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Full Transcript: San Diego State of the County Address 2021

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Chair Nathan Fletcher, State of the County Address

Thursday, February 18, 2021 

“Resilient and Ready to Rise”

OPENING

 Good evening.

I come to you tonight from the County’s Emergency Medical Operations Center. 

370 days ago, our county was one of the first in the nation to declare a public health state of emergency on COVID-19 -- activating this site and others to respond. 

From this modest warehouse our region’s massive mobilization was equipped. 

Masks, ventilators, testing supplies, PPE, and now vaccines. At its heart, thousands of dedicated workers responding to the ever changing, incredibly challenging pandemic of the past year. 

A year that has tested us and at times divided us. 

A year of tremendous sacrifice and tremendous loss. 

A year that has shown us the very best of each other and sadly some of the worst.  

But through it all--we never gave up. 

We are still battling COVID-19... but the tide is turning. 

The last year has shown our enduring strength and toughness. 

As I stand before you tonight, I have no doubt: 

The State of our County is resilient. And together, we are ready to rise. 

Ready to rebuild… Rebuild our economy, our children’s education. 

Ready to restore…Restore our faith and trust in one another. 

Ready to reunite...Reunite both from social distancing and deep divisions. 

Ready to recover, rebuild... and truly build anew. 

Replay Video

HUMAN FACE

Tonight, I present to you progress in our fight against COVID-19. 

And plans to set our county government in a new direction. 

We don’t simply strive to get back to “normal”. We want better than that. 

Our commitment is comprehensive action to make life fundamentally better for all. 

COVID’s conflicts get the attention but our commitment to one another...That is what has what’s kept me going through the darkest moments. 

I see that in Cam Fomby, a Marine Corps veteran and restaurant owner, who didn't protest the public health orders…he prioritized them... because in his words, 'you can rebuild a business, you can't rebuild a life'.

The perseverance of Elisa Barnett with the San Diego LGBT Community Center--on the streets delivering groceries to homebound seniors. 

I see our resilience in Michelle Pingol, a  nurse who has spent a year fighting to save lives from COVID-19. She wowed us with the national anthem, and represents a workforce that has wowed us for a year with their grace and commitment.

I see indescribable strength every single day -- in my wife. She does her job, a difficult one. And then does everything else--kids on zoom, out to play, things at home in perfect order. She amazes me. But I know that she represents millions of women who always find a way to step up and get it all done. 

The commitment of world renowned scientists, Doctors Kristian Andersen, Natasha Martin, Chip Schooley and many more, in global demand, but still making the time to advise a county supervisor on following the science.

And I see it in all of you--parents, mothers, neighbors, essential workers--each of you doing your part to protect each other. 

For over a year you didn’t give up your commitment and you didn't lose hope. 

And neither has your county government.

COVID RESPONSE

Our immediate priority continues to be controlling and defeating coronavirus. 

COVID cases are down. Vaccinations are up. Hospitalizations have stabilized.

But we must continue to be resilient… wearing masks and avoiding high risk settings because of continued COVID spread and more contagious new strains.

Now, the hope of a vaccine is present and we are rising to the task at hand.

VACCINE

All of your County Government is focused on distributing and administering the vaccine. 

Because the sooner everyone gets vaccinated, the sooner we get our lives back … get San Diegans back to work…and our kids back in the classroom.

Our county has led the state of California. Not a leader, but the leader in vaccines administered. 

In January, we launched our state’s first vaccination super station at Petco Park. 

There are now five superstations and more than 15 community points of distribution--in the areas hardest hit by COVID.  

While lack of vaccines and problems in shipments have caused frustration, we are continuing to press ahead as best we can. 

All of San Diego’s skilled nursing and long term care facilities, who house the seniors most vulnerable to COVID -- they have all been vaccinated. 

Phone lines stand ready to assist seniors without computer access. 

If our seniors lack transportation we will take them. If they can’t leave their home we will go to them. 

