SUPERVISOR 5TH DISTRICT COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO
November 5, 2009
Building Bridges over Troubled Water
One of the keys in local government is to maintain open lines of communication with elected officials at the state level. Much of what goes on in Sacramento has a direct impact on San Diego County and unfortunately, the dysfunction 400 miles to the north is increasingly adding to our problems at home.
Recently, I met with 73rd Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, whose district includes portions of North County. She is Vice Chair of Housing and Urban Development and serves as a member of the Appropriations Committee, Budget Committee, and Revenue and Taxation Committee. I am working with Diane and other members of our local delegation to forge an effective voice for North County in Sacramento.
Diane asked to see me after reading my thoughts on the water crisis in the state and my hope that legislative leaders can find, what so far has been, an elusive solution. She agrees with me that our regulatory environment and tax burden are discouraging the economic recovery that is so needed to not only improve our quality of life and that of future generations, but to maintain what we have. Water, power, and basic necessities must be upgraded to allow our state to return to the California of years past.
Now the legislature has passed a sweeping package of policies and along with Governor Schwarzenegger will ask voters to approve $11.14 billion in bonds to pay for a range of projects, including reservoirs, desalinization, and environmental protection programs. I’m glad the State is finally taking action, however, the water problem remains political and finding balance with the Delta Smelt could save taxpayers untold millions in the long run, while helping to solve our water crisis.
Diane voted in favor of the bond measure, however, she has reservations about many of the policy provisions. She was pleased that existing water rights laws remain in tact; however, she says it is vital to make sure bureaucracy does not grow and increase in power.
I agree with Diane that putting the state further in the red is a bad idea unless much needed water is truly on the horizon. And while general obligation bonds are being considered as a long-term financing strategy to ensure our future water supply, the reality is that due to our declining revenues, the state may have trouble finding buyers for the bonds. In addition, only $3 billion would be set aside for building new reservoirs and $2.25 billion for a campaign to restore the vital Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta that provides a third of San Diego County’s water and two-thirds of Southern California’s. Of concern to me is that the Delta would be managed by a new and powerful oversight council which could influence whether or not a canal should be built to bring water to our region.
As we wait to see what voters decide on the bond measure for long-range solutions, there is positive news about the near future. After eleven years of bureaucratic and environmental red tape, Poseidon has been given the go-ahead to begin construction of a desalination plant in Carlsbad that will provide 50 million gallons a day of drinking water (enough for 100,000 homes) by 2012. I have been and continue to be a strong supporter of desalination as an important step that will hopefully one day bring water independence to Southern California.
While the political divide in Sacramento is huge, Diane told me that as tax receipts continue to fall, Republicans and Democrats in the state are beginning to recognize that we have common goals. There are signs that Democrat legislative members in Southern California realize there must be a change in North-South relations.
I am a businessman and (avocado and citrus) grower. I know that to survive I must use basic business principles. In my years as North County Supervisor, I have applied that same fiscal discipline to how the County of San Diego operates. The result is that unlike most government bodies, we remain fiscally strong, even in the face of unprecedented cuts from the state and other financial challenges.
Diane and I share the opinion that the downturn in our economy did not just happen last fall. The fact is that our state has been living on credit cards for years and now their credit line has flat lined.
In many respects, the County of San Diego is at the mercy of decision makers in Sacramento. I continue to foster a collective voice of common sense from North County that while it is at least being carried to the halls of the state capitol, let’s hope it is not going in and out of the ears of those people who could bring true reform.
In this edition of the “Word,” I’ll be sharing an easier way for the public to connect with our County Planning Commission, a proactive step in controlling gang activity in Fallbrook, the exciting ground breaking for TERI’s state-of-the-art campus, and a bigger, longer, and better bookmobile for North County.
As we move closer into a season of Thanksgiving, we have much to be grateful for including the heroic service of our military Veterans. I will be riding in the Veterans Day Parade in downtown San Diego. It begins at 11 a.m. on Pacific Highway and Cedar and then continues south to G Street. I hope you can attend and promise you a wave and maybe a Marine Corps salute since the Corps 234th birthday will have been the day before on November 10.
I count it a privilege to have both served our country and to be your County Supervisor.
We Tore Down that Wall!
In some neighborhoods there are things that stand out like a “sore thumb” and are more than an irritation. Such was the case with a wall located in the 1100 block of South Vine Street in Fallbrook. The wall was the scene for drug use, assaults, stabbings, graffiti, gang related crime, in addition to being a gang hideout.
There are times when the best way to handle a problem is to literally take a jackhammer to it, which is why I supported demolishing the wall. We did that thanks to the efforts of the Sheriff’s Fallbrook Substation and civic leaders including Al Gebhart, CSA 81, and Mike Peters, Executive Director of the Fallbrook Land Conservancy. On a Saturday morning, the cinder block wall came crashing down.
I commend Sheriff Bill Gore for his leadership and appreciate his being there for the event along with Deputy Andrew Brumfield of the Fallbrook Substation who heads up the Problem Oriented Police (POP) project.
