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Solar flares over new rules

 December 20, 2021 at 6:54 AM PST

The battle over the cost of solar is flaring up again…, even though regulators have weighed in…

That story coming up…..but first, your local headlines…


A, quote, unprecedented spike in COVID-19 has been found in the wastewater collected at San Diego County's primary wastewater treatment center.

That’s according to the group of UC San Diego School of Medicine researchers who’ve been monitoring and testing our wastewater.

People with COVID-19 shed the virus in their poop even before they experience symptoms…

Which means these wastewater screenings act as an early warning system.

In other words, we can expect a spike in positive COVID cases in coming weeks


Housing not handcuffs…

That’s the message a group of protesters wants to send to San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria on Monday.

Housing advocates are meeting at the San Diego Civic Center Plaza in front of the mayor’s office at 11 a.m. December 20th.

The protest is being organized by the San Diego Emergency Housing Alliance….a grassroots coalition of organizations and individuals who are focused on helping San Diegans experiencing homelessness.

Criminalizing the homeless doesn’t work to solve the problem, they say.


Well…it might be a white Christmas in the mountains, but in the lower parts of San Diego, it could definitely be a rainy one.

The National Weather Service says rain is predicted to arrive over Southern California either late Wednesday or Thursday.

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


California solar supporters are aiming their attention at California’s Governor…

They want him to stop new rules from state regulators that will significantly raise the price of owning or leasing rooftop solar panels.

KPBS Environment Reporter Erik Anderson says the coalition hopes for an intervention before the California Public Utility Commission meets next month.

The solar power backers were shocked last week when California regulators unveiled a plan to restructure how residents get paid for investing thousands of dollars in rooftop solar panels.

00:00:31 – 00:00:35 “yeah, it’s a disaster”

Bernadette Del Chiaro is the executive director of the California Solar and Storage Association. She worries the proposed changes will crush the state’s largest in the nation solar power industry.

00:00:53 – 00:01:01 “It is an anti-solar, and anti-storage, this is an anti-clean energy, anti-solar business. This is the opposite direction California should be going.”

The California Public Utilities Commission proposal slashes the price rooftop solar owners get for electricity they sell back to the grid. The value of electricity produced would be cut by 80 percent, while the retail price of electricity remains unchanged. The 204 page proposal also calls for steep monthly grid connection fees for residents with rooftop solar. A typical San Diego household would pay about 64 dollars a month, and then pay existing retail rates for power they buy after the sun sets.

00:04:09 – 00:04:16 “This outcome is very unfortunate and very much on the side of investor-owned utilities.”

Matt Vasilakis is a member of the San Diego based Climate Action Campaign. He welcomed the help the proposal sets aside for low income residents. There is a fund to help pay for installations and those customers would avoid the steep grid fees. Rules for businesses remain unchanged. Vasilakis says California’s previous Net Energy Metering plans got it right. They allowed the state’s solar industry to exceed expectations for growth. California’s energy office says solar currently generates about 15 percent of the state’s power.

00:06:04 – 00:06:21 “Its very important for us to understand that that subsidy has resulted in over a million rooftop solar installations in our communities. Which is helping us build climate resilient clean energy systems that can withstand ever more frequent climate disasters.”

Utility funded groups like Affordable Solar for All hailed the CPUC ruling saying it doesn’t burden non solar utility customers with the cost of the solar subsidy. San Diego Gas and Electric has remained quiet on the issue. A company spokesman told KPBS they will not comment before the CPUC makes a decision because the issue is too sensitive. (nat pops of Sacto rally)

That is not the case for pro-solar groups who delivered a huge stack of public comments to state officials in Sacramento earlier this month. The Solar Rights Alliance’s Dave Rosenfeld says there is still lobbying to be done because the rules have not yet been finalized.

00:02:19 – 00:02:40 “There’s over 600 nonprofit organizations, and community leaders and elected officials and school districts and entire municipalities that have written letters and passed resolutions and sent that to the CPUC. Again, saying keep rooftop solar growing, don’t penalize anyone for putting solar panels on their rooftops. In this case the CPUC clearly didn’t listen to that.”

The lobbying effort is made tougher because the CPUC is in flux. The regulatory panel has a new president after an unexpected resignation last month, and another member is leaving to join the Environmental Protection Agency. That’s why solar advocates are focusing their lobbying energy on California Governor Gavin Newsom.

00:00:46 – 00:01:01 “even though this is a decision by the CPUC, this is a governor who has said that he is very concerned about rate hikes, about blackouts, about air pollution and climate change and this directly will hamper all of our efforts to address those things.”

