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CHAIRWOMAN DIANNE JACOB – San Diego County Board of Supervisors – October 15, 2019

Study says say community choice would save consumers $12 million a year.

The Board of Supervisors, moving to end SDG&E’s decades-long monopoly over electricity rates, voted Tuesday to establish a community choice energy program in the county’s unincorporated area.

County leaders said the initiative will bolster the use of renewable energy and cited a recent study estimating it would save 179,000 residential and business ratepayers $12 million a year.

“This is a huge victory for consumers who are sick and tired of getting ripped off by SDG&E and are hungry for an alternative,” said Supervisor Dianne Jacob, board chairwoman. “Ratepayers will finally have the freedom to choose where they get their energy.”

The county is looking at a 2022 launch date and is talking with officials in Carlsbad, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Santee and other local governments about a possible joint choice initiative.

The program includes a key environmental goal: By 2030, at least 90 percent of the energy provided is expected to come from solar and other sources of renewable power.

A recent study done by a consultant for the county predicted that utility rates for those tapping into the program would be at least two percent lower than what SDG&E is expected to charge.

The study estimates the program will save ratepayers $12 million annually during the first decade of operation.

The county’s unincorporated area covers more than 3,500 square miles and includes Spring Valley, Alpine, Borrego Springs, Fallbrook, Campo, Lakeside and Julian.

There are about 20 community choice programs in California. San Diego, Chula Vista and several other local cities are preparing to launch their own initiatives.

Jacob, a longtime supporter of community choice, renewed her call for it in her State of the County speech early this year. She also announced that Supervisor Nathan Fletcher was joining her in the effort.

Media inquiries: Steve Schmidt, 619-206-9108,

Donna Cleary, 858-805-1395,



Board Approves Plan to Boost Wildfire Resilience – June 4, 2019

The County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to implement a pre-fire strategy in its highest-risk areas to reduce wildfire loss.

The Board unanimously approved the plan presented by public safety staff with one modification: to develop a grant program to help residents in the high fire risk communities pay for fire-resistant building improvements to their homes. San Diego County CAL FIRE Division Chief and Fire Authority Chief Tony Mecham told the Board the plan consists of four steps:

  1. Fire Authority will ramp up community education so that more homeowners understand how wildland fires start and behave and how to prevent them. This will be accomplished with community courses and workshops coordinated with Fire Safe Councils and Community Emergency Response Teams, also known as CERT.
  2. Fire personnel will double annual inspections on homes in fire-prone areas and recommend improvements to reduce the fire risk on their homes. Mecham told the board there are 102,000 structures in the unincorporated areas of the County and that County Fire plans to increase annual inspection of homes to 20,000 a year.

Mecham added that while San Diego County’s new construction building and fire codes are already progressive, Fire Authority staff plans to include more ember-resistant vents and eaves, landscaping guidelines and other ways to make exteriors more fire resistant. Fire Authority is also launching a new pilot program to provide ember-resistant vents to homeowners. A Knox Box grant program will also allow County Fire to purchase and install locked boxes with a copy of the house key, allowing them to gain access to homes of at-risk residents without having to resort to breaking doors.

3. Firefighters will do more to safeguard communities by reducing fire fuels such as grasses and brush. The goal is to treat 5,000 acres a year using prescribed burns, chipping and fire crews cutting back brush by hand.

4. Firefighters will help clear overhanging trees and brush over roadways that are primary and alternative evacuation corridors. The initial goal is to treat 40 additional miles of County roads and maintain 40 miles of fire roads and truck trails a year.

Mecham told the Board that County Fire will be focusing its risk reduction efforts on four communities a year. This year they will focus on the communities of Guatay and Crest, followed by Palomar Mountain and Jamul’s Lawson Valley.

To implement the plan, the County requested funding for five additional staff positions and additional contracted services through CAL FIRE to provide fire code enforcement, vegetation management, geographic information systems mapping, defensible space inspections and other support.

