January 20, 2011
This month I was honored to take the oath of office for my fifth term as your County Supervisor and then was elected by my colleagues as Chairman for 2011. I will deliver the annual State of the County Address at 6 PM on February 2, 2011.
In the past, these events have been held at large venues. This year, keeping in mind the challenging economic times, the State of the County Address will be in the Board Chambers on the third floor of the County Administration Center (CAC), 1600 Pacific Highway, San Diego, CA 92101.
The evening’s program will be televised live by our County Television Network (CTN) on Time Warner and Cox Cable.
The State of the County Address will be a time to reflect on past events and communicate portions of the agenda the public can expect in the coming year.
I am honored to have your trust and pledge to work in the best interests of the public.
In this edition of the Word, I’ll share with you information about a transportation plan for the future, an upcoming conference that looks for solutions to our region’s water crisis, the opening of a wonderful new addition to Valley Center’s open space, and preview the grand dedication of the new Fallbrook Library.
Happy New Year!
The Road to 2050
Last month, I voted to approve the San Diego Regional Association of Governments’ (SANDAG) plan and schedule of regional transportation projects for the next forty years. This plan, referred to as the Regional Transportation Plan, is based on the needs of our region as projected in SANDAG’s 2050 Growth Forecast.
The plan was developed by creating a wish list of regional transportation projects, prioritizing them in order of importance, and then applying that list to SANDAG’s revenue projections for the next forty years. SANDAG staff then took the list and developed four draft plans for the region. Each plan differed significantly from the other.
My colleagues and I on the Board of Directors were asked to approve a plan that emphasized rail/freight improvements, highway improvements, mass transit improvements, or a fusion of the three. After several spirited discussions, it became clear that none of the four plans was adequate, and that a new draft plan would be necessary. I have always believed that a balance of transit and highway improvements is necessary to accommodate our needs as a region, both now and in the future. I was pleased that SANDAG staff returned with a plan that provided the right mix of projects. The new and approved hybrid plan includes the following:
How much different will we look by 2050? If we change as much as we have since 1971, the answer is: a lot. Forty years ago Interstate 805 wasn’t even built and the San Diego Trolley was still ten years away from carrying its first passenger.
We were driving muscle cars that went for $3,300 and cost about three dollars to fill the gas tank. A new house sold for under $6,000, and a first class stamp was eight cents. We bought polyester leisure suits out of our average yearly salary of $10,000 and gave 18-year-olds the right to vote. Getting around was a lot easier since the population was about 1/3 of what it is today.
It is important to me and my fellow North County representatives on the SANDAG Board that North County receive its fair share of the transportation dollars provided to our region. By working as a team, we were able to secure about 30% of the anticipated funding for the region, which will provide North County with a bounty of valuable projects. Although we cannot be certain, it is estimated that our region will have nearly $45 billion to allocate toward regional transportation projects between now and 2050. These funds will come from various state and federal sources, and will put your tax dollars to work for the benefit of our region.
I’m honored to be among those leaders who are planning ahead for the challenges our region will face forty years from now. I look forward to revisiting our plan when SANDAG updates it in 2014.
January 26, 2011
I am inviting experts from many fields to the County Administration Center for a conference that will examine our most precious natural resource: water. We are calling the session: “Water and Growth, Planning for the Future.”
Whatever your thoughts are on growth in San Diego County, without an adequate supply and distribution of water, we are doomed.
There is no such thing as new water. The water that floated Noah’s ark is the same that we have today. All water is either recycled by rain, going in lakes, evaporating back into clouds, or saved in places such as springs or polar glaciers. More than 70% of the Earth is covered by water.
So, with all that water, why do we have a water crisis? One of the reasons is that most of the water is in the ocean and as The Rime of the Ancient Mariner went:
Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.
The construction of the Poseidon Desalination Plant in Carlsbad is a step in the right direction. I support building more of these along the coast to take advantage of this ready supply of water. Until that happens, we are left to find solutions to manage the distribution of imported water and capitalize on local water supplies.
The State’s water conveyance system is broken. Unfortunately, the Safe, Clean and Reliable Drinking Water Supply Act of 2010, which I supported, was withdrawn from the November ballot. Our County stood to gain millions of dollars in dedicated funding for local reservoir projects, local supply reliability and watershed projects.
Currently, we find ourselves in the death-grip of a political drought and a way of thinking that has just about dried up common sense. It can only be described as societal suicide when the California High Speed Rail Authority gives the green light to spend $4.3 billion for the first 65 miles of the line between Corcoran, north of Fresno to the “burgeoning” community of Borden near Bakersfield. While our water supply is on a slow drip and needing new water infrastructure to bring water from the north into the Central Valley and parts south, the State is intent on building a high-speed 800-mile rail line with almost no money to fund it and few passengers projected to ride it.
For close to 40 years, I have been a North County farmer and rancher and am vitally concerned that our $5.1 billion agriculture industry is threatened with extinction. San Diego County imports more than 85% of its water from the Colorado River and State Water Project. Record setting drought conditions locally and court rulings have already reduced 30% of the County’s imported water supply. As a conservationist, I am alarmed when I see radical environmentalists place the welfare of a two-inch bait fish over the lives of thousands of people who are being forced out of work and eventually out of the state for lack of a livelihood.
Fortunately, a federal judge in Fresno recently invalidated key parts of a much debated plan to protect the threatened Delta Smelt. The judge found that while pumping water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta hurt the smelt, the restrictions set to protect the fish were not justified and ordered the federal government to rewrite the plan. Since two out of every three people depend on water from that part of California, we wait to see how much of a victory this is for agriculture water users and urban water district regions.
