There could be as many as half a million stray cats on county streets, according to the San Diego Humane Society. Feral cats are spayed or neutered and then released by the humane society — and that program has recently expanded, despite critics. Meanwhile, annual inspections of nursing homes by the California Department of Public Health have resumed after being suspended in March of 2020, at the start of the pandemic. Plus, a San Diego Superior Court ruling that overturned an Oceanside ballot initiative could have widespread implications for housing development in the state.
Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Wednesday, May 19th.
Releasing Cats instead of keeping them to adopt out
More on that next, but first… let’s do the headlines….
The race is on to get all san diegans vaccinated before the state fully reopens in four weeks–
On tuesday mira mesa high school held a pop-up event to vaccinate students, their families and community members. Mira mesa high principal Jeff Sabins [say-bins] says they expected to do more than 500 vaccinations.
“as soon as they contacted us we jumped on it right away because it’s such a cool opportunity to start to try and get back to normal right to get to that place where we’re all feeling comfortable to come back to school as it should be so we’re fired up for next year because of events like this here today (:20)
Right now minors can only get the pfizer vaccine.. and while these school sites allow parents to sign permission slips, keep in mind that many community sites require parents to be with their kids for shots.
Late Tuesday afternoon about 350 people gathered in support of Palestine in downtown San Diego. The rally follows the escalating violence pitting Israel against Hamas in the Gaza strip. One protestor, Mustafa, attended the protest with his family. He says they’re of Afghani heritage, but they wanted to support the Palestianan people.
MIDEASTPROTEST 2A (:14)
“I’m against the killing of any innocent human being, people that have a voice… The Israli government, they’re not worth any more than the little kids who don’t have any voice, so that’s why we are here with our kids.”
President Biden now supports a ceasefire to the fighting in Gaza, but neither side has yet agreed upon the terms to do so.
Outdoor dining on sidewalks, city streets and parking lots will be allowed to continue through Mid-July of 2022. That’s per a unanimous vote from San Diego City Council on Tuesday. In addition to the ordinance extension on outdoor dining, the council is working on a so-called “Spaces as Places” plan, which involves changing the municipal code to make outdoor dining the new normal.
From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now.
Stay with me for more of the local news you need.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, KPBS reported on a new policy at the San Diego Humane Society to release cats back into the streets, instead of keeping them to be adopted or euthanized.
Now, KPBS investigative reporter Claire Trageser says that practice is ramping up, despite a lawsuit from animal rights activists.
STRAYCATS (ct) 3:59 soq
There could be as many as half a million stray cats on county streets, according to the San Diego Humane Society.
To deal with all these free-roaming felines, the nonprofit is running a program where feral cats are brought in, spayed or neutered, and then released back to the streets.
In March, they expanded the practice under what they call a Community Cat program, where even friendly cats will be released.
Animal Rights Attorney
“There has been a lot of frustration on the part of small nonprofits and individual animal rescuers who are seeing a trend toward abandoning friendly domestic cats on the street.”
This doesn’t sit right with Bryan Pease, an animal rights activist and attorney. He’s filed a legal complaint against the Humane Society to force them to stop.
He and his clients have no problem with managing populations of feral cats by trapping and bringing them to a clinic or to the Humane Society to be spayed or neutered, and then returning them to their habitat.
“But when you look at what they’re actually doing, releasing cats that were previously owned, releasing cats in dangerous areas, those cats shouldn’t be put back on the streets.”
July 2019-December 2020: 1,322 cats
July 2018-October 2019: 710 cats
In the city of San Diego between July 2019 and December 2020, the Humane Society released more than 1,300 cats to the streets. That’s almost double the number from the first 16 months of the program.
Gary Weitzman, CEO of the San Diego Humane Society, says it’s more humane to release cats rather than keeping them in a shelter.
San Diego Humane Society CEO
“Those cats are held here for medical exams, in holding cages, they are stressed to the max. So we have to consider, those cats that did really well outdoors, that were enjoying the environment, why don’t we just spay and neuter them and release them.”
He added that any cats with a sign of ownership, including a collar or microchip, would not be released.
But it’s not always easy to tell whether a cat has been previously owned or not. So says Pam Harris, a long time animal shelter volunteer who’s working with Pease on the legal complaint.
Animal Shelter Volunteer
“They say any cat with signs of ownership will not be put back into the community, any cat that’s microchipped or wearing a harness will not be put back. But many people with indoor cats don’t put a collar on them… probably most cats who are pets are not microchipped.”
