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Public Policy Newsletter Article

San Diego County’s Department of Environmental Health Considers Reorganization

  • 2020-12-03T16:00:00.000+0000
  • Author: Melanie Cohn

San Diego County’s Department of Environmental Health is considering department changes that will include removing the REHS certification for the department head. As trends move toward department leadership taking more of a political, strategic role, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Sarah Aghassi, who oversees Environment and Land Use, is proposing changes that will establish a Director of Environmental Health and Quality not required to have his/her REHS certification. A division director overseeing health officer programs will continue to be required to have the REHS per state law.

Biocom staff and members met with Sarah and other county staff in November to discuss the proposed changes, with some members expressing the position that a department head should have a robust scientific background. Biocom staff attended the San Diego County Board of Supervisors meeting on November 18th and requested a delay for the department changes until our members were able to weigh in.

As a result of these meetings, county staff offered to consider our input related to professional certifications that would be required of the new Director of Environmental Health and Quality. We are collecting input from members and plan to provide language to the county that would reflect a scientific background for the department head that isn’t so restrictive as to require REHS certification. We appreciate county staff working with us on these changes, and our ongoing partnership between regulators and industry.