SANDAG Board of Directors meeting in downtown on Jan. 27, 2023.
SANDAG Board of Directors meeting in downtown on Jan. 27, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

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Vista’s mayor will no longer determine who represents the city in major regional transportation decisions. 

The Vista City Council this week approved an ordinance changing how the city decides its representative at the San Diego Association of Governments.  

SANDAG controls planning and funding for highways and transit improvements throughout the county. Its board is made up of elected officials from the county and its 18 cities.  

Previously, like in most other cities in the county, Vista’s mayor could recommend a SANDAG board representative, and the Council could choose to affirm or reject the recommendation. Councilmembers could not make their own nominations.  

Tuesday night, after a nearly three-hour long discussion that included dozens of public speakers, the council voted 3-2 to allow a Council majority to appoint the SANDAG board representative. 

The move follows a contentious meeting last month where the council couldn’t agree on who to send to SANDAG. Mayor John Franklin recommended himself to be the representative, but the Democratic council majority wanted Councilmember Katie Melendez to represent them on the board. 

Tuesday’s discussion centered on a proposed driving fee, which would charge county drivers for every mile they drive. Conservative representatives on the board have largely opposed the fee, until they were later joined by Democrats like San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria.  

Franklin, who is against the fee, argued against sending Melendez, who he warned could be in favor of the fee. He has also said he can’t support Melendez because she is against widening Highway 78.  

Melendez said Tuesday she too opposes the fee unless at some point in the future the gas tax is phased out. 

Ultimately, the council didn’t choose a representative, but Franklin has been the interim representative since the new council was seated last month. 

A few councilmembers also criticized Franklin for walking out on the SANDAG board meeting last week with a group of small-city board members who were protesting the board’s weighted vote system and the election of Solana Beach Mayor Lesa Heebner over Del Mar Councilmember Terry Gaasterland for the second vice chair position. 

The council held a second hearing on the policy change Thursday, where it passed again. The next step will be to vote on an official SANDAG board representative.  

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  1. The City of San Diego is up zoning large portions of the City and VOSD writes about who gets to select the SANDAG representative for the City of Vista?

    1. The weighted vote has got to go….. The majority of the board is not listening to the people of San Diego. Hasa Ikhrata has only one intention, to make SD identical to LA. He should be long gone…..

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