2050 plan addresses roads, housing

By Joe Naiman

San Diego Association of Governments’ 2050 Regional Transportation Plan includes widening state Route 67 from two lanes to four between Dye Road in Ramona to Mapleview Street in Lakeside.

The SANDAG board voted 17-1 to approve the plan on Oct. 28. Lemon Grove mayor Mary Sessom voted against the adoption and La Mesa mayor Art Madrid abstained. The RTP covers highway, transit and other transportation items through the year 2050.

“We now move into implementation,” said SANDAG senior regional planner Heather Adamson.

The 2050 RTP, which has been under development for two years, sets up $214 billion worth of projects over the next 38 years. Federal, state, and county revenue as well as private funding for toll roads, developer contributions and tribal gaming agreements will pay for the projects.

“This is a compromise for the amount of money we have available,” said Oceanside Mayor Jim Wood.

Funding from the countywide TransNet sales tax and from private sources accounts for 55 percent of the $214 billion, with state sources paying 28 percent and federal money funding 17 percent.

The plan drew criticism from mass transit and environmental activists, who believe the document leans too far toward expanding the area’s freeways, at the expense of mass transit and air quality.

However, several board members called the RTP “balanced” between freeway improvements and mass transit. Approximately 43 percent of the expenditures would be for transit projects.

“This plan has more transit in it than ever before,” said Solana Beach mayor Lesa Heebner.

An additional $3.8 billion would be spent on bicycle and pedestrian projects and programs.

A separate SANDAG vote Oct. 28 approved the Regional Housing Needs Assessment for 2013-20. The 15-4 vote allocates an expected near-term housing need of 161,980 units to the 18 incorporated cities and the county’s unincorporated area. The unincorporated area’s additional 22,412 assigned units are 12,878 for above-moderate income, 5,854 moderate income, 1,585 low-income, and 2,085 very low income units. New mobilehome parks may qualify as low-income or very low income units. Each jurisdiction will determine where the assigned new housing units will be located.

“Some of us are going to be taking more than what we should be taking,” Sessom said.

County Supervisor Bill Horn, one of two representatives for the unincorporated area on the SANDAG board, noted that the North County Transit District would be receiving approximately 17 percent of the transit in the RTP.

“I don’t think that’s a fair share,” he said. “The plan doesn’t give North County, I think, its fair share of transportation dollars.”

Horn asked that his concerns be addressed in the plan scheduled for adoption in 2015 and scheduled for SANDAG staff work beginning in 2012.

Wood said he voted for the plan despite what he believes are shortcomings for North County needs.

“I don’t want to tie up this money and funding that helps all the county,” he said.

North County projects include widening State Route 76 east of Interstate 15 to accommodate traffic to facilities on Indian reservation land.

“I commend the SANDAG board for welcoming the tribes to be at the table,” said Barona Tribal Chair Edwin “Thorpe” Romero, who represented the Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association. “We have an opportunity here to work together.”

The SCTCA is a non-voting advisory member on the SANDAG board, made up of officials of the county of San Diego and its 18 cities.

Sessom said the RTP puts control of transportation and environmental mitigation projects in the hands of a third party, and it doesn’t jibe with charts showing projected population growth. Madrid announced he would abstain after listing what he believes are mistakes made by regional planners in the past.

Among the earliest freeway projects envisioned in the 2050 RTP are car pool lanes on Interstate 5 from La Jolla to Oceanside and on state Route 78 from Oceanside to Escondido.

The RTP received 4,000 comments from 1,500 individuals and organizations, according to SANDAG. The organization is scheduled to issue an update to the plan in four years.

City News Service contributed to this report.

   
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