New La Jolla resident State Sen. Marty Block – whose district covers La Jolla, downtown San Diego, Point Loma, Coronado, Del Mar and Solana Beach – spoke at La Jolla’s Community Planning Association meeting Oct. 1 to offer insight on his background, his role in the Senate and address a hot-button issue.
Block said he spent more than 20 years in the education field leading up to his political career – teaching at and serving as dean of the College of Education at San Diego State University. Before moving over to the Senate, he was elected to the California State Assembly in 2008, where he was appointed chair of the Higher Education Committee. In 2012, he was elected to the Senate for his first term (Block is up for re-election next year).
“My senator job, on the whole, is like a four-legged stool,” Block said to the group. “We do constituent services for individuals, constituent events, budgets and legislation.”
Constituent services, he explained, means navigating state resources. “If you’re trying to get through a situation with a state agency and you can’t get through and you're knocking your head against the wall, call my office. We have shortcuts we can share with you.” He cited the website — martyblock.com — as the source for information.
Constituent events, he said, include regular Senior Scam Stoppers lectures and town hall-style workshops on legislation, where citizens can come forward with ideas for new laws.
In January, Block was appointed chair of Education Budget Subcommittee. “The federal government and state government have very different issues they deal with, and some overlap … but K-12 education and higher education is 95-percent a state issue,” he said. “So that budget is what I oversee.”
Block said he also drafts bills that become law. Some of his more recent bills increase punishments for criminals who target senior citizens and assist with human trafficking. But the “most important bill of my tenure,” he said, “passed two years ago, and allows for certain community colleges to offer a limited number of four-year degrees.
“I have a bill this year, SB 758, to allow UCSD and Scripps right here in La Jolla, to fund more research into atmospheric rivers,” Block said. “There are these ‘rivers’ over us from time to time that carry more moisture than the Mississippi River. We’re just not able to tap them or know when they’re coming. But scientists at Scripps think there’s a way that, if we know the rivers are coming, to capture more of the water when the rivers release it.”
Touching on the hotly contested issue that is Assembly Bill 57 – which gives wireless communications companies the authority to install new cell phone antennas and related equipment – Block explained the bill “unfortunately” takes some of the power away from local governing organizations.
“It says if local government doesn’t review and approve or deny a tower in a certain amount of time, it’s automatically approved,” Block said. “I’m not radical on this, we all carry cell phones and want the best signal we can get, and there are places in La Jolla where you don’t get a very good signal, so more cell towers can help there. But it’s just not right that the public doesn’t have input on where these towers go, and that’s what planning groups like this one, should have.”
• TO CONTACT MARTY BLOCK:
• La Jolla Community Planning Association meets 6 p.m. first Thursdays at the Rec Center, 615 Prospect St. Agendas at lajollacpa.org