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Labor, Larger Cities The Big Winners In SANDAG Power Shift

by Jeff Powers, published

With the stroke of a pen, Governor Jerry Brown has reformed the power structure at the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG).

For many, including organized labor, it was a huge victory that now begins a massive change at the agency that's seen huge turmoil the last 12 months.


SANDAG will now be required to hire from state-approved groups for large construction projects, unless it signs union-friendly PLA's or project labor agreements.

This was the crux of Measure A which failed last November, and now, thanks to AB 805, it's a requirement with any future tax hike.


The bill dropped the hammer on smaller cities at SANDAG, giving more weight to votes from large cities like San Diego, Chula Vista and National City.

SANDAG used to record two votes on every item. One was a procedural tally of each board member’s vote. The other was weighted for the population of that city. Now, since their votes have become weighted, the larger cities can override the wishes of the smaller communities and ovverule the procedural vote. Any power for negotiation that the smaller communities had in the County of San Diego is no longer. That power now clearly has shifted to the urban core, and with it, supporters believe, a more transparent and engaged process.


The change is a boon for those pushing more walkable, biking transportation systems.

Some reaction from those groups who have pushed for more transit-oriented development on twitter:


Much has been written and said about the fumbling of Measure A, and the alarming degree to which SANDAG officers misled the public. Indeed, many city leaders believe that episode is what led to this change. The scandal cost executive director, Gary Gallegos his job.

One of the features of AB 805 is the creation of a new performance auditor and audit committee to ensure Measure A scenarious don't happen again.

The author of the bill, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher told the San Diego Union-Tribune, "This is a good day for the silent majority in our region who have been ignored and paved over for far too long. The old way of doing things isn't good enough.”

Not everyone agrees with the Assemblywoman.

One of the SANDAG board members, Poway Mayor Steve Vaus said of the decision, “very disappointing and a dark day for regional cooperation in San Diego County.”

And Tony Krvaric, the chairman of the Republican Party of San Diego County noted, “a shameful power grab by Sacramento Democrats, leaving the majority of cities in our county at the mercy of the two largest.”

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