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SDPD community oversight on pause

 May 16, 2023 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Tuesday, May 16th.

Why community oversight of San Diego police has stopped in recent months. More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


Former chairman of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors Nathan Fletcher officially resigned yesterday.

Fletcher announced his resignation in late March after being accused in a civil lawsuit of sexual harassment, stalking and sexual assault.

Yesterday, Fletcher sent a letter to his constituents saying he takes responsibility for his mistake of a sexual relationship outside of his marriage.

But he denied the allegations made in the lawsuit filed by a former employee of M-T-S.

His former colleague, supervisor Jim Desmond reacted to the resignation.

“It was nice to see the apology, but he's costing the county $5 million in a new general election that we have to go through. so i'm just happy to hopefully get this behind us. we can move on with the governance of the county.”

A special election to fill Fletcher's seat will be held on August 15th.


The San Diego Blues Festival will not be returning to the Embarcadero this year.

The fundraiser concert is being canceled after running for more than a decade.

The event benefited the Jacobs and Cushman San Diego Food Bank and its North County Food Bank chapter.

The food bank’s C-E-O said inflation, supply-chain challenges and higher overhead costs for the event are part of why the event is being scrapped.

Over the last 12 years, it raised more than one-million-dollars and about 21 tons of food for the food bank.


Warm weather is expected in San Diego County early this week.

But, the National Weather Service says the skies will be cloudy at times– feeling like “May Gray.”

Temps will be in the 70s today… and are expected to hit up to 12 degrees higher than average this time of year in some parts of the county.


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


It's been two-and-a-half years since San Diego voters demanded more powerful community oversight of police.

But investigative reporter Scott Rodd found the city has less community oversight of S-D-P-D now, than it did when voters went to the polls.

A warning that this story contains audio from police body camera footage that some listeners may find disturbing.

In the summer of 2020…San Diego police officers conducted a welfare check at an apartment on 4th Avenue. In body camera footage, you can see officers enter the apartment…two children are sitting on a couch…when a man walks out of the bedroom. Police shout instructions…the man keeps walking…and then an officer fires a taser. Using their tasers, the officers shocked the man a few more times before putting him in handcuffs. Police made no arrests that night. However…the man who was tased filed a complaint against the officers for excessive force. SDPD conducted an internal investigation and cleared the officers. But San Diego’s police oversight commission … which is made up of community volunteers … disagreed. It found the use of force was excessive. The commission shared its conclusions with the department…SDPD then had the option to incorporate that feedback before closing its internal investigation. At the most basic level, that’s how San Diego’s police oversight commission is supposed to work. But right now… STJULIAN-1: They are really not functioning—at all. Andrea St. Julian is an attorney and co-chair of San Diegans for Justice. She also authored Measure B…the 2020 ballot measure that called for stronger police oversight in San Diego. It passed with 75% of the vote. The measure requires the City Council to create a stronger community watchdog over the police… with the power to launch its own investigations and subpoena witnesses. But that hasn’t happened yet. STJULIAN-2: It is a travesty that the City Council has worked in such a way that instead of creating a more robust oversight mechanism for the city and for the police department they have basically destroyed it at this point. There are 25 commissioner spots…and currently fewer than half are filled. The City Council could have filled those vacancies, but chose not to…as burnout contributed to a wave of resignations in recent years. Patrick Anderson served on the commission until last year. ANDERSON-1: “I was very quickly spending 20 to 30 hours a week just on commission work. It was essentially a second job.” The dwindling number of commissioners couldn’t keep up with the workload. There’s now a backlog of more than 150 cases…and it will only continue to grow. That’s because the commission recently announced it would stop holding meetings and pause its review of cases. Not only that…but KPBS found SDPD has closed dozens of cases of alleged police misconduct without the commission’s input…simply because too much time has passed. They include more serious allegations…such as excessive force, discrimination and unlawful arrest. ANDERSON-2: “We can't guarantee somebody who's being pulled over right now that their complaint is going to be heard and given a fair shake by this commission. That's a tragedy. And it's a political disaster, frankly.” It’s up to the City Council to act. It needs to appoint a slate of new commissioners before oversight of the police department can restart. Those commissioners will need to go through intensive training…and eventually develop rules for how the commission will conduct its own independent investigations. Needless to say, the powerful watchdog envisioned by Measure B is still a ways off. Just how far off? CASE-1: “I would say…18 months to two years.” Doug Case is acting chair of the commission. “Because I've learned how things move slowly in the city.” KPBS sent multiple interview requests to Councilmember Monica Montgomery Steppe … the council’s most vocal supporter of Measure B. She declined.. In a written statement, Montgomery Steppe said she’s proud of her work on the issue. Council President Sean Elo-Rivera also declined multiple interview requests. His office promised KPBS a statement, but instead sent out a news release to all local media saying the council will begin appointing new commissioners later this month. SOC.


The city of Vista took a step in curbing homelessness yesterday.

The city broke ground on an affordable housing community for senior citizens.

North County reporter Alexander Nguyen was there, and brings us this story.