Mobile teams going to senior living centers, hard to reach rural areas and standing ready to vaccinate our farmworkers--in the fields. 

We’ve added community health workers to go into the hardest hit neighborhoods with dedicated appointments. Fighting for equitable vaccine access for San Diegans too often left behind.

Together with our healthcare partners, San Diego County has administered more than 684,000 vaccinations.

But it’s not enough… we have to do more.  With even more effort and better outcomes on ensuring access to those communities most impacted. 

In the coming weeks, we’ll be launching new sites to vaccinate the next tier: 

Teachers, grocery workers and yes--law enforcement.

And we stand ready to go March 15th to begin offering vaccinations to those with underlying health conditions and disabilities.

COVID LOOK BACK

While there is hope on the horizon with the vaccine, the harsh reality of this global pandemic is well known. 

Leading the County’s Public Health response has been a daily choice between bad options and worse options. Trying to do the least harm. 

And even when we’re making a positive difference saving lives, I know many San Diegans don’t feel a positive impact because of what had to be done.

San Diego has a death rate lower than any surrounding county...half that of surrounding states, but our kids are still not in the classroom.

We’ve performed over 3.3 million COVID tests at 37 public testing sites.  Contact tracing, case investigations. Yet we couldn’t contain the most recent national surge.

We’re delivering over $300 million dollars in economic aid to families, small businesses and nonprofits.  Yet it didn’t stop the pain, it barely softened the blow.

Too many small businesses on the brink--too many working families pushed to the edge.

A year of inaction from Washington, though we know hope and help is now on the way.

The reality COVID has made clear is not just a global public health pandemic. 

We see clearly there is a pandemic of inequality we must stamp out.

A pandemic of injustice we must overcome.

A pandemic of intolerance we must unify against.

And so tonight, let us resolve to continue our fight not only against the coronavirus, but against all the underlying conditions that have made this response so hard.

From real action to tackle our climate crisis to substantive, not performative work on racial justice….from economic opportunity to education...from clean air and water to protecting our immigrant population...from mental health care to housing and homelessness….

Action to make County Government truly work for every San Diegan.

And to our county workers...the backbone of our county government. 

I value you. I appreciate you. And I will always be here to support you. 

FRAMEWORK FOR THE FUTURE--SET STAGE

Now, spring is coming, hope is on the horizon, and we must look towards the future and the incredible opportunities ahead.  

My first action this year as Chair of the Board of Supervisors was setting in motion a new progressive agenda for a new era in County Government.

We will always honor our commitment to the unincorporated communities. 

And even with crime at historic lows, we can not lose our focus on public safety. 

But we have an opportunity to do more. 

Making justice, fairness and opportunity a core principle guiding our actions. 

RACIAL JUSTICE

The legacies of the original sin at the founding of our country are still present today.

In all parts of our society--land use, environmental and economic policy, criminal justice.

A Black baby born in South Eastern San Diego will live, on average, 10 years less, than a white baby born in La Jolla

A Latino child in Barrio Logan is 7 times more likely to have asthma than a white child in Solana Beach. 

The average life expectancy of a Trans Woman of Color is just 35 years old.

A perpetual wage gap that sees workers of color and women paid less for the same work than white men...

Our community can’t rise to its full potential, if so many San Diegans are prevented from ever rising at all.

That’s why we brought back the Human Relations Commission to empower the community and strengthened the Citizen’s Law Enforcement Review Board to provide more oversight.

We declared racism a public health crisis to break down barriers keeping communities of color from accessing the healthcare they need. 

This past year we also established the County’s new Office of Equity and Racial Justice with a mission as profound as it is broad…To incorporate equity and racial justice into all our policies, all of our programs, changing our culture. 

We must add to this office the requirement for an annual racial equity report-- to assess our impacts and progress based on data.  

Lets hold ourselves accountable to see if our rhetoric matches our record. 

Intentional government policies created these racial inequities and it will take intentional government policies to change them. 

Overcoming persistent inequality will remain a permanent focus of County Government.  

