Ann Gardner | Via Latina
Photo illustration Art Olson
Del Mar Deputy Mayor Carl Hilliard, our representative on the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), and Mayor Lesa Heebner, Solana Beach representative, voted to approve SANDAG’s 2050 Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) despite the Attorney General’s warning that the Plan’s Draft Environmental Impact Report was “legally deficient… setting the region on a course that is inconsistent with the State’s climate objective.” Both have explained that language in the final motion approved by a 17-1-1 vote was “as close to a concession that the RTP missed the mark as was possible, and committed SANDAG to addressing many of the shortfalls in the RTP.”
Earlier this year, out of 19 votes, Hilliard and Heebner were two of only three who opposed CALTRANS’ proposed 10(travel lanes)+4(managed lanes) I-5 freeway expansion. They both supported Sen. Christine Kehoe’s SB 468 to limit the expansion as much as possible to the freeway right of way, avoiding the destruction of homes proposed in the 10+4 plan and reducing the emphasis on cars over transit. Governor Brown signed the bill October 7. The 2050 RTP approved by SANDAG eliminates funding for the 10+4 I-5 freeway expansion. Funding is now available for the 8+4 expansion only, shifting 800 million dollars to other SANDAG projects.
In an email to members of Citizens Against Freeway Expansion based in coastal North County, Heebner thanked those who showed up at the hearing on October 28 claiming that their testimony changed the course of the discussion. She encouraged them to continue to come to the meetings and hold the “Board’s feet to the fire to keep …promises to decrease Vehicle Miles Traveled and increase Green House Gas reductions during the next two to four years.”
But the approved DEIR and Plan remain controversial. Individuals and groups who spoke at the SANDAG meeting believe the commitments included in the motion are concepts only and too far in the future to make a difference. Bob Filner, 51st District Congressman and candidate for Mayor of San Diego, asked SANDAG to take the Attorney General’s criticism seriously, to recognize that the 2050 Plan was “legally lacking” and had “political problems.” He asked the Board to “slow up. This is too important, there are too many challenges and you ought not to approve.” His concern that approval might result in costly lawsuits appears valid as several groups are contemplating that as a next step.