After 20 years of accomplishments on county board, supervisor Pam Slater-Price ready to tackle new goals

By Joe Tash

At 11:59 a.m. on Jan. 7, the 20-year tenure of County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price will come to an end.

“And at 12 o’clock straight up, if anyone says help me with this, I’ll say go speak to Supervisor Dave Roberts,” said Slater-Price.

Even though she’ll no longer be on the board, Slater-Price, 68, said she plans to continue to be involved in a number of local issues, including the goings on at county government.

Her advice to her successor, Roberts, a former Solana Beach City Councilman whom she endorsed over rival Steve Danon, is to listen to his constituents.

“Listen to the people who put you in office,” she said. “If he starts going off the rails I’ll be down there at public comment to set him straight.”

Roberts will be the first new supervisor on the board in 18 years. He’ll also be the first Democrat to serve on the board since the mid-1990s, and the first openly gay member of the panel. In the future, the board will see more turnover due to term limits passed by county voters in 2010.

The five-member Board of Supervisors presides over an agency with a $4.8 billion annual budget and more than 15,000 employees. The county provides such services as law enforcement, health, parks and recreation, libraries and land use regulation in the county’s unincorporated areas.

Slater-Price, a former teacher, worked on the drive for cityhood for Encinitas, then served on the Encinitas City Council and as mayor before her successful run for county supervisor in 1992.

Among the actions she is most proud of during her tenure on the county board was adoption of the Multi-Species Conservation Plan, which is designed to preserve animal and plant species by setting aside areas to be preserved for natural habitat.

Another issue “near and dear to my heart,” said Slater-Price, was improving the county’s animal shelters, and reforming many of its animal-related policies.

“I thought the county shelter was terrible, it was a kill shelter, a concentration camp for animals,” she said.

Slater-Price and other officials worked to obtain funding for a new central animal shelter in San Diego, and major renovations to the county animal shelter in Carlsbad, as well as upgrades to its shelter in Bonita.

Policies were changed to encourage adoption of animals, which has led to a much lower percentage of animals being euthanized, she said. The county also ended its practice of selling animals for medical research.

“That’s kind of a mission accomplished,” she said.

Not everything turned out as she had hoped. In this category, Slater-Price included the update of the county’s general plan, a blueprint for future development of the county’s unincorporated areas. The supervisors approved the updated plan in 2011, 13 years after the project was initiated.

Slater-Price said she would have liked to see the plan remain more true to its original outline, rather than being changed to accommodate the concerns of individual land owners who didn’t like the way their property was designated. Many of those decisions came on 3-2 votes of the board, she said.

“I was sorry to see it carved away and changed,” she said.

Once she steps down from the board, she’ll have plenty to keep her busy.

Among them will be working with the San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority to ensure that the Del Mar Fairgrounds follows through with promises it made to settle an environmental lawsuit, and working on a volunteer board to raise money for renovations to the downtown San Diego Civic Theater.

Slater-Price, who lives in Del Mar with her husband, Hershell, also plans to keep fighting the proposed Gregory Canyon landfill in North County.

“I’ve been fighting that now for 20 years and I won’t give up until I know it’s definitely not going to be built,” she said.