Local News

 

San Diego County Backs Drone Testing

San Diego County Backs Drone Testing

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The San Diego County Board of Supervisors today threw  its unanimous support behind a proposal submitted to the Federal Aviation  Administration to test unmanned aerial systems and vehicles in Southern  California.

Several agencies, including the San Diego Military Advisory Council and  the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, proposed a testing  area stretching from Bridgeport to the U.S.-Mexico border, from the state line  to 100 miles west into the ocean. It would exclude Los Angeles.

The majority of testing would be over unpopulated areas, and would not  impact local airports, according to Supervisor Ron Roberts.

The testing site would become one of six in the nation, with a decision  anticipated in December.

Supervisor Dianne Jacobs said it would be a significant accomplishment  for the region to be selected.

'`I'm impressed with the fact that this will bolster our economy,  (result in) much-needed jobs and create additional economic activity -- and  also put us on the front lines of these unmanned drones' development,'' Jacob  said.

Roberts said companies developing the aircraft and systems, like  Northrop Grumman and General Atomics, are already operating in San Diego  County, and fostering growth is necessary to retain benefits and jobs. He cited  a study showing that in 2011, the industry accounted for 7,100 jobs and $1.2  billion in economic activity locally.

``As the world moves forward with UAV technology, I have no doubt that  we will experience valuable benefits to public safety and emergency services,''  Roberts said.

He said that not receiving the test site designation would entice  industry businesses to leave the county, taking their jobs and economic  benefits with them.

County staff was directed draw up a letter of support to be sent to an  FAA official and to monitor the operations in the county for a year and report  back.  

In other developments at this morning's meeting, the board approved a  request from the county's Health and Human Services Agency to up its staff  level by 351 employees to help handle an increased workload related to the  Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act commonly known as Obamacare.

County officials estimated that 220,000 residents will be eligible for  health benefits exchange insurance, another 111,000 will be eligible for Medi- Cal coverage under expanded enrollment standards, and about 200,000 residents  are eligible for Medi-Cal but are not enrolled.

The HHSA will begin accepting applications for health benefits exchange  insurance and Medi-Cal starting Oct. 1. Staffers will be tasked with  determining eligibility, handling referrals and conducting case management.

The staffing increase was unanimously approved without comment.

 

More Articles