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Utility bills lower this winter

 January 11, 2024 at 5:00 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Thursday, January 11th.


San Diegans’ utility bills are much lower than last year. More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria’s state of the city address last night was briefly interrupted by protestors.

 “We live in a beautiful country don’t we, First amendment rights on display. Thank you all for being here.”

In the address, he gave updates on how the city is addressing public safety, homelessness, housing and infrastructure.

Gloria lauded the city’s efforts to address homelessness, including creating two safe sleeping sites where people who are homeless can stay in tents.

He also talked about coming initiatives to address homelessness.

“The second is the redevelopment of the site of our old downtown central library. We plan to create additional shelter space along with hundreds of new affordable permanent homes for low income and formerly homeless San Diegans.”

For more on the state of the city address, visit kpbs-dot-org


The Chula Vista City Council this week made its plan to reopen Harborside Park official.

City leaders voted to set aside one-point-two-million-dollars of city infrastructure funding to renovate the park.

Their plans include redoing the basketball courts and adding a new ranger station.

Officials say it will take at least eight months to complete those renovations.

Harborside Park has been closed to visitors for more than a year and a half, after the City Council shuttered it to evict dozens of unsheltered people living there.

City leaders were exploring putting housing on the site, but changed those plans last month, after dozens of residents mounted a campaign to save the park.


Today we can expect colder weather, fast winds, some possible rain in the morning, and king tides.

A wind advisory is in effect until 10 this morning for all parts of the county.

The National Weather Service says gusts could reach up to 45 miles per hour.

Temperatures are expected to be up to 15 degrees lower than normal for this time of year.

Temps in the inland and desert areas are expected to be in the low 60s, by the coast, temps will be in the high 50s, and in the mountains, it’ll be in the low 40s.

A high surf advisory remains in effect until six this evening.

And forecasters say King tides are expected through Saturday.

King tides are typically some of the highest tides of the year.


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


San Diego utility customers are seeing a typical winter bump in their bills because the weather is colder, but those bigger bills are well below what they were a year ago.

Environment reporter Erik Anderson says natural gas prices set records last year.

January natural gas bills skyrocketed last year, as a combination of cold weather and short supply pushed the cost of the commodity into record territory. That changed this year. There’s more natural gas in storage, a large pipeline has been fixed, and it's warmer this year. Anthony Wagner, San Diego Gas & Electric “Last year, the cost of, the all in price for gas, was five dollars 11 cents.  Today its two dollars and 14 cents for that same therm.  And that represents an 86% reduction in the overall cost to our residential customer.” The average SDGE natural gas customer had a bill of about $225 a year during the first month of the year. That average fell by more than half to about $96 in January. The utility has about 900-thousand natural gas customers. Erik Anderson KPBS News.


Governor Gavin Newsom wants to dip into California's rainy day fund to fill a budget deficit of nearly 38-billion-dollars.

It’s an estimate that’s far lower than one put out by the state's non-partisan legislative analyst.

Cap-radio’s Nicole Nixon has more.

The difference comes down to the way the deficit was calculated: The Newsom administration accounted for significant savings in schools and other areas of government.  The governor also predicted slightly higher tax revenues than the Legislative Analyst’s Office. NEWSOM : We are just a little less pessimistic than they are about the next year. Newsom characterized the shortfall as an economic correction after two years of massive surpluses, which were driven largely by the state’s highest earners doing well. NEWSOM: Normalization, correction after a period of distortions; getting back to what we have seen in the past. As far as fixing the deficit, Newsom wants to use budget reserves to fill about a third of the 38 billion hole. Spending delays and cuts to various climate and housing programs will make up the rest. The Democratic governor wants to protect many of his priorities, including universal transitional kindergarten and Medi-Cal coverage for undocumented immigrants. But he emphatically rejected any proposal to raise taxes. SOC.


Millions of Mexicans living in the U-S are eligible to vote in Mexico's upcoming presidential elections.

Border reporter Gustavo Solis spoke with experts about why their votes might matter more than ever.

