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Podiatrist in Encinitas, CA

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The North County Foot and Ankle Difference

What makes North County Foot and Ankle stand out from other foot and ankle doctors in Encinitas? Unlike some foot doctors, our podiatrists work with a client-first mentality. When you walk through our front doors, the time you spend in our office is all about you. We believe in a strong physician-patient relationship fortified by one-on-one attention and honest communication.

Before offering foot pain treatment options, we perform a thorough evaluation, taking into account your individual needs, goals, and preferences. Once that's done, we'll discuss your treatment options in detail and come to a mutual decision regarding the best treatment plan for you.

Whether you have a minor hangnail or need complex surgery, you will receive the same level of compassionate care from our medical team. As board-certified podiatrists in Encinitas, our doctors are proud to treat you. You can rest easy knowing they will take the time to explain what's causing your foot pain, what treatments are best suited to your problem, and what steps you should take after treatment.

And while our podiatrists are uniquely qualified to perform surgery, we often recommend non-surgical options, using treatments like orthotics to relieve foot, arch, and heel pain. From sports injuries and bunions to gout and blisters, we're here to help you live life to the fullest without nagging, debilitating foot pain.

 Ankle Specialist Encinitas, CA

Patients visit our foot clinic in Encinitas, CA, for many podiatric problems, including:

  • Sports Injuries
  • Ingrown Toenails
  • Bunions
  • Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • General Ankle Pain
  • Sprains
  • Fractures
  • Flat Feet
  • Hammertoes
  • Gout
  • Foot and Ankle Rheumatoid Arthritis

If you're dealing with chronic foot pain or are concerned about a long-lasting symptom that affects your daily life, we're here to help. Unsure if you need to call to make an appointment? These symptoms are often signs that you might need to visit our foot and ankle doctors:

 Foot And Ankle Specialist Encinitas, CA

Bunion Pain Solutions

Jason Morris, a board-certified podiatric foot surgeon in Encinitas, CA, is one of the top podiatrists in the greater San Diego area and has successfully treated patients with bunions for over ten years. He offers advanced treatments for bunion pain, such as:

 Podiatrist Encinitas, CA
Customized Orthotics for Bunion Treatment

Our hand-made orthotics, which are worn in your shoes, are molded to fit your foot exactly, correcting bone misalignments and relieving pain much better than cookie-cutter, store-bought options.

 Foot Surgeon Encinitas, CA
Bunion Surgery

Drs. Morris and Redkar performs state-of-the-art triplanar correction surgery using 3-D digital imaging and a minimal incision approach. This procedure is very effective and works by rotating misaligned big toe bones back to the proper position. Once your toe bones are back in position, a metal plate is attached to your bones so that they remain aligned over long-term use.

 Foot Clinic Encinitas, CA
Combined Bunion Treatment

Drs. Morris and Redkar may recommend both surgery and custom orthotics to keep your foot pain-free and your bunion from growing back.

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Meet Our World-Class Podiatrists

If you’ve been enduring foot or ankle pain that affects your mobility and quality of life, why not make a change for the better? At North County Foot & Ankle Specialists, our podiatrists in Escondido help patients of all ages. Drs. Morris and Redkar take a patient-first approach with all of our podiatry services. Both are highly qualified and recipients of prestigious awards.

Dr. Avanti Redkar
Dr. Avanti Redkar, DPM

Featured in Los Angeles Magazine’s prestigious Top Doctors list of 2021, Dr. Avanti Redkar is a board-certified podiatrist that specializes in foot and ankle pathology. Dr. Redkar earned her undergrad degree in biology at the University of Scranton and her master’s degree in nutrition at SUNY Buffalo. She attended podiatry school at the New York College of Podiatric Medicine. Her three-year surgical residency at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, New York, included foot and rearfoot surgery, wound care, and hyperbaric medicine training. Dr. Redkar also completed a one-year fellowship in sports medicine and ankle reconstruction.

