COVID, housing and climate among elected leaders’ 2021 priorities

January 12, 2021

Representative Peters’ priorities for this Congress will focus on recovering from our health and economic crisis, while also working with the Biden/Harris administration to achieve real policy breakthroughs on every issue, including improving environmental infrastructure.

Read more about his and other elected official’s priorities in this January 7th piece by the San Diego Union Tribune, posted below:

COVID, housing and climate among elected leaders’ 2021 priorities

January 7th, 2021

Due to the pandemic’s widespread impact, COVID-19 response and recovery is the top issue local elected officials say they will focus on in 2021.

While dealing with all pandemic aspects — including health and economic recovery — will take a lot of their time, they also identified other long-standing issues on their agendas. These include making housing affordable, homelessness, climate change and infrastructure.

“Last year’s challenges drastically changed the way we go about our daily lives,” said Rep. Scott Peters of the 52nd Congressional District. “Addressing COVID-19 remains a top priority and I will fight to ensure San Diegans get the relief they need. We must do everything possible to strategically combat the brutal public health and economic crises now, then turn our attention to improve our nation’s fiscal health once we emerge from this pandemic.

“The incoming Biden administration provides Congress with an opportunity to renew bipartisan efforts that could generate major policy breakthroughs,” Peters said. “It is crucial Congress focuses on bills that can earn the support of both chambers and be signed into law by the president. If the legislation doesn’t make it to his desk, we aren’t representing our constituents’ best interests. We must fight inequity, provide affordable health coverage and ensure capitalism works better for everyone. But we can’t achieve any of this without finding common ground.”

Peters added, “There are many policy issues Congress can come together to solve. For example, an initiative I will continue to lead on … is cleaning up the Tijuana River Valley sewage pollution that has plagued our region’s coastal communities for decades. Our congressional delegation made major headway last Congress by securing $300 million through the US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement to invest in these fixes, but our work is far from over.

“At the end of last year, the House passed my bipartisan OPRA II Act with an overwhelming (395-4) majority,” Peters said. “The bill will simplify the City of San Diego’s required permitting process to operate the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant and help bolster the city’s Pure Water Program. I look forward to rapidly shepherding that legislation through this session to ensure we can increase San Diego’s water supply and further cut the amount of discharge released from the facility.”

California Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins said the COVID-19 pandemic is the top priority. Her 39th Senate District includes Rancho Bernardo and 4S Ranch.

“Too many lives have been lost and many more disrupted by this virus,” Atkins said. “The Senate will continue to find ways to help our neighbors, schools and businesses survive the impacts of this pandemic. Even as the vaccine is starting to be administered in San Diego County, the state will be working with our new federal partners on funding solutions to protect Californians.”

Atkins said the pandemic exacerbated the “already-critical need for more affordable housing” and more housing statewide. The Senate’s six-bill package “Building Opportunities for All” offers housing opportunities and solutions for Californians, she said. Two of her bills, SB7 and SB9, are meant to help streamline the process for new housing units while maintaining local control and preserving neighborhood character, she added.

“We have a unique opportunity to pursue legislation and policies that support the housing needs of local governments and all Californians and I’m excited that the Senate is leading the way,” Atkins said.

Citing wildfires, record-high temperatures and persistent drought conditions, Atkins said another priority is climate change. She introduced SB1, “The California Sea Level Rise Mitigation and Adaptation Act of 2021,” to help communities address sea level rise.

“That need is particularly critical in San Diego, since it affects both our economy and military,” Atkins said. She added the Senate will advance a $4.1 billion bond measure to help communities invest in climate resiliency to address sea level rise, prepare for droughts and prevent wildfires.

As for other legislation, Atkins said she co-authored SB2 to require law enforcement officers to have their certifications revoked following conviction of serious crimes or termination from employment due to misconduct. “This legislation is a social justice commitment to ensuring that no one is above the law,” Atkins said.

“As always my top priority continues to be helping constituents resolve issues and solve problems with state government agencies and departments,” said state Senator Brian Jones, whose 38th District includes Poway. “The million people who live in East and North San Diego County pay a great deal of taxes, and at the very least, the state should properly serve them.”

He said during 2020 there were “extraordinary challenges” with the Employment Development Department, the Department of Motor Vehicles plus professional licensing boards and agencies. “The governor needs to start focusing on customer service, and if he can’t the legislature needs to step in and force changes,” Jones said.

“The challenges of the COVID pandemic will also carry over to 2021,” he said. “There needs to be a balance between keeping people safe, but also allowing hardworking Californians to get back to work. The arbitrary restrictions and closures the governor dictated to businesses need to end. The Democrat legislative leadership was complacent in 2020 by allowing the governor to rule by fiat and that needs to change.

