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UC workers speak out for better pay

 March 21, 2024 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Thursday, March 21st.

UC San Diego employees are calling for higher pay

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


The city of San Diego might ask residents to raise the sales tax to pay for storm drains, parks, libraries and other services.

The city council’s rules committee took the first step yesterday (Wednesday) by approving a 1-percent increase.

A vote by the full city council is expected sometime in June or July, to send the proposal to voters in November.

Mayor Todd Gloria was among the public speakers in support at the committee’s meeting.

Gloria’s opponent for the mayoral runoff, Larry Turner, released a statement expressing his opposition.

If the proposal goes to voters and is approved, the city’s sales tax would rise from 7-point-7-5 percent to 8-point-7-5 percent.


The city of San Diego has put a lot of time and resources into filling pot holes in the past year.

Now a neighboring city is doing the same.

La Mesa will spend the next couple of months repairing more than 2-and-a-half million square feet of roads.

More than 50 streets - big and small - are on the list for slurry treatment, which helps clear up potholes and large cracks in the pavement.

The city expects the work will be complete by the end of May.


The Blue Water Film Festival begins tonight.

Back for its fifth year, the local event showcases environmental films about climate change and preservation.

44 films will be screened through Sunday at venues across San Diego.

Some of those are made by local filmmakers.

An opening event is planned for tonight at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.

KPBS cinema junkie Beth Accomando has a preview of the Blue Water Film Festival at KPBS-dot-org.

From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now.

Stay with me for more of the local news you need.


Some of the lowest-paid workers at the University of California protested yesterday against contract negotiations they say are not fair.

Education reporter M-G Perez has more on what they want.


“(Who runs UC?) We run UC!”

33 thousand workers on UC campuses are represented by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees union. 

Their jobs include custodial work, medical billing, and many other frontline positions. 

Union workers want a set minimum wage of at least 25 dollars an hour and an immediate 5-percent pay increase.They say the UC is not negotiating in good faith.

Alicia Garcia works in hospital registration.

“It’s horrific…we do not make enough money to make ends meet…it’s the economy…it’s everything.” 

In a written statement to KPBS, the University of California said in part, it knows the cost of living in California is high and that negotiations will continue until both sides reach mutually beneficial agreements.MG Perez, KPBS News.


A new report on rental prices shows San Diego County remains one of the most expensive regions in the nation.

Reporter Melissa Mae tells us which areas are the most expensive to rent and where rentals are a bit more affordable.


Zumper is a rental platform that provides monthly national reports with up to date data on the 100 most populated cities in the U.S, where San Diego ranks as the 8th most expensive city. 

Crystal Chen with Zumper says the report also breaks down the rental market further and releases monthly reports of metro areas including the San Diego market. 

The top three most expensive cities to rent in the San Diego metro area are Coronado, with one bedroom rentals at $3900 dollars, followed by Encinitas at $2700 and Carlsbad with rent at $2400 dollars.

But Chen has some good news for renters.

“San Diego rent has been declining for the last 5 months, which is in line with national trends. I think San Diego returned to kind of normal seasonality patterns in 2023, after some huge spikes in late 2021 through 2022.”

The report determined that El Cajon is the most affordable place to rent in San Diego with a one bedroom going for $1780 a month.

Melissa Mae, KPBS News.


A final resolution to a sprawling decade-long navy corruption case is again delayed after a hearing yesterday.

Military reporter Andrew Dyer has the latest from the federal courthouse on the so-called “Fat Leonard” case.


More than a decade after his arrest and dozens of federal cases against his co-conspirators all that’s left to do is finally sentence Leonard Glenn Francis to prison.

That's proving to be difficult.

His sentencing was originally delayed in 2015 after pleading guilty to the fraud conspiracy as the cases against his co-conspirators played out.

Then in late 2022 Francis escaped from San Diego house arrest, and fled to Venezuela. When he was returned to the U.S. last year in a prisoner swap, his lawyers said they were done defending him.

He's since appeared in court in San Diego three times, and each time he’s told the judge he still hasn’t found new lawyers and needs more time.

Judge Janis Sammartino indicated she might give him three more months, but first, she wants to hear from his previous attorneys and scheduled another hearing in two weeks.

It's just the latest delay in a case that has dragged on for years. 

At the federal courthouse, I'm Andrew Dyer, KPBS news.


Coming up.... ongoing construction of a new border wall threatened to destroy hundreds of murals that decorate the Tijuana side.

But a group of activists and the “Museum Of Us” found a way to save some of them.

“They don’t belong to us. They belong to the community. And it’s the community that should come together to decide who this wealth gets distributed to our tri-national region.”

We’ll have that story and more, just after the break.


Ongoing construction of a new border wall threatened to destroy hundreds of murals that decorate the Tijuana side.But now, a group of activists found a way to save some of them.Border reporter Gustavo Solis spoke to the people working to preserve a slice of our common history.