ECONOMY -- OPEN

Overcoming the economic consequences of COVID-19 remains one of our most critical challenges.

San Diego’s working people and small businesses are resilient and I know that together we can rise out of this crisis.

I see that spirit in CJ Martin of Invictus Fitness.  He closed when COVID first hit, then went outdoors, back indoors, now back outdoors.

He struggled, but endured, keeping his workers employed and his gym open safely.  

He is truly an “unconquerable soul”

I see it in all the working people struggling out there – those who are laid off and all those who don’t have the luxury of working remotely, they get up and clock in every day.

I see you. I know how hard it’s been. And your county government is committed to doing our part – and more – to help.

Last year, we launched the Small Business Stimulus Grant Fund with almost 50 million dollars in emergency relief for local businesses and the San Diegans they employ.

In partnership with the San Diego Foundation, we organized the COVID-19 community response fund, aiding over 2.4 million San Diegans disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

And we delivered income replacement stipends for those who contracted COVID. 

But there is much work ahead.

Working with Supervisor Joel Anderson we will develop strategies to help rebuild and re-launch our local economy safely. 

And we won’t leave small businesses or industries hardest hit by COVID behind. 

We will join the call of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation to increase County contracting with local businesses. 

Just a 5% increase could inject 75 million dollars more into our local economy. 

FAIRNESS

But building a brighter future in San Diego means that we can’t just ease the economic pain COVID has caused. 

We have to restore fairness and opportunity for all San Diegans. Especially to those for whom opportunity has been long denied. 

I believe County government has a big role to play in combating income inequality.  

This recession is the most unequal in American history. 

And we must fight to fix all the economic inequalities COVID has exposed. 

The policy decisions we make in this County – on wages, job security, public health funding – must always demonstrate a commitment to the workers who held our community together in this tough time.

That starts with our County government coming  in line with other jurisdictions by adopting a living wage ordinance – because no one who works full time should live in poverty.

In the coming weeks, I will also be bringing forward a measure on worker recall and retention. 

To make sure those who lost jobs due to the pandemic have a fair shot to get them back when their businesses reopen.

This year, working with our District Attorney we will launch a workplace justice initiative. 

To crack down on wage theft.  To protect low wage workers from exploitation. 

And I will follow that up with a proposal to create the County’s first-ever Office of Labor Standards Enforcement because we can’t have a fair economic recovery if working people don’t get a fair shake.

LABOR

And now let me say something you’ve never heard a Chair of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors say.

Unions, those in organized labor are our partners and our allies…critical to rebuilding San Diego’s economy fairly.

Let’s be honest. Our economy was at its strongest when unions were at their peak. 

The decline in union membership has tracked directly with the decline in the middle class and rise in income inequality. 

The fight for good, middle class jobs means the support of worker efforts to organize and join a union. 

And supporting San Diego’s workers – our caregivers, janitors, hotel workers, construction workers, and nurses – means supporting San Diego’s unions.

ECONOMIC BASE

We are incredibly fortunate in San Diego to have a balanced economy-- the military as our anchor, one of the worlds largest biotech hubs on the cutting edge of the innovation economy, and our beautiful weather laying the foundation for our tourism sector. 

We can build on these strengths by attracting new industries that create good jobs for San Diegans.

We are currently in a NEW “golden age of television” -- more streaming, new platforms, more content than ever before. 

This year, I will propose the creation of a robust San Diego film office, not just a commission but a working office-- to bring back San Diego’s film industry, and the good jobs for stagehands, carpenters, and designers, artists and innovators that come with it.

Working  with regional governments we will streamline and expedite permitting, make government owned facilities accessible, consolidate community services needed to attract the entertainment jobs of the future to San Diego.  

As we transition to a clean energy economy.. we will ensure the investments we make going green…those investments will  go to creating good jobs for local workers. 

The opportunities to see generational investments in infrastructure has the potential to build the communities we need and provide the jobs our people deserve. 

