The San Diego County Board of Supervisors took up a variety of topics in 2013, including public health, safety, agricultural and equestrian issues, streamlining services provided by the county and backing pending legislation.
The year got underway with the five-member board's newest member being sworn in, former Solana Beach councilman and Deputy Mayor Dave Roberts. He sits with supervisor Ron Roberts, no relation, who has represented the central San Diego area since 1994.
Dave Roberts became the first new member elected to the Board of Supervisors since 1995, and is the only Democrat on a county board of five supervisers governing 3.1 million residents with a budget of nearly $5 billion. He succeeded longtime Supervisor Pam Slater-Price to represent areas from Encinitas to Escondido to northern San Diego.
Roberts is father to five adopted children, and along with Supervisor Greg Cox this year began a push to streamline the county's adoption process. Roberts said that any future efficiencies would be a "true step in the right direction."
The county facilitates about 400 adoptions each year, but several areas in the program could be made more efficient, the supervisors said.
The Board of Supervisors also took up several public safety and health issues this year.
They collectively called on the U.S. Department of Defense to transfer retired aircraft to the U.S. Forest Service for aerial firefighting in the region; and threw their support behind a proposal submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration to test unmanned aerial systems and vehicles over largely unpopulated areas in Southern California, which one supervisor said would bolster the economy.
They also supported legislation aimed at closing a loophole in federal child sex trafficking laws and speeding up the prosecution of suspects.
The supervisors also directed staffers to look into regulating electronic cigarette use under the countywide anti-tobacco policy. Supervisors Dave Roberts and Ron Roberts said that the use of "ecigarette" devices could undermine county smoking regulations and undermine efforts to make smoking no longer acceptable in public places.
The board also agreed to begin negotiations with the maker of a smartphone app that notifies those with CPR training that someone nearby is suffering sudden cardiac arrest.
"Clearly the faster first responders can get to the victim, the greater the opportunity for saving lives," Supervisor Ron Roberts said.
The supervisors also dealt with various agricultural issues.
They called on county staff to work toward streamlining the licensing process for farmers markets in unincorporated areas, and to find ways to retain beekeepers in the county and promote the practice, which could mean eventually easing zoning laws.
Also this year, the board voted to restructure fees and regulations for boarding horses by implementing a tiered system meant to cut costs to equestrians.
"San Diego County is horse country," Supervisor Dianne Jacob said. "And there is a domino effect of the economics of the horse industry -- people need to buy feed, and they need veterinary services and they need saddles and other kinds of equipment."
In other county news this year, the county supervisors backed the efforts of a committee that is exploring whether San Diego should bid for the 2024 summer Olympic and Paralympic games.
Supervisor Dave Roberts said bringing the games to San Diego would positively impact civic pride, the local economy and the region's ability to attract visitors.
Also in 2013, progress was made on the future 15-acre waterfront park outside the County Administration Building, expected to open next spring, and a 250-space underground garage. The county's off-street parking regulations were also updated.
-City News Service