San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action recently sent a letter to all 160-plus members of the San Diego County Democratic Party central committee to state our club’s case against the current SANDAG ballot proposal on the November ballot, and ask that the central committee take a NO position and vote against a county party endorsement of the measure.
August 17, 2016
Dear Central Committee Member,
As you’re aware, you’ll have an opportunity to vote on a county party endorsement of the SANDAG tax increase ballot measure at the upcoming San Diego Democratic County Central Committee meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 23.
At our July 13 meeting, San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action held a forum on the SANDAG tax increase ballot measure. Both sides of the measure were in attendance to present their case before club members and to take questions. Following a debate among club members, the club voted by a 2-1 margin to oppose the measure, and we have since joined with the San Diego Quality of Life Coalition in opposition to it.
The coalition includes Sierra Club San Diego, the San Diego Chapter of the League of Conservation Voters, the San Diego County Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, San Diego 350.org, Climate Action Campaign, IBEW Local 569, HVAC Local 230, National Nurses United, and a number of other area organizations.
Our members opted to oppose the measure for a variety of reasons, including:
- The majority of freeway expansions and extensions are planned south of I-8, in communities already beset by environmental justice issues. These communities suffer a disproportionate amount of air pollution due to their region’s freeway and industrial infrastructure, and have higher rates of asthma and respiratory disease than the rest of the county. Adding more cars to already crowded freeways and feeder streets will not improve these health conditions – nor address greenhouse gas emissions, which is a leading cause of climate change.
- The environmental impact report (EIR) for the Regional Transportation Plan indicates the average “vehicle delay” will remain largely unchanged, despite additional lanes added to I-5 south of I-8 and the freeway portion of State Route 94.
- As a number of municipalities around the county are crafting climate action plans following the lead of the city of San Diego, the SANDAG plan does not offer significant, meaningful options for walking, bicycling or transit along major corridors.
- The region is currently in about a one percent transit mode share. In the 40 years covered by the plan, SANDAG plan will only arrive at a 3.7 percent goal of transit mode share — a regrettably inadequate sum given the projected growth of the county and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — all after a $200 billion investment.
- The plan fails to provide minimum funding needed for conservation of the county’s remaining open space. Any walk, ride or drive through the Otay Lakes area of Chula Vista or along the 56 corridor from Black Mountain to the coast demonstrates the rate at which open space is rapidly succumbing to development, further isolating protected areas like the Otay Mountains or Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve as disconnected “islands of conservation.”
- The plan offers little to help the region reach its climate targets and protect the region’s quality of life, and the plan similarly does not put the region on a trajectory to reach state climate and greenhouse gas reduction targets.
In two years, communities will have the opportunity to “go back to the drawing board” with voters in much the same manner Governor Brown is planning to do so in order to codify the state’s climate-related executive orders. Cities in the county also have the option of utilizing a different approach than SANDAG — including using MTS, which covers more urban areas.
In a plan where there are no line-items, we as a club want to support the best policy — and the right policy. At this time, notwithstanding the laudable volume of work put into the measure and the benefits it may bring to some county residents, the SANDAG plan remains something San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action members oppose by a 2-1 margin.
We ask that you consider your support for the measure, and entertain a “no” vote against the tax increase ballot measure this Tuesday evening.
Thank you for your consideration.
San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action
Photos by Tommy Hough © 2016, all rights reserved.