.

Where reporter John Carroll says something very unusual is happening–

The three incumbents are all running unopposed.  

There were challengers for Joe LaCava in District One and Marni von Wilpert in District Five — but no one got enough signatures to get on the ballot. .  Why unopposed?  LaCava pointed to his support for two big issues that’ve faced the council over the last year. “The encampment ordinance.  A bit controversial but I saw that as an important driver for the city to step up to create the emergency shelters, the safe parking, and the safe camping.” LaCava also cited his work to bring back smart streetlights. Von Wilpert says she and her staff have done a good job responding to constituents… and she considers her work on a ban on ghost guns as key. Now, to buy weapon parts in the city of San Diego, the lowers, the frames, the slides, the trigger banks, you need to have serialized gun parts so that you have to pass a background check to buy the unassembled parts of a weapon.” No one stepped up to challenge Raul Campillo in District Seven. He says it’s because he and his staff are deeply engaged with his constituents. “We show up to every community council group, every planning group, meeting, and have lots of public events where we're out handling issues in the public.” As long as the three incumbents all get at least one vote in the March 5th primary, they’ll be re-elected.  JC, KPBS News.


San Diego's underwater kelp forests are a natural wonder that are under the threat of climate change.

That wonderful and troubling story is being told at the Birch Aquarium in a new exhibit called Hold Fast.

Sci-tech reporter Thomas Fudge went there, and has this story.

It’s Saturday afternoon and the Birch Aquarium is swimming with families. There are a lot of kids in the Hold Fast exhibit about kelp forests. They’re running through a display of 17 kelp plants that are printed on silk sheets that hang from the ceiling to the floor. “What should I say about this area? Do we like this area?” San Diego dad and high school science teacher Andrew Corman asks his two kids about the kelp forest, as they dart through and around the sheets and lounge on the colorful added ottoman chairs. He called it a great exhibit. “It emulates what the kelp is. It kinda shows exactly how they flow with the water. They’ve got areas where they can sit and relax just like aquatic animals would in the kelp forest.” “It’s been wonderful to just kinda sit and watch kids explore this area.” Oriana Poindexter is a photography artist and marine scientist who created the kelp forest where the kids frolic. “They know exactly what to do. They dive right in. They kinda run straight for the center and enjoy interacting with the silk. Touching them looking up.” Poindexter also helped curate the exhibit, Hold Fast. It’s a reference to the part of Kelp that anchors the plant, grabbing onto rocks at the sea bottom as the plant grows and reaches for the surface and the sunlight. Pointdexter often dives in the forests off the San Diego coast, and she’s seen some of the devastation that marine heat waves have done to local kelp. Megan Dickerson, the director of exhibits at Birch Aquarium, says Hold Fast has some of that sadness. But it also showcases nature’s beauty and the art it inspires. And that gives her hope. “I think maybe I can do a beautiful thing. And those beautiful things add up to something that’s beyond hope and it becomes reality. We’re writing ourselves a new future.” Poindexter’s kelp prints, hanging from the ceiling or mounted on the wall, are done with cyanotyping. It’s a chemical process that predated photography, where you coat plants with iron salts, apply them to paper left in the sun so they leave a realistic, life-sized print. Another artist featured in the exhibit is  Dwight Hwang. He does something similar, where he coats sea creatures in soot-based ink and presses them onto paper. “So when Oriana prints a segment of Kelp that she’s harvested or when Dwight Hwang prints an animal that has washed up on shore, they are creating a one-to-one print of that thing. And conceptually this exhibit is about remembering things that we don’t see.” A kelp forest is a habitat and a nursery, says Mohammad Sedarat. He’s a PhD student at Scripps Institution of Oceanography who studies kelp. His work is also featured in Hold Fast. He says marine heat waves and slowly rising sea temperatures in just the last ten years have had a very negative effect, reducing the footprint of local kelp forests dramatically. He says heat waves are getting more common and, recently, the kelp has not been fully recovering. “LIke what we had in 2013 through 2016 we had a crazy El Nino warm waters. Temperatures spiked. We lost kelp and that kinda when that huge signal of abundant kelp in 2013, disappeared. We’ve had some small recoveries since then but it just can’t stick on.” Sederat says summer water temperatures of 80 degrees or higher are a kind of red line that most varieties of giant kelp can’t survive in. In the lab, he is trying to identify natural kelp or hybrids that can tolerate warmer temperatures. We can hope that natural diversity and evolution will favor those existing plants, and they will take over. But when it comes to planting more heat-tolerant varieties in the wild… marine scientists don’t wanna go there. Not yet. “Artificial selection is the bigger topic right now. We’re not ready to put out kelp that’s been naturally selected or even modified yet. It’s still about preserving the status quo.” And the status quo is still out there, though less than it was. Pointdexter talks about diving in the kelp and the amazing way it catches the sunlight. And yes, it is home to lots of fish. “Some of my favorite creatures to see are the tope sharks, that kinda cruise through there. The seven gill sharks. There are the sheephead that are kinda obnoxious. They really get up in yer face when yer free diving they don’t seem to have a lot of fear.” Hold Fast, the kelp exhibit at the Birch Aquarium will be on display until September of this year. SOQ. 


