Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Measure D -- where do you stand and why?

FDS is right -- let's have a discussion about Measure D here.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The premise of Measure D is bad... everyone has to pay the sales tax, but the biggest beneficiaries are automobile drivers.

Those of us who walk, ride bikes, and take the bus are shafted by this Measure D. We pay way more than we get back. I know that various groups tried to improve it for the non-car community, but it is still quite bad, particularly in the way it disperses funds to cities, who will favor car issues in the end.

Why not have a Measure D funded by a local gasoline tax increment rather than by a local sales tax increment? Car drivers get most of the benefit anyway, so why not tax them. Also we can discourage car driving a little bit with a gasoline tax.

9/20/2006 12:41 AM  
Anonymous Eckermann said...

Measure D is absolutely necessary to the maintenance of transportation infrastructure in Santa Barbara County. Without that source of revenue, the roads will crumble, the commuter buses between Lompoc/Santa Maria/Santa Ynez and Santa Barbara will disappear, urban bus service will decline, and 101 will never be widened.

While it is true, as in all negotiations, everybody did not get everything that they wanted out of the current proposal, it represents the balanced approach necessary to garner the widespread support that the measure needs to pass. There are those who are working to defeat this measure. I believe they are being short-sighted. If measure D goes down, I predict that each city will strike out on its own with city specific transportation related sales tax measures; and there will be no funding for regional projects and 101 will never be widened.

Two-thirds is a tall order at the ballot box. Measure D could easily fail. In the wake of such a defeat, it will say a lot about the character of this community whether we regroup for another unified charge or bayonet the wounded and dissolve into isolated and hostile camps each to carve out its own little territory.

9/20/2006 8:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The residents of Santa Barbara County need to wake up and smell the coffee. If Measure D does not pass we are going to be in a world of hurt. It is essential to the future of our transportation system that we have long-term dedicated transportation funding in place this year. Measure 1B, the $20 billion state transportation bond measure, is likely to pass in November and only those counties with transportation sales tax dollars will be elegable to access a lion's share of those dollars. We could be sacraficing between 200-500 million dollars without Measure D in place.

Furthermore, 10 cents a day is a small price to pay for the valuable projects and programs the new measure will fund over the next three decades.

We are at an historic moment in time. In no time in recent history has so many elected officials and members of the community come together in support of a county-wide issue. They have put aside geographic and political differences to create a ballanced and responsible plan for addressing the transportation issues over the next 30 years.

Think about all the local dollars each city and the county have to spend on thier transportation needs and imagine what your community would be like without Measure D. Just spend a few hours in Ventura County and see for yourself what roads look like in a county without dedicated transportaiton dollars. Make sure you take that trip at peak hours and imagine what it will be like to not have funding for the widening of 101.

We know that the state and federal governments have been diverting transportation dollars from local governments for years. We now get pennies when we once were recieving dollars. We cannot change how the state and fed conduct business. What we can do is have a local source of funding that stays in Santa Barbara County and is determined by us, the residents, how that money is spent.

Measure D has something for everyone in it. It also has something for everyone to no like it. I suggest you focus on what you have to lose by not having Measure D. This is a glass more than half full issue.

9/20/2006 8:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vote NO:

Excerpt of an article by: Robert Bernstein

Robert Bernstein is Environmental Justice Chairperson for the Sierra Club - Santa Barbara Group.

It is the position of the Sierra Club that ecology and economics are inseparable. If ecologically harmful activity is economically encouraged, then ecological harm inevitably follows.

Subsidies can be for good or bad. We subsidize public education, preservation of public land and some minimal levels of emergency medical care, because these are seen as a public good. However, no one has ever made a case that it is a public good to subsidize pollution and consumption of resources for private motor vehicle use.

The Sierra Club is also committed to environmental justice. One-third of Americans cannot drive and these are generally the poorest and most vulnerable members of society. Does it make sense for these people to be subsidizing those who drive private motor vehicles?

Those who do not drive are far more likely to be among the hundreds of thousands of trauma victims of motor vehicle impacts each year. They are far more likely to live in places where they breathe the polluted air next to highways and busy roads.

9/20/2006 9:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's simple. None of these measures are ever "perfect" and are always a compromise, which shows that it will accomplish a lot.

After having Measure D for the last 17 years, I can't imagine what life here would be like without it. We all need to get behind it and vote YES!

9/20/2006 9:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. No tax increase.
2. Measure D for road improvements only, no bicycle pahs, sidewalks, or commuter railroads.
3. 30 years is too long, wish list too big, and we can't afford it.

Just extend the current Measure D in its present form.

9/20/2006 9:58 AM  
Anonymous Friend of Ed said...

Here is why we should not pass Measure D:

1) We've had Measure D for many years. Traffic has gotten worse. Obviously, we should try something else.

