Categories: Regional, TransNet, Fees
Over on SD Rostra Council Member Jerome Stocks has been tooting his horn over an award that had been given to the Sprinter. Stocks is Encinitas' representative at NCTD.
Today the NCTimes followed up on the award. The article indicates that the criteria for the award may not have been followed and there may be an element of fluff to the award. The Sprinter was years late and cost $130,000,000 more than projected.
From the article,
...it appears neither office's awards committee did any research on the Sprinter project outside of reviewing the information on its nomination form ---- originally sent in by a Sprinter project manager.
The Sprinter was also awarded the 2008 Grand Golden Fleece award by the San Diego County Taxpayers Association.
The article contains several quotes that are gems. Read them at the North County Times.
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This was the comments made to the SANDAG board on May 15 by the Eckfields.
Helen’s SANDAG Presentation
My name is Helen Nielsen-Eckfield. My husband and I live in Carlsbad.
I want to thank you for letting us make a brief presentation to you about this project.
We have been working on the Train Stop at the Del Mar Fairground for the past 3 years.
I want to begin by thanking and congratulating Gary Gallegos who, after this committee added the study of the train stop to the scope of the SANDAG study last March 15, 2008… Gary committed to us that he would have a study of the environmental issues done…. And a budget done by May of 2009
And here we are on May 15 and we have the figures.
As many of you know my husband and I have had two wonderful organizations doing pro-bono work for us on this all this time…. and I am happy to say that the SANDAG budget figures and our pro-bono Engineer’s figures are the same.
We also attempted to work with Assemblyman Martin Garrick to provide an amendment to his bill which will add at least 14 more days of racing to the Del Mar season.
Our amendment would have required that the Thoroughbred Race concessionaire, who in 2007 earned just under 1 million dollars per day, just from betting…. to build the train stop before they received the additional days of racing.
[Jerome Stocks is the Encinitas representative at SANDAG]
Recently, the Board of Governors of the San Diego Association of Governments aired its feelings about a grand jury report recommending agency improvements. Board members, who are appointed and not directly elected to their positions, characterized the grand jury as "naive," "confused," and unable to "understand the complexity of this organization."
One contributing member to the board said, at a recent SANDAG meeting, "The problem is that the grand jury is made up of members of the public."
What was recommended by the grand jury that prompted such a response?
Here's one example:
Recommendation 08-66 in "SANDAG: How Much Growth Is Sustainable?" said the agency should "explore alternatives to having area Mayors and Supervisors make the board decisions. With the State mandates becoming more restrictive, regional decisions will need to be voted on that support the entire region and not just a city or part of the county."
SANDAG board's July 11 agenda reveals the staff response to 08-66: "This will not be implemented. Alternative governance structures have been previously evaluated; for example, the California Legislative Analyst's Office conducted a review of SANDAG and its governance structure during 2005/2006."
Interestingly, the agenda item does not reveal the actual results of that detailed review, which said: "some changes in the regional governance structure probably would be needed. Previous studies have proposed different regional structures that could work toward this end. In general, these studies follow one of the following models: a) A regional agency with an elected board ... b) A reconstituted county."
Now we know why there was no greater detail! Omitting that information allows the reader to conclude previous investigations showed no need for change.
The San Diego Grand Jury recently released a report titled SANDAG: How Much Growth is Sustainable. It was very critical of SANDAG.
The Grand Jury is composed of citizens selected by judges. When the report was reviewed by the SANDAG board, the board spent much effort discrediting the Grand Jury members, instead of just focusing on the arguments presented by the Grand Jury.
George Crissman's most recent editorial documents some of the comments made by SANDAG board members.
NCT SANDAG reacts to grand jury
[Excerpts] During a meeting on July 11, members of SANDAG's board of directors aired their feelings about the report:
Escondido City Councilman Ed Gallo, representing the North County Transit District, said, "It sounds like the grand jury doesn't understand what SANDAG does."
Santee City Councilman Jack Dale stated, "What we do is complex so it is not hard to see that the grand jury didn't comprehend the complexity of this organization."
