A DARK DAY FOR DEMOCRACY: SUPERVISORS OVERRIDE BOULEVARD'S ELECTED PLANNING OFFICIALS, FORCE INDUSTRIAL-SCALE SOLAR ON RURAL TOWN
By Miriam Raftery
View video of full hearing: http://sdcounty.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=9&clip_id=1660
Note: Tune in Friday to our radio show on 89.1 FM from 5 to 6 p.m. to hear interviews with Boulevard residents and a hydrologist sharing their views on this outcome. Jim Whelan, a representative of Soitec project property owners Hamann and Gibson was invited and refused to participate.
February 4, 2015 (San Diego) – Boulevard residents fought down tears in stunned disbelief today (photo, left) as San Diego Supervisors voted 4 to 1 to approve Soitec’s Tierra Del Sol and Rugged Solar projects, overriding a unanimous vote by Boulevard’s elected planning group that opposed the projects. Collectively the two massive projects will cover 1,185 acres (the equivalent of 185 city blocks) of rural terrain with thousands of concentrated solar tracking panels, each 48 feet wide by 30 feet tall.
Only Supervisor Dianne Jacob voted against the project, following an extensive speech in opposition. She called county staff’s finding that the project was compatible with rural community character “absolutely incomprehensible to me.” Jacob pointed out that the General Plan is supposed to assure environmental stewardship, preservation of agricultural lands, open space and community character, among other qualities – all of which will be destroyed if the Soitec projects are built.
December 4, 2013 (San Diego) — By a 5-0 vote, San Diego Supervisors Tuesday approved efforts to add the PulsePoint smartphone app to regional 9-1-1 emergency systems. The system enables notification of trained citizen volunteers to respond quickly to cases of sudden cardiac arrest and initiate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) while awaiting medical responders. The measure was introduced by Supervisors Ron Roberts and Bill Horn.
Nearly 1,000 lives are lost daily in the U.S. due to sudden cardiac arrest, which can occur even in active, seemingly healthy people with no history of heart disease. Cardiac arrest is among the leading causes of death among adults over age 40 in the U.S. According to the American Heart Association, of 383,000 people who suffer sudden cardiac arrest, 90% die.
By Dave Patterson
November 18, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – On September 24, the County Board of Supervisors threw their support behind a Southern California drone testing zone. This rash decision puts San Diego County at risk for $2.7 billion in liability for the property alone if a Drone goes down and starts a fire in the back country. The County Board of Supervisors need to rethink this position quickly, before the FAA opens our skies to drones for testing purposes, and put us all at risk.
By Janis Mork
October 3, 2013 (San Diego)- At its September 11 meeting, the Board of Supervisors received an update from the Office of Emergency Services (OES) on how the department is better preparing San Diego for the 2013 fire season. The board also learned steps to keep those with special needs safe and what caregivers can do.
Supervisor Dave Roberts, a former firefighter, spoke first. “ I have tremendous respect for fire fighters…[to] take care of the vulnerable population.” He thanked the OES for its efforts and said he is pleased to be moving the item forward. “This will help get caregivers more assistance.. It’s my hope that today everyone will leave with a better understanding of being prepared.”
September 30, 2013 (Ramona) – With the federal government nearing a shutdown, Supervisor Dianne Jacob and Supervisor Ron Roberts have issued a press statement emphasizing the importance of keeping the Ramona Airport traffic control tower open. The Federal Aviation Administration earlier this year targeted the facility – a hub of aerial firefighting operations -- for closure due to sequestration, but extended the funding to October 1. In recent weeks, the FAA has not publicly disclosed its plans for the tower and the looming shutdown is heightening worries about the facility’s future.
MEASURE TO AID VULNERABLE RESIDENTS IN EMERGENCIES, REPORT ON DISATER PREPAREDNESS ON SUPERVISORS’ AGENDA TUESDAY
By Miriam Raftery
September 8, 2013 (San Diego) – After visiting the Rim Fire (photo, left) to learn more about large-scale disaster responses, Supervisor Dave Roberts announces he is introducing emergency preparedness legislation on Tuesday, September 10, along with Supervisor Ron Roberts.
“Our initiative seeks to assist our most vulnerable residents in the event of a disaster,” said Dave Roberts in a newsletter to constituents. Also on Tuesday, the County’s Office of Emergency Services will update Board members on community preparedness and improvements made since the 2007 firestorms as the height of fire season approaches.
Vulnerable residents include those with physical, cognitive or emotional disabilities. A survey by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research found a staggering 26 percent of San Diego County residents report they are disabled due to a physical, mental or emotional condition. A 2009 survey asked if people were prepared for a major disaster and among those who replied “not prepared, 30.3% said they were disabled. County records also list 25,000 individuals who need a personal care assistant to be independent.
