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U.S. Supreme Court case on homeless encampments

 April 23, 2024 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Tuesday, April 23rd.


The U-S Supreme Court is considering a case that could impact how cities handle their homeless population. More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


The city of Vista is taking up the issue of homeless encampments in public places at its council meeting this evening (Tuesday).

Vista Mayor John Franklin asked for the discussion item to be placed on the agenda.

He was part of the group that endorsed state senator Brian Jones’ bill to ban encampments near schools, parks and transit centers last week.

That bill stalled in committee, but Franklin says a law enforcement tool is needed to help people off the streets.

“We have the opportunity to actually help somebody who's been telling us, ‘no, i don't want the help’ by getting them into the justice system and using it, not as an opportunity to jail them, but as an opportunity to get them the addiction treatment or the treatment for their survival illness.”

The meeting starts at 5-30 this evening, at the Vista Civic Center.

Since it’s only a discussion item, no council action is expected.


The city of Chula Vista is holding its last community budget presentation tomorrow (Wednesday).

City staff will present a preliminary draft of the City Manager’s Proposed Budget for the next Fiscal Year.

The public can join the meeting to hear what’s in the budget and to give input on it.

The budget serves as a financial plan, operations guide and policy document for city services.

Tomorrow’s presentation starts at 5-30 P-M, at the Otay Ranch Library Hub Community Room.


Cooler weather is headed our way, starting today.

The National Weather Service says this morning there will be some patchy drizzle before 11 A-M.

It will also be cloudy, before the sun eventually comes out in the afternoon.

Temperatures in inland and coastal areas will be in the 60s and in the mountains, temps will be in the high 50s.

The desert areas are the only parts of the county where rain is not expected, and where temps will be the warmest… in the high 80s.

There’s a chance of more rain starting tomorrow night (Wednesday night).


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


A case argued before the U-S Supreme Court yesterday (Monday) could have implications for how San Diego, and every other city in the country deals with its homeless population.

Reporter John Carroll says a group of San Diegans were outside federal court yesterday, to send a clear message to the justices.

About a dozen people gathered Monday in between the two federal courthouses downtown… they held signs saying “housing not handcuffs.”  Their message was directed to the U-S Supreme Court, which heard arguments on Monday in the case Johnson vs Grants Pass.  The case challenges a ban on homeless encampments in public places in Grants Pass, Oregon. San Diego has a similar law… making those encampments illegal when shelter space is available.  Yusef Miller with the North County Equity and Justice Coalition says resources need to be directed away from arresting people, and instead lifting them out of poverty so they don’t become homeless. “Our homeless population is over-policed and they’re over-arrested, so we cannot arrest our way out of the homelessness crisis.  The only thing that’s gonna help the unhoused, is housing.” San Diego county’s district attorney filed an amicus brief in the case… supporting the city of Grants Pass. A ruling from the high court is expected later this summer.  JC, KPBS News.


The California Bicycle Summit took place in San Diego last week.

And the opening speaker was Jeanie Ward-Waller.

The former Caltrans executive was fired last year after blowing the whistle on a freeway expansion project outside Sacramento.

Metro reporter Andrew Bowen spoke with Ward-Waller on her firing, and what it says about the state's commitment to climate action.