I look forward to what will come out of our conference and believe that with the wealth of information we have at hand; real solutions to the water crisis can be found to ensure our region’s survival.
The first 2.5 miles of a tremendous addition to Valley Center is now open and being used by residents and visitors alike. It was a great moment to be part of the celebration ceremony to officially open Heritage Trail, a tree lined pathway between Woods Valley and Cole Grade Roads, bordered by wooden post and rail fencing.
Heritage Trail is another example of the community coming together and working with the County to enhance the recreation in Valley Center and mitigate impacts from the widening of Valley Center Road. The trail accommodates joggers, walkers, wheelchair users, bicyclists and equestrians with interpretive signs, benches, picnic tables, bike racks, and hitching posts. The project also includes landscaped medians in the road.
The Department of Public Works, the Valley Center Trails Association, and the Valley Center Community Planning Group collaborated on the Heritage Trail’s design and development.
There was a special moment recognizing the tremendous work of the late Brendan McNabb, the path’s first project manager who was instrumental in securing a $225,000 grant from the state in 2007. Brendan passed away in February of 2007.
A $350,000 grant from the state in 2009 helped build a trail that is more than twice as long as originally envisioned. The TransNet sales tax, County Neighborhood Reinvestment Fund and community donors also provided about $1.8 million for the trail and landscaped medians.
I greatly appreciate the help of all who worked so hard on the project, especially Brendan McNabb, an Irish immigrant who will always be remembered for Heritage Trail, now a North County gem that is as memorable as a perfect four leaf clover.
At the December 7 Board of Supervisors meeting I was honored to receive the 2010 Noreen Sigafoose Partner of the Year Award from the Board of Directors of Full Access & Coordinated Transportation (FACT). Noreen was FACT’s first Board Chair and a former Carlsbad City Councilmember.
The award is presented to individuals who have made a difference in support of FACT’s mission to provide transportation solutions to the disabled and elderly.
Five years ago, a group of community activists with a common desire to make a change in San Diego County’s transportation system joined forces. They came from North County Transit District, Area Board 13, the State Council on Developmental Disabilities, the San Diego Center for the Blind, the San Diego Association of Governments, and Aging and Independent Services at the County of San Diego.
The vision for FACT’s mission is to provide all people living in San Diego County with an accessible transportation system that meets their individual needs.
North County was identified as an area for a pilot project and included six cities covering 1,100 square miles.
The concept behind FACT’s project is to identify any barriers and develop the techniques and resources necessary to create a coordinated transportation system within the designated pilot area.
Through our Neighborhood Reinvestment Program, the County funded a $64,000 grant that helped FACT set up its mobility center.
For more information:
410 S. Melrose Drive #207, Vista, CA 92081
(760) 643-4081, toll free (888) 924-3228
Interfaith Community Services (ICS) is one of the true champions for veterans in North County. ICS Executive Director Suzanne Pohlman and her team have been responsible for turning around the lives of countless veterans who have come to ICS for assistance during tough times.
Recently ICS was rated one of the top ten “Top Notch” charities in the nation by Charity Navigator. The rating for efficiency and effectiveness is well deserved and most impressive since more than 5,000 other charities were reviewed.
Last month ICS unveiled its Wall of Heroes at the Oceanside Veterans Transitional Housing facility. The Wall of Heroes is being used to reduce the mortgage through the sale of tiles on an American flag-shaped Veterans tribute in front of the housing facility. There are 83 bricks and as of the unveiling, 55 were filled. The tiles, with the names of veterans or active duty military members are available for a $2,500 donation for a dedicated 3-line engraving or $1,000 for one line on a shared brick.
At the unveiling ceremony, Suzanne Pohlman announced big news. An anonymous donor has agreed to take on the remaining mortgage (about $400,000) on the veterans housing complex, allowing Interfaith to pay just $1,560 a month in interest for the next three years. That is a huge difference from the previous $24,000 monthly payment.
The donor will also match any contributions toward reducing the mortgage principal, leaving the agency with just about $200,000 to go to retire the debt.
Last April, our Board approved my request for a $20,000 grant from the County Neighborhood Reinvestment Program to ICS that was used in the “Lifting Up Our Neighbor” capital campaign to pay off the transitional housing facility’s mortgage principal.
Two men who more than qualify as heroes are veterans Jack Raymond and Jack Port (part of the D-Day invasion). They are leading the Wall of Heroes campaign to fill the remaining 28 spaces on the wall.
For more information on buying a tile, contact Greg Angelea at ICS at (760) 749-6380.
A milestone in the history of Fallbrook is only a few days away. On Saturday, January 22, at 10 AM, it will be my honor to host the official grand opening and dedication of the new Fallbrook Library at 124 S. Mission Road.
We have worked many years to reach this point and with the hard work and incredible dedication of community leaders, the Village’s centerpiece is now a reality.
The 19,000-square-foot facility includes a variety of specialty rooms for events, studying and reading. It more than doubles the old library that was demolished in the fall of 2009 to make way for the new one on the same site. I appreciate the tremendous job our library staff did in the temporary location on Main Avenue.
The roof is a story in itself. The top of the library is covered with 3,300 square feet of colorful succulents, native plants and species to create a full realized design that is a living quilt of textures that can be seen from street level.
The new library received a “Design Award of Merit” from the California Council of the Society of American Registered Architects.
I hope you can join me for what will be a great celebration.
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