San Diego's Dueling Transportation Plans Under Fire
You are listening to midday edition. On my sour. The regional transportation plan will be loaded on standby this San Diego associate who of San Diego. The ideas to get more people out of cars and by using icicles and walking. To environmental groups say sandbag plan clashes with this San Diego goals with this climate plan. Joining me in the studio is Nicole, she is the executive director for the climate action can be. Welcome. Hello. It's good to see you today. Policy Council welcome. A little later we're going to be hearing from to San Diego officials on this topic. Let's start out over here. Scumbags original plan didn't have specific data on the number of people expecting to commute on bike or public transit the plan. How did you come up with the numbers? These numbers that we found worse and tags own numbers. The climate action plan for San Diego encourages them to meet goals by Wike biking are taking chance. It is not for the areas within a half-mile of transit. They only publish it for the regionwide, not within the narrow set of places near transit.@Circulate, we look at that and we want to know the answer. We did a public read card access and asked San Dag to not run the numbers based on the criteria that was Kurt current with the action plan. We published it in a report. What did you find? We found that there was a according to San Dag, that their regional transportation plan will have considerable less people walking biking and taking transferred that is required by the city of San Diego action plan. Coal, you say based on the datacom it is mathematically impossible for the city of San Diego, to achieve its transit and active transportation goals with the transportation network that paper he is planning, how does that make the goals impossible to achieve -- achieve? There is a gap with a vision that San Dag has with the vision. From our perspective, we want to make sure the two agencies understood that this disparity existed. They need to start talking to each other, leveraging resources, and find a solution. We have heard that there has been positive momentum. Or has been conversations to help both of us move forward together and hopefully we can work in tandem to achieve success. While that is a positive note then, the city goal of 50% in the transit areas, what are we talking about? The transit priority areas are a half-mile radius around transit stations or high really good bus quarters. Israel or bus quarters. Of -- Okay. We are trying to get folks out of cars. 50% of the residents in those areas, we want them to bike what are going transit. That's a big goal. Is that realistic? Absolutely. Especially when you look at more urbanized areas. Is looking at the central quote -- postal core where there is population density and there are more opportunities to work close to where they walk anyone alternative transportation. The city Council is not expected to vote later this year. At the San Dag bore, their vote is next week. What does that do for the chances on the city planned? We are still 100% behind action plan. Our main issue and release the report was to spur conversation. It was to spur consciousness about the disparity and to make sure that those two institutions communicated. What we are saying they aren't communicating successfully. We wanted to way -- raise the profile of the issue. We think there will be a new way forward and we will be able to achieve the goals that the city has. How would you like to see San Dag change if we want to meld these two? What we've been asking for from San Dag is to meet the city halfway. The city has these goals . They want to encourage more biking and transit. San Dag , we want them to step forward and help address that. One of the primary ways they can do that is to make the transit projects that are already in their plan, to occur earlier and they are the planning. There are a bunch of great trolley improvements that are plan. A lot of which aren't going to be built for 20 years. 20 years is too long to wait. We have been asking San Dag to see what it can do to bring those projects into earlier periods. San Dag says, rephrasing, it doesn't do much . What is your response? At first they said that they could do any changes to basic. Then they recently just yesterday, or the day before, showed a model of what it would take to bring projects forward to earlier periods the plan. On every metric it had better performance than the current plan that they put forward. They actually can do this, it has better outcomes. The question is for us, is how do we get them to do that? If not this plan them for a regional quality of life plan? Is that a lot better? Visited big chance? It depends. Is 100 times less carbon be omitted a big change? I would say that it is. I will interject that actually San Dag has modeled an early transit strategy that identifies in the downtown area, in the central coastal region comment in North coastal region comment that we can get more. That is exactly where we need to invest the resources. Just given some of the changing messages from San Dag with in the past we, I would say that the report has been a success. Finally, the mayor and it Council and the San Dag board and management team is working