Axios San Diego

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Good morning! It's Tuesday. We hope at least some of you had a chance to enjoy Bruce Springsteen last night. Andy certainly did.

  • Today's weather: CoastCloudy with a slight chance of showers, then gradually clearing; highs in the low 60s. InlandCloudy with a chance of showers before 11am, then gradually clearing; highs in the low 60s.

Today's newsletter is 892 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: San Diego County is healthier than most

<span style="text-align: center; display: block"> 2024 County Health Factors rankings</span>
Data: County Health Rankings; Note: Factors include prevalence of healthy behaviors, quality of clinical care, socio-economic indicators and physical environment; Map: Jared Whalen/Axios

San Diego County is healthier than most counties across the country, a new report suggests.

Why it matters: San Diego residents have a longer life expectancy and lower rate of premature death than the rest of California and the U.S.

The fine print: The study not only measured health outcomes, but also indicators including healthy behaviors, quality of clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment — all of which can be improved for longer, healthier lives.

Zoom in: San Diego County's health factors are about the same as the average county in California, but better than the national average.

The county's biggest strengths:

  • Adults participating in physical activity and their access to exercise.
  • Low rate of teen births (which have been associated with adverse health outcomes).
  • High ratios of doctors and mental health providers to residents.
  • High percentage of insured residents.
  • High percentage of college-educated people.
  • Low unemployment and child poverty rates.

The setbacks: More air pollution, severe housing problems and excessive drinking.

The big picture: California is a mixed bag, with counties having some of the highest and lowest quality-of-health factors.

  • 64% of California's 58 counties are better than the national average by the study's measurements, and 14% are worse.
  • The Bay Area, including San Francisco County, ranked among the nation's best in terms of health factors.
  • Meanwhile, Imperial County, on San Diego's eastern border, ranked among the nation's worst for those same measurements.

What they're saying: Places with strong civic infrastructure, such as broadband internet access and public libraries, are often healthier, County Health Rankings & Roadmaps said in a recent news release.

  • "These counties are often located in the Northeast and Western regions of the country and tend to also experience more social and economic opportunities and longer life expectancy."

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2. Rendering vs. reality: Gallagher Square

Overhead rendering of Gallagher Square from the southeast (left) and a view of the square from the western edge (right). Rendering: Courtesy of the San Diego Padres; Photo: Andrew Keatts/Axios

The San Diego Padres on Monday unveiled newly renovated Gallagher Square at Petco Park, which looks pretty close to the renderings.

Why it matters: The $20 million remodel has further transformed the park from a grassy hill to watch Padres games into an amphitheater-style concert venue and elevated baseball viewing party.

There are family-friendly attractions and concessions.

  • There's more standing room and a bigger built-in, tiered seating area on turf in front of the Sycuan stage.
  • The upgraded kids' ballpark looks more legit (though smaller) than many Little League fields, and there's a Padres-themed playground.
  • The Tony Gwynn statue is on a new elevated viewing deck with fans' engraved bricks.

On deck: Beyond baseball, several concerts are coming to Gallagher Square this spring and summer. Tickets range from $45 to $100+.

  • April 28: Mexican pop band Belanova
  • May 3: Country music artist Riley Green
  • May 4: Electronic/rock DJ and musician Lane 8
  • May 16: Singer-songwriter and rapper Bryson Tiller
  • May 23: Singer-songwriter Maggie Rogers
  • May 26: Chilean and Mexican musician Mon Laferte
  • May 31: Country music star Jordan Davis

More upcoming shows

3. The Lineup: Catch up quick

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🚑 Response time violations are down significantly since the city of San Diego took over ambulance services from private provider Falck in October. Falck had 17 violations during the last three months of 2022; the city had only two over the same three months of 2023. (Union-Tribune)

🎭 Downtown's Balboa Theatre is preparing for its 100th anniversary. The theater opened March 28, 1924, with an orchestral concert and a screening of the silent film, "Lilies of the Field," accompanied by an organist. (KPBS)

📜 A new state bill is targeting so-called hate littering after flyers sharing anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ sentiments were distributed at recent San Diego events. (CBS 8)

4. California sees increase in book titles challenged

Book titles challenged in public schools and libraries, 2023
Data: American Library Association; Map: Rahul Mukherjee/Axios

California saw more books challenged from 2022 to 2023, according to the American Library Association.

Why it matters: California is often considered a haven for LGBTQ and other marginalized communities, but the rise of book-ban attempts across the country has led to a similar push in the Golden State.

Driving the news: In 2023, 98 titles were challenged in California, up from 87 in 2022, Axios' Shawna Chen and Jennifer A. Kingson report.

Zoom in: San Diego Public Library branches received five book challenges in the past five years, including two last year, KPBS reported in February.

  • The library also joined with others in Seattle, Boston and Los Angeles in a program called Books Unbanned, which provides library cards to people from other states to access banned books.

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5. It's officially strawberry season in Carlsbad

The Carlsbad Strawberry Company's U-Pick fields in 2018. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

After a delay from all the rain this year, Carlsbad Strawberry Company's fields are now open.

What to expect: Visitors can pick ripe, juicy strawberries right from the fields of this family-run business that's been a San Diego staple since the 1950s.

  • Buckets are $15 each and hold about 2 pounds of strawberries.

There are also non-strawberry-related activities. Guests can:

  • Experience a giant sunflower maze.
  • Pet and feed goats, sheep and rabbits.
  • Buy other fresh produce from a market.

If you go: U-Pick fields are open daily, 9am-6pm.

  • Admission is $5 for adults and free for children under 5.
  • Parking is available at the fields right off I-5 at 1050 Cannon Rd. in Carlsbad.

Fun fact: California produces 75% of strawberry crops in the U.S., according to the company.

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Our picks:

🌷 Andy is coping with week one of his son's two-week spring break.

⛹🏻‍♀️ Kate is in awe of so many elite women's college basketball players.

This newsletter was edited by Carly Mallenbaum and copy edited by James Gilzow.