“The Boulevard Marathon is like the Boston Marathon...[Residents opposed to the wind ordinance] are “like people with a pressure cooker and ball bearings with a bomb, trying to stop the projects…This is economic terrorism.” – John Gibson, Hamann Companies
“You should choose to save our communities, not destroy them—and I was not paid to come and talk today.” – Wendy Shannon, Boulevard resident and neighbor of Hamann’s proposed project
By Sierra Robinson; Miriam Raftery also contributed to this report
May 10, 2013 (San Diego)—After more than three hours of heated testimony on Tuesday, San Diego Supervisors opted to delay a decision on a controversial wind ordinance and changes to plans for two backcountry communities until May 15. The postponement came after a lawyer representing rural residents sent a last-minute letter claiming that approval of the project would be illegal.
County to offer discounted zero-emission lawn mowers at 14th Annual Trade-In Event
May 9, 2013 (Mission Valley) – County residents can roll their old, gas powered lawn mowers down to Qualcomm Stadium this Saturday and come away with new, zero-emission models. The price? Just $99.99 for a Black & Decker mower that typically retails for about $400, plus tax.
Available on a first-come, first-serve basis at the 14th Annual “Mowing Down Pollution” Lawn Mower Trade-In Event will be 650 new mowers, County Supervisor Ron Roberts said at a news conference on Tuesday.
Congressional legislation aims to halt June 15 closure of FAA tower, others
County News Service
April 23, 2013 (San Diego)--The county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday (4/23) urged federal lawmakers to approve pending legislation in Congress that would save the Ramona Airport traffic control tower. The board, on a 5-0 vote, endorsed a pair of bipartisan federal bills that would halt the June 15 closure of the East County facility, along with nearly 150 other towers funded by the Federal Aviation Administration.
SUPERVISORS ASK YOU TO CONTACT FAA , OPPOSE IMMINENT CLOSURE OF RAMONA AIR TRAFFIC TOWER CRUCIAL FOR FIREFIGHTING: COMMENT DEADLINE IS TOMORROW
By Nadin Abbott, photos Tom Abbott
March 12, 2013 (San Diego)—Today, Supervisor Dianne Jacob urged citizens in San Diego County to contact the Federal Aviation Adminstration (FAA) at Closurecomments@FAA.GOV and oppose closure of the Ramona Airport’s air traffic control tower, a vital component in fighting wildfires and protecting safety of firefighting crews. Tomorrow at 1 p.m. Pacific Standard Time is the deadline for comments.
The Board learned that the Federal Aviation Administration has targeted the Ramona Air Traffic Control Tower for closure as as early as April 7. This means, according to Cal Fire Battalion Chief Ray Cheney, that the airport would revert back to an “uncontrolled airport, where pilots have to avoid each other and announce their intentions.”
This was the way it was back on June 21, 1995 when there was a midair collision between a United States Forest Service Beechcraft and an NTSB air tanker, leading to the deaths of the air tanker crew. An open space, instead of a controlled space, will increase the risk of mid-air collisions, since a “controlled airport controls the air traffic sequencing.”
Energia Sierra Juarez Substation and Cross-Border Transmission Lines Also Approved in East County
By Miriam Raftery
“This will impede firefighting efforts to a frightening degree…a wind-drive fire is not going to stay in the backcountry. We must not roll the dice…There are other, safer alternatives….I also have serious problems about an energy policy that depends on the stability of Mexico.” –Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who voted against both projects
“I’m opposed to green energy…I don’t think the Department of Energy should be putting subsidies in this….but the state has mandated renewable and we have to comply.” – Supevisor Bill Horn, who voted for both projects
August 9, 2012 (San Diego) – The irony was enormous. San Diego’s Board of Supervisors yesterday spent much of the morning debating whether cell phone towers five feet taller than current ones would mar community character on Mount Helix. In the afternoon, three of the five Supervisors then threw county height limits to the winds—voting to approve 500-foot-tall industrial wind turbines in scenic McCain Valley over the objections of numerous backcountry residents.
By a 4-0 vote, Supervisors also approved a power substation and cross-border transmission lines designed to bring power up from the massive Energia Sierra Juarez wind project proposed in Mexico.
June 17, 2012 (San Diego) -- The San Diego County Library system was named 2012 “Library of the Year” by Library Journal magazine and Gale, an educational publishing company, for “profoundly demonstrating service to community” by automating services, increasing circulation and the number programs it offers — despite the recession.
By E.A. Barrera
May 23, 2012 (San Diego) -- Steve Danon has been active in Republican politics since his days as College Republican president at San Diego State University. He has worked for Republicans ranging from Supervisors Dianne Jacob and Ron Roberts to Congressman Brian Bilbray.
He is one of a new generation of youthful conservative leaders emerging in San Diego that include Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher and City Councilman Kevin Faulconer (both of whom have endorsed Danon).
