Supervisor Jim Desmond is out of touch with the scope and complexity of our climate and housing issues. While he is out there peddling the need for more roads or more space on existing roads, he ignores the common good and basic human factor engineering. We need bold leadership to take on the crisis of our lifetime, not sad, regressive thinking that fails to address our region’s issues. Mr. Desmond fails that leadership test.
We are confronted, not only with addressing the climate crisis which requires us to have a sustainable, renewable energy grid by the year 2045, but a housing crisis in California requiring San Diego County to produce 170,000 new homes this year. As we grow our communities, transportation is the key factor to a livable environment. Getting to school and work is key but we are not going to get to that objective by expanding highways or installing HOV lanes. The science is clear: More highways equals more traffic. In fact, widening roads to reduce congestion is worse than doing nothing. I call this the “amoeba principle.” Some engineers refer to it as “induced demand.” One only needs to see the Los Angeles experience to know that putting in more lanes just induces more traffic and fills those lanes. The answer is “multimodal streets,” a street designed for not only cars but for walking, bicycling and public transportation.
The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), the region’s top transportation planning agency, unveiled an unprecedented multi-billion dollar proposal to add hundreds of miles of high-speed transit lines throughout San Diego County, including inland North County. According to Hasan Ikhrata, SANDAG’s executive director, many of the envisioned transit lines would run parallel to congested highways, providing traffic relief along key commuter corridors, including I-5, I-15, SR-52, SR-78 and others. Ikhrata also called for freeing up funds from outdated highway improvements and expansions to contain greenhouse gases in line with state mandates and making San Diego a world-class economy. The plan also calls for double tracking the Sprinter commuter rail while also extending it from San Marcos to Carlsbad. Most notably, nearly every North County community would get a so-called mobility hub, in many cases connecting commuter rail, buses, and other transportation options at one location.
This one is a bold start. Let’s make sure our local city and county officials are on board with this plan.
Alan Geraci is a Public Interest Attorney.