SANDAG reform bill signed by Gov. Brown

SAN DIEGO – State legislation meant to reform the San Diego Association of Governments, the troubled regional planning agency, was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown Wednesday.

Assembly Bill 805, by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, D-San Diego, changes the way weighted votes are taken by the SANDAG Board of Directors. The result is expected to be more power for the cities of San Diego and Chula Vista.

The voting structures of the Metropolitan Transit System and North County Transit District boards will also be modified by the bill.

“This is a good day for the silent majority in our region who have been ignored and paved over for far too long,” Gonzalez Fletcher said. “The old way of doing things isn’t good enough. AB 805 is an exciting first step toward changing the status quo.”

SANDAG has come under fire on several fronts in recent years, beginning with environmentalists who believe a long-range transportation planning document doesn’t go far enough to address climate change and public transportation.

More notably, agency staff discovered an economic modeling error in revenue projections for last year’s Measure A, which would have raised the countywide sales tax by a half-cent to pay for future transportation and environmental projects. The public wasn’t informed of the problem before November’s vote, which failed to achieve the two-thirds necessary for passage.

The SANDAG board retained an Orange County law firm to investigate the fiasco, and the results led to the resignation of longtime Executive Director Gary Gallegos.

SANDAG’s chairman, Supervisor Ron Roberts, has since pushed for the agency to create its own reform package that would go before voters next year. Gonzalez Fletcher has contended that any such effort would be trumped by the provisions of her bill.

SANDAG did not immediately issue comment on her legislation becoming law.

Separately, the governor also signed a Gonzalez Fletcher bill that directs the Contractors State License Board to develop a fillable solar system disclosure document that must be provided to consumers before they purchase, lease or finance a solar energy system.

The bill also makes the Department of Consumer Affairs responsible for resolving complaints against solar companies and for overseeing residential rooftop solar energy providers so that a process is in place to resolve consumer disputes in this emerging industry.