Written by William Hekman
The cities of Vista and Escondido both passed resolutions opposing the mileage tax that is being proposed by SANDAG. The mileage tax is the four-cent-per-mile tax that has generated controversy since many people see the tax as a way to force people out of their cars and onto public transportation, which would be a nightmare for almost all San Diegans. The tax is part of a SANDAG plan to increase ridership to 10% to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.
Vista City Councilman John Franklin put the resolution forward after a number of residents voiced their concerns of the SANDAG plan. Councilmembers Franklin and Joe Green along with Mayor Judy Ritter, who represents Vista on SANDAG, voted for the resolution and voiced their concerns about SANDAG’s failure to be transparent about the gas tax and subsidies. SANDAG also scrapped a number of projects along Highway 79 and Interstate 5 and 15. Green called the tax “an undue burden” on low-income residents and criticized the plan to create tolls on Highway 78. The only vote against the resolution was Corrina Contreras, who claimed that plan would bring relief to motorists. Mayor Ritter said in response to Contreras’ vote, “ My email is blowing up against it. I got one in support. I had so many emails I gave up responding. I worry the VMT is going to hurt people who have to drive the most. People who don’t have money will be hurt the most by this.”
Escondido passed a similar resolution to Vista. Councilmembers Mike Morasco, Tina Inscoe and Joe Garcia supported the resolution while Mayor Paul MacNamara and Councilmember Consuelo Martinez were against it. Morasco said that the user fee in SANDAG’s plan will hurt families, “This is not fair representation for our citizens because they have no say of how these funds are going to be expended… whether you want to call it a user fee or a tax, it still means the same thing to the bottom line of the families, their wallets and their bank accounts.” Tina Inscoe voiced similar concerns, “ There’s already a high cost of living … cost of housing makes it impossible for people to move closer to their jobs in this environment, and many drive 60, 70, maybe even more miles a day to their places of work. Those that would be impacted are the ones who can sustain the cost the least”.
The final Environmental Impact Report is scheduled for November 30th and the plan will be voted on December 10th. With Vista and Escondido opposing the plan along with the recent election of Laura Lothian in La Mesa, the SANDAG plan hangs by a thread.