The San Diego Association of Governments voted in late April to draft a ballot measure that would increase sales taxes in the county to pay for road improvements, new trolley lines and open space projects in the area.

The decision marks a big move for SANDAG, but there are still a number of hoops that the proposal will have to surmount before heading to voters in the November elections. Thirteen of the 21 SANDAG board members, which includes mayors, councilmembers and supervisors, voted to support to put the tax increase on the ballot.

The first draft of the measure is expected by mid-May, and final approval is expected in June. Once it goes to the voters in November, a two-thirds majority will be needed for it to pass. The half-cent sales tax increase would last for the next 40 years and generate an estimated $18 billion in revenue for transportation improvements.

The hardest part of the measure is the expenditure plan, which will explain exactly how much money will be spent on which roads, bike lanes, bus routes and open space projects. The expenditure plan is still in the draft stages, and will likely decide the fate of the measure in November. SANDAG released a early draft of the expenditure plan which estimates that 24 percent of the revenue generated by the tax increase, or $4.3 billion, will be given to local city and county governments to use as they see fit on transit projects, road improvements, beach restoration and open space projects.

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The big slice of the pie to local governments is meant to get local officials on board with the project, in the hope that they will campaign for the tax increase despite expected opposition from some voters. But another 69 percent of the projected $18 billion in revenue will remain in SANDAG’s hands to pay partially for a planned $204 billion in transportation projects. The state and federal governments are expected to contribute the remainder of the funds needed.

If San Diego voters approve the measure in November, it would be the third sales tax increase in the last 30 years. In 1987, San Diego approved a half-cent sales tax increase to fund the TransNet program, and in 2004 they approved an extension of the increase to 2048 to generate another $14 billion for transit improvements.

Much of the debate over the proposed tax increase centers on how much money will go to mass transit and how much to road improvements, and whether or not the North County would receive a fair share of the funds. Quality of Life California, a group of labor, environmental and transit organizations, says that measure does not include enough funding to reduce air pollution and make commuting easier. Despite the concerns, if the ballot measure passes it will make San Diego eligible for a treasure trove of state and federal matching funds for transit improvements.

If you’re in the market for a luxury home in a beautiful community committed to its roads and open spaces, contact one of our real estate professionals today. We specialize in luxury homes in Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange County.

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(all data current as of 10/19/2017)

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