By Dave Roberts
With 2015 now a memory, I am reflecting upon many great accomplishments while laying plans for even more successes in 2016.
The past year began with arrivals and departures on my staff and has ended with a fantastic team in place. It is an absolute pleasure to work with such dedicated professionals to serve nearly 650,000 residents in the 3rd District.
To meet the needs of 3.2 million residents in San Diego County, we work closely with my colleagues and the county’s executive staff. More than ever, I am amazed by the cooperation and can-do attitude at the county. Working together, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish.
I have enjoyed partnering with leaders throughout the county, including San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. The mayor and I are determined to open a regional film office to support movie-making in our region and the great economic boost it brings. We expect the film office to open in 2016.
This year included milestones on a regional transportation board and a state panel on which I serve.
As chairman of FACT — Facilitating Access to Coordinated Transportation — I celebrated providing more than 60,000 low-cost rides to our elderly and disabled residents.
Last month, I was elected first vice president of the California State Association of Counties. In that position, I look forward to discussing key local issues with Gov. Jerry Brown this month, and as a CSAC officer, I am set to advance our interests during meetings with leaders in Washington, D.C.
At the county, let’s review some accomplishments from 2015 and plans for 2016.
One key function of county government is to provide health services to people in need. I have learned many lessons on behavioral health — most importantly, that mental illness can affect any person of any age, ethnicity or income level.
In April, my colleagues joined me to approve the county’s Assisted Outpatient Treatment Implementation Plan. Developed in cooperation with health, safety and court officials and consumer advocates, the plan meets the mandates of Laura’s Law, which provides for court-ordered treatment of people with serious mental illness who present dangers to themselves or others and refuse care. The plan is set for implementation this month.
This summer, we added 10 Psychiatric Emergency Response Teams to our county network. PERT teams pair mental health professionals with law-enforcement to respond to crisis situations.
In related action in September, my colleagues joined me in approving $10 million to provide supportive housing for homeless people with severe mental illness.
In September, the North Inland Live Well Center opened in Escondido, providing one-stop client services and in 2016, our Health and Human Services Agency will open a regional, crisis stabilization center in Escondido.
As chairman of the Behavioral Health Advisory Board’s Suicide Reduction Task Force, I helped draft recommendations that are heading to the Board of Supervisors for approval and implementation early in 2016.
Supervisor Ron Roberts, San Diego City Councilman Todd Gloria and I have been working to develop an HIV and AIDS reduction strategy. We expect to bring that plan to the Board of Supervisors in 2016, as well.
One year ago, I brought forward a proposal that moves the county toward zero waste. What would it take to achieve 75 percent waste diversion by 2020 and zero waste by 2040? We have found that we can meet these ambitious goals. Stay tuned for more.
The San Dieguito River Park continued to thrive in 2015. As past chairman of the park’s board, I helped broker an agreement that secures cooperation among the park’s six member agencies for the next 50 years. I’m also pleased to have reached a compromise to keep much of the San Dieguito Lagoon boardwalk in place and to have secured funding for trail construction and improvements to the park’s Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead in Escondido.
In Encinitas, I have pushed for the county to invest more than $2 million at the San Diego Botanic Garden to enhance this regional treasure.
Each 3rd District community has unique needs.
In December, the Board of Supervisors authorized $200,000 to improve the Solana Beach Shared-Use Library, and in July, the board supported the library expansion with a separate, $200,000 grant.
I am excited about the installation of a 24/7, automated library materials kiosk in Encinitas in 2016.
And I am proud to have supported enhancements at the Rancho Bernardo High School Library to provide more resources in that community.
We love our pets. To make sure that our animals are well taken care of, I have supported exploring improvements for our Department of Animal Services. I also led a county initiative designed to help residents keep their pets safe during an El Niño winter.
Escondido showed its support for military veterans with the opening of the Hawthorne Veteran and Family Resource Center, for which Supervisor Bill Horn and I secured much-needed county funds.
Rancho Bernardo cherishes its sense of community, and that’s why I’m happy to have played a major role in answering the community’s request to save Webb Lake.
It has felt great to make a difference in 2015 and add to our extraordinary quality of life. My team and I look forward to 2016 and more accomplishments.