Mayor Kevin Faulconer has punted an opportunity to vote on $200 billion in spending on an issue central to his legacy.

The San Diego Association of Governments, or SANDAG, will vote Friday on a 35-year plan for all transportation projects in the region. Faulconer will not.

Faulconer confirmed Thursday he won’t attend the vote on the $200 billion regional spending plan because of a previous commitment to appear at an event at the Veterans Village of San Diego. Faulconer rarely goes to SANDAG’s board hearings, sending an alternative in his place.

The agency’s board is made up of elected leaders from around the county, but those leaders vote unanimously on most major decisions and rarely use their position to promote an agenda.

The $200 billion plan includes bike lanes, highway widenings and new light rail lines from local, state and federal sources in the coming decades. Shaping a $200 billion, 35-year plan for all major transportation projects in the state, oddly enough, apparently does not sound fun or interesting or necessary to a professional politician.

Before announcing he wouldn’t vote on a $200 billion regional spending plan, Faulconer has positioned himself as a moderate Republican with crossover appeal in a coastal, Democratic city in part because of his support for environmental initiatives.

His office pushed forward an ambitious plan to cut greenhouse gases by, among other things, increasing the share of residents who commute by transit.

He went to Sacramento to tout the plan, leading to speculation it could be the liberal-friendly platform a Republican would need for a statewide campaign.

But transit advocates and environmentalists who applauded the city plan hate the $200 billion regional transportation plan Faulconer won’t vote on, which allows greenhouse gases to increase by 2050. They want it to spend more on transit, and less – or nothing – on highways.

They sued over the plan’s environmental report and after winning two rulings, it’s now before the state Supreme Court.

Faulconer announced he supports the $200 billion spending plan, although he won’t vote for it. His alternate, Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, will vote on the $200 billion regional spending plan instead.

A spokesman said Faulconer’s support of the $200 billion spending plan that he won’t vote on in no way contradicts his support for the city’s climate plan.

Andrew Keatts is a former managing editor for projects and investigations at Voice of San Diego.

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