 For a long time, the wall at the border was just that – a wall. Then artists on the Mexican side decided to make it a window … into our cross-border culture. 

 They painted colorful, vibrant murals. A blood-red heart with LOVE written on it. A depiction of President Joe Biden making out with Donald Trump. And powerful tributes to deported veterans. 

Maria Theresa Fernandez is a photographer who chronicled the transformation for 25 years.

“Since I started I started kind of feeling that that object, the wall, was alive.”

Then came 2023 … that’s when the U.S. government tore down the old wall so it could build a bigger one. And the window was shattered … Or so we thought. 

“We knew the Mexico side, the community on the Mexico side, had invested so much love and care and energy and creativity on this site. We wanted to make sure that some of that was preserved.”

That’s John Fanestil, an activist with the group Friends of Friendship Park. He couldn’t bear to see those murals lost forever.

So he called Micah Parzen, CEO of the Museum of Us. With one simple question

“Would you consider having the museum try to obtain these sections of the wall before they get destroyed and we absolutely jumped at the opportunity.”

It has taken 8 months for the museum to acquire 20 pieces of the old border wall. Each section weighs more than 4,000 pounds. Parzen says it was a very complicated process.

Those 20 pieces are now safe … in an undisclosed warehouse in the South Bay. 

The murals are covered with small details hidden in plain sight. Tiny butterflies, small handprints, and hand-written messages of love. Each one teaches us about the region’s history.Fernandez the photographer is overjoyed to see the murals survive.   

“These posts have, I don’t know how many, fingerprints of these people that were holding anxiously and very very tight waiting for their loved ones to arrive. I think those little things that are hard to see but they mean a lot. They mean a lot of the history of that area.”

Parzen says the history won’t be locked in a museum.

“They don’t belong to us. They belong to the community. And it’s the community that should come together to decide who this wealth gets redistributed to our tri-national region.”

Museums have a history of taking things that don’t belong to them. Parzen sees this project as part of an ongoing project to correct the mistakes of the past.

“We have caused inestimable harm to indigenous communities, to other communities of color by taking their belongings taking their ancestors and refusing to give them back to decades. Over the last several years we’ve turned that corner and realized that they don’t belong to us as an institution, they belong to the community.”

Fanestil says that Friends of Friendship Park, the Museum of Us and other community stakeholders will spend the next year figuring out where and how to display these unique artifacts.

“Perhaps there will be sites in the public on either side of the border where one or more of these sections of wall will be displayed. Perhaps there will be a traveling site where a section or two of the wall will be able to visit different locations. We don’t know these are all possibilities.”

They envision a genuine tri-national effort. involving people from San Diego, Tijuana and Kumeyaay nation.

Brandon Linton is a cultural consultant and  member of the Kumeyaay.

“Before there was a U.S. or Mexico there was us. The Kumeyaay people. We originally inhabited the area from down around the Ensenada area up to Capistrano area.”

And Friendship Park is right in the middle of that area.

“So the U.S. Mexico border from its conception split our homeland virtually in half.”

Linton says the border wall has had a devastating impact on the Kumeyaay people. It has kept them separated for generations.

“I think this project is a great way to bring attention to that and bring some light to some of those issues of people that need to move back and forth across that border.”

The group plans to create a community advisory council that will decide what to do with the murals. They also plan to hold several community meetings throughout the process.

Gustavo Solis, KPBS News.


Time is running out for a state program that provides diapers for low-income families.

North County reporter Alexander Nguyen says funding for the diaper bank in the county is at risk because of the state’s budget shortfall.

The Diaper Bank program started in 2017 and has distributed more than 34 and a half million diapers to families in San Diego County since then.

Vanessa Ocegueda was one of the parents who benefited from the program.

She received diapers through Miracle Babies, one of the diaper bank’s partners

Ocegueda says with premature triplets and a toddler under 2, not having to worry about diapers was a huge stress reliever. 

“I wasn't working at the time because COVID had just hit. And also I had the triplet, so I needed to take more time off than normal. So, I mean, it was a huge blessing to our family.”

But funding for the $30 million dollar program is set to expire in June.

San Diego Food Bank receives 3.7 million of that money for the diaper bank.

Because of the size of the projected budget shortfall, the governor’s office says the program is not set for renewal.

The food bank is working with local state representatives to get funding for the program renewed.

Alexander Nguyen, KPBS News.


This is a significant day for SeaWorld.

On March 21st, 1964 - 60 years ago - the company opened its first theme park on San Diego’s Mission Bay.

It’s now one of three SeaWorld theme parks in the U-S.

The next few days will include special events and historical displays lasting through the weekend.

That’s it for the podcast today.

As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org.

I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

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Frontline workers in the University of California system demonstrate for better pay and benefits due to the rising cost of living. Also, San Diego rent prices remain among the highest in the nation, according to a new report. And, activists preserve art removed during recent border wall construction.