SANDAG’s Plan to Kill Its Driving Fee Is Stuck in the Slow Lane

This post was originally published in the July 9 Policy Report. Weekly newsletters are available to Voice of San Diego members only. Click here to join.

The San Diego Government Association Council is well positioned to continue to fight well in the future to see if the region should pay drivers for every mile they drive.

The council voted Friday to direct employees to chart a path to remove the driving fee from the region’s long-term transportation plan, while ensuring the plan always complies with state environmental laws requiring reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Staff said they hope this proposal returns to the council sometime next spring.

The vote was almost identical to one the council had already taken in December, it told the agency’s planner to draw a way to eliminate the driving fee, which became a major source of controversy after members of the Conservative council criticized its inclusion in the regional plan. Now, seven months later, councilors have repeatedly said they did, in fact, want employees to come up with a way to remove the fee and maintain a legal transportation plan.

“I appreciate the gratitude we’ve been waiting for a while,” said Mayor Todd Gloria, who led the charge in December to begin the process of killing the brother, just days before the council set out to approve a plan that included him. . . “I would be open about my frustration for how long this takes.”

SANDAG staff and Hasan Ikhrata, the agency’s executive director, also provided conflicting answers on when the council could, officially, excise the fee in describing the region of all infrastructure projects it wants to build in the coming decades and how it will pay for them. .

The staff presentation, for example, says that they could return to the council in spring 2023 with options to remove the fee, while replacing the lost revenue and compensating for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions that would occur only if the fee was place.

But even the presentation also includes a visualization of the timeline that suggests removing the fee would trigger public awareness and environmental reviews that could stretch up to 2025. The same staff indicated that, due to that timeline, the agency could simply remove the brother as part of it. the next state plan required, to be in 2025.

“We have on the screen, the deadline you see going up to 2025, but that doesn’t mean the update will wait long,” Ikhrata said.

“Based on the action today, we will make a change to the 2021 plan – when that happens and if it coincides with the 2025 plan, this is a decision for you to take later,” Ikhrata also said, after staff were laid off emphasize that a change. of the plan would be back on the board in 2023.

Complete the plan: Removing the fee from the plan creates two issues related to the agency. It deprives the region of the revenue that the plan relies on to build all the projects it envisages, and prevents the region from reducing emissions that it needs to demonstrate to do good on state requirements.

With the fee, San Diego would reduce emissions 20.4 percent from 2005 levels by 2035, while without it regional emissions would fall to just 18.6 percent – below the state’s mandate for a 19.1 percent reduction.

But now that it is updating things, SANDAG staff said it will have to go ahead and update the costs of the plan to reflect inflation. Thus, with revenues down and costs rising, employees said they hope to eliminate or reduce some of the road, highway, bus and rail projects in the plan.

There may also have been some foreshadowing of how the agency can get back some of the emission reductions they will lose when it pulls the money. The agency’s current model is based on starting 2016. Currently, employees will use new numbers based on post-pandemic behavior.

State approval: In December, SANDAG approved a new plan, and a few minutes later passed a motion promising to change the plan. The agency then submitted its approved plan to the California Air Resources Board for certification that it meets environmental requirements.

Antoinette Meier, the agency’s director of regional planning, said CARB is ready to sign the plan by the end of the month. He indicated that the pending approval is why the agency is just now starting on the change that the council headed on the same day it approved the plan it wants to change.

“We have been waiting for state approval of (the regional plan) before starting talks on updating (the regional plan),” he said. “We didn’t want to compromise that approval and we didn’t want to put funding at risk.

This drew the attention of San Marcos Mayor Rebecca Jones, who asked if the state knew SANDAG had promised to change plans that it was just to certify.

“I don’t see anything misleading here,” Ikhrata said, arguing that they had submitted a legal plan to CARB for approval, and if changes were made to it after it was approved, these would also go to CARB for approval. .

What is in danger: The regional plan, importantly, does not actually impose a driving fee. He can’t do that. He says the region, in general, assumes that it will implement a fee by 2030, and uses the money it would generate alone to account for everything it wants to build. But the state would still need to make this a legal fee, a sort of technological solution to charge drivers for driving should be selected and deployed, and the agency’s advice or voters would eventually need to actually implement the fee. It is enough to ask why regional officials have spent so much time fighting for what represents a hypothetical.

“It’s true that the regional plan doesn’t have tax authorities, but you can only put projects into your plan that have a reasonable chance of getting funding,” Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey, a main opponent of the fee, told us in an interview. “And the regional plan requires a lot of projects to be funded based on that fee and other taxes. Thus, even if SANDAG does not levy a tax across the regional plan, just in planning to include all things included, it is necessary to achieve them. The plan does not impose a tax, but includes the creation of a plan that then requires taxation. ”

The other loses income: In anticipation of a surprising reveal any day now, the agency has already lost another major source of revenue it relied on: a sales tax that it thought voters would approve in November. Then, next spring, when the change returns to the chart, the loss or delay of that money would also presumably need to be included.

SANDAG’s Plan to Kill Its Driving Fee Is Stuck in the Slow Lane Source link SANDAG’s Plan to Kill Its Driving Fee Is Stuck in the Slow Lane

Related Articles

Back to top button