County of San Diego Ramping Up FIRE SAFETY in Highest-Risk Areas

NEWS ADVISORY – June 3, 2019

Chairwoman Dianne Jacob and Supervisor Jim Desmond – San Diego County Board of Supervisors

Heavier-than-usual backcountry brush and other fuels this year could spark disaster. San Diego County leaders, joined by Cal Fire officials and others, will announce several initiatives to better protect people and property in the most wildfire-prone parts of the county. The improvements will include thousands of additional property inspections and the creation of fire breaks, with a special focus on Crest, Guatay, Palomar Mountain and other communities in the crosshairs of a potential firestorm. The Board of Supervisors is expected to formally sign off on the initiatives at a meeting prior to the media gathering. While the county has invested over $500 million since 2003 on fire protection improvements, there’s broad agreement that more needs to be done to protect the most high-risk communities. Officials also say the thick vegetation this spring, fed by months of rainstorms, has heightened the risk of wildfire.

WHEN: Tuesday, June 4, 12:30 p.m.

WHERE: County Emergency Operations Center, 5580 Overland Ave., Suite 100, San Diego. Park in the designated “media” spaces outside the entry gate, near the Medical Examiner’s Office.

WHO: Chairwoman Dianne Jacob, Supervisor Jim Desmond, Chief Tony Mecham, Cal Fire/County Fire Authority, Chief Don Butz, President, Fire Safe Council of San Diego County Kandhy Franklin, Crest Fire Safe Council.

Media inquiries: Steve Schmidt, 619-206-9108,

Donna Cleary, 858-805-1395,


Dianne’s Corner: News and notes from County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Dianne Jacob – March 2019

Dianne’s Corner
News and notes from County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Dianne Jacob

Keeping communities safe: The Board of Supervisors recently gave the green-light to prepare for the next wave of rural fire prevention and protection improvements. Supervisor Jim Desmond and I got board approval to ask county staff to flesh out several proposals, including the development of a grant program to encourage homeowners in highrisk areas to install fire-resistant materials. We’re also looking at ways to strengthen the fire code for construction and create a regional plan for controlled burns and other preventative measures. The county continues to work overtime with Cal Fire and others to address the on-going threat of catastrophic wildfire. Since the 2003, the county has invested more than a half-billion dollars on fire prevention and emergency medical service improvements across our backcountry.

Housing: The county’s growing efforts to encourage the development of granny flats and other accessory homes are generating a lot of interest. In my recent State of the County speech, I talked a lot about the need for such housing to help address the region’s affordable housing crisis. For more information, call 858-495-5382.

Parks and rec: A recent Board of Supervisors vote cleared the way for a much-deserved, long-awaited park in Alpine. The board agreed to buy 98 acres near South Grade and Tavern roads and to work closely with the community to turn it into a park and public open space. A big win for the region!

For more District 2 news, go to or follow me on Facebook and Twitter. If I can assist with a county issue, please call my office at 619-531-5522 or email

Have a great East County day!


Supervisors Jacob, Fletcher secure board backing to look at ratepayer alternative to SDG&E


The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to develop a community choice energy program, opening the door to a more sustainable environment and competition in the local utility market.

At the urging of Chairwoman Dianne Jacob and Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, the board unanimously agreed to craft an energy initiative that could offer an alternative to SDG&E. It could also cut greenhouse gas emissions and promote solar and other types of renewable power.

Studies show that SDG&E ratepayers have been saddled with some of highest electricity rates in the nation.

“Residents, business owners and others are tired of getting ripped off by SDG&E and are saying enough is enough,” said Supervisor Jacob. “Today’s action opens the door to bring real competition to the energy market and aims to provide ratepayers with the freedom of choice.”

The board agreed to launch discussions with other local governments on a possible joint community choice energy program. Eight local cities are looking at developing choice initiatives.

“San Diego County today took a significant step toward a more sustainable future. This forward-leaning decision by the board delivers on our responsibility to leave the county and our environment in better shape than we found it,” said Supervisor Fletcher. “Community choice energy provides greater local control, leverages renewable energy, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. I am looking forward to working with staff over the next few months to demonstrate why implementation of a community choice energy program and collaborating with other cities in the region is good for the county.”

Also known as community choice aggregation, choice programs allow municipalities to band together to buy and sell electricity at competitive, if not lower, rates compared to the large investor-owned utilities.

