Local Advocates voice their concerns on SANDAG’s 2050 Regional Transportation Plan

Last Monday, local advocates and activists in San Diego held a press conference rejecting SANDAG’s 2050 Regional Transportation Plan. The press conference was held at the El Cajon Transit Plaza that was built over I-15. This  is the transit plaza that sits mostly empty on most days. It was built as part of an (now nearly twenty year old) agreement with City Heights residents as a mitigation measure to the increasing levels of air pollution that would come about with the creation of I-15.Part of this agreement also included a Memorandum of Understanding with residents promising to create a Class I bike path connecting the Mid-City Mesa to Mission Valley.

Nearly two decades after that initial agreement with Caltrans, the bike path spanning about 2 miles has just completed its design phase after spending most of its life sitting on a shelf. The high speed transit bus service that was expected to serve communities split by the I-15 is still no where in the horizon.

Last Monday, a coalition of environmental advocacy groups came together to express their disappointment with SANDAG’s 2050 RTP. In choosing the El Cajon Transit Plaza as a venue,  with the corresponding din emitted by automobile traffic roaring by, the group couldn’t have picked a more perfect venue to highlight the 2050 RTP’s deficiencies. I videotaped everyone’s speeches and have posted them below:

Steve Padilla of Sustainable San Diego

Susan Tinsky of the San Diego Housing Federation

Elyse Lowe of Move San Diego

Georgette Gomez of the Environmental Health Coalition

Maria Cortez, resident in City Heights.

Voice of San Diego’s Adrian Florido did a good writeup of the press conference and highlighted one transit user, Maria Cortez, to depict public’s disappointment with transit services in the region.

Robert Hawkins, Transportation reporter with the San Diego Union-Tribune, also covered the event.

Although it is too late in the process to influence the 2050 RTP, all of the groups that convened last Monday expect to play an active role in the update process as the RTP gets updated every four years.

SANDAG continued to be in the hot seat today when KPBS’ Maureen Cavanaugh interviewed SANDAG Board Chair, Jerome Stocks and Elyse Lowe of Move San Diego earlier today. Although Stocks stated that half of the transportation dollars would be spent on transit, Lowe was quick to point out how much of that investment would be made during the last two decades of the RTP.

Stocks’ justification to create “a couple of freeway miles” was corrected by Lowe that over 900 new freeway miles would be added as part of the RTP, thus enabling SANDAG to continue adhering to the auto-centric planning paradigm that has resulted in over 98% of the region’s residents choosing the car over transit or bike. When specifically questioned about the I-5 expansion slated to begin soon (that will result in removal of bike access from the freeway shoulder in exchange for a new Class 1 bike path paralleling the I-5), Stocks refused to answer the question and instead answered a question that was not posed about a hypothetical plumber being unable to tele-commute. Despite this, the interview is well worth a listen.