San Diego County Supervisor Bill Horn:
I enjoyed watching the Winter Olympics this year. The athletes are incredible. When they talk about their sport, they often say “… this is my passion.” It started me thinking. I live and farm in North County, I’ve raised a family in North County, I work for North County residents; I think it’s safe to say, North County is MY passion and has been for the last 20 years. I know you wouldn’t be here today if you weren’t passionate about North County too. I want to keep you informed about what is going on or impacting North County. That is why I am here today.
Let’s start with an update that deserves a gold medal: county finances. Standard & Poor’s gave the County’s Investment Pool a Triple-A credit rating. This is the 13th year in a row we’ve held that distinction and the 7th year for our Triple-A bond rating.
This does not happen by chance. It requires fiscal responsibility and living within a budget. We have those qualities in our County employees.
One of North County’s greatest assets is McClellan-Palomar Airport. We have been working on extending the runway which will make the airport even more valuable to North County. A 900-foot extension would improve airport safety, reduce noise levels and increase business prospects for North County. Planes can take-off with more fuel, fly farther and reach new destinations non-stop like China, Europe, South America, and Australia.
Right now, McClellan-Palomar Airport provides 2,200 jobs, $81 million in payroll and over $300 million in indirect annual revenue to North County's economy. More high-level businesses would mean more jobs and higher wages.
We also received some great news during the study. A $23-million dollar FAA grant is available to pay for a new safety system at the west end of the runway.
So now the big question, how much will it cost? A 900-foot extension will cost us about $70 million. It would be paid for with a combination of local, regional, and federal monies. The local share would be approximately $35 million. Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall and I are actively seeking funding for this project. Together, we’re reaching out to local jurisdictions, airport stakeholders, the FAA, and several other agencies and private sources for financial support.
In addition, we are reaching exciting goals in surface transportation. As Chair of the North County Transit District, I am happy to report the San Luis Rey transit station is now up and running connecting Oceanside, Camp Pendleton, Vista and Bonsall.
We can also look forward to plans for a possible transit station at Camp Pendleton. I received a letter of approval from the Department of Defense to pursue this plan, and I am excited about the possibilities. This new station at Camp Pendleton could serve Amtrak, MetroLink, the Coaster and possibly the Sprinter. With the cooperation of the Commanding General at Camp Pendleton, we can better connect people through transportation, enhance economic development, increase revenue and improve quality of life.
Streamlining and simplifying continues to be the focus for the Department of Planning and Development Services. The “Red Tape Reduction Taskforce,” which I spearheaded, recommended a Performance Review Committee. That committee is auditing the Planning Department to ensure there are improvements in processing times and customer service. The Committee has excellent leadership, including my appointee: Vice Chair, Eileen Delaney, from the Fallbrook Community Planning Group. The Performance Review Committee will continue to ease the planning process, while ensuring the County protects natural resources and community character.
The housing market is making a slow, but steady comeback from the collapse of 2007. The number of building permits issued has steadily climbed over the last couple of years, with a 48% increase in the number of plans submitted in 2013/2014 compared to last year.
I had the opportunity to attend a groundbreaking ceremony this weekend with Clay Westling, Deputy Director of the Planning Department at the new home for Sergeant Julian Torres and his family. The home is a gift, made possible by Homes For Our Troops, a national non-profit group that provides severely wounded troops with homes. We at the County are proud to support this effort.
I want to thank Clay for his hands-on involvement with Homes For Our Troops; moving this project to the top of the list and approving plans within two days. Marine Sergeant Torres lost both of his legs in Afghanistan. He is a true American hero and deserves to live the American Dream.
San Luis Rey River Park
I’d also like to report that we continue to make progress at the San Luis Rey River Park; approximately 500 acres have now been acquired.
Visitors to our other parks can enjoy recent improvements. We have new playgrounds in Rainbow Park and San Dieguito Park. New playgrounds are also planned for Adams Park, Don Dussault Park and Live Oak Park. In addition, Live Oak Park will open a brand new amphitheater this spring.
Prosperity On Purpose
Like Olympians, we need to set goals for the future. We need an economically successful North County. That’s why I started Prosperity on Purpose (POP). It is our regional visioning plan and economic development strategy for North County.
Prosperity on Purpose is actively working with grant writers in Washington DC and locally to find grant opportunities that fit within our top six priorities: innovation, tourism, transportation hubs, specialized manufacturing, agriculture and educating & retaining a skilled workforce.
POP is also partnering with the Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce, the San Diego Wine, Food and Brew project and Supervisor Dave Roberts to create a Regional Visitor Center at the I-15 and 76 interchange. The center promises to be a gateway into North County, directing people in and promoting North County businesses.
Agriculture is still a huge economic force in North County.