Electricians, engineers, entrepreneurs – everyone has a role to play building San Diego’s future.

BEHAVIORAL HEALTH -- SET STAGE

In this pandemic, mental health challenges and substance abuse have been rising. 

It’s time we rise to meet this challenge. 

Even before COVID, as a candidate for this office, I made clear my highest long-term priority is rebuilding San Diego’s behavioral health system...the combination of mental health and drug treatment services.

Right now an underfunded and outdated system just shuffles patients, especially those experiencing homelessness, from one crisis institution to the next without making a lasting difference…

Last year, we launched a 25 million dollar Behavioral Health Impact Fund. 

Designed to jumpstart an expansion of critically needed care.

In the coming weeks, I will announce its initial results and when San Diego sees the impact made, I know there will be demands to do more.

We can and must build a network of comprehensive behavioral healthcare that delivers the right services to the right person at the right time. 

We must move from crisis care to continuous care.

We must integrate behavioral health fully into our actions to reduce homelessness.

MCRT/WORKFORCE

That’s why, in recent weeks, we launched a new approach to the most common, and often most dangerous, entry point in behavioral health.  A call to 911.

The vast majority of emergency behavioral health calls law enforcement receives– over 59,000 a year – are about providing medical assistance, not making arrests.

The County’s new Mobile Crisis Response Teams, begun as a pilot program in North County, are replacing cops with clinicians on behavioral health calls.

It’s already delivering results by deescalating dangerous situations and providing treatment, not punishment, to people in crisis. I appreciate the work of our District Attorney in this effort. 

Over the coming year, we plan to take this innovative program countywide and fully integrate it into the 911 system.

But we must recruit more behavioral health professionals, those in critical need, to make this program, and our entire expanded system, a success.

We face a steep shortage of essential mental health workers. To tackle this challenge, I’ll be convening the first of its kind San Diego County Behavioral Health Workforce Conference... 

Bringing together the heads of our major universities and community colleges to bring a new crop of behavioral health professionals to the frontlines of this fight.

So we make real progress on behavioral health and create a pipeline for thousands of good paying careers along the way. 

RIGHT RESPONSE

But the right response needs to direct people to the right place to get the right care.

That’s why I fought last year to create the Hillcrest Regional Crisis Hub.

Previously an abandoned building, planned as a site for more luxury condos, we’re instead building a world class center for behavioral health recovery.

And more hubs like this are on the way to serve every region of the County. 

And when individuals are ready for discharge, it won’t be back onto the streets with no ability to access follow up care. 

They’ll be paired with a care coordinator--someone to help them navigate housing, access services, and be a source of ongoing stability and support...they can count on.

That’s just a part of our larger efforts to break the cycles of poverty, addiction, disease and incarceration.

The County Board just voted to abandon the long-failed War on Drugs and embrace Harm Reduction to address substance abuse.  A 180 degree shift from the past.

We launched our accelerated connections to treatment program--to bring vital drug treatment into our mental health hospital. 

In the next week we will issue a local Standing Order from Dr. Wilma Wooten, enabling community-based Naloxone to prevent opioid overdoses – with medication paid for by the State and distributed peer to peer — all through a County clearinghouse. 

But we know supportive housing goes hand in hand with effective drug treatment, and in the coming months, I will unveil a proposal and location to make significant progress on both.  

No doubt we will face opposition, but we can no longer let the “not in my back yard” naysayers prolong suffering on our streets and neighborhoods.

All of these efforts will help reduce homelessness, but the creation of a new County Department of Homeless Solutions and Equitable Communities is critical to streamlining our regional response. 

This office will allow us to work more closely with local cities, in particular a renewed effort with Mayor Todd Gloria on maximizing available state and federal resources. 

People are hurting. Neighborhoods are suffering. And we have to do better. 

JAILS

Doing better on mental health also means restoring humanity and improving healthcare in our jails.  And on this front, I have some news.

Earlier this week, Sheriff Bill Gore and I came to an agreement on a new framework for healthcare in our County jails.

