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State bill seeks to turn Hillcrest DMV building into housing

 January 17, 2024 at 5:00 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Wednesday, January 17th.


A bill seeking to redevelop the D-M-V office in Hillcrest with housing is slowly making its way through the state legislature.

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


A new sign on the Ocean Beach Pier says a demolition application has been filed with the City of San Diego.

The pier has been closed since October, and heavy surf late last month caused more damage to the nearly 60-year-old landmark.

Still, nearby residents are surprised to see the posted notice.

Jim Hickey says he understands why the city is doing it.

“It's kind of bittersweet for me because i love enjoy walking the pier, but i'm really happy they're redoing it and that it's going to be redone and everybody can enjoy it for years to come.”

The city says there is no active plan to demolish the pier.

The application is part of the process for an environmental impact study required by California law.


The San Diego County Water Authority is warning residents to be on the lookout for people pretending to be water agency workers.

Fake representatives are allegedly knocking on doors and requesting to enter homes to test water quality or make sales pitches, and in some cases are contacting customers over the phone.

The Water Authority says its agencies are not responsible for water testing or repairs inside private homes.

The agency also wants residents to know, legitimate water utility employees are always in uniform, carry an I-D badge and usually drive a clearly marked vehicle.

Concerns about potential fraud should be reported to a local water agency.


This week’s weather is expected to be calm and clear, before we get more rain closer to the weekend and next week.

The National Weather Service says temperatures this week will be near normal for this time of year.

Temps in the inland areas are expected to be in the mid 60s, by the coast, it’ll be in the low 60s, in the deserts, temps will be in the mid 70s, and in the mountains, it’ll be in the low 50s.


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


A bill making its way through the state legislature seeks to redevelop the D-M-V field office in Hillcrest with affordable housing.

Metro reporter Andrew Bowen says it's been a long time coming.

AB: The Hillcrest DMV is an aging two-story building surrounded by a crumbling surface parking lot. The entire property is about three acres. And all around it, new apartment buildings are breathing life into the neighborhood. Assemblymember Chris Ward authored AB 1635, which would order the DMV to build a new field office with affordable housing on top. He says the neighborhood has been asking for this for decades, but the agency is dragging its feet. DW: You know, I'm just kind of beyond the point of patience right now after 20 years waiting for the state to realize a project in the heart of a revitalizing community. AB: AB 1635 passed its first committee last week. It has to pass the full assembly by the end of the month, followed by consideration in the Senate. Andrew Bowen, KPBS news.


Commuting from North County can be a time consuming task.

A new study by L-L-C-dot-org shows both Escondido and Oceanside residents have some of the earliest commutes in the nation.

Reporter Jacob Aere says a new North County Transit District C-E-O has ambitious plans to make public transportation in the region an effective alternative to driving.