Love is in the air… and sprouting in North County.

While many flowers sold this holiday are imported… reporter Jacob Aere says it’s also a big day for locally grown flowers… and an even greater sea of color is just around the corner.

Valentine’s Day is one of the biggest holidays for cut flower sales … and a few local companies are growing and selling their assortment of flowers across the region, and beyond. Mellano & Company CEO Michael Mellano talked to us while standing in a field of delphiniums – grown in far east Oceanside. “It's one of our core crops that we produce in the months of January through about Mother’s Day … And this particular field is one we have set up to come in time for Valentine's Day.” His organization grows a wide variety of filler-type flowers and foliages … and is responsible for the sea of color springing  from the Carlsbad Flower fields each year. The official flower fields season kicks off on March 1 for people to come and enjoy the rainbow of ranunculus in Carlsbad. Jacob Aere, KPBS News.


There's no love in business... as the saying goes.

But a couple in Golden Hill thinks there should be.

On this Valentine's Day... reporter Katerina Portela brings us this story of a couple who started a coffee shop together.

Welcome to the Coffee Drop! Your first time right? The Coffee Drop is a small peach and white cafe nestled on a street corner in Golden Hill. When you walk in, you’re guaranteed to meet Evan and Marissa, the owners, only employees, and the couple behind the cafe. Marissa He just one day asked me out for coffee, and that was it. We just started hanging out from there. Marissa and Evan Lourenco met in college and always had a vision: the two of them, making coffee together in their very own shop. Evan Every single day, making it together, kind of a wild adventure. We had never actually worked together. We just started this thing. It was a dream we always had, actually, from even before we got married. Now, they have their own shop. But when they started, The Coffee Drop was a teardrop shaped trailer, and they rode around their local neighborhood asking friends and neighbors if they wanted a cup of coffee. The community response was surprising for the both of them. Evan We didn't do any marketing. We just showed up one day, and people just stopped and kept coming. Within three days of our business, we already had people coming every single day, and we're like, well, I guess this is the business that the neighborhood likes as well. Marissa I didn't expect, when we initially started the trailer, how great it was received. So I guess I'm really happy that we've progressed and we're able to have a shop now, and the community supports us, and it's just been fun. It's been tiring, but fun. More fun than tiring. Soon, they were able to grow from the trailer to their own cafe. Because while they had some great memories with their trailer, there were some challenges too. Evan There was a time when they were saying, like, tornadoes were passing through Southern California. Our tent was, like, getting blown away from over us. We're over here and we're like, do you want a hot or iced latte! They say that a big part of what keeps them successful is staying lighthearted. Apart from the shop, they can be found walking their terrier mix Milo, or exploring other coffee spots. Evan says that contrary to popular belief, owning your own coffee shop doesn’t mean you stop trying other places. Another part of their success is collaboration. Marissa I think as a couple, it definitely has made us stronger and has redefined the bond of working together. Because there are certain things I want a certain way, certain things he wants a certain way. But then we will meet in the middle because it's both of us. Now the Coffee Drop brings in steady customers, who Evan and Marissa call their friends, and newcomers too. They aim to eventually hire some employees, so they could finally take a vacation. Until then, it’s just the two of them getting up every morning to serve up a hot cup of joe. Evan We're building it together. There's something really moving and very profound about that. We have created something from nothing together. And we joke, we don't have any children, but we joke, like The Coffee Drop is definitely our baby. This is something that we have started from nothing, and we built it, and it has grown to be where it is right now. And we're so grateful for it. Their advice to other couples looking to start their own business? Just take the leap. Evan I would say to any aspiring business owner, is that the best time to do it is now, and that you're never going to be prepared enough for it. You just kind of got to take the leap one day. For KPBS, I’m Katerina Portela.


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. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great Valentine’s Day.

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The group trying to replace San Diego Gas and Electric with a municipal utility spoke out Tuesday. Power San Diego says they don’t appreciate SDG&E’s moves to stop their ballot initiative. In other news, San Diego's underwater kelp forests are a natural wonder that are under threat from climate change. That wonderful and troubling story is being told at the Birch Aquarium in a new exhibit called Hold Fast. Plus, love is in the air and sprouting in North County. While many flowers sold this holiday are imported, it’s also a big day for locally grown flowers, and an even greater sea of color is just around the corner.