A liberal group called the Quality of Life Coalition is vowing to defeat SANDAG’s ballot measure because they don’t think it does enough for the environment or for labor. That’s vexed Democrats on SANDAG’s board, who say the proposal goes as far as it can while also doing enough to woo the necessary two-thirds of voters.
Labor groups and environmentalists have emerged as the loudest opponents of a proposed tax increase for countywide transportation projects, and Democrats pushing the initiative can’t quite figure out where they went wrong.
More than 20 liberal organizations, calling themselves the Quality of Life Coalition, have pledged to defeat the proposal from the San Diego Association of Governments. They argue the package of transit, highway, stormwater and preservation projects doesn’t do enough to shift the region to an environmentally sustainable transportation network, or promise enough to the laborers who will construct the $18 billion worth of projects over 40 years.
That’s vexed Democrats on SANDAG’s board, which is composed of elected leaders from around the county, who contend the proposal reflects as many of the coalition’s priorities as possible while maintaining a reasonable chance of wooing 66 percent of county voters in November. (State law requires that any measures raising taxes for a specific purpose must be approved by two-thirds of voters.)
Their frustration boiled over in a series of emails, obtained by Voice of San Diego, between two Democratic board members – Solana Beach Councilwoman Lesa Heebner and Encinitas Deputy Mayor Lisa Shaffer – and members of the Quality of Life Coalition.
The coalition on June 13 sent board members a statement explaining their opposition: The measure didn’t do enough to create good-paying construction jobs, would create negative environmental impacts disproportionately affecting poor neighborhoods, wouldn’t ensure funding went to projects that cut greenhouse gas emissions, would not build enough transit or improve stormwater infrastructure and wouldn’t spend enough on open space preservation.