Small cities throughout the county are lining up to tell Sacramento they aren’t too keen on a plan to dramatically reform SANDAG.

National City, Coronado, Poway and Escondido have all passed resolutions opposing AB 805, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher’s move to increase oversight of the scandal-plagued agency and overhaul its decision-making structure.

La Mesa and Encinitas are set to consider resolutions too. And a committee for the Metropolitan Transit System opposed the measure Thursday.

You could say they don’t like it.

The bill would enact a series of oversight-related reforms to SANDAG, after Voice of San Diego revealed the agency knowingly relied on flawed revenue forecasts for an existing tax increase and a proposed tax measure, and failed to disclose for a full year an $8 billion cost increase in projects from the existing tax measure.

Gonzalez Fletcher’s bill would also make the votes on SANDAG’s board proportional to each city’s population, giving bigger cities more say on decisions. And it would make the two largest cities – right now, San Diego and Chula Vista – the chair and vice chair of the board.

We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?

Escondido Mayor Sam Abed, in comments before the Escondido City Council voted to oppose the measure, said the measure would disenfranchise smaller cities.

“This is unprecedented overreach by the state on local government,” he said. “This is nothing but political grandstanding by Assemblywoman Gonzalez (sic), and I think she’s using the problem with overprojections to really pass a bill to break down (SANDAG).”

Escondido City Councilwoman Olga Diaz said she opposed making the mayors of San Diego and Chula Vista permanent chair and vice chair – but wanted to request changes to the legislation, instead of opposing it outright.

“Sacramento is not doing anything to us,” she said. “Our local representative, who is from San Diego, and represents a portion of our county, proposed this. From that perspective, it is initiated locally.”

She said the measure came from Gonzalez Fletcher because SANDAG failed to oversee itself.

“You guys say it all the time: local control. Well, who had control?” Diaz said. (Disclosure: Diaz is a member of Voice of San Diego’s board of directors.)

La Mesa Councilman Colin Parent issued a memo supporting the bill, saying La Mesa would be a net beneficiary of a stronger San Diego, since the cities share a border – and therefore freeways and transit lines. Councilwoman Kristine Alessio wrote a memo opposing it, arguing the changes would hurt smaller cities and turn SANDAG into an extension of the city of San Diego.

Gonzalez Fletcher said she doesn’t expect the votes to influence the Legislature. National City, she joked, doesn’t stand a chance to lobby its Assembly representative to change positions (it’s her). She also said National City voted against its own interests in opposing the bill.

“It’s San Diego – it’s the epitome of the old boy’s network,” she said. “They’ve maintained their personal power for decades, and this upsets that.”

She said she’s open to changes to the bill after hearing some concerns, like over the requirement that each city is represented on the board by its mayor, not a Council member.

She also said she’s already discussed the bill with Gov. Jerry Brown. He came to her asking for her support for his transportation plan, and she brought up AB 805.

“If he’s going to talk to me about my vote for transportation funding, I’ll talk about my bill to reform our transportation agency,” she said. “I know he doesn’t like to look at local things, but SANDAG is written into state law, so this is how it has to be fixed. He said we’ll definitely follow up and look at it. I took it as a chance to talk about transportation issues as part of a broad discussion.”

    This article relates to: Government, Land Use, Must Reads, SANDAG, State Government

    Written by Andrew Keatts

    I'm Andrew Keatts, a reporter for Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you'd like at or 619.325.0529.

    Walt Brewer
    Walt Brewer subscribermember

    Is AB-805 to become a model for other California Metro Area Planning..

    Awhile after SB-375 was enacted, San Diego and one other M PO were assigned to be models for others. MPOs(Fresno?).

    Apparently Regional Plans, 2050 RTP, and San Diego Forward, the latter merging Transportation with the Comprehensive Plan, were thus produced  by SANDAG.

    Walt Brewer
    Walt Brewer subscribermember

    Setting aside SANDAG factors such as membership, voting, levels of representation, accuracy and distribution of funds data,  AB-805 needs correction of total function and resulting performance.

         - As the 4 committees show, more than transportation is analyzed and planed. Comprehensive and regional in particular. San Diego Forward for the first time included transportation as a part of the Regional Plan to 2050. Although discussion and funding have been primarily about transportation performance. The non-mobile facilities are at least as high in GHG generation.

         -Public transportation, currently meaning mass transit, though expensive, carries less than 2% of travel, optimistically rising to only 3.7% by 2050.Road transportation the associated vehicles, parking facilities etc are the major transportation factor for the region, and major source of energy and GHG reduction to meet CARB standards.

          -Public transportation should replace public transit, respecting appearance of new technology, and modes in the future.

         -Thus the degree and skill  to which  SANDAG performs systems analyses and selections for funding in the public interest of all the mobile and non-mobiles facilities devices and vehicles for the whole region and its environment, is the primary basis for its performance evaluation

    ZachW subscriber

    Right now SANDAG is unfairly designed to favor small cities in the county. It's UNFAIR NOW. What Gonzalez wants to do is make the weight of SANDAG votes proportional to population. What is wrong with that? The city of San Diego is the largest city in the county and serves as the transportation hub for the region. It's stupid to think Vista or El Cajon or Santee would have a more weighted say on our infrastructure. Personally, I don't think those places should have ANY say about the transit in the CITY of San Diego. I hope his bill passes. Let the smaller cities whine all they want to, they've had more controll over our regions transit than they should for decades and look what it's given us: one of the most transit-inept poorly planned large cities in the world.