The Toni Times | October 2022

October 1, 2022

A Note from Toni


As we watch the recovery from Hurricane Ian and support our neighbors in the east, I’m reminded of another dangerous event where Florida was at the center...

When I was not even three months old, the world almost came to an end. How fair is that, I ask you? I hadn’t even learned where my feet were yet, and now I’d have no place to ever use them.

In October 1962, my parents, like so many others, put their kids to bed at night not knowing if any of the family would still be there in the morning. Obviously I don’t have any first-hand memories of the Cuban Missile Crisis 60 years ago this month, but I do see some threads from that dangerous series of events running through our current times.

In the greatest existential threat we face today—climate change—wildfires, megastorms, heatwaves, and flooding cause death and destruction and force the relocation of families here in California, throughout the country, and around the world. The causes of human-caused climate change have been churning for decades. Addressing those causes and mitigating their impacts will take longer than the 13 days it took JFK to resolve the crisis in 1962, but that just means we can’t wait. “Later is too late” is a rallying cry used by climate activists, and it hits the mark.

That’s why I am so pleased that the major climate advances developed in the Senate this session have now officially been signed and become law. As I’ve shared before, these climate advances will reduce carbon emissions and increase renewable forms of energy—and give industry the tools they need to get the job done. The Senate Climate Package, along with several other climate bills signed into law, ensures California’s leadership on climate change and cements our partnership with the Biden-Harris administration following the recent enactment of their historic climate legislation.

Sometimes it seems there can be some confusing language around climate change, “a 50% reduction by 2040” or “a 40% reduction by 2050” or “a 45% reduction by 2055.” And so on. And it can be hard to see the progress we’ve made when we’re working through the crisis. But, I’ve learned to distill the percentages and chemical formulas and come down to this: if we keep making the kind of progress we have, as quickly and responsibly as we just did, then we can make sure that some little girl out there, just learning what her feet are all about, will be able to find a safe place to stand that won’t be burned out or washed away from her—or any of us.

Thank you for reading,


PS—I hear that if she’s able to get her electric broom charged in time, that mysterious witch of South Park will be back this Halloween. Keep an eye out for her, be safe, and have fun!


More Than 9,000 New Homes Coming to San Diego


My parents worked incredibly hard their whole lives but still they were never able to buy a home of their own; instead, we bounced between sub-standard rentals. It’s something that has fueled me my whole life and why, to this day, one of my proudest accomplishments was buying my first house in San Diego in 1993. That milestone has become out of reach for far too many, especially for people of color and lower-income families. I was excited to celebrate two new housing projects last month that, once completed, will help to make housing more affordable and homeownership possible for more people in our region.

The Riverwalk Project broke ground on September 21, kick starting the transformation of the Riverwalk Golf Course in Mission Valley into a 200-acre neighborhood with 4,300 homes, a regional park with dedicated open space, retail and office space, and a new trolley stop. With a mix of homes for rent and sale, homes ranging from studios to three bedrooms, and 430 units dedicated to affordable housing, this is exactly the type of innovative project we need to move the needle on housing in San Diego.

That same day, the San Diego City-County Reinvestment Task Force and the San Diego Housing Commission also accepted a $7.5 million grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation to help 5,000 Black, Indigenous, and people of color buy homes in San Diego County by 2025. I have to give a special thank you to the Task Force, especially its co-chairs, San Diego City Councilmembers Monica Montgomery-Steppe and Joel Anderson, who worked hard to secure this sizable grant for our community.

There is still a great deal we need to do to make housing more accessible in San Diego and across California, and these projects are a great example of what that progress can look like.


Tierra Times Publishes Final Issue


September marked the end of an era, as the Tierra Times published its final issue. Editor and co-publisher Deanna Spehn has been reporting on Tierrasanta community events and issues since she moved to the area fifty years ago. Deanna began writing stories for the Tierrasanta Bulletin, and then she and three of her neighbors – Regina Olson, Norma McNerney, and Celeste Weinsheim – launched the Tierra Times in 1977. The free community newspaper was mailed to over 10,000 households each month.

Over the years, the Tierra Times brought attention to critical issues facing the community, including abandoned plans to build a federal prison near the neighborhood in the late 1970’s and the 1983 accidental detonation of an unexploded military ordnance that killed two 8-year-old boys.

For Deanna, the newspaper was a labor of love, taking dozens of hours of work each month, and turning into a family affair, as her husband, Richard, handled the photo editing.

Each month, the Tierra Times was created during evenings and weekends, because Deanna also works as my District Policy Director. Deanna has been on Team Toni since I served in the Assembly, and currently advises me on various issues including the environment, energy, transportation, and agriculture. She has a long record of advising policymakers, including my predecessor Senator Christine Kehoe, and various City of San Diego officials. In addition to running the Tierra Times, Deanna has served as President of the Tierrasanta Community Council and Planning Group.

Thank you, Deanna, for your incredible service to Tierrasanta! The Tierra Times will be missed by its loyal readers.


Get Ready, Get Set, Vote!


Election Day (Nov. 8) is right around the corner, which means it’s time to make sure your voter registration is up-to-date. You can register to vote until Oct. 24, but there’s no need to wait—you can register online anytime, including right now.

County election officials will be sending out vote-by-mail ballots to all registered voters by Oct. 10, which can be returned anytime by Nov. 8. When you vote by mail, remember to seal the envelope, and sign and date it before mailing or turning it in at a ballot drop location.

You can check the status of your ballot at and even sign up to receive text or email updates. In-person voting will also be available in San Diego County from Oct. 29 – Nov. 8 at 8pm. You can find your polling location here.

Whichever way you choose to vote, just make sure to do it by Nov. 8. Voting is a critical way you can make your voice heard!



You May Be Eligible for Student Debt Relief


This summer, the Biden Administration announced a Student Debt Relief Plan that pauses all federal loan payments through the end of the year. The plan provides up to $20,000 in debt relief to Federal Pell Grant recipients and up to $10,000 in debt relief to non-Pell Grant recipients. Borrowers are eligible for this debt relief if their 2021 or 2020 income was below $125,000 for individual tax filers or married but filing separately, or $250,000 for married tax filers filing jointly. Please be aware that you do have to apply for the relief. An online application will be available this month at You have until Dec. 31, 2023 to submit your application.


Around the District




It was a pleasure to take part in the groundbreaking of UC San Diego’s Pepper Canyon West Living & Learning Neighborhood. California provided $100 million in grant funding for this housing project, which will lower the cost of on-campus housing for 1,100 students and support their academic pursuits.



    The new Academic Center & Cinematic Arts Library in Chula Vista, which was made possible by a partnership between the City of Chula Vista, San Diego State University, and Southwestern College, will deliver higher education opportunities to the South Bay as well as the City’s first new library since 1995. I eagerly wait its grand opening!



      AIDS Walk & Run San Diego is an incredible annual event put on by the San Diego LGBT Community Center to renew our commitment to stopping the transmission of HIV while supporting those living with the disease, and pay tribute to loved ones we have lost to AIDS. Every year I say a little prayer for my cousin Johnny and my brother-in-law Tommy, both of whom died too young from AIDS.



        I am honored the California Disability Services Association chose me for their 2022 Legislative Leadership Award! Here, Team Toni member Jason accepts on my behalf. Thank you!



        Team Toni had a great time attending the Naval Base San Diego’s Centennial Celebration, which also honored the Navy’s incredible partnership with Barrio Logan, National City, and our entire region.  


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