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Quality of Life

Taxpayers Association Endorses SANDAG Tax Increase Measure

Associated Press
Traffic on a San Diego freeway is shown in this file photo, Nov. 22, 2011.

The San Diego County Taxpayers Association on Wednesday endorsed a November ballot measure to raise the region's sales tax by a half-cent to pay for infrastructure projects.

The San Diego County Road Repair, Transit, Traffic Relief, Safety and Water Quality Measure would raise an estimated $18 billion over 40 years to improve freeways, fund municipal road repairs and build a trolley line between San Ysidro and Kearny Mesa, among other things.

"The Taxpayers Association supports (San Diego Association of Governments') plan to improve public transportation and mobility for the following reasons — the agency operates effectively and efficiently, it has an excellent track record of leveraging state and federal funds for local projects, it delivers on its promises to voters, and this plan will reduce traffic and commute times, which will improve our quality of life," said Haney Hong, the taxpayer group's president and CEO.

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The funds would also pay for brush clearance, synchronization of traffic signals and boost water recycling efforts, supporters said.

"The (San Diego County Taxpayers Association) Board of Directors voted unanimously to support this measure because it strikes the right balance," SANDAG Chairman Ron Roberts said. "The measure guarantees that the infrastructure projects most critical to our regional economy will be completed, while providing the oversight and accountability needed to ensure taxpayer funds are spent wisely."

The measure has created some unusual political bedfellows.

Roberts — the Republican county supervisor — is leading the charge in favor of the tax hike, along with three local Democratic members of Congress and City Councilman Todd Gloria. On the other side are San Diego's Republican mayor, Kevin Faulconer, and a host of environmental organizations that contend SANDAG's plan doesn't emphasize public transit over freeway projects enough.

The Sierra Club announced Tuesday that it would oppose the measure, which requires two-thirds voter approval to pass.

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"SANDAG's ballot measure will do nothing to relieve traffic congestion, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the health of our communities," said Davin Widgerow, chairman of the club's San Diego affiliate.

"It will spend our hard-earned tax dollars to worsen traffic problems; it fails to invest in systemic public transportation infrastructure; and it does not guarantee good jobs for local workers," Widgerow said. "SANDAG's measure is bad for our environment, bad for underserved communities, bad for public transit, bad for taxes and bad for workers."