Written by Amanda Williams
After operating without accountability or transparency, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) is finally facing the consequences of their actions. On Friday, Assemblywoman Marie Waldron, a Republican representing Escondido, filed legislation that would prohibit SANDAG from shifting money away from promised road projects unless the shift was approved by voters.
The bill, known as Assembly Bill 1398 or the Government Modernization Act of 2019, forces SANDAG to have a minimum of four public meetings and also obtain a minimum of two-thirds approval by voters. Furthermore, the approval must come from a special election since the changes in question involve designated funds that were promised back in 2004 through an annex of Transnet—a tax that funds local infrastructure projects. The ultimate purpose of the bill is to prevent the reckless spending that SANDAG has been employing over the past several years.
Assemblywoman Waldron rightly recognized the reckless spending and has shown her commitment to fixing the issue. Through the “gut and amend” process, she took a bill that had made little progress and modified it with the appropriate language to hold SANDAG accountable. According to Waldron, transparency and honesty from SANDAG are vital since they are dealing with taxpayer dollars.
The major complaints directed towards SANDAG began earlier in the year. The agency had released its intentions of focusing primarily on expanding the County’s public transportation network. Even last week, the agency released tentative financial and construction plans for the new and improved network.
Yet, this shift in priorities has put promised road projects in North and East County on the back burner. Moreover, elected officials from both counties have expressed their anger and frustration towards the agency by opposing all plans for the new transit network.
While the bill awaits to be brought in front of the State Assembly and State Senate, Assemblywoman Marie Waldron took a momentous step in the right direction with regard to holding SANDAG accountable. The bill would enforce the transparency voters deserve and keep SANDAG from mismanaging taxpayer money for any longer.