My second year as Third District Supervisor has drawn to a close, and I am proud of the legislative work we have completed and the relationships I have built. By my estimation, our county government is stronger than ever.
I attribute that strength, in large part, to our innovation and our commitment to improve county services, secure economic opportunity, protect our environment and provide top-notch public safety and health services.
A particular highlight of 2014 was my election to serve as Vice-Chair of the California State Association of Counties, where I will represent our county among more than 50 others as well as with state and federal policymakers. It was also a great honor to be recognized by the Asian American Business Association as its Member of the Year.
Innovation and continuous improvement
From Day One, I have made myself accessible to the public. Whenever possible, I use the speed and reach of social media to keep you informed. You can stay in touch on my social media pages and through e-mail. Every week, I publish an electronic newsletter.
I have embraced a new social media platform, called Goodsnitch, to allow for immediate feedback from constituents.
Innovation is improving business practices across county government as more and more county programs and services are accessible online. Look for my office and the entire county enterprise to continue building upon our culture of innovation in government.
The county’s lifeblood is its workforce of more than 17,000 employees. All of our workers should feel safe and supported. Accordingly, my office organized and launched the LGBT and Allies Association, the newest of a half-dozen resource groups that serve our large and diverse workforce.
I have found great partners in leaders of regional business groups. Working with chambers of commerce and economic development corporations, I have hosted forums to connect small business owners with government purchasing agents, and in March, Supervisor Greg Cox and I brought forward an initiative to expand procurement opportunities for local businesses.
Supervisor Bill Horn joined me in legislation to encourage government buyers to “think local” with their purchases while Supervisor Ron Roberts and I collaborated in February to highlight our booming life sciences industry with a presentation from the Biocom trade group.
Tourism fits hand-in-glove with economic development, and that’s why I have gathered formal support from my colleagues to back bids for San Diego to host the 2017 America’s Cup and the 2024 Summer Olympics.
This spring, I will serve as honorary chairman of the national US Police & Fire Championships, which will bring athletic competition and significant visitor spending to the region. Athletes from all 50 states are expected to participate in more than 40 events at nearly three-dozen venues across the county.
I am also working with Mayor Kevin Faulconer to rebuild the film industry in San Diego County. Motion picture producers should feel welcome to come here to make movies – and support our economy – and government leaders should be the first to make that happen. I applaud Mayor Faulconer and other leaders who are partnering with me on this initiative.
As we lay plans to innovate and strengthen our economy, public safety will always be my most-important charge.
In 2014, I remained active with the county’s Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force and in the spring I brought a resolution to the Board of Supervisors to declare March as prescription drug abuse awareness month.
With support from Supervisor Horn, Sheriff Bill Gore, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and the Golden Door Spa, I have ensured that the Palomar Forensic Center in Escondido will remain open to provide critical assistance to abused women and children.
In May, wildfires swept across the county and in June, Supervisor Horn and I passed legislation in support of tax relief for survivors. In a related action, I joined with my colleagues to approve the procurement of three firefighting helicopters and to partner with the city of San Diego to allow for nighttime firefighting by air.
Public safety and health services often overlap. That’s especially true with health and social service initiatives I have advanced in 2014.
Starting in 2013, Supervisor Ron Roberts and I took aim at electronic vapor cigarettes, and with the adoption of legislation in April, “vaping” now faces the same restrictions that regulate tobacco smoking on county property.
Switching to mental health, Supervisors in March voted unanimously to implement a state policy that allows authorities to extend the amount of time that a severely mentally-ill person can be held in custody if the person presents a threat to himself or others.
To counter domestic violence, I have partnered with nonprofit service providers and top law enforcement officials to formulate an action plan that draws upon data to build capacity within our systems to prevent, intervene and ultimately save lives.
Also in the health arena, Supervisor Dianne Jacob and I have launched The Alzheimer’s Project to fight the disease and provide stronger support for caregivers.
The Project has brought together San Diego’s top researchers, care experts and others to examine ways to accelerate the search for a cure, improve clinical care, expand caregiver support and boost public awareness.
As the adoptive parent of six children, social services become personal for me with foster care and adoptions. On this front, we have made great progress.
In partnership with Supervisor Greg Cox, we are working to streamline the adoptions process and make it easier to place foster children with forever families. This year we launched a very successful Exceptional Families Adoption Campaign, which focuses upon hard-to-place foster children.
Energy and the environment
One of our greatest assets is our physical environment and the great natural beauty that surrounds us. All of us can protect the environment by using less water and power. To do my part, I removed 6,400 square feet of lawn from my home in Solana Beach and replaced it with artificial turf. Over the course of a year, that will translate into 264,000 gallons of water saved.
I am proud to represent the county on the San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors, and in that role, I inspected the major water infrastructure of our state and have carried a message of water conservation as we face a severe drought.
In July, a long and important collaboration with Supervisor Jacob came to fruition: Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, which allows property owners to finance energy- or water-efficiency improvements through payments on their property tax bills. PACE is responsible for hundreds of new jobs throughout the region.
Earlier, in April, Supervisor Jacob and I received a unanimous vote – with support from the Building Industry Association – to incorporate “green building codes” into our policies so new structures would be pre-wired for solar panels and electric vehicle charging.
And in October, on a 5-0 vote, the Board of Supervisors approved my proposal to expand the resources available to developers applying for complex land-use permits.
Elsewhere, the San Dieguito River Park keeps getting better, and as chairman of the river park’s Board of Directors, I take great pleasure in continuing to improve this regional asset.
In 2014, an outdoor education center opened in the park, thanks in large part to a Third District Neighborhood Reinvestment Program Grant. A separate grant will expand the park’s trail system in Del Mar. I appreciate the votes of my colleagues to approve my Neighborhood Reinvestment Program recommendations.
Just this month, I joined Supervisor Ron Roberts to unveil a dozen electric vehicle chargers in the parking garage at the County Administration Center. For the year ahead, we plan to open 10 other charging stations at county facilities across the region.
I love my job and couldn’t do the work at the county without the support of my four colleagues and the help of my dedicated team. We look forward to serving you in 2015!