North County is responsible for about 80% of the county’s agricultural output with a $5 billion dollar impact on the local economy! The price of water has reached crisis level making it even more important for the County to continue to work with the Farm Bureau, to support this vital industry.
We all know it has been a dry year, which brings us to another threatening fire season. But we learned a great deal from the Cedar Fire and Witch Creek Fire and we’re using that information to prepare and train.
From 2003 to the end of 2014, the County will have spent over $285 million on fire prevention and fire protection.
Last year, we approved a new 5-year Master Plan for the Fire Authority, which includes an additional $2 million per year to add staff, pay for station upgrades, and buy more engines and equipment for our volunteers in the unincorporated area.
New County Sign Ordinance
Speaking of our unincorporated areas, I have great news about our county sign ordinance. I helped make changes so unincorporated communities in District 5 can use signs to identify themselves, point to places of interest and bring new visitors who also carry wallets.
I want to thank Department of Public Works staff for doing a tremendous job working with stakeholders, community planning and sponsor groups for unanimous approval of this change. This is a great accomplishment! It’s never easy to get so many different opinions to agree.
In my years as a County Supervisor, public safety has always been my top priority. We’re now over two years into AB109 (also known as Realignment), the state legislation that allows low level offenders to serve their time in local jails as opposed to state prisons.
We continue to develop new strategies, optional housing ideas, and effective supervision. The State still has not solved its overcrowding issue and it continues to challenge court orders and ask for delays. I am grateful for the excellent leadership County law enforcement has shown on this issue. The County is well equipped to handle these mandated changes but the state needs to pay for them!
It has been a year since we launched the Sex Offender Email Notification System, which is a valuable tool in protecting our children from sexual predators. Over 3,000 people have signed up and are actively using the system! It is a great reminder, as we speed through our busy lives, for us to be vigilant.
I’d like to thank Nick Macchione, our Director of the Health and Human Services Agency, for his leadership with Live Well San Diego. This 10-year initiative is now moving into the “thriving” component. The idea is to help all County residents become healthy, safe and to thrive. I want to take a moment to thank our newest District 5 Live Well partners: San Diego North Regional Chamber, North County Health Services, the City of Oceanside and Palomar Health. The City of San Marcos and North County Lifeline are also on board with the program.
Supervisor Ron Roberts and I were happy to spearhead a new emergency app called PulsePoint, which is in the final stages of development. Sudden Cardiac Arrest is one of our region’s biggest killers, but it can also be successfully treated within the first 3-5 minutes. PulsePoint will notify citizen first responders when help is needed nearby. It also provides precise mapping for first responders. This emergency app will make a difference and save lives.
The County is working hard to meet federal demands on this Affordable Care Act fiasco, but it hasn’t been easy. To help implement the plan, HHSA added 351 positions. As of February 14, the Agency has received nearly 54,000 applications, set up a call center (Access2Health), and is training staff on the new Medi-Cal program rules.
We are looking for two new Family Resource Center locations to handle these additional customers (one of which will be in District 5 – either San Marcos or Vista area)
Obviously, the Federal Government seems better at growing government, than they are at helping people. But the Agency is working hard and finding ways to get the job done.
New Registrar of Voters Headquarters
This year, we opened a new Registrar of Voters (ROV). The whole project was on schedule and under budget! The new ROV was put to the test in the recent mayoral special election in San Diego. It responded with a gold medal performance. A special thanks to Michael Vu and his staff for all of their hard work.
New Borrego Springs Library
I’d like to also thank the County library staff for being a nationally recognized, award winning department.
I am excited to announce plans are underway for a new Borrego Springs Library. During my tenure, we have built 5 libraries starting with partnerships with the City of Vista and the City of San Marcos. We built libraries in the communities of 4S Ranch, Valley Center and Fallbrook. I look forward to breaking ground on library number 6 in Borrego Springs, very soon.
We are also working on incorporating Veteran Services into our libraries.
As a Marine I have enormous respect for my fellow service members.
I am also deeply honored to help welcome to San Diego “The Wall That Heals,” a traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Museum.
The Veteran’s Memorial Fund is matching a photo and a face to every one of the 58,000 names on “The Wall,” to help keep the memories of our fallen heroes alive. “The Wall That Heals” will be in San Diego this afternoon, at the U.S.S. Midway through Sunday so don’t miss it.
Finally, I have an announcement that I hope will score high points, maybe a personal best. We have spent months working on it, and today, I’m proud to invite you to visit my new website: www.BillHorn.com. It was designed with you in mind, to keep you informed, answer your questions and direct you to any services you may need. Check it out, I’d love your feedback!
We have a great team in the 5th District. I am honored to serve you, and all 1800 square miles of District 5. You are the reason the North County is an exciting place to live, work and play.
Thank you and God bless you.