By Lisa Bartlett, chairwoman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors
Each year, the county of Orange lays out its policy and project priorities for the county. These priorities are based on the needs for services, support and innovation that will be addressed across all department and governments involved. Each decision has a level of mutual responsibility and impact across the board for all departments and local governments involved, which is why we treasure these relationships and do our best to maintain them.
These priorities set the goals and objectives of the Board of Supervisors throughout the year. They guide our policy agenda as it relates to county work and our advocacy with both the state and federal legislatures. I wanted to share with you some of those top priorities for 2019 as they will be a common theme in the work being done by the county in your communities. Homelessness has been an ongoing discussion for some time now. Persons who are experiencing homelessness are in need of shelter, care and resources for a hand up. We are looking into providing more full-service care and safe, clean options for shelter for the safety of all.
Just this past week, the county of Orange performed the biannual Point-In-Time count of our current homeless population, which the Department of Housing and Urban Development mandates for all Continuums of Care.
More than 1,000 volunteers in two days went into our communities across the county to count all persons experiencing homelessness, noting where they are, who they are (whether they are veterans, minors, persons living with a disability) and if they have any special-care needs for disabilities or mental health. We have a plan to offer more wraparound services to those in need, so they can get back on their feet.
It is well known to all that our infrastructure is in need of continuous updating. Our roads and highways, airport and harbors are in desperate need of updating, not only for their functionality but for our safety. Our highways are a main source of economic growth. They provide a means for our goods and services to travel, as well as our source of transport to and from our places of work.
We have a plan to update many parts of the I-5 and I-405 highways, as well as adding some much-needed traffic relief in other areas of the county. The safety of our commuters and travelers should never be in question or be a burden. One other area where our infrastructure is affecting our transportation is John Wayne Airport (JWA).
Our airport will be receiving new technologies for more convenient and efficient travel. A perfect example are the newly installed tablets throughout the terminal that provide digital wayfinding and dining options, where you can view menus and order meals for pick-up rather than waiting in line. This concept will be expanded in the coming months to allow for meals to be delivered to you at the gate, which will surely make traveling less stressful. Another noteworthy accomplishment is the completion of major terminal improvements. Intended to be concluded in 2019, JWA was able to complete the $117.4 million improvement project 16 weeks ahead of schedule and more than $1 million under budget! These improvements provided additional safety enhancements such as seismic retrofitting, as well as amenities such as refurbished restrooms, a nursing mother’s lounge and animal relief areas.
These and many more projects focusing on healthcare, our environment and expanding the county’s economic opportunities through housing and business expansions will be our focus for 2019. I am always looking for more opportunities to be more efficient and transparent for all residents of our great county and the fabulous fifth district. I look forward to working diligently on your behalf in 2019 and always look forward to your ideas and feedback on these and many more upcoming projects.
Lisa Bartlett is the chairwoman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, serving as the representative of the 5th District since 2014.