Borrego Sun - Since 1949

Supervisor Jim Desmond Tracks Progress on Revitalization


Last updated 1/23/2020 at 12:44pm

Griff Lacey

If only you had a simple mobile phone App connecting you directly to the powers that be in San Diego County so you can report a problem, and not have to wait weeks, or months, or perhaps forever if you finally give up trying. Well, whaddya know, there is one.

Do you suspect illegal grading or construction? Download the County's "Tell Us Now" App to your mobile phone, go to Code Compliance, and select the problem category. Then take a photo (or upload from your phone library), write the property description and the nature of the complaint, and press SEND. The message and photo will find its way at the speed of light to the appropriate department and person, and they'll be addressing the issue promptly. And then you can get on with your wonderful life in Borrego.

This App also covers noise complaints, brush clearance without a permit, abandoned vehicles, weights and measures (gas pricing), Air Pollution, Road Repair issues, and even how to report dead birds and mosquito breeding areas, and more, all in a timely manner.

This is but one example of how San Diego Country District 5 Supervisor Jim Desmond, after one year in office, is helping Borregans to help themselves via his Revitalization Committee.

Desmond, his office staff, and a 12-member throng of department managers all arrived on the rain-soaked morning of Dec. 4 from San Diego on Desmond's listening tour.

They were supposed to fly in, but weather was a problem. Desmond could have easily postponed the meeting, but made a commitment, and kept it.

At the two-hour meeting in the Library Community Room where close to 100 Borregans attended, Desmond opened the meeting on a congratulatory note, praising the progress thus far of the four Revitalization Subcommittees, and the coordination by staffer Shaina Richardson, in their efforts to first identify local issues of concern, find out in which County department and who is specifically tasked to provide answers or assist with solutions, and then work to attain desired results. Each of the subcommittees used a common matrix approach, compiled into a single document by Richardson, to identify and report issues and progress.

Desmond and his staffers listened and responded to progress reports from subcommittee Chairpersons and even those heading up several sub-sub-committees. Desmond and subcommittee participants also put out the call for more Borregans to participate in the process by joining one of the subcommittees. Got a little time to donate for the benefit of the community? Sign up for a subcommittee task of your choosing.

Some highlights of the presentations:

Elaine Tulving, Chair of the Infrastructure Subcommittee, led off with a summary of issues her subcommittee has been working on for the past several months, highlighted by Jim Wermers slide presentation of capital improvements along Palm Canyon Drive and streets surrounding The Mall. Artistic renditions by architect Richard Orne were stunning in their depictions of what Borrego could look like after traffic-calming efforts, parking reconfiguration, landscaping, and new sidewalks, including a Shadeway connecting Christmas Circle to the Library.

Because our community is isolated by distance and driving time, the process of acquiring any and all residential or business permits is time consuming and can be frustrating, especially if one needs to make multiple trips over the mountain to the County Building Division in San Diego.

There is now trial phone appointment option providing a direct link for permit inquiries. The County will be setting aside four phone appointments for Borregan residents and businesses on Fridays between 8 a.m. and noon.

For some permitting issues, such as a minor electrical, plumbing, or construction additions, a photo and emailed description of the minor project could result in project approval without having to traipse over to San Diego. The number to set up the Friday appointment is (619) 455-1334 during business hours, 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Tourists arrive in Borrego along three main transportation corridors – S22 from the Salton Sea, Hwy 78 through Ocotillo Wells or from Julian, and the Montezuma Grade via Hwy 79 and Warner Springs. However, "wayfinding signs" helping first-time visitors to effectively point the way to our unique Borrego experience are confusing or at times non-existent, especially in back-country locations. Mike McElhatton showed the problem visually on a series of slides and asked the County for help on this issue.

Jim Desmond recognized the jurisdictional hurdles to overcome between County and State departments dealing with road and highway signage, and he said his staff would, considering the connection to our vital tourism industry, look into it.

One of the opportunities for future influx of cash expenditures into our community is an upgrade of the Borrego Airport. Under the jurisdiction of the Economic Development and Tourism subcommittee, chaired by Diane Johnson, sub-subcommittee leader Joe Tatusko reported that the community currently supports Akrofest and Hammerhead stunt flying competitions, but there is room for more: Small jets can't refuel here because we don't stock the jet fuel; The Propeller restaurant is now nearing completion and should attract both pilots and tourists. The last major permitted item, a grease trap, is all but complete, and a Certificate of Occupancy should, according to the County's Anne Baldwin, be issued once appliances are installed and the final interior design features are complete.

The COO is expected shortly after the New Year, but landscaping and irrigation around the restaurant is also needed; Solar power for the admin building and restaurant would add a "going green" aspect to energy use and conservation; a charging station for electric vehicles is proposed, as is a ground lease for a vehicle/Jeep rental agency; and proper signage for the buildings are needed.

Because Desmond is also a pilot, he understands the issues involved, and his staff could help expedite revitalization in this area of potential community growth and prosperity. It wouldn't hurt to provide him a nice landing spot during visits to our remote community, perhaps with a quick check on progress or on outstanding issues with community leaders while having a meal and refreshments.

Meanwhile, Borregans can be proud of the work done thus far, and it is clear that Supervisor Jim Desmond and his staff are ready and willing to assist in helping this community to get answers to pressing issues, both major and minor.

If anyone is interested in joining one of the subcommittees or getting more info, please contact the persons listed below:

Infrastructure – Elaine Tulving:

Jane Moulton:

Public Health – Bruce Kelley:

Environment – J. David Garmon:

Economic Development, Tourism, and Education – Betsy Knaak:

Full article in the Dec. 12 issue of the Borrego Sun.

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