Dr. Jason Morris
Dr. Jason Morris, DPM

After a rigorous three-year residency at the University of Pittsburgh, Jason Morris, DPM, moved to sunny California to practice podiatric medicine. Once there, Dr. Morris worked as an attending physician at UCLA Medical Center and Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. Since relocating to the Escondido area, he has been a staff physician at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido and Poway. Dr. Morris is a podiatric foot and ankle specialist with board certification in rearfoot and forefoot reconstructive surgery. Dr. Morris has undergone extensive training in sports medicine, ankle trauma, diabetic limb salvage, and reconstructive surgery.

Do Away with Foot and Ankle Pain Today

If you've been enduring foot or ankle pain that affects your mobility and quality of life, why not make a change for the better? At North County Foot & Ankle Specialists, our podiatrists in Encinitas help patients of all ages. Drs. Morris and Redkar take a patient-first approach with all of our podiatry services. From minor bunion treatments to complex issues like foot fractures, every treatment option we consider is chosen with your best interest in mind.

Our podiatrists are members of several professional organizations, including:

  • The American Podiatric Medical Association
  • The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons
  • The American Board of Podiatric Medicine

If more conservative treatments are better for your condition, non-surgical solutions like custom orthotics may be the best route. If you need ankle or foot surgery, our podiatrists will complete your procedure with time-tested skill and precision. Because, at the end of the day, our goal is to provide you with the most effective foot and ankle pain solutions with the quickest recovery options available.

Contact us online or via phone today to schedule an appointment at our Encinitas office. By tomorrow, you'll be one step closer to loving life without foot or ankle pain.

Request Your Consultation

Latest News in Encinitas, CA

Monarch butterflies made a historic rebound this year, but my photos from 'Butterfly Town, USA' are disappointing and sad

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PACIFIC GROVE, California — I was afraid if I didn't see them now, someday it could be too late.

I felt the same way about seeing Venice, and every forest in California.

I had to see the monarch butterflies before they were gone.

You've probably heard of the great monarch migration, when the fluttering insects leave Canada in swarms each fall and fly 3,000 miles to Mexico.

But you might not know that many of them stop halfway there, choosing to spend winter in California instead.

Long-time residents of Pacific Grove tell mystical stories of shimmering curtains of butterflies filling the sky, Natalie Johnston, a local butterfly naturalist, told me. Residents have told her how they would open the front door and their entire garden would seem to spring into the air — monarchs disturbed from rest.

I wasn't expecting anything quite that dramatic when I drove to "Butterfly Town, USA" in late November.

I knew the monarchs' numbers had fallen drastically since those days. Still, I expected to be awed by my first monarch migration. I thought it might feel like stepping into a long-gone world, that orange-and-black wings would flit through the air above, and at least a full tree or two would be alive with butterflies.

Instead, I found a sad, sparse display of their decline: In a famous monarch grove, during a hopeful year, the butterflies filled just two branches on a single tree.

It was a jarring snapshot of a larger crisis.

Like monarchs, countless species of insects and other creatures have been teetering on the edge of extinction for years.

The world as we once knew it is fading alongside them.

"We've gotten used to something that's a pretty diminished version of what it was," Emma Pelton, a biologist at the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, told me.

Still, those two branches represent a cautious hope. In 2020, there were no monarchs in Pacific Grove.

If we look at the forest surrounding this lonely butterfly tree and how it came to be this way, it can teach us a lot about our precarious future.

The Western monarch migration isn't what it used to be

Millions of monarchs used to settle across California each year, but their numbers haven't breached half a million since the 1990s, when the Xerces Society began conducting a volunteer-based count of the monarch migration each winter.

In 2018, the population crashed to new lows: They counted fewer than 30,000 monarchs in the state.

Then California's monarchs plummeted to an abysmal 2,000 butterflies in 2020. There were none in Pacific Grove. Scientists feared they were watching the last gasp before extinction.

"It was frightening," Johnston said.

