A bill in Sacramento would overhaul SANDAG , and board members for the regional agency have settled on their argument against it.

Local control.

SANDAG collects tax revenue and spends it on major transportation projects throughout the county. The board is made up of local elected officials.

But now the agency  is facing a scandal , which is why Sacramento took notice.

SANDAG staff relied on a false forecast for a tax measure last year, misleading voters on how much revenue the tax would bring in. The agency also spent a year pretending its spending plan was $8 billion cheaper than it really was. Leaders have since admitted both of these facts, and that SANDAG is now facing a $17 billion shortfall. They’re hiring a law firm to investigate what happened.

Dealing with these problems, board members say, is a matter best left to them.


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

“Reforms of this type should start, be debated, and decided locally,” said SANDAG board chair and County Supervisor Ron Roberts at a recent county board hearing.

We decided to look into a recent example of that oversight.

In December, SANDAG staff delivered a 37 minute presentation outlining for the first time that it had been relying on a false forecast and that its project costs increased by $8 billion.

Here’s how the board reacted to that revelation.

Photo courtesy of Kristine Alessio

Photo courtesy of Catherine Blakespear

Photo by Sam Hodgson

La Mesa Councilwoman Kristine Alessio:
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Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear:
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San Diego Council President Myrtle Cole:
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Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

Photo courtesy of City of San Marcos

Photo courtesy of Carrie Downey

Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina:
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San Marcos Mayor Jim Desmond:
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Coronado Councilwoman Carrie Downey:
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Photo by Sam Hodgson

Photo courtesy of Jerry Jones

Photo courtesy of City of Santee

County Supervisor Diane Jacob:
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Lemon Grove Councilman Jerry Jones:
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Santee Mayor John Minto:
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Photo courtesy of Judy Ritter

Ron Roberts

Photo by Bianca Bruno

Vista Mayor Judy Ritter:
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County Supervisor Ron Roberts:
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Chula Vista Mayor Mary Salas:
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Photo courtesy of Resolusean Photography

Photo courtesy of Steve Vaus

Photo by Sam Hodgson

Del Mar Vice Mayor Terry Sinnott:
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Poway Mayor Steve Vaus:
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Oceanside Mayor Jim Wood:
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Photo by Sam Hodgson

San Diego Councilwoman Lorie Zapf: “In the interest of time, I’m going to move on, I have to leave here too, so.”

Roberts: “In the interest of time I’m going to applaud your action.”

Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall, El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells, Escondido Mayor Sam Abed and National City Mayor Ron Morrison were absent that day. They didn’t get to say anything either.

    This article relates to: Government, News

    Written by Andrew Keatts

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

    2 comments
    Jerry Jones
    Jerry Jones

    There is a proper time and place to ask questions and it doesn't always coincide with the time that an ambitious reporter and internet lynch mob will dictate. Interesting enough that this article took three months of it's own chirping to hit the press.


    Anyone truly feeling the pinch of the “Great Recession” and the heartache of looking out for the public's interest in these times knows that the rules have changed. No one was smart enough to have predicted the crash and I haven't seen one prediction or accurate projection as to how and when things will return to “normal” if ever. Hind sight and “armchair quarterbacking” do not solve the problem. Certainly Sacramento has shown no advanced intelligence in this area either.


    The proposal to change Sandag's structure is nothing but a power grab by a disgruntled Sacramento politician who's constituents didn't get their way. Anyone that looks at what Measure A would have paid for and who voted to approve Measure A will see that the same lines define the district of that disgruntled politician, Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher. If she get's her way, aided by this article's author, then regional collaboration and local control are dead. There are 17 cities in this county that chose to define their own path, good or bad, and Sacramento should not force the will of the City of San Diego and the assembly distinct of Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher on the rest of us.


    Sandag will never be popular with everyone and maybe not anyone. There are too many geographical differences and jurisdictional interests for everyone to get everything they want. Sandag affairs will always be a struggle but it's our struggle and our decisions to make, not a publisher and not Sacramento. If we make the wrong decisions then our councils and our constituents are the ones to make the change.


    It's not the questions I have take issue with here but timing and motive to concentration power and money for the City of San Diego and it's special interests at the expense of the rest of the county. The struggle here is the same one we, as American's, have with congress. We hate the institution sometimes but love our representatives. Would we do away with congress or even part of it like the Senate? That's what's being proposed in all of these articles, to change Sandag from the outside.

    Bob Gardner
    Bob Gardner subscriber

    Our politicians at their best. With everything going on in this state, this county, and this city (all of them in the county), tis time to vote every politician out of office. Then the next thing is to put an initiative on the ballot that no politician can receive any government pension (except Social Security) for their time in office. This ludicrousness has got to stop. Politicians can always find money for their pet projects and justify every stupid action they take. Tis time for the voters here to stand up and say, hell no we're not going to take it anymore. We need to elect people who will SERVE the people and make the bureaucrats do their jobs.