San Diego’s Reactionary County Supervisors Keep On Earning Their Reputation

by on May 6, 2019 · 0 comments

in San Diego

By Doug Porter / Words&Deeds

The need to pay attention to local electoral contests was reinforced on Tuesday, April 30 as a majority of San Diego’s County Supervisors failed to read the handwriting on the wall twice in one day.

Supervisors Dianne Jacob, Jim Desmond and Kristin Gaspar voted against a move to dramatically shift regional transportation priorities and a legislative effort to reduce the use of lethal force by law enforcement.

Supervisors Greg Cox and Nathan Fletcher’s affirmative votes were in the minority following contentious public hearings on both resolutions.

The Supervisors voted to keep highways a priority. We can’t keep enabling the dirty energy industry and expect to emerge from the next decade or so without serious consequences.

San Diego County’s track record in constructively responded to climate change is abysmal. Courts in the past six years have thrice rejected county climate action plans for the same reason: failing to reach greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals laid out by the state of California.

In the most recent ruling, Judge Timothy Taylor left no room for doubt about why these plans have failed to pass muster:

  • “Virtually every decision has found the county’s efforts wanting,” Taylor wrote “This is particularly true in connection with the county’s penchant for proceeding in the absence of substantial evidence and without adequate analysis.”

Last Tuesday’s vote put the County on record as opposing key parts of San Diego Association of Governments’ (SANDAG) new multibillion-dollar plan for regional transportation.

A shortfall in projected revenues from a 2004 tax measure and the proposed new program will effectively end freeway expansion projects still on the drawing boards.  

SANDAG’s  long-range transportation plan calls for spending billions on new and improved rail transit lines while cutting back on highway spending. It proposes hundreds of miles of high-speed transit lines extending east to Poway, north to Escondido and up the coast to Oceanside, along with a new light rail line from the Otay Mesa border crossing, north through National City and downtown San Diego before ending in Oceanside.

From Next City:

  • SANDAG executive director Hasan Ikhrata explained the rationale for the shift this way: “Most congestion in the region is caused by the last 5 percent of vehicles entering the system. If I take twice that from the [highway] system, I create 100 years of capacity.”
  • In addition to trading roads for transit lines, however, tax increases would be necessary to fund the ambitious plan. The first of what would likely be several such increases will go before voters in 2020, when the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System will put a sales-tax hike on the ballot. The tax increase would require a two-thirds majority of all votes cast to pass.

Although a dollar figure for the cost of SANDAG’s new vision has yet to be calculated, the specifics enunciated for a “world class” transportation system include:

  1. Complete Corridors – The backbone of a complete transportation system leveraging technology, pricing and connectivity to repurpose how both highways and local roads are used.
  2. Transit Leap – A complete network of high-capacity, high-speed, and high-frequency transit services incorporating new transit modes and improves existing services.
  3. Mobility Hubs – Places of connectivity where a variety of travel options converge to deliver seamless travel experience.
  4. Flexible Fleets – On-demand, shared, electric vehicles connecting to transit and travel between Mobility Hubs along the network of Complete Corridors.
  5. Next OS – The “brain” of the transportation system. An integrated platform enabling all of the strategies to work together.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher issued a statement following the vote:

  • “Today the majority of the Board made a choice to contribute to increases in greenhouse gas emissions and traffic congestion,” he said. “My choice is to fight for a better future and reject the idea of clinging to a failed past. The non-binding resolution will not prevent SANDAG and our community from moving forward with delivering fast, safe, reliable and green transit for San Diego.”


Image credit: Fibonacci Blue / Flickr

Another 3-2 vote at the County Board of Supervisors put them on record as opposing  Assemblywoman Shirley Weber’s bill, AB 392 changing the current “reasonable” deadly force standard for law enforcement officers to “necessary,” and making it easier to file criminal charges against officers who use lethal force instead of other methods.

The state’s current law (Penal Code Section 196), written in 1872, is the oldest unamended statute in the nation.

From a Dan Walter column at CALmatters:

  • California’s police shoot and kill more people than those of any other state – 162 in 2017 – and, according to a legislative bill analysis, “Of the 15 police departments with the highest per capita rates of police killings in the nation, five are in California: Bakersfield, Stockton, Long Beach, Santa Ana and San Bernardino. Police in Kern County have killed more people per capita than in any other US county.”

Of those killed, according the ACLU, more than two-thirds were people of color. Of those who were completely unarmed when killed by police, three quarters were people of color.

Police in California kill people at a rate 37% percent higher than the national per capita average.

Increased civilian and officer safety, according to a study published in the Social Science Research Network, have resulted from new and similar deadly force policies. Cities like Seattle adopting these have seen the use of deadly force drop, the Seattle Police Monitor found.

Law enforcement groups have supported keeping the current standard, allowing police to open fire when they fear for their lives. They supported a bill by Sen. Anna Caballero (SB 230) calling for more training and an emphasis on trying to calm suspects before using lethal force.

In what was widely regarded as a compromise, SB 230 advanced out of committee last week with two important revisions. The bill’s language relating to the standard for authorizing the use of force was removed and it is now contingent on AB 392 becoming law.

Conjoined bills rarely make it through the legislation, but some activists are hopeful about negotiations coming up with something acceptable to all sides.

The fact of local governmental bodies around the state being urged to pass resolutions opposing the bill(s) tells me that law enforcement agencies don’t believe negotiations will succeed.

From City News Service, via KPBS:

The board’s 3-2 vote with Greg Cox and Nathan Fletcher dissenting was met with anger from AB 392 supporters, some of whom yelled. “Shame on you,” and “there’s blood on your hands.”

Board Chairwoman Dianne Jacob then asked deputies to remove anyone who was interrupting the meeting.

“There are always two sides to every story,” she said.

True. Except that one side in this discussion has body bags motivating it.

Voters in San Diego have the opportunity to elect an enlightened majority on the Board of Supervisors in 2020. Seats in Districts 1 thru 3 will be on the ballot. Greg Cox (D1) and Dianne Jacob (D2) are termed out. Kristin Gaspar (D3) is eligible for another term, but has not yet declared her intention to do so.

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