New Poll Shows Supermajority of San Diego Voters Oppose SANDAG Raids on Road Funds & Proposed Congestion Tax and Transit Sales Tax

New Poll Shows Supermajority of San Diego Voters Oppose SANDAG Raids on Road Funds & Proposed Congestion Tax and Transit Sales Tax

If SANDAG proceeds forward, the politicians who vote for these unpopular proposals will undoubtedly face the wrath of voters.”
In recent weeks, a debate has erupted at the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) transportation agency over a controversial plan proposed by City of San Diego politicians to divert road funds for mass transit programs and possibly impose a Congestion Tax on drivers and sales tax hike for Transit. Politicians in East and North San Diego county have come out in strong opposition to the proposals, but politicians representing the large urban areas of the City of San Diego and Chula Vista have come out in support of the proposals.

A new poll shows that even voters in the heavily urban areas of the City of San Diego overwhelmingly oppose these proposals – by a whopping two-to-one margin! Moreover, the issue could be a defining one in the upcoming races for Mayor and City Council in the City of San Diego.

“These polling numbers should be a wake-up call for the tax-hiking and road-raiding politicians at SANDAG,” said Carl DeMaio, Chairman of Reform California. “This poll shows voters will not be fooled into approving new tax hikes until the previous promises to fix the roads are fulfilled,” said DeMaio.

Reform California conducted the poll to determine whether it should invest campaign funds in fighting the proposed road raids and tax hikes during the 2020 election cycle. DeMaio said he was very pleased with the findings of the poll and based on the results has committed additional resources to fight both the road raids and the tax hikes.

“We already knew that voters in East and North County were overwhelmingly opposed to these extreme proposals to raid road funds and hike taxes for transit, but we really wanted to know whether the politicians who back these crazy ideas would be vulnerable with their own inner-city voters and the answer is a resounding YES,” DeMaio notes. 

“This poll shows not only can we block these extreme proposals but we can punish the politicians who are fronting them,” DeMaio concluded.

DeMaio also says the poll also shows that the longer the SANDAG debate rages over road diversions, the less likely voters will approve the proposed Hotel Tax that would allegedly fund the expanded Convention Center, social services for homeless, and road repairs. “If voters continue to hear that SANDAG plans to divert funds from roads no matter what voters were promised, the less likely voters will be to trust claims made by new tax hike proposals,” DeMaio warns.

Reform California helped defeat the last SANDAG tax increase – 2016’s Measure A. In addition, Reform California successfully recalled State Senator Josh Newman over his deciding vote in hiking the car and gas taxes in 2018.

Remington Research Group
Field Dates: 5/14-5/15/2019
Sample: 1030 voters, City of San Diego – Mayoral Election Turnout Model

Q1: In 2004, San Diego voters were asked to approve a special forty-year half-a-percent sales tax increase. At the time, voters were told that the funds would be specifically earmarked and used for road and highway projects. Now, 15 years later, city politicians want to cancel those road and highway projects and transfer all of the earmarked money to transit and bike projects instead. 
Based on what you know, do you support or oppose this proposed shift of funds from road projects to transit projects?
Support: 15%
Oppose: 70%
Not sure: 15%
Q2: City politicians are considering a proposal to charge drivers a “Congestion Fee” for permission for them to use the roads during rush hours – typically 6am to 9:30am in the morning and 3pm to 7pm in the evening. Supporters of the Congestion Fee say it is designed to discourage people from driving cars, and the funds raised from this new fee on driving would be used to expand transit and bike programs. Opponents say the Congestion Fee is outrageous because we already pay taxes to drive on roads. 
Based on what you know, do you support or oppose this new Congestion Fee?
Support: 12%
Oppose: 82%
Not sure: 6%
Q3: Only 2% of San Diegans currently use transit: 1% use bikes and 97% use cars. Thinking about how to prioritize spending our transportation funds, what percentage should we spend on transit?
1-10%: 30%
11-25%: 32%
26-50%: 18%
51-100%: 5%
Not sure: 15%

NOTE: SANDAG spends MORE than 25% of its funds on transit and bike programs annually – putting its current spending priorities at odds with voter sentiment.
Q4: City politicians are proposing an increase to the city’s hotel tax to raise $30 million more in funding annually. Supporters say this tax increase is desperately needed to expand the Convention Center, support social service programs for the homeless, and fund road repairs. Opponents say this tax increase is simply a way for the city to compensate for its budget deficit. 
Based on what you know, do you support or oppose this hotel tax increase?
Support: 37%
Oppose: 48%
Not sure: 15%
Q5: City politicians are proposing a half-a-percent increase to the city’s sales tax to fund transit and bike programs. Once this sales tax increase goes into effect, the city’s total sales tax will be nearly 9% of every purchase made. Supporters of the tax say we need better transit programs to fight climate change. Opponents say the sales tax is regressive and unfairly hurts working families the most. 
Based on what you know, do you support or oppose this city sales tax increase?
Support: 15%
Oppose: 74%
Not sure: 11%

Full crosstabs of survey available upon request.