The Board of Directors of SANDAG votes on December 10 on the regional transport plan –
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Several members of the San Diego Association of Governments board of directors said on Friday they would ask SANDAG staff to come up with alternatives to fund the county’s unsuccessful regional transportation plan on the billing of county residents for each kilometer driven.
The proposed four-cent-per-mile road-use tax – and two proposed half-a-cent regional sales taxes for 2022 and 2028 – was seen as a way to help fund the long-term regional plan. of SANDAG, an ambitious project worth 160 billion dollars over 30 years. proposal that could include toll-free transit and a 200-mile, $ 43 billion regional rail network.
Some of the more powerful members of the SANDAG board – which assesses the votes of a city’s population – said they were uncomfortable with the details of such a tax.
âAt present, the charge for using local roads as a replacement for the gasoline tax remains very speculative, with very little detail available on how it would work or be applied fairly,â said the mayor of Encinitas, Catherine Blakespear, president of the board of directors of SANDAG. administrators. “I am concerned that road user fees may overwhelm residents with large and unsustainable cost increases for their basic transportation needs before substantial transit improvements make public transit a viable choice for the community. most trips. “
The transport plan is submitted to council for final approval on Dec. 10, but the late split of some council leaders leaves no indication of how the regional transport agency will react. According to state law, the transportation plan must be adopted by the end of the year and must demonstrate plans to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
âI have long supported SANDAG’s regional transportation plan as it aligns with my vision to give San Diego residents more sustainable ways to get around our area,â said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria , vice-chairman of the board of directors and member with the most weight. weighted vote. âHowever, the inclusion of a road user charge is not necessary and we will ask SANDAG staff to find alternative sources of funding.
âAlthough I understand the principles behind a road user charge, our region has not done enough to expand access to public transport,â he said. âResidents need to have feasible and accessible transportation alternatives other than a car for road user charges to be effective. “
Carl DeMaio, San Diego city councilor turned conservative radio host, said Gloria and other Democratic-leaning board members were to blame.
âGloria can say he will remove the kilometer tax at a later date, but he has shown time and again that he is totally untrustworthy and dishonest when it comes to tax hikes,â said DeMaio, chairman of the Reform California political action group, which often focuses on issues important to the state’s conservative movement. “We have no doubt that he and his cronies will impose a kilometer tax after the November 2022 election.”
SANDAG received more than 1,500 comments on the draft Regional Plan 2021. Some were positive, but many criticized the tax increases proposed by the agency.
San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond said the proposal was to “force everyone into carts and buses” by getting people out of their cars.
National City Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis, SANDAG’s second vice-chairperson, said she was concerned about the impact of the proposed tax on fairness for working-class communities .
âIt is essential that we work to have a plan that takes into account all the financing options and is not a cause for concern,â she said. “We need to capitalize on the opportunity to leverage funding at the federal level, and ultimately we need to have tools in the toolkit that reinforce and implement our statement of fairness and the board’s core values. administration. “
California has tested a pricing of around 2 cents per mile in pilot programs, but has encountered several issues. The state has had difficulty with how to report usage per mile and whether miles should count outside of the state. It is not known how SANDAG would get around this problem, but the agency claims to want to wait until some transit projects are completed.
The proposed mileage tax is intended to complement and eventually replace gasoline taxes, which have fallen dramatically as gasoline consumption has increased and ownership of hybrid and electric cars has increased exponentially in these years. last years.
According to a 2020 report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy think tank, between 1993 and 2020, average energy efficiency improved by about 26%. This translates into drivers averaging an additional 75 miles per tank.
“These 75 extra miles of driving are causing wear and tear on the country’s roads, without requiring the payment of gasoline tax to cover the cost,” the report revealed.
SANDAG estimated the plan could raise more than $ 34 billion by 2050, but the agency’s chief economist Ray Major said final numbers would change once the scope was reduced to implementation of the proposal in 2030.
To learn more about SANDAG’s regional plan, visit sdforward.com.
On the day of Good Evening San Diego, KUSI’s Ginger Jeffries spoke with District 5 Supervisor Jim Desmond to discuss the plan and recent pressure from some local officials to adopt the plan “without” the tax. use of roads.
MORE ABOUT SANDAG’S PROPOSAL:
Strong opposition to the kilometer tax proposed by SANDAG forcing Democrats to withdraw support