The C-P-U-C votes on the rules in Late January. If they pass a measure, it would take effect in May. But with uncertainty about whether the panel will be fully staffed for the vote, regulators could also vote to postpone a decision.

And that story from KPBS environment reporter…Erik Anderson.


California is expanding a state program aimed at creating more housing for people experiencing homelessness.

KQED’s Kate Wolffe reports that the state plans to use eight billion dollars to fund projects that work toward getting unsheltered people housed.

Governor Gavin Newsom started this project called home key a few months into the pandemic.

The idea was to turn hotels and other buildings into housing for people experiencing homelessness.

Now, as part of this expansion of home key, the city of Victorville and Kern county are getting funding. And San Mateo county is getting about $69 million for two new projects, including a navigation center in Redwood city county, supervisor Warren Slocum represents the.

It's really going to mean a change in the way that we deliver homelessness services here in San Mateo county slogan says this navigation center, the county's first we'll have over 200 units and we'll provide wraparound services when it's scheduled to open in just over a year's time.

And when it comes to efforts to get people housed here in San Diego…


If you’ve been downtown recently, you probably already know that the number of PEOPLE LIVING ON THE STREETS has been rising…

EXISTING SHELTERS are straining to meet the growing need…some are NEARING CAPACITY.



An old department store off sports arena boulevard is the city’s newest homeless shelter.. It has 44 beds and is designed to help those with substance abuse or mental health conditions.

09;10;25;05 Nathan Fletcher, San Diego County Supervisor

We’re launching a new category a new program and effort to meet a need that is not presently being met

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher partnered with San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria to make this specialized shelter a reality.

09;24;53;02 Todd Gloria, San Diego Mayor

The conditions on our streets are unacceptable no one here is happy with the conditions and that’s why in the middle of the pandemic we’re here working on creative solutions to get people off our streets

These 44 beds, I want San Diegans to know is just the beginning.

The city is paying for building and operating costs while the county is handling outreach and treatment efforts. Family health centers has been contracted to provide C-hart, or community harm reduction teams. While there is multi-year funding, the shelter is considered temporary as the property is part of the midway redevelopment plan.




Roughly a quarter of the water used in areas serviced by the metropolitan water district of Southern California comes from the Colorado river through the country's largest reservoir lake Mead. But that lake has been severely depleted after years of drought and overuse. It hasn't been full since 1983 water leaders here in, in Nevada and Arizona agreed to reduce their take from the river to avoid more dramatic, mandatory cuts in the.

The agreement called the 500 plus plan was signed on Wednesday at the Colorado river water users association annual meeting in Las Vegas. It requires the states to cut back on enough water to serve up to 1.5 million households. Annually officials are still negotiating exactly how much water each state will contribute for the California report.

So…I just recently discovered Facebook’s marketplace tab…it’s basically like offer up or craigslist…

A site that lets you easily buy or sell a gently used item….

At some point in the online buying and selling process though…

Folks will need to meet up in person…and, sometimes that can present some dangers.

Well… KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne tells us that local police have set up meet up spots to make those transactions safer.

Local police departments have set up safe trading spots for that reason.

Officer Steve Braucht is with the Escondido Police Department.

“Were a very well lit parking lot as well as the security system that we have throughout 360 degree perimeter of our police department provides that extra measure of security for folks who wanna come by and do their exchanges in a safe place.”

Escondido resident Christine Filipovich used the location to sell an iphone and an ipad.

“because those items are both over $100 I didn't feel comfortable just meeting wherever so I met there and there's. cameras and everything, so I felt really safe and secure.

Officer Braucht says police don’t actively monitor the spots all the time, but dispatch is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

And the site has Live video recording in case a transaction goes wrong.

The Escondido spot is in the parking lot by police headquarters on Centre City Parkway. The San Diego Police Department also has several locations.

You can find those at the city’s website.


Coming up.....

The term Latinx is gaining popularity across media outlets.

But while it resonates for some…

others aren’t into it..

That story…

After a quick break.

Midroll 2

Latino, Hispanic, Latinx, Chicano…

There are lots of different ways to express one’s Latinidad…or latin identity…

Race and Equity Reporter Cristina Kim talks with community members about the different ways they identify and how they feel about the term Latinx.


The way people choose to identify is always changing…. especially when it comes to defining Latinidad, or anyone of Latin American descent, here in the United States.

At KPBS we’re now using the term LatinX, which is a non-binary way of saying Latino or Latina... in an effort to be as inclusive as possible.

But we know it’s not definitive and has proved controversial… because how we identify and are identified by others can get, well, personal.

