This Friday, December 10, the SANDAG (San Diego Association of Governments) will be voting on the most expensive transportation project ever. More expensive than the international space station, SANDAG’s regional transportation plan is estimated to cost (in today’s dollars) $160 billion. Almost the entirety of the plan will focus on public transportation in the downtown-region of San Diego, meaning once again North County will be shut out.
In 2004, San Diego’s Association of Governments (SANDAG) came to elected officials and the voters of San Diego promising much-needed road and highway improvements. A proposed half-cent sales tax would generate $14 billion dollars, and would relieve traffic congestion, improve safety, and match state/federal funds to improve the following freeways: I-5, I-8, I-15, SR 52, SR 54, SR 56, SR 67, SR 76, SR 78, SR 94, SR 125, I-805. Sure, San Diegans would be paying the tax until 2048, but they would be getting the free improvements that were needed.
Eighteen years later, 14 of the 15 freeway projects that were promised, haven’t been fulfilled, yet San Diegans will be paying that tax until 2048. Now SANDAG is back, with their hand out, making the same old promises.
SANDAG has already spent a majority of the dollars from the 2004 sales tax and now is in need of more money to fund this ambitious plan. The following are proposed taxes coming to San Diegans:
• ½ cent sales tax – 2022 ballot, no expiration
• An MTS ½ cent sales tax (70% of the County)
• Fee per mile driven 4.3 cents –
o 2 cents regional
o 2.3 cents State
• Creating a new fee for ridehailing (UBER or LYFT) $1.25 solo ride; $.65 carpool
• 819 miles of new managed lanes (toll lanes)
North County residents will feel the effects of these taxes, directly in their wallet, yet will continue to sit in traffic. I urge you to contact your local SANDAG official ahead of this vote and let them know this plan does not suit North County!
Jim Desmond is a member of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. He represents the 5th District, which includes Valley Center, Pauma Valley, Palomar Mountain and much of the Backcountry.