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SANDAG Reform Bill Heads To Governor's Desk

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, D-San Diego, at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. on Aug. 29, 2016.
Associated Press
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, D-San Diego, at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. on Aug. 29, 2016.
SANDAG Reform Bill Heads To Governor's Desk
SANDAG Reform Bill Heads To Governor's Desk GUEST: Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, 80th District

Our top story, big changes can be coming to the way our regional planning agency, SANDAG, is governed. Legislation to radically shift the balance of power to the state assembly yesterday, and is now on its way to the governor's desk. The bill is be 805 and the author, join us out. Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher.Thank you for having me.Why do we need this bill?I think anyone paying attention to our regional transportation agency, realizes that SANDAG has been in need of reform and unable to reform itself. After a litany of mistakes and possibly this projections, we are going to ensure that SANDAG has an audit committee, independent honor, it sure there is better representation for the people of San Diego County. Right now, there is representation, based on city and not based on population. This will be a hybrid approach that allows one vote per person and will let us invest more in transit and let us invest more in things besides cars. I think it is a step forward. It allows some of our lowest areas of representation to finally get some representation.Weekly, how does AB 805 change SANDAG and the representation?It's a very complex voting structure right now. Basically the ten cities in San Diego that have less than 50% of the population, can say no to anything. Any proposal that comes forward. This will ensure if there is disagreement among the cities in San Diego that they can call for a population -based vote. As long as four cities and the majority of representatives of the majority of people want certain proposals, that can get through. It will continue to have a one city one vote dynamic, but that can be undone if the cities with the majority amount of people want a different outcome.Critics have called this a power grab is it means that if you cities, for example San Diego, Chula Vista, could overrule everyone else on the board. There is no guarantee that they would keep old regions interests in mind. Others sick is the prevent SANDAG. Join the rest of the county?In life we know that government is developed on a one person one vote basis. This will more easily follow along that. Our County water Authority has a proportional vote structure, we don't hear a lot of one city ganging up on other cities. That doesn't happen. This is still regional government. We have to ensure certain funds, especially federal funds, are spent on a population -based approach. This doesn't allow San Diego to do a big power grab. What it does do is changes some of the way our transportation plans luck. Right now, unfortunately because we have small cities with may be less views, less favorable views towards science and climate change, we have outcomes but don't reflect the majority of San Diego County. I think we will see that change. The idea that we don't have to address these big, greenhouse gas emission issues. That really has been lacking in SANDAG's approach to regional transportation. With this type of approach where we have population base, we will have cities that are structured a little different that have accepted climate change as we know it and can move transportation decisions based on the.Can you give specifics of cities that do not seem to make climate change a party?Seven East and North County who still do not believe climate change is man-made and something that needs to be addressed. Unfortunately, that is not the fact. looking at the scientific backed over 50% of greenhouse gas emissions come from cars and San Diego County. We know we have to do something in order to implement with the state requires us to do. That meets a bigger investment in public transit and light rail and buses. It means we have to ensure that our developments are more dense and we are not just expanding out to the backcountry. Some of that takes a political resolve we haven't seen from SANDAG indicate.Escondido mayor told the San Diego Union Tribune yesterday he is interested in suing the state for what he calls government overreach. To think the measure will get tied up in litigation?That is absolutely ridiculous. Again unfortunately he does not seem to understand the Constitution any more than he understands climate change. It is clear SANDAG was created in state law. The only way it can be changed is through state law. If original transportation agency, and its composition, was actually dictated in law then you need to change it to the state as well. I'm not really sure what legal basis he would have for suing the state, but that's a different world from our lives.Your bill would create an auditor. What role they play? Do you think they are still needed given the former executive Director -- exec Director, Gary Gallegos, recently resigned?I think it's been clear that although he resigned there were fundamental problems the way we have been doing projections at SANDAG and it wasn't just him but a culture that did not allow for independent investigation of the numbers. Having an auditor is kind of a government best practice. We do it at the city and a number of other agencies and it allows the public some resolved to know that when things are introduced, when they say if you pass these projects are going to come forward, there is certainty that the numbers matchup. I think an auditor will give us a spirit but if you heard from the governor's office. Is it a done deal that he will sign it?You never know at this governor. We are still working with the Governors office. We had multiple discussions about transportation policy. We passed a number of transportation bills and funding measures this year. Throughout this discussion I was very clear that we have challenges in South San Diego and the South Bay and San Diego central, about the decisions made by our regional transportation agencies. As we increase funding and spending in the region, the governor knows this is a priority.Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, thank you so much for joining us.Thanks, Alison.

A measure that would reform how San Diego's regional planning agency is governed and give tax powers to the North County Transit District and Metropolitan Transit System passed the State Assembly Monday, sending the measure to Gov. Jerry Brown.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher, D-San Diego, authored AB 805, which would overhaul the San Diego Association of Governments. SANDAG currently passes measures after a tally vote, where each municipality in the county gets one vote, and a weighted vote, with more heavily populated jurisdictions getting a greater vote. The bill would allow projects to pass with just a weighted vote, as long as at least four jurisdictions vote in favor, giving more power to larger cities such as San Diego and Chula Vista.

RELATED: Investigation Details How SANDAG Pushed Boundaries Of Public Records Law

The bill would also create an independent auditor to oversee the agency's performance. Voice of San Diego has reported SANDAG overestimated how much money the failed Measure A tax increase would bring in. SANDAG staffers didn't tell board members or the public despite knowing about the discrepancy before the 2016 election. Former executive director Gary Gallegos retired last month amid the scandal.

Gonzalez Fletcher joined KPBS Midday Edition on Tuesday to discuss the prospect of AB 805 becoming law.