On Thursday, May 31, the San Diego North Economic Development Council (SDNEDC) held its second Chairman’s Dinner for 2024 at Blade 1936 in downtown Oceanside. A unique venue, this building originally housed the Blade Tribune and News and is one of the last pieces designed by famous architect Irving Gill.

SDNEDC’s 2023-2024 Chairman, Jim Callaghan Jr., hosted this event that gathered 40 leaders from prominent North County businesses including Palomar Health, Merrill Lynch, LEGOLAND California Resort, North County Transit District, Hunter Industries, C.W. Driver, Republic Services, Scripps Health, and more. This quarterly dinner for investors and invited guests allows executive leaders from North County’s largest employers to strengthen relationships and learn more about our region.

Our special guests were District 5 Supervisor Jim Desmond and Oceanside Mayor Esther Sanchez.

Supervisor Desmond shared information about how the County is addressing the mental health and homelessness challenges in our region, including plans for Green Oak Ranch, a 168-acre property that has been used as a rehabilitation site for the last 50 years. The county is looking at a 47-acre section of the property to create “a campus for healing and get people cleaned up and back on their feet.”

“I’m not a fan of shelters and parking lot encampments,” Desmond said. “That’s just picking up the problem and moving it somewhere else. I have been focused on healing and getting people the help they need.” Desmond had high praise for the folks running the program already located Green Oak Ranch, and expressed his confidence that the project would not disturb residents living near the property.

“Green Oaks has done it right. The neighbors don’t even know this place exists,” he said.

Desmond also shared about how Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) restrictions have “virtually stopped all housing development” in the unincorporated areas of San Diego County. “We have only given 57 housing unit permits over a year in the unincorporated areas. The next generation is moving to Idaho, and our kids can’t afford to live here.”

If a resident will need to commute 16+ miles, a huge mitigation process is needed to approve the build, and developers are only allowed to mitigate at 4% in San Diego County. Desmond said that they are bringing in planning units to update the plans for each of the villages to allow for them to be built out.

Mayor Sanchez talked about the amazing transformation in Oceanside, one of North County’s largest cities. One great piece of news is the pier has been saved from the recent fire, and plans are underway to bring it back to its former glory. She also shared updates about tourism, Ocean Kamp, and Frontwave Arena.

Chairman’s Dinners are invitation-only events limited to SDNEDC investors and special guests rotated around the region. We aim to limit attendance to no more than 40 individuals, allowing for meaningful interactions and ensuring that those present are primarily C-Suite executives or other key personnel within their organizations.

SDNEDC is planning to hold at least two more Chairman’s Dinners during 2024, one in August and another in October. Email Erik at ebruvold@sdnedc.org to learn more about these dinners and how to get more involved in the Council’s economic development efforts.

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