together to find solutions. A little bit of time left on her segment. The San Diego reps, are they going to support this San Dag plan? There is an interesting conflict . It is unclear. We will be talking about the two written representatives. It is unclear on how they're going to vote. At the end of the day, we are looking at positive movement for. Regardless of the vote next week, we want to make sure that again they are coordinating resources and making sure the city reduces their carbon footprint. We are going to take a break and we are going to hear from to San Dag officials. It is 230 and you are listening to KPBS . Welcome back to midday edition on KPBS. I am Mark -- Mike Sauer. We will continue with the San Dag -- KPBS plan. Welcome. -- KPBS , Gary. Thank you Mark. Let's start with you Gary, we have heard from an EMR malice and if they do cities transportation goal are out of whack. 50% boost in getting cars -- getting folks out of cars. What is your response to that? I think it is important to note that the plan that the city is working on is based on our path. It is the areas where tran -- San Dag is already citywide. Our system will help build along with what the city does. A very quick example, if we look at the light rail that we are going to build up in the La Jolla. On opening day, it is going to have a lot more capacity. We have -- as we change directed, ours is the foundation. We want to identify how we can scale the numbers that. It is not conceivable that our numbers are out of whack. Our numbers are based on what we know today. We already see over the last 20 years that San Diego has changed a lot as what it thought it would look like and what looks like today. Is there going to be enough city transit there as we move on? Back I think the key is that it can scale up. Is like the light rail line. It is not going to be full on day one. But you built the foundation of the transportation system and it will allow you to scale up or down to meet the actual demands. Circulate San Diego, the calling on San Dag to face the plan to help the city region's goal, San Dag looked into refacing. What did you find? They assess to do quite a bit of work. What if we brief face the projects and the results were that in order for us to re-phase things, it takes things out of balance. If we move project, move money from one project to another, we have to lemonade a project which is very important. Plus there are certain realities for the time it takes to get a project done. There is design work, as well as the construction, what we found is that a good balance is the timeline that we put together. Let's talk about the plan itself, what investment is San Dag making in public transit and making it easier for people to get to work on foot and bike in your 2050 plan? The bottom line is that about $100 billion investment over the next 35 years, what that buys this is by new trolley lines, 10 or 12 PRT lines, 20 new rabbit lines, to intermodal centers, vices increase service on the coaster along the coast, the second busiest real quarter country day, it increase the risk on the center in North County. That is a pretty extensive package. Is a bus route where we are using the managed lanes that we are building on the road. I think it's a good example where the buses get a priority so that we can make and give traveler let's say a very competitive choice on how he or she gets downtown if that is where they are going. There a rapid bus that gives them a priority treatment city don't get how -- caught up in the normal congestion. What are some of the challenges and coming up with a regional plan like this where you have to deal with San Diego and all of the surrounding area? There are a variety of competing interests. There are a variety of different goals that we need to achieve. We are going to growing million people between now and 2050. We are going to create new you living units, we're going to have 500,000 jobs. We have greenhouse gas goals to accomplish. We know that some people want to use transit as a bus. Some people used trolley. Some people are going to drive. There are going to be different kinds of Carson future. There is going to be different types of fuels being used in the future. Is a moving target. We're trying to put the things together and meet the demands of 18 communities in the county. As I said earlier, it is a significant balancing act. We are dealing with the a trench culture here in Southern California. For any regional planner, that is the difficult thing. We love our cars. It is also about giving San Diego people choices so that you have a choice. Whether it's biking or walking or you make public transit, you have to figure out what is going to work for you. I do have an electric car. One thing I did want to say was in Europe, one of those pressures to get folks to public transit, it is much higher and more realistic. Gas pricing with the damage that it does with the environment here, we still have low gas prices and their following. It works against what we are trying to do. Those are the issues that are way beyond the court troll -- control of the city or county or regional government. It is way out of our control. I'm not going to get into cap and trade and all of that. Let me ask you about what