By Doug Porter
I can just hear the boosterism now: “We’re better than San Jose, Ole!”
Fifty one per cent of San Diego’s roads are considered to be in poor condition, according to a study released by TRIP, a national transportation research group. The region has the eighth-highest rate of lousy roads nationally among large urban areas with more than a half million residents.
California cities dominated the study, taking 5 of the bottom 10 rankings. Coming in at number 5 was San Jose, with Concord, Los Angeles and San Francisco/Oakland topping the list.
The study determined that San Diego’s poor roads cost motorists an average of $843 per year in additional vehicle maintenance.
The average motorist in the U.S. is losing $516 annually — $109.3 billion nationally — in additional vehicle operating costs as a result of driving on roads in need of repair. Driving on roads in disrepair increases consumer costs by accelerating vehicle deterioration and depreciation, increasing the frequency of needed maintenance and requiring additional fuel consumption.
Travel by large commercial trucks, which places significant stress on paved road and highway surfaces, continue to increase at a rate approximately double the rate for all vehicles and are anticipated to continue to grow at a significant rate through 2030. Travel by large commercial trucks in the U.S. increased by 79 percent from 1990 to 2013. The level of heavy truck travel nationally is anticipated to increase by approximately 72 percent from 2015 to 2030, putting greater stress on the nation’s roadways.
One thing some stories in the local media failed to make clear was that the study was about the entire metropolitan area, not just the City of San Diego.
Fixing the Highways
While road surfaces are the most easily observed conditions of the troubled highway system, deeper structural issues abound. The recent collapse of a bridge on Interstate 10 (which wasn’t considered to be in particularly bad shape) points out the potential scope of the problem.
Again, from the TRIP report:
The 2015 AASHTO Transportation Bottom Line Report found that the U.S. currently has a $740 billion backlog in improvements needed to restore the nation’s roads, highways and bridges to the level of condition and performance needed to meet the nation’s transportation demands.
Federal and Local Issues
The financing for fixing up the roads is both a local and a national problem.
Federal funding to the states via the Highway Trust Fund is scheduled to run out on July 31st. A short term fix passed in the House extends the drop-dead date to December 18th. Unless the Senate GOP doesn’t like the bill. And they don’t, according to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
It used to be that funding highways was a reliable exercise in bi-partisanship. Legislation moved through the Congress with a six year shelf life. Now, confronted with the reality of gasoline taxes no longer bringing in enough revenue, some conservatives are proposing to let the “job creators” (via block grants to the states) fix the problem by abolishing the tax altogether.
So, in other words, we’re likely screwed.
A County-Wide Proposal
Although Mayor Kevin Faulconer has promised to repave 1000 miles of city streets, that’s just a drop in the bucket when it comes to local needs. The idea of a city wide vote on a sales tax increase funding infrastructure has gone by the wayside for three reasons.
First, SANDAG (the multi locality transportation mechanism) is looking at putting a half cent increase before voters in November 2016, so any city proposals would be competing with that proposition. SANDAG may be able to help the city out with some funding ($42 or $108 million annually, depending on who you ask).
Secondly, there are other entities looking at asking the voters to approve tax increases in 2016. A group supporting the Convention Center is running a social media campaign that seemingly would be a precursor to a ballot measure for funding. And then there’s the “no cost to the taxpayer” stadium deal, which at a minimum will involve a fire sale of city properties. Oh, and we shouldn’t forget that some revenue streams for Prop 30 will be expiring in 2016.
Finally, there are the other problems facing the City of San Diego. Like a huge tab for handling sewage and runoff. That can has been kicked down the road too many times, in my estimation.
A Fly in the Stadium Ointment
Earlier this week a Hermosa Beach law firm specializing in environmental law sent the City of San Diego a long letter (more than 130 pages, including exhibits) warning of problems connected to the current scheme of using an expedited Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to convince the NFL to keep the Chargers in town.
From the Boltsfromtheblue blog:
This letter is essentially a warning shot fired across the bow of City leaders, telling them not to proceed with an expedited EIR. To proceed forward would likely prompt a lawsuit.
The timing of this letter is also terrible, coming just days before NFL Vice President Eric Grubman is scheduled to visit San Diego, and only a couple weeks before San Diego gives its presentation to NFL Owners on August 10th.
This is precisely why the Chargers are opposed to the expedited EIR process.They are unwilling to assume the business risks involved with this process, and have instead chosen to pursue the Carson stadium project. Going forward, it’s hard to imagine the NFL exposing the Chargers to this risk by forcing them to be part of this particular plan.
Again, unless San Diego does something no one else has ever done, it’s likely the expedited EIR will not satisfy all of the requirements of CEQA, and legal challenges will kill the project before it can get started.
Stop the Stadium Madness Petition
A petition has just gone up on change.org urging the City of San Diego to stop spending public money on a new stadium for the Chargers.
The city of San Diego is spending everything it can on keeping a NFL team that is already out the door. In fact the city council approved a $2.1 million dollar Environmental Impact Report (July 14, 2015) to assess what the environmental impacts are of building a stadium without a promise it will happen.
If $2.1 million of taxpayer money wasn’t enough! They are now discussing selling off $225 million in taxpayer property…There is no end to this madness!
This has to stop! We can’t let corporate owners and teams twist our arms and make us suffer. San Diego is worth more than a sports team! If billionaires want to build stadiums fine, but we have to make them PAY for them!
Unfortunately, the San Diego City Council includes people suffering from the delusion that stadiums are of economic benefit.
