Escondido, CA
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Partly cloudy

SANDAG seems to be swinging at air


The City of San Diego, minus its mayor, and a lot other cities in the southern part of the county would like to see an additional ½ cent sales tax added onto the 8 ½ that county residents already pay, and which is close to being the highest sales tax in the state.

The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) is proposing the tax. SANDAG is a regional body that makes regional decisions for its 18 member cities and the County of San Diego. Last week 13 of the 21 voting members on the board supported such a tax, which adds up to 61% of the board’s population-based weighted vote. The measure would require two-thirds of the county’s voters to vote yes to approve it.

Local North County politicians Bill Horn and Mayor Sam Abed are dead set against the tax because it is tilted too much towards providing transit goodies for San Diego, such as a sky gondola that will transport visitors to Balboa park around—and which is a cool idea, but like other cool ideas—like an expanded Charger stadium—should be paid for by people in San Diego city and not people in Escondido. Abed is not alone in this opposition, of course, he has the solid support of the rest of the city council.

When it comes to regional traffic planning, North County, and especially its second largest city, Escondido, is often left sitting at the children’s table. One reason is because the bureaucratic planning drones at SANDAG are wedded to the idea that mass transit is better than cars. This is an idea that’s very popular in cities such as San Francisco, where they have declared war on the automobile and forced drivers willy-nilly into BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) trains and buses.

It also fits into the current flavor of the month in Sacramento, which is that we must do our best to reduce greenhouse gases.

For those of us who live in North County, the automobile is the only transportation option that is viable for persons who 1) have to be at work at a particular time and 2) are not retired. Mass transit is only viable for employed people in densely populated urban areas. When things start to thin out, so does the practicality of buses and trains.

That, of course, is why planning bureaucrats are trying to force things like “Smart” Growth on communities in the unincorporated areas, because it forces people to live closer to cities.

For some of us, like me, the automobile is the only transportation of free people and they will only get my car away from me when they pry my cold dead fingers from my Jeep’s bumper.

As long as mass transit is impractical in North County, residents and city officials here are going to oppose solutions that don’t include a provision for solving some of the worst cases of transportation gridlock, such as the notorious section of Hwy 78 near Cal State University San Marcos, where traffic often comes to a crawl for long stretches of time in the morning and afternoon, and at the intersection of Hwy 78 and I-5, where the same thing happens.

Massive infusions of capital are required to deal with this issue, and I suspect that voters in this area are not going to vote for mass transit goodies and open space goodies dear to the hears of environmentalists unless we get our highways fixed.

Until SANDAG realizes this simple fact, its board will be swinging at air. It takes more than just the city of San Diego to pass a sales tax increase when a 2/3 majority is required.

Soooooo, San Diego. Give us what we want, and we may consider giving you what you want.

*Note: Opinions expressed by columnists and letter writers are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the newspaper.

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