SANDAG Chair Nora Vargas: There will be no Mileage Tax or Road User Charge (for now)

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Chair of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, and Chair of SANDAG, Nora Vargas, visited the KUSI News studio for a live in-depth discussion on all the issues facing San Diego County.

KUSI’s Lauren Phinney began the interview questioning Vargas on issues and decisions made at the Board of Supervisors, including homelessness, landlord regulations and evictions, and California’s prostitution crisis and the push to repeal SB 357.

Phinney asked Vargas about law enforcement’s role in the homeless crisis, since there is clear criminal activity occurring within the encampments. Phinney asked, “are you willing to say that law enforcement will be part of that approach to solve that issue?”

Vargas responded, “I think it’s really important to emphasize that for the first time in decades, the county of San Diego is actually doing something about homelessness and the amount of housing shortage that we’ve had.” Continuing, “for decades this wasn’t really a priority for the county of San Diego, but this new Board has made it a priority for us. It’s going to take law enforcement, it’s going to take ensuring we have resources around substance abuse. It’s going to take us making sure we continue to invest dollars on mental healthcare. It’s going to take us continuing to work closely with the small business community to make sure that we’re addressing these issues head on.”

Concluding, “the economy has really hit people hard, so we are going to continue doing everything we can to make sure people are getting everything they need.”

Phinney then pointed out there is a portion of the homeless population that does not want help from the county, but Vargas dodged the question, refusing to acknowledge there is a portion of the homeless population that is endangering San Diegans.

KUSI’s Paul Rudy questioned Vargas for the second half of the interview, where he focused on her position as Chair of SANDAG.

Rudy began his questioning by referencing Vargas’ tweet (below), where she simultaneously told voters a Mileage Tax cannot be implemented by a government agency without voter approval, while also calling SANDAG’s proposed mileage tax a “Road User Charge.”

Rudy asked if SANDAG would use the “Road User Charge” as a way around getting voter approval. In response, Vargas asserted, “there will be no road user charge in the regional plan.”

Vargas continued, “there is not going to be a road user charge in the 2025 plan, and I have direct staff at SANDAG, so that there is no road user charge. There really is no debate about it, if and when, right, this is not the time for a road user charge in our region.”

But the next thing Vargas said may be foreshadowing what’s to come. She continued her answer saying, “if and when state mandates, that happen, voters will have to make that decision.” Adding that “there are pilot programs across the state that are taking place right now, and those decisions and that information is going to come back. I think what I want to make sure on the record, our community hears from me first hand, there is no road user charge that is going to be implemented.”


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