Carl DeMaio recording his political talk show on KOGO Radio. Courtesy KOGO

A group of local elected officials and advocates against tax increases launched a campaign Thursday to mobilize public angst against the San Diego Association of Governments‘ recent proposal to increase funding for public transit projects.

Reform California, a political action committee that primarily opposes tax increases, organized the campaign to channel voter unrest over SANDAG’s recent proposal to amend the 2004 half-cent TransNet tax extension, which promised to fund repairs to specific roads around the county, like state Routes 52 and 78.

Former San Diego City Councilman and Reform California Chairman Carl DeMaio has threatened to recall officials on the SANDAG Board of Directors who vote in favor of the amendment.

County Supervisor Jim Desmond, Santee Mayor John Minto and El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells joined DeMaio at a news conference and released a list of SANDAG Board members who have publicly supported the amendment proposal.

“It is time that voters band together and speak out loudly to demand an end to the raid on our road repair funds,” DeMaio said. “Any politician on SANDAG that votes to raid our road funds should prepare to face a recall against them and removal from office.”

SANDAG released a revised regional plan April 26 that would change the way goods and people move throughout the county. The plan, which SANDAG officials described as a “bold vision” and  still mostly conceptual, would essentially replace the agency’s 2019-2050 Regional Plan, which had been in development since 2017 and was scheduled to go into effect later this year.

The revised plan would increase the use of technology in the county’s network of roadways and increase access to and frequency of public transit to both wean residents off personal vehicles and decrease greenhouse gas emissions. SANDAG officials expect to release more details about the plan later this year and have yet to set anything in stone.

SANDAG Board members and officials from local public transit agencies praised the plan for its efforts to innovate the county’s public transit system. The revision irked some officials around the county, however, especially those representing areas of north and east county that have not yet seen the infrastructure repairs promised in the TransNet extension.

Desmond, who represents north county areas like Vista, Carlsbad, Borrego Springs and Valley Center, called the regional plan revisions a bait-and-switch attempt and argued that roads and freeways are a necessity for residents who live in the county’s non-urban and rural areas.

Desmond and fellow Supervisor Kristin Gaspar submitted a letter to the county Board of Supervisors last week calling for the board to oppose any changes to the TransNet extension. The board voted 3-2 to approve the letter, with Supervisor Dianne Jacob joining Desmond and Gaspar in favor.

— City News Service

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.