For the past 20 years, I have had the privilege of serving my local community as a small business owner, through the parent-teacher association, city council, school board and as a as Costa Mesa’s first directly elected mayor. In March 2021, voters in my hometown and across Orange County elected me to the Board of Supervisors to complete the remaining two years of Congresswoman Steel’s term.
For too long, politicians have paid lip service to the issues facing our communities without actually taking the hard steps needed to address these issues. My decades of public service have consistently focused on promoting political solutions that improve our quality of life. My first year on the Supervisory Board was no different. I have worked with a laser focus – standing up to Sacramento, taking action to address the homelessness crisis, while continuing to support and improve public safety for all who call Orange County home.
Sacramento continues to fail Orange County, especially when it comes to the proliferation of illegal sober living homes in our quiet residential neighborhoods. For years, unscrupulous group home operators profited while patients suffered, exacerbated the addiction crisis and defrauded insurance companies. Despite countless security breaches that drain public safety resources, operators retain their state licenses. But instead of just blaming Sacramento, we solved the problem locally. As mayor, I helped craft the first legal strategy to defend reasonable regulations and prosecute those bad actors who refuse to comply. Courts continue to rule in favor of city bylaws and the legal ordinance has proven to protect our neighborhoods from over-concentration. While on the board, I brought our groundbreaking ordinances throughout the county, and Newport Beach is set to implement a similar ordinance soon.
I have long believed that the county’s failure to take responsibility for the regional homelessness problem has exacerbated the problem. Former county leaders left individual cities to figure out how to fund shelters and services with their meager general funds, instead of the county using the funding it receives each year for homelessness solutions.
The county continues to struggle to assign regular patrols and clear encampments in its flood canals and parks, forcing cities to tackle the issue. Immediately after joining the board, I launched a first-of-its-kind audit of all county dollars spent on homelessness to assess what works, cut wasteful spending, and find solutions. for our entire region. I will continue to build on my previous success in reducing homelessness by converting dilapidated and unsafe motels into permanent supportive housing, while continuing to fund the cleanup of encampments in parks and flood canals. A regionally collaborative approach requires public safety, mental health social workers, public health, our faith community, and a true city-county partnership.
Throughout my years of service, I have supported public safety with a 100% voting record. Even in the toughest economic times, I have argued against cuts to public safety. Last year, as your county overseer, I protected our neighborhoods by fully funding Orange County law enforcement agencies, including funding staff augmentation, body cameras , to clear the backlog of rape kits, address the alarming rise in hate crimes, and prevent cuts and snags in our communities.
When we address public safety, we cannot ignore the existential risk that coastal erosion and wildfires pose to our homes and our economy. On the board, I championed our coastal communities by reducing pollution from John Wayne Airport, led the emergency response to the Orange County oil spill, successfully advocated for funding sand replenishment and began creating the first climate action plan in county history – an approach that will ensure future generations enjoy our Orange County paradise.
After the redistricting, I am seeking re-election as your county supervisor in the fabulous Fifth District. If you have any questions for me or ideas for our communities, please email me at [email protected]
Katrina Foley is a member of the Orange County Board of Supervisors. She is seeking re-election in the county’s fifth supervisory district.