It's true that complex issues require complex analysis by a complex organization. SANDAG's activity is definitely not simple nor straightforward. Consider these SANDAG actions:
-- Two carpool lanes in the center of I-15 are half empty while the regular lanes are at gridlock. SANDAG's congestion-relief plan is to double the number of carpool lanes so they will be three-quarters empty while the regular lanes are at gridlock.
-- Congestion occurs when you jam people into a small area with inadequate infrastructure. SANDAG's preferred development plan is called "Smart Growth," which jams people into high-density projects without expanding the infrastructure.
-- The cost to construct a two-lane freeway with a capacity of 4,400 solo drivers per hour is $3,500 per person, per lane-mile. The cost of constructing the Sprinter railroad with a maximum seated capacity of 1,040 per hour using maximum-sized two-car trainsets is $22,000 per person, per mile.
While these examples could have been generated by a complex organization, it's also possible ---- some might say likely ---- these policies were developed in the Gaslamp Quarter during an extended happy hour. We can only hope they used a designated driver to get home afterwards.
Marilyn Dailey, who is Escondido's representative on the San Diego County Water Authority, provided the most worrisome response when she said, "The problem is that the grand jury is made up of members of the public, and generally the public doesn't understand SANDAG's responsibilities. You have to approach it from that perspective."
Dailey's expression of disdain and contempt for the public is unwarranted, since we experience the reality of SANDAG's transportation plan every time we travel.
Instead of objecting to the well-deserved attention SANDAG is receiving from the public in general and the grand jury in particular, the board of directors should be simplifying the organization and working to provide us the promised relief from traffic congestion by approving cost-effective freeway projects.
George Crissman is a Vista resident and has a website that tracks SANDAG activities.
Today, the North County Times ran its own story about the bill making its way through the state Capitol that will give the San Diego Association of Governments the ability to go forward with a "quality-of-life" tax
Below are a couple of interesting facts:
- *Not only is SANDAG planning a sales tax hike, it's also considering "hotel taxes, car rental fees and real estate transfer fees." That's according to Gary Gallegos, the agency's executive director.
- *Proponents of the tax have argued that SANDAG has no choice but to go ahead with the tax because it was promised to voters as part of the 2004 TransNet II initiative (since when is SANDAG so concerned about keeping its promises?).
But according to Lani Lutar, executive director of San Diego County Taxpayers Association, the language in the ballot measure simply required SANDAG to explore funding for habitat preservation. Increasing the sales tax isn't some kind of legal requirement.
Even if it were, sand replenishment and water quality projects -- and certainly not more funding for transportation -- were never part of the deal.
The fact that SANDAG is having to turn to the legislature to get approval to pursue this tax (under current law it can only use sales taxes for transportation projects) indicates that this whole idea was a ploy dreamed up by the big spenders at SANDAG after the fact.
It will be really interesting to see what portion of the revenues raised from this tax would go toward environmental projects and how much will be used to help SANDAG fill the voids in its bloated, unrealistic transportation budget.
If transportation is a big portion, then my hunch is right. This isn't a quality-of-life tax, it's TransNet III.
What's happened to all of those Republicans on the SANDAG board who are supposed to protect us from stuff like this?
See Also: Quality of Life Returns
Impact Fee Update
The minutes of the April 25th Sandag Board Meeting have been posted. With a motion from Encinitas Mayor Jerome Stocks, the Sandag Board of Directors decided that adjusting the transportation impact fee for inflation was not required by the Transnet Ordinance.
Del Mar's representative at this meeting was Crystal Crawford. Crawford laid out the Sandag Board of Directors' justification for not following the stated provisions of the TransNet Ordinance. From the minutes:
She distinctly remembers having discussions with "stakeholders" that concluded in an agreement to not inflate this initial fee. The minutes don't say anything about her mentioning what the voters actually approved. The voters approved an ordinance that says, "All dollar references in this ordinance are in 2002 dollars."
At this week's Sandag ITOC meeting Del Mar requested that two unrelated provisions of TransNet not be applied for their city. If both requests are granted, it will result in a substantial positive impact to Del Mar's budget.
There is reason to believe that their requests were being formulated back in April, when SANDAG voted on the impact fees.
The justifications underlying Del Mar's special request for ignoring clear TrantsNet provisions paralleled Crawfords' arguments for ignoring the language regarding the impact fees.