Voter's Edge California Voter Guide
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November 8, 2016 — California General Election
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San Diego County
Measure A Referendum - 2/3 Approval Required

To learn more about measures, follow the links for each tab in this section. For most screenreaders, you can hit Return or Enter to enter a tab and read the content within.

Election Results


720,158 votes yes (58.37%)

513,646 votes no (41.63%)

Shall an ordinance be adopted to: repair roads, deteriorating bridges; relieve congestion; provide every community funds for pothole/street repairs; expand public transit, including improved services for seniors, disabled, students, veterans; reduce polluted runoff; preserve open space to protect water quality/reduce wildfires by enacting, with independent oversight/audits, a 40-year, half-cent local sales tax ($308 million annually) that Sacramento cannot take away?

What is this proposal?

Pros & Cons — Unbiased explanation with arguments for and against

Information provided by League of Women Voters San Diego and North County San Diego Chapters

The Proposal

What it would do

Would raise the sales tax in San Diego County by ½ cent for 40 years. The tax increase would generate approximately $18 billion over the 40 year period with the proceeds to be used for highways, road repair, transit, pedestrian and bicycling and open space preservation. The $18 billion would be allocated as outlined below:

Category of Project  |  Amount (in millions)  |  Percent

Active Transportation  |  $540  |  3.0

Open Space  |  $2,000  |  11.1

Highways, Managed Lanes, HOV Lanes and HOV Connectors  |  $2,555  |  14.2

Transit (both capital and operations)  |  $7,507  |  41.7

Local Infrastructure  |  $4,322  |  24.0

Arterial Traffic Signal Synchronization  |  $178  |  1.0

Rail/Local Road Grade Separation  |  $900  |  5.0

Admin  |  $182  |  1.0

Supporters say

  • About 14 percent ($2.6 billion) of the funds generated by the ballot measure would be invested in specific highway projects, including Express Lanes and carpool lanes, as well as key freeway connectors to make the existing system more efficient throughout the region.

  • About 42 percent ($7.5 billion) of the funds would be invested in specific transit projects, including a new trolley line between San Ysidro and Kearny Mesa, increased frequencies on the existing trolley system, more than a dozen new Rapid transit lines and improvements to the Coaster and Sprinter.

  •  3 percent ($540 million) of the funds would be invested in bike and pedestrian projects, such as new bike lanes, sidewalks, crosswalks, and bike/pedestrian crossings over/under rail lines. These active transportation funds will provide bicycle and pedestrians connections throughout the county.

Opponents say

  • Transit and active transportation advocates say that the sales tax increase does not do enough to implement the adopted climate action plans in the region.

  • Highway supports say that it does not do enough to reduce traffic congestion.

  • The tax increase implements the 2015 Regional Transportation Plan which has numerous immitigable impacts.

  • The sales tax is regressive and so has a disproportionate impact on the poor.   

Measure Details — Official information about this measure


San Diego County Counsel

[See County Counsel Impartial Analysis]


San Diego County Counsel

The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), acting as the San Diego County Regional Transportation Commission (Commission), has placed this measure on the ballot. 

Impartial analysis / Proposal

San Diego County Counsel


The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), acting as the San Diego County Regional Transportation Commission (Commission), has placed this measure on the ballot. This measure would:

1. Authorize the Commission to impose an additional transactions and use tax of 1⁄2 percent in San Diego County for a period not to exceed forty years.

2. Authorize the Commission to issue bonds payable from the proceeds of the tax to accelerate the construction of public infrastructure improvements.

