Ray Pearson — 15 years ago, in 2004, voters in San Diego approved a half-cent sales tax to pay for highway improvements for the next 40 years. SANDAG is now proposing to redirect that money to pay for rail and mass transit projects.
SANDAG believes that the move is necessary in order to meet the climate action goals for cities and the county. According to SANDAG’s director, more mass transit is the best solution for reducing greenhouse gases and carbon emissions.
The director himself calls it a “bold” new vision. The problem, however, is that he wants the SANDAG board to simply divert the half-cent sales tax funds intended for highways and maintenance to mass transit and rail projects.
Is this not an outright rejection of the people’s will, or as County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar puts it, a straight up “bait and switch?”
I believe voter intention must be preserved, not just in principle but also because our highways are badly in need of maintenance, widening, and improved transitions. My opponent wants to see SANDAG pursue its mass transit dream, but that to me is unrealistic.
Mass transit in San Diego County, except for a certain few people, continues to fall out of favor with commuters because it takes too long to get anywhere, and because timing and flexibility is everything.
More importantly, the whole project as envisioned by SANDAG is already suffering from goal displacement – the swapping of a real objective with one that is unrelated. Mass transit’s main objective is to move people from one place to another, but the main objective now is to reduce greenhouse gases and meet climate action plans.
The people’s will must stand.