Push To House Homeless Focuses On Downtown This Month (San Diego News Now)

Housing officials are just over a week into their downtown push to connect homeless residents to shelters and housing. Meanwhile, the San Ysidro Transit Center has been inadequate for years. Now, something might be done about it. Plus, Sandbox VR gaming center opened in Mission Valley shortly before the pandemic hit. KPBS Arts reporter Beth Accomando checks it out.

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Wednesday July 7th.

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Focusing homeless outreach in Downtown

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

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The Coronado Unified School board has voted unanimously to appeal sanctions against the Coronado High basketball team by the California Interscholastic federation–- that’s according to the San Diego Union tribune. Last month fans threw tortillas at Orange Glen, a largely latino team, after they lost the game against Coronado High. CIF later vacated Coronado high’s championship title over the incident. Coronado School board trustee Whitney Antrim says she called for the vote to appeal because students shouldn’t have to suffer because of actions by adults who, she says, were responsible for the incidents.

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UC San Diego, UCLA and UC Berkeley are going to have to cut their out-of-state admissions by roughly four percent… making room for 45-hundred California applicants. That’s per the recently approved state budget. Gaurav Khanna is an assistant professor of economics at UC San Diego who is opposed to the new UC admissions order.

“More revenue from out-of-state students actually helps keep tuition levels low for in-state students. And so you get more in-state students actually coming to those universities.”

The state will pay $184 million to cover the higher tuition money that would have come from out-of-state students.

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San Diego county mountains and deserts are gonna get really hot this weekend, according to the National Weather service. A coming heat wave is expected to put temperatures upwards of 119 in the deserts on Saturday and Sunday. For today, temperatures are in the low 90s to low 100s in the mountains. 90’s to 100s in the desert. The county has nine coolzone or air conditioned locations open to the public. More info on Coolzones can be found on the county’s website.

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Starting today, you can walk up to a hut in Downtown’s waterfront park and get married. The county is offering “walk up Wednesdays” because of an unprecedented number of requests for marriage licenses and civil services. It will continue through the summer until demand slows.

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

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

A national homelessness expert says San Diego needs to coordinate efforts among agencies and find more permanent housing solutions if it wants to see fewer unsheltered people on the streets.. Those were two of 16 recommendations made after a six-month assessment by consultant Matthew Doherty. The report comes as San Diego’s unsheltered population is once again increasing. Mayor Todd Gloria says some of the consultant’s recommendations are already being implemented or are included in the new city budget.

Matthew Doherty is the former executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and the author of the new report on San Diego Homelessness Strategies. He spoke with KPBS Midday Edition Host Maureen Cavanaugh about the report. Here’s that interview.

That was Matthew Doherty, former executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. He was speaking with KPBS Midday Edition Host Maureen Cavanaugh.

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And in the meantime in San Diego, a month-long program is going on to get unsheltered residents in Downtown into housing. KPBS health reporter Matt Hoffman has more.

Housing officials are just over a week into their downtown push to connect homeless residents to shelters and housing..
Basically get anybody off the street into housing whichever way makes the most sense to do that
Brian Gruters with PATH says efforts are being focused on three areas, the city center, east village and the gaslamp district.. A mobile command center has staff connecting people to resources like medicaid or food stamps.. And with shelters expanding operations now that coronavirus restrictions are being relaxed, those who want shelter can get it right here–
Brian Gruters, PATH, associate director for outreach
If it’s a quick fix like someone wants to go to shelter they can do that today it’s pretty simple but a lot of people don’t’ want that for a lot of different reasons and we want to follow up with that
During this month-long outreach city officials are also trying to identify space for a shelter that can take in those with severe substance abuse disorders. MH KPBS News

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The San Ysidro Transit Center has been inadequate for years. Now, something might be done about it. inewsource reporter Jennifer Bowman explains.

BOWMAN: The southernmost trolley stop in San Ysidro is also one of San Diego’s most popular. It serves as the city’s front porch to one of the world’s busiest border crossings.
But Lisa Cuestas of local nonprofit Casa Familiar says the station is in bad shape.
CUESTAS: “When you go there, all you feel is a hot mess.” (00:04)
Cuestas and others have urged transit leaders to act, but they haven’t gotten far.
CUESTAS: “They’ve been getting away with substandard infrastructure and stations making a lot of money for them.” (00:06)
Now, transit officials might have an answer. San Ysidro would get what’s being called a mobility hub. Here’s Coleen Clementson of the San Diego Association of Governments, which handles regional planning.
CLEMENTSON: “So these are the denser areas where multiple transportation options come together. That’s already happening in San Ysidro. So we can capitalize on that.” (00:09)
BOWMAN: The new hub has the same problem that officials have faced before … the two-hundred-million-dollar project needs funding. For KPBS, I’m inewsource reporter Jennifer Bowman.

That was inewsource reporter Jennifer Bowman. For more on this story, go to inewsource dot org. inewsource is an independently funded, nonprofit partner of KPBS.

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The senior center in Carlsbad is reopening after being closed due to the pandemic. KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne was at the ribbon cutting ceremony.

