Creating A Brand For North County
CAVANAUGH: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. San Diego may be the biggest city in the county, but it's certainly not the only one. San Diego County is home to 18 different municipalities and 9 of those cities make up what we typically call North County. Now, there is an effort underway for the cities that span from Del Mar and Poway north to Oceanside and Vista to develop some common economic goals and a regional identity. Here to tell us more about this new identity are my guests, San Diego County supervisor Bill Horn. Welcome back to the show! HORN: Thank you very much. Pleasure to be here. CAVANAUGH: San Diego County supervisor Dave Roberts is also here. ROBERTS: Glad to be back. CAVANAUGH: And Carl Morgan of the San Diego North County economic development council, it's a pleasure to have you. MORGAN: Pleasure to be here. CAVANAUGH: Supervisor Horn, what are some reasons the North County should want its own regional identity? HORN: Well, considering the City of San Diego has about a million people in it, and if you go from Del Mar, Poway north, we've got about a million also. And even though we're divided up into quite a few other smaller cities and the county, we're a huge economic engine. And for years, and about four years ago, I kind of got mad when I was sitting at a SANDAG meeting realizing that some of our cities were playing off one another to the detriment of another city, even though it may not be their city. I won't use the names. But I decided there we needed to have a coordinated effort to sell our region as a destination, as us being business-friendly. And about that time, we in Rancho Bernardo which is not in my district, it's in Dave's district, but we brought in a big solar company from France, and they put their manufacturing plant there. We also had Sony involved. We have a couple of big German paper companies that were in San Marcos. So I decided that I thought we ought to sell the region as 1 unit. And it was really difficult in the beginning because I had to get all the Chamber of Commerces on the board, and they all want to defend their turf and they have their own ideals. But at the same time, I think they didn't have the vision that this could be 1 unit. I could put housing in San Marcos and a plant in Vista and the supplier in Carlsbad or just whatever the mix might be. CAVANAUGH: And that would benefit the entire region. HORN: The entire region. And that region has a backbone, which is Highway 78, it goes orbed, Carlsbad, all the way over to Escondido. And then it comes off the 15. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Supervisor Roberts, is the North County, is there a sense that the North County is missing out on tax dollars and grants because it doesn't have its own regional economic identity? ROBERTS: Well, I think as the second supervisor that represents part of North County, it's really critical that we both work together. And when I was elected last year, one of the first things I did was reach out to my new colleagues and say let's find common ground where we can work together. Recently supervisor Horn had a state of the North County, I asked him if he would mind if I came to it. I wanted to hear what he was talking about, and I thought it was very good that people see the two supervisors that represent North County are working together. In my district, I have Escondido and Rancho Bernardo, very important areas, one unincorporated city, and one in the City of San Diego. And it's very important that we show that we can work together where we find common ground. CAVANAUGH: Carl, let me ask you something, you are from the San Diego North County economic council. First of all, so we know what we're talking about, what cities are drawer considered North County? MORGAN: Well, essentially it's area from the 56 north. So it's Del Mar north to the border, Rancho Bernardo, Poway, north to the border and out to the east. So it includes 26 unincorporated and incorporated cities. Rainbow, fallbrook, Valley Center. And a number of smaller communities. CAVANAUGH: And is there a sense that these regions are missing out on some crucial grants or funding because there is this lack of commonality in their regional planning? MORGAN: I think it's been missing in North County, and certainly the supervisors I think would agree, this really hasn't been anyone showcasing North County and making it top of the line to site selectors, developers, and investors. And what we've been doing, building upon the success of the comprehensive economic development strategy, and the prosperity on purpose, is starting to build that momentum to actually create a brand for North County; and then work together with the communities to market those opportunity sites for development, and to spotlight North County and create a brand. CAVANAUGH: Let me ask both supervisors, there seems to be a great deal of difference in a lot of ways between, let's say an eastern unincorporated area of North County and a city like Carlsbad. How do you bring together these divergent interests into a common identity? HORN: Well, we've done this in the past. We did it with the wild animal park in the Escondido area, selling North County as a good place to visit and good place to stay. We did it with Legoland when they first came in from overseas. We sold Carlsbad, the whole area, as a unit. Using the I-5 and the 78 as corridors. We did it with Ideck pharmaceuticals which went into Oceanside. They were looking for a large piece of land in the unincorporated area, by the way, and I didn't have the housing that I could offer them in the mix. And we went to Oceanside, we introduced them to Ideck, Ideck is -- now there's another name, it was bought out. But they moved there because there was 2,500 homes available for the people that would work at the pharmaceutical plant. So we've done it in the past but never on a scale like this. I was really upset a few years ago when the -- when we left about $250 million go from North County's roadways to south county. And I just -- I said this is not going to happen again. So I think it's important, I really appreciate Dave, this is the first time we've actually had two supervisors representing a unit. And we may differ on various issues, but when it comes to prosperity on purpose, which we call this, and it comes to the rail lines, when