Sheriff Gore will put a stop to the expansion of outsourcing healthcare… and together we will seek a significant increase in the number of county health nurses, mental health professionals and drug treatment providers in our jails. 

Embracing services like medication for addiction treatment and a new focus on connections into ongoing care upon release. 

I appreciate the Sheriffs’ collaboration. We share the same goal – treating people humanely and lowering recidivism.  Now, we share the same plan.

All of these efforts, when taken together, and accomplished will make San Diego a national leader in treating behavioral health challenges as the real healthcare challenges they are. 

But more importantly they will touch and transform lives in unprecedented ways. 

We all know someone who has struggled with addiction or a mental health injury. 

These are our brothers, sisters, children and parents. Our friends. Our neighbors. 

They are all of us. 

And for us all. We’re ready to rise to meet this challenge.

FAMILIES/KIDS

The pandemic has brought great hardship for our kids. 

I want to take a moment to recognize the nothing less than heroic efforts of the County’s Child Welfare workers who never stopped serving our community’s most at-risk kids, even at the height of COVID’s surge.

They’ve shown resilience throughout this crisis… keeping at-home visits, safety inspections, kids’ counseling going in this critical time.

And so have our kids… who have struggled through so much for so long.

As a parent. As a father--you want the very best for every child. 

I’m ready to get our kids back in the classroom and I believe we are now in a place with progress on vaccinations and COVID, that it is time to let our kids play. 

Our kids have been a focus of our Emergency Relief effort… investing in childcare, summer camps and internet connectivity for families facing crisis in COVID. 

But the truth is deep disparities in children’s access to support, education and a loving and stable home have been with us for years.

And we must do more. 

We know adverse childhood experiences -- ACEs -- if not quickly met with trauma-informed care...can have devastating lasting effects. 

Every issue, an elected official confronts is a mix of community need, professional interest and at times personal experience.

For myself and for my Mom, this one is deeply personal. And that motivates me to act. 

Two years ago, we created the Child and Family Strengthening Council to drive needed reforms in our approach to child welfare.

To make vital investments …early childhood education, parenting resources, job training, family counseling, and more…things that give every child a chance to thrive.

We evaluated the 88 recommendations from a comprehensive 2018 audit.  49 have been completely implemented. 12 more will be done by the end of the month. The rest by the end of the year. 

And we’re going beyond those recommendations with a new focus on equity and strengthening families to ensure the best for San Diego kids – no matter their parent’s income or background.

That includes a new transformative proposal I’m bringing forward to establish a campus to fully support mothers and their children who have faced separation due to addiction and incarceration or instability.

We want to help break generational cycles. 

That means not just reunification, but a real investment with a safe and loving environment providing housing, childcare, job training, treatment needed and a path to a better future. 

In my post as the Chair of the Child and Family Strengthening Advisory Board and First 5 Commission I will bring forward a Working Families legislative platform with our local, state, and national counterparts to enhance resources and support for the things we know are most critical for families to thrive:

Early childhood education AND affordable, quality childcare. 

We’re creating a unique partnership with Rady Children’s Hospital to develop a comprehensive behavioral health hub for youth.

This will greatly expand clinical services to support children and families -- hospitalization, step down care, outpatient services and ongoing, individualized care. 

Among its goals is keeping kids out of our criminal justice system.

Treating kids like kids and investing in them, not incarcerating them, are the values that guide the County’s renewed focus on Juvenile Justice Reform.

We recently created a separate Juvenile Division of Probation, “Youth Development and Community Services” with a focus on national best practices and with its own vision and mission different from the adult system.

This year we will complete construction on phase 1 of a new juvenile justice campus.  

Creating a place of rehabilitation and renewal that delivers restorative services, encourages family engagement and fosters academic achievement. 

Gone will be concertina wire and locked cells. In its place -- open space, trauma informed care and education. 

But we must fund and prioritize phase 2 -- demolishing the 1952 juvenile hall and completing the final piece of a comprehensive approach. 