The Carlsbad Senior Center was closed to visitors durin O g the pandemic. But inside, volunteers were still busy… making meals for the seniors that once attended the center on a daily basis.
“Over the course of the pandemic the Carlsbad Senior Center made and distributed over 60,000 to-go meals. But today preparations are underway for their first in person luncheon. “
In-person bingo, classes, and lunches are back on at the Carlsbad Senior Center.
PATRICIA MEHAN/CARLSBAD SENIOR CENTER
“The senior center is very special to everyone in this community. It has many programs for everyone.”
Patricia Mehan, the center’s Senior Commissioner, has been going to the Senior Center since it opened.
She had the honor of cutting the ribbon for the center’s official reopening following the pandemic.
“I think the social part, seeing people. I think that’s very important for older people, especially to be able to communicate with others.”
Mehan’s husband, Sherman DeForest, teaches a tech class offered at the senior center.
SHERMAN DEFOREST/CARLSBAD SENIOR CENTER
“People have apples, they have laptops, they have whatever… and they come to us because their grandchildren can’t always show them how to do things.”
City and senior center staff were present at the ceremony commemorating staff and volunteers for their work during the pandemic.
CORI SHUMACHER/CARLSBAD CITY COUNCILMEMBER
‘Once we had to shut the center down, volunteers under the leadership of Kyle Lancaster, ended up pulling together and delivering a whopping 61,000 meals during the COVID crisis.”
A project that will still continue after the center’s reopening.
Virtual classes will also be kept as part of the center’s programs, giving Seniors hybrid options.
In Carlsbad, TT KPBS News.

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Coming up….KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando assembles “team romero” to fight zombies…

“zombies in the back…up in the top… oh behind you…”

we’ll check out the virtual reality gaming available at sandbox vr in mission valley. That’s next, just after the break.

Sandbox vr opened shortly before the pandemic hit and just recently reopened. Located in the mission valley shopping center, the virtual reality or VR gaming facility allows groups of up to six players fight zombies, alien bugs or each other. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando went with some friends to check it out…

Not all businesses love to hear their clients screaming.
CLIP Screaming kids behind a door.
JORDAN EWING And so the screaming is basically our customers, you know, enjoying themselves to their fullest.
That’s Jordan Ewing, manager of Sandbox VR in mission Valley.
CLIP Front door, front door… screams.
JORDAN EWING Sandbox is a fully immersive virtual reality experience. We offer five different experiences: Amber Sky, Deadwood, Curse of Davy Jones, Star Trek and also our fight one, which is UFL.
Our group opted for zombies and Deadwood Mansion. We dubbed ourselves Team Romero and geared up to battle zombies with the help of Sandbox manager Jordan Ewing.
JORDAN EWING So this is room one. Each one of these rooms look exactly like this one maybe a slightly different configuration. We do have the backpacks over here in the backpacks is what powers the experience. And we have trackers. We have four trackers, twos for your legs, and two for your arms. And they just go on like watches and ankle. And then we also have the haptic vests, the haptic vest is what’s going to allow you to feel that in-game damage. So if your friend is shooting you or if a villain’s shooting, or a zombie is like hitting and you in your face. That’s what you’re going to feel.
CLIP Go ahead and put on your occulus and headphone sets.
BLANCA OSORIO It was a VR game, a horror experience where we got to shoot zombies and rats, lots of rats.
CLIP Rats in video game
BLANCA OSORIO I screamed a lot. My throat even hurts.
CLIP Rats! (screaming)
Blanca Osorio killed more rats than zombies.
BLANCA OSORIO Yeah, so I was the exterminator of the group because rats freak me out and they were coming towards me and I was just like no.
CLIP Screaming
JOSE ITURRIAGA So it’s crazy how you actually get into the horror feel and you actually get, like, freaked out about things that are coming at you.
Jose Iturriaga was also on Team Romero.
CLIP Screaming
Vivianna Grondahl is an experienced gamer but usually just plays at home on a computer with a keyboard and mouse.
VIVIANNA GRONDAHL That was this was my first, like, fully immersive VR experience where I got to play with other players and see other players. And that part was so much better than just an alone experience with VR, just being aware of your surroundings and your teammates and being able to heal each other. That was hilarious.
Yes, we died a lot but a touch on the shoulder could revive you.
CLIP I’m dead… touch me…
Gavin Bowles was trying virtual reality gaming for the first time.
GAVIN BOWLES It was intense. It was very immersive. Very realistic and it made my heart pound.
As a concept artist, Iturriaga appreciated the game’s design.
JOSE ITURRIAGA The environment is so well done that you feel like you’re in it
VIVIANNA GRONDAHL You get equipped with a haptic responsive vest so when something’s touching you or attacking you, you’re feeling it. So it is completely immersive.
BLANCA OSORIO And it’s cool because you get, you know, a 360 view. So it’s like you’re really in that place.
CLIP Zombies in the back…
BLANCA OSORIO I like the fact that the zombies came out from different places, you have to be like…
CLIP Up in the top behind you
BLANCA OSORIO Like on your feet the whole time, like looking out. They come from the ceiling…
CLIP from the sky,
BLANCA OSORIO It’s fun. They give you a gun, so you get to shoot at stuff.
VIVIANNA GRONDAHL I had two handguns because it reminded me of a Final Fantasy character that you love. And I figured I could have a little bit more blast radius if I had two hands to shoot with than just one.
GAVIN BOWLES It did start very slow. But once it gets going and they explain everything to you and you get everything all geared up, it’s very fast paced.
VIVIANNA GRONDAHL It starts off pretty like a pretty manageable level. And it’s quickly picks up pace. You start getting more enemies, different mechanics. So you kind of have to figure out what’s going on around you and be aware of everything around you. So it goes by pretty quickly, escalates quickly.
GAVIN BOWLES I think my my favorite part would probably be watching the video afterwards.
VIVIANNA GRONDAHL That video was so funny because you’re equipped with all of your gear and you’re seeing things that you think you look pretty badass and then you watch yourself and you’re kind of flailing around.
Iturriage, aka Bats, was the team MVP.
JOSE ITURRIAGA Yes, I was pleasantly surprised about that because I did die a few times, but yeah, I guess that shotgun proved handy.
Kudos to Team Romero for fighting off most of the zombies.
For KPBS News this is Bub the Untouchable, I mean Beth Accomando

Sandbox vr requires masks for non-vaccinated guests and sanitizes all gear between gaming sessions.

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.

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