And that’s something UC San Diego Professor Ariana Ruiz, who teaches about Latinidad, knows all too well

[00:03:27] It's the politics of labeling. And with that politics, of course, our conversations around race, sexuality, gender, all of those components come into play. So that is something that, again, it's so personal that it is one that is emotive. It's one that people have strong feelings about and will lead to very lively conversations and debate.

Which is why we asked you, our audience, to share how you identify and your thoughts on the X in LatinX. We got almost 200 reponses… and they showed how deeply many of you are thinking about this many-layered issue. Some like Prizila Vidal, who identifies as nonbinary, embraced the LatinX term five years ago.

[00:02:14] When I first started identifying as my binary boxes, like no is male or female. And for me, I just don't identify a smaller female. I feel like it’s very gender neutral. And so the whole term Latin kind of feels like that. But it also feels like it's his own movement and it's own community. [00:02:32][18.5]

Others like Rodrigo Tapia of Chula Vista, prefer terms like Hispanic or Latino because they connect him with his roots as a Spanish speaker. He understands the need to be inclusive but thinks LatinX erases his connection with Spanish, which he grew up speaking.

[00:06:59] It is a little bit of whitewashing insofar as the language is concerned, you know, because, again, to me, Latino or Latino or even Latin X means that you're identifying with a culture that holds Spanish in a special place within within our community,. [00:07:17][18.0]

Another Chula Vistan, Michael Inzuzna also doesn’t use the X. He prefers the term Chicano -- a political identity label often associated with Mexican Americans that emerged in the 1960s during the civil rights movement.

Like Tapia he thinks LatinX is term imposed by white people.

[00:08:59] I've never heard anyone use it. I've never heard anyone identify with it. And it's just a term I don't know if it's going to stick or not, but it's not from us, just like anything else. It's not from our community. [00:09:12][13.2]

And that’s a big tension point. Where did LatinX even come from? Professor Ruiz says that’s a difficult question.

So there is no one origin story when we're thinking about the use of the X within LatinX or the move from Latin or Latin to Latin X. The X is one that is discussed as coming out of indigenous communities throughout Latin America. It's one that we have seen used within Latin American feminist circles as well. When we're talking about Latin X within the US as it's tied especially to the LGBTQ community.

Because of the lack of clarity about when people started using Latinx, people have their own interpretations and understanding about it.

Alejandra Lucero Canaan identifies as queer, Latinx and Chicanax. And unlike Inzunza and Tapia, doesn’t see Latinx as a colonized label coming from outside the community. She likes using the X because it makes people stop and think about who has been ignored.

Speaker 1: [00:03:34] The ex makes me think of the people that are not often included in these conversations, non binary people, Afro Latinos or Afro Chicanos and people with disabilities. [00:03:45][11.0]

Of course there’s a big difference in how people choose to identify themselves and what happens when large institutions like universities, big companies or media outlets begin to use terms like Latinx… because it can feel like outsiders are telling you who you are.

Professor Ruiz says that as more organizations adopt the X, they should think about why they are making that choice.

[00:07:53] Are you actually doing the work that's related to these questions of sexuality, to these questions of gender? Right. Or is it just that you're using it as a placeholder for Latino, which was doing the same work? [00:08:09][16.3]

But ultimately whether at the personal or larger level, Ruiz says we shouldn’t run away from these conversations…

In the end there’s no single definition or understanding of any of these identity labels but Ruiz says that’s a good thing.

We want to think about it as embracing the tension, really leaning into the messiness that is a term like Latin, like Latino. This question of Latini, that it's not one singular thing, but one that is much more multifaceted and has lots of different histories and experiences tied to it.

And that story from Cristina Kim….KPBS’s race and equity reporter.


That’s our show today. Thanks for lending us your ears. I’ll be back again for Anica tomorrow. Do me a favor and, if you appreciate getting your local news when you want it, where you want it…via this local news podcast, then help us grow by texting two or three of your friends and telling them about us. Thanks!

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Nine solar panels provide all of the electricity to the Waayers' Cuyamaca Woods home. They store reserve power in batteries and have a propane backup generator for multiple cloudy days, Sept. 19, 2014.
Katie Schoolov
Nine solar panels provide all of the electricity to the Waayers' Cuyamaca Woods home. They store reserve power in batteries and have a propane backup generator for multiple cloudy days, Sept. 19, 2014.
The battle over the cost of solar is still going on, even though regulators have weighed in. Plus: a protest to push for housing instead of handcuffs when it comes to the treatment of people experiencing homelessness, how a new homeless shelter is helping those struggling most, a safe meetup place for online buying and selling, what San Diegans think of the term “Latinx” and more of the local and state news you need.