By David Engel, STAY COOL for Grandkids and Michael Beck, Endangered Habitats League
It’s high stakes election time and your mailbox is stuffed with conflicting ballot arguments. How should you vote on Measure A? The Union-Tribune has taken a “no way on A” position, largely based on a theory that self-driving cars are the future, reducing the need for public transit. That seems unlikely to us – public transit will remain critical to efficiently moving large numbers of people in the coming decades, regardless of such futuristic fantasies. Here’s why two of San Diego’s leading climate and conservation groups ask you to vote “yes.”
Climate change: Measure A would fund the most effective transportation plan in California to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG), significantly exceeding state reduction targets for 2020 and 2035. Yes, that’s right! It would place us in the number one spot among the 15 regional transportation planning agencies in California in reducing polluting and global warming GHGs. How does it do that?
First, it commits $7.5 billion, nearly 42% of the funds raised, for public transit. You may have heard that Measure A is a “more freeways, one-person car centric” plan. Not true. While substantial funds will keep local streets and roads repaired, only 3.4% of the measure will be spent on freeways. By any measure this is a big shift towards getting people out of their cars and into public transit. The central project of Measure A is a new $4.4 billion trolley line from San Ysidro to Kearny Mesa. This will be a huge help getting South County residents to job centers, and relieve the nightmare I-805 commute.
Bus, trolley and train service will be expanded with nearly $798 million committed. This will mean more frequent buses and trolleys on high-demand routes as well as new rapid bus routes, making bus and trolley travel more accessible and convenient. Measure A also adds new train stops at Camp Pendleton and Del Mar Fairgrounds, and new bus rapid transit lanes connecting county-wide workers to jobs. And having local money available for transit means San Diego will be eligible (and competitive) for Federal matching funds.
Active Transportation: $540 million will be invested in bike and pedestrian improvements including bike lanes, sidewalks, crosswalks, and underpasses that separate trains and trolleys from bike and pedestrian crossings. These improvements not only provide options to get around your neighborhood but invest in the essential neighborhood system connectors within the overall transportation system. And they reduce GHG pollution.
Wildlife Conservation: Measure A would provide $2 billion in funding for science-based open space and wildlife conservation for the region. This funding is desperately needed right now to protect over 100 threatened plants and animals and their habitats in the San Diego region. Among the species in dire need of this funding are golden eagle, quino checkerspot butterfly, coastal cactus wren, and western pond turtle.
Simply put, a “no” vote on Measure A guarantees more traffic congestion and growing global warming pollution for you, your children and your grandkids. It also means less open space, less wildlife habitat and fewer wildlife species for you and all future generations to enjoy. Quality of life in San Diego County will take a devastating hit.
A “yes” vote on Measure A quantifiably ensures a ‘best in the state’ reduction in climate change impacts, creates urgently needed new and improved public transit, and literally, unprecedented wildlife conservation funding. These are the progressive, environmental, verifiable facts – not just our opinion or futuristic speculation.
We urge you to make the right choice on Measure A and support a cooler, cleaner and happier future for your children and grandkids. Climate change and wildlife species extinction is happening now. We do not have time to waste, and may never get another chance to take this giant step forward.