The safety of the cats is one concern. The other is the impact they have on the overall ecosystem, specifically bird populations. Jim Peugh, conservation director of the San Diego Audubon Society, describes the cats as an invasive species.
San Diego Audubon Society Conservation Director
“There are huge environmental impacts, we know each of those cats takes several birds a month.”
Peugh says his ideal solution to the stray cat issue would be to create giant warehouses where cats could live.
“We see daycare facilities for pets, where they can live and play and get exercise. If they’re going to keep other animals indoors.”
Claire Trageser, KPBS News
Annual inspections of California’s nursing homes were paused for more than a year due to the pandemic. KPBS’s Amita Sharma says, those inspections have now resumed and anecdotal evidence suggests the inspectors have their work cut out for them.
INSPECTIONS EE VERS
Lower Third: Mike Dark/ California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform
11:39 “Conditions in many facilities across the state have grown incredibly dire over the course of the pandemic and if anything are as bad as they’ve ever been right now.”
Advocates say a reason for this is family members of nursing home residents weren’t allowed in the facilities for more than a year. They’ve long served as watchdogs for neglect and abuse. Mike Dark of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform says the absence of family members along with staffing shortages means problems that might have been flagged quickly were allowed to fester.
13:55 “There’s not enough staff to make sure people are clean and bathed. There’s not enough staff to make sure people aren’t developing bed sores. These are problems that have spread across the state and it’s going to take a long time for CAL DPH to really get on top of this problem.”
In an emailed statement, the California Department of Public Health said during the past year it still sent inspectors to investigate the most severe complaints. Amita Sharma, KPBS News.
Medical staff at Donovan State prison have been asking inmates who decline covid-19 tests to sign a waiver, releasing the prison from any liability for their illness or death. Inewsource investigative reporter Mary Plummer has more.
Legal and medical experts who reviewed a copy of the form obtained by inewsource viewed it as unethical and deceptive.
UC Hastings law professor Hadar Aviram (Huh-DAR aw-vee-RAHM) says asking inmates to sign the waiver may be unconstitutional.
AVIRAM: You are housing them for a certain number of months or years and during those months you have to feed and clothe and take care of them and make sure that they don’t get sick. This is part of your responsibility.
The waiver says the corrections department is “free of any responsibility” for complications.
A spokesperson for the prison’s healthcare system said the form was standard.
For KPBS, I’m inewsource investigative reporter Mary Plummer.
That was inewsource investigative reporter Mary Plummer. This story was co-reported by Jill Castellano at inewsource, an independently funded, nonprofit partner of kpbs.
Friendship Park turns 50 this summer. It’s the bi-national garden along the border between San Diego and Tijuana. And despite the public desire to celebrate that big 5-0, the park has been closed for more than a year, and will remain so for now.. KPBS’ Max Rivlin-Nalder has more.
Friendship Park, and the bi-national circle that’s a part of it, has been a meeting place for families separated by a border wall that has only grown higher and longer in recent years….
Advocates say it’s a vital space for reunions and healing… and one that hasn’t been open to the public during one of the most tumultuous times in recent history.
For over a year, Border Field State Park has been closed, one of the several state parks that were closed during the coronavirus pandemic. Over the last few weeks however, the park has reopened, Friend Circle, which is within Border Field State Park, has not.
Border Patrol, which controls access to the park, has not opened the gate on the American side to allow people to go into the circle, and see their family members or friends.
They had told advocates that Friendship Park would reopen for eight hours every weekend, once people could once again access it through the state park.
Robert Vivar is with the Friends of Friendship Park.
ROBERT VIVAR / FRIENDS OF FRIENDSHIP PARK
In a meeting a few days prior to this past Sunday, we were informed that no, because of staffing purposes, the park would remain closed until further notice. Which, of course, is something we’re not very happy about.
In a statement, Customs and Border Protection said because of the influx of migrants on the southern border, it cannot staff the park. And that it “cannot reopen Friendship Circle until it has sufficient manpower to ensure it is safe for everyone.
Vivar thinks that reasoning doesn’t quite hold up. There are already several Border Patrol agents posted up at the site regularly on weekends — and he doesn’t believe letting a few dozen people into the park would require extra staffing.
He believes that with the rise in Mexican citizens trying to get into the US through the desert or on boats, Friendship Park could act as needed relief for people who are hard-pressed to reunite with their families.
