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Roundtable: SANDAG's Loss, Zombie Spending, Infrastructure Ideas, Oceanside Feud

Ouster of Oceanside's Mayor
Roundtable: Sandag's Loss, Zombie Spending, Infrastructure Ideas, Oceanside Feud
GUESTSAndrew Keatts, Voice of San DiegoEric Wolff, U-T San DiegoCraig Gustafson, U-T San DiegoLogan Jenkins, U-T San Diego

SANDAG's Regional Transportation Plan Gets Run Over: A San Diego County Superior Court judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit that challenged the San Diego Association of Governments' Regional Transportation plan.

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The plan, which received much public comment before adoption, called for spending $200 billion over 40 years, primarily on highways and local roads and also on public transportation. The construction is funded by a half-cent sales tax extended by voters in 2004.

But SANDAG's plan also allowed the county to increase greenhouse gas emissions over 30 of its 40 years, from 2020 to 2050. A 2008 executive order signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger calls for a reduction during that period.

The RTP was vigorously opposed by environmentalists because of its highways-first approach, which they said would further promote the region's automobile culture, rather than offer attractive alternatives.

SANDAG could choose to appeal the ruling or the association could modify the plan to address the court's concerns and stay out of court.

Senator Faults San Diego Zombie Spending: U.S. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), has released a report which faults spending by the Department of Homeland Security, quite a bit of it in San Diego.

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Cited prominently in the report is the “zombie attack,” staged for firefighters and emergency medical technicians on Mission Bay.

Most media outlets reporting on Coburn's outrage mentioned the zombie event prominently. It is not often that news outlets are able to use the words "Homeland Security" and "zombie" in the same sentence.

HALO Corporation, a San Diego-based company which staged the zombie attack, used a zombie apocalypse to simulate a combat-style event.

Other San Diego expenses cited as wasteful by Coburn, who is a consistent and vigorous critic of DHS, were a cyber-security program aimed primarily at children and the purchase of flat-screen TVs and video cameras (mounted around Mission Bay), all city of San Diego expenses.

San Diego County came in for criticism, too. The sheriff's Department purchased armored vehicles and a long-range acoustic device.

Todd Gloria's Infrastructure Adventure: In his City Council inauguration speech, Todd Gloria suggested ways to address some $900 million in delayed or halted infrastructure projects. Some took Gloria's comments as floating the idea of a half-cent sales tax hike, but Gloria later told KPBS that's not true.

The backlog includes street, building and sewer repairs.

Gloria, also the newly elected council president, mentioned previous tax increases to raise money for infrastructure repairs in his speech, including the TransNet tax extended by voters in 2004 and Proposition MM.

A potential tax-hike has already been called “outlandish” by the pro-business Lincoln Club. Gloria, however, feels that San Diegans may be ready to fund improvements, although they declined to do so two years ago.

Oceanside's Popular Mayor Under Attack by Council Majority: Three of the five members of Oceanside's City Council want to oust newly re-elected mayor Jim Wood from his seat on the SANDAG board.

While this week a San Diego judge ruled that SANDAG's Regional Transportation Plan is top-heavy with new roads, highways and lanes for automobiles, the Oceanside council majority wants more of each. They believe Wood has not advocated for highways sufficiently

The council may move to change the way that appointment is made, which would effectively remove Wood from the SANDAG board.

Not surprisingly, in a city that has seen its share of recalls and other political dust-ups, Wood is fighting back, threatening a lawsuit and more recalls.

Corrected: January 26, 2023 at 4:44 PM PST
This story previously mischaracterized Todd Gloria's speech. It has been corrected.