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Guest commentary: An introduction from Pacific Beach’s new county supervisor

San Diego County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer
(Courtesy photo)

Hello neighbor. As a third-generation San Diegan who grew up in this beautiful region, I am so excited to be your new representative on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.

Every 10 years, our district boundaries are redrawn to group communities together in ways that make sense based on our changing population, so I’m excited to welcome Pacific Beach to San Diego County District 3, which covers most of our coast from Carlsbad to Coronado, as well as Mira Mesa, Rancho Peñasquitos and University City.

I look forward to working alongside you to champion the investments that Pacific Beach deserves! But first, let me tell you a little about myself.

I grew up in Mission Hills, graduated from La Jolla High and earned my bachelor’s degree from Yale and both my law degree and my Ph.D. from New York University. Now I live in Encinitas while raising my nearly 3-year-old daughter.

I’ve worn many hats in my professional career, including as a senior adviser in President Obama’s administration, a professor of public policy and economics, a community organizer for environmental justice and civil rights, and an environmental legal expert for the World Bank.

More recently I started my own small business, led backpacking outdoor education trips for disadvantaged youths and trained as a certified EMT (which came in handy when I helped to administer COVID-19 vaccinations last year). As you might be able to tell, I am always looking for ways to make a difference, which is why I love serving our community as a county supervisor.

I ran for office in 2020 because I believe that our county government can and must be a force for good to address the big problems facing our region, such as homelessness, traffic, climate change, housing affordability and protecting our coastlines and open spaces.

I believe data is key to ensuring government agencies make smart decisions and achieve progress in solving problems. Facts and evidence are essential to making our county more efficient, effective and fair.

Take homelessness for example. We need more services and housing, especially for people suffering from mental illness, but right now our region’s top provider of homeless beds and mental health services isn’t a hospital or nonprofit — it’s San Diego County jails. Putting people who are sick, poor or without a home behind bars costs taxpayers a lot of money while doing nothing to address the root causes of these problems.

Last year the County Board of Supervisors approved my proposal to analyze public safety data to find alternatives to jailing people experiencing homelessness or mental health issues, so people can get more effective help and we can invest in more permanent solutions. We also launched a county-wide program to dispatch trained clinicians, instead of law enforcement, when someone is experiencing a mental health crisis.

Public safety is important to all of us. As a mom, I’m taking action to protect our community and children from gun violence. We recently passed an ordinance to partner with our district attorney in cracking down on ghost guns, to keep these untraceable firearms out of the wrong hands.

I’m also a lifelong surfer, rock climber and outdoor guide, so I am very focused on safeguarding our beaches and coastlines, fighting for our environment and protecting our wild open spaces.

Keeping our beaches clean starts with keeping pollution out of the water. I’m making the repair of stormwater infrastructure a priority for the county so we can stop toxic runoff, fertilizers and other chemicals from washing into our streams and oceans when it rains.

We recently approved a landmark comprehensive native plants plan to expand local vegetation, so we can protect our fragile and unique Southern California ecosystem, and make our backcountry and coastal habitats more resilient.

And I will continue to stand against sprawl development that increases fire risk and traffic and bulldozes our beautiful backcountry.

We live at the crossroads of this generation’s greatest challenge and greatest opportunity: climate change. After the previous board’s climate action plan was thrown-out in court for being so meaningless that it didn’t even meet bare minimum state standards, we’re now working on a regional decarbonization plan to end carbon emissions in our region by 2035. San Diego’s economic future lies in the green economy, so our regional decarbonization plan is also a green jobs plan. In collaboration with global experts at UC San Diego and the University of San Diego, we are working to ensure that people who make their livelihoods in carbon-emitting industries like natural gas land on their feet with good-paying careers in clean sectors like wind and solar.

Finally, I’m focused every day on strengthening our local economy and helping people and businesses devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve joined my board colleagues to direct $50 million in relief money to struggling small businesses and launched a paid green jobs training program for local young people whose careers were interrupted by the pandemic. I am also partnering with leading employees in high-tech and biotech to ensure our region can keep attracting the talent we need, and develop our local workforce.

I am honored to work with you to make the county work for all of us. Please feel free to contact me at terra.lawson-remer@sdcounty.ca.gov or call my office at 619-531-5533 if I can be of service. If I can be of service.

With gratitude,

Terra


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