This month we expect to take another huge step forward in creating the largest park in San Diego County by acquiring a 143-acre parcel of land located along the San Luis Rey River on State Route 76. The parcel is within the proposed boundaries of the 9-mile, linear San Luis Rey River Park and would more than double the amount of land for the park owned by the County.
Ten years ago, it was my vision to create the San Luis Rey River Park and at the same time make good on my promise to widen Highway 76.
The parcel is currently owned by the Vessels family and will cost approximately $5 million. The land features a southern cottonwood-willow riparian forest with areas of mulefat scrub, southern willow scrub and coast live oak woodland. The County currently owns 116.56 acres of open space purchased from San Luis Rey Downs in December 2005 and with this purchase, the number of acres now stands at nearly 260 acres. The area lies entirely within the draft North County Multiple Species Conservation Program boundaries.
The park will ultimately extend from Oceanside to Interstate 15, parallel to State route 76 along the San Luis Rey River. Plans call for Highway 76 to be widened to four lanes from Mission to Interstate 15.
In 2003, at my request, the Board of Supervisors initiated the San Luis Rey River Park project and authorized the creation of a master plan for the park. Work on the master plan has now progressed to the point where additional acquisitions have been identified for inclusion in the park. All purchases have been coordinated with Caltrans to ensure compatibility with future improvements to Highway 76, and my staff and I are working closely with community groups to gain their input.
This is great news for the entire County and especially those of us “up North.”
Included in this edition of “The Word” are stories
about a new County Code Enforcement storefront opening in
Fallbrook, progress on a new Veteran’s cemetery at MCAS
Miramar, and a new law on the use of cell phones while
Code Enforcement Community Storefront Opens in Fallbrook
In an effort to help residents in the unincorporated communities of San Diego County keep their neighborhoods free of trash, fire hazards, graffiti, noise, and illegal signs, the County of San Diego has opened four new code enforcement community storefronts. One of them is in Fallbrook at the Sheriff’s Substation, located at 388 East Alvarado Street. It is open Mondays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The pilot project is the first of its kind in San Diego County and will allow residents to walk into the office and easily get the help they need from a Code Enforcement Officer.
Code Enforcement is part of the County Department of Planning and Land Use and takes complaints about abandoned vehicles, brush clearance, building, grading and storm water, graffiti, illegal signs, noise, trailer coaches, fire hazards, and waste and zoning.
Contact Tom Causey at (760) 451-3100 for more information. Messages can also be left at (760) 940-2913. For additional details visit www.co.san-diego.ca.us/dplu/ce5/
Award-winning Financial Stewardship
I’m proud of our County Finance team—honored for the way we do business.
It’s not likely that these awards were featured prominently in our local media (or mentioned at all). Positive news rarely merits a “blip” on the media’s screen of acceptable stories; however, I’m proud of our County team that includes Chief Administrative Officer Walt Ekard, Chief Financial Officer Don Steuer, and Auditor/Controller Tracy Sandoval.
New Public Works Projects
Be on the lookout for construction crews working to improve traffic flow and safety in North County. They are:
Rosy Words for Supervisor Horn
(The following appeared in the North County Times on April 21, 2008)
The 'Hail the Hall' award
“We have to line up a two-rose presentation after Oceanside City Council's unanimous 5-0 vote Wednesday night to lease a portion of the former police station to the nonprofit Veterans Association of North County. The old cop shop will become a meeting hall at 1617 Mission Ave., just east of Interstate 5. There, 10,000 square feet of the 13,500-square-foot building will house the veterans group, which has incorporated more than two dozen separate veterans groups under its wings representing about 5,000 veterans.
Association President Chuck Atkinson said the group is in the process of raising $5 million to renovate the building to include meeting rooms, a banquet hall with a stage, a lounge, kitchen and offices for staff and veterans-support groups. The ultimate goal is to have a place where veterans can meet today's warriors and have various veterans’ services ---- and camaraderie ---- available to them. To date, the association has raised $170,000, including a $100,000 contribution from County Supervisor Bill Horn's discretionary funds. Horn is a Vietnam veteran.
Thus, the first rose to Oceanside City Council members for making the commitment to a 30-year, rent-free lease to the veterans organization. A second rose to the many veteran volunteers who have worked with Atkinson since the group was founded in 2006, including filing the necessary paperwork for its nonprofit tax status.”
New Veterans Cemetery Expansion
Recently, we received excellent news from the Marine Corps that moves us closer to constructing and operating an annex of Ft. Rosecrans National Veterans’ Cemetery at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.
The announcement came from the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Installations and Environment, the Honorable B.J. Penn, and the Undersecretary of Veterans Affairs for National Cemetery Administration, the Honorable W.F. Tuerk, who signed the Record of Decision to establish the facility.
