Opinion: Measure A Is a Blank Check That Won’t Solve Transportation Problems

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Rendering of the double express lanes planned for Interstate 5. Courtesy SANDAG

By Marci McWilliams

Growing up in San Diego I remember when the county coast was speckled with sleepy beach communities and undeveloped rolling hills inland. Traffic congestion and deteriorating roads — those were issues Orange County lived with, not San Diego.

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But as the years passed, our city grew and evolved into a thriving metropolitan area. Naturally, with the resulting increased population, longer commutes became part of our daily lives; roads fell into disrepair. The growth is not unexpected for one of the most sought after cities in America to live, work and retire in.

As San Diegans, regardless of our political affiliation or ideology, many of us seek solutions to our increasing transportation challenges while maintaining a focus on the preservation of our beautiful environment.

So, I was hopeful when I initially heard about Measure A, the proposed SANDAG tax increase that, at first glance, looked like our political leaders had actually worked together to successfully address some of these critical issues.

Measure A’s title alone — the “San Diego County Road Repair, Transit, Traffic Relief, Safety and Water Quality Proposition” — seems impressive. Who wouldn’t want all these fixes for America’s Finest City?

But then I dug deeper into the actual realities of Measure A and I became incensed. This utopia of a proposition was nothing more than the status quo, with some our politicians lining their own pockets for pet projects, and no accountability to their constituents.

Consider the following details of this proposition:

  • Measure A is an $18.3 billion tax increase impacting all San Diego County residents. If passed, it will be the largest tax increase in San Diego County history.
  • Measure A increases our sales tax a half a percent on every single purchase we make. Who does this hurt? You, me and all the hard-working San Diegans as well as the underserved.
  • Measure A is completely misleading. Its title and deceptive language claim it will improve roads and highways. This political promise alone is false. Technically, the measure allocates a mere 14 percent of our increased tax dollars for highways and only 3 percent to unrestricted use lanes. Only 3 percent!

Even more appalling is that the measure allows for the flexibility to cancel even the dollars appropriated to highway and road improvements by using the current environmental review processes.

And then where exactly will the other overwhelming 86 percent increase in our tax dollars ultimately go? It is left to the discretion of politicians to use as if we literally handed them a blank check.

There is a fecklessly vague grab bag of other political goodies embedded in Measure A. For example, there’s the purchase of 25,000 acres, yet to be determined, around San Diego County with no idea where, when and how these new land parcels would be used. There’s assistance for veterans and people with disabilities. And finally there’s money for fighting global climate change.

But how exactly will these extremely admirable yet ambiguous objectives be achieved? We are not told as there is no accountability nor any real guarantees written into the measure for how the money will be spent. Instead, our increased tax dollars will be given to the government bureaucracy, SANDAG, to make the decisions as to where the funds will ultimately go.

Yet SANDAG is known for mismanagement of tax money. A 2015 independent audit of SANDAG revealed that the agency not only incurred big budget increases of up to 57 percent and delays in existing projects, but also demonstrated inadequate, faulty project management as well.

Additionally, the San Diego County Taxpayer’s Association has expressed concern to SANDAG over its spending of $500,000 of our tax payer money for slick ads, polling and PR promoting Measure A.

Is this the type of governmental organization you want managing your hard-earned tax dollars?

As concerned and proud San Diegans, we all want to find solutions to improve our roads and highways, lessen traffic congestion while also preserving our beautiful environment.

But Measure A is not the answer. It is nothing but a status quo blank check for politicians to use at taxpayers’ expense. San Diegans deserve a better plan for addressing our transportation challenges with greater accountability as to where our tax dollars will be spent.

Do not be deceived by Measure A’s misleading language. Even in this most politically divisive election year, both Democrats and Republicans alike are voting to oppose Measure A.

Let’s join together and do the same on Nov. 8.

Vote No on Measure A.


Marci McWilliams is the volunteer outreach coordinator for Reform California, a political action committee chaired by former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio. Reform California is opposing Measure A.

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