There is no question in my mind that we need good state laws that promote sustainability, prosperity and safety in Encinitas and our region. And cities have an important role in the "sausage making" of state legislation: We have to let the impact of state legislation be known at the right time, to the right people and in the right way.
YES ON AB 805 (Gonzalez Fletcher)
As you may know, the Encinitas City Council has been following AB 805 (Gonzalez Fletcher), which is a bill to reform the governance structure of the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG). The SANDAG scandal has been ongoing and the more information that is investigated, the more questionable facts come to light. In order to regain public trust and provide the regional transportation infrastructure we need, SANDAG needs governance reform from the outside and strong leadership from its Board on the inside.
Earlier this year, the Council took a stand of "no position" on AB 805, awaiting some anticipated amendments, specifically to the selection of the Chair and Vice-Chair of SANDAG. The original version foresaw the two positions switching between the Mayor of the City of San Diego and Chula Vista. This was a sticking point for many people who do want to see more investment in transportation in our region, but not concentrate permanently power in two jurisdictions.
Assemblymember Gonzalez Fletcher made a number of substantial revisions, the latest of which was the direct vote by the Board of Directors by majority weighted vote of the Chair and Vice-Chair and the provision that the Chair and Vice-Chair need to come from different sub-regions. This to me is a substantial improvement in governance, since it gets rid of shadow of the Nominating Committee and brings greater transparency to the selection of these key positions.
In addition, AB 805 improves transparency with the creation of an Audit Committee, an independent Transportation Committee report to the legislature and a regional compliance plan to address greenhouse gas emissions and disadvantaged communities. It also improves the voting power of smaller cities by using the "tally vote" (one city, one vote) for most decisions, and only allowing a weighted vote (based on population) if several jurisdictions concur. This is the system that the San Diego Metropolitan Transit Association uses and it is important to remember that only once in MTS' history has it invoked the weighted vote. This is really important for small cities like Encinitas.
Finally the biggest improvement that AB 805 will make is to allow the North County Transit District (NCTD) to levy a voter-approved sales tax. Our biggest transit challenge is how to trench the tracks from Oceanside to Del Mar. AB 805 gives us the funding mechanism to work regionally to do so.
It is gratifying to see the collaboration that has gone on over the last few months to get to a place where AB 805 improves SANDAG in such a way that it will be a viable agency to meet our regional transportation needs and starts the process of rebuilding public trust lost through the scandal. On Wednesday, the Encinitas City Council passed 4-1 (Muir voting no) the letter of support for AB 805, making us the first city in North San Diego County to do so.
No position on SB 384 (Wiener)
When I look at state legislation, the first thing I look for is local control. As long as we get to set the parameters of how a law is to take effect (especially if we have the right to prohibit), I don't really feel like Encinitas should be deciding for other jurisdictions. So when Councilmember Muir brought his own Council-initiated item on SB 384 (Wiener) that would allow alcohol-serving establishments to serve alcohol from 2-4 AM, I was relieved to see that local control was preserved in the bill.
As it turns out, the bill was entirely re-written a few days before our Council meeting and wasn't about extending alcohol hours at all, but set up an Extended Hours for Alcohol Sales Task Force to review and advise the Legislature. Given that there wasn't anything controversial about the bill in it's current state, there was no second for Council Member Muir's motion to oppose. I commend Council Member Muir for taking an issue he is passionate about and bringing it to us.