I have been doing this update for 18 years. The first year, I just wanted to prove to the rest of the County there IS life above I-8. There are nearly 1-million people (888,293) who live north of the city. And up here in North County residents have proven again and again, updates are important to them. They want to hear what is going on in their communities. I want to keep these events informative about North County issues. That is why I am here today.
It’s been a busy year full of many changes. The County has a new CAO, Helen Robbins-Meyer. She replaced Walt Ekard after 13 ½ years as CAO. The County also has a new Supervisor, Dave Roberts who has joined us this morning. He is the 1st new Supervisor in 18 years. I look forward to this next chapter fresh ideas and new possibilities.
One thing that hasn’t changed is, once again, Standard & Poor’s rated the County’s Investment Pool with a Triple-A bond rating. This is the 12th straight year we’ve held that distinction. This does not happen by chance. The credit goes to our employees, management team and my colleagues. The County won the San Diego County Taxpayers Association’s 2012 Golden Watchdog Award to acknowledge its outstanding Capital Program. It will save taxpayers approximately $1.46 Billion over the next 30 years.
We need goals for the future. We need an economically successful North County. Prosperity on Purpose is our regional visioning plan and economic development strategy for North County. The reason I initiated POP, is because North County has terrific cities and terrific communities. I want them all to be on the same page. We need goals that move us all forward, together. We need each other.
POP has taken huge steps this year toward that goal. With help from the NCEDC, POP has created a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy, known as CEDS, based on a detailed study of North County’s assets, strengths and vast resources. It serves as a regional blueprint for economic development. It’s the first ever CEDS for North County, and it has been approved by the National Economic Development Administration. This means POP has everything it needs to apply for federal funding.
POP has also created a virtual, detailed map on Google Earth, which illustrates North County and the many opportunities it has to offer. The POP map is an invaluable tool. It stitches together the general plans for Escondido, San Marcos, Tribal lands, Vista, Oceanside and Carlsbad and it offers a simplified look at North County and its economic growth potential. Areas to be targeted for improvement can be easily identified. The map is the first of its kind and will help North County attract businesses to North County.
We need high wages, and highly skilled jobs. Our image is simple and will help us promote our area to businesses looking for a new home.
When I became Chairman of the Board of Supervisors in 2011, I pledged to cut red tape and streamline business operations at our Department of Planning and Land Use. I formed a Red Tape Reduction Task Force. The members came up with several ways to improve customer service and eliminate regulation and bureaucracy. I’m pleased to say that our department has undergone a major shift.
I encourage you to visit our new facility at our County Operations Center in Kearny Mesa. We have a new name: the Department of Planning and Development Services (or “PDS”). And we have a new Director, Mark Wardlaw.
Last week, one of my appointees, Adam Day, was sworn in as Chair of the County Planning Commission. I’d like to thank my other appointee, outgoing Chair David Pallinger, for all of his time and hard work.
There is a lot of work to be done. But the pay-off is exciting. As you may remember, we have been working on the San Luis Rey River Park master plan. It offers some great recreational possibilities. Currently, there is a network of trails and a preserve totaling more than 1700+ acres and 17 miles of planned trails. Those trails will create an 8.5 mile loop around the San Luis Rey River. It will be a desired destination, attracting locals, visitors and tourists, along with their spendable income.
One of our greatest assets in North County is this airport. In 2011, I initiated a study to see if we could lengthen the runway. The results are expected any day. A lengthened runway will greatly benefit the region. It will attract more high-level businesses to Carlsbad and therefore, more jobs and higher wages. We have customs enforcement at the airport. This opens the airport up to direct, international flights. We are working hard to help our new airline; Cal Pacific Airlines start service at Palomar Airport. Their business will be a big boost to the airport. And they may offer direct flights to Las Vegas and Mexico. I am also working with Mayor Matt Hall on a plan for the future of the airport.
The words “fire season” along with “Santa Ana winds” can make San Diegans anxious and even fearful. Let me ease some of your worries. The Office of Emergency Services is leading the country in its use of technology to fight fires. We are the first local government nationwide to use the National Incident Command System, or “NICS”. The system combines satellite imagery, the Internet, and actual footage taken from airplanes and ground vehicles. It maps (in real-time) the perimeter and speed of wildfires. It can do this while tracking each vehicle assigned to the fire, the age of vegetation, structures in danger, and even wind speed. The system is state-of-the-art and will be used extensively by the Fire Authority and Cal Fire.
