SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — San Diego County Board of Supervisor's Chair Nathan Fletcher delivered his second State of the County Address Tuesday, March 29, 2022.
Speaking before an audience at the San Diego Continuing Education Center in the Mountain View neighborhood, he said he was there to talk "where we are, progress made and where we need to go."
"It's beautiful to see everyone here -- in person," Fletcher said, referencing how the COVID-19 pandemic prevented a similar gathering last year. "It's a sign of real progress after an incredibly difficult couple of years."
Fletcher noted that life has been difficult because of the pandemic, inflation, soaring housing costs, deep political divisions and lingering problems.
"But for all the challenges around us, we also see signs of real progress," he said.
Fletcher declared the county's state as strong "and getting stronger every single day.
"I'm not going to let anyone take us backward," he added. "I choose progress. I fight forward. And I hope you will join me because I know we can do it."
Signs of hope "began with our community coming together to mount one of the most effective COVID-19 responses in the nation," Fletcher said.
"Despite threats, intimidation and acts of violence ... we did not waver from doing what was right. In the face of disinformation and division, we did not give up and we did not give in."
Fletcher with a 93% vaccination rate and one of the lowest death rates in the nation, "we saved lives. We provided swift emergency relief that local businesses, families and workers needed. Together, we are rebuilding our economy. Our county workers didn't flinch."
Now in his second yearlong term as board chairman, Fletcher announced numerous initiatives and programs -- some of them co-sponsored with other supervisors -- including:
Homelessness / Behavioral Health
- New Tent Shelter for Homeless at the County’s Rosecrans Complex: The County of San Diego, in partnership with the City of San Diego and Lucky Duck Foundation, will open a new 150 person shelter located at the County’s Rosecrans complex. The anticipated open date is July 1, 2022. The County is providing the land, public health, behavioral health, and eligibility services, the City will manage operations at the shelter, and the Lucky Duck Foundation has generously donated the tent structure.
- Standard Agreement for Partnership with 18 Incorporated Cities to Help Unsheltered: The County has created a standard agreement to streamline partnerships related to homelessness between the County of San Diego and incorporated cities. This agreement outlines what roles the County and the cities will perform for agreements related to a variety of homeless solutions including safe camping, safe parking, and tiny homes. The County will provide services such as behavioral health and public health services and the city will provide a location and operations.
- $10 Million in Grants to Support 18 Incorporated Cities for Service for the Unsheltered: In recognition that some cities do not have the resources available to acquire locations to provide services to those experiencing homelessness, the County will make $10 million available to help cities jumpstart more robust homeless services programs. More details will be announced.
- New Safe Haven Facility: A new low-barrier addiction treatment facility location will be announced in the near future in partnership with the City of San Diego. This effort is a continuation of the harm reduction efforts launched by the County’s Community Harm Reduction Team (CHRT) and the City’s operation of a harm reduction shelter at the old Pier One location in the Midway District. The County provides the CHRT team and addiction treatment services and the City manages the facility.
Working Families / Jobs / Economy
- New Warehouse Safety Ordinance for San Diego County: In partnership with Vice Chair Nora Vargas, Chair Fletcher this year will introduce a policy to ensure individuals working inside warehouses in San Diego County are protected against unsafe and unfair practices. This policy will help prevent corporations from creating dangerous working conditions and breaking health and safety laws.
- Overturn an Illegal Ban on Project Labor Agreements: Currently, the County of San Diego has a law on the books banning Project Labor Agreements, this ban is out of step with state law and exposes the County to lawsuits. The County’s current ban is illegal and Chair Fletcher will push to overturn the outdated County practice.
- Explore Living Wage Ordinance: San Diego County will ensure that contractors and partners are finding ways to balance profitability with the creation of good jobs that keep workers out of poverty.
- Hiring More Veterans in County Government: Chair Fletcher, a Marine combat veteran, announced he wants to double the number of veterans the County of San Diego hires and will work with Supervisor Jim Desmond, who is a Navy veteran, to create a new strategy to increase veteran hires. Currently, 6% of the County workforce are veterans.
- Regional Surplus Land Master Planning Initiative with $10 Million in Philanthropic Support: Chair Fletcher called for government agencies to work together to create a master plan for their surplus land and has recruited The San Diego Foundation and the San Diego Regional Policy & Innovation Center to lead the efforts. The $10 million from the San Diego Foundation will be used to launch this initiative. More details will be announced at a later date.
