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Faulconer Will Vote No On SANDAG Tax Increase Measure

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer shakes the hand of Council President Todd Gloria at a press conference unveiling the mayor's climate action plan, Sept. 30, 2014
Tarryn Mento
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer shakes the hand of Council President Todd Gloria at a press conference unveiling the mayor's climate action plan, Sept. 30, 2014

Faulconer Will Vote No On SANDAG Tax Increase Measure
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer will vote Friday against a SANDAG ballot measure to raise the sales tax by 0.5 percent across San Diego County to fund transportation projects, his office confirmed on Wednesday.
Faulconer Will Vote No On SANDAG Tax Increase Measure
Faulconer Will Vote No On SANDAG Tax Increase Measure GUEST: Claire Trageser, multimedia enterprise reporter, KPBS

I'm Maureen Cavanaugh and Thursday, April 28, Deb Wells jointly the San Diego stories were following in the KPBS newsroom. The North County transit District announced today that bus drivers have ratified a contract with their employer first transit Incorporated. District officials said last week that they been warned that a strike was imminent but the drivers and Cincinnati-based company which contract for transit agencies to spy bus operators reach an agreement soon after. Last night, forum brought together the four Democrats vying to replace Marti Emerald on that San Diego Council. At one point they were asked what idea they borrow from another city and here's what they said. We need to get money out of politics. Locally and nationwide. I think that is the root. You start from there and you systemically change our system. There many other cities, major cities that have an amazing first-class transit system and I would see that in San Diego. As [Indiscernible] in Georgette Gomez he would set up a 311 number to call city services. And [Indiscernible] said she would improve recycling and composting. California's legislature is approving $16 million to help County election officials feel the surge of interest in the June primary and a crush of petition signatures for ballot measures. The assembly of said approved the funding in unanimous but today sending it to Democratic Governor Jerry Brown. The money will help counties in influx of new registered voters ahead of the June 7 primary. Counties also faced deadline to verify thousands of signatures from group seeking to replace nearly 2 dozen initiatives on the November ballot. The Chargers are scheduled to pick their today and the NFL draft in Chicago. The team is after posting a draft day party for season ticket holders at Sea world beginning at four this afternoon. Rounds two and three are scheduled for tomorrow. I'm damn well sure KPBS news. Our top story on midday edition, it's not unusual for Republican politician to vote against the tax increase. It is unusual for that vote to be applauded by environmentalist. But that's apparently what's about to happen in tomorrow's vote at Sandag. The members at San Diego Goebel vote on placing a half cent sales tax on the November ballot to fund the goals for the transportation. Mayor Faulkner says he will vote against the ballot initiative. And a least one environmentalist is very pleased. Joining me is KPBS reporter Claire Trageser. Their welcome. What would Sandag's proposed syntax pay for. It would raise $18 billion which would be spent the next 40 years and it's divided between public transit, high weights, and about 30% would be grants to local cities that they could do what they want. Local environmental leader Nicole Capretz says that it's because impart pressure from environmentalists like her who said they asked to take a stand against it and she said she wanted support go out and say the climate action plan unless he voted no on Sandag but the Mayor's office said this morning the decision on his own and he doesn't think the proposal warrants a tax increase. Wire some environmentalist against Sandag's environmentalist plan. They say it spends too much on roads and highways and not enough on public transit. And especially environmentalists in the city they say the own climate action goals will not be achievable under the current Sandag regional plan that the two are really linked and so they need the money from Sandag the Bever fund transit. On the other side of this the of San Diego City Councilman Todd Gloria, he's in voting in favor of this Sandag measure. He makes the case San Diego would be able to underfill any of its climate action plan. So how much money you with the tax initiative bring to San Diego's project. Wishes they'd still being worked out. There voting tomorrow and the of draft versions of the plan. Gloria says it would be a 7 1/2 billion dollars, $2 billion for local infrastructure and a half billion for bike projects in San Diego. I think that under the current version the third in a vote tomorrow. We don't know the final version is that? Right. 42% in the version we know about of this tax goes towards public transportation according to something from Todd Gloria's office. And still that's not enough for environmentalist. To they also have a problem for the sequence of how this money is going to be spent? Right. They say that it frontload the highways and back loads the public transit so public transit doesn't come soon enough and that's when the big issues with it. How much of an impact could Mayor Faulkner's on whether this proposal makes ballot. The Sandag board but semantically Mayor Faulkner doesn't often go to meetings. He sent someone as an alternate to vote for him. So we at least know it's not really unanimous about. Even if it passes it can be interesting to see. Running then get on the ballot two thirds of voters need to vote and if we have Republicans on one side environmentalists on one side they both like it may be difficult to get thirds majority needs to pass even if it makes it on the ballot. Now the Mayor's office to this morning that the reason the Mayor is voting no on this is because basically it's too much of a tax increase, it's too big. In very careful wording they said it doesn't warrant an 18 billion tax increase. I said is that because environmental reasons made and have her response. On that side, Mayor Faulkner is gaining national reputation on environmental issues cause any? Yes. Definitely. He is a Republican mayor was proposed this major climate action plan, commit the city to being the largest city to go hundred percent renewable energy, he's got national, international press, so I think at least in part if environmental to come out and say now he's not doing enough, that's not part of the narrative that he wants going forward. Now if the measure doesn't get out the ballot, how well Sandag's regional transportation plan get funded? That's a good question. When the board approved it in October they were all saying, we really need to make sure that it gets on the ballot but it passes. I'm not sure exactly what they will do if it doesn't pass and how they will continue to fund the projects they laid out. Now the corollary to this is the implementation or the announcement of how the city climate action plan is going to be implemented. Went to be expect that? They said the implementation plan was can a come out in April. Us was the come out this week, Perley was delayed because of the EU negotiations with the environmental leaders saying were not going to stand with you at the press conference where you announce it. Another thing to come out Monday which is me second thoughts are not quite April the close. I've been speaking with KPBS Claire Trageser. Thank you very much.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer will vote Friday against a SANDAG ballot measure to raise the sales tax by 0.5 percent across San Diego County to fund transportation projects, his office confirmed on Wednesday.