But California's monarchs made an astonishing rebound. Volunteers have counted more than 300,000 so far this year.

Those numbers are still dangerously low, and I knew that — I had written about it. I wasn't expecting the sky to be swarming with monarchs, or all the trees to be shimmering with their wings. Still, as I stepped onto the trail winding through the sanctuary, I saw a pair of orange wings fluttering high overhead and my heart leapt.

At that point, volunteers had counted 12,300 monarchs in the Pacific Grove Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary, a stand of pine, cypress, and eucalyptus trees where the butterflies cluster. Surely that must be a sizeable flock, I thought. That's a number you simply can't ignore.

But the skies were clear as I walked through, with the occasional stray butterfly flitting above. Each tree was bare, except a single Monterey pine, where all 12,000-plus butterflies were clustered. If it weren't for the people crowded beneath the tree, I might have missed it entirely.

'It's nothing, it's quiet, it's empty'

Other visitors murmured about how meager the monarch colony looked:

"Well there aren't that many, are there?"

"Is it just this one tree?"

The two branches were dripping with butterflies, slowly batting their wings open and closed in the glow of sunset, alternating between the deep orange-and-black pattern on the tops of their wings and the muted reverse on their undersides.

I stared at them, mesmerized. But they filled such a small portion of my field of vision, about 20 feet above. I zoomed the camera on my phone as far as it would go, trying to take a decent photo. Instead of joy, I felt a somber reverence.

I had the same uneasy feeling in my stomach that I got hiking on a ridge in Kings Canyon National Park this summer, when suddenly the forest opened up into a giant burn scar, with the blackened skeletons of trees stretching down an ashy hillside.

I walked through the rest of the monarch grove, looking for more butterflies. But the air and the branches were still. I passed a nonchalant deer and a small bird, but no monarchs.

"That's the ecological wound," Pelton said. "It's nothing, it's quiet, it's empty. It's 'Silent Spring.'"

She was referring to a landmark book in the environmental movement. Rachel Carson's 1962 classic documented the echoing absence of birds across the US, as their numbers steeply dropped due to widespread use of the highly toxic pesticide DDT.

Similarly, the main drivers of monarchs' collapse are loss of habitat, the proliferation of pesticides, and a changing climate that alters the seasons and weather conditions the butterflies rely on — the same reasons that so many insect populations are collapsing.

Monarchs are beloved and beautiful creatures, but they're just one of roughly half a million insect species on the brink of extinction.

By some estimates, 40% of the world's insect species face extinction in the next few decades. Scientists are deeply concerned about this apocalyptic disappearance, since so much of life on Earth — humans included — relies on insects for pollination, food, decomposing dead things, and pest control.

Monarchs are bouncing around the brink of extinction, but there's still hope

Butterfly populations are naturally "bouncy," Pelton said, especially when their numbers are so low.

Though California's monarchs have rebounded from the brink of extinction in the last two years, that's "no guarantee that they're not going to bounce back down to nearly zero," she said.

She fears next time, they may not bounce back.

Last year's recovery drew lots of attention, and Johnston pointed to signs of progress in the months since. In July, the secretary of the interior announced $1 million in grants for Western monarch conservation, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature dubbed the monarch butterfly endangered.

The state of California also proposed new restrictions on a class of insecticides that harm pollinators like monarchs, and the state's Supreme Court secured a loophole that allows insects to be protected under the California Endangered Species Act.

"In order for there to be hope for the future, people need to take action. However, it is very difficult for people to take action unless they have hope," Johnston said. "It seems that the monarch butterflies of 2021 were that perfect catalyst to get people to understand that nature can recover when we choose to protect it."

Johnston said lots of people came to the sanctuary in 2021 saying they had never seen the monarchs before and wanted to glimpse their rebound.

That's what brought me to Pacific Grove. I wrote about the butterflies' recovery in 2021, and decided to go see them when they returned in 2022.

