SAN DIEGO — Three SANDAG board members are calling for the regional transportation plan to move forward without the proposed road usage charge.
Many San Diegans voiced concerns about the “road usage charge” tax proposal discussed in October by the San Diego Association of Governments Board. Officials said at the time that drivers could be charged a few cents for every mile they drive locally, as a way to fund road and transit improvements.
Under the $163 billion proposal, a four-cent-per-mile tax — and two half-cent regional sales taxes were proposed for 2022 and 2028.
On Friday, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria’s office said the mayor, who serves as SANDAG Board of Directors Chair, along with Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear and National City Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis, will ask SANDAG staff to provide alternatives for the plan that do not rely on a county-imposed road usage charge.
“I am concerned that the road usage charge could saddle residents with large and unsustainable cost increases for their basic transportation needs before substantial improvements in public transit have made transit a viable choice for most trips,” Blakespear, chair of SANDAG’s Board of Directors, said in a prepared statement.
The regional plan involves building more transit, maximizing the road network for better efficiency and providing more bike and pedestrian paths, offering opportunities to travel without cars.
Gloria’s office called the inclusion of a road usage charge in plans to pay for the work “unnecessary.”
“While I understand the principles behind a road usage charge, our region has not done nearly enough to expand access to public transit,” Gloria said. “With working families still reeling from the economic impacts of the pandemic, and given that this charge is not necessary for this bold transportation plan to be successful, it is the wrong thing to ask San Diegans to consider or even conceptualize at this time.”
Sotelo-Solis, second vice chair of SANDAG’s Board of Directors, called for capitalizing on federal-level funding instead.
“At the end of the day, we must have tools in the toolbox that strengthen and implement our equity statement and board core values. These efforts must be reflective of the needs of the entire region, including those from working-class communities,” she said.
The regional transportation plan will be considered at SANDAG’s Dec. 10 meeting.