Vivar himself was deported, and came to Friendship Park on the Mexican side for refuge and comfort.
People get desperate for their families. And they’ll do anything, and even risk their lives to with their families. In the past we have seen, just by them being able to visit at Friendship Park, /cut/ they can continue to wait to be a family, but through a legal process, not having to try to put their life in danger by crossing the ocean or through the hard-terrain out in the desert and such.
Supporters of the park hope it can reopen as quickly as possible — and definitely in time for the park’s 50th anniversary, this August.
Max Rivlin-Nadler, KPBS News
Coming up…. A San Diego Superior Court ruling that overturned an Oceanside ballot initiative could have widespread consequences on housing development in the state. Plus, KPBS is hosting its annual GI Film festival. We’ll have those stories next just after the break.
The effort to increase housing in San Diego often ends up in the courts…and last week a ruling on one housing development could have statewide implications. A citizen’s ballot initiative to stop a proposed housing development in Oceanside won in last November’s election. But a superior court judge ruled that a new state law invalidates the initiative, since the North River Farms development was approved by the Oceanside city council. San Diego has seen a number of council and board approved housing projects defeated by voters at the ballot box….but this ruling puts future citizen-actions against development in question.
Phil Diehl is a reporter for the San Diego Union Tribune who’s covering the story. He spoke with KPBS Midday Edition Host Maureen Kavanaugh.
OCEANSIDE TRT 8:00ish
Tell us a little more about the proposed North river farms. Where would it be built?
Speaker 2: 00:51 It would be as many as 585 homes. Uh, the site is about 215 acres. It is in South Morrow Hills, which is an agricultural region of Northeastern
Speaker 1: 01:07 And Oceanside city council members approved. Yeah.
Speaker 2: 01:10 Yes. Oceanside approved it in November of 2019. It was a three to two vote with Esther Sanchez. Now mayor at the time she was a council member. She was against it and Ryan kind voted against.
Speaker 1: 01:25 So as happens frequently, people who didn’t want the housing development got together, they collected signatures and got the North river farms development on the ballot for an up or down vote. The people opposed to the development one, but apparently that wasn’t the end of it.
Speaker 2: 01:43 Well, the developer filed a couple lawsuits and both were filed before the referendum. Initially they challenged the referendum saying that they didn’t think the signatures were valid, that there was some underhandedness in gathering the signatures, but a judge overruled that claim and dismissed it.
Speaker 1: 02:03 What is this new state law or code? The judge based his ruling on
Speaker 2: 02:09 His ruling is based on the housing crisis act of 2019, which is something the legislature passed. And the governor signed to streamline the whole development process because there is such a housing shortage. There’s a homeless crisis. There’s a re-answer up and housing costs are really going up. So the idea is to increase the supply of housing and make it more
Speaker 1: 02:34 And he ruled the ballot initiative. Wasn’t valid. Why?
Speaker 2: 02:39 Well, you said that the legislation is intended to maximize housing development and that therefore it preempts the referendum that the referendum itself sets a limit on housing development.
Speaker 1: 02:53 If this ruling were to stand, what kind of implications would it have for future development in the state? It
Speaker 2: 03:00 Has strong implications for at least two other projects. The Newland Sierra project, which was overturned in March, 2020 by a referendum, another incident or another development is the Phoenicia ranch in San te, which, uh, the Santee city council approved. And there was a referendum and they agreed to place that on the ballot in November, 2022. So that’s more than a year away, but the developer there has already said that he will challenge that in court, based on this housing crisis act,
Speaker 1: 03:35 Critics say the judge got it wrong. And that the housing crisis act doesn’t apply to voters, but to government agencies, can you explain that
Speaker 2: 03:45 The housing hacked is designed to streamline the whole application process? Like there was a previous case in Los Angeles where the LA city council approved a project or denied a project. The city council denied a project because it didn’t have enough affordable housing and the, uh, superior court judge Derr overruled that decision by the council and said that the project could proceed because of the housing crisis act. So that’s a case where it was based more, not on a referendum and it was aimed at a city council action.
Speaker 1: 04:25 The housing crisis act seems to have generated actually more litigation than home-building isn’t that the case?
Speaker 2: 04:31 Well, locally, that seems to be the case. There’s definitely a couple of big cases in the works. And it’s hard to say, I mean, it hasn’t been around that long, so it’s pretty new still. So it’s hard to say statewide what the effect will be, but it does seem, I mean, the referendum is a pretty widely used process, so there’s a chance it can have a widespread effect.