2) Spending money on traffic measures does not reduce traffic. Drive around the rest of the state where they have spend A LOT of money on traffic measures. Do we want what they have? Increasing the capacity of roads actually increase traffic until it becomes just as bad (actually a little worse) than before.

3) We should not rewards politicians for their ineptitude. The old tax was 1/2 cent. But, politicians could not agree on priorities, so they took the easy way out and increased the tax to 3/4 cents. We cannot let our leaders get away with this type of laziness.

4) The trouble with transportation is a sociological one, not a matter of infrastucture. We have plenty of road capacity out there. What we need is to have people use it more efficiently.

9/20/2006 10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the NewPress opposes it it must be good. I'll offer my support for that simple reason.

9/20/2006 10:50 AM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

See what I meant: Gandrud and his cronies can post all their spin and lies here so no one has to bother reading them amidst other subjects at Blogabarbara.

Really nice one citing a comment by Bernstein with no date or context given, especially since it came from the debate before the package of projects were combined into one ballot measure.

9/20/2006 10:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's fund regional infrastructure with bonds and a Santa Barbara County gas tax.

The sales tax is regressive... the poor pay a disproportionate share.

Then let each city and region pass their own infrastructure bond for their local projects.

I know quite well that my corner of the County has never gotten one dime from the existing Measure D. My tax payments go to subsidize Buellton and Guadelupe and Carpinteria. It would be way better those cities to have their own local measures than to fund them through Measure D.

All this apocalyptic talk about what might happen if Measure D fails is not helpful. The problem is, when you look at its specifics, it is a very poor Measure, just as its predecessor was.

Where is the solution for the Freeway between Montecito and Ventura? That was promised with the original Measure D, and did not happen. That alone is sufficient grounds to reject the new Measure D.

9/20/2006 11:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. Blame the 101 mess on the current Measure D. If this is what we get for the money, give them no more.

9/20/2006 12:04 PM  
Anonymous dd said...

I am opposed to Measure D, as in past performance IS indicative of future performance.

There should be a light rail service from North County to SB - NOT to Ventura (as their council has not approved the cost-sharing idea).

Roads in North County are still in a sad state of disrepair and very little has been done to improve them - NOT what got promised all those years ago.

3/4 sales tax just won't fly with the voters. We're mostly tired of being taxed to death with very little to show for it that's progressive. That's all I can come up with at the moment. dd

9/20/2006 1:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andy Caldwell/Commentary
One thing I have learned in the last 15 years as a government watchdog is this: No matter how much lipstick you put on a pig, it will never fly.
Nonetheless, local politicians are doing their best to prissy up Measure D 2006, an environmental porker of mammoth girth, in an attempt to sell it to voters as a pig that can fly.
Hopefully, voters will look past the lipstick and see the porker for what it is - a ballot measure that costs too much and delivers too little.
As previously noted, back in 1989, voters volunteered to increase the local sales tax by one-half percent for 20 years. This half-percent sales tax is estimated to raise $500 million before it sunsets in the year 2010. Our communities, for the most part, made good use of the money for the purposes it was intended, namely, local street maintenance and regional highway and freeway improvement projects in our county. About 90 percent of the money raised by the special tax went to projects that served transportation by automobile, while 10 percent went to alternative transportation projects.
The biggest project local politicians promised to fund in the actual ballot language with this original tax was the widening of the 101 freeway south of Santa Barbara. The project was subsequently defunded by the same politicians who campaigned for the measure in the first place!
Keep that in mind when you hear or see the campaign slogan, “Progress as Promised” as the campaign for the new Measure D heats up.
Voters now are being asked to not only renew this half-percent sales tax, but to increase the tax by another quarter of a percent and to extend the life of the tax for an additional 30 years. Unfortunately the intent of the original tax has been undermined, carjacked if you will, by the anti-car crowd of the South County, some of the very same folks who sabotaged the original 101 widening project.
Unlike the original measure, which was an infrastructure maintenance and improvement project, this new tax diverts 43 percent of the money to environmental and government pork projects. This diversion of monies, in the end, will leave our local transportation infrastructure in shambles and our freeways in gridlock. Let me do the math for you.
The original 1989 Measure D raised $500 million over a 20-year period. That comes out to roughly $25 million per year. As I indicated, almost all of this money, some 90 percent, was spent doing local road maintenance and regional transportation projects.
Measure D 2006 aims to raise $1.5 billion over a 30-year period. That comes out to $50 million a year. So, how is it that I claim our roads will be in worse shape than ever as a result of this prolonged tax increase? Well, here is where we need to do a two part math test. The first part of the math test is to subtract 43 percent of the $1.5 billion dollars that will not be spent on street maintenance or regional transportation infrastructure. Instead, this $650 million will be spent on such things as sidewalk improvements and bike paths in our county. Additionally, a significant amount will actually be spent in Ventura County helping residents there get a discounted ride to work at our expense, via buses and what is sure to be an ill-fated commuter rail system that will end up costing hundreds of millions to build, subsidize and operate.
The bottom line is that after you subtract the $650 million, you end up with $850 million left for roads and freeways in the county over a 30-year period. That comes out to $28 million a year, slightly more per year than the original measure, which brings us to the second part of our math problem.
Since the first Measure D was enacted, the price of materials and labor have more than tripled, and that is a very conservative estimate! That $28 million per year for the next 30 years will not buy us what $25 million per year purchased during the last 20 years. In 1990, the cost per cubic yard for freeway structure costs was $295. Today, it is more than $750. The cost per cubic yard of pavement in 1990 was $68. Today it is more than $325!
If we approve this renewal measure, we are, in reality, going to have roughly two-thirds less amount of work done each year than we have had since the original measure was enacted! The fact that construction costs have more than tripled, coupled with the fact that the new measure raises three times as much as the original measure, means that every penny of this new measure should be devoted to local roads and regional freeway and highway systems in order to simply maintain the status quo.
But instead, as proposed, every penny in raised taxes diverted will become a penny deeper in debt we go!
If you want to spend more and get less, then go ahead and plan on voting for this measure! I would rather we put away the lipstick and come up with a better spending plan while we still have the time to do it right.