Environmental leaders have pressured Faulconer to withhold his support for the $18.2 billion measure because they say the spending plan from the San Diego Association of Governments favors highways and roads over public transportation, which prevents the city from reaching the goals laid out in the city's Climate Action Plan passed last year.

San Diego Councilman Todd Gloria, who also sits on the SANDAG board, disagrees with Faulconer's position. In a statement released Wednesday night, Gloria said:

"Elected leaders from across our region have worked together in a bipartisan fashion for years to develop this measure. I continue to support SANDAG’s funding measure because our City’s Climate Action Plan cannot be implemented and our transportation infrastructure cannot be improved without substantial new funding. Voting against this plan means turning down $7.5 billion for transit, $2 billion to repair San Diego’s neighborhoods, and over $500 million for bike projects. San Diegans want these improvements and leaders should take action to get them done.”

San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts, the SANDAG board chairman, also backs the measure, a spokesman said Wednesday.

Nicole Capretz, head of the environmental advocacy group Climate Action Campaign, worked with Faulconer to get the Climate Action Plan passed and is involved in drafting a strategy that lays out how the city will achieve the plan's goals.

Capretz said on Wednesday the mayor intended to hold a news conference this week to announce the implementation plan and wanted her to attend the event. She said she told the mayor's office she wouldn't unless she had Faulconer's promise to vote against the SANDAG ballot measure.

"I said, 'Here are the conditions for that happening,'" Capretz said. If Faulconer didn't meet those conditions, "Then I would be saying on the record that he’s not fulfilling his obligation to implement the Climate Action Plan, that I would not stand with him, that I would say on the record that he’s not doing enough, because it’s that important."

Faulconer was scheduled to release in April his strategy for the Climate Action Plan's implementation. His spokesman said Wednesday that the plan would come out on Monday.

"The mayor’s office has been working closely with environmental advocates ahead of the release of the Climate Action Funding and Implementation Plan, and schedules allowed for it to be released Monday," said spokesman Matt Awbrey in a statement. "Implementation of the Climate Action Plan is on schedule."

SANDAG's board, which is made up of elected officials from every city in the county, is scheduled to vote on the ballot measure Friday.

The latest draft said the funds from the 0.5 percent sales tax increase would raise $18.2 billion over 40 years. More than 14 percent of that money would go to highways, managed lanes on highways and high occupancy lanes. Almost 42 percent would go to public transit, and 3 percent would go to walking and biking projects. Another 30 percent would be given as grants to cities for local infrastructure projects.

Capretz said SANDAG's ballot measure is meant to fund the regional transportation plan the agency's board passed over environmentalists' objections in October.

"All it's doing is funding the existing backwards expansion plan," she said. "It's just a continuation of the same conversation, and it definitely undermines the climate plan's goals."

The Climate Action Plan calls for cutting the number of San Diegans who commute by car from 87 percent to 50 percent by 2035. That goal applies to people who live within a half mile of existing or planned transit stops, which is predicted to be about 60 percent of the population by 2035.

To accomplish this goal, the plan calls for increasing the number of people who commute by public transit from 10 percent to 25 percent, by bike from 1 percent to 18 percent and by foot from 1 percent to 7 percent by 2035.

Faulconer is one of 21 SANDAG board members. Every city in the county has one elected official on the board except the city of San Diego and the county, which both have two.

The mayor did not attend the October meeting when SANDAG approved its regional transportation plan, sending Councilwoman Lorie Zapf as an alternate. She voted for it.

Capretz said she hasn't seen the final draft of Faulconer's plan to carry out his climate action goals but so far is pleased with what she's seen.

"But one of core bottom lines, in addition to what he’s going to do with his own city's budget and plans, is making sure the regional transportation plan does not get funded," she said.

Corrected:
KPBS reporter Andrew Bowen contributed to this story.