San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said Friday that he and two other members of the SANDAG board will ask the regional agency not to seek a controversial road-usage charge to pay for new transportation infrastructure.
Gloria said Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear and National City Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis will join him in asking the SANDAG staff to provide funding alternatives for the county’s regional transportation plan that do not rely on a county-imposed road-usage charge.
“I have long supported SANDAG’s regional transportation plan, as it aligns with my vision of giving San Diegans more sustainable ways to get around our region. However, the inclusion of a road-usage charge is unnecessary, and we will be asking SANDAG staff to find alternative funding sources,” Gloria said in a statement on Friday morning.
Blakespear, who is the current chair of the SANDAG, board said that while she wants a “cleaner, greener and faster” transportation system, “at this time, the local road usage charge as a replacement for the gas tax remains highly speculative.”
“I am concerned that the road usage charge could saddle residents with large and unsustainable cost increases for their basic transportation needs before substantial improvements in public transit have made transit a viable choice for most trips,” Blakespear said.
The 30-year, $160 billion transportation proposal could include no-cost public transit and a 200-mile, $43 billion regional rail network.
California has been testing charging around 2 cents per mile in pilot programs, but has run into several issues. The state has experienced difficulty in how to report the per-mile-usage and if miles should count when out of state.
The SANDAG plan envisioned charging drivers four cents per mile on top of two half-cent regional sales taxes proposed for implementation in 2022 and 2028.
Supervisor Joel Anderson, who represents a large part of East County, has been a vocal opponent of a road-usage charge, saying recently that “for my constituents in District 2, driving is an essential part of life.”
“There are many rural communities in the 2,000 square mile district, where many residents do not have access to driving alternatives,” he said.
The proposed regional transportation plan will be considered at SANDAG’s Dec. 10 board meeting. According to state law, the plan needs to be adopted by year’s end and must demonstrate plans to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
City News Service contributed to this article.