it comes to the freeways, it's really nice to have two of us. We've got a tag team here rather than just one person screaming in the dark. And I've been screaming for a long time. But I really appreciate the fact that Dave is that cooperative. CAVANAUGH: Supervisor Roberts, as I said, there are divergent interests between the coastal cities and the inland. How is it that you meld those and in fact how do you meld your political ideas being a Democrat with the Republican ideas of supervisor Horn? ROBERTS: Well, I think that people recognize coastal cities may have a different vision from some inland cities. So Del Mar, Solana beach, Encinitas have a different vision. But I'm focused on the 15 corridor, and I represent the city of Escondido and then I have Rancho Bernardo. And the five mayors of the five cities along the 15 corridor, Carlsbad, Oceanside, Vista, San Marcos, and Escondido, those five mayors have said we're all incorporated cities but we're going to work together. Well, supervisor Horn and I said we're going to work with you. And because one of those cities is in my district, and I'm actually getting ready to be in district office in the city of Escondido, I spoke with the mayor yesterday, it's a critical city. They have needs that are different. And I come from a very diverse district. But for this part might have district, this is what's important to them. This is what the elected officials are telling me they want me to do. CAVANAUGH: Would you say there is an epicenter of growth in the North County? MORGAN: Oh, absolutely. The assets and attributes in North County are tremendous. And the resources. And it's been a really big breath of fresh air having supervisor Roberts come on board and be a part of this and be working collaboratively with supervisor Bill Horn. CAVANAUGH: I guess what I'm asking, excuse me, is there one area of North County that really seems to be growing and maybe the other areas could look to? MORGAN: Well, I think there are subareas in North County, the way I would break it out. So you'd have the coastal cities from Del Mar up, then you would have the 78 corridor, then Rancho Bernardo, Poway, and then up north of the 78 going up the 15. So it would be broken out a little bit differently than the supervisorial boundaries. But the five mayors getting together in the cities is a really big deal. We're really excited about working with them to create that brand and implement that brand in North County. CAVANAUGH: The expansion of Palomar airports something you've taken a big interest in. Would you like to see international flights? HORN: Oh, sure. I'm waiting from the FAA to tell me I can lengthen it by 1,000 feet. It'll bring in quieter jets. They'll come from overseas to Palomar and go through customs without going to San Diego or LAX or what have you. I think it would open up a lot of our business community. We currently are one of the busiest single runways in the country. Lindbergh is one, Palomar is the other. Most of our aircraft are corporate jets. They may not have their manufacturing plant in Carlsbad or the surrounding city, but at the same time it's one area they can use without going through Lindbergh field. CAVANAUGH: And I'm wondering, are you getting any pushback from residents near Palomar? HORN: Not really. I have heard. But I think the argument is tremendous. When you look at the noise footprint of the newer modern aircraft coming in It really is reduced. So the argument that your going to make it noisier or worse, that's not true. So you just have to stay on the facts. And I think it's important. You asked Carl earlier, the epicenters. If you look at the San Marcos, Vista business park area and the Carlsbad business park area, you'll see they kind of cluster together, even though it's a bigger area and goes through three distributions. At the same time they're kind of in the same area. And the sprinter, I don't want to get into the wheels falling off, but we'll be back up and running this month. But you've got the Palomar airport road, the 78, you've got elCamino Real. Those areas, Encinitas, that little area, if you just put a big ring around it and made it a city, you'd have a very, very industries kind of tax-based city. That's what we're selling. We're a great place to work, a tremendous place to live, and by the way, you don't need to go on a vacation somewhere else. You can just go here. CAVANAUGH: Well, that's exactly what I was gone ask you, supervisor Roberts. Do you think that the North County could do more? We know about the safari park, Legoland, to increase areas of tourism? ROBERTS: Well, on the first question, I was just there this morning visiting their unmanned systems division, moving 300 jobs here. They're consolidating a center of excellence, moving things from New York and Florida here. And I asked them why. They said because we've got infrastructure this place, great climate, great educational universities here, it's just the perfect spot to do this. But tourism is critical also. And it's something that I'm very interested in. Ever since we closed the North County tourism area, and it was merged with the south, I think it's important. We've got so much to sell across the North County region from Del Mar, Solana beach, all the way inland up into Escondido. The safari park. Of there's just so much for people to do when they come here. Recently the main street association brought their annual conference to Encinitas. And they did a little tour down into Solana beach, Del Mar, and they really showcased the restaurants and all the attractions that we have. And that is really what we can be doing, what we can be working on together for the good of North County, San Diego. CAVANAUGH: Carl, what do the cities of North County have to do in order to bring this off? What remains to be done? What kind of a vision do they have to present a united regional identity? MORGAN: I think you have to bring everyone into the fold, onto the table, and broaden that network. So there's been a lot of work done on the 78 corridor. I think you want to expand that out and bring everyone on board and start working together collaboratively to identify those opportunity sites and strategically market the area. Fill up the business parks, bring new companies here, create new jobs, and grow economic prosperity. CAVANAUGH: How do you convince a coastal city that