9/20/2006 1:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I make it a point to tell everyone I know why renewing Measure D is a bad idea.

Most agree.

9/20/2006 2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you want the folks that gave us traffic circles money? NO

9/20/2006 4:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike Pinto says...

The tax is regressive on the working poor. The better solution is to increase gasoline tax by $3 per gallon for anyone making over $40,000 per year. Have income tax audits determine who makes over $40k. Then place stickers on the cars of the rich so they are charged a higher tax rate at the pumps. Stations caught not charging the tax can be condemned and taken over by a non-profit center for transportation alternatives. Public transit would be exempted from this tax. Maybe a luxury car tax for auto's purchased in Santa Barbara. Any car over $15,000 is taxed 25% of the value over $15,000. Sales taxes are the haves way of sticking it to the working poor. Why is the first alternative to stick it to the poor and non native working americans?

9/20/2006 5:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

eckermann - you're on the wrong side of this. bad for the environment, bad for Santa Barbara - this will mke it easier to get here, and then folks will want to live and work here

9/20/2006 6:28 PM  
Anonymous Handpuppet theater said...

...this rant sort of reminds me of the Cottage Workforce rant........the sound of one hand clapping----talking to the other hand.......
Only the puppetmaster is different......

9/20/2006 6:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regardless of whether you support or oppose Measure D, can we all agree that Developer Dan's flip flopping on the issue is unacceptable.

Dan said publicly that he supported Measure D, but he went to SBCAG and testified against it. He said that the extra quarter cent wasn't needed, and that if the money was better spent it would pay for what was needed.

Than he said he supported it but didn't think it could pass. (Wow now that is leadership!)

Now he says he supports it again. What's up?

9/20/2006 6:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You mean he was against it before it?

9/20/2006 7:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pinto, your simpleton doctrinaire Marxism cracks me up. The “working poor” pay virtually no taxes compared to the middle class, read a little and you might understand economics a little beyond trite Marxist rhetoric.

Measure D is a waste. The government over taxes over spends and the officials are never held accountable for this waste. Some of the items called for in the measure are certainly valuable to the community, but I think we already spend enough, there just has to be greater civic involvement and thus greater accountability of those we elect and those they appoint.

9/20/2006 7:31 PM  
Blogger cookie jill said...

Measure D is jalso relying upon financial assistance from the Federal Government.

The Federal Government has no money. It is running in the red. Foreign Government has bought out our day, they just might call it in.

We would be relying upon aid from a dry financial well, just as California is relying upon Colorado River water that is slowly becoming unavailable to us.

And, who will be responsible for the continuing upkeep of land erosion? The taxpayers, of course.

Bad idea all around.

9/20/2006 8:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny I heard Dan on the radio the other day saying that we might need to consider rezoning some properties in the Goleta Valley before the Community Plan was updated.

That is a bit different from what he told some of us during the campaign.

Some of us in the Goleta Valley are beginning to think we can't trust Dan Secord to tell us the truth.

9/20/2006 8:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alot of people I know will vote NOT WITH NEWS-PRESS, NWN-P.

9/21/2006 12:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pinto presents a limiting case that is of course impossible to implement in practice.

But a bond issue is in general a more fair way to distribute the cost of infrastructure improvements... make the assessment proportional to the area of the land, so the working poor who live in dense small abodes pay less (through rent paid to their landlords, who pay the bond assesment). And the wealthy with big estates pay more.

