Monday was the last day for small business owners to apply for a federal Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP loans. The loans were part of the third round of federal aid aimed at giving businesses owned by people of color, and those in lower income neighborhoods better access to funding. Meanwhile, La Mesa is commemorating the anniversary of a major protest against police violence and racial injustice. Plus, how one community is preparing for wildfires this year in the face of extreme drought.
Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Tuesday, June 1st
It’s the Last round for the payroll protection program
More on that next, but first… let’s do the headlines….
Yet another smuggling boat operation was seized off the coast of Mission Beach on Monday. 17 undocumented migrants were taken into custody. Border Patrol officials said the interception happened around 12:50 PM yesterday, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. The people arrested were turned over to the US Border Patrol agents and taken for processing.
According to two new reports by the National Urban League and STOP AAPI Hate, 62% of Asian Americans nationwide lack access to mental health resources…. A need that’s grown over the past year due to the pandemic and rise in Anti-Asian racism.
JoAnn Fields is the director of the Filipino Resource Center in San Diego.
“So with this trauma and what I’m hearing, even with counselors and teachers and schools, is that our young people are loners or Lolas are wanting to talk about what’s happening, and that’s mental health counseling.”
Fields is helping develop a local resource list of Filipino counselors. At the national level Representative Judy Chu of Pasadena is expected to reintroduce AAPI mental health legislation this week.
California voters will decide in next year’s general election whether to legalize sports gambling. proponents submitted 1.4 million signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot. It would allow sports betting at tribal casinos and horse tracks. Gross revenues from horse tracks would be taxed at 10 percent. Tribal casinos would have to pay a portion of earnings that at least cover the state’s regulatory costs.
From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now.
Stay with me for more of the local news you need.
Monday was the last day for small business owners to apply for a federal Paycheck Protection Program… better known as a PPP loanS. KPBS reporter Claire Trageser says this round of lending was meant to do better at getting funds to businesses owned by people of color and for small businesses in lower income neighborhoods.
Charlie Johnson owns the local business Makello, which helps customers do energy analysis on their homes.
“I’m good at educating people in my community about these technologies.”
When the third round of PPP loans were made available in January, Johnson, who is Black, was ready.
“I honed in on finding banks that were there and able to support minority and small owned businesses.”
He reached out to Community Development Financial Institutions, private lenders specifically focused on giving money to lower-income and minority business owners.
“Within six weeks we had funding.”
That’s exactly how the third round of PPP funding was supposed to work. It favored community financial institutions, which are meant to be better at targeting smaller businesses and minority-owned businesses. The point was to address the inequity in funding from the first two rounds, says Mike Sovacool, the deputy district officer of the San Diego SBA office.
“We recognized there were challenges to socially underserved markets in accessing dollars. So in order to meet that need, the SBA instituted some of those programs.”
In the first two rounds, San Diego County lenders gave 61% of loans to businesses in majority-white census tracts and just under 12% to businesses in majority-Latinx census tracts.
Claire Trageser, KPBS News
And that was KPBS Investigative Reporter Claire Traegeser.
Memorial Day remembers those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. KPBS’ Melissa Mae was at the USS Midway on Monday for their services.
“2020 will go down as an unforgettable year because of the pandemic. On this Memorial Day on the USS Midway they honored those who served in what is sometimes called the ‘Forgotten War’ where over 30,000 Americans lost their lives.”
That “Forgotten War” is the Korean War, described by USS Midway Museum spokesman David Koontz.
David Koontz//USS Midway Museum
“It was a conflict in the early 1950s in between World War II and the Vietnam War. But we should always remember those who fought in this war.”
Retired Gunnery Sergeant Joe Kalla is a Korean War Veteran and reflects on returning to Seoul, South Korea 69 years later, as a hero.
Joe Kalla//Marine Veteran
“Being a young guy, we knew we were there just to fight a war. We didn’t really know what we were doing for those people and now they know it and they really appreciate us.”
Kalla spoke of the service people who lost their lives during the Korean War.
