SANDAG balance of power changes, unpopular Regional Transportation plan in jeopardy

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Projected election results are expected to change the balance of power on SANDAG’s Board of Directors in a more conservative direction.

Final vote tallies have still not been released, but are expected to be completed on Tuesday evening.

The proposed $163 Billion Regional Transportation Plan is widely supported by Democrat elected officials throughout San Diego County, and the plan includes a mileage tax, where San Diegans will have to pay a tax for every mile they drive.

To no surprise, that is not something San Diego taxpayers are supporting.

As SANDAG’s Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata prepares for the change in balance of power on the board, he now says he is losing support for the plan.

Just a few months ago, SANDAG approved the plan, with a “promise” to remove the mileage tax. But, that “promise,” by the Democrats, turned out to be a lie. There are no plans to remove the mileage tax, as it is a major funding mechanism for the project.

Ikhrata told the San Diego Union Tribune, “I want to make sure the board, regardless if they’re Republican or Democrat, doesn’t spend every single meeting asking for me to be fired or fighting with each other. I want to see civility and feel that we’re making a difference.”

In April 2022, SANDAG leaders were found to be grossly abusing taxpayer dollars to fund filet mignon dinners and other extravagant dining experiences on a regular basis. Ikhrata already makes $580,000 per year of taxpayer money, with ten weeks of paid vacation, and spent $17,000 himself over roughly two years with the taxpayer funded credit card.

At the time this audit was released, KUSI reached out to both Ikhrata and SANDAG Chair Catherine Blakespear for comment, but they both declined. A few weeks later, they announced they would make stricter rules on credit card use, but neither faced any repercussions for their failed leadership.

KUSI’s Teresa Sardina spoke with Republican County Supervisor Jim Desmond about the change, and how his efforts to stop the Regional Transportation Plan can now be achieved.

In addition to opposing the mileage tax, Desmond believes the plan favors certain regions of San Diego County more than others. He explained, “the current plan right now is very lopsided to public transit, which is fine, which is what we need, but that shouldn’t be where 100% of our resources go.”


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