June 3, 2010


On Guard


Since that terrible day on September 11, 2001, our region has developed and refined terrorism response plans, conducted training, and purchased equipment to better prepare us in the event of attack. As part of our continuing effort to be as prepared as possible for area-wide disasters, the County last month worked with other first responders, including local military, hospitals and other agencies in a statewide exercise that simulated a terrorist attack.

The full-scale exercise simulated terrorist attacks originating in various ports throughout California, including a mock dirty bomb explosion to test emergency procedures, implement mutual aid agreements and protect the public.

In the local event, the first simulated emergency began at Cal State San Marcos when a shooter supposedly wounded students in a dormitory. While officers investigated the staged attack, the simulated bomb exploded at the track and soccer field about an hour later, sending up a giant orange fireball.

About 60 people volunteered to be victims and simulated various injury conditions. As part of the disaster exercise, hazardous material teams, law enforcement, fire services, and the region’s Metropolitan Medical Strike Team assisted with decontamination of a radiological incident and medical treatment of mock patients in the field. Area hospitals and clinics were also involved to test their ability to respond to a mass casualty involving trauma, burn and radiation exposure and detection.

County agencies including the Sheriff’s Department, the Department of Environmental Health, Health and Human Services, and the Office of Emergency Services participated in the exercise. The exercise also included participation from all 18 cities, six state agencies, six federal agencies, 27 hospitals and clinics, and several non-government and private sector organizations such as the American Red Cross, San Diego Gas & Electric, California State University San Marcos and 2-1-1.

The exercise, known as Golden Guardian 2010 advances our ability to be on the cutting edge of emergency preparedness. We also tested our emergency radio network, a system that was dramatically improved following problems in the 2003 wildfires.


In this edition of the “Word,” I will share more information on a way you can receive instant notification of sexual offenders living in your neighborhood. Also, you can read about honoring the sacrifice of our nation’s veterans with an Avenue of Flags at the new Veterans Cemetery Garden of Heroes at MCAS Miramar. Those and many other stories follow as we work to keep you updated on what is happening within our district. Thank you for the honor of serving as your County Supervisor.

Bill Horn



Pin-Pointing Sex Offenders in Cyberspace

Recently, I made a recommendation to create a sex offender e-mail alert service and pin map specifically for San Diego County. The Board approved it unanimously and we look forward to activating the program soon.

The system will be similar to other alerts citizens can opt to receive such as land use and planning items, public works projects, and Board agendas.

The alert system will show recent arrivals of registered sex offenders in neighborhoods and include information such as their crime, conviction date, and a photograph.

Our community was crushed with the heartbreaking news about the deaths of Chelsea King and Amber Dubois—murdered by a sex offender who had been overlooked by a system that was supposed to keep track of him. I met with constituents who were concerned about the safety of their children and found the current state online map system out-of-date and difficult to use. Now, we will have the tools citizens can use to better equip and educate their families about potential dangers.

When we have the e-mail alert system and local pin map ready to go, we will post that information on our district web page at http://www.sdcounty.ca.gov/cnty/bos/sup5/ and notify you by e-mail.



North County Gang Prevention Summit

More than 150 people were part of our continuing effort to combat the street gang menace in North County. The half-day summit at Cal State University San Marcos (CSUSM) was open to the public to further educate citizens on a problem that goes beyond law enforcement and threatens the core of our society.

It is estimated that there are 25 gangs with 1,200 members that operate in the region.

In cooperation with the our County Health and Human Services Agency, Probation Department, District Attorney, Sheriff’s Department, and the North County Gang Commission, we have worked to enforce and suppress gang activity in Coastal and Inland North County, along with reaching would-be gang members before they are caught in a web that often ensnares people for life or until gang violence claims their lives.

We continue to provide education and job training for people who want out of gangs; connecting faith-based organizations with gangsters and their families; establishing programs for justice agencies and community leaders to monitor at-risk students and gang members; and coordinating efforts to make sure programs are on track and aren’t duplicated.

Those at the summit watched the premiere screening of “A Way Out,” a video directed by Kristine Diekman of CSUSM and saw presentations from regional law enforcement and gang prevention experts.

I founded the North County Gang Commission along with Supervisor Pam Slater-Price two years ago as a way to involve leaders within the community while at the same time keeping ‘politics’ out of the commission’s effectiveness.


North County Comprehensive Gang Model

This month, we presented a new regional strategy to combat gangs in North County, adapting a research-based national model developed by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention as it pertains to the problem in North County.

I was joined by San Marcos Mayor Jim Desmond, Oceanside City Councilman Jerry Kern, Vista Mayor Pro Tem Judy Ritter, Escondido Police Chief Jim Maher, Chief Probation Officer Mack Jenkins and members of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and Oceanside Police Department.

We believe the plan will result in a more coordinated approach to the gang problem in the four cities along Highway 78. A unified strategy is vital as gangs ignore city boundaries and jurisdictions.

Over the next year, the North County Comprehensive Gang Model steering committee will use this information to target specific communities that are facing high rates of gang activity and form intervention teams, made up of school counselors, social workers, probation officers, and other community-based outreach workers.

The cities of Escondido, San Marcos, Vista and Oceanside will contribute funding to this joint strategy. Through the Neighborhood Reinvestment Program, I have funded the next step, an in-depth regional assessment of the gang problem in North County. The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) will do that study and I look forward to the results in September.


Avenue of Flags to Salute our Veterans

The long-awaited opening of a new veterans’ cemetery at MCAS Miramar is rapidly approaching with the first burials scheduled for September. As you know, there is no more room at Fort Rosecrans for full body burials and the closest veterans’ facility for that has been in Riverside.