Building these new facilities is an urgent priority. We need to ensure that youth in the County’s care are supported, safe and given a real shot at success. 

Along with these new programs, we’re advancing systemic policy reforms on Juvenile Justice. 

De-escalation and implicit bias training to reduce the use of force.  

Trauma informed care, restorative practices that take into account adolescent brain development  to increase the true support kids need. 

We established a 3rd Achievement Center to provide community-based treatment services that prevent recidivism and promote positive outcomes for justice involved youth.

But it is time to pull all of these efforts together with a clear path forward. 

I have called  a special meeting of the Board of Supervisors on February 23 focused on the future of Juvenile Justice in San Diego County, with a special emphasis on taking our probation department in a new direction.

Our board is engaged with community stakeholders in the search for a new Chief Probation Officer who fully embraces the opportunity for progress on juvenile justice.  

And through it all we will continue to depend on our probation officers — they have been asked to absorb a lot the last few years. 

Transformative changes in staffing, direction, policies and procedures.  

But we will work through these issues together--knowing we all share the same mission. 

Safe communities, thriving youth and a recovery from COVID that doesn’t leave our children behind.

IMMIGRANT RIGHTS

Every child deserves love. And every parent loves their child. Your country of birth or immigration status cannot impact the universal power of love for one another. And it should not impact our ability to show empathy and compassion. 

Two years ago, I saw us come together: county building, state funding, heroic non-profits--all to provide a comprehensive response to meet the need of people seeking asylum. 

This wasn’t the first time our region had to scramble to help our immigrant community. 

And today, we face it again. 

This year, we must commit ourselves to completing the work of having a dedicated shelter location for our refugees and asylees. 

One that can ramp up and ramp down based on the need.  We stand ready as a region to shelter people from fire or flood. We must do the same here. 

And to coordinate these efforts and others, Supervisor Nora Vargas and myself will be proposing the creation of a County office of Immigrants and Refugee Affairs. 

ENVIRONMENT

Perhaps the only positive surge in this pandemic has been the surge of San Diegans turning to outdoor activities to stay active and healthy.

San Diegans are asking for expanded access to the parks, beaches and natural treasures we all love… and have come to rely on during COVID-19.

And the public expects bold action...to ensure clean air and water and protect our environment for generations to come.

CLIMATE

The days of San Diego’s County Board of Supervisors denying climate change are over.

My first meeting as Chair, Supervisor Lawson Remer and I set in motion a climate action plan for San Diego County that will not only meet state goals to reduce carbon pollution -- but exceed them. 

A plan to achieve 100% renewable energy. 

A pathway to a zero carbon economy. 

Community choice energy that generates clean energy AND good clean energy jobs.

A region wide response to the increasing threat of wildfires due to climate change.

Protecting both communities at risk and our brave firefighters. 

And while Supervisor Desmond and I have had our differences, I know we agree on our commitment to fire safety and also agree on the need to better utilize our paramedics  in the backcountry to provide community healthcare services. 

ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE

The pandemic has also brought a renewed urgency to the cause of environmental justice. 

According to Harvard researchers, people living in areas with poor air quality are more likely to die of COVID-19.

That’s wrong.  Everyone has a right to clean air, clean water and a healthy life.

When I joined the Board of Supervisors, I pushed to expand the County’s water and air quality monitoring, especially in the most polluted communities.  

Now, a newly reorganized San Diego Air Pollution Control District will do even more to make the air our children breathe clean.

Together with the California Air Resources Board, on which I serve, we’re going to address San Diego’s air quality challenges with bold steps forward.

Some are already underway, like the Advanced Clean Trucks rule that will reduce diesel truck emissions polluting residential neighborhoods.

Pollution control measures for commercial harbor craft so we keep San Diego Bay clean and safe.

A redoubled effort led by Supervisor Nora Vargas to clean up the toxic Tijuana River sewage polluting South County -- with an active and engaged federal government.