The working poor pay a lot of sales tax... I've never seen a `no sales tax for me' card for low income groups... perhaps the poor pay little income tax, and some even get food stamps, but they still must buy clothing and toilet paper etc... Measure D is a sales tax, designed to be regressive and a burden to the poor.

Worse, Measure D gets the working poor in places like Old Town Goleta to subsidize the wealthy in Solvang. It would be so much more fair and sensible if there was a county wide bond and/or gasoline tax for regional transportation, and then local bonds in each city or county service area for local transportation improvements.

That way the locals would have complete control to choose some of their transportation solutions, rather than (in many cases) depending on the centralized bureaucrats in SBCAG and/or the County Building. One of the main ways the old Measure D has been subverted is by the centralized bureaucrats frittering away the dollars on consultants and their own pensions.

9/21/2006 7:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good. I didn't think the union was a good idea.

9/21/2006 8:07 AM  
Anonymous Eckermann said...

Anon. 6:28 pm, I know, I know, I get on the wrong side of things all the time. I am not a 101 widening fan; it will just fill up as fast as we widen it. I am not a train commute fan; too many logistical problems and UP will never give up the track time. But I am a fan of public transit and improved bicycle path infrastructure and we have to pay for the maintenance of our streets somehow. Like all compromises, this one doesn't exude the sweetest of scents. However, I'm going to hold my nose and vote for it.

Anon. 7:31, aside from Mike Pinto's silly alternative tax idea, he is spot on about sales taxes being regressive. As a percentage of their income, the poor pay a higher rate in a sales tax than the rest of us do. Maybe the fact that they don't pay income taxes balances it out, but I would have to see the numbers to believe it.

9/21/2006 8:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who's Dr. Dan?

9/21/2006 8:22 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

He's a candidate for 2nd District Supervisor...

9/21/2006 8:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike Pinto says...

There is no middle class in Santa Barbara. There is only the rich who oppose all building and the poor who serve them. Measure D is a way for the rich subsidize the problems they created on the poor. Measure D is a bad idea. Don't get me wrong, I am all for higher taxes but not a tax targeting the poor. Increase gax tax $3 per gallon for the rich and have a 25% car tax on any auto over $15,000. Then the rich will be paying for the roads they like to travel on.

9/21/2006 11:14 AM  
Blogger Dominatrikes said...

I will probably vote for it but I think Measure D will fail. I think most people don't realize they are already paying this tax so they won't vote for it, thinkin it's another tax. And isn't this the one where we are supposed to also vote for some other thing that allocates all the money, or was that last time we voted on it?

When something is so contentious and confusing it usually doesn't pass.

9/21/2006 6:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps it’s time for the ideologists amongst us to eat some reality pie. I wish that 101 wasn’t a major highway that bisected our community, I wish that everyone that worked here could live here and within a convenient bus or bike ride from their jobs, I wish gas tax actually spent on local transportation, I wish the voters would approve bonds the way they support sales tax measures; unfortunately none of my wishes will come true. The genie is out of the bottle granting the state and federal government their wishes to monopolize our tax dollars and fund priorities where a greater amount of their constituents and special interests are.

It seems like everyone here agrees we need a way to fund transportation projects. Where we differ is what to fund and how to fund it. If anyone here took the time the read the rather lengthy expenditure plan for Measure D they’d find it funds almost everything needed to maintain and improve transportation in Santa Barbara County. Sorry if you don’t like widening 101 and like alternative transportation, or vice a versa, because if you want one you’ll need the support of the other to pass a 2/3’s measure. That’s the reality we live in.

9/21/2006 10:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will not vote for measure D because the politicians have made a mess of spending the money. If you don't believe me just jog on over to Montecito and look at the North Jameson Road bikepath financed by D. I live near there and see at least three bikes a day making use of it. Is this really reducing traffic? Not very efficient use of my tax dollars in my opinion and therefore not worth my vote in November!

9/21/2006 11:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have never even tried a local gas tax, anon 10:43pm... who knows whether it will pass or not.

Lots and lots of bond issues pass... my property tax bill is full of bond issues for libraries and schools. I think a well crafted transportation bond would pass just fine... after all, everybody complains around here a lot more about transportation than about schools and libraries. And if bonds are less successful at the ballot box than sales tax, it is for a bad reason... passing the buck to the poor, and also passing the buck to the people who walk and ride bikes and ride the bus.

That the State and Feds try to hoard money is exactly why we need local measures that protect the money and provide local oversight and guidance.

So for County Regional issues, we should have a County bond. Heck, we could even have a multi-County bond with Ventura and SLO for regional transportation.

For local issues cities and County Service Areas should pass their own local bonds.

The reality I live in is one where I have read Measure D, and it really screws a number of areas of the County to benefit cities like Buellton and Solvang. Why are poor people in Old Town Goleta subsidizing Solvang with regressive Sales Tax?