There’s a big presidential election this year! Well, yes, there’s that one. But that’s not what we’re talking about. There’s also a presidential election in Mexico this year. And, depending on how you look at it, it’s even bigger than the U.S. election. Rafael Fernandez de Castro UCSD Center for US/Mexico Studies “A very important election. The single most important election in Mexican history because there is going to be more than 20,000 different positions at stake. The presidency, the entire federal congress, nine governors and lots of local races. So this is very important for Mexico.” Rafael Fernandez de Castro is the director of the Center for U.S./Mexico Studies at UC San Diego. He goes on to say that this year’s elections in the  U.S. make the Mexican election even more important. Mexico elects their presidents for one 6-year term, so it will be more than a decade before the two countries again have their elections in the same year. “This is a good time to reset the U.S.-Mexico relationship because we have elections here, we have elections in Mexico. SO this is the time to do things, to think ahead, how can we better promote more cooperation between the two countries.” If you were born in Mexico but now live in the U.S. now, you are eligible to vote in the Mexican election on June 2. There are millions of Mexicans living in the U.S. Arturo Castillo Loza Mexico National Election institute “12 million people. Just to make an invitation, 12 million people can decide basically any election.” Arturo Castillo Loza works for Mexico’s National Election Institute. He says the Mexicans living abroad represent a massive voting bloc. But they’ve never really acted like one. Consider what happened in 2018, when the last presidential election was held in Mexico. Out of those 12 million people, only 69,000 actually voted. There is a tremendous gap between those who live abroad and those who have actually registered for voting.” The National Election Institute is trying to change that. They are engaged in a huge  outreach effort that involves Mexican consulates throughout the country including San Diego. “Over the last two months we have visited Dallas, San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Ana, Chicago, New York.” Part of the problem is apathy –  many Mexicans in the U.S. don’t really have much interest in Mexican politics. They aren’t sure why their vote even matters in Mexico. But it does. Castillo says Mexicans living abroad still have family and friends back home. They send billions of dollars back to Mexico in remittances every year. And they should have a say in how that money is taxed. His pitch is simple: “So if you like what is happening in Mexico right now, vote so this will continue. If you don’t like it, vote so it will change.” So, how do you cast a vote? The deadline to register to vote is February 20. And you can register online. But, you need to have a Voter ID before you register. And you have to act fast on that. “So if you don’t have it, go as soon as you can. To the nearest consulate or nearest embassy and request your voting ID.” For the Voter ID, you need a proof of nationality – most commonly a Mexican birth certificate, a valid ID, and proof or residence. It can take a couple of weeks to get the Voter ID. Mexicans living in the U.S. will be able to vote online, in person or by mail on or before June 2. Gustavo Solis, KPBS News.


Since a senate blockade on senior military nominations lifted last month, officers held from promotions to lead major commands are starting their new jobs, including here in San Diego.

Military reporter Andrew Dyer has more.

Vice admiral brendan mclane took command of naval surface force in san diego just before christmas. since august his appointment was held up by republican alabama senator tommy tuberville. it’s one of several hundred such appointments delayed by the senator in protest of a pentagon policy that reimburses service members for travel they take to obtain abortion healthcare. on a conference call with reporters friday kpbs asked mclane how the delay impacted fleet operations. vice adm. brendan mclane u.s. Navy “it’s a good question but it’s also a politically charged question …” another 3-star command position, one marine expeditionary force at camp pendleton, will be filled by its appointed commander next month. a spokesperson for naval air forces in coronado says there’s still no timeline for when rear admiral daniel cheever, its senate-approved commander, will take charge. on friday, its acting commander left for their appointed job heading naval forces central command and another acting commander took charge. andrew dyer, kpbs news.


Coming up.... The recent demise of the San Diego Union-Tribune's Spanish-language edition raises concerns about Latino participation in San Diego's civic life... especially in a pivotal election year.

“It limits their ability to participate in democracy or for them to even prepare their children to participate in democracy.” 

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


The San Diego Union-Tribune recently canceled its Spanish-language weekly, part of a nationwide trend.

News industry observers told investigative reporter Amita Sharma, the move eliminates a vital information source for the area’s second largest ethnic group.