a new business park in Vista is going to help them? MORGAN: I think what you do is you actually break the area up into subareas and you focus on the coastal cities' needs in those particular areas. Let's say Encinitas down to Del Mar, are then because the 78 corridor cities, Oceanside, Carlsbad, Vista going into Escondido, that's kind of a subarea, and you focus on that and work with them on the opportunities there. And then you reach out to the smaller communities and also work with them on those key sites that they want to see developed. CAVANAUGH: And Dave? ROBERTS: You bring in the great jobs, people thing look for great neighborhoods to live in, they look for great school systems to educate their kids in. These are the things by working together. But you can't do this without the data that you can show people. And that's really what prosperity on purpose is trying to do, are have the data that is available so people can make decisions on where they want to locate their business. CAVANAUGH: Bill Horn, you said one of the reasons this idea popped into your head or one of the motivators for you was the fact that you feel North County lost out to the south county in a regional transportation -- HORN: Yeah, it was $250 million that was going to go to widen the I-5. And when they changed the design of it and did away with a few lanes, that money was then available to go somewhere. I thought it should go up to the 78 to fix the interchange at the 5 and the 78, a couple of other issues. But I was surprised that there were only three of us who voted against it in North County, and the rest went with get along to go along folks. And I've been doing this for 18 years. And in my 18 years, if you lived in Oceanside and Carlsbad joined each other, but Vista had open land between it and Oceanside. San Marcos had a lot of open land between it and Vista. Same toward Escondido. Those days are gone. In the 18 years I've been here, all these neighborhoods have grown together. The only difference between my Zip Code here and Dave here is the next that there's a street there. And he may live in San Marcos and I may live in Escondido or you're in Escondido and he may be in Rancho Bernardo. That's a little bit of a separation because you've got the lake Hodges area, but things have changed. CAVANAUGH: What I'm getting at here, is it an idea, one of the goals of this is in a sense to pit the North County against the other areas? HORN: No, no. We're not trying to pit anybody against anybody. We have a lot of infrastructure, the feds have been involved in this. We did the economic evaluations that qualified us in for a department of commerce grant. We did it for the whole region, not just for one area. Our area by the way includes Camp Pendleton. And as chairman of the North County Transit district, we're getting ready to put in a new rail station for Amtrak and metro link and the coaster train right there in Camp Pendleton. That's coming along. We're going to look at moving the sprinter up into Camp Pendleton to make that connectivity. We have a great future. And I just think rather than us do it piece by piece, we need to do it as a team. That's why Carl, North County EDC, I had him do it. Next time we get a grant application and submit it, there are going to be two supervisors on that grant application rather than just one! And so it includes a huge number of people. CAVANAUGH: And we have to wrap it up there, gentlemen. Thank you very much.
San Diego may be the biggest city in the county, but it's certainly not the only one. San Diego County is home to 18 different municipalities and 9 of those cities make up what we typically call North County. About one million people and 22,000 businesses live there. Now there's an effort underway for the cities that span from Del Mar and Poway, north to Oceanside and Vista to develop some common economic goals and a regional identity.
San Diego County Supervisor Bill Horn, who's just launched his re-election campaign for his final term, has been the major proponent behind the initiative called Prosperity on Purpose. It lays out a regional visionary plan and economic development strategy for North County. The goal is to attract developers, business and investors to the region.
"We have a great future and rather than we do it piece by piece we need to do it as a team, " Horn said.
The San Diego North Economic Development Council is leading the effort and so far has drawn up a comprehensive economic strategy, which is needed for federal funding. Some North County cities feel they lost out on millions of dollars in tax money for transportation improvement when the regional planning agency, SANDAG, divvied up TransNet money.
The SDNEDC has also created a map on Google Earth for developers to use as a tool to determine if they want to invest in the region.
Branding North County is the next step.
But that could prove to be the most challenging. And it's not the first attempt at trying to brand North County either. The region is made up of coastal affluent cities, rural and unincorporated areas with individual goals, needs and interests.
For example, the cities of Carlsbad and Oceanside are currently on opposite sides of the aisle when it comes to Carlsbad's controversial Quarry Creek Housing project. And the Gregory Canyon Landfill has also been a point of contention.
The region is also split politically. Horn, a Republican, represents large unincorporated areas while Dave Roberts, the first Democrat to be elected to the county board in decades, represents coastal cities and towns along with part of Escondido.
Roberts and Horn don't see eye to eye on every issue, but they are collaborating on giving North County a new identity.
"Now that I'm one of the two North County supervisors I want to be a part of this, we have a very diverse county and my district is very diverse, " Roberts said, "and I want to be a part of that success to really help create economic opportunities for my district."
Horn agrees and said this is the first time two North County supervisors are representing a unit.
"We may differ on various issues, but when it comes to Prosperity on Purpose, which we call this, and it comes to the rail lines, when it comes to the freeways, it's really nice to have two of us. We've got a tag team here rather than just one person screaming in the dark. And I've been screaming for a long time."