2020-21 Awards

National Association of Counties (NACo)

The County of San Diego was honored with 51 Achievement Awards from the National Association of Counties (NACo), which highlights innovative county government programs. 

Among the winning programs were those related to the County’s COVID-19 response:

  • The COVID-19 Early Alert System quickly identifies settings where there may be asymptomatic persons who are still capable of transmitting the virus. The program is sampling classroom surfaces and wastewater at 10 local schools and two child care centers.
  • Whole Genome Sequencing supports national disease surveillance efforts. In collaboration with laboratories, hospitals and research groups, the sequencing tracked COVID-19’s spread from Europe via New York into the county and compared and contrasted the spread of different strains within California.
  • The Safe Reopening Compliance Team responded to COVID-19-related complaints of possible violations of state and local health orders to ensure businesses safely operated to protect public health. The team helped businesses navigate health orders to come into compliance, and when necessary, took escalated enforcement actions.
  • The Digital Library Project expanded after library branches closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The San Diego County Library now ranks second in e-book circulation in California, and 12th in the world, among libraries that are using the industry-leading e-book vendor, OverDrive.
  • Parks and Recreation launched a Virtual Recreation Center with virtual hikes and tours, video tutorials, printable coloring sheets and activity books, scavenger hunts, invitations to ranger-led education sessions and more.
  • The COVID-19 Property Tax Penalty Cancellation program canceled penalties and interest on unpaid taxes for residential or small business properties if they could demonstrate economic hardship due to the pandemic.
  • The Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk opened a Marriage Hut at the Waterfront Park to issue marriage licenses and conduct outdoor weddings.  

Other NACo Awards Included:

  • Roaming Outpatient Access Mobile health clinics provide behavioral health services to Native American communities in rural regions.
  • The Central and South Region Homeless Service program delivers streamlined services to those who are at risk of or experiencing homelessness. The program works with community partners, various cities, law enforcement, community and faith-based organizations, and nonprofits to provide access to public assistance programs, case management, housing navigation and links to community services.
  • The Emergency Access Program provides vulnerable residents with a free residential KnoxBox to provide backup emergency access for a locked front door. The indestructible lock boxes store a spare house key. The program is available to those age 62 or older, disabled or who need help with a major life activity.
  • The CHOICE Program serves youth who are on probation and need additional services to reduce violations, strengthen family relationships and increase resiliency. Services include home visits, school visits, mentoring, recreational activities, educational support and life skills development.
  • The Light Pollution Ordinance allowed specific communities to qualify as International Dark Sky Communities. New lighting standards decreased light pollution by regulating light shielding, light levels, light color and sign illumination.
  • The County and five nonprofit groups who own the land at Camp Lockett worked with the community to develop the Camp Lockett Master Plan. Camp Lockett was an Army Cavalry base and comprises about 400 acres of land. Zoning changes will now permit civic, cultural, visitor and community-oriented uses.  

Other Awards

  • The Department of Child Support Services was awarded the Western Interstate Child Support Engagement Council’s “Making a Difference” award.
  • The San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office is one of eight California counties accredited by the National Association of Medical Examiners, which sets national standards in forensic medicine. It is one of three accredited in California by the American College of Graduate Medical Education to educate future forensic pathologists.
  • The Center for Digital Government recognized the County in Third Place for the Overall County Government Experience Award. The awards recognize the achievements and best practices of states, cities and counties that are radically improving the experience of government and how citizen services are delivered.