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August 29, 2018

A Note from Toni

Senator Brown Signing SB 2
Governor Brown signs SB 2 and other housing bills

September 29, 2017, was a momentous day for me professionally and personally – it was the day Governor Jerry Brown signed my bill, Senate Bill 2, the Building Homes and Jobs Act, creating a permanent, reliable source of funding for affordable housing. With the help of countless others, I had worked on that policy priority for seven years, and we finally got it across the finish line. It was exciting and extremely gratifying.

September 29, 2017, was a momentous day for me professionally and personally – it was the day Governor Jerry Brown signed my bill, Senate Bill 2, the Building Homes and Jobs Act, creating a permanent, reliable source of funding for affordable housing. With the help of countless others, I had worked on that policy priority for seven years, and we finally got it across the finish line. It was exciting and extremely gratifying.

I couldn’t wait for the revenue from SB 2 to begin flowing to local communities across the state to reduce homelessness and provide housing opportunities for struggling individuals and families.

But I knew that it takes time for a new law to result in real dollars. I knew that it would take time for the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) to create the rules and procedures governing how the funding would be allocated to local communities to make sure that it is well-spent.

I am pleased to announce that HCD has notified local governments that the first round of funding from SB 2 is now available. It’s important to note that this is just the beginning.  Half of the revenue from SB 2 during the first year goes directly to programs aimed at reducing homelessness – this first round of funding comes from that stream.

San Diego will receive more than $2.5 million from this first round to help alleviate homelessness.

Also on the way is $32.9 million from the Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP), which was created as part of this year’s state budget. The city of San Diego will get $14.1 million, while the San Diego Regional Task Force on the Homeless will get $18.8 million to disperse to programs across the county.

The state will send out a notification of HEAP funding availability on September 5. The money may be used for homelessness prevention, criminal-justice diversion for homeless individuals with mental-health needs, emergency aid, homeless outreach, housing navigation services, rental assistance and landlord incentives to increase housing opportunities available to formerly homeless individuals.

In all, the state is allocating roughly $1.2 billion in 2018 to address the state’s homelessness and housing-affordability crisis – including $500 million for HEAP, an estimated $250 million from SB 2 and $455 million from the state’s Cap and Trade program to fund affordable housing located near public transit.

These resources will help fund real programs and real affordable housing developments at the local level and have real, positive impacts in the lives of our neighbors who are struggling with unstable housing or no housing at all. No one should have to live in shelters, or along our rivers, or on our streets. Everyone deserves a place to live, regardless of their income and regardless of barriers such as mental illness or substance abuse.

Not only will this new state funding directly help individuals and families – it will also have significant economic, environmental and public-health benefits.

Housing and homelessness have been my top priorities since I began serving on the San Diego City Council 18 years ago. These challenges are not new. I am proud to be in a position to continue working toward solutions as the leader of the state Senate. This year’s focus on funding is a big step, but there is a lot of work ahead, and my colleagues and I will continue to pursue an end to the crisis.


An Update on my Legislation

Senator Atkins speaking regarding SB 1005

In 2017, the first year of the current two-year session, Governor Jerry Brown signed all 12 of my bills that were sent to him by the Legislature. This year, as I was beginning my tenure as Senate Leader, I carried six bills through the legislative process. Below is a rundown of those bills. With the exception of SB 945, which was enacted into law through the budget process, each has passed both houses of the Legislature and is on its way to the Governor for his signature.

SB 945: In 2016, Governor Brown signed my bill AB 1795, providing uninsured and underinsured Californians with expanded access to treatment for breast cancer and cervical cancer. SB 945 builds on AB 1795 by removing arbitrary time limits for care. Currently, the state Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Program stops providing medical care for breast cancer after 18 months and cervical cancer after 24 months, regardless of medical need. SB 945 removes those limits and requires continuation of treatment as long as necessary. Funding for the expansion of cancer treatment resulting from the removal of these barriers was included in the new state budget that took effect on July 1, making it unnecessary for SB 945 to move forward.

SB 970: Hotels and motels are ground zero for human traffickers, which means they’re hiding their criminal activities in plain sight. SB 970 will require all hotels and motels in California to provide training for their employees on how to spot the signs of human trafficking and report those signs to law enforcement. I am grateful for the support of the California Hotel and Lodging Association on this legislation.

SB 1005: Sometimes, survivors of domestic abuse who must flee their home to get away from their abuser can’t afford the extra rent or deposit required to move their dog or cat into a new apartment. SB 1005 makes explicitly clear that survivors of violent crimes, such as domestic violence, may use state-provided victim-relocation funds to which they are already entitled to pay for expenses related to housing an animal companion.

