Press Releases

Addressing Homelessness Along the San Diego River

I’m excited to inform you that we are making progress on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to revitalize the San Diego River Park and address homelessness along this treasured waterway extending throughout our County.

As you may know, the San Diego River Park runs through multiple jurisdictions including the City of San Diego, the City of Santee, and unincorporated communities such as Lakeside. Plans are currently in place to create a multipurpose River Trail system along the waterway, connecting the oceans of San Diego to the mountains of Julian. Unfortunately, as our homelessness and housing crisis has worsened over the years, the volume of homeless encampments along the river has increased.

Last September, I asked our Department of Homeless Solutions and Equitable Communities (HSEC) to explore establishing an MOU between the County and all partner jurisdictions who over see the San Diego River Park to address homelessness. HSEC recently provided me an update that since September, seven homeless outreach events along the riverbed in Santee and Lakeside were held to offer housing services. They also began work with the partner organizations towards the creation of the new MOU.

Once officially established, the MOU will enhance our collective efforts to more effectively:

  • Reduce homeless encampments along San Diego River
  • Assist unsheltered people and connect them with services
  • Mitigate the accumulation of trash, risk of fire, and pollution of water along the waterway
  • Pursue future projects to revitalize the river

Furthermore, there will be opportunities to apply for state funding with the MOU in place to further expand outreach, clean-up, social services, and opportunities to house the homeless along the San Diego River. I am hopeful that this MOU is a step in the right direction to get people off the streets while cleaning up one of our region’s most important waterways.

Scholarships Available for San Diego Students

As many students are entering their second semester of this school year, I am aware of the financial barriers that many parents or students face. Having three children go through this process, I understand the value behind scholarship opportunities and the importance of financial assistance.

I’ve asked my staff to assemble this list of financial resources and scholarship opportunities available to you. This list is not officially endorsed by the County, however, was created to assist you in your goal of continuing your education.

Scholarship List

We have made an effort to find a diverse set of scholarship opportunities that will be useful and relevant to you. It’s important to note that many of these opportunities have upcoming deadlines, so we recommend being mindful as these dates approach.

Also, if there are any other resources you would like to see included in the list, please send them to victoria.valdes@sdcounty.ca.gov and we would be happy to add them.

Process to Shut Down Illegal Pot Shops in the Unincorporated County Is Now Easier

County staff will now have an easier time shutting down repeat code-violators, such as illegal pot shops, in the unincorporated County— thanks to a new ordinance that was approved in last week’s Board Meetings.

In 2021, there were hundreds of unlicensed, unregulated pot shops that would be shut down by our Sheriff’s Department only to reopen a few days later in a new location, or sometimes even in the same location. In one instance, I witnessed an illegal pot shop using a sign spinner near an elementary school to attract potential customers! Often times, these illegal drug operations also possess illegal firearms and more dangerous drugs. These are cash-only businesses, so who knows what products they are trying to sell, or who they are trying to sell to!

That is why I initiated a $2.5 million increase in the Sheriff’s Department budget and simplified the enforcement process, which resulted in shutting down nearly 100 illegal drug operations in the unincorporated communities of San Diego County. I also increased the required distance legal marijuana dispensaries must be from parks, churches, and daycare centers.

In August 2021, I initiated an update to County ordinances that Board Action that would simplify the receivership process. Receivership is the process in which the County can seize assets and rights of a company or property that is failing to meet code regulations—as a last-resort option.

Previously, County staff needed the approval of the Board of Supervisors in addition to that of County Counsel. Now, staff will be able to go directly to Counsel to get approval to start the receivership process. This is another tool in the toolbelt to go after any illegal pot shops that continue to pop up.

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