The right to vote is one of America’s most prized freedoms and fundamental actions of a civically-engaged community. And this November, San Diegans will have the opportunity to step into the voting booth and make decisions that will impact the future of the region.

Among the many important decisions on this year’s ballot will be whether to vote Yes or No on Measure A, a proposal from the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) that would add a half-cent sales tax to fund transportation, infrastructure and environmental projects throughout the county.

As written, the measure’s tax increase will generate an estimated $18.2 billion over 40 years. According to the proposal:

  • 42 percent of that money would go to public transit;
  • 24 percent to individual cities for local infrastructure;
  • 14 percent to highway improvements;
  • 11 percent to open space preservation;
  • 3 percent to walking and biking initiatives;
  • and 6 percent to other projects

As part of The San Diego Foundation’s effort to increase civic engagement across the region, we asked San Diego industry leaders to share their thoughts on Measure A to help you, the reader, become more informed before November 8.

What are your thoughts on Measure A?
Share them with us in the comments below!

Industry Leader Thoughts on Measure A

Why is the debate around local infrastructure such an important, and often controversial, topic in San Diego?

Molly Chase, Campaign Manager, Citizens for a Better San Diego:
The San Diego region is at a crossroads and is home to 3.3 million people. Of these residents, 1.4 million are employed around the county, and they take more than 3 million work trips every day. More than two-thirds of employed residents leave the area they live in to go to work. As we continue to grow, we have to plan for the future while we address the needs of today. Our withering streets, roads, highways and bridges are in serious disrepair. Our highways are marred by traffic congestion. Severe drought conditions threaten our local water quality and increase our risk of destructive wildfires. Left unresolved, these problems compound to threaten our region’s economic stability, safety and quality of life.

How does Measure A address regional challenges and why should San Diegans vote in favor of the proposition?

Michael Beck, San Diego Director, Endangered Habitats League:
Mobility, or lack thereof, is a challenge that we face every day. Loss of San Diego’s precious countryside and its rich wildlife heritage is a challenge that our generation must take on. Measure A is a blueprint for addressing these issues head-on.

A yes vote on Measure A means that we make an historic shift toward transit in our transportation system while fixing roads that need repair. It means having the funds to operate the transit system. It means putting greenhouse gas emission reductions on the right track.  A yes vote means having the financial resources to preserve San Diego’s beautiful landscapes, restore our ecosystems, protect our watersheds, and save nature’s creatures – great and small – that are threatened and now depend on us.

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Jim Stone, Executive Director, CIRCULATE San Diego:
Measure A will provide safe, convenient, and affordable transportation choices and improve people’s options for how they move around the region.  Ask anybody: if you don’t want to drive or don’t own a car, getting around the San Diego region is darn near impossible. Measure A helps correct that imbalance by providing funds that will build new transit, increase how often buses & trolleys run, and make walking and biking safer.

Think about some of the best places you’ve visited. World class cities offer opportunities for great walking, biking, and public transportation. Measure A moves San Diego closer to being a world class region.

Why does Measure A fall short in addressing the region’s challenges and why should residents vote no?

Nicole Capretz, Executive Director, Climate Action Campaign:
Measure A would mean irreversible environmental damage and accelerating our climate crisis — the biggest threat to humankind. It would both roll back San Diego’s efforts to safeguard our environment and undermine the bipartisan Climate Action Plan that San Diego families support. In addition to pumping exhaust fumes and toxic air pollution into our neighborhoods from unnecessary freeway and highway expansions, Measure A would be particularly harmful to low-income communities and communities of color that live close to freeways and already suffer from unjust amounts of car and industrial pollution.

Measure A - San Diego Transportation

The harmful consequences of Measure A are potentially irreversible. We have a once in a generation chance to get this issue of growth and development right. We can’t afford a plan that sacrifices the environment and public health on the backs of our children and grandchildren.

Gretchen Newsom, Political Director/Organizer, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 569:
Measure A is more than an $18 billion tax increase that places a burden on San Diego families and our community – the final cost of which is still unknown. Medical bills from increased air and water pollution, environmental damage and wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars are all serious risks posed by this proposal.

Contrary to what’s been advertised, Measure A offers no dedicated funding to improve water quality by treating polluted runoff. Further, despite claims from supporters, Measure A contains no guarantees to reduce transit fares for seniors, students, disabled people, or veterans. If SANDAG – the region’s transportation agency – is going to tax us, our children, and our grandchildren for 40 years, they should put forth a plan that does right by our communities and our values.

The opinions expressed by the contributors in this blog do not necessarily reflect the views of The San Diego Foundation and its staff.

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What are your thoughts on Measure A? Share them with us in the comments below!