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Protesters take on gas tax increase at Temecula Duck Pond


Last updated 11/13/2017 at Noon

Nam-Yong Horn rallies for support against a recent 12 cents per gallon California gas tax at the corner of Rancho California and Ynez roads in Temecula, Nov. 4. Shane Gibson photos

The Temecula Duck Pond became the backdrop for a protest against a 12 cent per gallon increase to a gasoline excise tax, Saturday, Nov. 4.

A handful of protesters showed up waving signs with phrases such as “#GasTaxtrophe” and were met with the occasional honking of a horn from a passing vehicle.

Protester Rick Reiss of Temecula said Saturday’s event was about spreading a message that the tax and similar taxes were unneeded and unwanted.

“The government just keeps taking and taking and taking,” he said. “And there seems to be no accountability, especially from the government we have up in Sacramento. They just seem to be very imperious and arrogant in the way that they tax and spend.”

Reiss said he believes the increase in gas prices is likely to particularly impact Temecula, as the area is considered a “commuter town.”

“A lot of people commute to jobs to San Diego, Orange County, LA,” he said. “This hurts people in the pocket.”

Nam-Yong Horn, a longtime Republican activist, was among the protesters Saturday. She said she believed the tax would end up hurting people in difficult financial straits.

“I think most people are struggling,” Horn said. “You’ve got to have two, three jobs to feed your kid or have a place to live and all that. In my opinion, raising (the) gas tax is not the way to go.”

Bob Kowell of Murrieta said he anticipates an increase not just at the pump, but also in grocery and retails stores. Kowell said his wife had noticed an increase in the price of items during a recent shopping trip.

“Everything goes up when you raise a tax, especially a gas tax,” he said.

Senate Bill 1 was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, April 28. It increases the gasoline excise tax by 12 cents a gallon for gasoline and 20 cents a gallon for diesel. It increases the sales tax on diesel to 5.75 percent and raises vehicle registration fees by anywhere from $25 to $175, depending on the value of a vehicle.

Money garnered from the tax is intended to repair roads, highways, bridges and improve public transportation, Brown said.

Area Republicans have railed against the tax increase on social media.

“This complete disregard for Californians’ budgets by the Sacramento Democrats is astonishing,” Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, said in a Facebook post. “Time to repeal this gas tax and start prioritizing Californians’ hard earned tax dollars!”

The official Facebook page for the Riverside County Republican Party encouraged opponents of the tax increase to join in an anti-tax demonstration on Main Street in Corona. It also talked of a future petition to try to get the increase repealed.

Notably absent from the Temecula Duck Pond protest were counter protesters in favor of the gas tax increase.

Recent partisan protests at that location, especially during President Donald Trump’s run for office, have typically attracted opposing groups. But it was just anti-tax increase conservatives who stood at the corner of Ynez and Rancho California roads.

Howard Noland, age 20 in this photo, served as a Navy hospital corpsman.

Reiss said the atmosphere was relatively peaceful, too. Nearly everyone who drove by and honked their horn did so in a show of support. No one shouted or made gestures.

Reiss said he hopes that means people on both sides see the tax increase the same way.

“Maybe it’s something everyone can agree upon, and we can all work together on this issue,” he said.

City News Service contributed to this article.


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