Assembly member Marie Waldron (R-AD75) has authored AB 1398 which will, if passed by the State Legislature, add mandatory public meetings and a 2/3 majority vote by the residents of San Diego County for SANDAG to make changes to a spending plan.
The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) is the agency responsible for transportation projects throughout the County of San Diego. The agency has come under closer scrutiny of late because of mistakes it made in calculating the amount of funds it had from the half-cent TransNet tax measure passed in 2004. The mistakes have led to a shortfall in available funds and the agency has had to place a number of transportation projects on hold.
AB 1398 would place a requirement on the agency to hold public outreach meetings and take any substantive changes to the spending plan to a vote of the people.
In a press statement, Waldron said, “Unfortunately, SANDAG cannot be trusted to look out for people in all parts of our diverse county. Our community deserves confidence that their tax money is being used appropriately and that SANDAG is keeping its promises to voters. No agency should be able to operate in the dark.”
Waldron’s bill will need to navigate through the democratic-majority legislature and be able to stand the comparison to Assembly member Lorena Gonzalez’s AB 805, passed in 2017, which reformed the agency’s internal practices and, in some cases, the composition of the Board of Directors.
Waldron, along with the Republican elected officials on the Board of Directors, want to see funding for highway projects, particularly the expansion of Highway 78 in North County. In its newest initiative, SANDAG is proposing to move funds from many highway expansion projects and dedicate them to public transportation.
It is thought Waldron’s bill will be dead on arrival. But there is time to make changes and make the bill palatable for both sides of the aisle. The bill was submitted after the close of the legislative session for this year and will be part of next year’s legislative session.