With a veterans’ cemetery at Miramar, families in San Diego County will be close to the burial sites of their loved ones and we will have a facility that honors veterans with a final resting place and a lasting tribute that commemorates their service to our nation. The theme of the cemetery is “Garden of Heroes.” It will be a place that inspires visitors to understand and appreciate the service and sacrifice of our nation’s veterans.

I am honored to have made a grant from our Neighborhood Reinvestment Program to cover the costs of construction, installation, equipment, flag poles and flags for the Avenue of Flags at the Miramar National Cemetery.



Citygate Fire Deployment Study

Earlier this month my colleagues and I received the results of Citygate’s Fire Deployment study, which was commissioned after voters rejected a parcel tax measure to fund a joint powers authority that would have overseen fire protection countywide. After receiving the report, our Board voted unanimously to direct CAO Walt Ekard to return in 120 days with options to implement several of Citygate’s recommendations.

The study recommended further consolidating backcountry fire agencies and districts, combining dispatch centers, purchasing additional aerial firefighting equipment, and moving the administration of the San Diego County Fire Authority under the County Public Safety group. It is believed these actions, along with hiring additional career firefighters to man volunteer stations throughout the unincorporated area, will help to eliminate coverage gaps and improve service levels.

The study took nearly two years to complete, and will serve as a blueprint for improving fire safety for our entire region. The news contained in the report was mostly positive, showing that response times in the backcountry were close to where they should be, and that we have made significant progress to improve service levels throughout the County. The study also praised CAL FIRE for doing a tremendous job protecting State Responsibility Areas and unincorporated lands throughout our region.


Fire Wise

I was honored to be at the grand re-opening of Vista Fire Station 1 and to provide a grant to the Greater Vista Fire Safe Council to create a drought tolerant fire wise demonstration garden around the station.


The garden includes 34 fire resistant plants that show residents that having defensible space can also be beautifully landscaped. Fire wise gardening protects your home and can also increase your property value while conserving water.

I appreciate the tremendous work of the Vista Fire Department and know that when firefighters are not responding to emergencies they’ll be glad to have you drop by the renovated 13,700 square foot station at 175 N. Melrose Drive for a walking tour of the demonstration garden.

The Greater Vista Fire Safe Council (GVFSC) is one of 36 groups in the County committed to fire safety. Members help preserve our natural and manmade resources by mobilizing residents to make their homes, neighborhoods and communities fire safe.

I want to thank the GVFSC, San Diego Gas & Electric, Vista Valley Country Club, EDCO, and Green Thumb Nursery for their part in the demonstration garden.


Financial Reporting Excellence

One of the strengths of the County of San Diego is its solid financial foundation. That achievement has once again been recognized with a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) relating to the County’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for FY 08-09.

The GFOA is made up of state/provincial and local finance officers in the U.S. and Canada.
The achievement is the highest form of recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting. Established in 1945, the CAFR Certificate Program is designed to recognize and encourage excellence in financial reporting by state and local governments.

Congratulations to Tracy Sandoval, Auditor and Controller, and her outstanding team of professionals for this prestigious honor.


Customer Service: Job #1

Every day, thousands of people are served by the 16,000+ employees of the County. We try to deliver quality, speedy service and do it with a smile.

I’m proud to say the International Public Management Association for Human Resources awarded the 2010 Very Large Agency Award for the Customer Service Program, Serving Everyone with Excellence.

The program began two years ago and rewards and recognizes employees who demonstrate exceptional customer service. The criteria stresses contributions of a human resources program that exceeds the normal operation of good government.

Congratulations to Carlos Arauz, Human Resources Director, and his team of caring pros.

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The Building Division of the Department of Planning and Land Use (DPLU) now has a new service to make it easier for customers visiting our land use offices: a computerized self-serve kiosk that will automatically direct customers to the correct counter. While we still take pride in helping people face-to-face, the kiosk will help direct customers with simple business to the right location without having to be in line waiting behind someone with a complicated matter.

You can also conduct business without having to come to County offices. For more information, please go to: www.sdcounty.ca.gov/dplu.


Widening South Santa Fe Avenue

Our Public Works Department is now in the process of widening South Santa Fe Avenue to four lanes and adding a center median from the Vista City limit at Montgomery to east of Woodland Drive. We will also under-ground overhead utilities and relocate an existing railroad crossing.

While the project is underway, please be alert for construction workers and, as always, your patience for the traffic delays is appreciated.


Honoring the Educators

Congratulations to the many teachers honored by the Carlsbad Educational Foundation and the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce at the Outstanding Educational Program dinner last month.

About 330 people were at La Costa Resort and Spa for an evening of recognizing the best and brightest teachers and academic programs. I was pleased to join other sponsors in providing a $10,000 grant from our Neighborhood Reinvestment Program to help cover the costs of the event.


The Carlsbad Educational Foundation, under the leadership of CEO Valin Brown and Director of Development Patty Johnson, is a non-profit organization founded in 1983 to raise private support for public education and the enrichment of more than 11,000 students in the Carlsbad Unified School District. Since then, the foundation has contributed more than $4 million in funds to Carlsbad schools, primarily for music, science, technology, arts and reading.

One of the highlights of the dinner was the presentation to the foundation of checks totaling $122,000; money came from LEGOLAND during an annual fundraiser May 1.

I appreciate the commitment of the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce and its President and CEO Ted Owen for their ongoing support for education and recognizing that investing in teachers and students bring untold dividends to our community. I also want to thank Toni Padron, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Chamber and her team for organizing the dinner and emcee Mark Walton for keeping things on track.