AB: Over the past six months, Jeanie Ward-Waller has become something of a celebrity in the small world of California transportation politics. Last summer, she began speaking up to her superiors at Caltrans about the planned widening of Interstate 80. She suspected Caltrans was being dishonest about the project's future impacts on air pollution and climate change — which the agency denies. She even called for an outside audit to assess whether Caltrans was breaking the law. Shortly thereafter, she was fired. Ward-Waller says there are good people working at Caltrans… but that the agency's leadership often has a mindless impulse to widen freeways. JWW: There's still a long way to go for Caltrans to really shift away from feeling like driving is the only option and the only solution is continuing to expand our freeways to focusing on providing alternatives for people so they have safer and more sustainable ways to get around their communities. AB: California has set a goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045. That means in about 20 years, every molecule of carbon dioxide that Californians put into the atmosphere would somehow be recaptured and returned to the earth. Ward-Waller says it's a good goal — it's based on what scientists say is necessary to avoid climate catastrophe. But she acknowledges it's going to be hard. JWW: The solutions are many, are varied. They include things like building more affordable housing in existing communities so people can live close to where they work, live in neighborhoods where there's already infrastructure, like things sidewalks, public transit. The more we build new communities farther away, the more we're working against those goals. But certainly, how we invest in our transportation infrastructure has a lot of influence on how those development patterns happen and change. The more we are expanding freeways, the more we're making it easier for people to drive farther, to afford homes farther away from those existing communities. So that's really working against our goals of getting to net zero carbon emissions. AB: I point out to Ward-Waller that while Californians care about climate change, economic issues like inflation and the cost of housing are usually higher priorities. She says all these things are connected. JWW: California is already being impacted every day, every year, we see worse and worse disasters like wildfires, like Sea-level rise, major storms, drought. Those impacts are worsening because of climate change every year. So these things do impact people's everyday lives. And I think they most impact the communities that have the least resources to do anything about it. So the communities that are already divided by freeways, already most impacted by air pollution from freeways, those are going to be the communities that are most impacted by things like severe heat as well and the effects of climate change. So we all need to be engaged in changing the system and changing how we get around and ensuring that our governments are providing better options to get around to make sure that those who are most burdened today do not continue to be the most burden in the future. AB: Ward-Waller adds the transition away from a car-centric society is a pocketbook issue. Most people have to own a car just to participate in the economy. And like almost everything these days, car ownership is getting more expensive. JWW: I mean, the amount of money that goes towards our gas taxes to then maintain the system that we all rely on — even if you mostly drive and you can get everywhere in a car easily today, you know that the system is not well maintained. You care about things like filling potholes, keeping the system that you rely on for driving in a state of good repair. And so that is a pocketbook issue that affects people every day. The more we expand that system, the less we have the ability to maintain what we have, and that's going to impact everyone. And it certainly impacts how we spend our dollars. AB: Jeanie Ward-Waller filed a claim of whistleblower retaliation against Caltrans. That legal claim is still pending. Andrew Bowen, KPBS news.


The county held its Earth Day Fair yesterday (Monday), where many groups promoted their environmental events.

Sci-tech reporter Thomas Fudge tells us about one that used to be called bike to work day.

On earth day the county operations center became a village of tents, giving away stuff and promoting many environmental events and programs. The San Diego Association of Governments was promoting Bike Anywhere Day, on May 16th, to get people out of their carbon emitting cars. SANDAG consultant Erika Saari said they just want people to bike wherever they want. “It could be, you know, to your local coffee shop, or to the park or to the school.” The annual event has been around for decades. It used to be called bike to work day. “And during the pandemic as we know, many things changed. The dynamics of going to work. Some people are working hybrid schedules. Some people are working completely from home.” So don’t bike to work. Just bike Anywhere. SOQ.


Street art often carries a negative connotation, and it's rare when street artists can work with city officials and law enforcement.

But North County reporter Tania Thorne says, that was the case for murals that now surround Oceanside’s little league fields.

Colorful murals depicting local  culture surround the Oceanside American Little League fields. Art paying tribute to military and law enforcement, the famous Oceanside pier, characters from the film the Sandlot, and graffiti art. It was a project where local artists were given the green light by city officials and police. These artists do their work after hours, in the dark, behind some alleys, or on freeways or wherever. They get nervous when police departments are nearby. Cerbando Ramirez Jr. is the president of Oceanside American Little League. He says it was beautiful to see two worlds come together. And he hopes the murals can become a new cultural and respected landmark in Oceanside. TT KPBS News.  


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 Tuesday.

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A case argued before the U.S. Supreme Court Monday could have implications for how San Diego and every other city in the country deals with its homeless population. In other news, we hear from a former Caltrans executive on what her firing says about the state's commitment to climate action. Plus, street art often carries a negative connotation and it's rare when street artists can work with city officials and law enforcement, but that was the case for murals that now surround Oceanside’s little league fields.