Speaker 1: 04:53 What was the reaction to the North river farms ruling from both sides of this issue,
Speaker 2: 04:58 Integral communities, which is the developer building North river farms. They were pretty much thrilled with it. And they said that, you know, it’s good for the community. And clearly the area needs more housing. There is a huge homeless problem in Oceanside and throughout North County. So the developer there was pleased and, and said, you know, it upholds the, the purpose of the act. Well, and the opponents, the people like Cathy Carbone, who was one of the leaders of the referendum, she said she was horrified by it. But the people I talked to who weren’t ready to issue a statement said it was clearly a bad thing for voters rights because they were just were unhappy with it.
Speaker 1: 05:42 What’s the next move? Do we know in, in that case,
Speaker 2: 05:45 There are multiple parties. I mean, named at integral, the developer, uh, named the city, the city clerk, the County registrar of voters, and some of the people who circulated random referendum were all named as parties to this. Uh, so, and I guess any one of them could file an appeal. The city says they have 60 days to decide whether or not they will appeal and it appears likely they will. But I guess it’s hard to say it’s up to the city council. The city council will decide probably in a closed session, not this week, but in the next few weeks, what to do
Speaker 1: 06:21 You spoke with Steven Russell, head of the San Diego housing Federation who told you that developments housing developments should proceed within the rules of existing general plans. And he said he was not a fan of ballot box zoning. So do you think that in general housing advocates are in favor of this ruling against citizens ballot initiative?
Speaker 2: 06:41 He, as he pointed out, developers want a clear cut path toward their project and things that go back and forth unpredictably like this are never good. So, uh, and I think a lot of developers feel that way. They don’t want to see anything go to a referendum. It costs them a lot of money to, uh, defeat this. I mean, integral has spent millions of dollars, uh, on the referendum, in the lost, and they’re spending a lot of money on court cases and so on. So I don’t think they’re happy about the referendum process
That was Phil Diehl from the San Diego Union Tribune, speaking with KPBS Midday Edition Host, Maureen Kavanaugh.
KPBS kicked off its annual GI Film Festival San Diego last night. The 6 day festival is virtual this year, and as KPBS’ Melissa Mae tells us, it features a record 38 films.
May is “Military Appreciation Month” and The GI Film Festival San Diego honors the stories of service members and veterans through film.
Keshia Javis Jones is an Advisory Committee Member of the festival. She is a Marine Combat Veteran and loves spreading awareness of this festival.
Keshia Javis-Jones, Advisory Committee Member, GI Film Festival SD
“Even after serving 10 years was not one to want to talk to anyone else about what I did or how I served or especially combat experience. It was very hard to talk about in the very beginning and this festival brings it to life, you know, without putting me in a vulnerable space.”
The festival serves as a bonding experience.
Keshia Javis-Jones GI Film Festival San Diego
“It’s a great opportunity to bring veterans and service members now together and then just celebrate our sacrifices and bond over just sharing each other’s stories and supporting each other in everything that you’re doing now.”
Pacifica J. Sauer is a U.S. Navy Veteran and the director of the festival’s opening night film, ‘The Invisible Project.”
Pacifica J. Sauer
“Women are the most visible service member and the most invisible veteran and what a perfect place to tell women veteran stories than with an audience that already cares.”
This film is a documentary style info-drama.
Pacifica J. Sauer
“Some of the issues women face are devastatingly scary and some of the traumas women have endured are heartbreaking, but it’s very uplifting when you see them persevere.”
The Navy Veteran has a message for her fellow female vets.
Pacifica J. Sauer
(Pacifica 00:15:28:10 – 00:15:36:18(:08) “To all the women veterans out there, you are not invisible. Your life is worth it. Your service was worth it no matter how long ago it was.
Melissa Standup (:27)
“The GI Film Festival San Diego has something for everyone. Current Military, Veterans and civilians can all expect to experience some uncomfortable truths and triumphant highs. Although the festival is virtual this year all participants and viewers can expect to be united through the awareness that those who served and those who are serving make the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Melissa Mae KPBS News.
That’s it for the podcast today. Be sure to catch KPBS Midday Edition At Noon on KPBS radio, or check out the Midday podcast. You can also watch KPBS Evening Edition at 5 O’clock on KPBS Television, and as always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Annica Colbert. Thanks for listening and have a great day.