Op-Ed: Terra Lawson-Remer: Creating change and delivering results

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See full article here in The Coronado News

Deliver results to San Diego County’s most pressing problems. Change the county’s culture to serve more people and communities, better.  

Over the last three years as the supervisor representing District 3, those are the things my office has been doing to create a more healthy, sustainable, equitable, inclusive, and liveable San Diego County. We’ve compiled a comprehensive report on our progress.

One example in the report is our work to preserve San Diego County’s beautiful coastlines. These iconic locations are part of what makes our district such a special place.

Preserving coastlines

Keeping our beaches clean starts with keeping pollution out of the water. Since my first year on the Board of Supervisors, I have moved more than $200 million to be invested in stormwater infrastructure improvements, and nearly 19,000 beach water samples have been tested for ocean pollution.

I’ve also advocated for the state and federal governments to increase funding to support and resolve the Tijuana sewage crisis. This has been an ongoing battle since I was a kid, but we’re making headway, and I won’t stop fighting.

Homelessness crisis

Another challenge I’ve been working on is the homelessness crisis and the growing need for mental health and addiction treatment. These issues have been among my top priorities, and we have taken concrete steps to get help to the people who need it most. 

Three years ago the County had no shelter beds or safe parking areas for those experiencing homelessness, and now we have nearly 900. With the passage of the Senior Shallow Rent Subsidy Program I championed, nearly 400 seniors at risk of becoming homeless have kept their homes.  The demand for this program was very high, so we are working to grow it and are partnering with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to ensure the funds are being spent wisely. 

As a result of our efforts, the county has helped move 165% more people off of our streets and into shelters and housing, according to the county’s Health and Human Services Agency staff, from stats kept by their Department of Homeless Solutions and Equitable Communities (HSEC). In the three years before Supervisor Lawson-Remer was in office (fiscal years 2017-18 through 2019-20), that number was 1,318. The first three years she was in office 2021 – 2023, that number was 3,500 (a 165.5% increase).

Mental health services and addiction treatment for opioids and fentanyl have lacked sufficient investment for decades. Since 2021, we have approved significant funding increases that have increased the number of full-time County Behavioral Health employees by 77 percent and activated 37 Mobile Crisis Response Teams that address urgent behavioral health cases in the community. This means more of our neighbors in District 3 and countywide are getting the treatment they need by calling our new hotline at 9-8-8. 

In-home support services

In my district, from Carlsbad to Coronado, we have one of the highest, if not the highest, unmet demands for in-home support services (IHSS) for our seniors who are aging in place and need help. A friend of mine’s father-in-law has cancer and lives alone, and she needed help caring for him.

I told her about the United Domestic Workers who provide in-home care, which she was unaware of, and now he’s getting the support he needs. In just three years, 19 percent more seniors are now receiving IHSS than the three years before I entered office, and we’ve decreased wait times for people contacting our Aging Independence Service Call Center by 51 percent. 

One of the things I love most about San Diego is our shared values. Together — in the face of Roe v. Wade being overturned — we have fought to ensure reproductive rights and access to reproductive healthcare and abortion care are protected here in California.

We have uplifted our LGBTQ+ community. We have pushed back against antisemitic rhetoric, xenophobia and hate crimes. We have created new employment opportunities for veterans and neurodivergent individuals. And we have fought for better wages, benefits, and labor standards for workers.

I am so excited about the momentum we have created and eager to continue to work and invite you to review our impact report, “Creating Change and Delivering Results,” at www.SupervisorTerraLawsonRemer.com/Impact to learn more. 

Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer is a third-generation San Diegan who represents District 3 on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. She served as a Senior Advisor in the Obama Administration, wrote award-winning research books, taught graduate students as a professor of public policy, and worked with the United Nations, World Bank, Amnesty International, and governments worldwide to advance sustainable development and economic inclusion.