In a recent development, the BOS voted Tuesday to oppose a federal plan to close the Ramona Air Traffic Control Tower as a result of sequestration. The tower serves as an air attack base for CAL FIRE and plays a key role during wildfires.
Getting where you need to go in North County, smoothly and safely is important to me. I have fought hard for road improvements in District Five. It’s paid off. The Department of Public Works has spent over $23 million in capital projects and road improvements in District 5 over the past two fiscal years.
And there’s more to come. District Five is set to receive about $26.5 million in Transnet Sales Tax revenue over the life of the tax. District Five is also expecting $15 million in Prop 1-B funding, which is more than any other district.
The State finally approved renaming the bridge over Lake Hodges in honor of Chelsea King and the 78 in front of the Safari Park after Amber DuBois. I teamed up with former Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher to push this plan forward and am pleased it will be a permanent tribute to their lives and memory.
I enjoy giving you good news about an easier commute. We all want traffic relief in North County. I hold a seat on the SANDAG Board and I won’t allow North County to be overlooked! Here in North County $40 million in improvement projects has been earmarked to help ease traffic hot spots along the 78 including the 78/I-15 interchange in Escondido and the 78 at Barham Drive in San Marcos.
I am also the new Chair of the NCTD Board for 2013. I’ve been on the Board for 18 years, but this is my first time as Chair. I have not given up on my idea to build a train station at Camp Pendleton. I am working with the Pentagon on this possibility.
Since I have been on the BOS, public safety has been a top priority for me. I worked with the Sheriff’s Department, the District Attorney’s office, and County staff and just last week we launched the County’s Registered Sex Offender E-mail Notification System. You can now sign up online… to receive e-mail notifications about sex offenders in your neighborhood. It is a free service. Knowledge is power and this is one more way for us to protect our families.
We will continue to go after gangs in North County. Our North County Gang Commission partnered with HHSA for its annual Gang Summit. The “Building Better Futures” event covered the latest information on gang suppression, intervention, and prevention efforts in North County. We had over 100 people attend. It was one of the most successful summits we’ve had, to date. I will continue the fight to keep our children, families, and neighborhoods in North County safe.
Our County Veterans Service Office has seen over 3000 veterans. More than 2500 claims have been filed. Most claims are for disability and pension. Our goal is to help veterans build rewarding, healthy and successful lives after their service is complete. They have earned it, and they should get it. God Bless our service members. Semper Fi.
Our military works to provide us with a better life; we need to take responsibility for the way we choose to live it. A couple years ago, the County adopted a 10-year regional plan to promote a healthier way of life called “Live Well, San Diego.” The vision is a safe, healthy and thriving county. And we’ve seen not only great outreach and success, but also great momentum.
Late last year we kicked off the second leg of “Live Well, San Diego,” known as “Living Safely.” It focuses on a comprehensive approach to safety in local communities so families feel safe to go outside, be physically active and socialize.
In addition, Escondido now has a new hospital.
“Live Well, San Diego” is also “Building Better Health” … with a “Healthy Bottom Line.” The County is committed to supporting these efforts.
I am proud to say I served as Chair of the First Five Commission this last year. I am happy to report we were successful in filing a lawsuit blocking the State from stealing $88 Million in local funds for early education. This means those dollars stay local. It was a great victory for our children.
I’m happy to report the housing market is coming back, home prices are going up and unemployment is at its lowest rate in four years.
I am encouraged by signs of recovery.
I will continue to fight for North County at SANDAG, NCTD and as your County Supervisor.
I will continue to push for a stronger, prosperous future for North County with more jobs and greater revenue.
I will continue to invest in District 5 through Neighborhood Reinvestment Grants as I have done right here in Carlsbad at the Boys and Girls Club.
Since 2001, I have allocated $230,000 to the Boys and Girls Club of Carlsbad.
The most recent grant in December, for $20,000, went toward a new 84 passenger bus.
Those children on that bus are our future and they’re worth the investment.
I see great opportunities for North County. I will work to make it a place other counties envy because North County is not only my District, it is my home.
We have a great team in the 5th District and 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 work and live.
Thank you and God bless you.