Written by Destiny Garcia-Rodriguez
The San Diego Association of Governments has proposed a new transportation plan that has the overall intention of reducing the number of cars on the road. The plan consists of charging a total of 6 cents for VMT (Vehicle Miles Traveled). In other words, anytime you want to drive to get to work, school, etc. you will be taxed based on how many miles you drive. The plan has been pushed by SANDAG’s Executive Director, Hasan Ikhrata, who holds a Master’s Degree in Civil and Industrial Engineering from Zaporozhye University in the former Soviet Union. Before coming to San Diego, Ikhrata worked for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
The intent behind this plan is to dramatically reduce personal transportation to increase the use of public transportation. The issue behind this is not only the dramatic increase of cost for driving as a whole considering the tax and rising gasoline prices but also the lack of effective public transportation systems. For example, many areas such as the suburbs of San Diego County have very little access to public transportation systems. The concerns continue to increase as more challenges present themselves with the proposed plan from SANDAG.
Mayor of San Marcos, Rebecca Jones who is also on the board of SANDAG has expressed her frustration that aligns with that of many citizens of San Diego regarding this proposal. Jones stated, “I have and will continue to adamantly oppose any VMT fee in the County of San Diego.” Meaning she will do her best to assure that common sense is used before making drastic decisions that will change many people’s everyday lives as this one will.
While the plan has been presented to the board there is very little opposition against it as it has support from many of SANDAG’s Board of Directors. This Board is made up of two elected officials from each city in San Diego County, the Mayor being one and a City Council Member as the second. With the 2022 election right around the corner, San Diego Democrats are hoping to flip many Republican-held seats in local races to help push this VMT tax through.