SAN DIEGO — Drivers will no longer have to worry about paying a pay per mile road usage fee to help fund San Diego Association of Government’s $160 billion transportation plan.
It’s getting mixed reaction from drivers and elected officials.
Laura Hall, a driver, says she’s happy about the fee off the table.
Some people are in favor of having the per mile fee nixed for the transportation plan for the county. Michael Croom, another driver, thinks it’s a good move, especially with how the economy is.
Other people have said they are in opposition of no longer having the per mile fee as an option to pay for the transportation plan.
“We are very disappointed that this went through,” said Bee Mittermiller, a co-chair with the San Diego 350.
SANDAG’s transportation plan would include several projects such as no-cost public transit, expanding bus and rail services, more miles of express lanes, funding bicycle improvements, plus money towards the new Otay Mesa II border crossing to reduce wait times.
A per mile fee would’ve funded those projects.
“I feel like we are taxed enough here in California, it is one of the best states to live in, but the taxes are kind of high,” Croom said.
Mittermiller says she doesn’t think people are making the connection that the money is “crucial for keeping our roads maintained.”
San Diego 350 is a nonprofit environmental group focused on mitigating impacts of climate change. Mittermiller said having the per mile usage fee would have made people think twice about driving, possibly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“We are in a climate crisis, this cannot be kicked down the road,” Mittermiller said.
SANDAG board member Jack Shu said people could have been able to get assistance with paying the fee. The agency would have also kept drivers GPS locations secure, according to Shu.
Shu said the per mile fee should replace the gas tax, so it is fair for every type of car driven.
“Now we are going into who knows, something that may not be environmentally sound. Something that is less equitable, we are going to have poor people pay more than rich people,” Shu said.
Elected officials are encouraging people to get educated on the situation.
“Please look into this, this is our future. If you don’t want to get stuck with traffic, if you want to have a cleaner place with less asthma, less cancer, we got to pay attention,” Shu said.
“Nobody wants to pay more for anything but sometimes you have to if you value something like no potholes or better transit, everybody should pay their fair share,” Mittermiller said.
Shu said SANDAG does not have the authority to impose a tax or fee, and that the people of San Diego would have to vote on it.