The Morning Report
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The Vista City Council on Tuesday couldn’t agree on an appointment to the board of directors for the San Diego Association of Governments, leaving the city without representation on the region’s transportation agency.
Newly elected Mayor John Franklin, a Republican, nominated himself as the city’s SANDAG representative, but the city’s new Democratic Council majority refused to confirm him.
The three Democrats on the Council – Katie Melendez, Corinna Contreras and Dan O’Donnell – wanted Melendez to take the seat. The meeting stretched until nearly midnight, but the five-member Council, including Franklin, couldn’t resolve the impasse. Councilman Joe Green, a Republican, supported Franklin.
For now, at least, Vista will forego its seat on the regional agency that controls planning and funding for highways and transit improvements throughout the county, with a board made up of elected officials from the county and its 18 cities.
The fight centered on SANDAG’s proposal to charge county drivers for every mile they drive, to combat climate change and fund transportation improvements. The driving fee has been controversial since 2021, with initially conservative figures opposing the fee, until they were joined late last year by Democrats like San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Franklin said he would rather not send a representative to SANDAG than send Melendez, who he said would support the driving fee.
“I am more than comfortable, in fact, I am pleased that we will send no representative to the San Diego Association of Governments before we would send somebody that… could not oppose the mileage tax,” Franklin said referring to Melendez.
He added that he also can’t support Melendez because she is against widening Highway 78.
Contreras pointed out that the driving fee is not slated to happen until 2030, and O’Donnell added that it would eventually be decided by the voters. But Franklin wouldn’t budge, and neither would the other councilmembers.
After hours of arguments, the council finally voted to approve nominations for all the other boards and commissions except for SANDAG.
Escondido recently had a similar situation after the Republican council majority removed Mayor Paul McNamara as the SANDAG representative and blocked his attempt at nominating the other Democrat on the council to the seat.
Escondido was left without representation on the SANDAG board for almost an entire year.