San Diego County Board of Supervisors

Contact: Steve Schmidt, 619-206-9108,

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In her State of the County speech, Chairwoman Dianne Jacob on Wednesday called for new measures to boost the stock of affordable housing, improve behavioral services and beef up fire protection in the most vulnerable communities.

She outlined proposals aimed at encouraging affordable housing in the county’s unincorporated area, while also safeguarding existing homes and new development from wildfire.

“We’re facing a conflict between shelter and safety, and we must find some balance in this battle,” said Jacob, who represents much of the fire-prone backcountry.

[See below for summary of key initiatives. Full text of the speech here]

Her housing initiatives include doubling the size of the county’s housing trust fund, to $50 million, and increasing financial incentives to make it easier to build granny flats and other secondary dwellings next to existing houses.

“Many of you may know the term YIMBY, Yes in My Backyard. Here we are talking about actual backyards,” said Jacob, speaking before a packed board chamber in the County Administration Center.

Her wildfire proposals include strengthening the building code for construction in high-risk fire areas and offering grants to existing homeowners to encourage the installation of safer vents, walls and other fire-resistant materials.

“The fact remains that San Diego County is one bad Santa Ana wind away from a disaster,” said Jacob. “New homes and communities must be built to give people and property the greatest chance of survival.”

She also laid out plans to improve and expand mental health and substance abuse programs, and noted that many of the homeless are in critical need of such services.

She said the region must develop a coordinated system of care that focuses on individuals, not programs. In addition, she proposed improvements related to PERT, the county’s Psychiatric Emergency Response Teams.

“If we can successfully manage those with mental illness and addiction for the long term, and provide housing, we can turn the homeless crisis into a homeless solution,” she said.

On senior issues, Jacob provided updates on The Alzheimer’s Project, the county-led effort to address the local dementia epidemic, and Collaboration4Cure, the research offshoot of the project.

She announced the launch of a new respite care voucher program for those who need a break from the demands of caring for someone with dementia or other health challenges.

On the energy front, Jacob called on her board colleagues to join the community choice energy movement, saying the county should team up with local cities to open up the energy market.

“County government is already allowed to shop the energy market. We buy the bulk of our electricity from providers other than SDG&E,” she said. “If the county can shop for energy, why not the rest of us? Why not ratepayers, school districts and others?”

Supervisor Jacob, who joined the board in 1993, opened her speech by noting her two new colleagues – Supervisors Jim Desmond and Nathan Fletcher.

“This is a new era at the County. We’ve got fresh voices, fresh perspectives,” she said. “You’re looking at a Board of Supervisors that is rebooted and refreshed. This opens the window to the new and novel, to bold ideas and fresh opportunities.”


2019 State of the County

Key initiatives announced by Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Dianne Jacob


  • Double the size of the county housing trust fund, from $25 million to $50 million, to leverage the construction of more permanent, affordable homes.
  • Boost financial incentives to make it easier to build granny flats and other secondary dwellings next to existing homes in the county’s unincorporated area.
  • Offer free, pre-approved, permit-ready construction plans for secondary homes.


  • Provide grants to homeowners in high-risk fire areas to encourage the use of safer vents, walls and other fire-resistant materials.
  • Strengthen the building code for new construction in high-risk fire areas.
  • Team up with local, state and federal agencies to develop a regional plan for controlled burns, fuel breaks and other preventative measures.
  • Press state and federal leaders to waive or eliminate the onerous environmental reviews required to reduce brush and other fuels.
  • Increase defensible space inspections and strengthen the region’s Fire Safe Councils.


  • Transform the region’s fractured approach to behavioral health into a coordinated system.
  • Explore the creation of crisis stabilization centers that would allow for law enforcement drop off, detox and care coordination.
  • Add a follow-up care component to PERT, the county’s Psychiatric Emergency Response Teams, to reduce repeat incidents.


  • Provide relief to family caregivers through a new respite care voucher program that launched this month.
  • Expand East County’s Alzheimer’s Response Team to other parts of the county. The team helps those with dementia get the right type of help in a crisis.


  • Launch a community choice energy program to provide ratepayer relief – and explore teaming up with San Diego and other cities on an energy choice program.
  • Press state officials to cut or drop a new fee that punishes ratepayers for joining community choice programs and rewards SDG&E and other utility monopolies.