And Supervisor Terra Lawson Remer will lead our efforts to finally address our stormwater infrastructure failures and growing funding gap. 

San Diego County recently adopted a landmark ‘electric vehicle roadmap’, setting us on the right course. But the Governors bold announcement--putting our entire state on the path to zero emission vehicles inspires us to do more. And faster. 

But another step we must take focused on helping the communities hardest hit from air pollution. 

This year, I will launch an effort to expand access to affordable, used electric vehicles for low-income San Diegans.

Most people can’t afford a Tesla. But the sooner we all transition away from polluting fossil fuels to zero emissions – the better off we all will be.

OPEN SPACE

I’m passionate about expanding opportunities for families to enjoy the outdoors together.

There is nowhere better to start than in our backyard--  the County Waterfront Park. Visited and enjoyed by more than 250,000 people every year.

An amazing regional asset built by the previous Board of Supervisors… we’re going to build on its beauty.

This year, I’ll bring forward a plan to add a dog park, outdoor basketball, pickle ball – which is apparently the new hot thing – and world class t-ball and wiffle ball fields.

To harness the excitement we all feel for our Padres, the ball field will be designed and built in partnership with the San Diego Padres. 

Let's replicate the feel of  PETCO Park for our little t-ball stars.   

And maybe we name it in honor of a Padre we know will be here...for at least the next 14 seasons:) 

And in a quieter corner of the park, in a proposal that may only excite me, we will add outdoor chess tables to bring a beautiful game into our beautiful outdoors.

And keep geeking out with me here for a second...In the new school year, my office will sponsor a countywide chess program for students in underserved communities and an annual outdoor tournament to identify San Diego’s best! 

Most of these improvements can be completed by next summer if we move quickly.

In the long term, I will work with the Port of San Diego and I fully support an idea in their master plan to realize the big vision of the waterfront park. 

Extending it all the way to the water.

Closing parts of Harbor Drive to car traffic can revitalize a whole section of our city. 

Outdoor dining, walking and bike paths--all along the waterfront. 

Making our County building the gateway to a re-charged regional asset: connections to transit, world class destinations like the Midway museum, our cruise ship terminals and so much more.   

And it is time our county government fully engages in helping complete  the San Diego River Park. 

Two decades ago this visionary effort started with the leadership of Senator Chris Kehoe, and our generation must finish the job:

52 miles of connected walking and bike paths from the ocean all the way to the mountains. 

I am proposing the creation of an Enhanced Infrastructure financing district -- to permanently fund the development and maintenance of this system of trails. 

Together with our regional partners, including Mayor Gloria, Councilmembers Campbell and Campillo, and our tribal leaders we will convene a working group with a 90 day window to develop a strategy for a fully connected and funded river park.

Along urban corridors, through the backcountry. All the beauty of San Diego available for San Diegans to enjoy. 

COVID has made so clear how the health of our environment shapes the health of our communities.

And San Diegans can expect a renewed commitment from their County on both.

CLOSE

This is a broad sweeping agenda. Some will say too ambitious. 

But the moment requires it. And we are ready to lead. 

While the last year has been tough. And the road has been long. 

San Diego remains resilient. And a spirit of renewal is here. 

Throughout COVID, we have leaned on one another, dug deeper to summon the strength when it feels like we can’t go any further. 

The collective actions of a community of people coming together--everyone doing their job. 

It reminds me of what I saw during multiple combat deployments as a Marine. 

Long, difficult, full of grief, heartaches. Progress and setbacks. Ups and downs. 

But everyday we got up, got in the fight and did our job. 

Like combat, our COVID experience will leave some scars, some loss, some things we will never completely shake. 

But it also will leave a lasting legacy of a community that came together to confront the most challenging issue of our lifetime. 

I am proud of San Diego County. Where we stand and where we are headed.  

We have come through the darkest winter and are heading into a brighter spring. 

We are ready to recover.  Ready to reunite.  Together, ready to rise.

Thank you for joining me this evening. 

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