In about a year  … this pile of dirt (nat shovel into dirt) will turn into a 54-unit permanent supportive housing for people 62 years and older … who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of being homeless. dubbed the santa fe senior village … it will be fully furnished and 100 percent affordable. “so we're not building facilities for people from other places in the county. we have the need right here in vista.” john franklin is the mayor of vista. he said his grandmother lived in hud-subsidized housing and he saw firsthand what it meant to her not having to worry about missing rent. john franklin vista mayor “so i am very proud to have played a very small role in supporting this project. and we will continue to prioritize building direct subsidized housing for seniors so that they can have a dignified quality of life.” the project is expected to be completed by summer 20-24. residents will receive vouchers from the county to cover part of their rent and no one will be paying more than 30% of their income toward rent. an/kpbs.


San Diego is one of the top cities in the country for multi-generational households.

More than 10-percent of people live with three or more generations under the same roof, and each home is different.

Our newsroom will be exploring how in a new series.

Reporter Katie Hyson has more.

Frank Spevacek & Kathleen Rosenow Grandparents We hang out with people that are from 26 to 75 and everything mixes. So that's a big surprise. Vanessa Forsythe Grandmother It’s sometimes a little bit difficult because this is not where we thought we would be at this age. Liliana Vega Mother “I’d rather she’s here with us and we take care of her as best as we can and do what we can for her.” Jill Riggs Mother You definitely have to get over things very quickly and have an open relationship with the ones you love. Frank Spevacek & Kathleen Rosenow Grandparents There’s never a feeling of loneliness. Multigenerational living is the norm in many cultures. But there’s another reason likely driving the trend in San Diego. It's just too expensive to be here. Ricardo Flores is the director of a local nonprofit for affordable housing. Ricardo Flores Director Local Initiative Support Corporation FLORES cont. And if your family is from San Diego, sure, you could pick up and move to Arizona or somewhere else, but this is your network. This is where home is. He says it’s one thing if the home has enough space and privacy for multiple generations. But in many cases, that’s not what he sees. People convert garages, legal or illegal, to be able to house people. As a kid, you don't think much of it, but then as you get older, you're like, wait a minute, that's the garage. That's crazy! They're living in the garage! Garages, living rooms, multiple people to one bedroom, Flores sees all sorts of living arrangements. He says the lack of affordable housing in San Diego is creating tenement-like living conditions. I've been in places in City Heights where I've opened the door and I could just tell there were so many people. It was so hot… like, what the hell is happening here? He says those kinds of conditions also lead to higher stress and lack of sleep. That's just not a productive way to live. It's not getting the best out of our people. He sees lack of housing space as primarily a zoning issue. More than three quarters of residential housing in San Diego is zoned for single families. But when multigenerational households share enough space, there are tremendous benefits. That’s according to Juan Pablo Pardo-Guerra, a sociologist with UC San Diego. Juan Pablo Pardo-Guerra UCSD Sociologist Because it creates all these connections, these additional connections with surrounding communities and also with other members of the family. It tends to lead to better outcomes. Better life outcomes, he says, like higher rates of college attendance and more social mobility. It allows families to share childcare and finances and build more capital. Resources we get from having good neighbors, having friends nearby that we can rely on. In the coming weeks, we’ll tell you stories from all ends of the spectrum. People who live together by necessity Alicia Tembi Mother “We also could keep an eye on them as they aged and maybe had different needs arise which inevitably happens.” and by choice Frank Spevacek & Kathleen Rosenow Grandparents I just think this is quite a luxury to be able to live like this. in tight quarters CG Liliana Vega Mother “There has to be a lot of patience and it’s going to be hard but the focus is the parent.” and on sprawling properties Jill Riggs Mother Well, we do live on twelve acres, so there is a lot of space, luckily. with their cultural norms CG  Ricardo Islas Father “I think it’s just the way we grew up. Whether it would be my parents or her mom. When it came time to take care of a family member…just take care of them as long as you can.” and against them. Where our parents lived far away from where we'd lived, and so that was seemed to be the norm . . and now we’re all on top of each other here. But they all have one thing in common – they’re making it work. It's working out. Yeah. (Mhm.) CG Ludivina Vega Grandmother “It’s fun, it feels good in your heart to be close to your relatives.” This series will explore how. Katie Hyson, KPBS News.


Coming up.... A goal for students in the state to be bilingual may be leaving some students behind. We’ll have that story, just after the break.


California wants the majority of its students to be bilingual within the next two decades.

But inewsource reporter Andrea Figueroa Briseño found English learners may be getting left behind.

Research shows that even though English learners do best in a dual-language program, less than a tenth of them are enrolled in one state-wide. Many of these programs across the U.S. have seen a drop in their English learner enrollment … and some have even seen more white students. Experts say the initiative known as Global California Twenty-Thirty needs more investments, including money and bilingual teachers. Here’s The Century Foundation’s senior fellow Conor Williams. WILLIAMS: “You need an equity mindset where the kids who will benefit most need to be the ones who get priority.” The state says it’s still encouraged by its progress. For KPBS, I’m inewsource reporter Andrea Figueroa Briseño.

TAG: inewsource is an independently funded, nonprofit partner of KPBS.


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 more local stories, plus, we’ll hear part two of our series on multigenerational households. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great Tuesday.

Ways To Subscribe
It's been two-and-a-half years since San Diego voters demanded more community oversight of police, and the city has less community oversight of SDPD now, than it did when voters went to the polls. In other news, San Diego is one of the top cities in the country for multi-generational households, and more than 10 percent of people live with three or more generations under the same roof, and each home is different. Plus, California wants the majority of its students to be bilingual within the next two decades, but some English learners may be getting left behind.