Assembly Bill Could Dramatically Alter SANDAG

A half dozen cities in San Diego County are rallying the troops in response to a state Assembly bill that would limit their power on the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG).

The legislation, proposed by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) would give greater voting power to SANDAG cities with the highest populations, while cutting the influence of smaller members. The legislation could have an enormous impact on the distribution of transportation funding in the San Diego area.

“We want to have a voice,” said San Marcos Mayor Jim Desmond, a member of the SANDAG board. “It’s not like the little cities were driving the bigger cities, but we all had a say. Now we’re left out and it probably won’t even be worth the drive down to SANDAG because a vote will mean nothing.”

San Marcos is fighting the bill along with El Cajon, National City, Solana Beach, Poway, and Vista.

Fletcher says the change is necessary because there are so many small cities. Their influence has outweighed that of the larger cities where most people live. Fletcher insists her bill also includes protections for the smaller cities to ensure their interests are represented.

“At the end of the day, we are a country who believes in one person, one vote,” Gonzalez Fletcher said. “Our way of distributing transportation funds doesn’t even come close to following that. There are ways that I think we protected small cities by not allowing just San Diego and Chula Vista to do something.”

Critics aren’t buying it. The bill “would supplant regional cooperation with urban domination by giving San Diego and Chula vista an unfair advantage in votes,” wrote Poway in its opposition to an early version of the bill. “The regional voice is lost when you give the largest cities the ability to control the organization's agenda.”

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, the California Taxpayers Association, and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors are also opposing the bill.

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