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How Work-From-Home Changed Rush Hour (San Diego News Now)

Morning rush hour is significantly lighter than before the pandemic, but afternoons can get busy as people working from their homes seek to get out of the house. Meanwhile, the Ramona Unified School District is reversing course, for now, putting on hold a recently adopted policy that would have allowed parents to opt their children out of mask wearing despite state guidelines requiring it. Plus, as the Taliban cements its control over Afghanistan, experts warn that instability will continue to plague the region for the foreseeable future as terror groups could regroup in the war-torn country.

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Wednesday august 18th.

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How rush hour has changed with more people working from home

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

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At least 120 people attended the San Diego county board of supervisors meeting yesterday, in what made for a contentious 4 and a half hour public hearing. A majority of the speakers last night were against vaccine and mask mandates. Many speakers called for board members to be arrested or resign, and repeatedly disrupted the meeting. Other speakers supported mask mandates. Supervisor Joel Anderson says it’s important to hear people’s voices on both sides of the issue.

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A new lawsuit this week is asking a federal judge to either block the September recall election of governor gavin newsom….or add his name to the list of possible replacement candidates. State law already says a candidate who’s the subject of a recall can’t be listed as a replacement for themself,…but some legal scholars argue that the structure of the recall violates the constitution by allowing a governor to be replaced by someone who might win fewer votes. Ballots have already been mailed out, which could complicate any court-ordered changes.

Meanwhile…..

Republican candidate Doug Ose is dropping out of the race after he was hospitalized on Sunday night with a heart attack. His doctors say he should make a full recovery. Ose says he’s ending his bid for governor to focus on healing. He didn’t endorse any other candidates in the race, but urged supporters to vote yes on ousting newsom.

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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.

Rush hour in San Diego County has been lighter since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. But as KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen explains, it’s making its way back…but not in the way you might think.

RUSH HOUR EE VERS
AB: Traffic on the freeways bottomed in the spring of last year, when stay-at-home orders were at their strictest. It’s been creeping up ever since. But for Derrick Thrasher, who’s been working from home since March of 2020, rush hour isn’t much of a concern anymore. The lack of a commute prompted him to move recently to a bigger home in Escondido that’s further from his office.
DERRICK THRASHER
TELECOMMUTER
DT: Also in hopes that when we would return to the office, that traffic would be a little less bad coming this direction, going north. But I’ve actually learned that that’s not necessarily the case.
AB: Overall, Thrasher says he drives a lot less nowadays. But he also finds himself taking more trips just to get out of the house.
DT: After I’ve been working from home all day and I realize I actually haven’t really gone anywhere for a while, you know, I might go to the dog park, take the dogs somewhere on just a quick jaunt. … And then just little trips to the grocery store or downtown Escondido to have a bite to eat or a drink.
AB: Thrasher’s driving habits are playing out across the county. Remote working has led to a much lighter morning rush hour, since fewer people are driving to work. But traffic doesn’t ease up as much after that morning peak. And sometimes it’s worse in the afternoons than before the pandemic. Remote workers may not be driving home from the office. But they are taking more trips unrelated to their jobs. That’s according to cell phone location data analyzed by the company Streetlight Data.
MARTIN MORZYNSKI
STREETLIGHT DATA VP OF MARKETING
MM: There’s a whole host of new driving that happens because people now have the flexibility to go off and drop off a child at camp midday, or do a shopping trip that would have previously been impossible because you’re in the office. We believe that a lot of that midday driving has to do with errands, casual driving, as opposed to commuting.
AB: An increase in delivery services has also put more cars and trucks on the road compared to before the pandemic. Total driving is still down, and that’s been enough to keep congestion in check. But as more businesses choose to bring their workers back to the office, traffic is likely to keep creeping back. Andrew Bowen, KPBS news.

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This month thousands of San Diego children are returning to school and with the pandemic still raging, there are safety guidelines that some schools are challenging. KPBS Health reporter Matt Hoffman says one east county district is rescinding a policy that’s been drawing criticism.

