Voters to Decide Fate of Sales Tax to Fund Transportation Projects

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Heavy traffic on a Southern California freeway. Photo courtesy California Highway Patrol

Voters will decide in Tuesday’s election whether to raise the sales tax by a half-cent countywide to fund infrastructure improvements in the San Diego region.

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Measure A was developed by the San Diego Association of Governments, which estimates the tax would raise $18 billion over 40 years to pay for a wide variety of projects. Since the measure proposes a tax hike, it requires a two- thirds “yes” vote to pass.

The 18 cities in the region will have discretion to use the revenue on road and pothole repairs, fixing sidewalks, open space acquisition and other things, according to SANDAG Chairman Ron Roberts, a county supervisor.

Other projects listed under the ballot measure include freeway and connector improvements, addition of carpool lanes, extending a trolley line to Kearny Mesa, increasing trolley frequency, synchronizing traffic signals and separating road and rail grades so vehicles don’t have to stop for trains.

“It’s going to repair our streets, but it’s also our bridges that need work that have been supporting loads for quite some time, it will be money for the little potholes that need to be (filled),” Roberts said.

Roberts has been leading the “Repair San Diego” campaign along with San Diego Councilman Todd Gloria. Their efforts are supported by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and San Diego County Taxpayers Association, among others.

On the other side, opponents contend the projects envisioned in Measure A place too high a priority on freeway expansion projects at the expense of mass transit.

Nicole Capretz of the Climate Action Campaign and others against the proposition have called for SANDAG to reshuffle how the projects are phased-in over the years, moving up the timeline for public transportation.

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The city of San Diego will be unable to meet the goals of its climate action plan if the measure passes, and the region would not achieve state climate change targets, Capretz said.

Among other opponents are the local chapter of the Sierra Club, the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition and San Diego Coastkeeper.

Organized labor is split, with some groups for and others against.

The other countywide question on the ballot, Measure B, would authorize a 608-acre development in the Lilac Hills section of Valley Center but could have a much broader impact on future land use planning in the region. The project includes more than 1,700 housing units, commercial areas and parks in the inland North County.

Supporters contend the project is necessary because of a housing shortage that has sent the cost of housing in San Diego County through the roof. Opponents say the project goes against the county’s general zoning plan and would exacerbate urban sprawl.

—City News Service

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