SDUT: Divisions emerge in wake of transportation tax defeat

November 9, 2016 – San Diego Union Tribune – Joshua Emerson Smith reports – The tension over funding freeways versus public transit in San Diego County is ratcheting up following Tuesday’s ballot defeat of a half-cent sales tax that would have provided $18 billion in spending for everything from roads to trolleys to open-space preservation.

From the beginning, Measure A faced staunch opposition from an unlikely coalition of environmental groups, anti-tax advocates, people who wanted more money devoted to freeway expansion and the local Republican Party.

After the proposal failed to secure the required two-thirds margin — it got about 57 percent of the vote — battle lines were quickly redrawn.

On one side, the region’s Republican leaders, elected officials in North County and others said they fought the measure because it didn’t dedicate enough funding for roads.

Environmentalists, progressive labor unions and champions of public transit continued their vow to push back against any tax proposals that would help pay for new freeway expansion — at least until massive investments are made to the county’s infrastructure for other transportation options, including more dedicated bicycling lanes, rail lines and rapid-bus routes.

Nicole Capretz, executive director of the San Diego-based Climate Action Campaign, said progressives and environmentalists — not conservatives — will increasingly drive the conversation about transportation spending in coming years.

“The first priority was defeating the measure, and now we’re going to reconvene and identify solutions moving forward,” Capretz said.

“We need to re-evaluate what it will take to slash our carbon footprint from transportation,” she added. “What will it take to provide a transportation alternative that provides economic opportunities to every family in San Diego? We have to start with that, and then we’ll identify the road map for how to get there.”

Facing pressure from environmental activists, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced in April that he too would oppose Measure A. He did not return a request for comment Wednesday

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