Supervisor Dianne Jacob used the annual State of the County address Wednesday to discuss the expansion of jails to absorb state prisoners and paving the way for business development in rural areas, among other issues.
In her roughly 35-minute speech at the County Operations Center, the board chairwoman addressed prisoner realignment, including the expansion of detention centers and the staffing of sheriff's stations in Rancho San Diego, Lakeside and Pine Valley.
"Keeping our community safe remains our top priority," Jacob said.
Next year, she said, the final phase in consolidating rural fire departments is expected to be completed. Meanwhile, the county has improved its regional communications system and partnerships with other fire agencies.
"We have seen some brutal fire seasons in our county, and we will see others. When they strike, we need to make sure we've done all we can to protect people and property," Jacob said. "We no longer just hope for the best in the long run -- we aim for the best."
Jacob outlined a volunteer health program similar to one used in Reno, Nev., for law enforcement offers and first-responders who may be at risk for heart attacks, which the county's Deputy Sheriff's Association has already agreed to join.
Jacob said county officials are committed to boosting business in the back country. In recent years, the county has made it easier to open farmers' markets and worked to cut red tape for horse stable owners and winemakers.
The board is now looking to ease regulations for beekeepers and craft brewers, she said.
"I've got three words for you -- bees, beer and burgundy," Jacob said.
She said the county would increase its oversight of nursing and convalescent homes, and work with the District Attorney's Office to prosecute scofflaws in the assisted-living arena.
Jacob said the county should explore allowing energy companies compete for business. Competition should drive down rates and "finally bring our consumer energy market out of the dark ages," she said.
"The state of your county government is good -- but I don't want to settle for good. We have so much to do on so many fronts," Jacob said, while stressing that the county will remain cautious with its spending and try to avoid taking on new debt.
Also on Wednesday, the Board of Supervisors held a meeting at the new county complex in Kearny Mesa for the first time. On Tuesday, a policy change was approved to enable the board to meet there, instead of at the County Administration Building near the downtown waterfront.
The supervisors approved a plan to allow groups to display flags and banners to enhance community character in county right-of-ways in unincorporated areas and a two-year extension of a program for deferring developer impact fees.
—City News Service