- Nearly 50% More Building Permits for New Housing: The County of San Diego is on track to issue more than 1,600 building permits for new housing this year, which is nearly 50% more than in 2021.
- Green-lighting Housing Development Free of VMT Fees: Balancing our priorities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with the need to maximize the supply of new housing development in the region, the County will open capacity for up to 4,000 units of housing development free of Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) costs.
- $100 Million From Opioid Settlement to Fight Addiction: The County of San Diego is on the verge of a settlement with Purdue Pharma that is expected to bring $100 million to the County that will be invested in more harm reduction, and addiction treatment services.
- Host County Opioid Addiction Convenings: Chair Fletcher announced he will work with Supervisor Joel Anderson – whose East County District has been hit hard by the opioid crisis – to determine the best way to leverage the $100 million settlement.
- Drug Deactivation Disposal Bags: Chair Fletcher wants to do more to help individuals properly dispose of leftover prescription drugs. He is seeking a way to provide drug disposal bags to households across the region. A person can clean out their medicine cabinet of old prescription drugs, put them in the pouch and add water for them to dissolve. Albany County currently requires new opioid prescriptions are accompanied by a drug disposal bag for leftover pills.
Childcare and Child welfare
- Regional Conference to Build A Framework for the Future of Childcare: Chair Fletcher has recruited the San Diego Chamber of Commerce and the San Diego Labor Council to serve as Co-Chairs and work with the County of San Diego to develop a coordinated regional plan for quality childcare.
- $10 Million for Childcare Workforce and Facilities: The County of San Diego has committed $10 million from federal COVID relief funds to increase the supply of childcare options in our region. This will come before the Board of Supervisors in Spring of 2022.
- First Childcare Center for County Employees: The County has dedicated $2 Million in funding to build a childcare facility on one of its properties to support its employees. The County employs more than 18,000 people.
- 88 Child Welfare Recommendations Completed for Improving Welfare Services & Reorganization of Department Underway: In 2018 a comprehensive audit created 88 recommendations to reform Child Welfare Services. Under Chair Fletcher’s leadership, all 88 recommendations have been implemented. To better serve our community this work will be continued in the creation of the Department of Child and Family Well Being. The new Department will streamline our family strengthening efforts with a focus on improving healthy equity for children and families.
- New Reenergized Commitment to Recruiting Foster Parents to “Faith in Motion” Program: Faith in Motion partners commit to working with their congregations and community to creatively support children, families, and care providers by utilizing resources and services available within their congregation. Meet with the Faith in Motion Coordinator and Schedule a presentation for your congregations. 1-877-792-KIDS (5437) www.sdcares4kids.com. Nineteen local congregations have signed up and Chair Fletcher is seeking more applicants.
- New Dual Engine Firefighting Helicopter: Chair Fletcher will introduce an emergency action to appropriate $15 million to purchase a dual-engine firefighting helicopter. Currently, the County relies on single-engine helicopters which cannot fly at night and carry as much water – former Supervisor Dianne Jacob originally introduced the idea of the County purchasing these helicopters over a decade ago.
Parks and Outdoors
- New Outdoor Experience Program at County-Run Regional Parks: The San Diego County Parks and Recreation Department will help facilitate “first-time” experiences in the County’s 25 regional parks by covering admission costs, providing the gear, instruction, and providing transportation assistance to individuals and families who may need. The program is designed to break down barriers to fun outdoor activities such as day and night hiking, fishing, kayaking and canoeing, bird watching, camping, and horseback riding.
A Marine who served in the Iraq War, Fletcher said that every day, he thinks about the friends he lost in that conflict.
"They gave their life because their country asked them," sharing a bond that transcended political affiliation, race and religion, he added. "We got the job done, we trusted each other."
Fletcher said while county residents and their government can't solve every problem, "We can fight like hell to drive progress every day," he said.
Last year, Chair Fletcher delivered the annual Address from the County’s COVID-19 supply warehouse, this year the limited-capacity in-person, invite-only speech will be delivered from the Educational Cultural Complex Performing Arts Theatre at the San Diego Continuing Education Center. The official hashtag is #SOSDC2022.
Full State of the County Address | San Diego County Board of Supervisor's Chair Nathan Fletcher delivered his second State of the County Address March 29, 2022