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Op-ed: Change is upon us, new county budget helps prepare

By Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer

If you told me three years ago I would spend weeks on end isolated at home, gas would cost $6 a gallon, I’d be watching a war in Europe, and reproductive freedom would be illegal or close to it in a majority of the nation, I wouldn’t have believed you.

But the reality is that our world has changed — and this change is being thrust upon us from all directions. With the right planning and investments, we can weather that change — and create a stronger, more resilient San Diego County.

This was my goal when I voted last month to approve the County of San Diego’s new $7.35 billion dollar budget. It’s a resiliency budget — an investment plan to make sure that San Diego is ready not only to respond to the change we’re experiencing but to enact the change we need.

The new county budget furthers the work we’ve done, and continue to do, to make county government more equitable, sustainable, responsive, and representative of our communities.

As we feel the heat from rising temperatures, this budget invests $100 million to fight climate change, expand county parks and community gardens, acquire land for the preservation of natural habitats, plant trees, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and set up “cool zones” around our region for you to enjoy air conditioning for free.

As we grow more concerned about sewage in our oceans, this budget invests $40 million in improving our stormwater infrastructure to keep pollution from our cities from flowing onto our beaches.

As we see people struggling on the street, perhaps talking to themselves, this budget pays for new Mobile Crisis Response Teams staffed with trained psychiatric clinicians to respond quickly— allowing our sheriffs and police officers to focus on fighting crime.

As we are squeezed by inflation and need a little extra help to make ends meet, this budget will fund new resources to help residents access food and healthcare through programs like CalFresh and Medi-Cal.

As we witness wildfires more frequently threaten our homes, this budget bolsters our firefighting fleet with a new dual-engine helicopter with the ability to fly at night and carry more water and emergency responders.

But we’re not waiting for danger to arrive at our doorsteps — we’re also investing $2 million to reduce the risk of wildfire through vegetation management, improved evacuation routes, and fire breaks.

And as we venture out more to reconnect with our neighbors, you can experience the millions of dollars in funding set aside in this budget to support vital programs, such as 24-hour rapid testing to measure beach water quality; $250,000 for San Dieguito Park to improve the safety of the bridge and rehabilitate the three lookout towers; and $6 million for land acquisition, design, and environmental review for the long-awaited San Dieguito Local Park – a new 5-acre park that will include a soccer field, court sports, and a playground.

If you know an organization that is doing important work that should receive funding, please have them reach out to me at [email protected].

We are a resilient region — and this budget reflects that spirit. We can’t always control what comes our way. But we will continue to work hard locally to be prepared for winds of change, no matter where they come from, so we can chart a better future for us all.

In service,

Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer, District 3, Board of Supervisors