Poway City Council Unanimously Rejects SANDAG Sky Gondola Tax

Brian Brady Brian Brady 13 Comments

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Poway Mayor Steve Vaus deserves praise for raising awareness about the SANDAG tax scheme.  He acted on the suggestion to get an up or down vote from the Poway City Council.  Last night, Poway rejected the SANDAG tax scheme unanimously.

Escondido unanimously rejected the tax a couple of weeks ago.  Coronado and Vista have it on their agendas for up or down votes.  Efforts are being made in Santee, El Cajon, La Mesa, and Solana Beach to get Council members on record.  The “No New Taxes” coalition is getting stronger in San Diego County.

The big challenge will be to get the SANDAG representatives to delay the vote so that City Councils can weigh in this issue.  That’s a tough sled for us.  SANDAG representatives become different people when they enter the regional planning agency meetings. This is why we think a massive tax scheme like this should be deliberated on the local level first– getting every Council member’s taxation record is essential to the November elections.

But today, Poway’s unanimous rejection is a victory for the “No New Taxes” coalition and we are grateful to Mayor Vaus.

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Comments 13

  1. Sweet!!! I must say, the local Republican elected officials of today are showing considerably more fiscal prudence than the crop I had to deal with in the 80’s and 90’s — when I was a Libertarian Party activist.

    Indeed, it was this sea change that prompted me to be assimilated into the GOP Borg in 2009 or so. While my views on most issues are still libertarian, joining the Republican Party was a good decision.

  2. Just as a procedural note, the date for the SANDAG board voting on the Quality of Life Initiative has been known for a few weeks, the basic outline of the proposal has been know for even longer. It’s all public information and available of SANDAG’s website. There’s no need to delay any vote by the SANDAG Board, this information has been out there for weeks. Usually it only takes a ten days notice to get something on a Council agenda, and in most cities any one council person can do it, whether they are the SANDAG rep or not.

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    Council Member Alessio,

    Your comment is exactly why we are asking for a greater debate in the cities. The Sky Gondola tax originated in the back offices of an unelected bureaucracy, was amended by special interests, and “debated”, without public input, at a posh casino retreat in the country, far away from where the people live and work.

    Has the La Mesa Council solicited public input and asked their duly elected council members to signify support for this tax? No, it hasn’t.

    Would this matter if it were an allocation of transportation pass-through money from the State? No but this is a tax, a massive tax which hurts poor people the most. Frankly, I think you need to slow down and listen to those poor people rather than “inviting comment” 60 miles away from their house and office.

  4. Uh wrong Brian, as you may recall La Mesa was the first City to have this discussed in public and solicit public opinion. The very first. Almost a month ago. The public spoke on the item and were overwhelming against it. The council discussed it. We will hear it again in its final form next week. Additionally since last year’s SANDAG retreat I have mentioned it at almost every council meeting, all of which have been televised and reported on.

    If La Mesa’s SANDAG rep has been doing this for over a year — talking about the proposal, it beats me as to why everyone else hasn’t been. For the answer to that question, you’d have ask the other reps.

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    Thank you, Kristine. Would you please link to the La Mesa Council vote on that tax so your citizens can see the result of that open discussion?

  6. Your earlier point was that there wasn’t time for public participation/discussion — and I disagree. It has been out there being discussed for a long time. Many groups and people have been at SANDAG meetings for months saying one thing or another about the measure.

    As I have mentioned before in this forum, the La Mesa City Council did not vote as “Refined Hybrid Alternative” plan was not in a final form. The measure (in whatever form it would end up in) was discussed though and public comment was taken on the mere idea of measure. The purpose of putting on the agenda early, despite not having a final form, was to make sure it was out there for discussion so that La Mesa citizens and my fellow Councilmen and the Mayor could talk about it. That way if SANDAG had scheduled a vote on it before we could have a regularly noticed Council Meeting, I would already have had direction from the Council, the Mayor and the community as to their opinion of it.

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    “Your earlier point was that there wasn’t time for public participation/discussion — and I disagree. It has been out there being discussed for a long time. Many groups and people have been at SANDAG meetings for months saying one thing or another about the measure.”

    This is where we disagree a lot…an eighteen BILLON dollar tax is proposed, from the back rooms of an unelected politburo, and your defense is that “groups” gave input at a conference at a casino resort in the back country.

    In the mean time, the single mom in Oceanside, the retired widower in Imperial Beach, the full-time student in San Marcos, and the young family in Carlsbad are about to get whacked with higher taxes because a couple dozen citizens gave public comment in La Mesa.

    “I would already have had direction from the Council, the Mayor and the community as to their opinion of it.”

    Where can we see the official opinion of the La Mesa City Council?

    You are defending opacity Council Member Alessio. I get it. You were elected and you don’t like that citizens are “telling you what to do” but if La Mesa wants money, it should raise taxes in La Mesa and leave the rest of us alone

  8. Brian, you are not listening to what I am saying.

    1. The measure has been discussed publicly for months, not only at the retreat but at SANDAG meetings, various people of all walks of life have come down during public comment (at SANDAG and the retreat) and voiced their opinions. The retreat was only one meeting.
    2. As I have now stated for a third time, the Council did not render an official opinion, as there was nothing to officially opine on at the time.
    3. I’ve explained over and over again the genesis of the idea, whether it was 10 years ago or two months ago. How it came to be and why (i.e.-Transnet II). SANDAG’s Board meetings are public, even back when the Regional Plan was passed, the potential sales tax increase was discussed. The Regional Plan assumes a tax increase. This was discussed openly at the multiple SANDAG board meetings when the plan was under discussion.
    4. Why are you even mentioning La Mesa and a tax increase? No one out here has ever said they were in favor of raising taxes.

    None of this is opaque, it’s all upfront, clear and in the sunshine for all to see, whether or not you want to look for it is another matter I suppose. As I’ve said before, don’t shoot the messenger.

  9. Brian,

    Another thing…

    “In the mean time, the single mom in Oceanside, the retired widower in Imperial Beach, the full-time student in San Marcos, and the young family in Carlsbad are about to get whacked with higher taxes because a couple dozen citizens gave public comment in La Mesa.”

    How could this occur when the people speaking to La Mesa, our citizens, were as I said, “overwhelmingly against the measure”? Now had I said “overwhelmingly in support of the measure,” perhaps somehow your statement would make sense, but seriously with “overwhelmingly against” this is somehow going to lead to La Mesa supporting the measure…huh?

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    It was nice to meet you and Craig (Maxwell) last night, Kristine. We can argue the fine points of your positions here or so it some time in the near future (my offer still stands for a meeting).

    I think I understand your positions correctly:

    1- You are the SANDAG rep for La Mesa and La Mesa citizens are adequately informed.
    2- Your default position is to put all taxation issues on the ballot as it is ultimately the taxpayers’ decisions on new taxation but, in this instance, you will be suspending that default position because it’s such a bad proposition.
    3- Other SANDAG reps may have not adequately informed their citizens but that ain’t your problem–they should have done their homework.

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