As Chair of SANDAG, San Diego County’s transportation agency, I’m excited to share that we’ve developed and released to the public the 2021 Regional Plan, which is the blueprint for transportation investments for the next 30 years. It’s a major, ambitious, game-changing plan – definitely not a product of the same old mindset.
The goal is transportation that is cleaner, greener and faster – plus it’s smarter because it’s based on data and usage patterns.
Some of the transportation and environmental challenges we face are shown above, all of which are addressed in the Regional Plan.
Key components include better and more frequent transit, especially to job centers like Sorrento Valley, a tunnel through the Del Mar area so the train can avoid the fragile and crumbling bluffs along the ocean, managing freeway congestion with express lane fees to make transit and ridesharing more attractive, and creating a central transit hub that connects everyone in the county with the airport.
Getting where you need to go to do the things that matter to you can take up too much time and cost too much money. I’m enthusiastic about this plan because it presents us with the chance to create a modern system that will work better, cost less and help save the planet. About half of our toxic emissions come from transportation, so getting serious about climate change means tackling our dependence on gas-burning cars.
If you’d like to read the plan, submit comments or attend an upcoming event please click here.
I was invited to be on KUSI news for a lively and occasionally contentious interview about the proposed transportation plan. You can watch it here.
A new airport Terminal 1 will emerge from the pandemic
Terminal 1 in its current state. (Photo by Nelvin C. Cepeda / San Diego Union-Tribune.)
Sticking with the topic of transportation, I also serve as a board member of the San Diego Airport Authority. This week we approved a nearly $300 million operating budget and we’re continuing to move forward with a $3 billion project to rebuild Terminal 1. In reality, this major capital project is largely financed by the airlines.
The Airport Authority issues the bonds and then the airlines as a group pay the debt service. Terminal 1 currently serves Southwest Airlines, which has the largest number of flights and passengers in San Diego, but Terminal 1 could also serve other airlines in the future.
This major project has an adopted EIR (Environmental Impact Report) and it’s now going through the federal environmental review process. The board will make a final decision later this year and shovels could be in the ground by the beginning of next year.
I want to note that the three rounds of federal funding the airport received allowed the airport to weather the difficulties of the last year. We put several capital projects on hold, went to essential spending only and didn’t have to lay off any employees.
It’s nice to feel like we’re on the other side of this now with pre-pandemic travel picking up. I’m happy to be a part of that resurgence – we’re making our first airline reservations in more than a year to visit my husband’s family and the kids’ grandparents in Knoxville, Tennessee this summer.
Here’s more information about the Terminal 1 rebuilding.
Let’s Vax for the Win!
Over much of the past year, the pandemic has seemed much like an out-of-control forest fire. Now that it’s dying down, there’s a temptation to let down our guard as we excitedly rush toward normalcy. But the possibility of flare-ups that can reignite the fire is real, so we must remain diligent.
As the intense demand for vaccinations has slowed, the president has set a national goal asking 70% of Americans to have received at least one dose by July 4. In California, that number is realistic. But according to the New York Times, even if 70% percent of adults are vaccinated, the virus and its more contagious variants can spread among those who are not.
So some very enticing and creative incentives to get vaccinated have emerged, and early results show that they’re working. On Friday, Governor Newsom hosted California’s first “Vax for the Win” game show-style event, as seen above – three San Diego County and two Orange County residents won $50,000 each.
A drawing for ten $1.5 million prizes will be held on June 15, the day most COVID restrictions are slated to be lifted. Those restrictions may even end a few days earlier, if next week’s numbers hold. And our current outdoor dining arrangements are extended through December 31, as cities decide if they want to make them permanent.
Orange County plans for affordable housing
For those following housing issues, Orange County cities are putting together their housing plans for the next eight years, just like we did in Encinitas. This article from the Capistrano Dispatch is interesting in comparing the different cities.
For example, in San Juan Capistrano they need to accommodate an additional 1,000 new homes, on top of their current 13,000 homes. The methodology assigning the number of homes is different in different counties. But the reality that every city needs to do more to tackle the affordability crisis is consistent.
Coastal Commission must approve Encinitas cannabis changes
In the last election, voters said yes to recreational marijuana in Encinitas. The city’s Planning Commission is recommending various changes to accommodate the ordinance’s requirements. Permits for businesses to sell or manufacture cannabis products can’t be accepted by the city until the ordinance is approved by the Coastal Commission.
The Pride of Encinitas
I’m tremendously proud to represent a city that publicly embraces inclusion, acceptance and celebration for people to love and self-identify in any way they want.
(Photos of the Encinitas City Council raising the Pride flag this week by Scott Chatfield.)
This week the entire City Council joined in a Pride Month ceremony to hoist the rainbow flag, which has been expanded to include a reference to trans-gender and racial diversity with both white-pink-blue and black-brown colors.
These new colors and references feel highly relevant to this moment in time. Encinitas was the first city in North County to fly the flag in 2019. The public and highly visible nature of this statement continues to be a deeply impactful gesture that stirs my heart.
We are truly a welcoming and embracing city!
Happy June to you,