SANDAG has failed both drivers and taxpayers – and now a complete overhaul is needed
Last updated 2/15/2023 at 6:42pm
San Diegans are being forced to drive on some of the worst roads in the nation – but we’ve been paying the highest gas and car taxes in the nation and have been paying an extra sales tax for road repairs for nearly 40 years. So where is all the money going?
Local politicians have repeatedly diverted our road repair funds from projects we were promised. For example, in 1987 and again in 2004, local politicians put the TransNet tax hike on the ballot to raise our local sales taxes and included language on the ballot promising the funds would be “earmarked” for specific projects.
The “promised” projects included widening Interstates 5, 8, 15 and 805 and Highways 52, 56, 67, and 78. The result? Only a partial expansion has been completed on I-15 with a completely inadequate expansion underway on I-5. In fact, 15 promised projects from TransNet remain unfinished.
In light of the projects not getting done, questions were raised as to whether this is a case of dishonesty or theft. The answer is “both.”
At the center of this scam is an agency called the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) – the supposed regional transportation authority for San Diego County. Not only has SANDAG not fixed our roads as promised, but it has found itself mired in controversies over the years for its policies and missteps.
When SANDAG sought to extend the TransNet Tax in 2004, they knowingly outright lied to voters on the ballot measure for their support. Independent investigations now show that the SANDAG Board knew the TransNet extension would not bring in the $14 billion in revenue needed for the projects they promised on the ballot.
In 2016, SANDAG tried to raise the sales tax yet again (voters wisely rejected it) while promising that the 2016 TransNet tax hike would collect $18 billion for new projects. Internal emails and documents have now come to public light that prove that SANDAG knew this was false.
SANDAG is also wasting taxpayer funds. Audits of the agency between 2017 and 2022 have found millions of dollars in inappropriate spending – lavish travel and dinners for staff, installation of unused bike lanes that cost $6-9 million per mile, and even $290 million in contracts awarded to agency vendors without proper justification.
Recently SANDAG politicians voted to double the overhead charges on projects to cover staff and bureaucracies – leaving less money for roads. They also have adopted a Regional Transportation Plan that virtually eliminates any additional interstate and highway projects. Instead they propose simply installing bike lanes, expanding bus routes, and building a massive $130 billion dollar “high-speed rail” network which will replace our freeways and highways.
That’s why SANDAG politicians that stole our road funds are now proposing a massive countywide sales tax hike in the 2024 election – and want to impose a crazy “Mileage Tax” on top of that.
The “Mileage Tax” alone would charge San Diegans up to 4-6 cents per mile that they drive – costing drivers an extra $600-900 per year. The politicians say the Mileage Tax will not only raise funds for transit projects, but will force drivers to stop using their cars in favor of buses and bikes.
SANDAG is completely out-of-touch with the needs of San Diego drivers.
The bottom line is SANDAG’s long track record of abandoned projects, deceit, and misuse of taxpayer funding has eroded their reputation with San Diegans – and the agency’s sales tax hikes and Mileage Tax proposals should be rejected by voters.
I urge you to join our fight to block these costly tax hikes and force much-needed reform at SANDAG to get our tax dollars back where they belong by visiting http://www.StopTheMileageTax.org.