Transit and environmental activists called Monday for San Diego officials to reject a $204 billion regional transportation plan that they contend will undermine one of the main goals of the city’s climate action plan.
The transportation plan from the San Diego Association of Governments, the regional planning agency, spells out the various transportation projects that will be funded through 2050.
The leaders of Circulate San Diego, which advocates for alternative transportation methods, and Climate Action Campaign, which seeks strong measures against climate change, claim the SANDAG plan will get only 15 percent of commuters out of their cars and into other forms of transportation.
The city’s climate action plan sets a goal of having 50 percent of commuters go to work via public transportation, bicycles or walking by 2035, if such options are available nearby.
Colin Parent of Circulate San Diego said the success of the city initiative was dependent on the regional transportation plan. He and Nicole Capretz of the Climate Action Campaign called on Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Councilman Todd Gloria, who sit on the SANDAG Board of Directors, to reject the regional plan.
“SANDAG has to meet the city halfway, and it’s not even close,” Parent said. “So the city of San Diego must use the influence of its SANDAG board members to get a regional plan that helps the city reach its goals.”
Capretz said approving the city’s “ambitious” climate action plan in the face of SANDAG’s actions was “setting ourselves up for failure.”
SANDAG Executive Director Gary Gallegos defended the regional plan.
He told City News Service that 75 percent of the spending in the plan’s first five years would go to public transit projects like an extension of the trolley to La Jolla and University City, continued installation of a second track for the coastal rail corridor, and creation of a rapid bus system in the South Bay.
Because SANDAG has to work under “reasonable” fiscal projections, doing more would be expensive and probably unaffordable, he said.
Mayoral spokesman Craig Gustafson said the SANDAG plan was only a “starting point” for improving the environment and reducing pollution.
“Independent of SANDAG, the city outlined a number of things in the draft climate action plan to encourage more walking, biking and transit use in the coming years to meet the plan’s goals,” Gustafson said. “The climate action plan is a roadmap for the future and allows for future adjustments to be made to meet the city’s and state’s ambitious goals, which are supported by many in the environmental and business communities.”
Gloria said the SANDAG plan is required to be updated every four years, leaving plenty of opportunity for future adjustments.
“SANDAG’s proposed regional plan does not prevent the city of San Diego from fully implementing our climate action plan,” Gloria said.
He said the spending in the first five years will get San Diego closer to its goals than otherwise.
“I remain fully committed to meeting our aggressive CAP goals, and the regional plan investments should be leveraged by the city to that end,” Gloria said.
— City News Service
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