OCEANSIDE – On March 13, San Diego County Supervisor Bill Horn gave his annual State of North County address. The following are highlights of that speech.
“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 seventh 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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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 percent increase in the number of plans submitted in 2013/2014 compared to last year.”
San Luis Rey River Park
“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
“Prosperity on Purpose (POP) 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 SR76 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 percent 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.”
“Public safety has always been my top priority. We’re now over two years into AB109, 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. The County is well equipped to handle these mandated changes but the state needs to pay for them!”
“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).”
Supervisor Horn invites residents to visit his new website, www.BillHorn.com to read updates and find answers to questions.