“I remain optimistic that California can return to being a truly Golden state full of opportunities for everyone, and my goal is to help that become reality,” Jones said.

Assemblyman Brian Maienschein of the 77th Assembly District said his focus will be on issues such as COVID response, economic recovery, homelessness and mental health services, especially maternal mental health.

“First and foremost we must focus on keeping Californians safe through the pandemic, supporting small businesses to keep them afloat and helping residents who have been impacted,” Maienschein said. “Those will be my top areas of focus this year.”

He said the pandemic is exacerbating the serious needs in mental health care and homelessness. “We were already facing a homelessness crisis before the pandemic,” Maienschein said. “With extended periods of isolation and quarantine, mental health issues have risen dramatically. When we talk about responding to COVID-19, we also have to talk about these areas as well.”

Maienschein has authored several pieces of mental health legislation, including a requirement that all peri-partum mothers be screened for mental health disorders at least once before birth and once after birth. His stated goals include proposing measures to help streamline the process for veterans to be connected to key state resources.

County Supervisor Joel Anderson, whose District 2 includes Poway, said to get through the crisis caused by the pandemic, there must be proper safety protocols in place and all citizens encouraged to heed them. But decisions need to be made by medical science.

He is also calling for government transparency, which Anderson called “the key theme of my candidacy.” He said, “Government institutions have a legal and ethical obligation to not only release information to the public, but to be straightforward when doing so.”

As for his specific goals and objectives for District 2, Anderson said his first priority is to bring jobs and prosperity “through creative and innovative leveraging of county assets and programs to work with and create incentives for businesses to survive and thrive.” He mentioned local manufacturing, solar farms and agricultural farming as examples.

He also said there needs to be attainable housing. “We need to make sure the American dream can be achieved by the generations that follow us.” This includes ensuring state environmental regulations are implemented coherently so local rules are clear and fair, according to Anderson.

“Home builders, the public and interest groups must be able to see a road map that everyone can easily understand,” he said. “And approved permits must be implemented quickly and efficiently. We will focus … on having sufficient housing stock, rental homes and apartments and truly attainable housing. Whenever possible, it will be built around new business centers and transportation networks.”

Anderson added that he will soon present a more affordable process to lift people out of homelessness.

County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer, whose District 3 includes Rancho Bernardo and 4S Ranch, said she is focused on addressing the region’s pressing priorities. “First, we need to tackle COVID and get all our lives back on track as we roll out a vaccine over the next six to nine months and expand testing and support for those hit hardest,” she said. “This is our most urgent public health and economic crisis, and I will be doing everything in my power to fight for the most vulnerable people and businesses in our community.

“Second, I am laser focused on tackling climate change and protecting our planet for our children and grandchildren,” Lawson-Remer said. “I will be fighting to make San Diego a global leader on climate, with a gold standard climate action plan that’s the best in the country.

“Third, I’m working on a bold new approach to expand affordable housing, and will be organizing to gain the support of my colleagues to address our affordable housing crisis,” she said. “Fourth, I am excited to be advancing some new initiatives to protect our beaches and coastlines.

“Most of all, I’m looking forward to bringing my global and varied experience to serve our community and make San Diego County a better place for all of us,” Lawson-Remer said.

“As I start my first year as the San Diego City Councilmember representing District 5, we are confronted with challenging public health and economic circumstances for the City of San Diego and our nation,” said Councilwoman Marni von Wilpert, whose district includes Rancho Bernardo. “I am strongly committed to focusing and streamlining the city’s COVID-19 response and recovery.”

Von Wilpert said she supports establishing a COVID-19 recovery ad-hoc committee, task force or other direct approach to ensure the City Council better organizes its response. “I am working every day to prioritize a safe economic recovery that protects our health and brings back jobs and making sure recovery funds help our workers and small businesses,” she added.

As chair of the council’s Committee on Active Transportation and Infrastructure, von Wilpert said she will build upon work her predecessor, Mark Kersey, began. Von Wilpert said she wants to streamline internal processes and improve public outreach in order to deliver critical infrastructure faster and with less impact on communities. Infrastructure includes roads, sidewalks, city buildings and facilities.

As a San Diego Airport Authority member, von Wilpert said she will help plan for the city’s future air transportation needs. In addition, as vice chair of the City Council’s Committee on Environment, “I will work to update and follow through in implementing our Climate Action Plan, reduce pollution and ensure that every family and every neighborhood in San Diego has access to clean air and water,” she said.

Von Wilpert added that as a Committee on Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods member she will prioritize fire safety, fighting the opioid epidemic, finding lasting solutions for the homelessness crisis and implementing the Commission on Police Practices.



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