ALEC: One More Time…
After writing nearly 10,000 words (along with nine other stories) over the past week on the American Legislative Exchange Council, I’ve (almost) had my fill of the subject….However…
After telling the crowd in downtown San Diego how much he loves war and would bomb anybody who disagrees with him, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker gave a homily on how much he loves ALEC and his financial prowess:
From the Times of San Diego:
“You’re the ones making it happen,” he told the crowd. He noted Wednesday’s chanting protesters, but depicted them as pikers when compared to what he called the original Occupy movement — not the critics of Wall Street but the union-heavy forces that occupied his Statehouse in Madison.
“The good news is we didn’t back down,” Walker said, and listed his achievements, including lawsuit and school-choice reforms, defunding Planned Parenthood, photo-ID voting requirements, concealed-carry weapon freedoms and tax cuts including property taxes he said would be lower in 2016 than 2010, when he was elected.
“Who else in America can say that?” Walker declared in a talk that mentioned no other presidential rival.
He told the story of shopping for a shirt at Kohl’s (the department store chain based near Milwaukee), where through discounts, coupons and “Kohl’s Cash” brought the price down from $29 — “and the next thing you know, they’re paying me to buy a shirt.”
About that Kohl’s deal, Governor, maybe you need some new material. Here’s the Tonight show loop featuring Walker on that subject.
Hillcrest Mayor on the Mayor
Nicole Murray Ramirez, the gossip columnist and contrarian sometimes called the “Mayor of Hillcrest” says in his LGBT Weekly column that former Mayor Bob Filner is just about finished writing a “tell-all” book.
Bob Filner has admitted and apologized for his conduct against some women and we all agree that it was totally unacceptable and indefensible but I believe that a man should be judged and remembered for the good and bad and Filner’s record of many decades was an outstanding one.
I and many other men became more educated about the issue of sexual harassment and all men were put on notice. But that being said, as I have stated in this column a few years ago there were a lot of hypocrites and, yes, liars especially among some Democratic Party officials and elected office holders and they know who they are and they should indeed be nervous!
Union-Tribune Watch: One Hit and One Error
You have to figure that when the San Diego Union Tribune editorial board begins to get a clue about problems with policing and racism in this country, the message is finally getting through.
From today’s editorial, commenting on the “suicide” of Sandra Bland, a 28 year old Black women pulled over for a broke tail light:
But even if the official narrative of suicide by a troubled woman is substantiated, it’s no stretch to believe Bland would still be alive today if she hadn’t been subject to what a police dash cam video suggests was a spurious arrest, then jailed after a routine traffic stop over an alleged illegal lane change. Bland told state Trooper Brian Encinia that she had changed her lane because he was closely following her. Encinia ordered her to get out of her car after she refused to put out her cigarette. When she refused to get out, Encinia can be heard screaming, “Get out of the car! I will light you up! Get out! Now!” Bland got out and was handcuffed off-camera and charged with resisting arrest.
Encinia’s deceptive arrest warrant doesn’t mention his baseless order to Bland to put out her cigarette and claims she kicked and hit him, which isn’t substantiated by available audio or video evidence. He’s been taken off patrol duty because of his failure to follow correct procedures and courtesy policies.
This latter point is crucial. For years, smartphone videos have chronicled interactions in which officers act as if they are soldiers of an occupying army in their dealings with members of the public – especially African-Americans. Texas State Police have made it clear that Encinia’s behavior was not acceptable.
I would also like to give a shout out to Aaryn Belfer’s City Beat column on how to be an “interrupter” when it comes to standing up against racism.
Whatever you do, don’t do nothing.
Be an up-stander, not a bystander. Be an interrupter. Leave your porch light on. For Sandra Bland. For the Sandra Blands to come.
Have you heard about the latest Hillary Clinton scandal? The one the New York Times had to walk back this morning, cause they got their facts wrong?
Don’t worry, the Union-Tribune’s got the uncorrected version, via the NYT news service.
Two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether Hillary Rodham Clinton mishandled sensitive government information on a private email account she used as secretary of state, senior government officials said Thursday.
Here’s the corrected version:
Two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether sensitive government information was mishandled in connection with the personal email account Hillary Rodham Clinton used as secretary of state, senior government officials said Thursday.
The difference here is that the first lede suggests Clinton’s actions were worthy of an investigation; the corrected version says the issue is about how her emails were handled.
I’ll let Laura Clawson from Daily Kos elucidate:
The title of a recent memo from the Office of the Inspector General at the State Department—one of the offices the Times cites as having asked for the investigation—offers a hint:
Potential Issues Identified by the Office of the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community Concerning the Department of State’s Process for the Review of Former Secretary Clinton’s Emails under the Freedom of Information Act [Emphasis added]
Clinton, of course, is no longer at the State Department and so isn’t in control of how they review her emails. And the Associated Press reports that:
One U.S. official said it was unclear whether classified information was mishandled and the referral doesn’t suggest wrongdoing by Clinton herself.
About the Louisiana Theater Shooter
So we’re hearing that John Russell House was a “drifter,” as if living on the road could be some sort of motivation for shooting up a theater.
“Hitler accomplished far more than any other,” Houser wrote on usmessageboard.com
On This Day: 1968 – The United Auto Workers and the Teamsters formed the Alliance for Labor Action (ALA), later to be joined by several smaller unions. The ALA’s agenda included support of the civil rights movement and opposition to the war in Vietnam. It disbanded after four years following the death of UAW President Walter Reuther. 1974 – The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that President Nixon had to turn over subpoenaed White House tape recordings to the Watergate special prosecutor. 1987 – The movie biography of Ritchie Valens, “La Bamba,” opened.
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