SB 1086: Thanks to AB 1035, which passed in 2014, if a public-safety officer dies from a job-related illness more than 240 weeks after being diagnosed, his or her family can still qualify for state-provided survivor death benefits. The bill stretched that statute of limitations to 420 weeks. However, AB 1035 is scheduled to sunset in 2019. My bill, SB 1086, removes the sunset and makes the 420-week limit permanent. This legislation provides needed support to families of police officers and firefighters.

SB 1125: Currently, if a patient receives treatment through Medi-Cal at a community health center from both a medical provider and a mental-health specialist on the same day, the state will reimburse the center for only one visit. A patient must seek mental-health treatment on a subsequent day in order for that treatment to be reimbursed as a second visit. This is neither logical nor good health-care policy. SB 1125 allows health centers to bill Medi-Cal for both visits, even if they occur on the same day. This change will ensure that more people get the mental-health services they need.

SB 1367: This bill follows up on two of my previous bills – AB 392, which made the San Diego River Conservancy permanent, and SB 214, which strengthened the conservancy’s capacity to protect and enhance the San Diego River watershed. SB 1367 gives the San Diego River Conservancy the ability to help protect and enhance other nearby rivers – the Otay, Sweetwater, and Tijuana rivers – and their watersheds by helping identify and pursue funding sources, developing strategic plans, and working with local nonprofits and government agencies.


Support Continuing for Survivors of Human Trafficking

Fighting human trafficking and assisting trafficking survivors in their recovery is major priority for me, and that’s why I’m pleased that in the final days of this year’s legislative session, the Senate and the Assembly passed legislation that appropriates $10 million to provide services for survivors of human trafficking.

Human trafficking remains an extremely serious problem in San Diego and all of California, and survivors of this heinous crime need specialized assistance as they recover from their trauma. This budget funding will allow organizations and advocates dedicated to providing care to victims to continue their heroic work.

From 2014 to 2017, the state appropriated $25 million for the Human Trafficking Victim Assistance Fund. These resources were distributed, through a competitive grant process administered by the California Office of Emergency Services, to qualified nonprofit organizations throughout the state that provide services to survivors of human trafficking. Twenty-one organizations across California have received funding through this process.

This year’s funding will augment the Human Trafficking Victim Assistance Fund and allow these organizations to continue to offer specialized services such as case management, counseling, legal assistance, social services, shelter and housing assistance.

One organization that has received grant funding in the past is North County Lifeline, which provides services to youth and adult survivors of human trafficking throughout San Diego County. The funding enabled North County Lifeline to better collaborate with other local service agencies to ensure that all areas of the region are covered. It also helped the organization increase capacity for receiving and responding to hotline calls and participating in first response to engage survivors with services.

Human trafficking has been a major focus of the state Legislature during the past few years, and I am proud to be part of the effort. Last year, I authored, and Governor Jerry Brown signed, Senate Bill 230, which makes it easier for prosecutors to convict traffickers. This year, I authored Senate Bill 970, which requires hotels and motels to train employees how to spot the signs of human trafficking and report them to the authorities.


Saturday Hours at the Clairemont DMV

DMV Hours

Good news! Starting September 8, the Clairemont field office of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will be open on Saturdays. Hours will be from 8 to 5 p.m., and all services will be provided except for behind-the-wheel exams.

I strongly recommend that you make an appointment before visiting any DMV field office. And before making an appointment, please visit to ensure that you’re aware of the DMV’s online services – many tasks can be completed online, such as a vehicle registration renewal or an address change.

Also, the REAL ID, which will be required to board an airplane if you don’t have a passport, doesn’t take effect until October 2020, so there’s no need to rush to get one. If your next license renewal is scheduled before October 2020, please wait until then. If not, it’s recommended that you allow the initial rush for the REAL ID to die down before applying – any time in 2019 would be fine.

If you have any concerns about service at your DMV field office, please contact my district office at 619-645-3133.



Farmers Markets are Everywhere!

Farmers Markets

San Diego County is home to more small farms than any other county in the United States – so it’s no surprise that there are 20 certified farmers’ markets in just the 39th Senate District alone!