Joe Kalla//Marine Veteran
“For my comrades in the Marines. I’ll never forget…anything about them. I love them a lot…They were good pals.”
Marine Veteran Ruth Osborn is grateful the USS Midway paid a special tribute to the Korean Veterans.
Ruth Osborn//Marine Veteran
“I wanted to come because I love the Korean veterans. I’ve been to Korea. I just love everything about it and I want to be with the veterans that are still here and celebrate with them.”
Osborn forged her Mother’s signature to join the Marines.
Ruth Osborn//Marine Veteran
“I love America. I fought and went in Korea because I was a kid and I had to do something for my country.”
A commemorative wreath-laying ceremony took place to honor all those who lost their lives serving their country. Melissa Mae KPBS News.
San Diego has two national cemeteries, and both have long been a focus for those remembering fallen service members. Both cemeteries were open for Memorial Day yesterday, and KPBS military reporter Steve Walsh was there, where he says things were slowly getting back to normal.
Jay Nash is a former Marine. His dad was in the Navy.
“I’m here just to show my daughter what this day is all about.”
Nash’s dad died before the COVID outbreak and is buried on the east coast. After a year of isolation, coming out to Fort Rosecrans was a chance for the generations to connect.
“We all took a step back to appreciate one of the things we lost in the COVID and this is one of them.”
Last year, on Memorial Day the Fort Rosecrans and Miramar National Cemeteries were closed to the public. Ceremonies, including funerals, were severely restricted. This year the restrictions were removed too late to plan the normal remembrances says Cemetery Director Grata Hamilton
“We placed a wreath in a private ceremony at Miramar and at Fort Rosecrans in honor of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.”
The National Cemeteries also held a virtual Memorial Day Ceremony online. Burials continued throughout the pandemic. Loved ones were given the option to hold a ceremony after the restrictions were lifted, so attendance is expected to increase in the coming months. Parking was limited at Fort Rosecrans, as people went from grave site to grave site, looking for their loved ones. Steve Walsh KPBS News.
And that was KPBS’ Steve Walsh.
The community of La Mesa is commemorating the first anniversary of a major protest against police violence and racial injustice. KPBS Reporter Alexandra Rangel takes a look back at the significance of the protest a year ago – and also has a look at what lies ahead.
Following the May 30th community protests and rioting over the murder of George Floyd and the false arrest of Amuarie Johnson by a La Mesa Police Officer, “La Mesa Strong” took on a new meaning.
Nadia Zamora owns the Pink Rose Cafe. Her store was damaged that night– after what started as a peaceful protest but devolved into rioting and looting once night fell.
Emotionally and financially broken, Zamora is coming out on the other side.
Nadia Zamora, Pink Rose Cafe
“Had it not been from the support of the community and the encouragement we received from them along with the union bank, we would not have been here.”
Since, many of the damaged storefronts like Zamora’s cafe have reopened, but community members and supporters say there is still progress to be made when it comes to racial justice in the U.S.
And that was KPBS’ Alexandra Rangel.
Two months ago, the San Diego region received over two hundred million dollars in state and federal funds to help low-income families pay rent and utilities during the pandemic. But as inewsource investigative reporter Cody Dulaney explains only 2 percent of the money had been spent as of mid-May.
DULANEY: Local governments in San Diego County are running into the same problems they had with rent relief efforts last year: The application process is slow and some landlords still won’t take the money. (11 secs)
For renter Genea Wall, who lost income last year, she’s 14 thousand dollars behind in rent for her City Heights apartment. She got approved for rent relief but it took more than two months. During the wait, her Type 2 diabetes worsened.
WALL: “You‘ve got the stress of the pandemic. The stress of trying to make ends meet. The stress of, ‘Am I going to have a roof?’” (5 secs)
Then you have some landlords refusing the aid. When that happens, state law says tenants get a quarter of what they owe and are protected from eviction. But landlords can’t get any rent relief if their tenants won’t participate. Here’s Lucinda Lilley with the Southern California Rental Housing Association.