If Measure D is so important, why was it crafted so badly?

9/22/2006 5:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 5:16 AM - and all the other local gas tax cannot put on a local gas tax on the ballot check the state election law on this. Furthermore, gas tax is a flat tax, meaning it is only a fee paid on each gallon of gas purchased so it does not change with the price of a gallon of gas. This is the problem with the gas tax. As fleet miles go down and inflation goes up less net money real dollars are generated by it.

A sales tax grows with inflation. The current measure has been keeping up with inflation and increased costs of projects for the last 17 years.

As for the poor people of Goleta subsidizing Solvang you are simply incorrect. Measure D is distributed by a population based formula. Everyone gets thier fair share based on the number of residents paying the tax. If you wanted to be honest about it the City of Santa Barbara is significantly subsidizing everyone with the millions of sales tax dollars generated from the tourism industry.

9/22/2006 8:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Measure D - everyone gets screwed!

9/22/2006 11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I support Measure D for very selfish reasons. I try very hard to not use my car. My wife and I have agreed that our children will walk or bike to school. We feel so lucky to take advantage of some very expensive projects: the Obern bike path, a decent bus system, the alternative transportation program at UCSB where I work. We're all for projects that increase public safety and reduce driving. Our lives seem to get better and better as we take fewer and fewer car trips. Even if you don't support measure D, I urge you to take the bus to work this week and you'll see what I mean.

I would like to, NON-ANONYMOUSLY, state my support for Measure D. Thank you for this great forum.

Don Lubach <----rode to work today with a 7' stepladder. Bikes rule!

9/22/2006 12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 8:54am... I've been told the opposite, that a gas tax can be local, and can be proportional to the $ price of the gas, not the volume sold. That would grow with inflation too.

Measure D $ are *not* distributed based purely on population... the county does the split between Supervisor district based on *road miles*. There are areas of the County where low income families have never seen a single local benefit from Measure D, and they never will.

Still, a bond issue with the assessment based on property area and zoning type would be way, way more fair.

9/22/2006 3:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous--read the Measure D 2006 expenditure plan. Every area of the county benefits. In addition, the new plan provides significant funding for alternative transportation projects that benefit the one-third of our county's population that don't drive a car because they are too young, too poor, disabled or don't have a license.

This is a balanced plan and is not just about widening 101 or catering to single occupant auto drivers. 43% of the Measure D bucks will go expand local and regional bus service, increase specialized transit for elderly and handicapped, provide safe routes to school, build gaps in our bikeway system, start commuter rail service. This is a forward thinking plan that serves everyone.

About the local gas tax--sure its an option available to any county. But why isn't there a single county in the state that has passed one? (There are 18 counties with local transportation sales taxes representing 80% of the state's population) Its because gas taxes are the least popular of any tax. In addition, gas taxes can only be spent on roads and highways under the state constituion--no way to pay for running buses or trains.

You can take a pass and vote no on Measure D, but I guarantee there won't be a better plan that comes along that has any chance of passing. If it fails, the next plan will have to be dramatically scaled back and many important projects to all of us will be delayed or dropped.

Measure D has brought together a broad coaliton of supporters who don't always see eye to eye. When was the last time you saw North County and South County elected officials agree on a countywide plan like this? All 8 city councils and the board of supes voted in support of this plan. This is an historic opportunity and we better grab it.

9/22/2006 10:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every area of the county does *not* benefit, anon 10:52pm. Unincorporated areas like Vandenberg Village, Santa Ynez Valley and the Isla Vista/UCSB area will see substantially less benefit because the funds for the unincorporated County are *not* distributed based on population, but on *road miles*. But those folks will pay the sales tax.

Small cities make out very well compared to the unincorporated areas... that is why those city councils are all on board. Sales tax from unincorporated areas and the City of Santa Barbara (where many poor people live) and even Goleta with its Big Box stores disproportionately subsidize cities like Solvang and Buellton under the proposed Measure D. Local bonds in each small city for their local projects would be way, way more fair to everyone.

How can anyone trust the various officials when they say money will go for alternative transportation? That is as believable as the pledge in 1989 that Measure D funds would go to fixing the 101 bottleneck down in the South County. In the end the growing Santa Maria area will suck up all the regional funds because that is where the political power will accumulate over the next 30 years, and they'll be as sorry in 2036 that they didn't do more for alternative transportation as SBCAG is sorry now they didn't fix the 101.

Car drivers are used to subsidies, and that is my explanation why other Counties have not passed a gas tax, even though a gas tax is most appropriate. But things have changed... the price of gas is very high now, and drivers now all all pay a 'tax' to Exxon/Mobil and Saudi, and they know it. I think there is room in people's minds for a new gas tax, because the old one (which is a flat amount per gallon) is perceived as a smaller fraction of the total gas cost. Most practical people know that costs of raw materials for construction have skyrocketed, while the gas tax has stayed flat. Gas taxes can still be spent on bikeways and sidewalks, which qualify as roads.