3. Require all revenues to be deposited into a special fund and limit the use of such revenues to public improvements that qualify as eligible uses under state law, including:

  • Local Infrastructure Projects: transit youth passes, increased transit services, habitat, roads, sidewalks, beach sand replenishment, greenhouse gas reduction, climate action plans, and watershed management.
  • Regional Corridors Projects: new and expanded bus, train and Trolley services and facilities, improved intermodal centers at the airport and border, highway express lanes, carpool lanes, and carpool connectors, and highways and general purpose lane connectors.
  • Active Transportation Projects: bikeway facilities and connectivity improvements, pedestrian and walkable community projects, bicycle and pedestrian safety projects and programs, pedestrian grade separation projects, and traffic calming projects.
  • Open Space Funding: implementation of the regional share of habitat conservation plans, including acquiring, managing, and monitoring conservation lands. 
  • Transit Operator Funding: funding for the region’s transit operators for operation of new, expanded, or enhanced services included in the Ordinance.
  • Grants Program: local rail and road grade separation projects, synchronized traffic signal projects on local arterial roads, and specialized transportation grants to address the needs of people who are seniors, students, disabled, low-income, and veterans in need of transportation services, or implement innovative projects/programs that provide better access to public transit and support smart growth and transit oriented development.

4. Require the Commission to make every effort to combine revenues with federal, state, local and private funding to maximize the amount of money available in the region for infrastructure.

5. With the exception of certain sections, which require a vote of the electors of San Diego County to amend, the ordinance may only be amended with a favorable vote of at least two-thirds of the SANDAG Board of Directors.

6. Require local agencies to maintain the same level of discretionary funding, including local agency general funds, expended for streets and roads, transit, and specialized transportation.

7. Require that SANDAG use its best efforts to complete the projects in the Priority Corridors Program within 15 years. These include highway improvements in the SR 78, I-5, SR 52, SR 67, I-8, and SR/94/SR125 corridors; increased Trolley service and capacity; COASTER commuter rail improvements; and new Trolley and Rapid bus services.

8. Establish a goal of using 80% to 100% local workers on capital projects funded by the ordinance.

9. Require that skilled and trained workers be used and responsible bidders be hired to carry out capital projects constructed by SANDAG.

10. Require continuation and expansion of the Independent Taxpayer Oversight Committee (ITOC), which will oversee the financial integrity and performance of the program.

If passed, the measure shall become effective on November 9, 2016, and operative on April 1, 2017. 

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR


San Diego County Road Repair, Transit, Traffic Relief & Water Quality Measure

Reverse decades of neglect to San Diego’s infrastructure by providing funding for:

  • Making urgent, critical repairs to roads, bridges & overpasses.
  • Synchronizing traffic lights/upgrading freeways to relieve congestion.
  • Expanding transit for seniors, students, disabled and veterans.
  • Preserving open space to protect habitat/watersheds.
  • Improving brush management to reduce wildfires.
  • Improving water quality by treating polluted runoff.
  • Funding pothole/street repairs for every community.

Local Nurses, Fire Fighters & First Responders: Critical Safety Repairs Save Lives.
Badly needed repairs to streets, bridges, interchanges/overpasses make roads safer, reduce response times, and get emergency crews to accidents/disasters faster to save lives.
Paramedics, 911 operators, police and sheriff’s deputies support Measure A.

Prevent Devastating Wildfires/Protect Water Quality.
Preserve 25,000-plus acres of open space. Protect endangered habitat/watershed. Clean polluted runoff.
Fire chiefs: active brush removal/open space management helps prevent wildfires.

Strict Accountability/Transparency.
Every project online, detailing exactly what Measure A does in your community.
Annual independent audits posted online.
All funds, by law, must be spent locally – funding Sacramento CANNOT take away.
A Citizens Oversight Committee will ensure every dollar is spent as promised.

Relieve Traffic Congestion/Reduce Air Pollution.
San Diego drivers average 42 hours/year stuck in traffic. Idling cars and trucks worsen air pollution. Measure A synchronizes traffic lights, upgrades congested freeways and expands transit to reduce pollution/relieve traffic congestion.

A Sustainable, Viable Future.
Investing in infrastructure creates tens of thousands of good-paying jobs. Repairing/upgrading roads and freeways insures our economic vitality. Preserving open space, protecting water quality, and expanding transit protects our environment.

Measure A will protect and enhance San Diego’s Quality of Life for our children and their children.

YES on Measure A
Repair San Diego with Funding Sacramento CANNOT Take Away.


