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Citizens' initiative campaign for sales tax hike to fund San Diego road improvements

California traffic generic
Posted at 5:20 PM, Nov 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-02 21:34:40-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — SANDAG's ambitious $160 billion transportation plan just got a major ally.

Labor, business, and environmental groups joined forces to lend support for a half-cent sales tax hike on the November 2022 ballot to fund transportation improvements in San Diego. The robust transportation plan will need a number of various revenue sources but a sales tax hike requires voter approval.

The diverse coalition of groups launched "Let's go! San Diego," a citizens' initiative on reducing traffic, expanding transit, and fixing local roads and bridges. The group has already raised $1.3 million. It will also need approximately 112,000 signatures for it to qualify to be on the November 2022 ballot.

"This ground-breaking measure will help transform the way we move people around the region, with more transit and less dangerous air pollution. We must pass this measure and expand transit so we get more cars off the road to protect San Diego's clean air, climate, and public health for generations to come," said Nicole Capetz, executive director of the climate action campaign.

Carl DeMaio, chairman of Reform California, is preparing a campaign to block the ballot measure at the polls and defeat it. He's pushing a city and county-wide campaign to vote "no."

Demaio said the hike would hurt working-class families and the measure would fail to deliver what it promises.

"Read the language. We cannot be fooled by these liars and cheats and that's being kind after what they previously did after we trusted them," said DeMaio.

In 2017, San Diegans shot down a sales tax hike, falling short of the two-thirds vote it required.

But if this coalition succeeds in getting on the ballot, it will only need a 51% majority because it is a citizens' initiative. The San Diego Climate Action Campaign just signed on.

"We have been fighting for a world-class transportation system for years now and it's something we in our community deserve," said Nicole Capretz, of San Diego Climate Action Campaign.

Union groups said it will reduce traffic, fix roads, expand transit, and repair rail lines and bridges — backed by laborers who want the work.

"Keeping those dollars local, investing in the local economy, creating good jobs, what's not to like?" said Gretchen Newsom, with the IBEW Local 569.

DeMaio said there's plenty not to like, and he's preparing a campaign to block the measure adding that the tax won't do what it promises.

"The language does not hold what they have proposed in the past and it goes elsewhere," said DeMaio.

Both sides plan aggressive campaigns in the coming weeks, DeMaio mincing no words on a battle he's waged before.

"We cannot be fooled by these liars cheats and thieves and that is kind after the previous money we trusted them with," DeMaio said.