County supervisors will be briefed on the development of a choice plan over the next few months, with a detailed proposal expected to reach them in October.

Unlike San Diego residents and businesses, the county is already allowed to shop the energy market, an option that saved taxpayers $3.4 million last year.

There are now 19 choice programs in California, serving eight million people.



San Diego County Board of Supervisors

Contacts: Steve Schmidt, 619-206-9108,

Anita Lightfoot, 619-531-4709,

**Have something to say? Leave a comment below!


JMMS Sports Fields and a New Park for Alpine Update – February 6, 2019

Parkland for Alpine – Update February 6, 2019 – Submitted By George Barnett

Along with Travis Lyon, Jim Easterling, and Jon Green, I attended meetings yesterday hosted by Brian Albright, Director of Parks and Recreation for the County of San Diego. Mr. Albright’s executive staff also participated. Two major parkland developments for Alpine were discussed. Following are my personal observations:

Joan MacQueen Middle School Playing Fields:
Concept plans are completed, and Alpine Union School District (AUSD) is moving ahead. The County process for directing developers’ fees to the project from the Alpine Park Land Development Ordinance account was reviewed. Ordinance compliance issues were discussed, and were integrated into the timing schedule. A key component will be the preparing of architectural designs and cost estimates. The matter of well water and irrigation infrastructure for grass fields, and the maintenance of infrastructure over time, has been addressed by the very kind offer from an Alpine resident.

Alpine Community Park:
The County has completed negotiations to buy 98 acres of Wrights Field open space not owned by the Back Country Land Trust. Next steps include the Board of Supervisors final approvals on funding and acquisition expected later this month. Once escrow is completed and the land owned by the County, and once the County concludes an environmental survey of the land, the County will begin community outreach through the Alpine Community Planning Group (ACPG) and by County-hosted community workshops. Those efforts will include the solicitation of ideas, wants and needs from the community. The County expects to begin its outreach late April or early May. Environmental studies on the targeted land site have started. Those studies will indicate how much of the 98 acres can be used for parkland (as opposed to passive use as open space), and will give insight into the types of facilities that could be suitable under California’s environmental law. As Director & Officer of the Back Country Land Trust (BCLT), I pledged BCLT’s and its Partners resources in support to the County on biological resource land management, fire fuels reduction, waterway clean-out and restoration, on environmental education via BCLT’s Living Classroom Program in association with Alpine Education Foundation, and on habitat restoration.

By implication, through the sustained efforts of many, and due to the firm commitment of Supervisor Dianne Jacob to Alpine and to our children, Alpine is destined to have unsurpassed open space preserves, a community park, and refurbished, modern sports playing fields at its middle school! 😁

For clarity, the non-County attendees at the meetings were:

George Barnett (me); elected ACPG member & secretary of its Parks Subcommittee, director/officer of BCLT.
Travis Lyon; elected ACPG member & chairperson, elected Trustee AUSD, and director of BCLT. Jim Easterling; elected ACPG member and chairperson of its Parks Subcommittee; & elected member and President of Alpine Fire Protection District. Jon Green; Program & Outreach Director of BCLT

The above comments are mine personally, and are not intended to be those of the others attending.



New County Initiative Encourages ‘GRANNY FLATS’ & Waives Fees for Next 5 Years

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­NEWS RELEASE 1/9/19




The Board of Supervisors on Wednesday launched a program to encourage the development of granny flats and other small dwellings as part of a broader county effort to address the region’s housing shortage.

The board voted to waive county permit and development impact fees over the next five years for property owners wishing to build granny flats on lots with existing homes. The units can be used for family members or rented out as a source of income for the homeowner.

The program could result in thousands of additional homes within the county’s unincorporated areas, a region largely represented by District 2 Supervisor Dianne Jacob and District 5 Supervisor Jim Desmond.

“This is a critical step in our on-going efforts to address the region’s housing crisis, especially the serious need for affordable housing,” said Jacob, the board chairwoman. “This new program is the quickest and easiest way for us to expedite the development of housing.”

To cover the loss of fees, the county will subsidize the program to the tune of $11 million over the 5-year period.