Planning Commission Meetings Accessible Toll-Free by Phone
Keeping the public fully informed on County business has been made easier with a new toll-free telephone line that lets citizens listen to San Diego County Planning Commission meetings without having to drive to the commission’s hearing room in Kearny Mesa.
Our County Department of Planning and Land Use (DPLU) also enabled people who have computers and Internet access to see the reports and presentations that are shown to the Commission during the meeting by way of a WebEx page.
The Planning Commission is made up of seven members appointed by the County Board of Supervisors and meets every other week to discuss land use issues in San Diego County’s unincorporated communities.
Callers can hear the meetings over the “listen-only” line by calling 1-866-356-7389 and punching in the pass code, 9209146#, when they are prompted.
To access the WebEx site visit www.sdcounty.ca.gov/dplu/pcnext.html and click the red, “New Service, Listen to Live Proceedings” link.
Information on Planning Commission meetings and agendas can be found at www.sdcounty.ca.gov/dplu/pcnext.html.
One of the most satisfying moments in recent years took place late last month when I was privileged to take part in the groundbreaking of a first-of-its-kind campus for the Training, Education & Research Institute (TERI, Inc.) in Twin Oaks Valley, just east of San Marcos.
TERI’s future home will bring special services to people with autism and other developmental disabilities on 20 acres of land in an area that once was the route of the Butterfield Overland Stagecoach line. The campus will include state-of-the-art facilities for fitness, arts and education, life quality planning, applied research, childhood development, equestrian therapy, horticulture, culinary arts, extensive vocational training opportunities and a 23,000 square foot recreation and aquatic center.
The first phase of construction has now started and was launched with a traditional “Barn Raising” celebration in which we lifted one of the walls off the ground.
The campus is named for Charles Cono, a local property developer and entrepreneur who donated $5 million for its construction. Mr. Cono passed away in June of this year.
I especially appreciate the leadership of Cheryl Kilmer, Chief Executive Officer and founder of TERI. She and her board persevered with us as we had to overcome a myriad of environmental and community hurdles, most of which were either bogus or based on unfounded fears. Unfortunately, the delays added unnecessary and enormous costs to the project. However, that is behind us and now building has begun on what will certainly be a shining national example of love and care in North County.
Books on Wheels
North County’s library outreach is getting good mileage following the dedication of the new North County Bookmobile. Along with our County Library Director Jose Aponte, we held the ceremony at one of its regularly scheduled stops in the parking lot of Foothill Oak Elementary School in Vista. After the ribbon-cutting, I checked out the first book, a book about (what else?) San Diego.
The North County Bookmobile is 36 feet long and at ten feet longer than its predecessor has more than twice the capacity of the older vehicle. It holds 7,400 items and has computers and a printer for public use.
Our books on wheels serves the already-established 19 sites throughout much of unincorporated North County that include schools, Native American reservation sites, mobile home parks, shopping centers, retirement residences and other key points that have no access to a library branch. Nineteen thousand people use the County’s bookmobile system.
The North County bookmobile has vibrant art on all four sides created by San Diego muralist John Whalen, the man who did the landmark mural of Charles Lindbergh on the Commuter Terminal at San Diego International Airport.
Respecting and Saving Our History
History defines who we were and its lessons often determine what we will be. This is why it was important to me to support the Fallbrook Historic Registry and get official recognition for the first set of historical landmarks in Fallbrook.
Through the efforts of Bruce Dennett and Jack Story of the Fallbrook Historical Society and local resident Tom Casey, along with Don McDougal, representing the Fallbrook Village Association and Fallbrook Area Visitors Bureau, individual plaques have been made and donated and will be placed at each of the 21 historical sites.
Others who made this possible include Eileen Delaney of the Fallbrook Community Planning Group, Marge Yackey, Anne Burdick, Beverly McDougal, Sandy Baxter, Thea Moore and the late Liz Yamaguchi.
Special thanks to Robert Borst of Borst Designs for donating all of the signs.
For a list of the historic sites, go to the Fallbrook Historical Society’s web page at http://www.fallbrookhistoricalsociety.com/.
When the Rubber meets the Recycler
More than 500 used tires are now off cars and out of empty lots following another successful community clean-up event in Fallbrook. The tires were collected by our Public Works Department and taken to a tire recycler located in Los Angeles.
Soon, future tire recycling will be done locally through a company that shreds and converts whole tires into buffing and crumb rubber. This will mean diverting 13,000 tons per year of waste tires (the equivalent of a million passenger tires) from landfills. Buffing and crumb rubber tire products can be used in landscaping, playgrounds, asphalt overlays, and sports fields.
Our County’s commitment to excellence is often recognized by others, so here are a few recent honors:
County Administration Center 1600 Pacific Highway San Diego, CA 92101 tel: (619) 531-5555 fax: (619) 685-2662
North County office: 325 S. Melrose Ave., Suite 5200, Vista, CA 92081 tel: (760) 806-2400 fax: (760) 806-2404