But in the end, it is just *wrong* to ask non-drivers and the working poor (many of whom ride bikes and take the bus) to subsidize car drivers (who drive global warming) with their scarce dollars, to be spent on a regressive sales tax. Particularly when SBCAG has shown itself to not keep its main promises (fixing the 101), so the funds for buses and alternate transportation in the new Measure D are not trustable.

Otherwise, a countywide *bond* is a better idea than a sales tax. We pass bonds frequently for schools and libraries, and in the end, bonds are less regressive than a sales tax.

9/23/2006 7:15 AM  
Blogger Major Jim said...

Anon...You still need to read the Measure D 2006 expenditure plan--its obvious from your comments that you haven't.

You say that you can't trust SBCAG to deliver on its promises because the 101 wasn't widened. That's the problem with revisionist history--it gets repeated often enough and people accept it as true.

Here are the facts: Widening 101 south of Santa Barbara was included in the 1989 expenditure plan along with 14 other major regional highway improvement projects. The other 14 projects were completed as promised. The original plan included $15 million for widening 101--a small fraction of the total cost. This was intended as seed money to leverage state and federal funding--it was nowhere near enough to complete the project.

In 1993, Caltrans rolled out plans for the widening and the community erupted in opposition. Literally thousands of people signed petitions opposing the widening plans. If you've lived here longer than a week, you know its impossible to complete a project of this scale without community support. The elected officials responded by scaling back the widening plans to a series of operational improvement projects in the congestion hotspot locations. That's not a failure--that's government being responsive to the people who showed up by the hundreds at hearings to express their opposition.

The small amount of Measure D money that was earmarked for 101 is in fact being used to relieve congestion on 101. An auxiliary lane at Ortega Hill (a notorious bottleneck) is under construction and the first phase of widening 101 from Milpas to Cabrillo/Hot Springs will be under construction in 2007.

But that's all history--we still have a congestion problem that needs to be solved. Is there a plan that the community supports? YES! Durning the last 3 years an intensive effort to build consensus has been underway through 101 in Motion. The 101 in Motion plan evaluated every feasible solution and had extensive stakeholder outreach. The plan adopted by the SBCAG includes widening 101, a commuter train, expanded interregional bus service, demand reduction programs to encourage more carpooling and flexible work schedules and increased use of information technology to improve operations and squeeze more effeciency out of the existing corrdor. In short, its a multi-modal plan that is designed to work for the long haul and has broad community support.

So we have a consensus plan (which has been lacking since the early 90's), but we need a way to pay for it. Measure D 2006 would pay for nearly 50% of the cost and ensure that we have adequate local matching funds to leverage state and federal funds.

You protest that a sales tax is not a fair way to pay for this plan, but doesn't everyone benefit from a plan that maintains existing roads, relieves traffic congestion, improves safety on rural highways and school, routes, increases transportation alternatives. Measure D 2006 will cost the average county resident less than 10 cents/day. And with a sales tax, the revenues increase with inflation (unlike a gas tax) and the tourists who visit our county help pay for improvements to the transportation system.

I grow weary of those who complain about the deficiencies of our transportation system--traffic congestion, crumbling roads, not enough alternatives to the auto, unsafe highways, etc--but don't have practical solutions to offer.

A gas tax won't pass and it won't pay for alternative transporation. Bonds don't increase revenue--they're loans that have to be repaid with interest. Use a property tax assessment to pay off the bonds you say...who do you think pays the assessments--property owners and the poor renters whose landlords will increase their rents.

Like I said you can gripe about all the perceived shortcomings of Measure D 2006, but this plan is as close to perfect as you're going to get. Its fair, its balanced, it has a broad coaliton of support, and its feasible. We can pass Measure D and get the transportation system that everyone wants. Or we can kill it and then everyone will have lots of time to dream up the "perfect" plan while they're sitting in traffic jams on 101 for the next 30 years.

9/23/2006 10:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

12:17, Don Lubach:
You're very lucky to a) work at UCSB where there is direct bus service and b) live near a bike path that takes you directly (and safely, how especially valuable is that!!!) to work from your home.

You say, "Even if you don't support measure D, I urge you to take the bus to work this week and you'll see what I mean." I've tried it -- from the lower East Side SB, Milpas-TJ's, the bus then goes to the transit center at Carillo/Chapala where I'd have to wait for another bus to take me to work on Hollister/Patterson area.

It takes 3 times as long as driving; the 9 miles, if I biked them, more, probably, since it would not be direct, would be VERY unsafe; the comfort factor choosing the bus, hanging with, being begged for morning beer money by the homeless/transients at the Milpas stop, would be way below that of my older gas guzzler. If I could afford to buy a new car, a Prius, I probably would.