President & CEO, San Diego County Taxpayers Association

Chair, United Veterans Council of San Diego

The Nature Conservancy

San Diego 911 Emergency Dispatcher

President, San Diego Fire Fighters

— San Diego County Registrar of Voters

Arguments AGAINST


Measure A is a deceptive and harmful 40-year sales tax increase that would raise taxes in San Diego County with little accountability or transparency and no clear plan to improve our quality of life.

Reject Measure A. Vote NO on a 40-year tax increase that gambles with the health of our children and grandchildren. The American Lung Association gave San Diego County an “F” in the 2016 State of the Air report. Measure A does not offer real solutions to solve our dangerous air pollution problems.

Reject Measure A. Vote NO on bureaucrats getting a blank check with little accountability or transparency.

Reject Measure A. Vote NO on a 40-year tax increase with no guaranteed solutions to address climate change or reduce traffic congestion in our region.

Reject Measure A. Vote NO on a flawed Measure that raises taxes for 40 years, yet does not do nearly enough to improve water quality and clean up the pollution harming our creeks and coastal waters.

Reject Measure A. Vote NO on Measure A with nurses, teachers, the Sierra Club, the National City Chamber of Commerce and working families.

Reject Measure A. Our communities deserve better, our children deserve better, our taxpayers deserve better.

Measure A is dangerous, reckless, and does more harm than good.

Don’t be fooled.


Oppose Measure A. Get the facts about this deceptive measure at


Sierra Club, San Diego Chapter

DIANE TAKVORIAN, Executive Director 
Environmental Health Coalition

JIM MAHLER, College Professor/President 
American Federation of Teachers

Ms. PAT ZAHAROPOULOS, Esq., President/CEO 
Middle Class Taxpayers Association

DAVID ALVAREZ, Councilmember 
City of San Diego, District 8 

— San Diego County Registrar of Voters

Replies to Arguments FOR


No Real Accountability Over the Bureaucrats

Despite a voter-friendly name, the deceptively-titled ‘Independent Oversight Committee’ is nothing more than an insiders’ club. The media has exposed the committee’s chairman as a registered lobbyist for the construction industry which is making millions on these projects. He lobbies the very government officials he is supposed to oversee! Worse yet, in 2010 SANDAG reduced the conflict of interest rules governing this so-called committee.

A Tax that Hurts Working Families

Many working families are struggling in this high-tax state. This $18 Billon tax will be paid by our children and grandchildren and last for 40 years! Twelve years ago voters passed a 40-year sales tax increase for SANDAG’s transportation improvements but commutes have not gotten any better. With billions and billions of dollars in proposed tax increases on this year’s ballot already, send a message and vote NO on Measure A!

A Transportation Tax that Doesn’t Pay for Transportation

Read the fine print. Bureaucrats expanded the definition of “Local Infrastructure Projects” ($4.3 Billion) to include: incentives for infill developers, bike paths, sidewalks, streetlights, beach sand replenishment, greenhouse gas reduction, monitoring open space and other non-transportation pet projects. There is $2.54 Billion for bike lanes and open space but only $0.6 Billion for normal highway lane expansions.

No Traffic Congestion Relief

Measure A documents literally state “travel times to work remain flat for drivers alone and improve for transit uses.” So while over ¾ of commuters travel alone, only 3.4% of this tax is going to help them. Additionally, over $7.5 Billion is earmarked for mass transit despite the fact only 2.7% of commuters use it – and the percentage of transit riders has decreased since 2005.

Bi-partisan Opposition

Both the Republican Party and the Democrat party oppose Measure A.


La Mesa City Council
SANDAG Board Member

Mayor El Cajon
SANDAG Board Member

Deputy Mayor, City of Vista

Chula Vista City Council


Mayor, City of Poway
SANDAG Board Member

— San Diego County Registrar of Voters

Replies to Arguments AGAINST


The opponents just don’t get it.
Measure A repairs roads/relieves congestion while improving water quality


Deteriorating roads cost San Diegans $1858/year.
Wear/tear $722. Lost time/wasted fuel $887. Accidents/insurance $247. (CBS)

  • FATAL ACCIDENTS: Poor roads responsible for 1/3 of traffic fatalities. (KNSD7/39)
  • UNSAFE ROADS: 67% local roads rated poor/mediocre. (KPBS)

Local Nurses, Paramedics/Emergency Room Doctors: Measure A gets first responders to accidents/natural disasters quicker to save lives.