the current plan does to meet the state's targets to reduce greenhouse emissions. We have to target. Those targets are seven and 13% reductions per capita. Plan is coming for the board to get us to 40% reduction and 20% reduction. This plan is coming for and it exceeds the targets by a fair number. The board is planning to vote next week on original plan. Are you seen support from the board? I would wait for the board votes and see where we are at. The board has been very engaged. This is been board driven. We have aboard the spent three years putting the plan together. They have gone through a full process to get to this point. This is not something that is brand-new the board. They have been working on it for three years. We have been working on this for three years. We have been working with North County on and they are concerned and East County in downtown. Is a balancing act to take care of the best we can for all their needs of the region. The environmental impact report for San Dag transportation plan faced some legal challenges. What did you take from that experience to improve the environmental impact report with the current plan? There was a lot more assessment in the document. There was a health assessment that was more robust than we did last time. The alternatives that we look like or more robust. The board chose to use the executive orders as a threshold of significance. That is one of the contentions that is before the Supreme Court today. We have taken steps to strengthen the environmental document to provide more disclosure to the public and to everybody about what this entails. As I mentioned earlier, it is a moving target. Things change in a change rapidly in energy feel. We update these plans. The next one is coming in five years time is that right? By law all we are required to update every four years. The first five years the plan, the stuff we are actually spending money on? That is pretty solid stuff. When you look at a long-range plan, every five your income at that you look at in the future, who knows? Technology will change. Conditions will change. We update these every four years. It gives our board and the reason -- region a chance to adjust. Stuff will get reviewed many times. We are going to see if the meeting of the discussion of that. We have seen environmental groups way and. The public, pay attention to this comment they watch regional plans. You want to comment before you go? Over the last three year -- three years we have been all over the region where people tell us what their concerns are. On the RTP, we have some thousand comments. Is that right? People really do pay attention. It is hard for anybody to get their mind around two or three decades out, that is the point of San Dag . That is what it is about. You expect you will get a lot of comment before the next vote here in the next meeting? There has been a public process to go through a three-year process. You don't just get this and put it on the streets for the public to react. We have workshops. We have outreach. We have focus groups. We have ways to get in hard to reach communities with organizations that help us do that. Over that three-year period, we have gotten 7000+ comments. We expect on Friday for Comet is not uncommon when these come up, you will have a long line of speakers that will have a lot of input and a lot of things to say. The board will take this into account. We are out of time. I have been speaking with board chair and Jack Dale, and San Dag director. Thanks to you both. Thank you.
In the report, New Climate for Transportation, Circulate San Diego and the Climate Action Campaign said they used SANDAG data to compare the goals for the number of residents commuting by walking, biking and taking public transit by 2035 in the city of San Diego. The city's Climate Action Plan goal is to have 50 percent of city residents who live in the transit priority area commute by foot, bike or transit by 2035, while the goal of the transportation system in SANDAG's San Diego Forward plan is for 15 percent to commute without a car.
"We don't have any qualms with the specific projects that they have identified for public transit and active transportation," said Nicole Capretz, executive director of Climate Action Campaign and co-author of the report. "We're challenging the phasing of the projects."
Capretz said she is calling on SANDAG to work with the city to help meet the climate goals of the Climate Action Plan.
Gary Gallegos, executive director for SANDAG, said the San Diego Forward plan does just that.
"We work closely with the city so the high priority transit areas the city is wanting to work on are based on the investments we're going to make," Gallegos said. "(It's) roughly a $100 billion investment over a five year period and the city will then build on those because land and other regulations that the land use authority have are a driver for the city's plan so they will help the city achieve their goals."
SANDAG's board will vote on whether to approve the San Diego Forward plan on Oct. 9.
Capretz, Gallegos, Colin Parent, policy counsel for Circulate San Diego, and Jack Dale, board chair for SANDAG and a Santee City Councilman, will discuss the report findings and transportation plans Thursday on Midday Edition.