County to offer discounted zero-emission lawn mowers at 13th Annual Trade-In Event
May 15, 2012 (San Diego) -- County residents can roll their old, gas powered lawn mowers down to the County Administration Center this Saturday and come away with new, zero-emission models. The price? The Black & Decker mowers, which normally retail for $400 plus tax, will cost just $99.99.
SUPERVISORS GET AN EARFUL FROM PUBLIC AND PLANNERS OVER PROPOSAL TO AX PLANNING GROUPS; VOTE SET FOR MARCH 28
“The only reason to consider gutting planning groups is to give free rein to every developer who wants to overwhelm a rural town—and keep the locals in the dark.” -- Patsy Fritz
By Miriam Raftery
March 1, 2012 (San Diego) – It wasn’t quite a public flogging, but it came close. Rural residents and their community planning representatives showed up at a County Board of Supervisors’ meeting yesterday to verbally excoriate those considering recommendations made by a developer-stacked “Red Tape Reduction Task Force. The Task Force wants to eliminate community planning groups(CPGs) or discourage participation through measures such as eliminating indemnification of planners against lawsuits, imposing term limits, and eliminating the County’s Resource Protection Ordinance.
“None of the Red Tape Reduction Task Force members were required to submit conflict of interest statements,” observed Boulevard Planning Group Chair Donna Tisdale. “They failed to disclose huge vested interests and profits to be made. That is illegal.”
Ron Roberts, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors calls for letter grades, mobile phone aps for consumers to check ratings
February 25, 2012 (San Diego) – Supervisor Ron Roberts has announced plans to introduce county legislation to create a grading system for the expanding fleet of local food trucks, which have increased dramatically in popularity across the county.
The measure follows investigations by the UT San Diego and ECM news partner 10 News, which found that about half of all food trucks received at least one violation notice from county health officials. However, unlike restaurant records, food truck health safety records are not available online. http://www.10news.com/news/30393605/detail.html.
Feb. 29 meeting will allow public testimony on Red Tape Reduction Task Force recommendations, including developers’ proposal to eliminate community planning groups and Resource Protection Ordinance
By Miriam Raftery
January 27, 2012 (San Diego)—A lawsuit filed by Californians Aware has succeeded in persuading the San Diego County Board of Supervisors to vacate votes that approved key changes made by a developer-stacked Red Tape Reduction Task Force without public input. The lawsuit alleged that the Board violated the Brown Act by voting on items not listed as action items on the agenda. Now, the County has announced it will hold a public hearing on February 29.
November 11, 2011 (San Diego) -- It appears San Diego County children and adolescents are putting down the sodas and Twinkies and becoming more physically active.
A new study conducted by the California Center for Public Health Advocacy (CCPHA) revealed that the obesity rate among local children dropped by nearly four percent.
READERS’ EDITORIAL: SUPERVISOR ROBERTS’ ATTEMPT TO SUBORDINATE COMMUNITY PLANS TO BE HEARD WED. MARCH 16
“This plan to subordinate Community Plans would eventually harm every unincorporated community in this County.”
By Jack Phillips, Chair
Valle de Oro Planning Group
March 14, 2011 (San Diego's East County)--On Wednesday at 9 a.m., County Supervisors will be hearing a controversial developer-backed proposal that would take away the rights of local communities to have their own community plans.
The community plans are the largest part of the general plan. There are 26 community plans right now that are an integral part of the general plan. To say we can have a general plan but we’re not going to allow these 26 communities to have their plan as part of it is ridiculous.
HOW GREEN ARE SAN DIEGO'S CANDIDATES? FORUM FOCUSED ON LOCAL, STATE & COUNTY ISSUES FROM MASS TRANSIT TO GLOBAL WARMING
Story and photos by Mary E. Paulet
October 3, 2010 (San Diego)- Several East County Candidates were among those who squared off in the Center for Sustainable Energy California’s(CSE) Green Candidate forum held yesterday in San Diego.
The forum gave candidates a chance to discuss their positions on environmentally-related issues such as global warming, green sector jobs, mass transit, and Proposition 23 (which would suspend AB 32, a law that strengthened clean air standards and requirements to curb greenhouse gas emissions), as well as other issues. It also gave third party candidates a chance to be heard.
October 2, 2010 (San Diego) – Stephen Whitburn, candidate for San Diego County Board of Supervisors – 4th District, is pleased to announce that the Board of Supervisors has adopted one of his key reform proposals. After Whitburn appeared before the supervisors on September 28, the Board approved his proposal to ban supervisors from taking gifts from organizations that receive taxpayer funding through the Neighborhood Reinvestment Grants.