Johnston and Pelton both told me about "shifting baselines" in ecology. Basically, in your head, the baseline state of the natural world is what you saw when you were a child.

"[People] ascribe their childhood as the golden years of how things should be, not understanding that, no, the world was already rapidly changing, was already not in a healthy state when you were a child," Johnston said.

When I was a child, I didn't see monarch butterflies, but they were already in decline.

Today's children could reach adulthood in a world where no monarchs settle in California.

Or, depending on the decisions people make now, they could grow up to see monarchs filling the sky again.

As the lone butterfly tree made clear, California's monarchs are in a tenuous — but possibly salvageable — state. What else could we save if we had hope to protect it?

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Series Of Drenching California Storms Put Dent In Drought

The immense snow cap and pounding atmospheric rivers aren't yet enough to reverse the effects of years of drought.LOS ANGELES, CA — Atmospheric rivers pounding California since late last year have coated mountains with a full winter’s worth of snow and begun raising reservoir levels — but experts say it will take much more precipitation to reverse the effects of years of drought.The U.S. Drought Monitor’s weekly update released on Thursday showed that “extreme” drought has been virtually el...

The immense snow cap and pounding atmospheric rivers aren't yet enough to reverse the effects of years of drought.

LOS ANGELES, CA — Atmospheric rivers pounding California since late last year have coated mountains with a full winter’s worth of snow and begun raising reservoir levels — but experts say it will take much more precipitation to reverse the effects of years of drought.

The U.S. Drought Monitor’s weekly update released on Thursday showed that “extreme” drought has been virtually eliminated a week after the worst category — “exceptional” — was washed off the map. Two weeks ago extreme drought covered 35% of California.

The Drought Monitor characterized the improvement as a significant reduction in drought intensity but cautioned that large parts of the state have moisture deficits that have been entrenched for two or three years.

Most of the state is now in the “severe” or “moderate” categories of drought, with small areas in the far northwest and far southeast in a status described as “abnormally dry,” which is the lowest level.

After significant damage to some communities and at least 18 deaths, California was in a lull between storms Thursday, but more precipitation was expected to arrive on Friday and continue through the weekend. Flooding remained a concern, especially along the Salinas River in Monterey County, because so much rain has fallen.

Downtown San Francisco, for example, received nearly 13.6 inches (34.5 centimeters) of rain from Dec. 26 to Jan. 10. Snowfall so far this season at the summit of the Mammoth Mountain resort in the Eastern Sierra hit 444 inches (11.3 meters).

In the Sierra Nevada and other mountains, the water content of the snowpack is more than 200% of normal to date and more than 100% of the April 1 average, when it is historically at its peak, according to the state Department of Water Resources.

“The automated sensors are registering what they would consider a full seasonal snowpack, about what we would expect on April 1,” state climatologist Michael Anderson told reporters this week.

The snowpack supplies roughly a third of California's water when it melts and runs off into rivers and reservoirs.

Locally, some reservoirs have seen significant rises in water levels but there are still significant deficits to overcome.

Statewide, reservoir storage is only 82% of average for this time of year. The largest reservoir, Shasta, is at just 44% of capacity. That's only 70% of average to date. The huge Oroville reservoir is closer to its average but at just 49% of capacity.

“The good news is that they’re off historic lows," Anderson said of the big reservoirs. "The challenge is that they still have a lot of recovery to make before they would be back to normal operating conditions.”

And there's concern that the rains could abruptly stop. The end of 2021 was marked by significant storms, but the start of 2022 saw months of bone-dry weather.

There are some hints of a drier pattern developing around Jan. 20, said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, during an online briefing this week.

Encinitas surfers Spencer, Slawson win opening heats at Sambazon

ENCINITAS — Local surfers made a splash during Monday’s opening round of competition at the Sambazon World Junior Championships hosted by Best Western, advancing to the elimination rounds of the weeklong surfing competition at Seaside Reef.For the women, Encinitas resident Alyssa Spencer, 19, won her heat on Jan. 9 with a score of...

