San Diego

SANDAG Project Shift ‘Violates The Will of the Voters’ El Cajon Mayor Says

SANDAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata argues that priorities have changed since Prop A was approved by voters in 2004

An East County mayor believes if county planners change how revenue from a transportation tax is spent, it “violates the will of the voters.”

New transit hubs, high-speed transit service and flexible fleets offering on-demand or shared vehicles were all included in the most recent proposal from SANDAG regarding how to use revenue from a half-cent sales tax passed in 2004. 

The County Board of Supervisors and some leaders from the 18 cities that help make up the SANDAG board have rejected the idea of switching gears to fund new projects when 15 projects promised to taxpayers have yet to be started or funded.

Mayor Bill Wells sent a letter to SANDAG on Tuesday saying transit projects were made a priority by the agency “despite the fact that over 96 percent of San Diego citizens use vehicles…”

Wells listed some of the projects he said have yet to be funded by the 2004 ballot measure.

The projects include HOV lanes added to State Route 52, and the interchange at state routes 94 and 125 as well as widening SR-94 to six lanes from the 125 to Avocado Boulevard.

When voters approved Prop A in 2004, they approved a plan to use 20 percent of the revenue to specific projects and 80 percent for on highway and congestion relief, he said.

“The City of El Cajon believes that modifying this allocation ratio violates the will of the voters,” Wells wrote.

Richard Bailey, Coronado mayor and board member of SANDAG, joins Gene Cubbison on Politically Speaking to discuss the region’s growing pains when it comes to gridlock and traffic. 

SANDAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata has defended the new proposal that places higher priority on rail and other alternative transportation.

"Things change. 2004 is different than 2048,” he said in a previous interview.

He has said the half-cent sales tax measure also provides SANDAG with the ability to look at projects and adjust them if necessary, he said.

"Some people think we should only expand highways. We cannot do that and still meet the state and federal mandates," Ikhrata said. "People who advocate just for expanding highway pretty much are saying, 'Let’s not meet the mandates. Let’s ignore them.'"

SANDAG hopes to have a finalized plan for the county's future transportation projects in place by November. 

The SANDAG board is made up of mayors, council members, and supervisors from each of the region’s 18 cities and the county government. 

NBC 7's Steven Luke explains why residents in Lakeside and Ramona are worried if the future of San Diego's transportation shifts away from roadways and toward railroads.
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