From low ridership to crumbling cliffs to staffing shortages …. the North County transit district is facing a slew of problems. Here’s what some transit riders told us: Arnold Onyemah Regular NCTD Rider “It's pretty nice overall but there are a lot of crazy things that happen often. Like a lot of homeless people taking the transit for free and then they cause commotions around.” Nikita Sharma Transit Rider “If I had an option between a car and public transportation, I would obviously go for a car.” Roger Cuadra Transit Rider “They'll work if you have the time and patience to take them.” That was Arnold Onyemah, Nikita Sharma and Roger Cuadra … we talked to all of them at the Cal State San Marcos Transit Station. These are issues that will be faced by the district's new chief executive officer, Shawn Donaghy. Shawn Donaghy New North County Transit District CEO “Have we expanded to the correct places? Do we have frequent service enough to get someone to the rail line to make some of those connections?” Donaghy has worked in transportation for more than 25 years. Most recently, he was the CEO of C-TRAN in Vancouver, Washington. It was twice named the North American Public Transit System of the Year during his time there. Shawn Donaghy New North County Transit District CEO “A lot of transit agencies suffer from the system they have in place now is the same system they've had in place for 25 or 30 years. And you'll see this shift in population either from cities or growth in outer county.” He plans to draw on his past efforts … to accomplish some lofty goals for a system that includes two rail lines and 32 bus lines throughout the North County. Shawn Donaghy New North County Transit District CEO “Maybe more frequent service on the rail... On the bus side it's definitely things like bus rapid transit or some type of express-type bus in corridors that need it.” Corinna Contreras NCTD Board Member & Vista City Council Member “We don't have the frequency that we need in order to get people to use public transit at a higher level. But once we get that frequency we can continue to grow our ridership.” Vista city councilwoman Corinna Contreras is a member of the transit district board… and a weekly user of the system. She says increasing service is just one challenge. Corinna Contreras NCTD Board Member “I don't want folks in my community to suffer the consequences of a public transit system that they rely on that is not reliable.” It’s a concern shared in other parts of North County too. Bret Schanzenbach Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce “Carlsbad is blessed with a lot of hospitality businesses, and a lot of those folks need reliable public transportation.” Carlsbad’s chamber of commerce president and CEO Bret Schanzenbach says if public transit options were improved … it could help those commuters … and benefit business districts. He says it can sometimes take almost two hours on the bus system to get between North County cities. Bret Schanzenbach Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce “One of the challenges that we face is that first mile, last mile question that a lot of people deal with. So we have great trains going up and down with the coaster – two different stops in Carlsbad specifically. But then getting those folks all the way out to the business park where the biggest employment centers are has been a challenge.” Donaghy has one word for what he sees as the biggest challenge. Shawn Donaghy New North County Transit District CEO “It’s infrastructure. I think we have a very unique opportunity through the current presidential administration that there's more money available now for rail and bus.” He’s got a few projects in mind for that money… Shawn Donaghy New North County Transit District CEO “I think North County specifically there's a lot of opportunity between double tracking of the sprinter and the coaster lines…” That means putting another set of tracks in areas where right now there's only one.… but there’s another issue with the tracks, particularly in Del Mar. Shawn Donaghy New North County Transit District CEO “Obviously the bluffs is an issue where there’s some erosion there.” Donaghy officially starts with North County Transit District on March 1. Jacob Aere, KPBS News.


Grant money is now available for some San Diego homeowners to better protect their homes from earthquakes.

Reporter Melissa Mae explains who qualifies for the grant money and how you can apply.

MM: Thirty years ago, the 6.7 magnitude Northridge Earthquake hit the San Fernando Valley and caused an estimated 20 billion dollars in damage. MM: California Earthquake Authority’s Chief Mitigation Officer Janiele Maffei says a lot was learned from that earthquake. JM “We're going after really the most vulnerable type of seismic weakness in houses and we're utilizing the techniques that we've seen since then work. The retrofitted house really does work.”  MM: The California Residential Mitigation Program established Earthquake Brace and Bolt or EBB to provide grants to help California homeowners pay to retrofit known earthquake weaknesses in single family houses. MM: To qualify for the 2024 EBB, your home must be wood-framed, built before 1980 with a raised foundation. MM: The EBB open registration runs through February 21st. To see if you qualify, go to earthquake-brace-bolt dot com. Melissa Mae KPBS News.


Have you ever wondered about the likelihood of tornadoes passing through town?

How about the history of fleas?

And how big are time and space, really?

Well, N-P-R’s Science Desk correspondent Nell Greenfieldboyce explores these questions and more in her debut book, “Transient and Strange: Notes on the Science of Life.”

It’s a personal essay collection that weaves original science reporting with her insights on childhood, family and marriage.

She joined my colleague Jade Hindmon to talk more about the book.

Here’s that conversation.

I want to start with the title, “Transient and Strange,” which is a phrase you borrowed from a Walt Whitman poem… Can you talk more about that and why you used it for this book?

This is your first book and essay collection. What was it like to combine explanatory science and reporting with your own personal reflections?

Was there anything about the writing process that felt experimental?

In the book, you mention caring for a spider that built a web in your kitchen and writing about it for a blog. I’m curious, how did that moment inspire you to want to write more about your personal experiences?

You’ve reported on science and technology for decades. But through the book, you’re often viewing science through your children’s eyes… You mentioned their fear of tornadoes, for example. When you hear them reflect on the world around them, does that affect how you approach your reporting now?

What do you hope people take away from your book?

TAG: That was N-P-R’s Science Desk correspondent and author of “Transient and Strange: Notes on the Science of Life,” Nell Greenfieldboyce, speaking with KPBS Midday Edition host, Jade Hindmon.


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 Wednesday.

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A bill making its way through the state legislature seeks to redevelop the DMV field office in Hillcrest with affordable housing. In other news, a new study shows both Escondido and Oceanside residents have some of the earliest commutes in the nation. A new North County Transit District CEO has ambitious plans to make public transportation in the region an effective alternative to driving. Plus, grant money is now available for some San Diego homeowners to better protect their homes from earthquakes.