March 17, 2010

State of The North County Address

I appreciated all who attended our annual State of The North County Address at the AVO Playhouse in Vista March 9th. Vista Mayor Morris Vance did a tremendous job as our emcee, as did the color guard from the Army and Navy Academy, Morgan Henry who led the pledge of allegiance, Alexis Grenier who sang our national anthem and Vicar Henry Graf IV of Faith Lutheran Church in Vista who gave the invocation.

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I would like to share with you a brief overview of the speech. The two biggest challenges we have in North County are getting our economy back on track and enhancing public safety. The events in recent weeks underscore the importance of protecting the public. The tragic deaths of Chelsea King and Amber Dubois remind us how fragile life can be and how we must remain vigilant, not only in keeping the justice system accountable but also in reinforcing the bonds of family and community. I commend Sheriff Bill Gore and his team for the tremendous job they are doing and will continue to work with him to protect our streets from criminal elements.


The County of San Diego, despite “politics as usual” in Sacramento, has a balanced budget withhealthy reserves and a credit rating among the highest of any government in the U.S.

I shared our efforts to step up campaigns against gang violence and what we have done to make our fire agencies and volunteer fire departments better equipped and better trained. On the other hand, extreme environmentalists are hampering our efforts to manage vegetation preventing wildfires.

I discussed land preservation with the park we are building along the San Luis Rey River and our work with the Coates family to preserve Rancho Guejito near Escondido in addition to the critical need for water availability and distribution. We are the victim of a political drought in California brought on by misguided policies and court decisions.

I praised the cooperation of the Fallbrook community for bringing their new library closer to opening and emphasized the importance of the newly renovated and improved Palomar Airport.

For a full transcript of my comments, I invite you to go to: http://billhorn.cloudapp.net


In this edition of the Word, I’ll tell you about the ordinance I brought forward that bans Project Labor Agreements in the County, a look at the two-day workshop we held for people to learn how zoning changes may impact their property, and local efforts to boost small business. Thanks for the honor of serving you as your Fifth District Supervisor.
Bill Horn


Fair Play with PLA

As an elected guardian of our County, I believe it is my duty to protect the taxpayer dollar and ensure fair and open competition for County contracts.

Last month, my colleagues and I on the Board of Supervisors took an important step to protect those precious dollars. At my request, we voted unanimously to adopt an ordinance that bans Project Labor Agreements (PLA) in County contracts beyond what the State and Federal government mandate.

A Project Labor Agreement is a pre-hire collective bargaining agreement to use union labor on a project. When required, it eliminates the ability for non-union companies and workers to compete for and work on government projects. When required by Federal, State, or local governments, a PLA discriminates against the approximately 85% of construction workers who are non-union and reduces competition to only those contractors who use union labor.

The PLA is like a requirement to use a gold plated hammer when a regular hammer will get the job done. It’s a union tool that can only be used at a high price. No matter what my colleagues and voters decide, the PLA will never be our tool. It limits competition to only those companies that pay union wages. Historically, bids have come in higher and project costs have risen by as much as 8% to 20% over non-PLA projects. All qualified contractors and workers should have a chance to compete for the contracts and jobs that use their tax dollars. With the ordinance, union companies will still be able to bid for and win County contracts. However, they’ll have to compete on a level playing field and show they can build projects better, cheaper, and faster than other companies to win contracts.

In the last 12 months, the cities of San Diego, Chula Vista, Oceanside, and the County of Orange have all taken steps to reduce or eliminate requirements to use the PLA.

The Board also directed the Chief Administrative Officer to return to the Board in 180 days with a report on County contracting, competition and privatization including practices that could be formalized by policy, ordinance, or reconsideration for putting an initiative on the November ballot for voter approval.



Meet the People

I appreciate the large turnout at the Farm Bureau headquarters in Escondido where we hosted a two-day event for people to learn how zoning changes in the unincorporated areas of North County may impact their property under possible revisions to the County’s General Plan Update. Farm Bureau Executive Director Eric Larson and his staff were great hosts.