“There is no single solution to the regional housing shortage, but an average savings of $14,000 for an accessory home will raise property values and offer more affordable places to live,” said Supervisor Desmond. “We will continue to be creative and challenge the status quo to solve the region’s housing crisis.”

The additional homes are allowed under the county’s General Plan, which guides development in Alpine, Julian, Fallbrook, Lakeside, Valley Center and all other unincorporated communities.


Contacts:         Steve Schmidt, 619-206-9108,

Anita Lightfoot, 619-531-4709,


**Have something to say? Leave a comment below!


County to Purchase 98 Acres Adjacent to Wright’s Field in Alpine for a NEW PARK – January 8, 2019

January 8, 2018 Submitted By George Barnett

Today the County Department of Parks & Recreation advised Alpine Community Planning Group members and others that the Board of Supervisors is expected to approve tomorrow a land purchase in Alpine for a town park. The proposed land is 98 acres abutting Wright’s Field along South Grade Road.

This is good news for Alpine as the purchase preserves the land from residential development, and together with the portion of Wright’s Field owned by the Back Country Land Trust, it extends preserved passive parkland right in the middle of our town to a plot nearly 330 acres in size.

This to me is also a fitting tribute to Supervisor Dianne Jacob who is finishing her long and distinguished career in 2020 as Supervisor of the 2nd District and the Backcountry. She has been Alpine’s strongest advocate for conservation, improved roads, better law enforcement, and our local schools, and for parkland.

Below is a map of the proposed land purchase (IN YELLOW) and the Back Country Land Trust (BCLT) owned parts of Wright’s Field bounded in white. All together, this County acquisition and BCLT property provides Alpine with a wonderful, unsurpassed passive parkland of immense environmental value. How many towns anywhere have a 330 acre environmental preserve & parkland in their middle?

The public has always been invited to use BCLT’s private-owned portion of WF north of South Grade Road as a “passive parkland”. By definition that means open to the general public for hiking, horseback riding, dog walking, star gazing, and so on – all passive activities with the only requirements to stay on the trails, to leash dogs, to pickup after dogs and to not leave trash behind. The County is buying 98 acres of WF not owned by BCLT, but from a speculative Dallas-based investor LLC. My understanding is that the County will also plan on passive uses, that is – no active sports playing fields. Maybe there’ll be picnic places, a pavilion, a kiddie playground, or things of that nature that town’s people want. But we’ll find that out in due course when the County presents some plans to Alpiners. The County is also supporting plans to upgrade the playing fields at Joan MacQueen Middle School (which are deemed active parkland), and those existing facilities currently serve la cross, soccer, soft ball and limited track and field, with the softball fields possibly becoming dual use with football. The final plan is in the hands of the Alpine Union School District.

George Barnett


Dianne’s Corner – News & Notes from County Supervisor Dianne Jacob – October 2018

Our awesome outdoors: Construction recently started on the Santa Ysabel Nature Center, the first attraction of its type in San Diego County to showcase the region’s beautiful backcountry. Due to open next fall, the 6,000-square foot, county-funded project is rising on the rolling hills of Santa Ysabel Preserve, near the intersection of state Routes 78 and 79 and northwest of Julian. Our backcountry is a real treasure, on a par with San Diego’s beaches and bays, and this new center will serve as a starting point to educate locals, visitors, school groups and others about all our rural area has to offer. It will include exhibits, an amphitheater and a staging area for hikers. A big thank you to all those in the community who worked with me and county parks staff to make this project happen!

Other improvements brewing: I continue to work closely with District 2 residents on a wide range of projects that will make East County an even better place. For example, the county expects to break ground next year on separate projects in Lakeside — a new library and an equestrian center. And I’m working with community leaders in Casa de Oro to nail down a location for a new library. Stay tuned. Those are just some of the improvements in the works.

Are you ready?: Some of our worst wildfires have come this time of year. Please check out, a hub of disaster preparedness information, and also sign up for the county’s AlertSanDiego notification system. These measures and others can help protect property and save lives. For more District 2 news, go to or follow me on Facebook and Twitter. If I can assist with a county issue, please call my office at 619-531-5522 or email

Have a great East County day!