Oceanside Councilmember Jack Feller: Squandering Billions of Taxpayer Dollars to Shave Seconds of his Personal Car Commute

Oceanside Councilmember Jack Feller. Image from: Oceanside City Council video

Jack Feller is an Oceanside Councilmember. Feller serves as the city of Oceanside’s main representative to the SANDAG board. The population of Oceanside per the 2010 census is 167,086 or roughly 5% of the county’s population.

The SANDAG board is comprised of twenty representatives in San Diego County. Each of the county’s eighteen cities and the County of San Diego’s Board of Supervisor’s have one representative and two alternates that sit on the board and vote on all SANDAG issues that affect the entire San Diego region (the city of San Diego has two representatives). While the representatives themselves are elected by their own electorate, the seats to the SANDAG board are appointed by the main representative of that jurisdiction. So for example, San Diego’s mayor, Kevin Faulconer is one of the representatives to the SANDAG board. He also has the power to appoint two alternates to represent the city of San Diego.

This appointment process means that the representatives themselves don’t have an incentive to be accountable to the entire region. Since the public doesn’t vote on who gets to represent them on the SANDAG board, we have individuals like Oceanside councilmember, Jack Feller spouting off complete nonsense at SANDAG board meetings. Because of how representatives are appointed to the SANDAG board, the process of deciding who gets to sit on the board is based on the arbitrary whims of local politicians.

Last Friday, two of the network scenarios for the updated Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) were presented to the SANDAG board as an information item for discussion. The full board is scheduled to adopt the updated RTP next summer.

As a reminder, the current RTP that is being updated was sued and the lawsuit was upheld by Judge Timothy Taylor. Yet the SANDAG board voted to appeal that decision, the cost of which is being born by San Diego County’s taxpayers.

San Diegans wants choices for transportation. Survey via Transit San Diego

A survey prepared for the San Diego Foundation in 2010 revealed that the majority of San Diegans supported development around transit and expansion of transit services in the region. But Jack Feller doesn’t seem to base his decision making and voting power on data or facts or even voters’ wishes. Feller’s decision making ability stems from his own personal commute and misconceived beliefs on what constitutes a strong economy.

San Diegans wants choices for transportation. Survey via Transit San Diego

At a little over 42 square miles, Oceanside is serviced by multiple transit lines including the Coaster and the Sprinter. Feller could have taken the Coaster down to downtown San Diego and walked to his SANDAG board meeting located at 4th and B. Instead he spent 45 minutes on various freeways and decided that what this region needed was more freeways.

On Friday, the SANDAG staff presented the draft RTP to the SANDAG board. The details of this plan is still being ironed out. However, two of the network scenarios appear to be finalized and were presented for discussion. Many members of the public, including myself, showed up to speak to ask for a third scenario and to front load transit and bicycling and walking investments prior to implementing any highway widening projects.

The I-5 is a “gateway to San Diego”, per mayor Kevin Faulconer and echoed by Oceanside Councilmember Jack Feller.

Feller went on to quote Mayor Faulconer who commended the Coastal Commission’s vote to expand the I-5 (which is also under litigation) last Wednesday stating that the I-5 was a “gateway to San Diego.”

Feller in the same breath went on to state, “you know right now [the] Coast Highway is jammed through Oceanside, Carlsbad all the way down. So […]…that’s like a second arterial. And its not good for our business, I know.

Feller’s solution? More freeways and expansions of existing freeways, preferably with tolls which don’t pencil out financially.

The four lanes is going to be absolutely a necessity Otherwise we are not going to be able to move in Oceanside. So Scenario 2 as far as managed lanes and highway improvements is what I support.”

Continuing to demonstrate his whimsical decision making skills based random observation, Feller went on to discuss his experience in Davis, CA (one of California’s most bike friendly cities). Davis is very accommodating and inviting to ride a bicycle, yet Feller still expressed suspicion that investments made to increasing bicycling use would not be worthwhile because he didn’t see enough people riding alongside a busy interstate between Davis and Sacramento,

And I did want to make a comment about bicycling. UC Davis is where I have a grandson going to school. There I’ve never seen so many bikes. They have a causeway between Sacramento and UC Davis. They built a lane on the side of the freeway just for bikes and I was back and forth across that thing eight times in a matter of two days and I saw seventeen bicycle riders on that six mile stretch of pretty expensive freeway lane. So not everyone wants to ride a bike, I know everyone dreams about having a car.”

Rather than working to ensure a region that is safe for everyone or even working to build a robust San Diego economy that is not energy dependent on unstable foreign countries, Feller’s solution and contribution to our regional decision making process was all about shaving a few seconds of his own personal car commute. One would hardly call Feller a representative of anything except a role model for wasting precious tax payer dollars.