Measure A will clean up millions of gallons of toxic roadway runoff.
In 2015, polluted runoff was a major cause in 762 Beach Advisories. (U-T San Diego)

Measure A preserves 25,000 acres of open space/wetlands, protecting rivers/streams.

Former County Water Authority Chair Mike Madigan: “Measure A is needed to protect San Diego’s water quality.”


Measure A spends millions to relieve traffic congestion, reduce idling, synchronize traffic signals, and build bus/trolley lines to move people out of cars.


TENS OF THOUSANDS OF JOBS: $40+ billion annual San Diego imports/exports. Infrastructure investments guarantee these jobs remain here.


Fire Chiefs/ Fire Fighters: Measure A funds aggressive brush management to prevent wildfires and repairs back country roads to improve emergency access/evacuation.



  • Independent Annual Audits.
  • Citizens Oversight Committee.
  • Funding Sacramento Cannot Take Away!

San Diego County Taxpayers Association: Strict accountability/oversight are built in.


YES on Measure A
Repair San Diego with Funding Sacramento CANNOT Take Away.


San Diego Paramedic

San Diego Fire Chief

The San Diego Environment Coalition

Registered Nurse (RN)

Commander, San Diego Sector
California Highway Patrol (Retired)

— San Diego County Registrar of Voters

Read the proposed legislation

Proposed legislation

The County Counsel's Impartial Analysis, Official Arguments For and Against, and Official Rebuttals are available in the following PDF:

Page 2 of the above PDF states:

A copy of the full text of the measure is also available for viewing at the Registrar of Voters website at If you desire a copy of the measure, please call the Registrar of Voter’s office at 858-505-7260 and a copy will be mailed at no cost to you.

Who supports or opposes this measure?

Yes on Measure A

Organizations (5)

Elected & Appointed Officials (4)

No on Measure A

Organizations (4)

Elected & Appointed Officials (4)

More information

News (27)

Uncertainties of Measure A Go Beyond the $18 Billion Total — October 24, 2016 Voice of San Diego
(At a glance) Measure A: Transportation tax — October 23, 2016 San Diego Union-Tribune
Split court decision on transportation tax measure — September 15, 2016 San Diego Union-Tribune
SANDAG sales tax measure subject of lawsuit — September 12, 2016 San Diego Union-Tribune
Measure A opponents file lawsuit — September 6, 2016 Seaside Courier
San Diego Environmental Coalition Endorses Measure A — September 2, 2016 Times of San Diego
SANDAG Puts Sales Tax Increase on November Ballot — July 8, 2016 San Diego Business Journal
Inside the Fight on the Left Over SANDAG’s Big Tax — June 22, 2016 Voice of San Diego
Transportation sales tax hike to go on ballot — April 29, 2016 San Diego Union-Tribune

Videos (1)

— September 30, 2016 Voice of San Diego
Andrew Keatts, Assistant Editor at Voice of San Diego, moderates an interactive debate. Proponents: Councilman Todd Gloria, County Supervisor Ron Roberts, and Michael Beck, director of the Endangered Habitats League. Opponents: Oceanside Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery and Nicole Capretz (who helped design the city's Climate Action Plan).

Contact Info

Yes on Measure A
SANDAG (San Diego Association of Governments)
Phone: (619) 699-1900
401 B Street, Suite 800
San Diego, CA 92101
Citizens to Repair, Preserve and Protect San Diego
No on Measure A
No on Measure A (Reform California)
Contact Name:

Carl DeMaio, Chairman

Phone: 619-786-8019
California Quality of Life Coalition
Contact Name:

Gretchen Newsom

Phone: 858‐569‐8900 x 110.
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