Shopping at farmers’ markets is a great way to support local business, enjoy some fresh air – and fresh produce! – and engage with your community. Below is a current list of nearby certified farmers’ markets.
View the online market schedule

Allied Gardens Sunday Certified Farmers’ Market
5170 Greenbrier Ave., San Diego
Sundays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Coronado Certified Farmers’ Market
1201 First St., Coronado
Tuesdays, 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Del Mar Certified Farmers’ Market
225 Ninth St., Del Mar
Saturdays, 1 to 4 p.m.

Grantville Certified Farmers’ Market
4647 Zion Ave., San Diego
Wednesdays, noon to 4 p.m.

Hillcrest Certified Farmers’ Market
3690 Normal St., San Diego
Sundays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

La Jolla Certified Farmers’ Market
7300 Girard Ave., La Jolla
Sundays, 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Linda Vista Certified Farmers’ Market
6931 Linda Vista Road, San Diego
March-August: Thursdays, 3 to 7 p.m.
September-February: Thursdays, 2 to 6 p.m.

Little Italy Mercato Certified Farmers’ Market
501 W. Date St., San Diego
Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Little Italy Wednesday Certified Farmers’ Market
501 West Date St., San Diego
Wednesdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Mira Mesa Certified Farmers’ Market
10510 Reagan Road, San Diego
February-October: Tuesdays, 2:30 to 7 p.m.
November-December, 2:30 to 6 p.m.

North Park Thursday Certified Farmers’ Market
2900 North Park Way, San Diego
Thursdays, 3 to 7:30 p.m.

Ocean Beach Certified Farmers’ Market
4900 Newport Ave. San Diego
October-March: Wednesdays, 4 to 7 p.m.
April-September: Wednesdays, 4 to 8 p.m.

Pacific Beach Certified Farmers’ Market
4150 Mission Blvd., San Diego
Saturdays, 8 a.m. to noon

Pacific Beach Tuesday Certified Farmers’ Market
4500 Bayard St., San Diego
September-May: Tuesdays, 2 to 7 p.m.
June-August: Tuesdays, 2 to 7:30 p.m.

People’s Produce Night Certified Farmers’ Market
1655 Euclid Ave., San Diego
Wednesdays, 5 to 8 p.m.

Rancho Bernardo Certified Farmers’ Market
13330 Paseo Del Verano Norte, San Diego
Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Rancho Bernardo Thursday Certified Farmers' Market
16535 Via Esprillo, San Diego
Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Rancho Penasquitos YMCA Certified Farmers’ Market
9400 Fairgrove Lane, San Diego
Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Solana Beach Certified Farmers’ Market
444 S. Cedros Ave., Solana Beach
Sundays, noon to 4 p.m.

UCSD Certified Farmers’ Market
9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla
September to June: Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


My Staff at Your Service

My district staff is always available to help constituents navigate a complex web of state agencies.

Recently, a constituent contacted my office about the licensing for his business. His license had been updated at the federal level, and that information was sent to the state. However, the California Bureau of Real Estate (BRE) was slow in updating his license at the state level, preventing him from conducting business. My staff contacted the BRE on his behalf, and a representative there was able to confirm that his license endorsement had been processed. The BRE contacted the constituent immediately with the update, allowing him to continue serving his clients.

If you’re having trouble working out an issue with any state agency, please call my office at 619-645-3133, and my staff will do everything in their power to help.

My District Staff
Pamela Ison: District Director
Deanna Spehn: Policy Director
Jason Weisz: Senior Field Representative
Toni Duran: Field Representative
Chevelle Tate: Field Representative
Ryan Trabuco: Field Representative
Tylisa Suseberry: Executive Assistant / Scheduler
David Rolland: Director of Media and Editorial

Where to Find Me Online
Twitter: @SenToniAtkins


My district office is located at 1350 Front St., Room 4061, San Diego, CA 92101.

Around the District

Diamond Street Festival
Great to stop by the 4th annual Diamond Street Festival in our wonderful southeastern San Diego community!


Scott and Ellen
Hanging out with my friends Scott and Ellen, celebrating Human Rights Campaign San Diego. OK, OK – one of us is a cardboard cutout.


Senator Atkins and Chief David Nisleit
It was wonderful to catch up with a familiar face, San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit, and talk public safety.


San Diego Housing Federation
I jumped at the chance to talk housing policy with the San Diego Housing Federation. Great discussion on a critical topic.


LGBT Center
I always love supporting our LGBT Center and the many wonderful programs and services they provide to the community. Thank you, Pam Morgan and Joyce Rowland!


Senator Atkins and Assemblymember Shirley Weber
Always happy to support Assemblymember Shirley Weber and help distribute free backpacks to local students at her annual Health Fair and Back to School Kickoff!