With January in full swing, here’s my “wish list” for enhancing Orange County’s economy for 2016. My dream year looks like this:
• Statewide and local reforms return environmental laws, like CEQA, to their original intent in clearly protecting the environment instead of allowing them to be used as a special interest shakedown litigation tool.
• The Newport Banning Ranch project is approved by the California Coastal Commission and begins development for both its environmental benefits and much-needed new housing for Orange County.
• State lawmakers, working with Gov. Brown, develop a clear plan to encourage homebuilding in California, finally easing the shortage and affordability crises.
• The county of Orange and Anaheim complete construction of their first homeless shelter and the county and Santa Ana repurpose the old bus depot as a second shelter.
• State lawmakers approve a transportation bill, with significant system reforms and new revenue, to follow up the bipartisan federal transportation reauthorization bill that Congress passed in 2015.
• A comprehensive, innovative solution is reached to build a connection for SR-241 and I-5, protecting parks, habitats, water quality and local communities.
• OCTA and Caltrans work efficiently together to improve SR-55 and I-405, protecting both Measure M and limited state transportation dollars.
• A water desalination project, similar to the now-online Carlsbad system, is finally approved by the California Coastal Commission for Huntington Beach and surrounding communities.
• Gov. Jerry Brown’s “California Water Fix” moves forward to address the San Joaquin Delta’s limitations that threaten the environment and the state’s water supply.
• The EPA declines to list areas of Anaheim and Fullerton as “Superfund” sites and, instead, sees real progress on groundwater cleanup with impacted cities, business and local water agencies.
• Santa Ana Unified School District welcomes Latino Education Attainment and THINK Together programs back as effective tools for student achievement and success, resulting in increased high school graduation and college entrances.
• The California Supreme Court upholds the trial court decision inVergara v. California that every child – no matter the income level – has a right to an effective teacher and equal access to a quality education.
• Congress approves the Trans -Pacific Partnership trade agreement to open up more international markets to California exporters.
• California voters reject numerous tax-increase proposals on the 2016 ballot.
• Anaheim and the Angels reach an agreement to retain this major league sports team and countywide economic engine for another 30 years.
• The Angels and Ducks bring championships for our local fans.
To achieve my dream, it will require a strong sense of collaboration and dedication by both the public and private sectors.
And, if El Niño brings enough rain and snowpack to partially relieve the drought, we will really have a good year!
Lucy Dunn is president and CEO, Orange County Business Council.
This article appears as it was originally published in The Orange County Register January 24, 2016.