What I expect from city/county government are ways to help me in my daily life --- and that includes getting to work. I'd love to have the kind of job that pays well, that allows me to own a house close to work, but to live in SB at all, I have to rent wherever I can find an affordable and without adequate and rapid public transit, drive to work.

Imo, this is a bit of a class issue. It ill behooves those luckier or at least richer, as all property owners are here, to natter at the rest of us about how we should take the bus or bike the rough city streets and in the process have a better (although perhaps shorter) life.

Even so, I may vote for Prop. D, in what I think is a forlorn hope that there may be improved public transit and safe bike lanes. If the latter, I will resuscitate my bike. As it is, I ride it only on weekends and while I'm on city streets, always in a cloud of fear from the cell-talking, racing drivers.

The greatest way to encourage bike riding in this area would be if there were police enforcement of speeding laws and laws against careless driving, including running red lights and always rushing through yellow lights. (Careless bikers should also be ticketed.) Until the city (and county) crack down on the biking conditions, clean up the bike lanes that often have pieces of broken bottles, ticket those cars/trucks that are parked in bike lanes, etc., I, for one, and those I know will be driving our guzzlers.

9/23/2006 2:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here are my practical solutions:

1)A gasoline gas tax on the $ value of the gasoline, which does rise with inflation, and can be used for bikepaths and sidewalks.

2)Bonds that are funded by property tax assessments by zoning type and area of land. Thus apartment residents, where lots of people live on little land, can pay proportionately less, and Oprah Winfrey can pay proportionately more; farmers can be protected by using the zoning type.

a)one bond measure would be regional.

b)then lots of local bond measures in cities and county service areas to fund local improvements.

This Measure D is recycled, unimaginative thinking that is warmed over from 20 years ago. It is terribly regressive... sales taxes tax the poor proportionately the *most*. And if anyone questions it, the supporters do not start offering careful, thoughtful, reasoned replies, but they rain down threats of an acopocalypse. That they are so touchy and defensive means it is a bad measure... one need not look farther than the absence of a solution to the 101 problem in the past 20 years as evidence that our problems will not be solved by the backers of Measure D.

9/23/2006 3:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the new Measure D. The old Measure D was mostly about roads and freeways, but the new Measure D is different. It has 43% of the money going to alternatives, including bikes, buses, trains, Safe Routes to School projects. A broad coalition of local organizations that work for social justice, including SBCAN and PUEBLO, support it. That is because it really benefits working families by improving public transportation. There are a lot of things we COULD do - gas taxes, bonds, man on Mars - but wake up and smell the coffee: This is what we've got. This is as good as it's gonna get for those that support social justice and alternative transportation.

9/23/2006 9:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We pay gas tax already. We have bonds already for schools and libraries.

To compare those to a Man on Mars is absurd.

Measure D is not as good as its going to get... SBCAG and the North County will never spend the money on Alternative Transportation. PUEBLO and SBCAN have been duped, at several levels... they didn't do the math, and so they agreed to a regressive sales tax that screws the working poor.

9/24/2006 1:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Measure D is a joke. Look at what a mess the Current Measure D has created. No thanks.

9/24/2006 9:26 AM  
Blogger Secretary said...


Let's cut to the chase regarding accountability of "D" money. The County Grand Jury audited the program and wrote the 2006 Report: "Measure D, Progress as promissed?", which is available online at

The Grand Jury concluded that the use of Measure D money by the local agencies has significantly improved the quality of County roads and local streets.

Regarding the regional program, it concluded that 14 out of 15 projects were completed on time and the last one, 101 widening south of Milpas, was interrupted due to citizen opposition to the project. The $15 million seed money from Measure D was allocated to other transportation improvements. Some of these improvements, like the Ortega Hill lane and bikeway, are now under construction.

9/30/2006 5:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Measure D does too little, too late. People were tricked the last time into voting for an extra tax, the 101 freeway widening was blocked by the city of Santa Barbara, and they won't ever agree to getting tricked like this again!

10/02/2006 9:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's cut to the chase about the original wording of the original Measure D, which passed by a vote of the people of all of Santa Barbara County:

``To help relieve traffic congestion, improve the condition of the roads countywide, and increase safety by providing essential transportation improvements, including:

* saftey improvements on Highway 1, Highway 154 and Highway 166

* widen 101 south of Montecito to the Ventura County line;

.... (more projects follow).

The wording is clear and unambiguous. The wording does not say, `widen 101 south of Montecito to the Ventura County line *if* there is a local consensus to do so'.

How in heaven's name can a small minority in one part of the County override a Countywide vote? If, say, Cuyama doesn't like paying the extra sales tax, can they stop paying it, and will the Board of Supervisors acquiesce, saying `local opposition in Cuyama to the sales tax has caused us to cease collecting it there.'

