SANDAG hits a red light
Last updated 9/8/2022 at 11:19am
Supervisor Jim Desmond
In December 2021, SANDAG passed a $162.5 billion regional transportation plan, the most expensive transportation plan ever in San Diego County. To pay for the plan, SANDAG proposes three sales tax increases, conversion of regular freeway lanes to toll lanes and, most controversial of all, a charge for every mile driven within San Diego County. They are calling this mileage tax a “Road Usage Charge.”
After public outcry and bi-partisan opposition, the SANDAG Board passed the $165 billion plan with the road usage charge in place. The SANDAG Board then immediately directed staff to find alternatives to the road use charge and return within six months with options. In July of this year, SANDAG staff stated they needed more time (until Spring 2023) to further study alternatives to the road user charge.
All California regional transportation plans must be approved by the California Air Resources Board. The current SANDAG plan, with the road usage charge included, is currently being evaluated by CARB. On July 11, a letter was sent to CARB alerting them to the lack of transparency from SANDAG, who submitted the plan to CARB without removing the road usage charge, that the plan is still a work in progress, and that alternatives were being considered.
Last week, CARB responded stating they were “disappointed” to learn that the SANDAG Board of Directors voted to direct staff to update the plan to exclude the road usage charge and urged SANDAG staff to leave it in the adopted plan. They questioned SANDAG’s approach and stated that there are “significant concerns” that the plan they are evaluating is not the plan SANDAG intends to implement.
SANDAG stalls once again. The Board of Directors urged for removal of the per-mile tax, yet the entire $162.5 billion plan relies on the ability to charge people for every mile they drive, demonstrating how completely out of touch SANDAG is to the challenges and needs of San Diegans.
Charging San Diegans for every mile they drive is not acceptable. It's time for all SANDAG to come back to reality, collaborate and reach for a balanced plan for all San Diegans!