New California Assembly Bill Would Reform SANDAG, Local Transit Agencies
Legislation that would introduce reforms to the embattled San Diego Association of Governments and two area transit agencies was introduced in the state Legislature Monday.
The bill by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, D-San Diego, would have the governing boards of SANDAG, the Metropolitan Transit System and North County Transit District provide proportional representation based on member city populations.
AB 805 would also require SANDAG, the regional planning agency comprised of local government leaders, to employ an independent auditor. The auditor would report to an Audit Committee made up of private citizens.
The bill comes on the heels of revelations that SANDAG staff discovered that its revenue projections for a tax hike proposition on last fall's election ballot were faulty, but didn't make any changes or report the error to board members.
Measure A, which would have increased the sales tax to pay for infrastructure and environmental projects, gained a majority of support but not the two-thirds necessary for passage.
"Taxpayers deserve more than they've received in the past from SANDAG," said Gonzalez Fletcher, who chairs the Assembly's Appropriations Committee. "Anyone who watched the Measure A debacle and its fallout knows it's time to reform the way we raise and spend transportation dollars in the San Diego region."
SANDAG officials did not immediately comment.
The assemblywoman said her legislation would allow the MTS and NCTD to pursue their own tax hike initiatives, and provide for further accountability.
"When billions of dollars of taxpayer money are at stake, as well as the work commutes and public health of every San Diegan, we need to strengthen the checks and balances of the people," Gonzalez Fletcher said.
"The current system is beholden to an arcane voting system that doesn't reflect the county's population and concentrates too much power with bureaucrats instead of the leaders that are elected to make tough decisions," she said.
SANDAG's board is comprised of elected officials from the 18 area cities and county of San Diego. Each has one representative except for the city of San Diego and county of San Diego, which have two each.
Other governmental entities, such as the Navy, Caltrans, the MTS and NCTD, have representatives sitting on the board in an advisory capacity, but don't have voting rights.