Ambient sound of 2007 wildfires. At their best, journalists give people situational awareness during emergencies…and save lives. As wildfires ripped through eastern San Diego County in October 2003 reporter Hiram Soto, did just that. Soto was working for the San Diego Union-Tribune’s weekly Spanish-language edition. He drove toward the fire to interview farmworkers. “It was all full of smoke. You couldn't really breathe. And they were still picking tomatoes and strawberries “They didn't even know that there were evacuation orders.” It was Soto who told the farm workers to evacuate. Twenty years later …  he says he could have never delivered that crucial news had the weekly not existed. So… he was heartbroken last month when heard that the paper’s new owner Alden Global Capital had killed the Spanish-language edition. The private equity firm laid off The UT En Espanol’s editor and two reporters. Soto worries that two-decades of gains will now be lost. The UT En Espanol served a county where 35 percent of its 3 million people are Latino and 150,000 cross the border with Mexico daily “Before this publication, the Union Tribune's coverage of immigrant communities, of Latino communities, of border communities, were very centered on crime and drug trafficking,  When this publication opened, it broadened it to cover the arts, community leaders. It uplifted people that were doing real change in the community.” Representatives for both the Union-Tribune and Alden refused to comment.  Tim Franklin is senior director of the Medill Local News Initiative at Northwestern University. He says Alden puts the bottom line first. “Alden is going to jettison what it views as its most costly or least profitable pieces of its operation. They have a history of doing that across the country.” But Alden is hardly the outlier. Franklin just updated a large Medill database on local news organizations across the country. He says ethnic media took a huge hit during the pandemic as its main source of advertising revenue – mom and pop businesses – shuttered. “In 2020, there were about 900 ethnic media outlets in the United States. We've lost 173 of those in the last three years since the pandemic. And of the 173 that closed, 106 were Latino publications, most of those Spanish language publications.” The timing couldn’t be worse for those who depended on the weekly. This is an election year, with immigration, education and civil rights on the ballot. “It limits their ability to participate in democracy or for them to even prepare their children to participate in democracy.” Arelis Hernandez, vice president for print with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, says so many communities are still dominant Spanish speakers.“Latinos have grown to more than 19% of the population, and we're continuing to grow. There is a migrant population that is increasingly needing resources in their language to navigate this new world of the United States. Art Castares is publisher of the Spanish-language weekly La Prensa San Diego. He says even many bilingual people like to read their news in Spanish. “It’s not just the language. It’s understanding the culture, the impact and being sensitive to that.” For Hiram Soto, it’s also about trust. He says the UT’s Spanish language edition gained trust with local Latinos in 2007, when firestorms returned. He reported on migrants who were burned to death atop Tecate Peak. “ We found the bodies of people who were burnt. We told the stories of people who were lost crossing the border and the stories behind it and how people in the community rallied and provided the resources for rescuers to go and find their loved ones.” Soto says those pieces told Latinos that the paper cared about them. He fears that’s no longer true. Amita Sharma, KPBS News. 


Trinity Theatre Company opens its first play of 20-24 tomorrow (Friday), in the Mission Valley Shopping Center.

Arts reporter Beth Accomando has this preview of “The Cocktail Hour.”

Trinity Theater Company was started in 2012 by Sean Boyd while he was a senior in high school. Last year the company moved to a new location in the old Payless Shoe store in Mission Valley Mall. SEAN BOYD It's 66 seats and it's a lovely little black box theater. I'm really thrilled. Our theme for the 2024 season is the life of the party. And what better place to start with a cocktail party? The first production for 2024 will be A.R. Gurney’s The Cocktail Hour, a play about a play. I hear you’ve written another play, John… We’re not discussing it… Why not?...Sore subject, it’s about you know who… oh. The play was so personal that Gurney promised his parents never to perform it in their hometown. Director Jaeonnie Davis-Crawford also felt a personal connection to it. JAEONNIE DAVIS-CRAWFORD it's hard to explain the emotions I felt upon reading it without airing out all of my family drama. But specifically, the conflict of communication within your family is something that I really resonated with in this part of my life journey. Trinity Theatre’s The Cocktail Hour opens Friday and runs through February 4th. Beth Accomando, KPBS News.


That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. Join me again tomorrow for the day’s top stories, plus, our KPBS arts editor and producer has recommendations for weekend arts events to check out. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great Thursday.

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San Diego utility customers are seeing a typical winter bump in their bills because the weather is colder, but those bigger bills are well below what they were a year ago. In other news, millions of Mexicans living in the United States are eligible to vote in Mexico's upcoming presidential elections. Experts say their votes might matter more than ever. Plus, the recent demise of the San Diego Union-Tribune's Spanish-language edition raises concerns about Latino participation in San Diego's civic life, especially in a pivotal election year.