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SANDAG Executive Director Discusses New Vision For Transportation

March 6, 2019 1:55 p.m.

GUEST: Hasan Ikhrata, executive director, San Diego Association of Governments

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This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

California and San Diego specifically have ambitious plans to take action against climate change and limit greenhouse gas emissions. But the big question has been do civic leaders have the resolve to live up to those plans. Recently some signs say yes as the city of San Diego says new housing construction can be built without additional parking spaces empty yes plans. A ballot measure to expand public transit and sandbag decides to re-evaluate its regional transportation plan to bring it in line with state emissions reductions sandbags countywide reassessment is set to consider fundamental changes and how we get around.

And it will force San Diego to miss a state deadline for regional transportation updates. Joining me is Hassani Crota. He's executive director of the San Diego Association of Governments sandbag and Hassan. Welcome to the program. Thank you. Glad to be here. You said that the transportation plan as it stands is not just missing certain elements but it needs an entire new vision. Does that mean what we've been doing so far has been wrong.

I wouldn't say it has been wrong. It hasn't been enough to care that greenhouse gas emission or the driving habits of our residents. So what we have been doing so far is that in lying when one mode of transportation. And I don't think that is enough to meet not only to meet the greenhouse gas emission but to sustain ourselves into the future and to preserve the quality of life for owners.

When the city of San Diego decides to allow new development near public transportation that does not include parking spaces encouraging people to use alternative transportation. Is that part of the new vision you're talking about politically and that's an important part.

Think parking policies land use policies like this is going to play an integral part in making sure people have choices and making sure that people take this choices. Couple of examples if you have the right transportation system that offer choices and you price that system right people will exercise those choices and I believe we will come closer to meeting lower greenhouse gas emission goals.

It's been proving difficult to wean San Diego from cars onto public transportation what changes could make public transportation almost as convenient as driving.

Honestly your listeners need to know that locally change that will make San Diego's live their kind of good ideas or some of them at least is a state of the art transit system a system that we haven't seen yet in San Diego a system where if it's not as convenient is more convenient than the current system that's priced right that people are guaranteed a safe reliable on time arrival and departure. That's what San dying is going to be doing in the next nine to 12 months putting on the table that system that makes it much better to take transit for some of us than driving.

When you say price right. What do you mean by that.

None of us when we drive today pay the full cost of driving. We don't pay for the delay that we cause each other. We don't pay for the health costs that result from emissions and greenhouse gas emissions. So once you put that into the calculation and provide options then you're talking about pricing a system right so people can make very good economic decisions and work more to take up unless you have that transit system in place. You cannot do that because that would be penalizing older residents. So let's just put the system in place.

Price it right. Let people choose it in a market economy. People will choose but it has to be economically viable for them to choose options.

Am I hearing you say because of these unexpressed costs of driving that driving should actually cost people more.

It should if you provide an alternate that says Good it should. Because again when people make decisions they make it based on economies a lot of time. And if that's the case it should be priced based on a market economy. I believe if we provide the right option people should be paying more for the same crap. But I also believe that we should not charge people more to drive less we provide an alternative that says Good.

Would that be in taxes. Would that be in tolls.

I believe in user based systems. So if you use the facility you should pay. And when I talk about pricing the system right. I mean all systems transit and personal vehicles. But it's more user based toll based if you drive you paid based on your right now empty yes as I said is considering a tax measure to pay for public transit.

As you know there and problems in the past with sandbags ballot measures. But would you need one to cover the costs of this expansive new regional transit plant.

You absolutely need resources. The question is. Before we talk about what we need and how much we need we need to define that vision. And that's what we're doing at Sunday. We're going to spend the next nine to 12 months putting a little. Well what it is we need to provide San Diego with the best transportation system in the world. Cost it out and then go to the people and say Would you be willing to pay for such a system would do a good job in providing tangible system that provide benefits.

Absolutely. I believe that people in San Diego will pay for it but now it's premature to talk about asking people for anything because before you are asking and I fill them with what they're paying for and we still don't have them.

Now in the meantime there are big transit projects underway in San Diego. State funding is in jeopardy because San Diego is delaying its RTP update. What are you doing to try to preserve that funding.

Well we're going to minimize the risk by putting a state legislations which civilian member loading that Gonzalez agreed to put us but both for us to make our 2015 regional transportation plan valid until we have a new plan. So that will minimize the risk. We're going to submit a technical update to the federal government and that will minimize the risk we're going to try to minimize the risk. So the region does not lose any funding. Can you just briefly walk us through the process that you're talking about of putting together this Regional Transportation Plan 9 to 12 months sometimes by November of this year San Diego and we'll see a lot of lines on maps that says we're going to have this underground system this aboveground system.

This is go house going to link together. This is what we mean by complete corridors where each corridor will have at least two options. This is what it means to do it in such a way that it's coordinating with each other. These are the parking policies like what San Diego did an additional parking policies to have all of that in a framework format will be on the table by November of this year after November will move into some more engineering planning and costing. And by 21 the year 21 would know how much it's going to cost will the system is on which people is going to either take transit or not.

I'm under no illusion that people are going to live there currently good ideas but if we go from one and a half percent more the split to there to 10 percent that will create capacity for the next hundred years in addition to that they think we deserve to have a major transit hub. We deserve to connect the airport to that top. We deserve to connect all of our great landmarks in this region at least giving people choices. That's what it's about. It's not forcing people but giving people choices so I believe by November people in San Diego will be excited to look at at least something to discuss whether they're going to do it or not.

That's up to the what is it.

You have a big job ahead of here. I've been speaking with her son a Crota executive director of San Diego. Thank you very much. Thank you for having me.