ENCINITAS — Local surfers made a splash during Monday’s opening round of competition at the Sambazon World Junior Championships hosted by Best Western, advancing to the elimination rounds of the weeklong surfing competition at Seaside Reef.

For the women, Encinitas resident Alyssa Spencer, 19, won her heat on Jan. 9 with a score of 12.66 against Hawaii’s Puamakamae DeSoto and Japan’s Nanaho Tsukuki in the first round of the junior world surfing championships held off the shore of Cardiff State Beach.

Another Encinitas local, 19-year-old Ella McCaffray, came in second in her heat with a score of 10.43. Portugal’s Francisca Veselko won the heat with a score of 13.67. Sara Wakita of Japan took third with 8.14.

McCaffray and Wakita will face each other in an elimination round on Jan. 11.

On the men’s side, Levi Slawson, another 19-year-old surfer from Encinitas, won his heat with a score of 12.33, defeating Adur Amatriain of Basque Country and Noa Dupouy of France.

The Sambazon World Junior Championships consists of a field of 24 women and 24 men aged 20 years or younger from nine nations and six continents. The men’s and women’s winners will receive spots in the World Surf League Challenger Series.

Surfers took a break on Tuesday, Jan. 10 due to heavy rain.

MONDAY, JAN. 11 RESULTS

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REGION — A group of volunteers and philanthropists in San Diego is coming together to help a 50-year-old orphanage in Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico, care for abandoned infants.

A GoFundMe campaign is raising $150,000 to build a nursery facility on the Rancho de los Niños Orphanage campus in Baja California, 90 miles from the San Diego border.

The group of San Diego residents is asking for financial support this holiday season from their community – as well as donated toys and gifts for the children 2-18 years old who currently reside at the orphanage.

In Baja California, one in three girls becomes pregnant before 18, creating a need to build a nursery facility at the Rancho de los Niños Orphanage in Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico, to care for abandoned infants, volunteers said.

More than 90 children currently reside at Rancho de los Niños, assisting orphans since 1968 without governmental resources. The center is run by Jorge and Ely Fonseca, whom each grew up at the orphanage themselves.

Carlsbad resident David Steel has been a longtime supporter of the orphanage and shared a Facebook post a few weeks ago on his birthday while he and his son were dropping off clothes, toys and other items at Rancho de los Niños.

The post sparked interest from several San Diego entrepreneurs who decided to get involved, including Ray Drasnin, CEO of Purple Penguin PR, and Ian O’Roarty, who provided videography and editing.

Bing Bush, a Del Mar attorney, donated $3,295 at his annual Decemberfest Celebration on Dec. 10 to support the campaign. Two hundred people attended the party, and 170 new, unwrapped toys were donated. Music for the event featured local DJ Sammy Shoebox Moses, himself an orphan from the Philippines.

Amar Harrag is the founder of the Be Saha Hospitality Group, which encompasses several restaurants in San Diego and Baja. Amar continued his ongoing commitment to the orphanage and raised the bar beyond belief when he had an architect draft complete designs for the nursery.

Harrag is also developing a wellness and retreat center, Ethos Baja, in Ensenada, Mexico, that will offer alternative healing modalities with experiences centered on social impact.

Harrag, a managing director and founder of the San Diego chapter of Corazon De Vida, has committed to providing resources from Ethos Baja’s revenue for the orphans at Rancho de los Niños.

“I have been visiting the beautiful children at Rancho de los Niños for more than ten years, bringing donations from our community and much-needed items,” said Harrag. “Land and building plans for the ‘baby dorm’ project, which will add capacity to care for 12-15 infants at a time, have already been procured. The project is a model for Baja California, where the need is great, and resources are small.”

Corazon De Vida is a nonprofit organization providing support for orphaned and abandoned children in Baja, Mexico, by funding local orphanages, providing quality-of-life improvement services and investing in the children’s future by funding higher education.

