Power Shifts to Cities in San Diego County's Embattled Regional Planning Agency

Larger cities in California's second most populous county will be given more power thanks to a bill that reforms the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG). One result may be that more public transit measures appear on the ballot.

October 16, 2017, 12:00 PM PDT

By Irvin Dawid


Gaslamp Quarter

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

"The San Diego Association of Governments, known as SANDAG, has for months been beset by allegations of mismanagement and negligence," reports Joshua Emerson Smith for the Union-Tribune. California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 805 (proposed by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, D-San Diego) on Oct. 11, shifting the balance of power on the 21-member board representing 18 cities and county governments in favor of the larger cities in the county.

“This changes everything,” said Nicole Capretz, executive director of the San Diego-based Climate Action Campaign. “Finally we have a real opportunity to design a new, more modern transportation system that priorities public transit, biking and walking as options.”

Opponents have called it “all-out assault” on local control.

Tony Krvaric, chairman of the Republican Party of San Diego County, said the agency overhaul is “a shameful power grab by Sacramento Democrats, leaving the majority of cities in our county at the mercy of the two largest [San Diego and Chula Vista].” 

The Union-Tribune, which opposed the bill, nevertheless praised reporter Andrew Keatts of the online-only Voice of San Diego, "who uncovered the financial forecasting scandal that shredded SANDAG’s credibility," in their editorial on Oct. 13.

But new weighted votes are a loss for smaller cities like El Cajon, La Mesa, National City, Poway, San Marcos, Solana Beach and Vista. It’s why they and The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board opposed Gonzalez Fletcher’s power play.

One result, they write, will be to "expect more agreement on transit" and less on major highway expansion projects.

In addition, AB 805 gives the county's two major transit providers, the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System and the North County Transit District, the ability to go directly to the voters to fund projects rather than working through SANDAG, reported Smith last March.

Environmentalists and labor groups opposed SANDAG's half-cent transportation sales tax, Measure A, last November. It received 58 percent of the vote, but needed to pass with a two-thirds supermajority, like all transportation sales taxes in the state.

Hat tip to MTC-ABAG library.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017 in The San Diego Union-Tribune

Indian Trail, North Carolina

Four ‘Low-Hanging Fruit’ Zoning Reforms

An excerpt from the latest book on zoning argues for four approaches to reform that can immediately improve land use regulation in the United States.

June 26, 2022 - M. Nolan Gray

View south along Interstate 45 (North Freeway) from the ramp between westbound Interstate 10 and southbound Interstate 45 in Houston, Harris County, Texas

Houston Apartments To Be Demolished for Freeway Widening

Despite a federal hold on the controversial freeway widening project, the Texas Department of Transportation is pushing ahead with the demolition of an apartment complex in downtown Houston.

7 hours ago - Houston Chronicle

Car Traffic

San Francisco Just Ended Single-Family Zoning

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to Tuesday to eliminate single-family zoning, but pro-development advocates say additional changes are needed to unleash a wave of construction.

June 29, 2022 - San Francisco Chronicle

Bakersfield and Fresno Sign

California Budget Includes $4.2 Billion for High-Speed Rail

The recently approved state budget directs $4.2 billion in bond funding to the Bakersfield-to-Merced leg of California’s long-awaited high-speed rail project.

2 hours ago - Sfist

Joe Biden exits a limousine, surrounded by security and staffers, on the way to the Marine One helicopter on a pad near the water in New York City.

Biden’s Environmental Legacy (So Far)

President Biden campaigned on promises to restore many of the environmental regulations rolled back by the previous administration, while promising new efforts to tackle environmental injustice and climate change.

3 hours ago - The Washington Post

Police officer with POLICE on the back of their vest with police car in the background

Help! Not Police! Crisis Responses That Avert Police Calls

Cities, court systems, citizen groups, and affordable housing operators are crafting ways of responding to emergencies that reduce the risk of negative police interactions.

4 hours ago - Shelterforce Magazine

New Updates on The Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

International Real Estate Strategies and Deal Negotiation

Harvard Graduate School of Design Executive Education

Affordable Housing: Principles for Changing Domestic and Global Markets

Harvard Graduate School of Design Executive Education

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.