The simple fact is the County has proven itself not to be trustable with transportation projects because they did not widen the 101 between Montecito and Ventura as the vote of the people told them to in 1989. OK, so the County did do 14/15. But the fifteenth was the most expensive... $15 million in 1989 dollars, consituting 1/6 of the spending plan.

If you read the fine print of the Grand Jury report, you realize that the total collected for the 101 widening project was actually $30 million, not $15 million. That is because sales tax rises with inflation, and because state and federal dollars were leveraged with the County contribution.

Guess what? The Measure D advocates are again blowing wind, by saying the $30 million was really only $15 million, to try to make people think the initial sum was too small to get the project done.

Voting no is the best reaction to their mendacity.

10/03/2006 3:05 PM  
Blogger Major Jim said...

OK, we can debate various versions of history, whether Measure D was a referendum on the 101 widening, or whether there was enough money in Measure D to complete the full widening or whether there was opposition to the widening in the early 90's and who opposed it and where they lived.

All I know is that the freeway is congested and it needs to be widened ASAP. Recriminations and accusations don't get the widening project any closer to completion.

Measure D 2006 allocates $140 million for the widening. Let's be realistic. If we don't pass Measure D how do you think the freeway will get widened? Caltrans? Sure...maybe in 30 years or so. The state doesn't have enough money to solve all of the traffic problems in LA, Bay area, San Diego, Sacramento, etc let alone little SB County. That's why nearly every urban county has decided to take control of their own traffic problems and become "self-help" counties with local transportation sales tax measures. That's where transportation projects are getting done--in the 18 self-help counties representing 80% of the state's population.

So you can vote Measure D down, but if you do, don't wank about the traffic congestion on 101, or the potholes that start appearing on your street, or the bus service that gets cut, or the fact that your children don't have a safe route to ride their bikes or walk to school.

Measure D is the best chance we have to solve our most urgent transportation problems. It will generate $1.6 billion over 30 years to meet a variety of transportation needs thoughout the county. This money has to be used for local projects and can't be diverted by Sacramento to other areas. If you don't want 101 widened or improved transportation in the county then cut off the funds by voting Measure D down and leave the fate of our mobility and safety up to the people in Sacramento and D.C. Or you can help improve transportation and be part of the solution by voting for Measure D.

10/04/2006 7:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The most ridiculous part of trying to get people to vote for this new tax is for the 101 freeway widening to 3 lousy lanes. Right now, if the losers at Caltrans really cared about California commuters, they could just eliminate one of the two overly generous already paved shoulders on the 101 freeway, and re-stripe it as a third lane. But, that would require Caltrans to have an IQ of at leats 50, which they obviously lack! Plus, what's with all of these idiotic state subsidies to buy Toyota hybrid cars! All that this accomplishes is to allow Toyota to mark up the price of the Hybrids by the amount of the subsidy! Plus all of that money could have been used to re-stripe the 101 freeway for 3 lanes. But then, they wouldn't be able to blackmail the voters into this bloated pork barrel project laden tax increase called Measure D !

10/04/2006 8:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have no problem with a County wide bond for regional upgrades, like the 101 project.

A sales tax is a bad way to go about getting the revenue. Sales taxes place too much of the burden on the poor.

For a bond related to property value, those in high density housing pay less. The poor overwhelmingly rent, and live in high density housing.

Measure D really screws the poor.

For local improvements, funding should be local. Why the heck should a Noleta resident pay tax that gets sent to Buellton or to Guadelupe? But that is what happens in Measure D... those in the unincorporated regions of the County subsidize those in the small cities... Carp, Buellton, Guadelupe.

Measure D is poorly thought out, and we need to vote it down so that in the next round we get a well-thought out plan. The current Measure does not expire until 2010... plenty of time to put together a better plan.

10/06/2006 11:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who wants to debate history? The facts are in the wording of Ordinance No. 3771, which is the old Measure D. Funny how the supporters of the new Measure D never post the actual wording of the original measure. They want to keep that info deeply suppressed.

Got a slick glossy Measure D propaganda mag from SBCAG today in the mail. My tax dollars going for that, when my neighborhood has never seen a single $ from the old Measure D. That really pisses me off... when will I see my streets get repaired or made safer? Never.

Vote No on the new Measure D.

10/06/2006 6:38 PM  
Blogger snugspout said...

For fun I posted some of the 1989 Measure D info at my blog:

Snug Spouts

I still don't know how to vote, although I'm inclined to just vote yes.

10/11/2006 6:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are already paying this tax. Yet 101 gets nothing done! Now they want a bigger tax! The widening of 101 should not be held hostage in order to force a tax increase on everybody!

10/12/2006 7:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The conclusion -- vote no on measure D !
Vote out all the current county board of supervisors ! Only then will 101 get fixed !

10/14/2006 8:42 PM  

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