Ramona Unified board members are reversing course for now — putting on hold a recently adopted policy that would allow parents to opt their children out of mask wearing despite state guidelines requiring it. During a special board meeting Monday night parents spoke on both sides of the issue —
As board members it’s not your job to do what’s popular it’s your foundational responsibility to ensure the safety of Ramona students at our schools following health guidance is the right thing to do for Ramona // I’m simply begging for the freedom to choose what I think is best for my children may not be best for yours // I am here because I want to make the choice whether my daughter wears a masks
In a statement to KPBS, Ramona Unified School District Superintendent Theresa Grace said the board went on to approve the safe reopening plan which follows state guidelines for K through 12 schools.. And per those guidelines all students and adults will be required to wear face coverings inside when students return to the classroom this Thursday.
The mask wearing requirement is in effect for students and school staff across California. Most recent guidelines say face coverings don’t have to be worn outdoors, just inside when kids are present. Currently those under 12 are not eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations.
Let us do our job even if you’re not happy with how it’s going down we need to be able to do our work
This masking issue is not over just yet in Ramona.. One school board member tells me the plan adopted has language specifying that a form for parents to opt their kids out of masks will be made available..
Dawn Perfect says the district board and staff will work collaboratively to develop an opt-out that is legally solid.. Meaning at the start of school masks will be worn but there is clear direction to make that optional sometime in the future..
MH KPBS News.

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A top white house climate advisor promises the Biden Administration will deal with climate change, but some local protesters remain unconvinced. KPBS Environment Reporter Erik Anderson has details.

Gina McCarthy gathered with local officials near the seaside train tracks that run through Del Mar. Bluff erosion there has local officials scrambling to shore up the cliffs as they consider plans to move the tracks inland. That served as the backdrop for McCarthy to tout the Biden administration’s respect for science and a commitment to fight for the environment.
“Every decision has to think about climate and equity as a fundamental consideration, and you have a president who came in and on the first day he didn’t just rejoin Paris, but he set goals that we have to keep.”

McCarthy promised aggressive action to deliver the president’s promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. She says solar power was the big winner in the energy marketplace last year and that momentum for renewable power needs to keep building. But that wasn’t enough for a small group of protesters who demanded an end to all fossil fuel burning.

Walker Foley, Food and Water Action.
“Stop issuing permits for drilling and other gas and oil related projects particularly on public, federal lands.”
“While the arguments may only be apart by a couple of degrees one thing that is not in dispute is that the climate is warming and it will impact areas like this in Del Mar. Erik Anderson KPBS News”

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That reporting from KPBS Environment reporter Eric Anderson. Meanwhile, ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISTS ARE GOING AFTER TOP DEMOCRATS IN THE CALIFORNIA SENATE FOR NOT DOING ENOUGH TO COMBAT CLIMATE CHANGE.
CAPRADIO’S NICOLE NIXON REPORTS.

CLIMATE SENATE
The California League of Conservation Voters has new ads and mailers blaming top Democrats in the Senate for stalled legislation to cut down on oil and gas production.
Mary Creasman leads the environmental group.
CREASMAN: We have no more road to kick down on the climate crisis. We have to tackle these now, and delay isn’t an option.
Creasman specifically pointed to a bill which would have banned fracking and outlawed fossil fuel extraction near neighborhoods. The bill stalled earlier this year when it didn’t have the votes to pass out of a committee and two Democrats — Majority Leader Bob Hertzberg and Senator Ben Hueso — abstained from voting.
Senate President pro Tem Toni Atkins is also being targeted by the group. Her office dismissed the ad campaign in a statement and said the San Diego Democrats’ efforts to address climate change are quote “irrefutable.”
SOC

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Coming up…. as the Taliban takes control of Afghanistan, another bitter episode in recent American history comes to mind…

“Afghanistan has become Vietnam 2.0. And so the analogue would be to look back in history and ask ourselves. Are there enough parallels to our exit from Vietnam? Can we apply that and sort of draw some lessons from that?”

We have more on that next, just after the break.

Now that the Taliban have seized control of Afghanistan, many questions remain over what dangers could be posed following the exit of U.S armed forces from the region.

Erik Gartzke is a political scientist and the founding director of the Center for Peace and Security Studies at UCSD. He spoke with KPBS MIdday Edition host Jade Hindmon. Here’s that interview…

That was Erik Gartzke , a political scientist and the founding director of the Center for Peace and Security Studies at UCSD, speaking with KPBS MIdday Edition host Jade Hindmon.

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.