By 2009, the first interments on MCAS Miramar can be conducted by the National Cemetery Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA will construct and operate the facility on some 300 acres of MCAS Miramar that is southeast of the intersection of Miramar Road and Nobel Drive, at the farthest western parcel of MCAS Miramar property.
The total site provided by the Marine Corps to the VA will yield a minimum of 50,000 casketed gravesites and 40,000 columbarium niches. It will be built out in a phased development and will exist as a National Veterans Cemetery on U.S. Marine Corps property, under a Land Use Agreement that was finalized this month.
The Ft. Rosecrans cemetery only has room for cremated remains burials in columbarium niches. The closest other National Cemetery is in Riverside County.
The culminating approval at Miramar concludes a five-year partnering endeavor by MCAS Miramar and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Many people in our local community have worked tirelessly to make this happen. They include the late John Ibe, the former Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the Honorable Anthony Principi of Rancho Santa Fe, retired Air Force Brigadier General Robert Cardenas, and Jack Harkins of MCAS Miramar.
For more information: Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery Director, 619 553-2085.
Signs of the Times for Historic Old Highway 395
The signs are up and all that remains is full approval by the State Assembly and Senate and the Governor’s signature. Old Highway 395 in North County is expected to be officially designated as a “historic route.”
It was my pleasure to request and receive the Board’s approval directing our Public Works crews to finish putting up 31 of the route’s signs between Rainbow and Vista.
The process of getting this done is a story that reflects a spirit of cooperation in North County. Tom Casey of the Fallbrook Chamber asked Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries, who represents part of North County, to see what was needed to give Highway 395 an official state historic designation. Kevin got the ball rolling and now the road from San Diego all the way up to Oregon has the historic distinction. I was pleased to speed up the process and get the signs erected along the North County route.
From left, former professional wrestler Bill Goldberg, Assemblyman Jeffries,
Christi Knight, Tom Casey from the Fallbrook Chamber Government Affairs Committee,
longtime Fallbrook resident Dode Martin
Those of us who drove Highway 395 when it was the only inland link between Riverside and San Diego County, remember it as an adventurous route that sometimes quickened your pulse.
The highway has been changed several times over the decades however, its original design as the main route in and out of Fallbrook is now preserved with signs marking its former path.
New Cell Phone Law
For all of us who are alarmed when we see people swerving or slowing while driving holding a cell phone to their ear, effective July 1, 2008, a new California law goes on the books aimed at making our roads safer.
As of July 1, 2008, it will be against the law for a person to use a wireless (cellular) telephone while operating a motor vehicle if the phone is not configured to allow hands-free listening and talking.
It will also be against the law for a person under the age of 18 to use a wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle regardless if it is hands-free or not.
In 2006, according to the California Highway Patrol, about 100 people statewide died in traffic collisions in which wireless telephones were in use. Additionally, wireless telephones were found to be a factor in approximately 3,300 collisions involving serious injury.
For more information, call the California Highway Patrol at the following numbers: Oceanside, 760 757-1675, San Diego, 619 220-5492, or El Cajon, 619 401-2000. You can also reach the CHP at 1-800 835-5247 orhttp://www.chp.ca.gov/
Thanks to all of you who made it to Fallbrook for the 22nd Annual Avocado Festival. My staff and I had a great time meeting and talking with you in a wonderful atmosphere.
The Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce, under the leadership of Bob Leonard, Festival Chair George Archibald and the entire team, did its usual first-class job in staging the event. Thankfully, the weather cooled enough to make things perfect.
It was with mixed feelings that I honored Carol Eastman, events coordinator for the Fallbrook Chamber with a County proclamation. Back in 1987, Carol resurrected the Avocado Festival from oblivion, bringing the event to life after it was abandoned for nearly 20 years. Sadly, this was Carol’s final festival as she is moving to New York City to be with her family and have a go at new challenges. Thanks Carol for a tremendous job. You will be missed.
Without turnstiles, crowd counts for the Avocado Festival are just about impossible. However, it was safe to say the turnout was more than 70,000 people. There were 350 booths, including 50 with cuisine from around the corner while others offered samples of food from around the world. You could also eat avocado ice cream, see regional chefs make new additions to the menu with avocado-based dishes, and watch children make avocado race cars.
Our excellent Sheriff’s deputies and volunteers did a tremendous job making things safe and secure. Adding to their resources was a 30-foot tall retractable observation tower to keep track of things.
At the end of the day, the shelves of most booths selling avocados were bare, while gallons of guacamole and salsa had been dished out and consumed to the delight of people who flock to Fallbrook in honor of North County’s favorite fruit.
Who could have predicted that when North County’s favorite fruit was first planted locally in 1912, Fallbrook would one day be the avocado capital of the world? It is, and the next festival is only 51 weeks away!
County Administration Center 1600 Pacific Highway San
Diego, CA 92101 tel: (619) 531-5555 fax: (619) 685-2662