Along with key people in our Department of Planning and Land Use, we sat down with small groups of farmers and other land owners and showed them large, color-coded zoning maps and answered questions about what may be ahead with the county’s revised blueprint for growth.

Our goal is to have a General Plan that improves land use, transportation needs, and provides for future housing needs for the unincorporated areas in the best possible way. We continue to work with community leaders for their input and expect the General Plan Update to come before the Board of Supervisors for approval this year.

For more information and a way to keep current on the General Plan Update, please go to: www.sdcounty.ca.gov/dplu/



Volunteer Firefighters Update

Our Department of Planning and Land Use and the County Fire Authority reached two significant achievements this year, surpassing the 500 volunteer firefighter mark and implementing a new web-based system to pay firefighter-stipends.

The number of volunteer firefighters that have passed Fire Authority background and medical checks, and completed County orientation is now 515, more than double the 150 to 200 volunteer firefighters who were protecting the Fire Authority area when our Board of Supervisors unified six agencies as the Fire Authority in July 2008.

As a result of these changes, many previously unserved areas are now being served leading to better response times.

Additionally, the Fire Authority deployed a web-based system in January to pay volunteer firefighters the stipends that were a key part of the County’s strategy to bring more firefighters into the system.


Hometown $$ Advantages

I am enthusiastically supporting a new campaign to encourage local residents to identify, advocate for, and help bring regional meetings, conferences and events to North County as a local economic stimulus effort.

“True North – Bring the Business Home San Diego” launched on March 15 under the leadership of San Diego North Convention & Visitors Bureau and its President and CEO Cami Matson. Representatives from industry, community groups and people of influence met to brainstorm to create public awareness in the importance of keeping local dollars circulating locally and bringing regional meetings to our County.

Outdoor Outreach, a local charity whose mission is to empower at-risk youth to make positive, lasting changes in their lives through comprehensive outdoor programs, is also involved in this endeavor.

For more information, please go to True North Landing Page – www.sandiegonorth.com/TrueNorth or call Hilary Townsend at (760) 745-4747 or htownsend@sandiegonorth.com.


Reaching Out

On Friday, April 9th from 9 to 10 a.m. at the Vista Library, our Department of Purchasing & Contracting team will be hosting a Small Business Outreach. There will be people there to:

  • Provide a PowerPoint presentation on “Doing Business with the County of San Diego”
  • Make available a new handout for procedures
  • Demonstrate how to register on BuyNet on a laptop
  • Answer questions

For more information, please call Ken Carstens at 858 537-2560 or Holly Simonette at 619 531-5280. The Vista Library is located at: 700 Eucalyptus Avenue, 92083.



Boosting Small Business

I’m honored to be on the Advisory Board of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Oceanside. The non-profit company has provided service to more than 13,000 business professionals in about 220 businesses.

The SBDC focuses primarily on one-on-one consultation to help business owners create growth plans and start up new businesses during the current economic crisis. Sometimes it only takes a little insight and encouragement to move a business to the next level and I believe the people at SBDC are doing just that.

SBDC provides several workshops and seminars in partnership with Mira Costa College that help young entrepreneurs and established businesses compete for contracts in the private and public sectors of the economy.

Businesses in San Diego County are dealing with daunting challenges as they attempt to find a way to not only survive these rough economic times.

The organization is working with the San Diego North Economic Development Council (SDNEDC), the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), and several North County Chambers of Commerce to get the best information available to be at the forefront of North County’s economy.


Cashing in on the Light

Congratulations to the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians for the completion of a 1 megawatt solar plant, the first casino in Southern California to use a solar plant to produce clean, renewable energy. The dedication ceremony will take place March 18th.

The plant will reduce the casino’s electric grid consumption the equivalent of powering 3,300 homes.

Harrah’s Rincon Casino and its employees have an impressive record of conservation, including a lighting retrofit that reduced the property’s annual lighting cost of $32.86 per square foot to an average annual cost of 59-cents per square foot.

The Rincon Tribe uses reclaimed water from the casino to irrigate the tribal sports complex and the casino employees planted more than 200 trees and shrubs in an area destroyed during the 2007 Poomacha Fire.