The nonprofit provides consistent, monthly support to more than 10 orphanages (including Rancho de los Niños), offering over 500 children security, nutrition, shelter and access to a reliable education.

Corazon De Vida’s university program currently has 45 former orphanage residents in college or technical school, and these college students serve as role models to their younger “siblings.”

The local nonprofit, Do Something Now, whose mission is to provide bicycles to underprivileged people living in impoverished areas worldwide, donated and delivered 12 bikes for children this holiday season.

President Harve Meskin described his contribution as “a simple way to bring love, joy and independence to these amazing young children.”

Encinitas council votes to fill vacant seat by appointment

County estimated special election would have cost the city $250,000 to $400,000Encinitas will appoint someone to fill a newly vacant City Council seat, rather than hold a special election.On Wednesday, the council voted 3-1, with newly elected Councilman Bruce Ehlers opposed, to pursue the appointment process, saying it would save the city money and get someone in the job faster. The council expects to select an applicant to fill the post by the end of January.The earliest a special election could have been held is May...

County estimated special election would have cost the city $250,000 to $400,000

Encinitas will appoint someone to fill a newly vacant City Council seat, rather than hold a special election.

On Wednesday, the council voted 3-1, with newly elected Councilman Bruce Ehlers opposed, to pursue the appointment process, saying it would save the city money and get someone in the job faster. The council expects to select an applicant to fill the post by the end of January.

The earliest a special election could have been held is May 2, and the county’s Registrar of Voters has estimated the city’s cost for that special election would be $250,00 to $400,000, City Clerk Kathy Hollywood said.

Mayor Tony Kranz, a former longtime city council member whose recent election to the mayor’s spot created the new council vacancy, voted for the appointment process along with Councilmembers Kellie Hinze and Joy Lyndes. Both Hinze and Lyndes were originally appointed to the council themselves, and then later ran for election.

“We’ve been well served by the appointment process,” Hinze said.

Hinze said she’d rather spend money on infrastructure improvements rather than a special election, while Lyndes said the appointment process might turn up a candidate like herself who’s “more of a public servant than a politician.”

While the council majority supported appointing someone to the post, 11 of the 16 public speakers on the item said the city should host a special election, calling it the democratic thing to do and “well worth the money.”

Ehlers said he strongly agreed with them. Noting that he had just been elected, he said it was highly unlikely that the current council would have picked him as an appointee if his predecessor, Joe Mosca, had resigned before his term ended.

Ehlers is a former city planning commissioner who was removed from the commission in April. Council members said they unanimously voted to remove him because they believed he could not be impartial on housing development issues after he filed paperwork supporting a court case against the city. Ehlers and his supporters said it was a vindictive political stunt aimed at derailing Ehlers’ City Council campaign.

On Wednesday, Ehlers noted that Del Mar and Carlsbad don’t allow council appointees to run for their seats when their seats next come up for election and said Encinitas should adopt a similar municipal code.

That’s not possible unless Encinitas wants to change its system of governance, Kranz told him. Del Mar and Carlsbad are charter cities, meaning that they have special governing documents, or charters, that their voters approved. Encinitas, like most cities in California, is a general law city, meaning it operates under the general laws of the state.

Under state law, cities must hold an election if there is more than two years remaining in the person’s term in office when the council seat is vacated. If it’s two years or less, cities have the option of either holding a special election or having the council appoint someone to fill out the term. When Kranz took over the mayor’s spot, there was slightly less than two years remaining in his four-year council term.

As a councilmember, Kranz represented the city’s District 1, which primarily covers the Leucadia region. The appointee who replaces him also will need to come from this area. Applicants also need to be at least 18 years old and a registered voter. The application deadline will likely be Jan 10 in order to meet the council’s goal of considering the applicants at its Jan. 18 meeting, the city clerk said Wednesday.