By Miriam Raftery
Funds allocated for facilities, equipment and technology—but no money to hire more firefighters
"You are sitting on $700 million in reserves at a time when San Diego County has had more people burn to death in wildfires in the past decade than anywhere else in the nation,” - Steve Whitburn, candidate for Supervisor
September 15, 2010 (San Diego) – The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted yesterday to consolidate rural fire agencies and create a regional fire protection plan recommended by a Fire Deployment Study. The Board also named Cal-Fire's Howard Windsor to head up the County Fire Authority.
“There’s more to do, but we’re moving forward,” Supervisor Dianne Jacob said. The plan allocates $15.5 million a year to the County fire agency, but Supervisors approved only $5 million this year for start-up efforts.
Candidate, speaking in La Mesa, also called for stronger fire protection by County
East County News Service
September 2, 2010 (San Diego) – The Center on Policy Initiatives (CPI) has released a today which concludes that over 30% of households in San Diego County can not make ends meet.
“It is unacceptable that more than 30% of San Diegans can’t afford to live in San Diego County,” said Stephen Whitburn, a journalist running against incumbent Supervisor Ron Roberts in District 4.
August 26, 2010 (San Diego) – Supervisor Ron Roberts has been in office during two of the worst wildfires in San Diego history in 2003 and 2007, serving as Chair of the Board of Supervisors during the 2007 firestorms. But his opponent, challenger Steve Whitburn, has won the coveted endorsement of the San Diego Firefighters Association.
“We believe Stephen is the right choice for Supervisor because he will fight to make our communities safe,” said Frank DeClercq, president of the San Diego City Firefighters.
Restrictive new ordinance passes 4-1, sharply limits sites where dispensaries may locate
“Virtually all of them are either undeveloped land, cement factories, mining operations, even land that’s zoned for treatment of radioactive materials,” -- Kate Valentine of Americans for Safe Access
July 2, 2010 (San Diego) – A restrictive new ordinance passed Wednesday by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors will sharply limit locations where medical marijuana dispensaries are allowed and make it extremely costly for operators. The measure passed by a four-to-one vote. Supervisor Ron Roberts cast the lone dissenting vote.
“I think we’re violating the spirit of the law,” said Roberts, referring to the ballot initiative approved by California voters 14 years ago to legalize medical marijuana.
“I am persuaded that this project will not be built. It was conceived in secrecy ….sold with misleading information.” – Stephen Volker, attorney
Anonymous donor pledges to match donations for legal battle up to $20,000
June 24, 2010 (Alpine) – A standing-room-only crowd of around 700 people packed into the Alpine Community last night, where Supervisor Dianne Jacob and the Protect Our Communities Foundation convened a meeting for the public to provide input on SDG&E’s proposal to route Sunrise Powerlink through the Cleveland National Forest. No representatives were present from the U.S. Forest Service or SDG&E.
Many public officials and candidates for office came out in opposition to the project—while others were conspicuous by their absence or failure to take a stance.
The public has until June 29 to submit comments to Forest Supervisor William Metz. You may submit your comments online at firstname.lastname@example.org and include the subject line “Sunrise Powerlink Comments” or call to leave recorded comments at (858)673-6180.
"So what we have here is a helicopter that is buildling a fire hazard, and if a fire breaks out, it will respond in two to four hours--and taxpayers will be charged $7,500 an hour." -- Steve Whitburn, candidate, 4th Supervisorial district
June 16, 2010 (San Diego) – By a 5-0 vote, San Diego’s Board of Supervisors voted to allow Sunbird, a San Diego Gas & Electric Company helicopter intended to construct Sunrise Powerlink, to also be utilized for firefighting. View video of hearing.
Strong Mayor initiative also approved by voters
June 9, 2010 (San Diego) – By a resounding 68.9%, voters in San Diego County approved Proposition B, which imposes term limits for Supervisors. The measure is not retroactive to the current Board, but will limit future reigns to eight years.
But voters may not need to wait eight years for the opportunity to change two seats on the Board, which is currently composed of five Republicans who have served for decades. Both Ron Roberts and Bill Horn failed to gain the 50% majority needed to win outright in the primary—and both appear headed for run-off races against challengers in the fall.
Update June 9, 2010 10 a.m. - With 100% of precincts counted, but absentee and provisional ballots remaining to be counted, Roberts has 48.02%, below the 50% threshhold he needed to prevent a fall run-off. Whitman has 21.64%, followed by Jackson with 18.17%. For full returns in this and other local races, click here.
June 8, 2010 (San Diego) – In the hotly contested 4th Supervisorial District, Democrats appear to have succeeded in preventing incumbent Ron Roberts from securing the necessary 50% margin to prevent a run-off election in November.
By Buck Shott
May11, 2010 – This week, we bring you a ringside seat for the latest political knock-down, drag-out fights in state and local races.
MISSING IN ACTION: Ballot statements have been published for the June primary—but one local candidate’s statement is conspicuously absent.