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Tax Not the Answer

November 01, 1987

There are those who say we should close the doors to San Diego and forever not let anyone in.

Not a bad idea on the surface, especially for us native San Diegans. No more traffic, no more crazy people on the roads, plenty of fine homes and schools, etceteras.

Obviously the idea is crazy. As long as we plan a serious and stable growth, San Diego will keep from being the dreaded L.A.--or "Smell-A" as I like to call it. Roads, however, are the worst culprit.

You used to be able to drive effortlessly as late as 8 a.m. Now it's more like 5:30-6:30 a.m. if you want to avoid the crush of morning traffic. Many residential and off-beat routes are becoming freeway alternatives.

And traffic isn't just bad in the city--"outskirts" like Poway to Ramona are 100 times more crowded than they used to be. The population has nearly doubled since Interstate 805 opened, but the roads have remained about the same.

Our elected officials promise more roads but they also tell us there's no money. We can dream all day long that somehow the traffic will go away. It won't.

What can we do? Here are a few choices:

A) Stop driving our cars. Sure. Can you see mobile Southern California without its car keys? No way.

B) Raise the gas tax to pay for these roads. The gas tax is presently 18 cents a gallon. We'd have to raise it to at least 38 cents. Why not? Because the gas tax is not tied to inflation. If the cost to build roads goes up the tax stays the same, while all along we are driving cars that use less and less gas, meaning less tax per mile driven. No good.

C) Build toll roads. If we need more roads, then why not have the people who use these roads pay for them? Mainly because toll roads to be effective must have few interchanges. In San Diego we have a freeway exit about every mile. You'd have to pay a new toll at each of these points. Toll roads would not benefit our other regional traffic problems. Toll roads are the worst-case scenario.

D) Sales Tax increase of a half cent. What? A tax increase? Yes. The best answer (and I hate paying the current 6%). Probably 99.8% of the people in San Diego would benefit--from the freeway user to the city street user to the people riding the bus or trolley. It's not really that expensive.

Proposition A probably has a greater impact on San Diego County than any of the other ballot measures in recent years. The threat of being another L.A. may become reality. Please keep us from being Los Angelized. Vote yes on Proposition A.



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