In other action Wednesday, the City Council:

With focus on veterans, children and seniors, Nora Vargas becomes first Latina to lead county supervisors

Nora Vargas became the first Latina chair of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors Tuesday, a post in which she aims to improve conditions for veterans, children and seniors.“I’m ready to put our families first, to make sure people have food and a roof over their head,” she said. “I want to make sure everyone has a good quality of life by having clean air to breathe and access to health care.”Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer joins her as vice chair, marking the first time the county body will be l...

Nora Vargas became the first Latina chair of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors Tuesday, a post in which she aims to improve conditions for veterans, children and seniors.

“I’m ready to put our families first, to make sure people have food and a roof over their head,” she said. “I want to make sure everyone has a good quality of life by having clean air to breathe and access to health care.”

Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer joins her as vice chair, marking the first time the county body will be led by two women. Lawson-Remer also identifies as nonbinary.

The board voted unanimously on the posts and also re-elected Supervisor Joel Anderson to serve as chair pro tem, as Supervisor Nathan Fletcher stepped down from a two-year stint as chair.

Vargas was elected in 2020 to District 1 in South San Diego, which includes the cities of Imperial Beach, National City and Chula Vista.

With a focus on health, families and air quality, she is co-chair of the county’s COVID-19 subcommittee, chair of SANDAG’s Transportation Committee and of the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District and a member of the California Air Resources Board.

California’s child care aid reaches only a small fraction of the families who need it, and it’s stretching providers to the limit. Education reporter Kristen Taketa examines how the system is falling short, and who pays the price.

Lawson-Remer, an economist who served in President Obama’s Treasury Department, was elected in 2020 to District 3, which extends along the coast from Coronado to Carlsbad.

The current board of supervisors has vastly expanded the county’s involvement in social services, health care and environmental issues, taking a lead on pandemic response, reforming mental health care and creating ambitious climate initiatives.

“We’re very much looking forward to being the new face of that transition,” Lawson-Remer said, as the county takes “a bigger role, a more active role in advancing equity and environmental sustainability in our community.”

After Vargas accepted her new position, she repeated her comments in Spanish, as she often does during board discussion — employing communication skills essential to many San Diegans, said Crystal Irving, president of SEIU Local 221, the union that represents county employees.

“Hearing Supervisor Vargas speak in Spanish was such a powerful movement,” Irving said. “We need to speak in a language that constituents (understand).”

Before her election to the board in 2020, Vargas sat on the Southwestern College Governing Board and on the California Teacher Retirement System (CalSTRS) board. She previously worked as vice president of community and government relations for Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest.

She said her approach to public service was crystallized after her mother was diagnosed with cancer in 2008, while she was between jobs and couldn’t get health care assistance.

“That motivated me to say, ‘I don’t want this to happen to someone else,’” Vargas said.

She follows Fletcher, the first supervisor to serve as chair in back-to-back terms since 1947-48. Fletcher, elected in 2018 and re-elected last year, served as the county’s point person during the pandemic, advocated for expanding county investment in social and health care services and led major changes to its behavioral health system.

In nominating Vargas, Fletcher described her as “an effective and driven person with an unmatched level of care and compassion for our community.”

Vargas said she plans to continue the behavioral health care transformation over the next year, along with efforts to overhaul the county’s climate action plan and eliminate carbon emissions.

She said county leaders must also pay attention to the specific needs of San Diego families and neighborhoods.

For instance, she pointed to a two-year program that provides portable air purifiers and monitoring systems to improve indoor air quality in homes in areas affected by port pollution.

In addition to curbing pollution and the effects of climate change, she said the county must also prioritize environmental justice measures, such as ensuring affordable electric cars and good-paying green jobs, she said.

County authorities began exploring ways to expand access to child care last year, and Vargas said that will be a high priority for her and Lawson-Remer, as both an economic and social issue.

“I don’t want to talk about child care as a women’s issue,” she said. “Child care is a family issue.”

She said she hopes the leadership team of two women will soon be seen as normal, and wants to send a message to girls and women in San Diego: “Si se puede. You can do it, too.”

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