LILLEY: “Right now, if a renter says, ‘No, I’m not willing to participate,’ we’re just left holding the bag.” (5 secs)
DULANEY: To help tenants and landlords, Gov. Gavin Newsom is proposing changes to improve the program. For KPBS, I’m inewsource investigative reporter Cody Dulaney. (10 secs)
That was Inewsource investigative reporter Cody Dulaney. inewsource is an independently funded, nonprofit partner of KPBS.
Coming up…. You may have noticed the wildfire season in California got an early start this year..
“He barely got out with not even a shirt on his back and his dog. Like, had to drive through a wall of fire to get out.”
A story of how one community is preparing for the wildfire season in the face of severe drought.
Most of California is experiencing extreme drought right now. That means the possibility of bigger, more destructive wildfires earlier in the summer. CapRadio’s Scott Rodd has this report from Butte County.
Lunchtime brings a crew of laborers to this taco stand in Oroville. They’re taking a break from clearing trees and brush around nearby homes.
One of them tells Sissy Savoye about free and reduced-cost programs to remove hazardous vegetation in fire-prone areas. She leaves with a box of tacos and the company’s contact info.
Savoye is living in a tent on her best friend’s property…and plans to help him rebuild after his home burned last year.
SAVOY-1: “He barely got out with not even a shirt on his back and his dog. Like, had to drive through a wall of fire to get out…”
The region has seen bigger and bigger fires in recent years.
The Wall Fire, 6,000 acres.
The Camp Fire, 150,000 acres.
And the North Complex Fire last year…over 300,000 acres.
But Savoye…like many of her neighbors…is committed to this place.
SAVOY-2: “I was sitting up outside my tent at night, a lot of people think it’s really ugly. Scarred, damaged. Maybe I relate to that–scars and damage. And I was fortunate enough to have a lot of people love me back to health.”
She says…she is a little nervous about this year. And for good reason.
The last 18 months were among the driest and hottest on record in California. Moisture levels in fire fuels like grass and brush are below average. And the meager snow-pack has largely soaked into the ground, instead of flowing into lakes and rivers.
Look no further than Lake Oroville to see the drought’s impact.
[water/engine ambi…“It should take 20 minutes. You can see the boat ramps over here”…]
Eric Eastman visits here often. He owns a houseboat and is giving me a tour of the lake in his pontoon.
The marina had to remove about 70 houseboats this year…because they could have run aground as the water continues to drop.
Eastman’s boat was spared…but he says it has an impact on the whole community.
EASTMAN-1: “I’d be devastated that we wouldn’t be able to have our home on the water. We would still come here, and many of the owners potluck every night and get together, so we have friend’s boats that we stay on, but it’s not like staying on your boat.”
The shoreline’s steep, dry embankments loom over us.
Lake Oroville’s water is less than half of what it usually is for this time of year. And it will only continue to drop.
We ride past a hillside torched by last year’s North Complex Fire…which sent a blizzard of embers onto the lake.
EASTMAN-2: “You couldn’t even see one boat to the next, so thick of smoke. And they finally let people come off and blow the ash and everything off your boats. Because there were huge leaves and pine needles everywhere. I just can’t believe boats didn’t catch on fire.”
Back on dry land, I meet up with CalFire Captain Robert Foxworthy.
We hike along a wooded trail…where much of the grass is already dried out and yellow…prime for catching fire.
So what is Cal Fire doing to prepare?
FOXWORHTY-2: “We are hiring over 1,200 additional firefighters that are gonna go mainly to hand crews. Until they are actually out there fighting fire and fire suppression, they’re going to be doing fuel suppression projects.”
Governor Gavin Newsom announced over half-a-billion dollars in early-budget spending to expand vegetation management projects. And he’s proposing over $5 billion to address the drought.
Foxworthy offers this plea to the public: Now is the time to pack your go-bags with essential belongings and documents, and to make sure the space around your home is clear of dangerous fire fuels.
And that was Cap Radio’s Scott Rodd
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.